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Vampire Films: A Study In Contrast

8 December 2009 by Baldy No Comment

I had meant to do this by Halloween, but it just didn’t happen. I was very fortunate to view two very memorable and distinctive movies during the month of October. Both made enough of an impression that I wanted to pass them along.


Let The Right One In (Låt den rätte komma in)


2008, Dir. Tomas Alfredson
Rated R.
Starring: Lina Leandersson, Kåre Hedebrant.

Review by Baldy

I was messing around with my Netflix queue one night and it suggested that I look at this movie. It looked like it had a few things going for it: critically-acclaimed, well-reviewed by average Joes, and it’s in Swedish. Perfect for me, right? I asked my cousin in Stockholm about it, and he said that people are RAVING about the film. Okay, I decided to give it a shot.

This was simply the best and most original, interesting, involving and well-made vampiere movie that I have ever seen. I’ve seen a lot. The story, the setting and the casting all worked together to provide the viewer with a vampire story that is like none other. I have never before come out of a vampire movie thinking that it was charming and sweet and innocent. This one was all of that and more.

Oskar

Oskar is a twelve year old Swedish boy who has no friends. His parents are no longer together. His apartment building houses nobody close to his age. He is a constant victim of school bullies. The entire setting is cold and bleak and monotonously white. Oskar is a match for the setting, from his white skin and white-blond hair and the blank look on his face that seems devoid of hope or ambition or. . . anything. The only time that Oskar shows passion is as he practices stabbing a tree with a knife, presumably thinking of successfully defending himself from the myriad of bullies that plagues him.

Eli

Then, along comes a girl named Eli. She’s his age, she’s pretty, she’s quiet like he is, and she goes barefoot in the snow without any sign of discomfort. She moved into the building the previous evening with her father or uncle or something. Most importantly, she wants to talk to him.

This movie is sweet and tender. It has the feel less of a vampire movie and more like a story of first love. The girl is a vampire, but that is more of a footnote than the headline. You get to see the still-innocent attraction of Oskar to Eli, and somehow her feelings for him also seem innocent. The two children are not yet broiling pots of hormones and angst, and their relationship has all of the charm of seeing two small children walking hand-in-hand in a park. The viewer gets treated to seeing Oskar slowly come out of his shell and begin to walk a little taller.

Lonely Oskar

In this movie, the violence and brutality are but brief moments that serve to underscore the innocence of the characters, and of the filmmaking. I don’t know quite how to say what I mean, but the directing was GENTLE. It doesn’t dwell on the dangerous. You won’t see rough cuts and hear a gripping, gritty soundtrack. It’s not full of quotable quotes. It’s just a quiet, charming movie about young love in which one of the parties happens to be a vampire. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the genre, or who wants to see something really interesting.

****************************


Midnight Mass


2003, Dir. Tony Mandile
Rated R.
Starring: Douglas Gibson, Marvin W. Schwartz, Elizabeth Vance.

Review by Baldy

Midnight Mass is a brilliant story! It was written by F. Paul Wilson, a family doctor up on the Jersey shore who also happens to write horror and science fiction with the best of them. While I have been a fan of his Repairman Jack novels for years, Midnight Mass was a very pleasant surprise.

The story begins just after the blitzkrieg tactics of the European vampires have conquered most of the East coast of America. They released the ferals as shock troops, then focused on immediately turning the community leaders: elected officials, ministers, and anyone to whom others would go for help or guidance. The vampires are guarded by pet humans (known appropriately as Vichy) during the day and they advance their positions by night. The attack was so fast that most people had no time to plan anything – they just locked themselves into their houses and found out that it was no longer safe to leave.

The story is of two priests. Father Joe Cahill was falsely accused of child molestation years before. While he was exonerated, the knowledge that his own parishioners were so ready to assume the worst of him has driven him away. He no longer serves as a priest and he does his best to remain drunk all of the time. Father Alberto Palmeri, on the other hand, has kept his baser urges mostly in check until he was “turned.” He finds that he has a knack for and delights in being undead. The Catholic church is desecrated, made into a haven for those seeking the worst kinds of apostasy. The parishioners who had previously turned their backs on Father Joe beg him to come back, to be their spiritual leader and to restore the sanctity of their church.

It’s a fascinating story. I regret to say, though, that this movie was a PILE OF RUNNY DOG SHIT that barely resembles the book. It’s crap! Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were probably turning out better flicks using their Super-8 when they were TWELVE! The plot barely follows the story. Film quality is wretched. I think they tried to use Joe Bob Briggs’ garage as the magnificent Catholic church. I’ve seen better acting in elementary school plays. This movie was so RANCID, so PUTRESCENT, so VILE and so offensive to my intellect that I could not get through more than 25 minutes of it.

This is without a doubt THE WORST VAMPIRE MOVIE EVER MADE! DON’T BOTHER unless you have money on which of your friends can last the longest.

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