Tag Archives: dracula

Dracula

Inktober is in October, of course, so I was in a bit of a Halloweeny mood.

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Tee Vee

My husband and I have started watching television again. I mean, it’s always on anyway, but we’ve started following specific shows. Now, we don’t watch anything live – the ability to pause and rewind are just too wonderful to give up – but through the magic of Netflix and Hulu we do pretty well.

Once Upon a Time continues to be fun. The relationships between the characters grow ever more tangled. I like that Mulan is finally starting to grow a personality and that Disney did not shy away from the obvious chemistry between her and another female character, heterosexual norms be damned. Rumpelstiltskin remains my favorite character. I rather enjoy alternating between loving, hating, and feeling sorry for him. My husband is rather fond of Captain Hook, and I have to admit that he does have some of the best lines in the show.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland has only had one episode so far, and it shows promise. My reaction to the ads for it went something like this: “From the creators of Once Upon a Time…” – yay! – “…and the writers of Lost…” – um. Anyway, stylistically I haven’t been too impressed yet. One of the best parts of the original Once Upon a Time is the costuming, so I’m hoping that Alice starts wearing better stuff soon. I also would rather John Lithgow in a rabbit outfit than the painful CG critter they’re using, but whatever. I’ll give it a few more episodes before deciding how I feel about it.

Sleepy Hollow is a remarkably silly show, and we both are really enjoying it. Ichabod Crane is a Revolutionary War soldier brought back to life in modern times. Abbie Mills is a police officer. Together, they fight the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Yes, really. It’s hilarious far more often than I think it means to be. I wonder how many more Famous Stories From Colonial America will be incorporated into this show.

My husband’s started watching Supernatural on Netflix streaming, and his commentary is marvelous. He admits that he finds it entertaining, and he’s pretty impressed with some of the creature effects, but he thinks Sam and Dean are both complete douchebags. He’s right, of course, but I think most of the female audience overlooks that because they’re (1) funny and (2) incredibly hot. I stopped watching after the fifth season, but if my husband gets to that point and wants to keep going, I’ll watch it with him. I’m looking forward to hearing his opinion of the Trickster God episodes, and Ghost Facers.

Hannibal should be showing up from Netflix soon. I’ve read all of Cleolinda’s episode recaps, and I think this is the sort of show my husband will like. You might think it strange that I still want to watch the show even though I know everything that’s going to happen, but to me it’s a little bit like reading a book after seeing the movie: I already know I’m going to enjoy the story, only now I’ll get all of the details I missed.

I’ve heard a lot of buzz over the upcoming Dracula series, but I haven’t decided if I want to watch it or not. I’ll probably catch the pilot and go from there. I’m very excited about the upcoming 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who, and I think the twelfth Doctor will be a good one, but I really wish it could settle into a regular season format. I wouldn’t mind going back to half-hour episodes if it meant more than two months of episodes a year. And don’t even get me started on the Sherlock schedule. Is that ever going to start airing again?

I don’t consider myself much of a TV watcher, but a single 45-minute episode during dinner with my sweetie is kind of a nice ritual. Are you watching anything good these days?

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Dueling Monsters Read-a-long

I stumbled across a terribly cute seasonal read-a-long: the Dueling Monsters Read-a-long. Some folks will read Dracula and others will read Frankenstein, then everyone will compare notes. I’ve already read both books, but I think it’s a great idea. And since I’ve read them, I’ll go ahead and answer some of their discussion questions. (Not all of them, mind you, since it’s been quite a while since I read either book, and my memory is like a steel sieve at the best of times.)

Dracula

My review (which somehow never made it to my blog).

Questions:

1. Dracula relies on journal fragments, letters, and newspaper clippings to tell its story. Why might Stoker have chosen to narrate the story in this way? Do letters and journal entries make the story seem more authentic or believable to you? How would the story be different if there were one traditional narrator?

Being an epistolary adds tremendously to the believability of this tale, and allows the narrative to switch between characters without feeling choppy. I particularly enjoyed the different voices of each character.

2. Why does Dracula only drink the blood of English women? Why doesn’t he drink, say, Jonathan Harker’s blood when he has the chance? Why is Lucy Dracula’s first target? What makes her vulnerable?

I suspect this has something to do with the latent sexuality of the vampire figure. Dracula’s wives are very keen to drink Harker’s blood, and Dracula himself prefers women. That, and since women of that time period were regarded as frail and vulnerable in the first place, a little unexpected sickness was less likely to be thoroughly investigated.

5. What are the elements of vampire folklore? For example, what, according to the novel, attracts or repels a vampire? How do you kill a vampire for good? Although Stoker did not invent the mythology of the vampire, his novel firmly established the conventions of vampire fiction. Think of another novel that deals with vampires and compare it with Dracula. (Interview with a Vampire, Twilight…) In what ways are the novels similar? Different?

The thing about Dracula is that it doesn’t firmly establish the conventions of the vampire. He can change into any number of beasts, he is only sometimes harmed by sunlight, etc. His only real requirement is to sleep in hallowed ground, hence the boxes of dirt he lugs all over the place. I did a brief comparison between Dracula and the Cullen vampires in my review of Twilight, and like I said there, I am reluctant to label something as “unrealistic” when it doesn’t exist in the first place.

Also, if you are reading both novels:

11. Was one monster scarier than the other?

Dracula was definitely scarier. I just felt sorry for the monster in Frankenstein.

12. Did either book (or both) surprise you? Was the story what you expected? Were the monsters what you expected? How do the books compare to the stereotypes?

I was surprised at how little of Dracula we see in his namesake novel. Frankenstein was completely different from what I’d been expecting, but I enjoyed it on its own merits.

Frankenstein

My review.

Questions:

1. Victor doesn’t give his monster a name. What does this do for the story? What does it say about us in society today that we think the monster’s name is Frankenstein (besides the fact that we are apparently ill-read)?

Well, considering Victor ran away from the monster shortly after it was created and tried to forget it ever existed, I would have been rather surprised if it had had a name. And I don’t think it says much at all that “we” think the monster’s name is Frankenstein. Look at the movies: it’s a movie about a monster, and it’s called Frankenstein. Usually if the title is a name, it’s the name of the central character in the story. Like Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Lolita, etc. I suppose there would have been less confusion had the book simply been titled Modern Prometheus.

3. How would this novel be different if the characters could let go of their need for revenge?

Well, fewer people would have died, but I think the bigger change would be if Victor had taken responsibility for his actions instead of creating a monster, leaving it alone, and then acting like it never happened.

5. Victor does not trust the monster; supposedly, that’s why he breaks his promise to create him a companion. Is the monster trustworthy? Can Victory be trustworthy even though he broke his promise?

Neither of them are trustworthy. They’ve both got their own interests at heart. I’m sure the monster would eventually have killed Victor, even if he’d kept his promise.

Like I said, I didn’t answer all the questions (but kept their original numbers so you can see what I left out), but it gave me something to think about all the same. Both are good books to read in their own rights, even if they only vaguely resemble the movies that made them famous.

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Van Helsing

Van Helsing is a very silly movie. The basic premise: Gabriel van Helsing is a centuries-old demon fighter who works for an underground order of religious folk dedicated to the fight against evil. He had his memories erased for some reason they never explained. At the beginning of the movie he battles Mr. Hyde (of Jekyll & Hyde fame) before being sent on to Romania to battle Dracula. The famous Count is holed up in Frankenstein’s castle, trying to use the technology that created Frankenstein’s monster to animate his children (who are born dead and bear a remarkable resemblance to gargoyles). Oh yeah, and he keeps werewolves as attack dogs. I felt like I was watching an elaborate piece of fanfiction.

The acting was ridiculously melodramatic and probably intentionally so, but the tongue-in-cheek factor was too low otherwise, making the overacting appear as if it was meant to be taken seriously. To its credit, the score was incredible (to the point that I’m thinking of buying the soundtrack, which is something I almost never do), and the CG was smoothly integrated (noticeable but not obnoxiously so). But please oh please, will somebody teach those actors how to affect a convincing Romanian accent? They sounded like James Bond extras.

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