Tag Archives: Vampires

Vampire Shift by Tim O’Rourke


Vampire Shift (Kiera Hudson Series One, #1)Vampire Shift (Kiera Hudson #1) by Tim O’Rourke

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quite fun and compelling for the most part. Less a police procedural with vampires, more a vampire tale with some mediocre police work involved. It’s packed with horror-movie-cliché: small town of oddballs, check; love-interest with a secret, check; dead spot for phone signal, check; bad weather so you can’t leave, check; crappy car, check; useless police that can’t/won’t see the obvious answers, check… I could go on.

So the police continually send brand new trainees to this little town, who promptly go missing, and so they just send another one next year. OK, so I’ll let that one pass for now. The “local” police don’t seem particularly bothered about a spate of murders and grave desecrations, and our plucky new police officer Kiera offers “amazing” insight because she can “see” details that others miss. But in fact is less Sherlockian observation and deduction, but rather stuff the regular police should be seeing and documenting anyway. This mostly works for this story because the local police are being purposefully obstructive (that’s not a spoiler, unless you can’t spot the obvious within the first couple of chapters of the book – the clue is in the name of the book!). Leading up to the inevitable boss-battle, Kiera needs to work out who she can trust in this strange corner of England.

As a reader, if you’re after a fairly non-taxing mystery, with some amusing vampire creatures (who aren’t really all that scary – despite looking like full-on demons – but at least they don’t sparkle!), then give this book a read. If you want something to really scare you… find something else.

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Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice


Interview with the Vampire
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The first book in the vampire chronicles is a slow-burner, but is still brilliantly engaging and leaves you needing to know where these characters go and do next.

The story is recounted by Louis de Pointe du Lac to a reporter in a small room in San Francisco. He tells of how he grew up in New Orleans, the master of a plantation, and how after mourning the loss of his brother he gave up on life, only to be given the opportunity to live forever by the mysterious Lestat de Lioncourt. Together they make a dysfunctional family, and a child vampire Claudia. But Louis and Claudia grow tired of Lestat and his unwillingness to share any knowledge of other vampires of the world, keeping them completely isolated. So they break away from him, and go searching the globe for their own kind.

This is probably the third time I’ve read this book, and it’s like revisiting an old friend. There is just something about the vampire mythos that always strikes a chord with me. Probably it’s the outsider perspective observations of human life. A particular quote from this book illustrates just that:

“I watched the tragedy finally as one might from a theater balcony, moved from time to time, but never sufficiently to jump the railing and join the players on the stage” (p144).

This book is where it all started; the origin of the “gentleman vampire”. A man or woman who could pass invisibly among a crowd. Not the black and white monster stories of old. A creature as tortured internally as any human could be, more so perhaps due to the guilt of having to take human life for their own sustenance, and due to the sheer number of years lived, the length of multiple human lifetimes. The isolation and loneliness of a life so long. How a loss of a close friend (or even an enemy) leaves emotional scars lasting to eternity. How would you keep yourself relevant to a future time, when you had lived and learned through childhood and young adult life a century (or more) ago?

Anne Rice’s prose is always heavy on description. Setting the scenes beautifully, so that you can smell and feel the environments; and experience the character’s emotions for yourself. An immersive experience.

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The Strain: Season 1, Episode 13 – The Master


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UK Pace Review – Broadcast on digital channel Watch
The Strain: Wednesdays at 10pm
[Header Image Source]

WARNING this review contains SPOILERS.

Synopsis
Palmer is feeling much better.  He’s now up and about and visiting Abraham’s pawn shop.  He orders Fitzwilliam to pack up everything, including the wormy heart in a jar, but not the decapitated corpse of Mrs Martinez.  Eichorst appears.  Palmer might be healthier, but he’s not been fully turned.

Flashback.  Zack’s trying out his new bike.

Loud bangs bring Zack back to the present. Eph, Abraham and Vasily are discussing yet more plans to fight the vamps.  Zack comes in asking questions and Abraham answers them.  Eph would rather he had not been so forthcoming with information, and gets pissed off.

Gus is being held by one of the vampire army guys.  Somewhere “safe” underground.  He’s untied, and tries to attack, but is easily countered.

Back at Stoneheart, Palmer displays Mrs Abraham’s wormy heart alongside his own bottled replaced organs!  How sentimental.  All of a sudden Fitzwilliam declares that he’s no longer going to follow orders.  Now he disapproves!

Eph and Vasily discover that the theatre owned by Gabe, now designated one of The Master’s favourites, is likely to be a good place for a nest.  Vasily’s historical knowledge gets them in through a neighbouring building and secret tunnels from prohibition era.  They find the remnants of the coffin, which the vamps are putting back together, and a few of them sleeping in a pile.  So they head back out again.

Dutch is looking for a TV signal, but there isn’t one.  She’s busy getting drunk, and Eph is the one to pour out her bottle of booze – into a poor unsuspecting plant!  Nora is singing to herself on the roof.

The officials are planning to put the city under quarantine.  Took them long enough!  Palmer shows up at the door.  He and the secretary go outside on the balcony to speak privately.  Palmer chucks her over the side.  The other doctor, Eph’s former boss, is spared for now.

The whole gang, including Zack, are planning to go on the hunt.  Abraham gives Zack his own silver sword, and he gets a quick and dirty lesson on how to kill vamps.

The group get to the theatre together, Abraham gives a pep talk.  Vasily left some covers open on the sewer, these spots of sunlight are holding back the vamps for now.  He also brings out his stash of dynamite (which he grabbed when he visited home).  The explosion collapses the tunnel (that one at least), and the gang passes by the other direction.  The reach the centre of the theatre, Abraham hears The Master in his head.  They all go in and attack the oncoming hoard.  Dutch hesitates when she recognises one of them.  The whole battle stops while she speaks!  Then continues on.

Eichorst comes in taunting, Vasily grabs him whilst Dutch continues to shoot.  Abraham finds himself in a quieter location, but hears the voice of his wife in his head.  And then The Master is behind him.  Eph and Zack follow into the room.  They start to smash windows to let in the light.

Eichorst gets a few silver nails in the face!

Abraham goes in for the kill, but drops his blade.  Eph shoves The Master out a window and into daylight.  Eichorst and the other vamps seem to sense this and they all back off.  The Master takes his time sizzling in the sun, and then runs off down the side of the building, back into darkness.

The Master’s tolerance of the sunlight is news to Abraham.  They’re going to need to rethink how to fight him.  Abraham becomes the voice of negativity: “we’re lost”.

Gus is still aimlessly attacking his vampire captor.  They chat for a while about the box, and Gus’ need for revenge.  Then he runs off down a corridor.  In a dark yet open space he stumbles across some of the oldest vamps – attached to high chairs.  Captor vamp claims that an ancient truce has been broken and that they need a human to move about for them in the day.  The promise of a monetary award gets Gus’ attention.

Vasily suggests they regroup at his place.  Zack needs his asthma inhaler.  They stop off at his old house to pick up a spare.  Zack faked his asthma attack so that he could pick up some mementos.  They reminisce for a while, because there’s always time for that.  Mummy vamp appears at the back door.  Zack tries to run towards her, but Eph fires his gun.  Vamp Kelly runs off.  Eph reaches for the bottle.

Abraham’s voiceover epilogue is suitably dire.  The group drive off in the bread van, as parts of the city burn.

Unanswered questions

  • So, the vampire army have done bugger all throughout the whole series!  Couldn’t they have nipped this in the bud right at the start?  Clearly they saw it coming.

My Favourite Bit
Vasily’s convenient knowledge of the area, specific history, and stash of dynamite helps move the plot along.

Overall Rating
Empty Star_76Empty Star_76Empty Star_762 out of 5 stars

It took me a while to watch this last episode, as I had lost a bit of momentum with this story.  I’ll be honest here.  I’ve never really connected with any of the characters, so it’s difficult to care whether they live or die.  The scientists haven’t done any science, the old hunter has failed to kill the monster he’s been hunting for 70 years, the hacker screwed up the system but can’t fix it, and the government officials are slow to react to a crisis, or are just plain corrupt.  The rich guy wanted to get turned, and still failed at that!  The vampire army could have had a much more prominent role; of all people they chose Gus as their helper right at the end – I don’t see why, so far all he’s done is drive a van!  We were introduced to the characters as being mostly intelligent people, but evidence suggests that they managed to get to their job status purely by luck, not through skills.

The only characters which I thought had any brains, were Vasily the exterminator, and Zack the kid; who managed to survive being left alone to babysit a mentally ill old lady.

Throughout this whole first season, I’ve been waiting for it to properly get going.  All of the storylines were disjointed, and each episode progressed so very slowly.  The series started out by putting dates and times on screen, so you knew that only a few hours had passed.  Throughout the rest of the episodes they stopped doing that, so we’re left unsure whether it’s a few days or a few weeks that have passed since the aeroplane arrived carrying The Master cargo.  Either way, it’s taken 13 weeks to tell that story which might have made a great 2 hour monster movie.

I may, or may not follow this story in season 2..

The Strain: Season 1, Episode 12 – Last Rites


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UK Pace Review – Broadcast on digital channel Watch
The Strain: Wednesdays at 10pm
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WARNING this review contains SPOILERS.

Synopsis
Eldritch Palmer is not at all well.  Eichorst taunts him.  Palmer thinks The Master will come and save him, especially after all the work he put in getting him here.  Eichorst isn’t so sure.

The gang get back to the pawn shop.  Zack seems fine that they’re late, and he had extra responsibilities to attend to whilst they were out.  Mrs Martinez just looks pissed off.  Abraham goes back downstairs into his “lair” and uncovers his “wife” – or what’s left of her.

Flashback: Albania 1967.  A man (Abraham) is trying to buy a horse to take him to Castle Dricht, or the ruins of.  The locals aren’t particularly interested.  They may, or may not, have already heard about the well-dressed German gentleman asking similar questions.  In the end, he pays over the odds for the horse.  Abraham gets back to his house, where his wife Miriam is waiting for him.  He looks to be in his 40s at this point, but Miriam looks like she’s 25!  However, Miriam has a leg brace and a crutch to help her walk.  She asks him to be careful when he goes to the castle.  He promises that he will, and that they will settle down and adopt (?) children when they are safe.

Back to the present.  Abraham is caressing the jar containing the remains of Miriam, lost in thought.  Nora brings him a drink.  She spots the heart in a jar and starts to ask questions.  Abraham gets angry.

Gus accosts a previous associate in his car – your basic car-jacking.

Vasily is checking the maps.  Eph comments on Abraham’s reaction in the tunnels the previous night.  NOW he’s asking questions!  Dutch shows up at the shop; “Did you miss me?!”  She’s got a plan… or perhaps it’s a “win”.

Dutch can hack the emergency broadcast system, and wants to make Eph famous.

Gus is still driving about town with his hostage.

Abraham takes a nap.

Flashback.  Young(er) Abraham reaches the ruin of the Castle.  Random personal effects are strewn around.  He drops a rope down a (dry) well, and climbs in.  There’s a tiny crawl space.  Of course, he goes right on in.  His horse waits patiently up top.  Abraham finds a nest.  He’s about to start killing them, when they start to speak directly to him.  So he runs off.  Back through the tiny crawl space.  His rope is gone!  Eichorst taunts him from above.

Dutch and Vasily are on the roof.  Dutch is getting ready to hack into the emergency system.  Vasily tries some dead pan humour.  Dutch shares a little of her background.  Her pseudo-British accent is apparently due to a previous girlfriend, and a move across the pond.  Vasily enquires whether she’s interested in men or women.  She gives a suitably cryptic answer, so she’s presumably open to suggestions.

Mrs Martinez notices that Eph is preparing a speech.  It seems Nora used to be good at that.  Nora comes along and has a go at her mum for being out of bed!  But she doesn’t question where the menthol cigarettes came from?

Gus and his hostage get to where they were going.  Creem gives Gus his supply of guns.  Another car shows up.  They make a delivery.  Gus checks the bag once they’ve left.  It’s full of cash.  But Gus is interested in picking up what they paid for, as it’s clearly worth even more.

Dutch is pretty much ready to put Eph on screen.  Abraham starts to again explain his motivations.

Flashback.  Abraham is climbing out of the well.  Bare fingers on brickwork.  Somehow he kept hold of his cane!  His horse has been disembowelled.  He runs back to Miriam, but she’s gone.  Her leg brace is left behind.

The gang are ready to broadcast.  Eph is live and sending their message.  A vampire (Gabe, maybe?) attacks Mrs Martinez.  Others attack.  Eichorst arrives at the door of the shop.

Gus and Creem get to the container and open it.  There are vamps in there!  They shoot at both the vamps, and each other.  The good vamp army show up – AT LAST!  They grab Gus and drive off, leaving Creem to just stand and stare.

The vamps are trying to get into Abraham’s basement.  The gang barricade the door.  Vasily lays out an unconscious Mrs Martinez; Nora cries by her side.  NOW Nora will take up a sword, screams and kills her mom.

Flashback.  Abraham sits and broods in the dark.  Miriam appears at the front door, she’s a vampire and has two vampire children minions.  Abraham goes in for the kill.

Nora is crying.  Abraham takes the sword and cleans it.

Flashback.  Abraham is sad over the decapitated corpse of his wife.

Eichorst gets into the shop.  He talks at Abraham so that he can hear.  Abraham uncovers Miriam’s heart and looks at it.

Flashback.  Abraham is praying.  He asks forgiveness for what he is about to do.  He cuts out his wife’s wormy heart.

Abraham says goodbye to the heart in a jar.  They get out through the back.  Eichorst sees the heart.

Palmer is in his hospital bed.  The Master pays a visit.  He begs to be saved.  The Master feeds him a drop of his milky white blood.  Fitzwilliam comes up with a tray, Palmer isn’t in his bed.  He’s standing outside in the rain, laughing.

Unanswered Questions:

  •  So, what exactly is the motivation of the vampire army?
  • Did Abraham keep his wife’s heart just as a keepsake? After all that, he just left “her” behind?

My Favourite Bit:
Abraham’s backstory.  I think, personally, had the entire series been about Abraham and the vampires from the 1940’s onwards, chronologically, it might have been a bit more engaging.

Overall Rating:
Empty Star_76Empty Star_76Empty Star_762 out of 5 stars

Still this series seems to be all “middle”.  Presumably, had I read the books beforehand the whole premise may make more sense.  I would have thought that the creators would have included enough information to bring the newbies up to speed.  As above, I might have told a chronological story, instead of revealing bits and pieces in flashback.  I’ve said this before but, I see absolutely no reason why the main character(s) should belong to the CDC, and then subsequently have no science basis nor any search for a medical cure within the rest of the story.  Instead they simply trust Abraham and his fairy tale explanations.

The Strain: Season 1, Episode 11 – The Third Rail


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UK Pace Review – Broadcast on digital channel Watch
The Strain: Wednesdays at 10pm
[Header Image Source]

WARNING this review contains SPOILERS.

Synopsis
Zack plays at filming whilst Vasily is inventing new weapons to fight the vamps.  They test out a UV light bomb (*cough* Blade II *cough*).  It doesn’t work, they come up with another possible way for it to work, but they can’t test it without using up all their supplies.  Winging it on hope is apparently what Abraham has been doing for 60 years!

Nora’s mum is not coping well in a new environment, she’s confused and upset, and looking for an ashtray that broke several years ago.  Her mum continues to smoke by the window (smoking is bad, kids – don’t do it!).

Gus returns home after escaping the law.  His brother Crispin is watching football (or “soccer” if you like…) but no, he’s a vamp and Gus kills him with a baseball bat.

Eph talks as though what they’re doing by hunting The Master is linked to their work in the CDC, by “tracing the disease to its’ source”… (which is wrong, they’re more akin to the angry villagers running after the unknown with pitchforks… but OK, you justify it how you like).  Looks like “science” has been thrown out of the window.  Eph suggests that Nora stays behind, and she refuses.  So instead they leave the old lady with dementia alone with the 8 year old boy (*slow ironic clap*).

Mrs Martinez makes things very difficult for poor Zack.  She wants cigarettes. NEEDS cigarettes.  Is upset and still confused.

The world is ending: “well, let’s get looting” says the general population…

Gus is concerned for his mama.  He calls her at work, but her shift doesn’t start until later.  Turns out she’s on the floor of her bedroom cupboard, sheltering from the sun.

Mrs Martinez is shouting behind the locked gates of the pawn shop for help.  She’s getting more and more frantic.  Zack offers to go and get her some cigarettes (if this were a normal day, he wouldn’t be allowed to buy them at his age – and during the end of the world, he shouldn’t go out at all!!).

The gang go underground at the World Trade Center, tracking the strigoi (they keep switching terms… pick one!).  Wandering around in the dark, with a few UV strip lights and ineffective torches.  “Stay to the right – don’t touch the third rail”.  They find wallets and possessions in the tunnels.

Zack leaves the shop.

The gang continue to walk the tunnels.  There’s fluorescent goo all over the place.  They find a nest of vamps, but instead of killing them (which would alert The Master) they creep by.  Eph thinks he sees Kelly, but it’s not her.

Gus leaves his mother behind in the apartment.  He doesn’t kill her.  He runs into the old landlord on his way out – infected – and decapitates him for good measure.

Vasily is playing tour guide around the underground tunnels.  Eph hears a train, Vasily says it’s nothing.  A train goes by.  Eph and Vasily squabble like children – Abraham breaks them up.  Another vamp wanders through ahead of them, steps on the wrong rail… BZZZZZZZT! Dead!

Zack’s out finding cigarettes for Mrs Martinez.  Scavengers come in to the store, Zack hides in a store room, down a chute – but there’s a vamp down there.  He drops his phone, so goes down to get it – the vamp disappears – he climbs out.  He runs into the scavengers, who get killed by the vamp.  On Zack’s way out, he bumps into Gus, and grabs some packs of cigarettes (menthol).

The gang are still wandering about the tunnels.  More goo on the walls.  They reach a dead end.  There’s a small hole in the wall, and without a second thought they crawl right in.  Eph keeps a UV light ahead of him, and inches his way through.  The rest start to follow, as do the vamps.  Eph hears Kelly’s voice – and just runs off.

The others slowly get themselves through the tiny hole.  Vasily goes last, gets stuck, followed by a vamp (I would have put the UV lamp behind me, rather than in front!), but Nora pulls him out.  Eph and Abraham have gone off already.

Eph finds the coffin.  Kelly’s voice is still luring him along.  A group of vamps surround him, and The Master appears.  His weapons do nothing.  He gets talked at for a bit.  Abraham appears, they all hear some high-pitched feedback noise, Vasily chucks in the UV bomb which burns a few vamps, but The Master runs off.

Zack gets back to the shop, and gives Mrs Martinez her cigarettes.  Then goes to play with knives.  Bad habits all round.

The gang discuss their failure.  Abraham has a go at them all for being impulsive.  Then chops up the coffin with an axe.  Now it’s Abraham’s turn to be impulsive, chasing after The Master without another proper plan.  They stumble across a huge nest.  Abraham wants to rush through, the others stop him.  For now.

Unanswered questions

  • STILL no sign of the “good” monster army?  How many episodes is that now?
  • Where was this “plan” that Abraham had?  They didn’t have much of a strategy to start with.
  • Why are these “scientists” so stupid?

My Favourite Bit
Abraham destroys the coffin – they should have done that in the first place.

Overall Rating
Empty Star_76Empty Star_76Empty Star_762 out of 5 stars

Is it me, or is The Master not at all scary?  He’s pig-faced and funny-looking, but not scary.  The gang are stumbling their way through the plot, more by luck than judgement.  And poor Zack!  Why did they leave him alone and in charge of a child-like adult?  Bad parenting!