Posts Tagged ‘Dracula’

Christopher’s Top Picks of the Decade (1/1/2000-1/1/2010)

January 28, 2010

It took all month but here are

Christopher’s Top 20 Picks (with 3 “Ties and an Honorable Mention) of the Decade

(1/1/2000-1/1/2010)

  1. Lord Of The Rings (1 movie in 3 parts)
  2. The Passion of the Christ
  3. Unbreakable
  4. tie – DISTRICT 9 Pride and Prejudice 
  5. The Exorcism of Emily Rose  
  6.  Signs
  7. To End All Wars
  8. The Village
  9. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe 
  10. Lars and the Real Girl 
  11. Luther 
  12. B000JLTR8QM. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water
  13. Napoleon Dynamite
  14. In The Bedroom
    Note: “The Bedroom” in the title refers to a compartment of a Lobster Trap
  15. Man On Fire
  16. I Am Legend
  17. The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
  18. Phone Booth
  19. tie Nanny McPhee Up
  20. tie Danielson a Family Movie (or, Make A Joyful Noise HERE) Food Inc

Honorable Mention

Bella theatrical one sheet

Bella

Fireproof

This film was not the best done, or the most moving. Several films not on this list were better films. (The Spider Man films, Inglorious B——-s, Juno, Iron Man and even  Twilight, were all better films.) Still, a church got together and made a good film with a great message, and I think that should be applauded.

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Help MAKE A Movie!

September 22, 2009

As most of you know, the film “To Be” is in script form and we are planning to make the movie. I’ve been in contact with a couple people who have experience in getting independent projects off the ground.

 Recently, one of those individuals had this to say about the film.

“I sat in on a reading of the script and thought it was fantastic, funny and would appeal to teens like no other Christian film I’ve yet to see. It’s titled TO BE. Here’s a brief summary: Graf Dorin feels alone, empty and dead. He thinks that ‘To be or not to be,’ are more options than he has ever had. Tormented at school, he finds comfort in the campy horror films of the 1920’s – 1950’s. Graf wonders if he himself is simply one of the Undead-a vampire-and sets out to uncover the truth. During his quest for truth, he is befriended by Roselin, who lets him know that he is ‘dead in his transgressions and sins’ and can be ‘alive in Christ’ through the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice. Vampires are the current top media attraction for teens right now, and will be for a few more years, so I think it’s extremely timely in addition to entertaining. It’s edgy and quirky enough that teens, believers or not, would check it out.”

 Best Selling Author, Jeremy Robinson http://www.jeremyrobinsononline.com/

I have read over the script again, myself, and I still believe in the story and I think it is worth pursuing. I am putting together a package to start shopping the film around to investors.I am editing together some “Test” scenes that we shot to show to investors with the script. You can see them online at

http://www.youtube.com/tobethemovieofficial

 and

http://www.tangle.com/dialtoneproductions.

 It would help a lot right now if you would watch the videos, rate them, comment on them and share them with others. I am very excited about this new opportunity and I hope you will be as well.

inCHRIST christopher

If you would like to help in with a donation of any amount, we will start shooting as soon as we know we can afford to make the movie.

The Other Side of Twilight

April 20, 2009

We did already review Twilight(and the vampire it’s all owed to… Dracula) but we did focus on the movie and book. As we mentioned, there is another side to this whole thing, that is “The Twilight Phenomena.” Like “High School Musical”  or “the Rocky Horror Picture Show” there is a life outside the confines of celluloid. Pop Culture Christ just did a very good article on Vampire Obsession looking at the swirl of passions flowing around the twilight series.

In other Spiritual/Entertainment/Twilight news, MuteMath, a main stream band with Christian members, some of whom are from Earthsuit, has released a music video for their contribution to the Twilight Soundtrack. You can see that over at Drive By Media. I was a bit disappointed that it didn’t end with footage of the van almost hitting Bella from the movie.

And of course, if you missed it, of just need to see it again, we have our take on Dracula and Twilight itself with the Twilight Q&E Review Show.

Just a side note, if you have a web page/Facebook/MySpace/etc… It would be great if you could re-post our Twilight review. You can use this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4d0DkjRzP8 on Facebook/Myspace/Wordpress and things like that. For regular web pages you can just stick in this code

 <object width=”560″ height=”340″><param name=”movie” value=”http://www.youtube.com/v/E4d0DkjRzP8&hl=en&fs=1″></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”http://www.youtube.com/v/E4d0DkjRzP8&hl=en&fs=1” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”560″ height=”340″></embed></object> 

Dracula

March 31, 2009

What Is It?

This is the classic vampire story that started it all. There would be no Edward Cullen with out Bram Stoker. (Of  course there would be much less of Edward Cullen if it was not for Edward Ferrars in Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility, but that’s for a different post.) In Dracula, a young man from England in 1897 travels to Transylvania to help a native Count purchase homes in England. Soon it is discovered that the Count is a monster bent on conquering England.

How Was It?

There is a reason that this book is still around after all these years. It is written as if it’s a collection of diaries, news articles, letters and other papers. Throughout them, the story unravels and reveals mysteries and some very interesting characters. Not only Dracula himself, but people like Renfield, the psychologically disturbed mental patient who eats live creatures in an attempt to consume lives.

Then there is Van-Helsing, the professor whose knowledge of the occult is powered by his infectious trust in God. The story of the vampire is very well developed, yet still has a shadowiness to his character.

Is It Good For Kids?

Younger children will find this hard to read. If they can get through it, the horror elements as well as the sexual symbolism won’t sit well with less mature kids. It will either be disturbing or confusing.

What About Spiritual Issues?

This is just an incredible part of this book. Dracula is eventually presented as a false Christ. His heart is evil; he takes the blood of others in a twisting of communion. He even has a disciple whose desire for a faith is fully selfish. The symbolism is in no way veiled. Renfield, the asylum doctor, and especially Van-Helsing link all the activities to the Bible. The truth of God is the measure used to evaluate the spiritual actions distorted by the count.

Van-Helsing continually refers to the grace of Christ and contrasts Dracula’s evil with God’s power. He knows that God’s goodness is the only cure for evil and is the reason that they can take up arms against this “devil”.

There is also a fair amount of symbolism within his evil. There is nothing immoral to read, but the taking of blood and devouring of lives is often connected to sexual sin. Not only in the act of taking blood, but in the consequences as well. Men are destroyed and women are linked to the one who has taken advantage of them. This is a beautifully written moral tale in which God is the answer and the turning from God is what creates monsters.

What Is Your Recommendation?

If you can stomach some dark situations, you should read this book. It’s a classic work that most everyone has had some connection with, but few know what a great story (with such wonderful ideas) awaits them in this tome. The true gothic tail is something much greater than all the flimsy retellings it has inspired.

It may also give you an opportunity to discuss with others the issues that Mr. Stoker deals with, starting with the nature of evil and leading all the way to the person of Christ.

What Parts Were Ripped Off By Lesser Authors?

 don’t know if “ripped off” can be proven, but there is a character who receives a scar on their forehead from the story’s ultimate evil character. When Dracula is near, the scar begins to hurt

hmmm … I wonder…. Oh well….

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Pictures of Jesus in Film and Literature PART 3 a Question Entertainment Extra

February 23, 2009

Pictures of Jesus in Film and Literature PART 2 a Question Entertainment Extra

February 18, 2009

Pictures of Jesus in Film and Literature PART 1

February 11, 2009

In which movies and books have you found “Christ Characters”?

Which of the 6 Jesuses do you think they are?

Harry Potter Year 1-3

January 17, 2009

 

What Is It?

This is the super popular series about an average boy growing into teen and adulthood while attending a boarding school for “witches.” The series seems to hook you with the fantasy aspects and then keep you with the true to life coming of age stories.

It starts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with the discovery of his (Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter) powers and his integration into a new world. He discovers that his parents died to protect him from the most powerful evil wizard ever. He is thus the only one to ever survive an encounter with the evil wizard Voldemort. This makes him a celebrity for a little while, but he quickly falls in with the underdogs.

In the second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, he goes back to school and has to deal with strange voices and people being frozen. It seems that a secret chamber has been opened, and it causes a new wave of prejudice against Mudbloods (a half mortal, half wizard – a “mud blood”).

Then, in the third year, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he runs away from his “mortal home” only to find a former friend of his dad’s is now an escaped wizard coming to kill Harry. Now that this wizard, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), is on the loose, the school is being guarded by dementors – dark robed figures, a cross between “The Grim Reaper” and a “Ring Wraith“. With the help of the new “Defense against the Dark Arts” teacher (the third in so many years.) Harry will try to overcome all that is coming for him.

In all three movies, Harry continues to be picked on by Malfoy (Tom Felton) and other peers at the school. He is intimidated by a teacher named Snape. (Alan Rickman) He is mentored by a professor named Dumbledore. (Michael Gambon) At the center of it all, he is has a growing relationship with the too smart for her own good Hermione  (Emma Watson) and the upper-average Ron.(Rupert Grint)

How Was It?

(NOTE: at this point I have only read the first and third book.)

There is a huge effort to stay true to the source material. The author, J.K. Rowling,  is consulted on all the films. If you have read the books, you will get to see everything. In the first movie, there was a plot line about a pet dragon that was cut out, but they made sure that it was mentioned and that we got to see the dragon on the screen. It almost seems as though the books and movies are made to be used together.

They have a “live action cartoon” feel, and include long dialog explaining all the new rules for the world so that some of this makes sense. This makes more sense in the first movie, but becomes tiresome as things go on.

The acting is stellar – if these kids can break the typecast their careers are unstoppable. (And if they have a good accountant, after this series their bank accounts will be unstoppable.)

The first was the best. They continue to get darker, which isn’t a bad thing. Still, it can feel like they are adding “darkness” to make up for any absence of continuing depth.

The effects get better as their budgets grow. Though the subject mater will draw constant comparisons, this series will never get to the technical level of Lord of the Rings, but that doesn’t matter if you see it as a kid’s movie with an edge.

Is it good for Children?

I have a few thoughts on this:

First, some of this may be scary to kids. Unfortunately for the worried parent, each movie is a step deeper into the wood, so if one film seems okay for your child, the next probably will not be.

You can check Screenit.com for a complete break down of what is on the screen.

My second thought is just my “artsy snob” side coming out. These are well done films based on well done books. This being said, these themes and styles of characters are done much better in other places (The Chronicles of Narnia, Dracula and The Lord of the Rings). It’s sad to me to see so many kids with this as the standard to which all fantasy is judged.

And finally…

What About Spiritual Issues?

The first problem most of the Christian community sees in this series is the use of magic. Yes, the Bible condemns it. Yes, it is flaunted in these books and movies and the only people who think poorly about witchcraft are given a horrid sounding name and are characters of unthinking hatred, fitting of a Roald Dahl book.

The magic here is from an undetermined source. (This differs from “Lord of the Rings” where all power is attributed to either the Author of Evil, or the Creator and Ruler of Good.) Yes, this uses the term witch, and yes, this could cause a child to look into or stumble upon the fastest growing religion in American high schools. (I personally know a witch who first though to leave the church for a coven after being introduced to Harry.) This becomes more confused in the third film. There is a creature that has no power but to come to you in the form of whatever scares you the most. The spell to defeat the boggart is to think of the object of your fear in a silly way (such as imagining the scary man in a funny dress or the giant spider flopping around on roller skates). Once you have the silliness in mind you say the magic word “Riddikulus.” Though your child will never be attacked by a “boggart” this does include some advice with a lot of common sense. But that is not the point of these stories.

The thing that will continue to draw people to Harry is the familiar in the midst of that fantastic. Harry lives his life in a school. He’s not the most popular, he’s not the teachers pet, and he’s not the smartest. He’s just a regular kid trying to deal with life as a student. The way he interacts with his teachers and fellow students is what kids are going to take out of this. Here we see that as long as you have a “good” reason for it, breaking the rules is not only okay, it’s necessary. This begins at Harry’s first broom class where they are told to stay off their brooms until the teacher returns. When a bully steals a boy’s glasses, Harry mounts his broom and retrieves the glasses. He is caught on the broom. The consequence – he’s made the seeker on the Quiddich team (the equivalent to a freshman being named quarterback.) Hermione tells him that this may make him think that breaking rules is good, but he will find out otherwise. I though the story would play out to teach Harry that lesson. Hermione and I were wrong. In a scene where the truth is very reasonable, Hermione makes up a lie for the teachers to keep her friends out of trouble. From there on in we know that deception and rule breaking for the sake of friends, family and justice is the only rule to follow at Hogwarts School. In fact, in the book it specifically states (around page 96) that Hermione was a much better friend now that she knew the rules were not that important.

Even if this line is not in the film, the idea is reinforced again and again. At the end of the first movie, Headmaster Dumbledore explains that he hid things in places that were off limits knowing Harry would need them and find them there. The second movie ends with Dumbledore explaining to Harry that he has broken almost every rule in the Hogwart’s book. After this mock scolding Harry is told that he will be receiving the highest award a student can receive. In the third film Harry is restricted to the school for his own protection. He is given a map that shows him where everyone is, thus allowing him to be able to sneak out at will. (In the book you find out that this map was authored by Harry’s father.) The sneaking around then helps the real bad guy get caught. The map is called “The Marauder’s Map” It is opened by solemnly swearing that the user is “up to no good” and closed by saying “mischief managed.” These magic words also open and close the cast and credits rolling at the end.

What Is Your Recommendation?

I do not think that we need any more encouragement to think that we are a law unto ourselves. Children and young people are at stages where they are still deciding if they will fight their impulses to disobey their teachers and authorities. I can not see this series helping them to make the right decision. (It blows my mind to think that there are teachers all over this country embracing and encouraging a series about a kid that accomplishes good by means of disobeying his teachers.)

Still, there is an interesting twist to all this. Though most of the “magic” has unknown origins, there is a power that Harry has that can fend off the most powerful of evil. This power comes directly from the sacrificial love of his parents. In a story that rebels against all the basic tenants of Christianity, it’s fascinating to see that at the center there is a longing for love that is embodied in the person of Jesus.

A Look at Horror, Monster and Scary Movies

October 11, 2008

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

 

We are in an odd season. Here we are celebrating things that “go bump in the night”. TV and movies have joined the festivities. So, with little hope of finding “Harvest Party the Movie”, what is a Christian to do?  

If we look in the Bible, what do we see in regards to evil and monsters?

From Cain and Abel to the martyring of the two witnesses in the book of Revelation, we see all manner of evil acts by all manner of people. The prophet Daniel sees a vision of monsters attacking the world, John sees a great dragon chase a woman to devour her baby.  Even the living creators that encircle the throne of God have a monstrous edge to them. So if the Bible does not shy away from evil, and even monsters like demons, dragons and Satan himself, what do we do with modern depictions of them?
 

First, the Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:11 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.”   As Christians, it is not only our duty to avoid participation in evil, but to show evil for what it truly is.

Film writer/director Scott Derrickson told World Magazine “Horror is the genre with the most sensitive moral compass. No other genre defines good and evil better. No other genre allows for spiritual and religious  ntent more than horror…The danger of the genre is that it can easily cross over into exploitation”   So what is being shown to us in the movies?

In “The Screwtape Letters” CScott Derrickson.S. Lewis said that demons (the teachers of evil ideas 1 Timothy 4:1) either want us to believe that they do not exist or be obsessed with them. We see this in film today. Most movies that include monsters and images of evil are either harmless because we do not believe in “real” evil. Movies like Scary Movie” and “Casper” just use these images as something to laugh or cue at. Or, in “Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas“, darkness is just there for goth teens to say “cool” under their breath. Then there is the other side, focused too much. Movies like “Freddie vs. Jason” and “Scream” present killings and evil in a pornographic manner for us to revel in.  

So do we ever see anyone get it right?

Movies that present evil as something hideous and terrible, and at the same time, not something to revel in? J.R.R. Tolkien said that the best “fairy” stories are not primarily concerned with the fairies themselves, but he people in the stories. The magical element helps us to see a bit of the human condition. The same is true of the best monster movies. It turns out that monsters of the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s  were just that. The idea of many was that turning from God and His natural order produces monsters.

Dracula  was a parody of Jesus, an anti-Jesus who was stopped by the power of Christ. It was a graphic llustration of the biblical fact that those who are living in their sins are dead, though they live. (1 Timothy 5:6) Frankenstein was trying to take the place of God and create a person in his own image. Dr. Jekyll was trying to separate himself from his evil side without God. Instead he created and fed a monster who was a personification of his “fleshly lusts” (thus the name “Hyde”). Movies made about these characters don’t allways stick to the source material, and thus the original symbolism. (While the 1940’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde expanded on the Biblical symbolism, “Mary Riley” is  Jekyll and Hyde story that tones down the human nature – sin stuff.) Some just take the monsters and use them for cheap thrills with no real meaning (“League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, “Van Helsing”).  

 

You can see a biblical use of monster symbolism in the vampire flick “The Addiction.” Here being a vampire is only the full realization of your sin nature. A philosophy student (played by Lili Taylor) deals with the problem of evil in the world as she fights her longing for blood now that she is a vampire. She goes through every philosophy of dealing with her sin nature from Buddhism (with Christopher Walken) to Hedonism
(one of the grossest scenes in the film). Finally (Spoiler) with quotes from “R.C. Sprol” she takes communion and Jesus Christ is the answer to vampirism and our sin nature.  

 

In “Deceived” a group of scientists, clergy, and military men are trying to contact aliens. Here they are trying to use these communications from the aliens as a source of salvation outside of God (though the more they interact with the alien’s messages, the more they are driven to horrible and sinful acts from greed/lust to
murder).  (Spoiler) The source of the transmissions is demons and Biblical salvation is the only way to protect yourself from its influence.  

 

In M. Night Shyamalan‘s “The Village” the people are surrounded by woods where horrible creatures live, but  he movie is really an experiment in human nature. It explores the question: “Is society the cause of evil, or is man inherently sinful?”.

 

In his earlier film, “Signs“, the monsters are aliens in the sky. As Mel Gibson and the rest of the cast worry and wonder about the creatures’ existence, M. Night’s movie asks the question: “If there is something evil coming to you, is God there to take care of you?”.  

 

Aforementioned filmmaker Scott Derrickson invites the audience to consider if it’s possible that a spiritual world could exist in the courtroom drama/demonic thriller “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”.  

 

Then, on the other end of the scale, there is the Frank Perettie adaptation of “The Hang Man’s Curse“. A highly trained Christian family takes on a school that is plagued by cult activities and its curse. The feel is on a par with “Buffy/Angel” style production and speaks to the issues of suicide and the sanctity of life.

Also from Perettie, The Visitation is a “direct to video” horror… e r… creepy film. A Midwest town is put on the map when miraculous signs start invading their benign existence. From supernatural healings to the likeness of Jesus’ face in the stained tile of the bathroom wall, everyone is touched by the accompanying message : “He Is Coming.” Revival meetings start. One pastor (Randy Travis) believes this may be demonic. One former pastor (Martin Donovan) believes this may be linked to the ritualistic murder of his wife. One mom  (Kelly Lynch) is fearful her son (Noah Segan) is in danger and the son, along with most the town, believes that a messiah has come for them… and maybe he has.

 

You could go back a couple more years to “Bless the Child.” Here a little girl is anointed by God to lead many to Him. Thus a demonically powered cult (with a “new age” cover) tries to destroy the girl. It’s a b movie with
it’s heart in the right place. The problem with this one is that it is not clear if the girl is a “type” of Christ Biblically pointing to Him with similarities) or a “new Christ” (blasphemously replacing Him).

 

Finaly, we have “Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Here we get a ghost story with pirates, and Johny Depp… how cool is that. Once again, going against God creates monsters. There are plenty of refernces to Biblical Christianity to say we are going with that world view. The Pirates have stolen gold from heathen gods, and now, they have wealth and power, but no pleasure. The greed for wealth has poisoned everything else, creating creatures that are not dead, but they are not really living. There is also
a great conversation that goes in very well with Matthew 6:21.

What is Your Recommendation?

Maybe this October 31, you will want to have a little “truth about evil” film festival while you and your friends enjoy popcorn and snacks, as you hand out full-sized candy bars (with invitations to your church youth group and “Do You Want To Know God Personally” books strapped to them) to any spooks that happen to interrupt, as they pass by. Who knows, a “Hey, whatcha watchin’?” may turn into one of the most important conversations of their life.