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Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D: Three Dimensions of Dumb   Leave a comment

Legendary horror maestro Dario Argento tries to recapture the feel of classic Hammer Studios flicks.

Legendary horror maestro Dario Argento tries to recapture the feel of classic Hammer Studios flicks.

By C. Michael Forsyth

When I saw a poster for Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D, which had the look of an old Hammer Studio’s movie, I was skeptical. There have been so many versions of the original novel, including Francis Ford Coppola’s big-budget Bram Stoker’s Dracula, was there any point in trying another lavish costume epic? Hasn’t the story been drained dry? But Italian director Argento is a legend in the horror genre, the creator of such masterpieces as the atmospheric and suspenseful Susperia. How bad could it be?

Pretty darned bad, it turns out. I should have taken that “3-D” in the title as a warning.

This stinker received a well-deserved 11 % rating on Rotten Tomatoes. One reviewer put it so succinctly I’ll just quote him: “Argento’s Dracula 3-D is an absolute travesty of a film completely devoid of creativity or imagination. It’s like taking your favorite folklore, stripping it of everything you love, making it as dull as possible, and then lighting it on fire,” wrote Chris Swann of Examiner.com

plays a rather unenergetic Dracula.

Thomas Kretschmann plays a rather unenergetic Dracula.

The best that can be said is that Argento does not simply retell the tale we all know so well. He revamps it with the main elements intact, but details changed in unexpected ways. The problem is that in almost every case, the changes are for the worse. Jonathan Harker does not escape from the castle; instead he’s killed almost immediately — robbing the movie of its logical hero. Instead of Dracula crossing the ocean and menacing Mina in England, all the action takes place in Transylvania. Instead of three brides, Dracula only has one. But three was better, right? Dracula turns into unexpected animals in addition to the usual bat and wolf. Unfortunately, the critters are absurd, especially a giant praying mantis rendered in unconvincing CGI!

AMPLY endowed vampire Tania bares more than fangs.

AMPLY endowed vampire Tania bares more than fangs.

Among the movie’s other glaring flaws: The budget did not seem to allow for set decoration. In scene after scene, whether it be a tavern or a room of a mansion, there is literally nothing on the walls.

German actor Thomas Kretschmann is a lackluster Dracula, injecting the same amount of passion into the role as if he were standing in line at Starbucks waiting to order a latte. Initially, his staid and dignified manner works, when he plays the “old” Dracula Jonathan Harker first meets in the castle. The trouble is that low-energy approach continues throughout the entire film.

The actress playing Lucy is so homely you wonder how she got the part. Oh wait, she’s Asia Argento, the director’s daughter. Which makes the gratuitous nude scene where she’s bathed by Mina a little creepy.

There are a few good things about the movie. Rutger Hauer plays Dr. Van Helsing, though he appears late in the film, has little to do and is not nearly as good as you’d hope he’d be. And Miriam Gionvanelli does an admirable job as the buxom beauty Tania who becomes Dracula’s sole bride, petulant and jealous with the impressive cleavage that brings back fond memories of the great Hammer films. Making one of Dracula’s brides a speaking role was one of the few interesting choices.

THE DOCTOR is in. Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing.

THE DOCTOR is in. Rutger Hauer as Van Helsing.

I did like the twist that the villagers are actually Dracula’s protectors. In exchange for their not heading up the hill to the castle with pitchforks and torches he’s made them wealthy – and even built a school for the kids. The scene in which the town fathers plot against the aristocratic vampire and Drac takes bloody vengeance is just about the only good one in the movie. But sadly, overall I can only give the movie a one out five stake rating.

IN A RELATED STORY…

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women's prison.

PRISON life becomes even more hellish when a vampire epidemic erupts in a women’s prison.


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I’m excited to announce the launch of my first graphic novel, Night Cage! The premise of the horror story is simple: Vampires take over a women’s prison. Just imagine Orange is the New Black meets Salem’s Lot.

The project is being funded through Kickstarter. Folks who jump on the bandwagon will get a boatload of goodies and rewards, ranging from advance copies of the book and exclusive art, posters and T-shirts to a chance to be drawn into the graphic novel as a character!

Please check out the video out HERE, and share the news with all your social media friends!

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

PRISONERS fight for survival against a bloodthirsty army of the undead in the graphic novel Night Cage.

Speaking of horror, if you want a good scare check out my horror novel Hour of the Beast.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

In Hour of the Beast, a young bride is raped by a werewolf on her wedding night. When her sons grow up and head to college, things REALLY get out of hand.

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PRIESTS FROM HELL: The 13 Scariest Movie Preachers   2 comments

By C. Michael Forsyth

Clergymen provide us with spiritual guidance and emotional support, but when they go bad, they go very bad. Take a look at this roundup of 13 men of the cloth who went over to the dark side. Then vote on who’s the scariest movie preacher of all time.

BROTHER JUSTIN CROWE, played by Clancy Brown in “Carnivale” (HBO, 2003-5): Powerfully built Brown has portrayed some frightening villains, most memorably The Kurgan in “Highlander.” Here he’s a fiendish, supernatural version of Father Coughlin, the hate-mongering Depression-era radio preacher. Brother Justin has the power to bring people's sins and darkest desires to life in horrifying visions. He uses his radio show to brainwash the masses to do his bidding. But the Dust Bowl devil is not above resorting to physical means, mowing down uncooperative folks with a scythe.

BROTHER JUSTIN CROWE played by Clancy Brown in “Carnivale” (HBO, 2003-5). Powerfully built Brown has portrayed some frightening villains, most memorably The Kurgan in “Highlander.” Here he’s a fiendish, supernatural version of Father Coughlin, the hate-mongering Depression-era radio preacher. Brother Justin has the power to bring people’s sins and darkest desires to life in horrifying visions. He uses his radio show to brainwash the masses to do his bidding. But the Dust Bowl devil is not above resorting to physical means, mowing down uncooperative folks with a scythe.


CALEB, played by Nathan Fillion in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Season 7, 2003).  Before handsome Nathan made female viewers hearts flutter as Capt. Mal in “Firefly,” he terrified them as this sadistic sociopath with a pathological hatred of women. A defrocked priest, Caleb was chosen by the non-corporeal First Evil to lead its campaign to destroy humanity. Able to channel its power, he possesses immense physical strength and is seemingly indestructible; making him one of Buffy’s the most dangerous adversaries. The folksy, scripture-quoting madman has a real mean streak, gratuitously gouging out the eye of funny-guy Zander. Here he cuts short the career of a wannabe Slayer.

CALEB, played by Nathan Fillion in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (Season 7, 2003). Before handsome Nathan made female viewers’ hearts flutter as Capt. Mal in “Firefly,” he terrified them as this sadistic sociopath with a pathological hatred of women. A defrocked priest, Caleb was chosen by the First Evil to lead its campaign to wipe out humanity. Able to channel its power, he possesses immense physical strength and is seemingly indestructible, making him one of Buffy’s most dangerous adversaries. The folksy, scripture-quoting madman has a real mean streak, gratuitously gouging out the eye of funny-guy Zander. Here he cuts short the career of a wannabe Slayer.


FATHER LUCAS, played by Anthony Hopkins in “The Rite” (2011).  Welsh Jesuit Father Lucas is the Vatican’s top exorcist until he’s possessed by a demon himself. Incredibly, the supernatural thriller is based on real events as recounted by then exorcist-in-training, Father Gary Thomas. Yeah, sure. More believable is Hopkins acting. He resists the temptation to chew the scenery in favor of an understated, chilling performance. In this scene, the trainee (Colin O’Donoghue.) is horrified to learn that his mentor his now batting for the other team.

FATHER LUCAS, played by Anthony Hopkins in “The Rite” (2011). Welsh Jesuit Father Lucas is the Vatican’s top exorcist until he’s possessed by a demon himself. Incredibly, the supernatural thriller is based on real events as recounted by then exorcist-in-training, Father Gary Thomas. Yeah, sure. More believable is Hopkins’ acting. He resists the temptation to chew the scenery in favor of an understated, chilling performance. In this scene, the trainee (Colin O’Donoghue) is horrified to learn that his mentor is now batting for the other team.


REVEREND HENRY KANE, played by Julian Beck in “Poltergeist 2” (1992). Kane was the leader of 19th century doomsday cult who snuffed out the lives of his followers and became a ghostly Beast who keeps their spirits imprisoned. The character’s shockingly gaunt, skeletal appearance isn’t just good makeup. Actor Beck was dying of cancer during the shoot. Kane tries every trick in the book to gain entry into the Freeling family’s haunted house. In one grotesque scene, he transforms himself into a worm that the dad Steven (Craig T. Nelson) swallows with his tequila. The parasitic entity possesses the guy and tries to rape his wife before being vomited out as a hideous, scuttling monster. Watch these two memorable sequences: A Stranger and Let Me In.

REVEREND HENRY KANE, played by Julian Beck in “Poltergeist 2” (1992). Kane was the leader of 19th century doomsday cult who snuffed out the lives of his followers and became a ghostly Beast who keeps their spirits imprisoned. The character’s shockingly gaunt, skeletal appearance isn’t just good makeup. Actor Beck was dying of cancer during the shoot. Kane tries every trick in the book to gain entry into the Freeling family’s haunted house. In one grotesque scene, he transforms himself into a worm that the dad Steven (Craig T. Nelson) swallows with his tequila. The parasitic entity possesses the guy and tries to rape his wife before being vomited out as a hideous, scuttling monster. Watch these two memorable sequences: A Stranger and Let Me In.

REVEREND LESTER LOWE, played by Everett McGill in “Silver Bullet” (1985). With the fierce features that made him a perfect caveman in “Quest for Fire,” McGill is a scary-looking dude under the best of circumstances. As the werewolf in this tale from Stephen King, he’s even more terrifying. And the odds are against his target: a wheelchair-bound boy whose dopey uncle (Gary Busey) arms himself with only ONE silver bullet.

REVEREND LESTER LOWE, played by Everett McGill in “Silver Bullet” (1985). With the over-hanging brow that made him a perfect caveman in “Quest for Fire,” McGill is a scary-looking dude under the best of circumstances. As the werewolf in this tale from Stephen King, he’s even more terrifying. And the odds are against his target: a wheelchair-bound boy whose dopey uncle (Gary Busey) arms himself with only ONE silver bullet.

ANTHONY TIPET played by Keith Szarabajka in “The X-Files” (Season 8, Episode 7). Tipet is the leader of a religious cult who preaches that the Via Negativa or "path of darkness" is the true way to reach Nirvana. With the aid of a super-amphetamine, he’s able to open his third eye—literally a disgusting eyeball on his forehead—and  enter people’s dreams to murder them, ala Freddy Krueger. Tipet racks up 20 kills this way in addition to his wife, whom he simply bludgeons to death.

ANTHONY TIPET played by Keith Szarabajka in “The X-Files” (Season 8, Episode 7). Tipet is the leader of a religious cult who preaches that the Via Negativa or “path of darkness” is the true way to reach Nirvana. With the aid of a super-amphetamine, he’s able to open his third eye—literally a disgusting eyeball on his forehead—and
enter people’s dreams to murder them, ala Freddy Krueger. Tipet racks up 20 kills this way in addition to his wife, whom he simply bludgeons to death.

REVEREND HARRY POWELL, played by Robert Mitchum in “ Night of the Hunter” (1955).As this bogus preacher and serial killer who sports the two words "LOVE" and "HATE" tattooed across the knuckles of each hand, Mitchum is even menacing here than he was as a rapist stalker in Cape Fear. The charismatic Rev. Powell woos the unsuspecting widow of his former cellmate to get his hands on hidden loot from a robbery. After marrying and murdering her, he relentlessly tracks her two children. The atmospheric film was inspired by the true story of Harry Powers, hanged in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children in Clarksburg, West Virginia.  Here are two memorable scenes: Sleepless preacher  and Not My Pa. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PyNL2ahKwc

REVEREND HARRY POWELL, played by Robert Mitchum in “ Night of the Hunter” (1955). As this bogus preacher and serial killer who sports the words “LOVE” and “HATE” tattooed across the knuckles of each hand, Mitchum is even more menacing here than he was as a rapist stalker in “Cape Fear.” The charismatic Rev. Powell woos the unsuspecting widow of his former cellmate to get his hands on hidden loot from a robbery. After marrying and murdering her, he relentlessly tracks her two children. The atmospheric film was inspired by the true story of Harry Powers, hanged in 1932 for the murders of two widows and three children in Clarksburg, West Virginia.
Here are two memorable scenes we’ll call Not My Dad
and Sleepless Preacher


ZOMBIE PRIEST played by Tony Sedgwick in “28 Days Later” (2002). Mild-mannered bicycle messenger Jim awakens from a coma to find London is besieged by zombies—worse still, fast ones—and he takes in a church. An ominous sign is that the words "The End is Extremely F---ing Nigh" are scrawled on the wall. Jim is relieved when a priest emerges—until the infected clergymen tries to eat him alive.

ZOMBIE PRIEST played by Tony Sedgwick in “28 Days Later” (2002). Mild-mannered bicycle messenger Jim awakens from a coma to find London is besieged by zombies (worse still, fast ones) and he takes refuge in a church. An ominous sign is that the words “The End is Extremely F—ing Nigh” are scrawled on the wall. Jim is relieved when a priest emerges—until the infected clergymen tries to eat him alive.

FATHER ZACHARY MALIUS, played by Charles Cragin in “Happy Hell Night” (1992). Friendly neighborhood priest Father Malius goes crazy and slaughters seven frat boys at Winfield College, then is committed to an asylum. Twenty five years later, fun-loving students from the fraternity stage a prank at the booby hatch, and Father Malius is inadvertently freed. It appears that he has not been entirely cured, because the psycho priest promptly launches a bloody spree of murder and mayhem.

FATHER ZACHARY MALIUS, played by Charles Cragin in “Happy Hell Night” (1992). Friendly neighborhood priest Father Malius goes crazy and slaughters seven frat boys at Winfield College, then is committed to an asylum. Twenty five years later, fun-loving students from the fraternity stage a prank at the booby hatch, and Father Malius is inadvertently freed. It appears that he has not been entirely cured, because the psycho priest promptly launches a bloody spree of murder and mayhem.

CZAKYR, played by David Sawyer in “Children of the Night” (1991).Townsfolk in peaceful Alburg were delighted when a European clergyman came to minister to them – until he began to “interfere with” children and feed on their blood. Cornered, the false priest Czakyr commits suicide, taking his young victims with him. The locals bury him in a crypt beneath the church and flood it. But when a pair of teenage girls take a late-night dip in the water, Czakyr is awakened and attacks them, unleashing a vampire plague. Before long, the town has become a bloodsucker haven like Salem’s Lot.

CZAKYR, played by David Sawyer in “Children of the Night” (1991).Townsfolk in peaceful Alburg were delighted when a European clergyman came to minister to them – until he began to “interfere with” children and feed on their blood. Cornered, the false priest Czakyr commits suicide, taking his young victims with him. The locals bury him in a crypt beneath the church and flood it. But when a pair of teenage girls take a late-night dip in the water, Czakyr is awakened and attacks them, unleashing a vampire plague. Before long, the town has become a bloodsucker haven like Salem’s Lot.


CARDINAL PATRICK ROARK, played by Rutger Hauer in “Sin City” (2005). Shielding pedophile priests just isn’t good enough for this corrupt and sinister church official. He protects his nephew Kevin (Elijah Wood), a cannibal serial killer who murders women, eats their bodies and mount their heads on his wall. Cardinal Roark joins in the grisly meals and frames Mickey Rourke’s tough-guy hero for one of the murders -- sins he answers for in this scene.

CARDINAL PATRICK ROARK, played by Rutger Hauer in “Sin City” (2005). Shielding pedophile priests just isn’t good enough for this corrupt and sinister church official. He protects his nephew Kevin (Elijah Wood), a cannibal serial killer who murders women, eats their bodies and mounts their heads on his wall. Cardinal Roark joins in the grisly meals and frames Mickey Rourke’s tough-guy hero for one of the murders — sins he answers for in this scene.


BISHOP ANTHONY LILLIMAN, played by John Standing in “V for Vendetta” (2006). Bishop Lilliman is a twisted pedophile as well as a high-ranking official in a fascist party that has taken over Great Britain. Despite his penchant for young girls, the bishop doesn't mind trying to rape twenty-something Natalie Portman when she comes to warn him of his impending assassination, as we see here.

BISHOP ANTHONY LILLIMAN, played by John Standing in “V for Vendetta” (2006). Bishop Lilliman is a twisted pedophile as well as a high-ranking official in a fascist party that has taken over Great Britain. Despite his penchant for young girls, the bishop doesn’t mind trying to rape twenty-something Natalie Portman when she comes to warn him of his impending assassination, as we see here.

FATHER ANTONIN, played by Jack Palance as in “Deadly Sanctuary” (1969). In this version of the Marquis De Sade’s “Justine,” Father Antonin livens up monastery life by subjecting the title character to torture and sexual abuse. Palance is no stranger to over-acting, but this performance is over-the top even for him, one critic calling it “one of the most bizarre ever seen on film.” Perhaps he was trying to balance out the wooden star Romina Power, daughter of screen legend Tyrone Power. “She was a like a piece of furniture,” director Jesus Franco later grumbled. “It was as if I was making Bambi 2.” Well, Bambi 2 with sex and sadism.

FATHER ANTONIN, played by Jack Palance in “Deadly Sanctuary” (1969). In this version of the Marquis De Sade’s “Justine,” Father Antonin livens up monastery life by subjecting the title character to torture and sexual abuse. Palance is no stranger to over-acting, but this performance is over-the top even for him, one critic calling it “one of the most bizarre ever seen on film.” Perhaps he was trying to balance out the wooden star Romina Power, daughter of screen legend Tyrone Power. “She was a like a piece of furniture,” director Jesus Franco later grumbled. “It was as if I was making Bambi 2.” Well, Bambi 2 with nudity and sadism.


If you enjoyed this article by C. Michael Forsyth, check out his collection of bizarre news, available on Kindle and in other eBook formats.

Bizarre News Cover 5.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The tables turn on an identity thief in the latest thriller by C. Michael Forsyth. To check it out, click HERE.

The author of this article also penned the highly acclaimed horror novel "Hour of the Beast."

The author of this article also penned the highly acclaimed horror novel Hour of the Beast.

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