Thursday, July 1, 2010

10 Ways to Decide if Vampires are Better Than Werewolves

The immortal question: Team Edward or Team Jacob. Not since the Nephytes battled the Laminates has Mormon literature produced a more dramatic showdown between supernatural creatures. The question of lyncanthropian versus vampiric superiority has gone beyond the Cullen and Black clans. I've devised ten sure-fire categories that will surely help us find an answer to this question. Team Edward? Team Jacob? Team Bill? Team Alcide? The only team I'm on is Team Truth.

1. Spider-Man Supporting Chracters:
Morbius vs. Man-Wolf
Morbius was a scientist who, in a failed experiment to cure his fatal blood disease, turned himself into a vampire. Man-Wolf was the astronaut son of J. Jonah Jameson who was turned into a werewolf by a magic moon rock. The origins of these two frenemies of Peter Parker is further evidence that all science should be outlawed in the Marvel Universe. No space probes. No medical experiments. Not even a crystal radio kit. Morbius can't help but be a villain sometimes, which is understandable considering he needs to suck people's blood to live. He's been a good guy as well. He's teamed up with Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and the Punisher. Man-Wolf, however, once had sex with She-Hulk. 'Nuff said True Believer.
Advantage: Werewolves

2. Purple Muppet:
Count Von Count vs. the Big Bad Wolf
I do not remember the Big Bad Wolf except for the bit where he is being interviewed by Kermit. It is true that he is technically not a werewolf. He counts because he is a fusion of human and wolf. He still qualifies even if the wolf portion is a puppet and the human part is just a hand. What the wolf cannot do, however, is math. I feel that's a fair assumption considering the difference between bricks and straw alluded him. Not to besmirch the recently deceased Jaime Escalante, but The Count is truly the greatest math teacher who ever lived. When I was a high schooler it would have been very helpful if he expanded his curriculum from counting to ten to Algebra 2.
Advantage: Vampires

3. Ridiculous True Blood bars:
Fangtasia vs. The Lone Wolf
Honestly, I would not want to visit any of these bars. The mixture of techno music, black latex, and mind control in Fangtasia doesn't sound too appealing. The Lone Wolf seems dangerously close to a bear club. In classic True Blood style, character traits are expressed through theme bars. Vampires are faux-elegant and predatory while werewolves are earthy and rowdy. I'm going to give this one to the vampires because I enjoy Pam and Eric's banter.

4. Munsters:
Grandpa vs. Eddie
Both have cool widow's peaks and furry side burns but only one became an eccentric old coot who ran for governor of New York. Eddie gets points for being half Frankenstein which has long puzzled viewers but makes sense when you use your brain. When Dr. Frankenstein assembled Herman, the genitals must have come from a freshly deceased lycanthrope. There is also a possibility that Lilly cheated on Herman with the Werewolf of London. Grandpa still wins because he was not only Count Dracula but also a mad scientist thus becoming the greatest fictional character ever.

5. Monster based cereals:
Count Chocula vs. Fruit Brute
Count Chocula may be the favorite for this battle. I've never had Fruit Brute because it was discontinued when I was an infant and my parents thought it best if I stick to formula rather than sugar frosted sugar bits. Count Chocula is delicious and has a vampire on the box. What more could you want? I'll tell you: a werewolf wearing green and pink overalls ferociously offering you lime flavored marshmallows.
ADVANTAGE: Werewolves

6. Best Insane Ghanaian Painted Movie Poster:
Mr. Vampire 3 vs. Twins
If you have not looked at the amazing world of Ghanaian movie posters go here and take a journey into the legitimately disturbing landscape of Third World exploitation cinema. According to the poster, Mr. Vampire 3 has a tough sensei battling vampires. That's weak tea compared to the horror that is the Twins poster. Which human-dog hybrid face is more hypnotically horrifying? I have no idea what the film is about but I would wager that it is not the same film as the famous Schwarzenegger/DeVito romp. I would nominate "Horror Nigerian Movie" as the greatest, most terrifying tag-line of all time.
ADVANTAGE: Werewolves(?)

7. Lon Chaney Jr. Facial Hair:
Son of Dracula vs. The Wolf Man
The Wolf Man is the classic, but Son of Dracula is one of the best later Universal horrors. It's one of the first vampire romances ever. Also, it's the first time a pop culture blood sucker relocated to the bayou: the preferred home of modern sleazy vampires. That's not why it's going to win. It's going to win because of the John Waters-meets-Salvador Dali flavor saver that LCJ is sporting.
8. Groovie Goolies:
Count Dracula vs. Wolfie
Look at how Dracula runs. That makes Edward Cullen look like Jason Statham. Dracula was voiced by Larry Storch from F-Troop which does help his case a bit. Wolfie, however, was voiced by Howard Morris a.k.a Ernest T. Bass from The Andy Griffith Show. Also, Wolfie reminds me of that other monstrous hippy: Charles Manson. Talk about "creepy-crawling"!
ADVANTAGE: Werewolves

9. Cutest transformation animal:
bat vs. wolf
Generally speaking, bats are not very cute. They are very good at echolocation and eating mosquitos but cuteness is not their forte. The red bat, however, looks like a Pokemon that Santa's elves made.

10. Young People's organizations:
Al "Grandpa" Lewis's Jr. Vampires vs. Teen Werewolves

Self-obsessed teenagers wearing fake tails and cat eye contacts or a dodgy z-level celebrity peddling a 1-900 number? Neither are particularly attractive. The Teen Wolves, however, do provide a sense of community to kids that might not have it. If you need to pretend to be a fantasy monster to relate to other human beings, go for it. Do not kill the neighbors' dogs and you'll be okay. When are neck bolts going to be a fad? What about dusty linen wrappings? Fake humps? Kid's shouldn't limit themselves to just vampires or werewolves. There's a whole world of horror archetypes out there! Whatever the problems with Teen Wolfing, I'm sure the kids get something out of it. With Grandpa's Junior Vampires Scam Club all the kids got were some amazingly lame stories, shitty patches, and a lecture about their parents not being made out of money. If the few kids who did dial up Grandpa's hotline had a wolf pack of their own, then maybe they wouldn't have wasted hard earned money on possibly the stupidest thing ever.
ADVANTAGE: Werewolves

and the winner is...
Upon reflection, I have decided that Frankensteins are cooler than both Vampires and Werewolves. This is fact not conjecture.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DOCTOR WHO: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good:
Matt Smith popping out of a big cake. Scientific fact: Matt Smith is a bazillion times better than David Tennant.

Christopher Eccleston verbally abusing a Dalek.

Tom Baker's eyeballs.

The part in "Day of the Daleks" when Jon Pertwee delivers a heinous, Captain Kirk-level back chop to a thug from the future without spilling his drink.

Patrick Troughton's facial reactions to monsters and/or foam.

William Hartnell in general. The OG (Original Gallifreyan)

The Zygons: half fetus, half octopus...ALL TERROR. Still Doctor Who's greatest monster? (Yes.)

Leela's cavegirl from the future costume.

Roger Delgado as the Master. That's a widow's peak that means business (and evil).

Doctor Who being canceled in 1989. A mercy killing if there ever was one.

The Bad:
In the mid-1980's it was decided that Doctor Who's level of resemblance to a rodeo clown was dangerously low.

The time when Doctor Who got life advice from Geoffrey the butler.

Doctor Who celebrating its triumphant return to the airwaves by stealing jokes from Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

The Doctor mawkishly manufacturing a doofy doppelganger to bone the buxom and big-lipped Billie Piper.

Timothy Dalton and his stupid power glove.

The Ugly:

Tip for aspiring writers: do the opposite of whatever this book says about plot and you'll be fine.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Achtung Zombi: 5 Undead National Socialists

After 65 years, the world is still collectively squeamish at the thought of the heart of Western Civilization committing spiritual and intellectual suicide. The Nazis still loom in our memory. Low brow media like horror movies and comic books do not shy away from poking a stick into our fear of National Socialism rising from the dead. They do it, however, with the language they know. The language of monsters. This fear (that happens to be, unfortunately, based in reality) of Nazi ideas and beliefs being figuratively undead is embodied by Nazis who are literally undead. These five ghastly goose-steppers are some of the most memorable.

(FUNF) Von Klempt from Mike Mignola's Hellboy
Mignola is not the master of the undead comic book Nazi. That title will always belong to Jack Kirby (see below) but Mignola's Hellboy is rotten with them. In a bit of historical retconning he made Rasputin, the horny pet monk of Czarina Alexandra, a Nazi collaborator and immortal wizard. There was also Kronen, a scientist who always wore gas mask, whom was turned into a badass ninja cyborg by Guillermo del Toro in the first Hellboy movie. Von Klempt makes the list because not only he was an undead disembodied Nazi head (more on that later) but also because he controlled an army of cybernetic gorillas. Poland never had a chance.

(VIER) Aqua-Nazi-zombies from Shock Waves
I was excited about watching Shock Waves. I remember the VHS box as a kid. It's about zombies who are not only Nazis (Nazbies? Zomzis?) but they live underwater. It's the Creature from the Black Lagoon + George Romero + Mein Kampf. How could this not be amazing? What a surprise when someone replaced my fresh-from-Amazon DVD of this cult classic with a chronically dull and ineptly made snoozefest. Besides being terrible, Shock Waves shows that movie zombies are scary because they're your next door neighbors. They're your family who now want to eat you. Nazis were always brainwashed villainous a-holes so Nazi zombies are not that much of a stretch from reality.

(DREI) cursed Nazis from Dead Snow
These zombies look great. The movie has some cool gore. It also has a fat guy in a Peter Jackson's Braindead t-shirt spouting clever dialogue like "This is just like Evil Dead" and other annoying nerd references. Dead Snow is too precious for its own good and it attempts to mask the fact that it is extremely derivative by being insufferably arch and referential. The zombies themselves are pretty cool though. If you want something creepy and Nordic read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or watch Mamma Mia.

(ZWEI) Adolf Hitler
I was toying with the idea of watching They Saved Hitler's Brain for this post but life is too short. All I know is that part of the movie was filmed in the early 60's and parts were filmed in the late 60's. This means that one of the leads looks like Don Draper while the other looks like a bargain basement porn star. I did watch a clip that shows a disembodied Hitler head hooked up to a machine featuring a lot of dials and switches. As an added bonus, this Hitler-machine has a handle making the Fuhrer's head completely portable. Talk about convenience!

Probably the best undead Hitler story is "He's Alive" from The Twilight Zone. Like all of Rod Serling's best scripts, its twist is almost laughably meaningful but hearfelt. The late Dennis Hopper gives one of his best early performances as a Neo-Nazi who finds out that his mysterious benefactor is Hitler's ghost.

(EINS) Three way tie: Hate Monger, The Red Skull, and Armin Zola
It's logical that the greatest creator of monster Nazis would be a Jewish World War II veteran. Jack Kirby was the master of comic book krauts. If they weren't actively deformed like the three winners, they looked like Neanderthals with monocles. The Hate Monger (the guy in the purple KKK outfit) should technically be listed under #2 since the Fantastic Four revealed that (SPOILER WARNING) he was actually Hitler with ray gun. The Red Skull (soon to be played by the suitably bulbous-headed Hugo Weaving) has cheated death on several occasions. Once he came back in a body cloned from Captain America by this guy:

Armin Zola, continuing with the theme of Nazi heads where no Nazi heads should be, downloaded his mind into a robotic body. His face is projected on a computer screen in his chest. The image of the perfect master-race living on as a bunch of malformed goons is the irony at the heart of Nazi horror. Zola and the others on this list show that even death will not interfere with the lust for lebensraum. If your original genes were Aryan it doesn't matter if you are currently a robot, a zombie, or a head in a jar.