Category Archives: Vampires

Book Review: ‘Day for Night’ by Stacey E. Bryan

Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

Damien Hirst, the bad boy of art famous for displaying sharks in art galleries, once asked his 6-year-old son which he would prefer in his bed, a girl or a zombie. The boy instantly replied, “Zombie!” That is a crude and random example, I know. But perhaps it makes a bigger point about our collective fascination with the macabre, the unknown…and sometimes that is made most clear from a child’s point of view. That brings me to “Day For Night,” a new novel by Stacey E. Bryan. It has zombies of a sort. And it even has a shark! Like my example, there’s a fine-tuned crude and random vibe to this book.

This is very much a Los Angeles tale. Bryan indicates any pause as a “beat,” reminding us we’re in Tinseltown, full of daily theatrics and scripts coming out of everyone’s ears. We also get a lot of local flavor with characters living out in Brentwood, Culver City, and Marina Del Rey. There’s much talk about the well-hidden Toluca Lake. Everything seems to converge for a time at Sepulveda Boulevard. Plus numerous movie references not the least of which is Francois Truffaut’s “Day for Night.” An old tattered poster for the film decorates the apartment laundry room our main character, Rae, finds herself in at the start of the book.

At first, we don’t know if Rae is caught in the throes of an anxiety attack but she readily declares she is experiencing the end of the world. Is she perhaps an aspiring actress? Yes, she is. But what she describes next leaves much room for further speculation. Rae witnesses her neighbor Annie levitate up above the tile floor. Annie blacks out just as Rae throws her yellow bra at the glowing force surrounding her friend. By the time that Annie wakes up, it’s too late to rationally explain to her that something most supernatural (thwarted alien abduction?) has just occurred. Annie completely missed it. Rae experienced the whole thing!

And so our story unfolds alternating between typical Angeleno angst and unexplained phenomena. It’s a wonderful balancing act that Bryan maintains. Basically, half the novel favors events more grounded in reality and then, as the weird stuff pushes its way to the foreground, you get a more mature version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Rae is in her thirties and, like her counterparts has had time to become more hardened and jaded than Buffy. Rae is a tough cookie recovering from quite a lot of rough scrapes, especially the day a tiger shark got too close and chomped off some of Rae’s fingers.

Bryan is totally in command of her story and has fun teasing out moments for her main character, Rae. Funny internal monologues give way to sudden outbursts followed by the latest development in Rae’s bumpy journey. Along the way, she encounters romance ranging from comical to intense. Throughout, Rae discovers a tapestry of connections that sustain her and help her grow ranging from the mundane to the sublime.

“Day for Night,” a novel by Stacey E. Bryan

Bryan has mastered that same melding of the everyday with the supernatural that has appealed to legions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans. The pithy exchanges between Bryan’s characters crackle with hard-won insight. It is insight mixed with harsh reality…and the movies. This is L.A., after all. It’s a mix of gumption that just might be enough to take on vampires and space aliens.

“Day for Night” is published by Vagabondage Press. You can find it on Amazon right here. And you can find Stacey at her website right here.

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Filed under Aliens, Book Reviews, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Horror, Los Angeles, Satire, Supernatural, Vampires

Interview and Review: Donny Cates and REDNECK

Donny Cates

Donny Cates (GOD COUNTRY) is a writer to watch. His new comic book series, REDNECK, comes out this Wednesday, April 19th, and it is a highly imaginative mashup of vampires and good ole boy Texan tall tale storytelling. There’s a lot going on here that raises this comic to the level of exceptional work. And that certainly includes the masterful inks by Lisandro Estherren and colors by Dee Cunniffe. You can find it at Skybound, an imprint of Image Comics.

Cates comes across as a natural born storyteller. He’s got a passion for bringing the reader into his world. In this case, it’s a motley crew of vampires holed up in a little patch of Texas hill country. These are good folk. Don’t mean no harm. Just want to live out their endless lives in peace, you see what I’m saying here, pardner?

It ain’t easy bein’ a vampire.

First off, you need to know that this is a real tasty twist on vampires. Cates suggests that this is a reverse image of The Walking Dead where it’s humans surrounded by monsters. In the case of Redneck, it’s monsters surrounded by humans–which can be a lot more dangerous as humans can get organized about their violence. The Bowman vampire clan would much rather be left alone to run the local barbecue joint while surviving all these years on just plain old cow’s blood.

Inks by Lisandro Estherren; Colors by Dee Cunniffe

Our main character is Bartlett. He’s a lanky old fella who is constantly being spooked by Perry, his young niece who reads his thoughts. We begin with Uncle Bartlett reminiscing over his time in the Civil War. Perry insists on knowing which side he was on. Bartlett gives a gruff but worldly response: Live long enough, and you learn not to take sides. But that level of tolerance is lost on the boys in the family who are restless and want to stir up a little trouble. Mind you, “the boys” are in their sixties. But it’s all relative when you’re talking vampire years.

What Cates envisions for this comic book series is an exploration of Southern culture through an entertaining story. You get to know these vampires on a deep generational level. There’s the boys, and Uncle Bartlett and his niece, Perry. Then there’s the patriarch, J.V., leading the pack. And there’s also Granpa who is God only knows how old. Best to keep him locked up in the attic. He makes a brief and cryptic appearance in this first issue.

I asked Cates about a moment in the story when J.V. complains about these “pincheways” the young people use. What the heck is that? Cates did not miss a beat and provides a window into the authentic flavor to this story. Pincheways are a name an old Texan friend of Cates’s uses for cell phones. Seeing a new generation and their rapid-fire texting sort of disgusts him. That’s one of the many quirky cultural gaps you’ll find in this first issue. The combination of quirky script and art definitely makes this a welcome twist to the vampire genre.

REDNECK #1 is available as of April 19, 2017. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Horror, Image Comics, Interviews, Skybound Entertainment, Texas, Vampires

Review: THE BELFRY, published by Image Comics

THE BELFRY by Gabriel Hardman

THE BELFRY by Gabriel Hardman

Gabriel Hardman is an artist with a very fluid and powerful drawing style. And that carries over to his writing as well. His latest one-shot comic for Image Comics is a perfect case in point, entitled, THE BELFRY, a trippy surreal vampire jaunt. You could say this is how truly engaged cartoonists dream, or have nightmares: a sequence of seemingly random events that creep up on you to unveil some unnerving results. For Hardman, it all began with a sketch of a vampire woman with silky wings sprawled inside a dank cavern. That haunting drawing led to this strange and lyrical story.

Hardman runs with dream logic and gives us quite a number of compelling visuals: an airliner crash-landing in a remote jungle, devilish winged figures, a spike jammed into an eyeball socket! Yes, it can get gruesome but this is stylish horror. For those of you into quirky comics, you are likely already fans of Gabriel Hardman (KINSKI, Star Wars Legacy) as well as his work teamed up with Corinna Sara Bechko (INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, HEATHENTOWN). This is an artist loaded with wit, vision, and endless energy. Hardman loves to draw as his expressive ink does attest!

The initial sketch that set things in motion.

The initial sketch that set things in motion.

“Fwip! Fwip! Fwip!” go the incredibly long batwings. There’s a deliciously uncompromising vibe to this comic. Right after the airliner crashing, because of those demonic wings getting in the way, co-pilot Bill is awakened by flight attendant Janet. All the passengers have been accounted for. But what about Captain Anders? Well, er, he’s alive except…there’s a stake through his eye. Then there’s a beautifully surreal transition…Bill is running through the wild jungle and falls, as into a rabbit hole, except it’s a huge cave full of humanoid bats. Bill lands with a tremendous thud. He’s been stripped bare. All the other passengers are naked as well. And from there the screws are turned tighter and a splendid nightmare spreads out in full bloom.

THE BELFRY will prove to be a great new addition to your comics reading so make a note of it as this one is a month away. And, if you haven’t been following Hardman, seek him out. A good place to start is the ongoing series, INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, to which I provide a review right here.

THE BELFRY one-shot issue is available as of February 22, 2017. For more details, visit Image Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Corinna Sara Bechko, Gabriel Hardman, Horror, Image Comics, Vampires

Movie Review: ‘Blood Ransom’ Starring Anne Curtis and Alexander Dreymon

Anne-Curtis-Blood-Ransom-2014

“Blood Ransom” is a slow burn crime thriller that fearlessly takes on the whole vampire genre. As if oblivious to “Twilight,” this vampire love story is a noir-tinged offbeat adventure harking back to the ’70s. It’s got your basic adreniline-fuled plot, vampire gang vs. the one guy who might make a difference, plus a bunch of quirky twists. And much of what makes this work is a strong cast, starring Alexander Dreymon, as the lone wolf hero, in love with Anne Curtis, as the mysterious vampire vixen.

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Filed under Horror, Horror Movies, Movie Reviews, movies, Vampires

Horror Movies 2014: ‘Blood Ransom’ Starring Anne Curtis and Alexander Dreymon to Premiere in L.A. on October 28, 2014

Anne-Curtis-Blood-Ransom-LA-Premiere

We all love a good horror movie. Keep an eye out for “Blood Ransom,” which will hit select theaters on Halloween in North America, Friday, October 31, 2014.

“Blood Ransom” will have its premiere in L.A. at Arclight Hollywood, 6360 W Sunset Blvd, on October 28, 2014, at 8pm. It stars Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story: Coven & BBC America series The Last Kingdom), Philippine’s #1 actress & People Asia’s National Sweetheart, Anne Curtis.

Blood Ransom tells the story of Jeremiah, caught in the middle of an ill-fated plot to kidnap Crystal, his boss Roman’s beautiful young girlfriend. If that isn’t complicated and dangerous enough, there are some pretty fierce vampires to deal with too.

For more information, visit the Blood Ransom website here.

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Filed under Halloween, Horror, Horror Movies, movies, Vampires

DVD Blu-ray Review: DAN CURTIS’ DRACULA (1974)

Dan-Curtis-Jack-Palance-Dracula

The early 1970s made possible a very cool television movie starring legendary tough guy actor Jack Palance as Dracula. Imagine Clint Eastwood as Dracula. Close, but no cigar. Today, Liam Neeson could do it, but he probably won’t. The ’70s were a good time for vampires, along with zombies. It was a more innocent time. They had not even begun to claw the surface of today’s oversaturation. Dracula, as both a literary and horror figure, played well with audiences. And certain older actors were welcome too. There was something about Palance, his affinity for the dark side, that made him a natural for the role.

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Filed under Dark Shadows, Dracula, movies, MPI Home Video, Richard Matheson, Television, Vampires

Interview: Director Eduardo Rodriguez and ‘Fright Night 2: New Blood’

Jaime Murray and Will Payne in FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

Jaime Murray and Will Payne in FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD

Eduardo Rodriguez is the director of the latest “Fright Night” movie and it’s really good. “Fright Night 2: New Blood” has style and a nice mix of horror and humor. I had the opportunity to talk with Rodriguez about his career, horror movies, and even what he’s currently reading. We also chatted about Jaime Murray, who plays the professor with an evil secret in “Fright Night 2: New Blood.” Was it just me, or was I onto something when I suggested that Jaime Murray would make an excellent Lisa in a remake of “Weird Science”? Rodriguez agrees with me, Murray would make a great Lisa. And, just so we’re clear, there will be a remake of this John Hughes classic.

Kelly LeBrock and Anthony Michael Hall in WEIRD SCIENCE

Kelly LeBrock and Anthony Michael Hall in WEIRD SCIENCE

Back to our subject, Eduardo Rodriguez has made some very cool movies with an intense vibe to them, like “Stash House,” “The Messengers,” and “El Gringo.” It is safe to say that he has a taste for action, horror, and the offbeat. It is a treat to get to listen to him relate his student days and then compare that to being a professional. And it’s fun to listen to a pro praise something current like, “The Conjuring.” Clearly, he comes across as someone who loves a good story. And it was nice to have him share with us what he’s currently reading, “Unwelcome Bodies,” by Jennifer Pelland.

UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland

UNWELCOME BODIES by Jennifer Pelland

Rodriguez has come a long way in his career. He advises those in film school to cherish their time in school since those days don’t come back. He sounds quite happy with where he is now. It does look like he has a great career ahead of him. I went back and discovered one of the movies that Rodriguez worked on, “The Messengers.” That has got to be a very scary movie. I have yet to see it and will need to get back to you on it. Here’s a trailer:

Here is a link to the full interview:

“Fright Night 2: New Blood” arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on October 1. You can read my review here.

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Filed under Eduardo Rodriquez, Horror, movies, Vampires

ANGEL AND FAITH #21 Review — Can You See An Animated Movie?

Angel-and-Faith-No-21

With this new arc, “What You Want, Not What You Need,” the scope of this saga hits you. A story has been allowed to breathe freely and unfold luxuriously. It feels well lived in and we don’t want it to stop. You don’t care, on some level, if Rupert Giles ever comes back to life. Part of you knows it’s just wrong. And part of you knows that some things just need to happen. And that’s okay. It’s not like the characters are totally in agreement on what should happen next! That’s okay too. We want conflict. And, you read it here at Comics Grinder first, there’s a lot to be said for taking this whole thing and turning it into an animated movie! That says a lot for the comic, is what I’m saying, really. It does engage you in such a way that you get lost in the characters. Now, the fact is, stories should get to breathe and follow one thought to the next. That is what supposedly happens when you have an event comic but, in reality, that is too often an opportunity to just string along a fan base. Not so here. Dark Horse Comics cares about its readers and “Angel and Faith” is an excellent case in point.

We love Christos Gage in charge of the script. We love Rebekah Isaacs in charge of the art. The whole look and feel is outstanding. And where did Faith’s tattoo come from? I’m sorry, maybe that’s from the original television series. Well, I’m sure it is but I have only seen a few episodes. Not a true believer, huh? I have to do some marathon viewing someday. Is anyone rocking a Faith tattoo? You’re probably out there. Ah, those little details. Then there’s Angel’s nipple ring! We know, for sure, what that’s all about. It is a little relic that helped in the hunt for remnants of the soul of Ruper Giles. And here we are, all the elements to the Giles soul have been safely gathered into a magic bowl and the body of Ruper Giles has been carefully preserved and sits nearby on an operating table. The question is, What to do next? Proceed? Or run like hell? Well, there’s always that tricky question of getting enough super magic juice to jump start this project. That sticky issue comes to a head here because where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Is that Pearl we see reflected in Faith’s sword on the cover art above? Why, I believe it is. And why would that be, do you think? Well, Pearl and Nash are the baddies feverishly looking for any bits of magic still around. And you’ve also got Whistler, Angel’s former mentor, now arch-nemesis, in on the hunt too. Since Angel needs magic like nobody’s business, there’s a strong likelihood of there being a clash and so it is in this issue. It is a wonderful clash, interlaced with the action involved in attempting to bring Giles back from the dead! When you think of all the explanations out there for time travel, some tend to be more poetic and some try to sound as authentic as possible. We’ve got a little of both going on with the Giles resurrection project. Alasdair Coames, in all his fuddy-duddy wizardy, leads the operation in a brilliant fashion. But, as the title for this final arc suggests, is it all for naught? Or worse yet, should one really give pause and ask if they should be careful for what they wish for? At such a late date, should this still be a question? Well, read and find out.

“Angel and Faith #21” is available as of April 24. Visit our friends at Dark Horse Comics here.

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Filed under Angel & Faith, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Horror, Supernatural, Vampires