Thursday, October 31, 2013

A celebration of my mom, at Halloween

My enthusiasm for Halloween can be traced back to my childhood, which at times was a tough one. My father passed away when I was a young boy, leaving my mother to raise five kids on her own. I still can’t fathom how she managed, but she made ends meet, and was the glue that held our family together—in spite the enormous challenges she faced on a daily basis. She excelled as a single parent, and made damn sure her kids had the best childhood possible, despite our heartbreaking loss.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dracula on NBC: Renfield, we have a problem!

Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as Dracula, who's unearthed in Romania in 1881. Fifteen years later, he resurfaces in London, England, under the guise of Alexander Grayson, an American entrepreneur who wants to bring wireless electricity to Victorian society. His real goal, however, is to destroy the Order of the Dragon, a secret, nefarious organization noted for its "murder, torture, rape, and wholesale slaughter" that stretches back five centuries. The group was responsible for killing his wife, back when he was human and known as Vlad Tepes, the Romanian warlord. But as Dracula sets his plan in motion, he discovers that Mina Murray, a London socialite, may in fact be the reincarnation of his long-dead wife.

Much of this may sound familiar, because this pastiche of a story really doesn't offer anything new to the Dracula lore. And it's so far removed from Bram Stoker's novel that, except for some familiar faces and places, there's nothing at all to connect it to the original story. In fact, based on the pilot episode, it seems you'll only enjoy this "reborn" Dracula if you know nothing about the novel, nor the historical Vlad Tepes. And if you know anything about Victorian times, the rampant anachronisms throughout the production will drive you batty.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Monster Cereal Smackdown: Fruity Yummy Mummy

To celebrate the return of the vintage packaging for the "Monster Cereals" from General Mills, I'll be running a series of blog posts that explore each product. I was a kid when these cereals were first introduced, so they hold a lot of fun memories for me (even though I really only remember the first three produced). Being in Canada, I was lucky enough that one of my relatives was able to pick up all five vintage boxes at a Target store, since they're only for sale in the United States--and it's the first time that all five are available at once!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Universal Studios Monsters Scary Stories

Ever since Count von Count was introduced on Sesame Street, I've been interested in seeing how monsters are marketed to the younger set. One assumes that, by introducing friendly monsters to children at a young age, their innate fear of the unknown (monsters, the dark, etc.) will be lessened. The classic Universal monster movies were first marketed to adults, so it's fun to see how these same creatures have undergone a makeover over the years, and have now become part of children's stories. A prime example of this is Scary Stories, a four-book set featuring the film studio's most recognizable monsters.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Robin Hood vs. Dracula

Castle Dracula...err, Mortula
"Doctor Mortula" (1967) is one of my favourite episodes from the curious kid's cartoon Rocket Robin Hood, which originally aired on TV in Canada from 1966-1969 (and was in repeats for what seemed to be years afterwards). The series features characters from the Robin Hood tale of English folklore, albeit transplanted into the year 3000, where they live on New Sherwood Forest Asteroid, and have many space-faring adventures.

In this episode, the group faces a horde of classic Universal movie monsters--although they are watered down to make them more kid-friendly. It may also be considered one of the earliest animated adaptations of Bram Stoker's Dracula, after a fashion, and makes for perfect Halloween viewing.