More on Dracula (2013)

Dracula (2013) was a series I very much liked. Unfortunately, it was cancelled, but I am hoping for more series like this one. One that takes risks by changing stories we know into new stories that are still enjoyable.

Kbatz gave us her take on the series yesterday.
Now, a few more opinions from our staff.

by Emerian Rich

I really enjoyed the Dracula series. I liked the way they changed the traditional story of Dracula with Renfield more of a butler than a crazed lunatic and Van Helsing a doctor who woke Drac to help him put down a secret society that had wronged them both. I liked the mixing of the bio-electric galvanism with the story making it almost Frankensteinish and trying (with the look) to be a little steampunkish. I also loved the camera shots. When Mina gets attacked and can only see and hear what’s going on from a distance, the director did a really great job of showing us only what Mina would see, keeping the monster out of the shot in a way that made you feel like you were there. I was sad to see it cancelled, but hope for more like it in the future.

Dracula2

by Dan Shaurette

NBC’s Dracula was a very intriguing twist on the characters we know and love. I am the kind of fan who can enjoy a show like this, like a new comic book version of an old classic. At first, I did have to turn off that voice that was screaming that the characters are not the same, but it wasn’t hard to do. My biggest complaint is that this could have been any vampire story set in 1897 London, with steampunk touches, Jack the Ripper references, and bloody mystery. Instead they cheated by giving characters names from Stoker’s tale. They didn’t have to.

I think they even wanted to tell a new story with new characters, as evidenced by having Dracula use the alias “Alexander Grayson”, and him wooing/fighting the delicious Lady Jane. (She was my favorite character, by the way.) But it is as if they came up with the clever use of the Order of the Dragon and it became too deeply entrenched. So they ran with it. Conspiracies and reboots for everyone. I loved the story that they told and am sad it only had one season. Would it have been more successful if it had been on cable TV instead of a network like NBC? I was (pleasantly) surprised by the sex scenes, gore, and violence on the show. I doubt there’s more they could have done if they’d been on cable. But maybe the question then is, was it too risqué for broadcast television? Yes, maybe we are still too Puritan for Victorian vices.

Speaking of cable TV, let’s look at Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. I wonder which came first in the production. Did Showtime hear about NBC’s Dracula reboot and decide to come up with something? Or was this just a happy coincidence? Are they both just cashing in on the popularity of Steampunk? I know I’m not complaining. Penny Dreadful is another Victorian horror fantasy drama. It brings together characters from Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy, and re-imagines them all, but for the most part, they are still familiar. The interesting difference is that (to my recollection) Dracula is never mentioned by name, though we have the Murray family involved with vampires and even Van Helsing made an appearance. There is an enigmatic alpha vampire, so we’ll see if he takes up the mantle or not.

Where Dracula made me grumble about how the beloved characters were all askew, I thought Penny Dreadful’s take was refreshing. I felt watching PD like we could be watching the “True Origin” of the characters, wheres as Dracula was saying, “oooh, we made Lucy a lesbian, aren’t we clever and topical?” While both shows introduced new “strong female characters” in Lady Jane and Vanessa Ives, Miss Ives is a conflicted, complex, anti-hero seeking redemption, and Lady Jane in the end was really just a grown up Buffy. Nothing wrong with that, but Vanessa is just more developed. In fact, I dare say, Penny Dreadful is Vanessa Ives’ world and everyone else is merely living in it. “The séance scene” is my favorite moment on TV in recent memory.

What it may boil down to between the two shows ultimately is that Penny Dreadful is a period horror series and Dracula was more of a period drama with vampires. Dracula may be done for now, but we still have a second season of Penny Dreadful to look forward to and hopefully even more to follow.

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What did you think of the series?

Mr. Peepers and The Quarry

There are three books that I want to talk about in this post. The first one is a short story by a new author named Akela Cooper. Akela has written a few short stories that are available through Biting Dog Press and she has been a staff writer for ABC’s V, She was also a writer’s assistant on Dexter and worked on CBS’s Jericho. She is currently a staff writer for the NBC series, Grimm.

One of Akela’s short stories is called Mr. Peepers and centers around a cat that may be more then just a cat.  A woman named Genny just found out that her brother died mysteriously in a farm house that he recently bought. She goes to the house to investigate and finds out that three other people had also died mysteriously in the house over the last year. When the bodies were found there was a cat named Mr. Peepers by the body and the look in his eyes is not the look of a normal cat. Could Mr. Peepers be the cause of the deaths? If so does Genny have what it takes to put an end to Mr. Peeper’s reign of terror?

When I read Mr. Peepers it kind of reminded me of a Tales From The Crypt episode. It has some humor to it and it has some violent moments that come across as funny and creepy at the same time. The story itself  is well written and even though I thought the ending was predictable, it still worked.  One of the best scenes in the story is where a woman has a run in with Mr. Peepers and things get a little heated. After that, lets just say that she doesn’t see to clearly anymore. 

Another short story by Akela Cooper that I recently read is Tinderbox Blues. A confederate soldier returning from war one day comes to a house of an old slave woman. The woman offers him some treasure if he gets a tinder box out of a pit for her. The solider decides that if the box is more valuable to the woman then the treasure, he must have it for himself and steals the box. Little does he know the box is cursed and he now must suffer the consequences.

Tinder Box Blues has over the top violence with a story that’s a little confusing. It reads a lot like one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales or like a gothic ghost story of the 1800’s. I think the point of the story was to gross out and scare the reader and it does a good job of that. There is some great imagery to this story and it makes the story well worth reading, if you like scary old folk tales you will like this one.

The last book I want to talk about is a novel by Mark Allan Gunnels called The Quarry. The Quarry takes place at a picturesque college campus on the edge of a Quarry named Lake Limestone. The lake is 400 feet deep and the students are warned to stay away from it. It was formed in the 1950’s, when a work truck tapped into an underground spring, filling the quarry and leaving all the work vehicles at the bottom of the lake.  At least thats the story that everyone thinks is the truth.

One student on campus named Dale decides to find out what really lies at the bottom of the lake. He scuba dives to the bottom and comes back forever changed and this is when the horror really starts. People start dying on campus and something evil is stiring. Dale’s friends go on a search for answers to what lies beneath, but what they find has been there since the dawn of time and may be unstoppable.

The Quarry is one part mystery and one part horror. You dont know for sure what is in The Quarry and what is truely responsible for the killings until the very end. The book leaves you subtle hints as to what is going on, but leaves you guessing. The Quarry is not an over the top bloody horror story, its much more reserved then that. While none of the death scenes are gruesome or very long, they are still scary because  Mark Allan Gunnels makes you care about all of his characters and you don’t want to see them meet an untimely demise.

That is what maked The Quarry a great read, because you are invested in the characters. Even for the bad ones you get to know them, you feel for them and you see them change throughout the story. You see Dale change from a popular kid to a raging psychopath. You see his girlfriend go from self assured and confident to questioning everything she once believed and Dale’s freind Emilio goes from a timid coward, to finding out what kind of person he truely is. You also see the supporting cast go through changes, with each one being different from how they started out.

I had a couple of minor complaints about The Quarry. One was  that I wanted a little more action, I think the maint point of the stories was to build strong characters and see how their lives change when faced with extreme circumstances. So I guess to much action would have taken away from the character development, but I thought there were parts where a little more action could have made the story more interesting. My other complaint was that I was a little disappointed with the end. The ending was satisfying but I wanted a happy ending for all of the characters because I liked them so much. I guess its not horror if you don’t kill off a couple of people and make your main characters suffer. The Quarry is a masterpiece and I look forward to reading more from Mark Allan Gunnells.