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Oct 292014
 

This Halloween I thought I would cover the most famous vampire in pop culture, Count Dracula. There’s no doubt that this vampire is so iconic because there have been so many versions. Whether it’s about his own story, or if he’s part of a group of other monsters, the role of Count Dracula has been played by more actors than any other vampire. Here are the versions I remember best in chronological order, even though most of them are highly obscure.

Dracula (1932): Frankly, who doesn’t remember the original movie with Bela Lagosi as the Count. This may be a classic horror feature, but it’s not one I was hugely into compared to the following films and TV appearances, even though he was the inspiration behind the Count from Sesame Street.

Mad Monster Party (1967): Normally when the classic movie monsters are together, Dracula is the one in charge because he’s the toughest in the bunch. Although he’s quick on the attack, Dracula tends to fumble especially since Frankenstein’s monster is stronger than he is.

Electric Company (1970s): Believe it or not, one of Morgan Freeman’s reoccurring characters was Dracula. He has a mysterious presence that can scare people, but isn’t dangerous. It seems that this Dracula’s favorite pastimes include drinking vanilla malts and taking a bath in a casket.

Ghostbusters (1975): This version of Count Dracula, played by Billy Holms, is very goofy and as a bat he tends to bump into walls. What really stands out are his fangs since they look so fake. Luckily his wife Countess Dracula is with him to keep him in line.

Ghostbusters (1986): Although this version of Count Dracula looks a lot like the Dracula from Groovy Ghoulies, he’s actually a lot tougher than many of the evil spirits the Ghostbusters ever faced. His ambition is to take over Transylvania by taking human slaves with his hypnotic power instead of a bite. He also hates mirrors as well as garlic. A little strange, don’t you think?

Castlevania Games (1987-1991): Dracula has appeared on video games before, but the best known is in the Castlevania franchise as the main villain. Instead of the Van Helsings fighting Dracula, it’s the Belmont family. It goes to show that the Count always returns no matter how many times he’s been defeated.

Captain N: The Game Master (1989): The animated version that’s based on the video games is a warlord trying to take over the world of Castlevania. Though I must admit that the Count has a creepier look.

Monster Force (1994): As the main villain in this series, Dracula prefers to be called Dracule. Even though he has a charming persona, don’t be fooled. Dracule is very powerful with his metamorphosis, hypnotic spells, and other magical abilities, which gives the Prince of Darkness an edge over humans and monsters alike.

Leslie Neilson as Count Dracula

Dracula: Dead and Loving it (1995): I remember when I first heard about this comedy classic. After discovering that Leslie Nielsen was going to star as Dracula, I knew from the start that it was going to be a good one. This Dracula is clumsy and his shadow has a mind of its own, but don’t take him too lightly. He’s powerful in the ways of mind control, sometimes even more than he realizes.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2000): Dracula’s only appearance on this show was in the season five episode Buffy vs. Dracula, where Rudolf Martin played the role, but he did leave his mark during his time in Sunnydale. He seduced Buffy, made Xander his Renfield, even Spike remembers Dracula as an old rival before he got famous. This certainly covers a lot of ground on how Dracula stands out from other vampires and it’s hilarious when Buffy slays him… twice.

Van Helsing (2004): Richard Roxborough plays the role in this movie. As the main villain once again, he introduces a new skill that vampires have and that’s the ability to walk up walls and on the ceiling like it was nothing. Though Dracula is both strong and deadly, it’s really his three wives that stand out as big favorites to me.

Hotel Transylvania (2012): Adam Sandler voiced the most recent animated version of Count Dracula. Unlike other Draculas, this one is actually one of the good guys. After losing his wife to a group of angry villagers, Dracula created a hotel resort as a safe haven for monsters. However, he also became an overprotective father and control freak. Dracula is also funny, especially when he tries to tell humans that he never did say, “Bleh, bleh, bleh”.

Dec 062013
 

Welcome back. Well, if you thought the Super Mario Bros. graphic novel was something, you should see this one. It’s called The Best of the Nintendo Comics System and it contains comics about other Nintendo franchises that are just as rare.

It starts with Game Boy: In the Palm of your hand. You remember the original Game Boy? Back then the most popular game at the time was Super Mario Land. I expected this to be about Mario’s adventures in that world, but it isn’t. It’s about all of these characters coming into the real world and causing havoc. What a disappointment, and even though Princess Daisy appears, she is nothing like the modern version.

Next we have Legend of Zelda comics. Now here’s some great material, but once again it’s much easier to reference this to the cartoon series with all of the sword zapping battles and Link attempting to get Princess Zelda to kiss him. However, there are some references to Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link, like Link’s friend Bagu, who helped him cross the Saria River.

Would you believe it? There are some comics about Captain N: The Game Master as well. One major difference from the cartoon series is that Samus Aran actually appears and helps the N team on Metroid. What a gorgeous blonde she is.

Another major difference is that Mother Brain’s league of evil also included a villain named Unanos. I have no idea what video game he’s from.

Then there’s a Metroid comic, which is about one of Samus’s adventures in space as she battles Mother Brain and her forces. It’s unfortunate that there’s only one here.

The last group of comics in this graphic novel is about Punch-Out. Now I’ve never played Punch-Out, so this is tough to get into. From what I understand, it’s about a struggling boxer named Little Mac that’s being trained by former heavy weight champ Doc Lewis in order to be the best.

If you thought that the referee in the video game looked a lot like Mario, in the comics he actually wears the hat. Can you believe it?

There you have it. Two awesome graphic novels containing classic adventures based on Nintendo characters. It’s too bad they don’t make comics like this anymore.

Oct 182013
 

It’s Halloween once again and I have something real special for my blog this year. I’ll be going over one of the most popular video game franchises in the horror genre. No, it’s not House of the Dead or Resident Evil. It’s none other than Castlevania, which is about the heroic vampire hunter Simon Belmont. He fights his way past all sorts of monsters that are based on classic horror icons like bats, mummies, zombies, knights, ghouls, flying Medusa heads, etc., all led by Count Dracula.

There are many Castlevania games, but the only ones I’m going to focus on are the original four, starting with Castlevania for the NES.

I originally first heard about this franchise from the classic cartoon series Captain N: The Game Master, where Simon Belmont was one of the featured heroes. He’s courageous and skilled with a whip, but is also vain and full of himself. Now I don’t recall that being part of Simon’s persona in the games and he looks nothing like the Simon that’s featured on any of the video game covers.

Anyway, here is Castlevania. When I look at the title screen, where the only moving graphic is a bat flying from a distant castle, it makes me think about the horror themed video games back in the 80s compared to the games of today.

There’s not much of an intro to this game because it has no story line, but the task is simple. Kick monster butt as you go through the many levels. Of course that’s easier said than done. Luckily, Simon can gather weapons and points by whipping candles everywhere. As for life restorers, they are hard to find, so it’s worth whipping the wall blocks to search for them.

Normally when I play any video game, the high score isn’t that important to me. However, you need points more than ever in this game because it provides extra lives. Sure that’s important in other games also, but this one is even more so because of one fatal flaw. There’s no password feature. Now come on, the other Castlevania games have it. Why not this one? It certainly boggles the mind.

This game has its share of interesting bosses, but one boss I really dislike is the Frankenstein monster because of the Hunchback that jumps around in no given direction and shoots fireballs. He’s hard to dodge and Simon’s life meter drains too quickly. I’ve never made it past this boss, which means I’ve never beaten this game either. I can only assume that it gets harder later on. Any suggestions?

Overall, Castlevania is a fun game, even though it’s one of the hardest to get through. This is only the beginning though. Check my blog for part 2, which will be about its sequel.

Nov 162012
 

If there’s one thing that makes a video game exciting, it’s a boss battle at the end of a level. Whether it’s for the creative look of the character, his or her fighting style, or even the musical score, boss fights are always something to look forward to after getting past a whole bunch of other evil minions as long as I can figure out the strategy. Every boss has one. Unless you have a strategy guide, it’s usually only found by trial and error. These are bosses that truly stand out as big favorites of mine from video games I’ve played, not including final bosses.

#10) Doppelganger from Double Dragon 2: The Revenge (NES): Normally, doppelganger bosses are a cliché, but this evil clone of Billy Lee is so mysterious and sneaky, it’s cool. The Doppelganger not only has the same fight moves; he can also turn invisible and attack by clenching onto Billy, rendering him helpless. How many evil clones do you know that can do that?

#9) Two-Face from Batman Forever (Sega Genesis): It may seem like he’s the main boss of the game, but he isn’t. The Riddler is. Two-Face has a perplexing fighting style because it’s different, depending on which direction he’s facing. I don’t believe he ever used swords and bear traps in the movie, but can you believe that Two-Face can actually restore his life meter just by flipping his coin?

On a side note: I’d also like to include Two-Face’s two girlfriends, Sugar and Spice, because I think they’re both interesting fighters even though the movie doesn’t feature them that way.

#8) Master Necky from Donkey Kong Country (Super NES): This giant buzzard can spit coconuts, but what I like most is that he only peeks his head out from either side of the screen. Necky never shows the rest of his body, even when he gets defeated. It’s hilarious when Necky’s head falls to the ground and still makes noise while Donkey Kong cheers for victory. Is that what a buzzard looks like when it has a concussion?

#7) The Wrestler from Simpsons Arcade Game: Dropping in from a set of stage lights, this strong unnamed character is the first boss of the game. Like most of the other bosses, it’s hard to determine how he fits into the story, especially since this character was never on the series. You’ve got to admit though. The Wrestler is a fun boss to fight on a game like this.

#6) Goldar from Power Rangers Super Legends (Playstation 2): Even though it seems like every boss in this game is defeated by the same simple strategy, this classic character is the most awesome one to fight, and I’m not just saying this because he’s old school. Goldar likes to talk during the battle and he doesn’t fly out of reach as often as he does in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers the Movie game for Sega Genesis. Of course, Goldar could’ve come up with something wittier to say than, “Why did the chicken cross the road? To meet his doom.” Dude, that’s lame.

#5) Horsehead from Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link (NES): Armed with a mace, he’s the guardian of Parapa Palace. Apparently, Horsehead’s only weak spot is his head, which sounds very simple. However, I never would’ve known that if I hadn’t seen that episode of Captain N: The Game Master called “Quest for the Potion of Power”, where Horsehead made an appearance. Isn’t the animated version cool? What I don’t understand is why Horsehead never returned on any of the later Legend of Zelda games as some of the other bosses in this game have. Wouldn’t it be neat if he did?

#4) Dancing Specters from Super Castlevania 4 (Super NES): Also known as Paula Abghoul and Fred Askare, this pair of dancers are the stars of the haunted ballroom. As they dance away to the awesome boss music, these ghosts use swords and flying blades that keep Simon Belmont from “cutting in”. You won’t see this on Dancing with the Stars.

#3) Phantom of the high school musical from Scooby-Doo First Frights (Playstation 2): With the aid of his skeleton henchmen, this creepy character has an edgy presence. I think it’s neat that the Scooby gang gets to actually fight a monster before unmasking him, but before doing that you have to hear the Phantom sing and take out his henchmen. What really makes him interesting is the mystery involved. So what if he’s just a guy in a suit.

#2) Nano from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Playstation 2): There are several versions of this boss, but I mainly want to focus on the giant monstrosity at the end of stage 2. I always find giant bosses more exciting because of the intensity. Although it took me a little while to figure out how to fight Nano at this point, I totally found this boss battle interesting. Just aim high, robot goes down.

#1) Lobber from House of the Dead Overkill (Nintendo Wii): Of all the different types of monsters I’ve seen in horror themed video games, this is definitely one of the most original creatures I ever saw. Lobber hides out in the fetid waters and attacks by throwing chunks of its body. That’s just nasty, but my only real concern is that you have to fight a bunch of bats also. They’re harder to aim for than the monster itself. Other than that, Lobber is a villain that’s unique as well as creepy.

Apr 202012
 

Primates are intelligent animals that love bananas. But like humans, they can use their superior skills for good or evil. Either way, apes and monkeys do leave their mark as pop culture icons. Here are some of my favorites.

#10) King Kong from King Kong: This gigantic ape has been around for ages with at least several movie versions. He’s well known for being brought from the jungle to New York City, where he runs amok and climbs the tallest building with the woman he loves. After seeing the newest version from 2005, I realized that King Kong is more of a love story than an adventure story. You’ve got to admit though. Kong sure knows how to beat up a T-Rex.

#9) King Homer from The Simpsons: One of the stories on Tree House of Horror III spoofs King Kong with King Homer. King Homer is not only in love with Marge, but he eats people alive, along with Shirley Temple.

King Homer’s only other appearance was on the Super NES title, The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare and was surprisingly easy to defeat with Bartzilla’s electrical body.

#8) Silver from Ninja Turtles the Next Mutation: He’s a gangster Himalayan ape and is the last of his kind. That’s why Silver became so greedy. Whenever there’s an opportunity to steal a ton of money, Silver and his gang of well-dressed crooks will seize it.

#7) Grape Ape from The Great Grape Ape Show: Now here’s an ape I really enjoyed when I was a kid. Grape Ape is strong, gigantic, and kind hearted. However, most people fear him because of his size. At least he has Beagle Beagle as his best friend. I have always wandered how Beagle’s van supports Grape Ape on top so easily.

#6) Primator from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Lord Zedd created this ape monster from a gorilla costume. Primator is a shape shifter, who can turn into anyone of the rangers and imitate any of their voices. His only weakness is mirrors. When Primator sees his reflection, he instantly changes back into himself. If only it were that simple with other shape shifters.

#5) Bogey from Shirt Tales: With his appetite for bananas, tree swinging skills, and Humphrey Bogart persona, this orangutan has always been one of my most favorites among the Shirt Tales. Bogey also has a habit of calling everyone he meets “Sweetheart”, but I’m sure that’s just his way of presenting himself as a friend.

#4) Tracy from Ghostbusters (1986 version): He’s a brave and intelligent ape with great strength. Tracy is also inventive. He created all of the gadgets for the Ghostbusters team and loves to cook, especially with bananas. However, you should never call Tracy a big ape. That makes him lose his temper.

#3) Mojo Jojo from Powerpuff Girls: Of all the villains the Powerpuff Girls face on a regular basis, this primate is their biggest foe, whose grudge is too close to home. Mojo used to be Professor Utonium’s lab assistant until the Powerpuff Girls were created. The Chemical X made him more intelligent, but he felt ignored and unappreciated. Now Mojo is an inventive mad genius, who likes to talk. He’s definitely worthy of the title Super Villain.

#2) Donkey Kong from Donkey Kong franchise: This iconic ape started out as the main villain of a classic arcade game from the early 80s because he had kidnapped Mario’s first girlfriend Pauline.

I also remember Donkey Kong as a giant sized villain from Captain N: The Game Master.

Years later, he becomes a jungle hero that began with the Super NES title Donkey Kong Country, which brings me to…

#1) Diddy Kong from Donkey Kong franchise: He’s Donkey Kong’s junior partner in battle, like Tails is to Sonic the Hedgehog. Diddy may not be as strong as Donkey Kong, but he’s light on his feet and can smoothly cartwheel his way out of trouble.

Diddy later proves to be more of an adventurer when he partners up with Dixie Kong in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest. I can’t help but love this little guy.