Halloween 2011-My Vampire Movie List

That time of year has come again, of pumpkins being carved into lanterns and all manner of scary decorations and costumes being put on display. Watching scary movies is part of Halloween and there are many to choose from. Night of the Living Dead usually appears somewhere on the dial. George Romero’s low budget flick delivers the goods. Seeing reanimated corpses feeding on the living has spawned countless imitators, most of them forgettable except the original Dawn of the Dead which still delivers. Dracula has spawned many movies too though few actually tell the original story. Most often the story is shortened, characters changed or deleted, and even the ending altered. That does not mean the movies are bad just telling the story in a different way.

Here is my list of favorite vampire movies (in no particular order):

1. F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922)
This classic silent was the first Dracula movie but due to legal issues, the script was rewritten with a different story and a different vampire (Count Orlock). Only Mina and Jonathan Harker remain. However Stoker’s widow sued and Prana Films went bankrupt as a result of the judgment. The negatives were ordered destroyed but bootleg copies were shown. It is now considered a film classic.

2. Dracula (1931) is famous for Bela Lugosi. Tod Browning changed the story  (using the Renfield character for Jonathan Harker for one) but Lugosi fit the bill standing six feet tall with an aquiline nose and high cheekbones, and speaking with a thick accent since he was born near Transyvania. The movie cemented the depiction of cinematic Dracula with the cape and other features. For Lugosi, it typecasted him and his was never able to get past it (not unlike George Reeves of the Adventures of Superman).

3. The Horror of Dracula (1958)
Jimmy Sangster’s script for Hammer Films brought Dracula into technicolor and an erotic element where women want Dracula to kiss them. Christopher Lee became the new Dracula (and for several Hammer movies) depicting him as a tall, thin, and ruthless vampire. Once again the story is altered from the book but the story and acting quality is superb as is the ending. Peter Cushing plays Van Helsing becoming Dracula’s nemesis in a few other Hammer films. Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) was a good sequel but nearly all the Hammer Dracula movies after that were not so good and mostly forgettable.

4. Love at First Bite (1979)
A comedic turn that became a success because it was funny. George Hamilton plays Dracula who is driven out of his castle by the Communists and heads to New York. There after some misadventures with his coffin, he meets Cindy Sondheim (Susan St. James). The Van Helsing character is portrayed by Richard Benjamin in the role of Dr. Rosenberg, a psychiatrist. He fumbles countering Dracula and Cindy ends up the count in the end. The movie has great lines like “Children of the night, shut up!”

5. Dracula (1979)
Frank Langella continues the notion from Horror of Dracula that the count seduces women and they accept it. Langella’s performance was pretty good in this regard though the movie was far from scary like other Dracula movies. Lavish in using actual locations in Cornwall, it has a mixed reviews among Dracula movie buffs. Many like the romantic Dracula while others find the movie boring and its ending unsatisfactory (Dracula is killed by sunlight after being hoisted above deck on the ship while trying to flee).

6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Francis Ford Coppola’s treatment connects Dracula with the historic Vlad Tepes who fought against the Turks. His wife dies falsely believing him dead in battle (due to a forged note) and commits suicide. Since she cannot be buried since it was suicide, Dracula renounces his faith and blasphemes God desecrating the chapel. His desecration results in blood coming out of a crucifix which he drinks turning him into a vampire. Mina Westenra is a reincarnation of his dead wife which explains his interest in her. Coppola depicts Dracula in a number of ways from the old man greeting Jonathan to the young one that meets and seduces Mina. We also see the very dark side where he appears as a wolf (to attack Lucy) and a demonic figure as well. Coppola uses special effects well to show Dracula’s many ways of getting about. One criticism is how Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) is depicted. Hopkins depicts him as slightly mad, eccentric, and the suggestion he lusted after Lucy. The death is different as well for Dracula.

7. The Lost Boys (1987)
This a good movie in which a relocated family finds themselves in Santa Carla where the boys are drawn to an amusement park where vampires also hang out. Michael, the oldest boy, ends up falling in love with a girl who is part of a vampire gang (though not yet one herself) while the other boy gets drawn into the anti-vampire crowd. The ending is great with a surprise twist as to who the head vampire really is.

8. Near Dark (1987)
Outlaw vampires traveling around the country and Adrian Pasdar meets one of them. They are a vicious gang and Adrian is not quite ready for it. The ending is good for him (and the girl who brought him in) and bad for the vampire gang.

9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series, not movie)
The first three seasons, which deal with high school, are pretty good. A combination of horror, high school, and bits of comedy tossed in. The vampires and other monsters are generally scary and people die in the course of the show. Sunnydale is unlike any other place being a Hellmouth (where an entrance to that dimension exists) drawing all kinds of beasties. Buffy and her Scooby Gang are kept pretty busy. The college years (seasons 4-7) are not as good. It gets more dark, gothic, and in parts just plain boring. A few bright lights are Hush (perhaps the best horror episode ever and won an award) and Buffy vs. Dracula. When the show veered into an X-Files story arc (the government runs a secret program that seizes demons for study and an evil doctor is making her own monster from various demon parts) it went downhill but did get itself out of the mess but never recaptured what it achieved in the first three seasons.

10. Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
An excellent movie starring John Malkovich as Frederich Wilhelm Murnau, the director of Nosferatu. Instead of just playing the vampire Count Orlock, Max Schreck (played by William Dafoe) is the real deal. At first most think he is just creepy and scary always wanting to appear in character. But Murnau made a deal with him to give him the actress at the end. It is a very interesting movie with scary moments (especially at the end). Worth watching.

Some honorable mentions:

1. Count Dracula (1978, BBC)
A mostly faithful adaptation of the Stoker story. Louis Jourdan plays Dracula but is miscast here. He is too old and does not fit the part. Likewise the special effects are not that good either. However it does show things the others did not, like Dracula’s brides feeding off a baby. The script and acting is decent building it up the way Stoker did.

3. Salem’s Lot (1979)
This adaptation of Stephen King’s novel has some generally scary moments. The vampire is different from the book (a nosferatu type) and changes to King’s story also are problems. James Mason is excellent as Straker, the vampire’s assistant.

Salem’s Lot (2004)
When the remake was planned by TNT, I hoped it would follow the book more closely that first. While having the tone of the book and Barlow (Rutger Hauer) done right, it is less scary and more suspenseful than the first. Major changes to the story as well (where it begins and ends) cause problems. However the special effects are better than the original. Also Donald Sutherland as Straker was a mistake. Straker comes across as a loon rather than the ruthless and cunning assistant to Barlow.

In short neither are great and just okay. If you want the scare, go with the first. Avoid the movie Return to Salem’s Lot. A terrible movie.

Well that is it for this year. Have more vampire movies you want to add? Send us your comments.



Titanic News for 27 Oct 2011

1.  Titanic Victim Sent Last Message In Bottle (26 Oct 1011, Belfast Telegraph)
Jeremiah Burke didn’t have time to write a lengthy farewell. In the early hours of April 15, 1912, as the Titanic sank into the North Atlantic, a 19-year-old from Glanmire, in Cork, put his short note into a holy water bottle given to him a few days earlier by his mother at the quayside in Cobh and threw it overboard. “From Titanic, goodbye all, Burke of Glanmire, Cork,” it simply said. The teenager drowned along with 1,517 others.

2. Son In Step With Titanic Memory (25 Oct 2011, BBC News)
John Flynn’s grandfather, also called John, was a joiner who worked on the original staircase. It was one of the most spectacular sights on board the most famous ship to sail from Belfast. However, Mr Flynn did not talk about the staircase often. His grandson said: “I think at that time the workers would have felt deflated and let down to see their craftsmanship at the bottom of the sea.”

3. Auctioned Photos Show The Salvage Of The Titanic (24 Oct 2011,Popular Photography Magazine)
Earlier this month, auction house Weiss Auctions sold of an incredible lot of memorabilia from the disaster, including the photos above and below.  Pegged at being worth between $50,000 and $75,000, the price was realized but not disclosed, and the archive came from the descendants of two survivors of the wreck, John and Nelle Pillsbury Snyder. The pair were quick to evacuate while others didn’t believe the seriousness of the situation, and so were on one of the early life boats which was not fully loaded with passengers.

Titanic News For 24 Oct 2011

1. Unique Titanic Memorabilia To Go Under The Auctioneers Hammer  (24 Oct 2011, Art Daily)
Henry Aldridge and Son are holding their latest auction of Titanic and White Star Line memorabilia on October 29th at their Devizes auction rooms. After the success of the auctioneers last auction in May with the 32ft enquiry plan selling for a world record £220000. It is no surprise that another unique selection of memorabilia will be offered for auction in Devizes.  The sale has a number of star lots but two of the most visually impressive are the sister plan to the 32ft enquiry profile offered in May and an extremely rare plan of First Class Accommodation for the Titanic that was used onboard by a Titanic survivor.

2.Minnesotan’s Titanic Letter Among Auction Items (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 23 Oct 2011)
One year before the centennial of the Titanic’s sinking, a letter written by a prominent Minneapolis businessman on Titanic stationery the day it sailed is one of more than 100 items of the doomed ship’s memorabilia sold Friday night in New York for $100,570. The collection, which had been expected to sell for $50,000 to $75,000, was one of seven lots of Titanic material sold by Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside, N.Y. It was purchased by a private collector who asked not to be identified.

3. Titanic Exhibit Comes To The Shore Mall In EHT (Press of Atlantic City, 22 Oct 2011)
Shore Mall visitors looking for a break from shopping this fall can take a trip back in a time and check out a Titanic exhibit, starting today inside Silver Moon Antiques.The highlight of the 24-item exhibit is a 25-foot-long, 7-foot wide Titanic-era original Harland and Wolff Lifeboat, circa 1909. It may actually be one of the Titanic lifeboats, but it was definitely featured in several movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” in 1944, the 1953 movie “Titanic,” starring Barbara Stanwyck and the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” with Debbie Reynolds. Part of the reason why the Titanic lifeboat is on display is to let the public help in deciding whether the lifeboat is an authentic Titanic lifeboat or not.

4. Titanic Artifacts On Display At Marine Museum (YNN , 21 Oct 2011
An Oswego museum is currently featuring Titanic artifacts and memorabilia, including items from the personal collection of an Oswego man who works with the Titanic Historical Society. George DeMass serves as the historical society’s chaplain and also collects Titanic artifacts. He has loaned the H. Lee White Marine Museum parts of his collection, including paintings, newspaper clips and items from the boat.

5. Titanic Memorial Restoration Work Begins In Godalming (BBC News, 20 Oct 2011)
Restoration of a memorial to the chief wireless operator on the Titanic has started. The Philips Memorial Cloister, in Godalming, is to be restored during a five-year programme. The work is being carried out to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking in 2012. It is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Big Lottery Fund with a £335,000 grant through its Parks for People programme.

6.Unseen Photos From Titanic Rescue On The Auction Block (Today’s THV, 20 Oct 2011)
Their photos of the rescue and their writings of how it all happened are now headed to the auction block. One of john’s letters describing the ship fade into history says, “When we had moved some distance away from the Titanic we realized by looking at the bow seeing the different rows of port holes getting less and less…that the finest boat in the world was doomed…” Phil Weiss runs the New York auction house that’s now selling the memorabilia. He says, “You don’t see these kinds of things come to the market anymore most of this material has been located, found, and accounted for.”

7. Titanic Hero Harold Lowe’s Plaque Is Funded By Council (20 October 2011,BBC News)
A campaign to erect a memorial was started by 17-year-old Maddie Matthews, of Dyffryn Ardudwy, who learned about Harold Lowe when watching the Hollywood movie.”I’ve seen the design and its brilliant. I’m hoping it will a fitting tribute and family members and the people of Barmouth will turn out to see it unveiled,” she said. It has been agreed that a plaque will be unveiled in April 2012 to mark the centenary of the disaster. The slate memorial, which is being made locally, will include an engraving of Harold Lowe and the Titanic and a citation describing his bravery.

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Titanic News Stories for 20 Oct 2011

1. Premier Exhibitions, Inc. Acquires Titanic-Themed Exhibition in Orlando (18 Oct 2011,MarketWatch-Press Release)
Premier Exhibitions, Inc. PRXI +0.53% , a leading presenter of museum-quality touring exhibitions around the world, announced today it entered into an agreement to purchase the assets of a Titanic-themed exhibition (Titanic The Experience) in Orlando, Florida. The acquisition of Titanic The Experience enables Premier to immediately begin generating revenue in this established entertainment facility. In addition, the acquisition provides the Company with an existing multi-million dollar exhibition with minimal startup costs and an attractive ongoing cost structure relative to building a new Titanic themed exhibition in Orlando. As a result, the Company is able to enter a prime tourist destination market for a nominal initial investment. “This acquisition provides a great opportunity to expand our semi-permanent installations into one of the preeminent tourist markets in the world,” said Christopher Davino, Premier Exhibitions, Inc. president and chief executive officer. “We look forward to enhancing Titanic The Experience and bringing an engaging exhibition that will not only capture the imagination of visitors but provide Orlando with an additional world-class entertainment destination.”

2. Diagrams From Titanic Inquest To Be Auctioned (19 Oct 2011, The Associated Press)
The two diagrams, which are among more than 370 lots of Titanic memorabilia in next week’s sale, are more modest in scale. One showing deck levels and the placement of lifeboats measures 74 inches (188 centimeters) by 56 inches (142 centimeters). The presale estimate is 40,000-60,000 pounds ($63,000-$95,000). The other — a plan of first-class accommodations, including pictures of some of the cabins — measures 29 inches by 41 inches (74 centimeters by 104 centimeters). The estimated price is 30,000-50,000 pounds ($48,000-$80,000).

3. Lifeboat Believed To Be From Titanic On Display Starting Saturday (19 Oct 2011, Shore News Today)
In December of 2007, Absecon Lighthouse came into possession of a donated Titanic exhibit, which included a Titanic-era original Harland and Wolff Lifeboat, circa 1909, believed to be one of the Titanic lifeboats. The boat matches the description from the official British enquiry of the Titanic disaster.  The Carpathia, the ship that rescued Titanic survivors, brought 13 Titanic lifeboats back to New York.  Although the fate of the boats is unclear, they may have been put back into service aboard other White Star liners.  The boat could potentially be the only lifesaving boat from the Titanic in existence today.

Titanic News Stories for 17 Oct 2011

1. Titanic Exhibit On Display In Greensboro (16 Oct 2011,Spartanburg Herald Journal)
Next April marks 100 years since the Titanic had its tragic rendezvous with an iceberg. The sinking still fixates the imagination, and the subject is drawing travelers to Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Natural Science Center of Greensboro. Titanic runs through Nov. 27. The museum is at 4301 Lawndale Drive. General admission is $21 for adults and $20 for children 3 to 13. For more information, visit www.natsci.org/Titanic.html or call 336-288-3769.

2. Replicas Give Access To Iconic Sites Closer To Home (16 Oct 2011, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review )
Cedar Bay Entertainment in Branson, Mo., has raised not one but two half-scale replicas of the Titanic. The first has drawn 3 million visitors since it opened in Branson in 2006. The second opened last year in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Both are landlocked, but the owners have thought of everything. “What we have done with both of the ships is we created a pool of water with concrete,” spokesman Rick Laney says. “Under the water at the bow of the ship, two jet engines force the water up. It looks like the Titanic is actually moving forward.”

3. First Class Titanic Tie To Tragedy (14 Oct 2011, This Is Hampshire.net)
A Titanic deck plan owned by an elderly couple who were depicted in the hit movie lying in bed together as the ship sank is set to sell for £50,000. The deck plans were only handed out to the 324 first class passengers when they arrived on the liner in Southampton on April 10, 1912. It is believed only three of them exist today, two in private collections and this one now on the open market. It was owned by the Straus’s maid Ellen Bird who survived the disaster in which 1,495 people died.

Belfast Titanic Quarter Update

Belfast is planning a new rapid transit system that will not only handle tourists to the Titanic Quarter but the needs of the city as well.


One item on the table is bringing back the bendy-bus. Called an articulated bus in the U.S., it is essentially two buses put together with a flexible middle. This allows it to make turns and get around road hazards more easily. They are tricky to run and London phased them out some years ago due to accidents and general dislike of them. Other cities did it as well in the U.K. and Northern Ireland. They were replaced with conventional and double-decker buses.

With Belfast wanting to have high speed buses arriving every five minutes, the bendy-buses are getting a second look. I have taken such buses in San Francisco. They are used on high density lines (the 30-Stockton) where you need such buses to handle the large numbers of people. On that route, the buses are electric so no worry about diesel fumes wafting around. And that line has to weave its way through Chinatown (where the majority of its passengers are heading for or leaving) where traffic is usually heavy during the day.

Buses, whether they are conventional or electric, are a more flexible alternative than light rail. Light rail is very expensive and limits their use to where the rails are laid. When the tourists arrive in 2012, they will need a system that is easy and convenient to use. Perhaps the bendy-bus will be part of it.

Belfast Telegraph, The Possible Reintroduction Of New ‘Bendy-Buses’ Could Be Part Of The Plans For A £150M Rapid Transit System For Belfast, 13 October 2011

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Caltrain Blues Update

Finally those Clipper Add Value Machines are finally coming to Caltrain. At least at the San Francisco Station at 4th & King. This is good news for Caltrain passengers who had to go over to Walgreens to add passes or buy a Clipper card. The machines are at the east end of the station (where people enter from King Street). They are not functioning yet but hopefully ready before November 1st.

The shiny new machines have a nemesis, namely the pigeons that hang around the station. They have a nasty habit of really messing up the floors, seats, and people who are sitting around in those uncomfortable benches. And it can make reading a newspaper or book dicey at times. You are sitting there minding your own business when the pigeon decides to use you as a toilet. That is why you always check the seat before you sit down at 4th & King.

The janitorial staff does do a good job of trying to keep it clean but it is a diffcult task. Caltrain really needs to find a solution to keeping the pigeons out of the station.

Titanic News Stories for 10 Oct 2011

1. A Titanic Story  (8 Oct 2011, Fernie Free Press)
The Deadly Voyage is part of the popular I Am Canada series, which uses events in Canadian history as a backdrop to exciting adventures of daring young men.  The book focuses on 14 year old Jamie Laidlaw, who has no idea that his world is about to turn up-side down, until he finds himself in the icy waters of the north Atlantic watching the “unsinkable” ship go down.

2. Cardboard Boat Regatta Designed To Engage Students, Craig Community (8 Oct 2011, Craig Daily Press )
“It has to have something to do with sinking,” said Hebert, a Moffat County High School junior, looking at the craft made of cardboard and duct tape as it waited on the shore of the pond at Loudy-Simpson Park. Hebert, along with Katlyn and Nicole Sollenberger, also juniors, made the boat for the sixth cardboard boat regatta Friday, an annual competition in which students make boats out of cardboard, duct tape and little else. Finally, Hebert settled on a name: “Titanic II.

3. The Unheard Story Of Amy And The Titanic (8 Oct 2011, Trinidad Guardian)
Amy Pollard was a Guyanese infant who lost her English mother Elizabeth, in Guyana, at the age of one. The year was 1872. Her father William Branch Pollard, was from Demerara, but his ancestors had migrated to, and lived continuously in Barbados from the early 1600’s. William’s father was Barbadian. The Pollards’ ancient origins were Cornwall, England. Amy’s maternal English aunt was Hannah, nee Blackley, the barren wife of the “prince of shipbuilders,” illustrious William Imrie.

4. Titanic Exhibit Opens At Science Centre (8 Oct 2011, St. Albert Gazette)
Nearly a century later, the fascination continues as the Telus World of Science hosts Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, opening Oct. 8 and running until Feb. 2012. The exhibit features nearly 200 artifacts divided into seven galleries. The focus is on telling Titanic’s human stories through genuine artifacts and recreating the ship’s interior of a third-class compartment and boiler room. Visitors to the exhibit receive a replica boarding pass with the name of a real Titanic passenger, the passenger’s class, destination and with whom they travelled. At the end of the exhibit is a memorial board listing all the passengers’ names and whether or not they survived.

Titanic News Stories 1-7 Oct 2011

Due to computer upgrades, I am posting the news articles here.

1. PHS Graduate Writes Titanic Book (7 Oct 2011, KC Community News)
Although many books have been written about the Titanic, Paola High School graduate Stephen Hines wanted readers to experience the tragedy as if they were there with his newest book “Titanic: One Newspaper, Seven Days, and the Truth That Shocked the World.” For a year and a half, Hines pored over 208 articles from London’s “Daily Telegraph,” which was from just one week of coverage after the sinking. His aim with the book is to show readers the roller coaster of emotions the sinking brought with it, he said.

2. Titanic Centennial: Salvage And Memories (6 Oct 2011, New York Times)
On Oct. 21 Philip Weiss Auctions in Oceanside, N.Y., will offer the archive of a couple who spent the last days of their honeymoon on the ship. John Pillsbury Snyder, a Minnesota garage owner and grain-mill heir, and his new bride, Nelle, got into the first lifeboat when the crew sounded warnings. Other first-class passengers on the deck had milled around the Snyders, refusing to disembark, convinced that the Titanic just needed minor repairs. The Snyders’ lifeboat left the wreck half-full; the saved lives onboard included a Pomeranian dog. The family papers, with correspondence on Titanic stationery and photos of rescue ships, are estimated to bring $30,000 to $50,000.

3.  Top Flight Recreation Of Titanic Staircase (6 Oct 2011, Belfast Telegraph)
Sean, Francis and Pius Diamond from the family-run Oldtown Joinery in Bellaghy have been working on the RMS Titanic replica staircase for two months. Sean, who runs the firm, told the Belfast Telegraph that the project has been a painstaking process and “the most challenging” the company has undertaken in its 20-year history. Using mostly traditional joinery techniques as would’ve been the case in the making of the original creation, Sean said there are some little differences. “We are subject to building control, so certain things are different. For example, we’ve had to install a brass handrail for health and safety purposes.

4. View Of Titanic Wreckage A Deep Emotional Experience (5 Oct 2011, Edmonton Journal)
Lytle looks like Captain E.J. Smith, the man at the helm of the Titanic when it sank on April 15, 1912. The resemblance landed him a job with RMS Titanic Inc. and in 2000, a seat on one of their expeditions to the ship wreck and its debris field. This week, Lytle is in Edmonton to play Smith at the opening of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at Telus World of Science. Starting on Saturday, visitors can see 200 artifacts recovered from the Titanic, from pieces of the ship to passengers’ personal belongings. They’ll also be issued a replica boarding pass at the door, with the name, age and class of an actual passenger. At the end, they can look on the memorial board to see if they were among the 706 who survived or the 1,522 who perished.

5. Titanic Centenary Must Be Exploited (5 Oct 2011, Belfast Telegraph)
The Belfast Tourism Forum believes that government and industry must work together more closely to exploit the potential from the Titanic’s centenary year in 2012.”We cannot under-estimate the importance of both central and local government continuing to work in close partnership with all the relevant agencies and our highly professional colleagues in the tourism industry to deliver the goods, to the benefit of everyone in the city,” said John McGrillen, Director of Development with Belfast City Council and chairman of the group.

6. WB Woman Shares Family’s Titanic Tale  (3 Oct 2011, Citizens Voice)
“My mother told her, ‘My daughter does not lie. I am a survivor,'” Mae said. Mae shared her mother’s gripping account of surviving the nearly century-old tragedy Friday at a “Last Dinner on the Titanic” event at the Stage Coach Inn in Butler Township. More than 30 people attended the gathering, which was organized by a historical entertainment company known as The Passion Projects. Mae took the audience back to the late night hours of April 14, 1912, when an ocean liner billed as “unsinkable” struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from England to New York.

7. Conn. Site To Mark 100 Years Since Titanic Sinking (3 Oct 2011, Boston Globe)Mystic Aquarium will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic with an exhibit that will virtually take visitors to the ocean floor. The aquarium, home of Robert Ballard who discovered the wreck of the British ocean liner in 1985, says it will break ground next month on the exhibit. It is scheduled to open next April.