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Let’s talk vampires, shall we? Arguably the greatest horror monsters of all time, vampires of late have been changed into something that true horror fans barely recognize. From being immortal whoremongers on “True Blood” to the idiocy known as “Twilight”, and back to “The Vampire Diaries” (I have no clue what that one is about), vampires have lost their symbolic literary bite. Allow me to explain.

When Bram Stoker released his classic vampire tale, “Dracula” in 1897, it was a watershed moment for the horror genre. Granted, it wasn’t as widely appreciated then as it is now, but even back in Victorian England literary critics knew “Dracula” was ahead of it’s time. It was terrifying in its day, a book loved and reviled due to the fear it conjured in it’s readers. It was empowering to women, yet menacing. Count Dracula was not a lovelorn prince mourning the loss of his beloved… he was a ravening beast, a force of evil that descended upon upper class society in their homes at will.

And for the majority of the 20th century, Dracula is portrayed as a monster. A killer. The darkest embodiment of our collective fears. That is, until 1979 when a new “Dracula” movie was released, featuring Frank Langela as the count. Granted, this film differs VASTLY from Stoker’s novel… characters have new roles/relationships, Dracula is viewed as a sympathetic being, etc. What this film did, however, was begin the notion of the charming vampire, the monster that would just as well wine you and dine ON you rather than stalk you from the shadows and drink your life away. People began to ‘sex up’ vampires, removing the ancient primal fears our European and Asian ancestors knew and exchanging that for quick money. Sex sells…. just look at movies like “Love at First Bite” (Jim Carrey’s first role, FYI), “Vamp”, “Waxwork”… even classics like “Lost Boys” and “Fright Night” use the element of sexual desire to make their vampires more accessible.

My question is why? Why did directors and writers feel the need to mess with a creature we have feared since the days before Christ? Why do we temper such a primal fear? Before we continue with Hollywood’s castration of the terrifying bloodsucker, let’s take a quick aside to mention of my favorite authors who I think did some wonderful things for the horror genre.

During the ’70’s, Anne Rice released “Interview with the Vampire”, thus beginning her famously popular “Vampire Chronicles” series. Rice’s vampires were sexed up to the tenth degree, however, they were also so far beyond the pale in that regard as to bring out depths of monstrosity and depravity that had not been seen in vampire literature or film until that point. Anne Rice makes her vampires even more evil and sinister by giving them such base and wanton desires. The sexuality used in her books was not meant to generate profits or recognition, I think. I believe their debauchery made her vampires far more erratic, scheming, and threatening. Thank you Anne Rice!

But back to the main point, ever since 1979’s Frank Langela film, Hollywood has been pushing the romantic vampire down horror fans’ throats. Then came “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” in 1992. While I do enjoy the movie, it is VASTLY different from the novel in many respects. Francis Ford Coppola turns a horror icon into a tragic love story… while entertaining, not faithful to the malevolence of the original tale. The worst thing that comes of this, however, is that Coppola’s film paves the way for the sparkly, Radiohead-listening emo pillowbiters that are called vampires these days. Without Coppola, it is safe to assume “Twilight” would have been dead on arrival, thus freeing the world of the ‘woe is me, life sucks’ comic duo that is Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Also… Bella Swan for a name? REALLY? Must have took all of 3 seconds of Italian class to come up with that one. Bleh.

What vampires need is a proper return to form in a film that is done both passionately and competently, with reverence for the source material and it’s history. While not the best movies, I applaud “30 Days of Night” and “Daybreakers” for helping restore of bit of menace and dread to the vampire mythos. That being said,  I can only wish that perhaps one day we will have a faithful “Dracula” film that appeals to us via our deepest fears as opposed to lustful fantasies.

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I am a long time MMORPG’er. Something about the vastness of the worlds, the omnipresent risk of having to either work with or kill other players to accomplish goals, the hours needed to maximize your character… it all just melds into one delicious digital smoothie for me. I’m not addicted to them, at least not yet, but I can see how they consume people. Especially people who might feel disenfranchised or left out, like many self-described nerds usually do.

Anyways, with that in mind, let’s talk Star Wars: The Old Republic. I’m going to come right out with it; I’m a HUGE Star Wars fan. I grew up with the movies, I still watch them at least once a month if not more often, I quote them daily, and I’m currently working on reading my way through the novels of the extended universe. So I’m automatically a bit biased toward this license.

After toying with a few different classes of both Republic and Sith factions, I decided I was going to go the truly nerdy route of creating a character taken from the expanded universe. I chose Darth Zannah, one time apprentice to Darth Bane as written by Drew Karpyshyn. So, rolled a Sith Inquisitor, female, blonde hair, normal build, but “Zannah” was already taken for a name, so I chose to go with a cover name the character used in “Darth Bane: Rule of Two”… “Rainah”. And with that, I was off.

Firstly, SWTOR can be extremely grindy, even for those who are MMORPG veterans. It takes time to level… a lot of time. Granted, I’m not a power-leveler per se, but I’m no slouch. Even so, I’m only up to level 15 as of last night.

At level 10 I chose Sith Assassin as opposed to sorcerer for my advanced class. Now, you Star Wars nerds might say “Wait a minute, Zannah is called a sorceress in the books, even by Bane! You chose wrong!”  To which I reply, touche… I chose assassin for the double-bladed lightsaber, which is central to Zannah’s training, while still keeping in mind that I’ll allocate the majority of my points in the Madness tree, thus staying fairly true to the character’s ficitonal abiliites. Stealth, driving opponents mad with visions from the Dark Side, relying on her Force powers and double-bladed saber to keep her alive long enough to find an opponents weakness… all of these are tactics Zannah uses, and by extension tactics I have adopted for my character.

And it works amazingly well thus far. I had my first death in the game last night in my first PvP match, which is pretty remarkable I think. It was a game of Huttball, and as usual an Imperial victory. It was the first time I’ve taken this character into PvP and I thouroughly enjoyed it. Took down a few enemy carriers, guarded our carriers like a BOSS, even completed a few passes and made some good runs myself. I was extremely impressed with how the character played in relation to how I had envisioned her while reading the books. It felt like I was actually becoming Zannah… in a completely nerdy and digital way, so don’t read any further into that than you have to, weirdos!

I’ll update this category on a regular basis with my adventures in SWTOR. Might be fun.

Finally saw the trailer for the upcoming “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”, and I must admit I had a nerdgasm. I was a history major during my short tenure in college, so it is very rare that I don’t find something in popular movies/what-not that manages to butcher the history of the subject. Take, for example, “Braveheart”. Outstanding movie, one of my all time favorites, but completely wrong on many aspects of the historical facts that surrounded William Wallace.

But when it comes to completely going bonkers with history, Seth Grahame-Smith takes the cake. Not only is this man amazing witty, but his writing is very fluid and readible. I find myself flying through the pages of his books and laughing almost incessantly. And if you recall, his book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is what really started the trend of transforming classic novels into pop-culture horror phenomena.

 

Have to get this off my chest…

Was just reading an article about CNN dealing with a planned athiest rally in DC. That’s all fine and good, we supposedly live in a free society, do we not?

I say that no, we do not live in a truly free nation. We, as a country, seem to have it set in our minds that everyone must be made to think, look, act, live, and love in some prescribed nature and that if anyone varies from that set path, then they must be crazy. We ostracize more than any other ‘modern’ Western nation. Are you homosexual? Then you must be a pervert!!! Are you an athiest? You are immoral and will BURN!!! You like the other political party? Then you must be stupid!!!

I’m just sick of how we treat each other sometimes. I think that’s why I enjoy horror and science fiction so much… horror for the release of tension, sci-fi for imagining a humanity greater and more prosperous than the one we have now.

I can only dream.

I’ve been thinking about setting up my own blog for quite some time now, but procrastination got in the way… funny, eh? Regardless, here it is, another blog of rambling nerdiness further muddying the clouded waters of the interwebs.

But enough of introductions. The big nerd news this weekend, as far as I can tell, is the release of “The Hunger Games.” The local news here had shots of lines of rabid HG fans circling the theatres in anticipation of the movie. I can comment on anything to do with the “Hunger Games”, since I had never heard of the series until about two months ago, and even then only in passing. Some people are saying this series could eclipse such heavyweights as “Harry Potter”, “The Lord of the Rings, and “Star Wars” in the realm of epic nerdiness.

What say you? Will “The Hunger Games” slay the competition, or is it destined for failure?

PS: I did not mention “Twilight” because I absolutely abhor the writing style of the author, her stories, and the films.

./salute