Wednesday, September 28, 2016
Translator: Andrew Bromfield
First published (English): 2016
The blurb: The Streets of Moscow aren’t safe. Vampires are attacking innocent people, and the names of the victims are spelling out a message: ANTON GORODETSKY.
Higher Light Magician Anton is one of the Others, possessed of magical powers and able to enter the Twilight, a shadowy world parallel to our own. Each Other must swear allegiance to one side: either the Light, or the Dark.
But who is after Anton and what do they want? Anton’s investigation leads him to a Prophet, an Other with the gift of seeing the future. Her horrifying vision heralds the end of all life at the hands of an ancient threat – unless Anton can reunite a mysterious organisation known only as the Sixth Watch, before it’s too late.
The Review: When I have looked at the previous books of Lukyanenko’s series I have vascilated between reviews and Honourable Mentions, depending on the amount of vampiric activity within the volume (those articles can be found via the following links: Night Watch, Day Watch, Twilight Watch, the Last Watch & The New Watch). In this (reportedly the last volume in the series) the vampires are front and centre.
Not only do we have the attacks as listed within the blurb, but we get to see the vampire hierarchy and discover their own myths and legends (which may well be true) that suggest that they were the first Others. There is a vampire involved, known as Lilith, who may or may not be the source of the myth. There is also a vampire who, when he removes the illusions that make him look human, is revealed to be Neanderthal. Now, having a Neanderthal vampire is not a new idea but it is rare enough to be mentioned.
As for the book itself. Well as soon as I started reading it was like meeting up with an old friend – I discovered that I had actually missed Anton and that is the power of a good, well written (and translated) character. That Russian feel is still there in spades and the only downside was realising that the reported end of the series is likely to be true given an event in novel.
8.5 out of 10.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Release date: 2015
Appearing on Amazon’s VoD circuit this was a vampire film I hadn’t heard of before viewing – so I guess it kind of crept out of leftfield. It was filmed in Italy but is classed as a USA/UK production – however the Italian setting offers an air that is more in line with Euro-horror, even if the plot is essentially a take on Ten Little Indians.
The film also has an absurdist edge to it that works really quite well and adds something to a film that could have languished in mediocrity had that edge not been there. As it is, it plays around with the vampire tropes and leaves you thinking.
|ready for retirement|
|Vinnie Jones as Big John|
|about to shoot up|
|the rest of the gang|
|Nika in crone mode|
It is the strangeness that keeps this afloat and pushes it above average. 5.5 out of 10.
The imdb page is here.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
First published: 2016
The blurb: The Vampire Wars are raging. We're all infected. Anyone can turn at any time. Your ally one minute could be at your throat the next. Or you go suddenly crave their blood. V-WARS: SHOCKWAVES chronicles the spread of bloodlust, bloodshed, and violence between the living and the undead.
The review: I am a fan of the V-Wars series; I make no secret of that. If you look at my reviews of the first three volumes (One, two & three). You’ll see that I have heaped praise (and 9 out of 10 reviews) on them.
It saddens me therefore that this volume sees a dip in quality. Now that is not to say it is bad. There are some damn fine stories in here. However, it isn’t entirely consistent. It does have some nice arc moments with the emergence of the Red Empire – a quasi-religious group who worship a messiah figure of the Red Emperor – that being patient zero Michael Fayne, who they believe will return and lead them. We also get a reveal, at the end of the volume, of the identity of the Crimson Queen.
For Mayberry fans there are cameos of Joe Ledger and other characters from the Ledger series. We get a welcome return of the V-Wars character Mooney in a tale and the stories range a little further internationally. We also discover that not all the vampires are as a result of the Ice Virus and that some strains had survived and were around before the virus activated junk DNA.
I was disappointed by the editorial decision to keep most of the shorts as complete pieces (bar Mayberry’s own Wet Works and Red Empire, which are split into the more familiar vignette format). There also seemed, despite containing a multitude of vampire types, less of a "who's who" list going on. One of the stories, Young Bloods by Mike Watts seemed slightly out of place, in that it felt that it was set out of the V-Wars at some point in the future, concentrating (as it does) on a vampire only school that had been around for over a decade. However this is the first volume where I have actually felt a story was not as well written as the rest of the volume. Silver and Lead by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow just felt a little sub-par to me. Now that may be unfair as the quality of prose is so good generally, but it knocked my immersion in the volume.
8 out of 10.
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Director: Cheung-Yan Yuen
Release date: 1993
Xiang xi shi wang is a film that centres itself on corpse herding and the term vampire and zombie seems interchangeable in the subtitles. In fact, the corpses are, mostly, well behaved through the film (bar one faux attack and being controlled in battle). It is the herders – or voodoo men as the subtitles call them – who are the misbehaving element in the film.
As such we don’t get any real vampiric action in the film but the kyonsi are front and centre throughout the film.
A group of cops led by Cha try to arrest Zombie King and his herders – the charge being that they use the bodies for unspeakable acts. However the arrest is resisted and a battle ensues. Despite greatly outnumbering the herders, the cops have their asses handed to them, Cha is grievously wounded and orders a retreat. Zombie King, of course, promises revenge for interfering with his business.
|Yong and Qin|
|entering the morgue|
|Zombie King addresses the smugglers|
|acting as a kyonsi|
|Qin finds her father's corpse|
The imdb page is here.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
It opens with a "hero", Chang Kung Chin (Yeung Chi-Hing, Enchanting Shadow & the Black Tavern) inviting four young swordsmen to discuss the appearance of a new player in martial arts, Kung Suen Mao Neong (Park Ji-Hyeon), the mistress of the Finger of Doom. The meeting is a trap, they are forced to spar and then Kung Suen Mao Neong fights them and embeds a needle in the back of each one’s neck, from a set of finger sheaths, causing them to fall in agony. She feeds them an antidote making them fearless of pain and death and obedient to her. They are taken off, given white robes, and then she gets into a coffin and they carry her off.
|feeling no pain|
|fighting the "living dead"|
|Ivy Ling Po as|
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Release date: 2013
Opening with a quote from Rickles’ the Vampire Lectures is probably not the best way to open a vampire film. Whilst I have time for the book (as you’ll see if you nip over to my review of it) it can be a tad impenetrable.
Therefore the quote that opens this – concerning the murder of the Other – may prove itself to be an impenetrable opening for a budget end movie – an indication, perhaps, of ideas above its station. However, it is those very ideas that made this so watchable to me. The film had issues but the fact that it looked behind the veil of the tropes/myth and announced its thoughts belied the perhaps less stellar cinematography and perhaps some crass aspects also.
|Clint Jung as Mr Wang|
|Rollin Blanton as Gus|
|Connor and Star|
|silver was in the bloodstream|
|vampire attack in the shower|
The imdb page is here.
Friday, September 16, 2016
Illustrator: David St. Albans
Release date: 2015
The blurb: Being the only true journal of Vladislaus Tepes Bassarab called Draculya; Voivode of Wallachia, Knight Order of the Dragon, Defender of the Faith and the Realm of the Holy Roman Empire, Count of Transylvania, Protector of Moldavia, Bey of the Ottoman Sultans, Alchemist, Necromancer, Vampyre! Penned by his own dead hand.
The review: The first thing to say about Blood of the Dragon is that it is a tome of considerable length. Published as penned by Pudlecitcz and illustrated by St Albans the first conceit of the book is that it is a publication of the actual journal of Vlad III, bookended with chapters around the archaeologists forced to do so by the vampire.
This vampire is the creature of Stoker’s novel but it was Stoker who led the fight against the vampire and Dracula is (an inaccurate, according to the vampire) recollection of those events.
The bulk of the novel takes in the events surrounding the birth and life of Vlad III and ties vampirism in at an early stage in his life when Vlad and friends, whilst in Constantinople at age 9, are attacked by a vampire. Vlad is forced to help detect the grave and destroy the vampire – and this includes pouring the vampire’s blood over the boy. Unfortunately blood gets into a cut on Vlad’s tongue and the “vampiric ally” attaches itself to the boy – therefore much of Vlad’s bloodthirstiness in life was due to being a living vampire.
You can see this as a type of vampiric possession and Vlad is lucky to survive with soul/will intact and not become a minor undead. Eventually the ally is exorcised but Vlad will, subsequently, invite another ally to become a parasitic/symbiotic part of himself and this is what allows him to live beyond death.
The book invokes a variety of names and types of vampires, draws in some figures such as Erzsébet Báthory and the Comte de Saint-Germain (as periphery mentions more than anything) and layers fiction onto history (and some pseudo-history) in a satisfying way. The archaic turns of phrase actually work in context – especially compared to other books where they jar. Most fundamentally the book draws on Lovecraftian mythos at its heart.
This version of Dracula can walk during overcast days, when well fed, but temporarily dies in sunlight (the book actually misses, given it was supposedly written at the end of the 19th century, that sunlight was not listed within vampiric myth in any great measure, if at all, until the release of Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens). This Dracula feasts on negative emotion as much as the blood it is conveyed on and steals souls for his master as he does so (to reveal more than this is too much of a spoiler).
The most important thing the book manages to do is give the character a strong voice; it is a narcissistic, egoist voice, prone to self-contradiction and repeating salient points – but it is a genuine voice. Worth the entry price, indeed. 7.5 out of 10.