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Tomb of Dracula Omnibus, Vol. I (Review/Retrospective)

It’s almost hard to imagine, looking at today’s comic book industry, but there was a time when horror comics were a major money-spinner for the “big two” comic book companies. The Tomb of Dracula stands out as the longest running and most successful of Marvel’s horror titles from the seventies, but there were a whole line of books being published featuring monsters old and new. It’s great that Marvel have taken the time and care to publish the complete series in three deluxe hardcover volumes. The Tomb of Dracula is a gem in Marvel’s seventies publishing crown, a delightfully enjoyable pulpy horror series that feels palpably more mature than a lot that the company was publishing at the same time.

A tome of Tomb…

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Non-Review Review: Dracula (1931)

I have a soft spot for classic Universal horror. Not that it should come as a surprise – I’m a sucker (ha!) for some vintage Hammer Horror as well, and all other forms of classical horror (even if they may occasionally veer into the realm of kitsch). It’s really hard to overstate the massive influence that the 1931 Universal version of Dracula had on the subsequent adaptations of Stoker’s truly iconic novel. I honestly don’t believe that the character would the same without Bela Lugosi’s truly magnificent central performance, as seen here. Sure, I’m less than convinced about the ending, but most of Tod Browning’s adaptation is a feast for the eyes and pulpy horror classic.

Stairway to heaven?

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Non-Review Review: Blacula

You shall pay, black prince. I shall place a curse of suffering on you that will doom you to a living hell. I curse you with my name. You shall be… Blacula!

racist!Dracula

It’s hard to make sense of Blacula. On one hand, it’s an interesting attempt to update gothic horror stereotypes for a modern audience, translating the horrors of vampirism skilfully from foreign countryside to an urban environment. On the other hand, it’s an uneven mess of a film, with plot holes so large that Blacula doesn’t need to turn into a bat to fly through them. It’s an interesting experiment, and one successful enough to spawn a sequel in Scream Blacula Scream! and to inspire films like Blackenstein, even if some fascinating concepts don’t necessarily add up to a fascinating whole.

A role he can sink his teeth into?

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Non-Review Review: Dracula – Prince of Darkness

It’s interesting that Hammer chose to package Dracula: Prince of Darkness in the “best of” collection I picked up for my gran over Christmas. It isn’t that it’s hardly the strongest entry in Hammer’s canon, but it’s also not the strongest instalment in their Dracula franchise. It’s the third release in the series chronologically (and, arguably, in terms of quality), following The Horror of Dracula and The Brides of Dracula). It’s not a bad film, if you’re a fan of these sorts of sixties gothic horrors, but it’s not necessarily a good one either. It’s functional, if not efficient, and never really finds anything particularly compelling about any of its characters or its set up.

You can Count on me!

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Non-Review Review: Targets

Targets still feels quite a bit ahead of its time, which is quite something for a film intended to transition between the classic horror monster movies and the more sinister and grounded modern horrors. Indeed, Boris Karloff’s last starring role seems to prefigure a shift in the type of horror movies flooding the cinemas, years ahead of the more iconic and mundane “slasher” icons who succeeded Dracula and Frankenstein as the monsters at the matinée. Targets is an intriguing and remarkable little film, charmingly understanded and perhaps appealing for the lack of pomp it attempts to generate.

The horror!

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Non-Review Review: Scream Blacula Scream

I curse you with my name. You shall be… Blacula! Vampire!  

– the only thing worse than Dracula is racist!Dracula  

I have to concede, Scream Blacula Scream (what a title!) is actually pretty high end blaxploitation. Sure it’s cornier than my foot after a long hike, but it never truly descends into the realm of self-parody that we seem to have (at least retroactively) come to expect from such blaxploitation films. This is actually a sequel to the previous year’s Blacula. Although I wasn’t really going in expecting much, what I got was certainly better than a large portion of the generic Hammer Horror films of the era. This is certainly helped no end by the lead performance from William Marshall who – even in a silly cape – manages to lend proceedings a touch of class.  

Fangs for the memories...

Note: I have to concede that I am pretty ticked off with MGM HD. They’ve been running this as the UK High Definition Premiere of “Blacula”, but it’s actually the sequel. Not that I’m complaining too much, but it feels weird to see the sequel before the original.  

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The Monster Movie Genre – It’s Aliiiiive!

Well, if Hollywood is going to aggressively continue its campaign of remakes in a 3D era, I suppose there are worse genres to resurrect than the old “Universal Monster Movie” horror sub-genre. We really should have seen this coming with the impending release of The Wolf Man later in the year, but there are confirmed remakes of The Bride of Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon in the works. It seems that Hollywood is as keen to cannibalise its trashy glories as it is to remake its celluloid classics.

Something fishy's going on...

Something fishy's going on...

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