Thursday, October 31, 2013

October, Day 31 - DUSK

(Please note: the following is the concluding chapter in an ongoing story begun last Halloween. If you would like to start at the beginning, and I hope you will, the first chapter in the story can be found here. Each chapter ends with a link to the next one, so you can click-through and read the whole thing, if so inclined. Please enjoy. And Happy Halloween!)

Bigbaddrac's Twitter feed.

DUSK (De Santos, 12) Another negligible YA fantasy fuckfest, elevated only by Peyton's performance as Come-On-That-HAS-To-Be-Dracula

SamGFan's Twitter feed.

and that OLD guy as Lord Darkbloom was TOTALLY WRONG. HE DIES IN THE BOOK. WTF #dusk

Bigbaddrac's Twitter feed.

@SamGFan that OLD guy is what they call an Actor. Nothing you'd know about.

SamGFan's Twitter feed.

@Bigbaddrac whatever. He's WRONG. HE WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE. #dusk

Bigbaddrac's Twitter feed.

@SamGFan the future sucks because of you.

Internet Movie DataBase.

Box Office Milestone: "Dusk" Crossing $200 Million Domestically

28 October 2012 12:30 PM, PDT | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

The teen horror romance sensation Dusk isn't going dark anytime soon. Despite some fan controversy about liberties taken with Stacy Lao's best-selling novel, the first movie in what is already slated to be the next YA fantasy franchise remains strong at the box office. Stars Samantha Gillenwater and Travis Sibley have already signed on for the follow-up, The Ocean at Night. No word if the second film will continue to rewrite (with Lao's blessing) the fan-favorite epic and resurrect horror legend Matthew Peyton for another go as Hamilton Darkbloom, whose relationship with Gillenwater's heroine Devona Bradshaw is less combative (though no less intense) in the movie than in Lao's original novel. Photos: Horror Crit

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Toni Blackthorn's blog, The Bay of Angels.

You know what, screw it. I don't care what any of you whiny whippersnappers say: My word is final on this.

Just 'cause you're all invested in your favorite book and wanna be all whiny 'cause the movie's all different and wah wah wah, shut up. You got two things I never got when I was your age.

1) You got Matthew Peyton in a new vampire movie. That you got to see on the big screen. (It's in a goddamn digiprint, sure, but it's better than nothing.)


2) You got Matthew Peyton in a new vampire movie playing effin' Dracula. Yeah yeah, I know he's Hamilton Darbloom and why didn't he die cuz he dies in the book and shut up. We here at the Bay of Angels (all one of me) have gone all Zapruder movie on this, and we've sat thru Dusk more times than we care to admit for ten minutes of Peyton. And in those ten minutes, Peyton's playing DRA-GOOOOOO-LLYA. THE EVIDENCE:

--The ring. Lord Darkbloom's got some fairly fancy and modern threads in this (and give'em credit, Peyton looks...downright smokin' in some shots) but if you look at his left hand HE'S WEARING DRACULA'S ONYX RING. They never zoom on it like OMG HE'S WEARING THE RING HE'S DRACULA, maybe cuz the director credits us with some attention to detail, or some intelligence. Hell, maybe it's just fanservice, but dammit, that's the ring.

--The speech. Darkbloom rolls his aaarrrrrs just a leetle bit, like Dracula. And no dammit, that is not 'cause Peyton's got no range. I've seen him play Brit, American, French, Latin (oooh, that was a bad one), and all other kinds of accents. Plus he studied that stuff, and as recently as last year, in the British movie CONSUL executed what I'm told is a flawless Eastern European accent. So yes, that's Dracula's accent what Lord Darkbloom be talkin' wid, and it's not the only one Peyton's got. It's a choice, I tell you.

--The triad connection. Okay, it's a little thin, but Darkbloom talking about that skirmish with the triads in the 90s had to be a reference to FIFTY GUNS AGAINST DRACULA. But wait, you say, that was in the book, so point to you, sonny. Maybe.

--The tenderness. Darkbloom's affection for Devona has a faint hint of the chemistry we saw between Peyton and Jenna Clark back in THE RED RED BLOOD OF DRACULA. There's a whiff of respect in that chemistry - in the book Darkbloom's got no time for Devona, but movie Darkbloom (who, remember is DRACULA), maybe a bit more progressive since RED RED BLOOD, less inclined from that experience to write off a tough young sista jumping into the vampire game. If you bookfans actually want Darkbloom to be the one-note shallow jerk that I hear he is in the book, then you're welcome to him, but Peyton's giving you something better.

But the final piece of evidence is exactly what you've been bitching about since a month before the damn thing even opened. Yes, Darkbloom/Dracula doesn't die. And we know that Peyton asked not to be killed in the movie, and there's a very simple reason for that. And no, you cynical bitches, it's not because he's washed up and wants to stay in the damn franchise. What you see in DUSK, when Devona leaves the chamber and that goooooorgeous last shot of Peyton on the throne, smiling all mysterious and not dying, is a new wrinkle, a new moment, a shift in film history, or at least a key moment, an affirmation of one of the greatest partnerships in horror movie history. And honestly, the third time I saw the movie it finally clicked with me, and I sat in my seat and I cried and cried and cried.

The reason Darkbloom/Dracula/Peyton doesn't get killed in because nobody kills Peyton's Dracula but TED EFFING AFFELDT.

I rest, your honors.

Matthew Peyton's Diary covering the dates and events in question has not been published.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


I can not dismiss the artistry of Cormac McCarthy as easily as his detractors. And I will not read any kind of depth into his nihilism, as would his defenders. I certainly agree that McCarthy is the guiding auteur of this thing more than director Ridley Scott, but what the hell do we get out of it?

Perhaps his detractors, finding his shallow worldview given such a clear and uncluttered depiction here, are realizing that they overpraised NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN back in the day, and trying to backtrack. McCarthy's "we're trapped by our bad decisions, everything and everyone is fucked" semi-philosophy always struck me as high school-level nihilism. Even given a high shine and executed by strong actors, as it is here, it's still high school nihilism. Such a worldview is better (or is at least more honestly) played for comedy, as the Coens did in their post-NO COUNTRY project BURN AFTER READING, or as Javier Bardem does in his fantastic monologue in this movie, recalling his girlfriend's sexual encounter with his car.

The movie moves with style and grace, and does find variations on its one-note message. McCarthy's style tends to give each member of the cast the same voice (much in the manner of Tarantino or Sorkin). Happily, there is poetry in that language, and the movie's greatest gift is letting its veteran cast go to town with fairly lengthy and eloquent passages (among the supporting players, Bruno Ganz finds fine purchase in his scene as an eternally wise diamond merchant; Ruben Blades offers a perfect sardonic world-weariness to his own summation near the end of the movie). But in the end its all lip service to the same petty, faux-deep nihilism, and no matter how eloquently it delivers its message, THE COUNSELOR can't hide the fact that it isn't saying a damn thing.

Monday, October 14, 2013

BATMAN: Strange Apparitions

I was six years old on the rainy, rainy day I spent at my dad's office. We'd stopped in at the nearby 7-11 for coffee (for him), pastries, and comics to give me something to do while he worked. One of those comics was Detective Comics #475, "The Laughing Fish". Between the tight and offbeat story by Steve Englehart, the gorgeous, moody, and occasionally abstract art of Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin, and the weather that perfectly matched the story, I was dropkicked into a familiar but darker world of storytelling. I'd never be the same.

Strange Apparitions collects the complete six-issue run on 'Tec by Englehart, Rogers, & Austin (with a couple issues before & after to fill things out). I'm amused by the rather regular assertions that the run is the DEFINITIVE Batman - I certainly agree, but did legions of fans have the same life-defining experience with it that I did? Or was "The Laughing Fish" just coincidentally the exact book I needed at the exact time in my life to kick me down a path that continues to enlighten & define me?

(Sidebar: in 1988, some friends and I formed a performance art group called The Laughing Fish. About ten years later, two days before our final performance together in New York, the episode of Batman: The Animated Series based on it aired on the local WB affiliate. Finally, my own batshit idea to stage the comic as a modern Noh drama died about a third of the way into the scripting stage.)

But the six-issue run is stellar, solidifying a darker direction for the character begun previously (even the arch narration woven throughout, which evokes the voice of the narrator from the campy 60s TV show, adds a sinister dimension to the goings-on). A nice revamp of villains like Hugo Strange and Deadshot that would define those characters for decades to come, fine adventures featuring the Penguin and Robin (the latter clearly defined as no longer a sidekick, but now an adult peer of our hero). A definitive romantic interest in Silver St. Cloud, still for many the only woman in Batman's life. And, of course, a crucial two-part Joker story, craftily built to in the previous issues, and as three-dimensional and crucial a realization of the character as Moore and Bolland's THE KILLING JOKE in the following decade.

The edition is a fine collection, with a lengthy intro by Englehart outlining the run's history. He also calls attention to how the first two issues were written Marvel-style, allowing readers a side-by-side comparison between Marvel-style and full-script comic writing (and, to me, a defining and decisive argument in favor of the latter). I can't believe it's out of print, but that's just one of many, many dumb things happening at DC Comics presently.