The Horror Honeys: Vampire Month: Have you given blood lately?

Vampire Month: Have you given blood lately?

A Head Honey Vampire Month Series Review by Kat

The Blade Trilogy

Not everyone is aware of the fact that Blade is a Marvel movie... from a time before Marvel movies were as epic and overpowering as they are today - I mean seriously, Howard the Duck was the closest major theatrical release. Taken on by New Line, a studio that was no stranger to horror/genre films, the budget and star power support was in place to make Blade a heavy hitter in the horror market. Blade was Marvel's first major theatrical success, and I'm pretty sure everyone tries to forget that, even though it paved the way for other (and obviously more successful) franchises to come.

The general idea: The first film in the series introduces audiences to a full world wherein vampires are a thing, and when I say a thing, I mean a big thing. They have their fingers in everything from finance to government and have managed to co-exist with their human counterparts in relative peace. They limit their hunting, and survive off of supplies provided by blood banks instead of fresh victims. A fairly decent trade off if you think about it. However, they don't live life in the open, and their interests are taken care of by Familiars - humans held under vampire thrall, like really awesome pets - Familiars can be anyone.. members of law enforcement, legal council - you don't pick just any old person to be your Familiar, that's the key. Blade exists in this world as a vampire hunter - tainted by vampiric blood while in utero, Blade possesses all of the vampire strengths, but none of their weaknesses. Unless you count "The Thirst" as a weakness. I wouldn't. But hey... priorities. To thank vampires for his dark gift, Blade returns the favor by hunting them in a fanatical superhero/James Bond-y way, complete with a grumpy gadget master, a grizzled old bastard named Whistler.

Now you're ready.

Blade (1998)

In 1998, I had a martial arts obsession, and Wesley Snipes was someone I was already afraid of thanks to Demolition Man. So, knowing absolutely nothing about the comic or the character of Blade, when I walked into the theatre I had no idea what I was in for. What I expected: a vampire film. What I got: A kickass action movie with humor, gore, and a killer backstory and just a hint of alternate universe world building, which is what I love. Like many films that are adapted from comics/graphic novels, Blade is filmed in beautiful colors (have you ever noticed how blood looks under different colored lighting? Spectacular.) and gives special attention to the framing of its shots, highlighting a moment of gore, comedy or character spotlight. Even though I was unfamiliar with Blade as a comic persona, I love imagining specific scenes as comic panels, and Blade provides a lot of fodder for this kind of appreciation - especially on subsequent watchings.

Deacon Frost's Big Bad is by turns a literal bad boy and the vampire equivalent of an unruly teenager. Running his own dance clubs (if you watched this movie and didn't want to immediately attend a Blood Rave I feel like I don't really know you) and generally being a dick to everyone higher up in the vampire ranks. With their own generation of Old Guard, the vampires of Blade's world are governed by strict rules - rules that Frost and his peers don't want to follow. Would I be into that? For Deacon Frost? Hell yes.

To sum up the entirety of the film, Blade is on the hunt with a taste for vengeance, and since it's "open season on all suckheads" and anyone who happens to get caught in his way... well, they get pulled along for the ride. Blade's vampire hunt also happens to coincide with Deacon Frost's desire to awaken something known in the ancient vampire texts as "La Magra" the Blood God. Obviously, Blade is here to fuck up his plans. Saving humanity is kind of secondary to Blade's passion for wiping out vampires, so it's really NBD.

As a series starter, Blade comes out strong with some great cinematography, decent CGI (it doesn't ALL hold up, but hey, we can't all be Hellraiser), and the right amount of gore/horror elements mixed into the story to keep horror fans engaged and the four people who read the comic satisfied. The film deviates a little heavy handedly from the comic character, but let's be real about the fact that Blade himself first appeared as a supporting character in a Spideman comic... so it's not too shabby. Blade has some good comic moments and doesn't appear to try too hard for laughs, which means when they do appear, they manage to elevate the content and lighten the mood *just* enough. Blade isn't as dark as its sequel by any means, and in this case, it's not a bad thing either.

The verdict: 3.5 urgent requests to be a Familiar out of 5

Blade II (2002)

Unlike other Marvel properties that release a sequel almost immediately after the original, after the success of Blade, a sequel wasn't immediately released, but it didn't take long to secure a larger budget, and some bigger names to appear. Directed by Guillermo DelToro, the director's aesthetic is immediately recognizable, and for those of you watching The Strain who haven't seen Blade II? You're about to get a bit of a rude awakening on these "original" vampire designs.

In this second instalment of the series, vampirism takes on a new and kind of gross form in the hybrids personified in Nomak - his breed of vampire is parasitic and degenerative, and not even the other vampires want it around. Finding themselves on the wrong end of the food chain for once, the vampire covens enlist the help of Blade to eradicate the Reapers and restore order. Blade obviously has other ideas, but we'll get to that later. Strong on sub-plot, there's a great deal of the story that is lost in translation within the world of Blade 2. Suffering from a "too much all at once" curse, the film covers some extra family betrayal, some seriously annoying double-crossing, and some awkward shit with Whistler.

Dentist's dream
What I loved so much about Blade was that the story was clean and simple, even though the sequel is my favorite of the series, what could have been a highly effective film was lost amidst and overload of details and side-story action. And a bunch of action for the sake of action, and some mindless additions that the film seriously could have done without.  However, what I DO love about Blade 2 is the amount of attention DelToro lavishes on his Reapers. It's obvious that he loves this version of the vampire, and the detail in the makeup and anatomy of this strain of vampirism. From the development of their parasitic disease to the actual dissection of one of the Reapers, we get to know this enemy intimately, and I would have loved to have seen a film JUST focused on their villainous and predatory arc.

It would be remiss of me not to mention a highlight of the film - The Blood Pack. In a world where Underworld hadn't been released yet, a squad of highly trained vampiric ass-kickers was just what the doctor ordered. Especially after the fairly weak-sauce elder vampires from Blade. Now, whether or not those aforementioned vampire elite actually exist in the world of Blade 2 isn't really an issue. What matters is that Ron Perlman is a badass in and out of prosthetics. Enough said. While they're not comic relief by any means, The Blood Pack offers a cast of characters that I definitely wanted to get to know, and I'm a little choked that we can't have a back story on them - especially Reinhardt and Lighthammer. Bring me these things.

Chills, man. Chills.
Nahhh just kidding.
Bleh. Scud indeed. 
Blade 2 is short on comic book laughs and frame by frame set pieces, but it's also a more profound film (if you can call a vampire film profound) - the carefully chosen shots and visuals are arresting and extremely dark and even strangely poetic and poignant at times. I point to DelToro for that value added visual feast. Where Blade's color palette rests in the comic book world of bright jewel tones, Blade 2 is an underground world bathed in the light of sallow fluorescents and street lights.

Oh yeah... Norman Reedus is in this - and he's still totally unattractive and has the same mannerisms and personal hygiene as Daryl. Just FYI.

The verdict: 4 awkward "does this look infected?" questions out of 5

No hickies!

Blade Trinity (2004)

Even this poster is douchey.
*sigh* I hate Blade Trinity.

Trilogies are not so very often finished off with a winner, and Trinity suffers from not only a bloating of the storyline, but of the characters as well. Please note that Blade wears a red shirt in the film to make it easier for CGI rendering. Fuck. My. Eyeballs. Del Toro passed on the offer to direct Blade Trinity for the monumental trade up of Hellboy. And we all know how that turned out.

Blade Trinity is a mess. Where Blade 2 suffered from an overpowering amount of storylines, Trinity suffers from the same issue... and Parker Posey.  Having learned its lesson from waiting too long to release a sequel, Trinity was rushed through the gate and came out and the amount of studio interference was something noted by a number of the cast members. Trinity is also the first film in the series to feature the Marvel logo - which, honestly, they shouldn't have bothered.

He's. Always. The. Same. Guy.
Appearing in Trinity is a brand new cast of characters. Whistler's daughter, Abigail (Jessica Biel, who I don't hate), and Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, playing the character he plays is every single fucking movie he's cast in) join Blade to help him hunt down the vampire coven. Happy trivia fact: the character of Hannibal King appeared in a later issue of the same comic as Blade (The Tomb of Dracula), so it's not all bullshit. Like Blade 2, this is an entirely new vampire coven, or is it? The links are tenuous at best, but they still hate Blade. So at least there's that. Since the Vampire Nation is pissy about this hunting "group" and something about a vaccine being developed on the side to wipe out vampires (it was mentioned in Blade, but again, the connection is tenuous enough that this detail is just annoying), they decide to wake up Dracula to combat Blade and his helpers.

You read that right. Dracula.
If there was ever a vampiric equivalent to jumping the shark, this is it.


Add in a bunch of ridiculous CGI fight scenes, WWE wrestler Triple H (who was actually given MORE lines because production liked him so much), Parker Posey's stupid face and some dogs infested with the Reaper virus and you've got one of my least favorite vampire movie ever... If ever there was a case for a pointless sequel, Blade Trinity should be it. There are some cute moments (usually involving Reynolds and his smart mouth) and some self referential moments that have their value, but that value is erased in the face of the ridiculousness of the entire film, which in turn serves to weigh down the entire series. Wasting the groundwork laid by the original film and refined in the second, Blade Trinity just puts me on edge now, and not in a good way.

The verdict: 2 Deadpool character giveaways out of 5 

What he said.