Monthly Archives: August 2016

Overanalyzing Dracula Part 1: The Vampire as an Allegory for Sin

Over the weekend I watched the 1979 Dracula movie with Frank Langella, which was a surprisingly good movie. I initially watched it because I heard Sylvester McCoy was in it (yay, Doctor!), but I found I enjoyed it despite the multiple–and I mean multiple–liberties they took with the story (vampires reflecting in the water? Come on, people; laziness like this is how the undead start to sparkle). All of the heavy Catholic imagery in the story got me viewing the vampire and all it represents in a Catholic light, and, well, I got the urge to write it all down here on my blog. Lucky you. So you probably know to expect a heavy dose of Catholic Nerd Girl in the following paragraphs.

One of the notable aspects of the 1979 Dracula is that they made the count not ugly and only minimally creepy (he acts completely normal until he starts doing vampire things. Seriously, you’d think his name was Joe until he starts hypnotizing people. Then you might think Joe has a few screws loose). Having an attractive vampire actually makes a certain kind of sense; his goal is to attract prey before draining them of blood, and it’s kind of hard to get close enough to people to exsanguinate them if you look as though you just clawed your way out of a grave. This particular Dracula has the habit of a: being charming and b: using his charmingness to make his potential victims feel sorry for him. There’s one scene where Lucy refers to him as the kindest and wisest and saddest of all, and in that phrase you can really get an idea of Dracula manipulates his victims, earning their sympathy and trust and gradually lowering their defenses so that he ultimately has a willing food source. I mean, he can always use his hypnosis to accomplish those goals if he doesn’t have a lot of time to waste, but I think in a way he prefers the manipulative path because it requires a sort of deft artistry to break down someone’s defenses in that fashion, and he takes pride in the way he hunts.

But here’s where we get into the sin allegory stuff. Dracula is evil incarnate, yet his attractive qualities are designed to dull defenses, make people less leery and more trusting of him. They¬†think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being around him, but their lives–and their souls as Van Helsing frequently reminds them–are in terrible danger because of the corruption that dwells beneath the veneer of a suave nobleman. His only goal is to extend his unnatural life through any means possible–he does not truly¬†care about any of them; his only concern is his own survival.

This is startlingly similar to how sin operates in everyday life. So many times we encounter something or someone that seems perfectly harmless, and we think that nothing bad can come from associating with that person or thing. Its attractive qualities dull our senses; we’re concerned only with external appearances and don’t stop to think that perhaps the appearance is false and conceals something with a far darker purpose. Then once our defenses are down, WHAM! It starts controlling us and taking over our lives and causing us to drive our friends and family away until it ultimately consumes us. Its unholy appetite satisfied, it starts cruising around for a new victim.

Why is this such an effective tactic? Well, our brains are naturally hard-wired to like and trust beauty and charm; we see them as inherently good. The devil is well aware of this and recognizes an opportunity to trick people into sinning by perverting and twisting beauty and charm into tools to lure the unwary into dangerous scenarios. He takes something good and distorts its for his own purposes, which typically involve leading Man away from God. The good news is that we always have a way back–Confession. There’s a scene in the 1979 movie where midway-vampire Lucy is repelled by a crucifix, only to start sobbing and kissing it in penitence. She realized the state of her soul and was begging for forgiveness. When we realize the states of our souls, we are able to go to Confession and receive absolution, and sin’s hold on us is obliterated just as Dracula’s hold over Lucy was destroyed when he fried to a crisp in the sunlight.

Part of this is why I get upset sometimes when people view or portray vampires are romantic and desirable–there’s a rich theological layer ripe for exploration, and all they can focus on is the shiny. Plus, they’re undead, and I can’t for the life of me see what’s so desirable about that.

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I applaud your persistence. As the title suggests, I do have a second part planned for this post that will focus on how the vampire, by its nature, is incapable of feeling real love and how that whole immortality/eternal life line they like to use on their victims is really an elaborate scam. Stay tuned for more random ramblings!

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The Little Grey Cells Team up with the Big Blue Box in Doctor Who’s Tenth Season

The BBC recently confirmed that renowned actor David Suchet, whom most people might know as Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, will be appearing in Doctor Who‘s tenth season in 2017. Little is known about his character other than he is referred to as the Landlord (a Time Lord title, perhaps?), but considering how awesome Suchet was as Poirot, this mysterious character is sure to be a welcome addition to the Whoniverse.

http://www.doctorwho.tv/whats-new/article/acting-legend-david-suchet-joins-the-guest-cast-of-doctor-who-series-10

Season 10 may be shaping up to be well worth the wait. I hate that we have to wait so long, but it looks as though we may be well rewarded.

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Some Thoughts on “Star Trek Beyond” *Spoilers Ahead*

The latest installment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise debuted just in time for the 50th anniversary year of exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new forms of life and new civilizations, and boldly going where no man has gone before. It was a thrill to experience on the big screen, but if you want to know more, you run the risk of spoilers.

To prove how serious I am, I got River Song to come and tell you all about the spoilers.

If River hasn’t convinced you to go away, nothing will, so I may as well commence.

It’s Year Three of the famous five-year mission, and Captain James Tiberius Kirk is wondering why he’s still here. He complains that his life is beginning to feel episodic (the franchise has become sentient! They’re going to figure out to break out of the Matrix!) and hopes that a temporary layover at the starbase Yorktowne will help break up the monotony. What he hasn’t told his crew is that he’s applied for a vice-admiral position and plans to leave Spock in command of the Enterprise. Naturally enough, all of this changes when they rescue a survivor of an alien exploratory mission who needs help rescuing the rest of her crew. The planet they’re stranded on lies in the middle of a dense nebula, and guess which ship has the best navigational equipment in the fleet?

So off they go to assist the aliens only to find that it was an ambush to lead them directly into the hands of the mad warlord Krall. The Enterprise is destroyed (The Search for Spock wants its plot device back), and the majority of the crew are Krall’s prisoners. It’s up to Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Chekov, Scotty, and their new friend Jaylah to set them free and stop Krall from destroying the entire Federation. But Spock is badly wounded, and their only vessel is the broken-down USS Franklin, an NX starship that went missing over a hundred years ago (and can hit a whopping warp 4 without exploding).

There are so many points I want to cover that I hardly know where to start. I think I’ll just start with Jaylah. I loved her character, and I loved how well she meshed with the rest of the crew. I know they won’t be recasting Chekov for the next movie, but I hope they’re able to bring Jaylah back; I would love to see her continue to grow as a character and have a chance to explore deep space.

I enjoyed the twist about Krall being Balthazar Edison, the Franklin‘s original captain. Most people hated Enterprise, but I loved it, and I’m always glad when they’re able to reference that show in some way. Granted, I haven’t watched enough to remember if the Franklin was ever mentioned, but the mere fact that we had Kirk and Co. on an NX-era bridge pleased me greatly. Also, I thought it was a good idea to follow the idea of the original 2009 film and create an original villain; Benedict Cumberbatch aside, one of the big flaws of Into Darkness was that they tried to recast one of the most iconic villains and remake one of the best storylines Star Trek ever had. But Idris Elba didn’t have to worry about being compared to any other actor in the role, which gave him a certain amount of flexibility.

The regular actors have really grown into their roles; Karl Urban and Simon Pegg have especially reached new heights in their respective roles of Dr. McCoy and Commander Scott. I think Karl Urban in particular is having a bit too much fun as McCoy, but it makes for a good performance.

Mini-rant time: I was so hoping we finally saw the end of the pointless Spock/Uhura romance, but they seem determined to keep dragging it out. Why? Why!? I beg you; end it in the next film already! Apart from being annoying, I feel it interferes with Zachary Quinto’s portrayal of Spock. His logic feels less…sharp, somehow, since he’s in a relationship, but he’s still a master of zingers.

Speaking of Spock, they handled Leonard Nimoy’s death in a very respectful way. It was still sad, but at the same time you felt that your grief was shared by every single person watching the movie, so that made it a little easier. They couldn’t do much about Anton Yelchin’s death because he died after filming was complete, but the simple “For Anton” at the end of the movie was a welcome touch. Any future movies will feel empty without him.

The first two movies were fun romps, but Beyond feels as if it the reboot has finally grown up. It had the most Trek-like feel of all of the modern movies, for which I credit Simon Pegg’s influence. Mr. Pegg, if by some chance you should stumble upon this humble little corner of the internet, you did good.

Final verdict: it was brilliant and a perfect way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. If you haven’t seen it yet, go do so.

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Impressions on the 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremonies

I got inspired to do this post when I was reading through the older entries on my blog and saw one of my early posts was on the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies. Since those early days were fraught with tenseness over what topics I could write about, I decided to pay homage to that long-ago beginning by writing about the most recent summer Olympics.

Let me just get out of the way that I thought there were too many commercials. I understand they have to run them; it just felt as if every time they got to something interesting, the announcers would say, “We’ll be right back after these messages.”

When they weren’t doing commercials, the ceremonies were quite impressive. It wasn’t as lavish as what we saw in Beijing or London, but there was a distinctive passion about it, nonetheless. The performers were putting their hearts and souls into that show, and it showed. I’m not too familiar with Brazilian culture, but the impression I got last night was that they are a people with a passion for life.

The parade of nations is always cool, and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride for the countries that only send a few athletes–they may not have many to send, but the ones that do go are bursting with pride to be representing their countries on a global platform. And, of course, I always feel patriotic when I see Team USA go marching out into the stadium, expertly led this year by Michael Phelps. Go, Team USA! Also, I thought the idea of the Athletes’ Forest was a pretty neat one.

I can’t wait to see how all of the different teams fare in the competitions this year!

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Capaldi’s Not Turning in the TARDIS Keys Just Yet

Ever since Steven Moffat announced that he was resigning as showrunner after Doctor Who‘s tenth season, rumors were rampant that Peter Capaldi, the irrepressible Twelfth Doctor, would be leaving as well. After all, David Tennant and Russell T. Davies left at the same time; why wouldn’t Moffat and Capaldi do the same?

Well, Den of Geek recently published an interview with Moffat where he says there are currently no plans for Capaldi to regenerate at the end of season 10. As the Moff himself says, “Peter is loving the role, and long may he do so.”

Of course, this is Moffat we’re talking about; he could be lying through his teeth. But this is one time where I’m inclined to believe him.

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