Hemlock Grove: Season 3 Review

This is the end beautiful friend. The end.

Yes after a couple of months, through all of the crazed hellish gore and melodrama I have reached the very end of this prickly dark show. Was it worth watching all three seasons on Netflix? Was it much better than American Horror Story?

This was the last season, it was due to all end, all various parts of the tale wrapped up and put to an end. Given the nature of the show, of course I did expect that to be a possibly offensive to some, gruesome and tragic ending.

Many people held very mixed views of the show-some seemed to really like it to begin with, others did not really take to the style of it all. Televised at the same time as the American Horror Story was on a successful high through the second to third series, this show is different enough to warrant your time if you are a horror fan.

The second season of Hemlock Grove ends with a very unexpected almost Lovecraft inspired finale, raising the stakes and demands of the final seasons much higher. Did it manage to rise to that challenge?

More of the original main characters (played by the high profile actors such as Lili Taylor and Dougray Scott) had been killed off, with a handful of new characters added to the story. New stranded love interest Miranda is kidnapped at the end of season two and this sets young troubled vampire Roman and his gypsy werewolf friend Peter on the task of finding her and defeating the monster whom stole her and the baby Nadia.

At the start of the season it does begin with Miranda in some distant snowy winter lodge held captive by the very enigmatic (and entertaining as an actor) Doctor Spivak. Soon enough to focus returns to Peter and Roman back in Hemlock where Peter’s cousin Destiny is due to marry her new fiancée Andreas. After two or three episodes the story settles on the unfolding criminal problems of Andreas and tensions between him and Peter. Destiny is still a very good character played by the great Kaniehtiio Horn as she has some regular visions and help for the young supernatural pair on their quest. Most of the series does lack in either vampire or werewolf action or set pieces, relying on what we have seen before and might hope to expect toward the season end. The tragic young sister Shelley is fought over by Roman and Olivia, who becomes more and more insane and manipulative than we’ve seen her yet in the show.

Also in this final season Doctor Johann Price gets more focus as he himself has some kind of personal breakdown probably does to trying to help both Roman and Olivia and seeing some much continual bloodshed and killing around his research work at the Godfrey institute. Around halfway into the season almost all of the expected horror elements seems to have gone and we are left watching a Johann and Olivia individually loose their minds, and below par urban crime heist plot and Roman shagging around yet more woman until he sucks their blood in desperate confusion.

The plot for Shelley opens up and can be read as a new exploration of the Frankenstein’s monster theme. She is torn between the sides of her nasty and selfish family, runs away and finds a short term happiness living on the streets.

Eventually more of the vampire/vargulf myth is built upon and opened up, backstory explored as a new young mysterious lady comes to change the dynamic of events, which does gradually help to maintain an original and interesting direction for the horror aspect of the show.

Now of course I have been watching this series with comparison of American Horror Story and also Penny Dreadful in the back of my mind. Hemlock Grove mostly focuses on younger characters and has a more youthful energy and terror through it. The other major thing which kept it separate from those shows is that it largely stays with the same group of character over all three series. Penny Dreadful also keeps and builds upon the same characters but is set in a very different time period.

So again like the two previous seasons of this show, it does dip slightly half way, and possibly doesn’t offer as much full out horror on screen as many viewers might hope to see. It is however an interesting exploration of a set group of characters, often very Shakespearean with the OTT drama. Also being one of the very first Netflix produced shows, I think that they maybe didn’t really know how far they could take the show, how they would best balance the story all the way through. It could have been better in some ways, it could have done others things differently but it does all conclude in the end.

This is a small screen horror series with some obvious flaws but it does have enough things to make it worth watching I assure you if you are a fan of classic gothic horror such a Dracula, werewolves and old legends with a modern setting and plenty of gallons of blood and dead bodies falling to the floor.

James E. Parsons is author of the science fiction books Orbital Kin and Minerva as paperback, ebook and hardback both available from Waterstones, amazon, Barnes & Noble, WHSmith and all other good bookshops internationally now. His first horror novel is published in 2017.

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN:VAMPIRE HUNTER-REWRITTEN AND BITTEN…

This strange new movie has arrived now, an sort of alternative or hidden history of the life of the much respected American historical icon. the premise being that alongside running America, changing political history and liberating many opressed people, he also apparently slayed many a wild fanged blood thristy vampire on a regular basis.

Curiously, this was a movie produced by and overseen by the legend of Gothic kook Tim Burton, from the mash-up genre novel of Seth Graham-Smith. It does not seem to turn out to be anything like the almost overly camp spook horror scares of Burton’s classic Sleepy Hollow, as it seems to aim straight for an almost too serious tale of Abraham is troubled vampire Hunting legend, missing the chance for more entertaining and obvious spoof moments that could have been.

Was it wrong that this movie is not all out stupid or slapstick parody along the lines of Shaun of the Dead? Could it have been?

There is talk around that the other similarly named genre mash-up novels also from the last few years might head to the cinema screen, and will those too miss the mark, not quite take the opportunity to make us laugh out loud at the unexpected surreal genre imagery put together?

This may be a fine enough movie, strange, bizarre, and not the usual kind of horror flick you might go along to these days, but does it actually seem to be the movie that the book could have been? If you have seen it already, I hope you liked it, but expect that it is not what you might have hoped it would be. That might be a shame.

PRIEST(2011) REVIEW:HOLY HUNTERS

Recently watched the movie PRIEST which was released a few months back. The film, starring PAUL BETTANY and MAGGIE Q, which in some ways was a much better experience than I had expected, but then still not the best it could have been.

Based on a manga comic book, and directed by SCOTT STEWART, who also before this movie had directed BETTANY in his other dark fantasy film LEGION. This pairing of star and director has continued, but still seems to not provide the most satisfying or engaging film they might really be capable of producing together.

It could be due to weak scripts, predictable dialogue and plotting or just not enough connection between all the actors and the director, but it is again a honest shame I believe.

PRIEST, like LEGION before it, was a genre movie that I did really want to like, and had some level of hope for. This really might have been foolish of me, knowing how modern Hollywood produced genre big budget movies can leave us regularly feeling cheated, craving so much more. PRIEST is a sort of vampire movie, in a kind of futuristic or alternative reality way. PAUL BETTANY plays one of the priests called together years before to fight and destroy the many montrous vampire packs around. These holy people however, kicked, punched, fought good and hard to defeat their dark evil foes.

He is pulled back in to the danger, while it is believed the vampires had been wiped out when a young girl is taken, and he must turn against his holy life.

Yes, it may not entirely be the most original tale, and it does originate from a manga comic, where it is probably best appreciated for striking graphic style and visual dynamic action artwork. The film does have a very well styled sharp look, a merging of MAD MAX and maybe LOST BOYS in ways. Stark, desert plains, and then grim futuristic city visuals contrast well. BETTANY  I feel is a better actor than some give him credit for, and it can be seen easier in other less genre films that he has performed in. But in this and LEGION, he does give a solid and reflective performance and should be used more often for these apocalyptic roles, though he seems to be moving on personally.

There are other very good actors here too-MAGGIE Q as another priest who has some previous close emotional link to BETTANY, CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER, the legend of strange sci-fi and horror roles BRAD DOURIF, even MADCHEN AMICK turns up. But sadly even this collection of well respected figures still do not entirely bring this movie into what it very well could have been.

It takes vampires and puts a much needed contemporary twist on them, seeming more like mutated monsters with fangs, eyeless horrors waiting in large caverous cave hives. There are several certainly impressive set pieces across the stunning vistas, and within darker scenes, some well directed characters, bizarre and holding interest as the film moves along. A number of very clever scenes and lines between characters, but then predictability sets in again. Really it is the visuals which carry this movie to its end. The final scenes are also where it really lets us down. It deserved a big surprise smack down, with vampires ripping at the priests, some tensions between lead characters, an awesome final showdown.

It does almost offer all of this, but just not quite, not really enough finally. Obviously it is setting up what could be a franchise or at least sequel, but it really should have closed with a better more satisfying end if there is to be nothing more. Interestingly some of the deleted scenes offered extra possibilities and maybe even a better end to the film.

PRIEST is certainly worth seeing, and does provide a much different unique take on on vampires that are not sparkling or charming, which is a good enough reason to see it. Vampires, BETTANY and an almost fantastic movie.

TRUE BLOOD:WRITTEN IN BLOOD…

With a fifth season of the hugely popular sexy vampire television show due later this year, I was just wonder then about shows or films even which have their origins in novels or a series of books. How does this affect the show or movie?

Should it impact the production and influence it totally? Or should a show have complete freedom to begin at the book but then run with the characters and themes and just play with them through the different medium of television or film?

I have not watched TRUE BLOD right from the begining personally, but am now finding it more interesting as it develops after a few seasons. The characters and plots growing, and developing along but coming right back from the original initially successful series of books from author CHARLAINE HARRIS, the southern vampire mystery books. Even while HARRIS agreed with the producer and let him take the book and adapt after a number of others were also interested, have they really successfully translated the book to screen well enough?

It probably has pushed the limits of our perception of television horror or suspense and fantasy, with the continual raunch, naked flesh, blood splattering all over dark woods and exagerrated violence. The often controvertial but certainly successful advertising campaigns have been a huge part of putting TRUE BLOOD right into public consciousness, and as the show tackles a number of social issues through strong metaphor, this is a positive thing indeed.

Many current genre films and shows are regularly adapted from successful books, it is almost unavoidable. But how much crosses over from the original text to screen? How much should or needs to? How often are the authors and creators unimpressed or outraged at what how the book they are most proud of has then been distorted or simplified far too much?

With TRUE BLOOD, it seems that CHARLAINE HARRIS should probably remain very satisfied with the infamous and greatly recieved cult show on air right now. I do know some who have read the novels and are not left short changed, but entertained in a different way by the show, possibly just as satisfied.

Things might be nearing an end soon for SOOKIE and BILL and the many other characters with the increasing bizarre twists within, but this is a show making the original books proud.

A VAMPIRE RETURN:NEW LESTAT AND ANNE RICE ADAPTATION?

As the whole world around seems obsessed in good or bad ways with all kinds of fanged creatures, most of them sparkling unfortunately, I see reported from SFX magazine site, that the rights to film the ANNE RICE book THE TALE OF THE BODY THIEF the forth VAMPIRE CHRONICLE book and featuring vampire LESTAT, previously played by TOM CRUISE in the 1994 INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE movie.

It is about time that a new film from the pages of ANNE RICE vampire novels showed up to show the young romantic vampires how it is done with much more drama, style and fear. While INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE directed by NEIL JORDAN did run into much debate and controversy on release many fans of the book displeased with the choice of casting CRUISE, and then BRAD PITT many felt was also miscast, on the whole it was a fairly good epic impressive vampire film, like barely any other. After that, in 2002 there then came the bold but even much more flawed adaptation of QUEEN OF THE DAMNED which also featured LESTAT in his later wild modern rockstar period. More bad casting, unconvincing special effects and short running time ruined that one.

It is a real shame, as the vampire books of ANNE RICE are so very rich, descriptive, emotional and evocative in the telling of their dark gothic tales and provide so much to work with for film makers. The lure of big box office takings, mass appeal and mainstream success seem to continue to ruin the original intent from the stories. Again, while vampires are a top drawer sure cultural fixture in the wake of mass popularity of TWILIGHT, TRUE BLOOD,  and various genre television shows and movies recently producers and filmmakers have been drawn toward the queen of vampire tales of our age and opportunity suck the life from another loved source of horror. Let us hope that the new LESTAT will creep up and shock us, with respectful authentic fangs, eclipsing Team Edward and  Sookie’s vampire friends as he rightly should…