Amoeblog

Love Thy Vampire? Priest (2011)

Posted by Charles Reece, June 5, 2011 10:16pm | Post a Comment
priest poster blood thirsty

I wasn't going to see Priest until I read Noah Berlatsky's critique. I could tell from the trailer that it wasn't offering anything new, nor was it going to even try. Indeed, it is cobbled together from clichés, tropes and designs borrowed from other films -- many of which would best be forgotten, as well. There's not one, but two "I won't let you / don't you let go" scenes as someone is dangling from the hero's hand. The villain conducts while his minions play a catastrophe on a town, just so you know how evil he is. Black Hat, the villain, is a former member of the superpowered priesthood, now corrupted by vampire blood, making him more powerful than both the pureblood vamps and the priests. The vampires are based on the same boring, wormlike design that was used in I Am Legend -- preferred, I guess, because it's generic and doesn't require eyes. Black Hat's main plan is get his old friend, Priest, to join him as a halfbreed and take over the world for the vampire queen. The worst offense is that the action is yet another uninspired appropriation of The Matrix's bullettime. Why, then, did I see it? Because Berlatsky argues that the film is virulently racist, and I can't stay away from films that unintentionally go horribly ideologically wrong. He had my hopes up for another 300 or the aforementioned I Am Legend, but is it a "racist piece of shit," or just shit?

The film's one innovation -- if you can call it that -- is borrowing the basic plot from The Searchers. In John Ford's classic, the Comanche kidnap Ethan Edwards' (John Wayne) niece, torch his brother's homestead and kill most of the family. The vampires do the same to Priest's (Paul Bettany) family, bringing him out of forced retirement to find his "niece" (actually, his biological daughter), and, thus, against the direct commands of the church state that he serves. The heroes are accompanied by the nieces' suitors, both of whom intend to keep the girls alive against the uncles' vows to kill their nieces if they show signs of infection -- cultural in the case of the Indians and genetic in the case of the vampires (or, I guess you might say, genetic mutation determines an ideologico-moral shift in the latter). It's the substitution of vampires for Indians in the plot that is central to Berlatsky's condemnation:

[I]f the Indians are vampires, suddenly you don’t have to shilly-shally. One by one the Western set pieces are trotted out and stripped down to their primal level of racist hatred and fear. The (white) family of peaceful farming folk out on the frontier is beset, utterly without cause, by slavering, hideous eyeless beasts. The reservation on which the vampires are herded is an impoverished, backwards tract of dirt—surrounding a slimy, stinking pit of sub-human insectoid breeding and bloodletting. 

Evolution of the undead - zombie movies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 16, 2009 01:42pm | Post a Comment
ZombiesAhead
As vampires are increasingly depicted as little more than be-fanged, neutered teenage emos; the popularity of zombies has risen to the point, according to some sources, that surpasses that of the traditional king of the undead. Zombies are certainly more popular than most of their undead peers, including re-animated skeletonsghosts, mummies or the Crow.

General Mills' Cereal Monsters Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute
Although zombies rule right now, their reign may prove short. After all, no individual zombie has risen to the level of familiarity of a Dracula, Frankenstein's monster or Mac Tonight. What zombies possess in ability to strike fear into the hearts of living, they lack in the personality department. Their mythology is simple, borrowing from ghouls, vampires and mummies whilst adding few touches of their own. That may be why zombies still don’t have their own musical subculture like vampires do with Goth -- just a handful of musically dissimilar bands like The Zombies, White Zombie, and Fela Kuti and The Cranberries' songs, "Zombie.” Zombies can't be said to have truly arrived in the pantheon of monsters until one appears on General Mills' line of monster-themed cereal.
REAL ZOMBIES
In real life, zombies are entranced or betwitched servants or thralls of a Vodou/Voodoo/Vodun bokor... or, sorcerer. They can be living or dead. In movies, however, zombies have gradually taken on a variety of aspects borrowed from other undead, mainly the aforementioned vampires and ghouls.
A NOTE ABOUT GHOULS
Ghouls were originally from Arabia and are an evil sort of desert-dwelling, shapeshifting Djinn that eat children and the dead, afterward taking on the meal’s appearance, thus proving the truth behind the old adage, “You are what you eat.” In films, there had been relatively few attempts to depict ghouls. The British film The Ghoul (1933) concerned an undead Egyptologist’s (played by Boris Karloff) attempt to attain immortality and to kill his former servant. It had more in common with the previous year's Boris Karloff vehicle, The Mummy. Other ghoul movies, like The Mad Ghoul (1943), Nobody’s Ghoul (1962), Boy Meets Ghoul (1965), The Ghoul (1975), Ghoul School (1990), Ghoul Panic (2000) and The Ghouls (2003) are unlikely to ring many bells.

Werewolves in Film, DVDs, Games and Music

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 26, 2009 04:00pm | Post a Comment
 

Whilst werewolves have been the subjects of films at least as early as 1913's The Werewolf, werewolf movies has always played second fiddle to vampire movies. Heck, maybe even third fiddle, with zombies probably having overtaken them. Werewolf films are therefore like the Dr. Pepper to Zombies' Pepsi and Vampires' Coke. The Rodney Dangerfield of monsters. And yet werewolves' history, both in cinema and reality, is indelibly intertwined with other, more popular monsters. Historically, werewolves were even viewed as likely candidates for vampirism after death. And in films they have a long history of grudge matches with their undead enemies. In the past, it was usually Dracula himself vs. The Wolf Man in a series of B-movies. Now, vampires and werewolves are often depicted as members of different races of beings with ancient hatreds that play out less in the horror genre than the fantasy.
 

 

Why don't werewolves get more love? Where did it all go wrong? Maybe it's just because, for the most part, great werewolf films are few and far between -- most of the early ones, which may be the genre's Vampyr or Nosferatu, are lost. Maybe it's because werewolf films are always introducing more and more mythology to the canon, shaping and shifting our perceptions of werewolves as cunning and secretive in the silent era, to rampaging maniacs in the '40s, to Vampire hating proles in modern, dark fantasy. Beyond film, vampires have captured the black hearts of the dispossessed and pasty goth subculture in a way werewolves never have. I mean, Peter Murphy didn't sing, "Lon Chaney Jr.'s Dead." I, for one, have always identified with werewolves more than any other monster. I'm not sure why, but I think there's more to it than them being the underdogs... or wolves as it were. Plus, once (after going to bed in upstairs), I awoke in the early morning on the ground outdoors... unclothed... with bloody bits of skin under my nails and no memory of how I got there.
 

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Movie Myths 101-Vampires

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 3, 2008 12:49pm | Post a Comment


Whilst descriptions of vampires historically have varied widely, certain traits now accepted as universal were created by the film industry. Where did vampires originate? Well, nearly every culture has its own undead creatures which feed off of the life essence of the living, but ancient Persian pottery shards specifically depict creatures drinking blood from the living in what may be the earliest representations of vampires. In the 1100s English historians and chroniclers Walter Map and William of Newburgh recorded accounts of various undead fauna. By the 1700s, an era often known as the Age of Enlightenment, fear of vampires reached its apex following a spate of vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and the Hapsburg Monarchy from 1725 to 1734. Government positions were created for vampire hunters to once-and-for-all rid man of this unholy scourge.

Even Enlightenment writer Voltaire wrote about the vampire plague in his Philosophical Dictionary, "These vampires were corpses, who went out of their graves at night to suck the blood of the living, either at their throats or stomachs, after which they returned to their cemeteries. The persons so sucked waned, grew pale, and fell into consumption; while the sucking corpses grew fat, got rosy, and enjoyed an excellent appetite. It was in Poland, Hungary, Silesia, Moravia, Austria, and Lorraine, that the dead made this good cheer."

There were a couple of famous vampire cases. I, unfortunately, couldn't find any good pictures for this bit.

In Serbia Peter Plogojowitz died at the age of 62. According to reports he returned after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the following day. His wife claimed that he came to her after death and asked for his shoes. Plogojowitz was, reportedly, identified by nine victims who died shortly thereafter.

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