Tag Archives: vampires

Eavesdropping: The Key To Fame and Fortune

by Lillian Csernica on June 22, 2015

I love to travel, but I don’t get away as much as I’d like to.  On the other hand, the whole world comes to me when I just sit back and listen.

Those lovely folks at Merriam-Webster provide this definition for eavesdrop:

“to listen secretly to what other people are saying.”

My room is on the second floor of the house, facing out onto the driveway.  This means I get to keep an eye on who’s coming and going at this end of my street.  What’s far more fascinating is sitting up here with the window open and my ceiling fan going, sipping a refreshing drink while I listen to what’s going on out there.  The people I hear the most from are my two closest neighbors.  Am I invading their privacy?  The folks who live on my right have a pool in their back yard.  During the summer months they’re out there on a daily basis.  They’re nice people, with two young daughters.  The older girl is quiet and polite.  Her little sister is an unholy terror, one of those angel-faced brats I’ve been at war with ever since I was old enough to walk.

On a recent weekend these neighbors had company, which happens a lot.  The adults all went somewhere and left the two girls plus the children of their visitors in the keeping of the grandfather, who is also part of the household.  Sure enough, the Brat started in, hollering loud enough to drown out everybody else.  All I could hear was her shrieking, “I want the pool light on!”  Over and over and over again, same inflection, same demand.  That finally stopped.  I don’t know if she got what she wanted or one of the adults managed to distract her with something else.  There is no disciplining this little monster.  She’s got more tricks up her sleeve than a master magician.

Not all that exciting, you say?  Hardly worth the bother?  Mind you, this child is about six years old.  I tried to concentrate on my work, but when the shrieking got going again, I caught one key word: “Vampire.”  Uh huh.  So I kept listening.  Sure enough, about five minutes later I hear her bellow, “They suck your blood!”  The evil glee in her voice brought to mind the days when the kids in our neighborhood got together and tried to scare each other silly.  Now here’s the punchline.  The general rumble of the other kids’ voices went on.  Then the Brat shrieks, “Get out of my house!”  They were already outside.  She was doing a good imitation of an adult issuing a command.  I’m starting to wonder if Mommy and Daddy have been letting their little hellspawn watch monster movies, or maybe even True Blood.

Tell me this isn’t the material for some kind of story!



Filed under Family, Fiction, frustration, Humor, mother, Writing

U for Underworld

by Lillian Csernica on April 24, 2015



It was a bit of a stretch to find a movie that fit today’s letter.  Sword & sorcery at its most literal is somebody armed with a sword going up against somebody armed with magic, right?  Magic is a tricky, slippery, changeable force.  It can be very difficult to tell where magic ends and what we call science begins.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

In Underworld, the heroine Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is the adopted favorite of Viktor (Bill Nighy), one of the three Vampire Elders.  The vampires and the “Lycans” (short for lycanthropes, i.e. werewolves) are at war.  Selene is one of the “Death Dealers” who go out looking for werewolves to kill.  As the story opens, she and her patrol happen upon some werewolves who are following what looks to be an ordinary human guy.  When the vampires and the Lycans face off, bullets start flying.  The vampires’ bullets are filled with silver nitrate.  The Lycans have found a way to create ultraviolet bullets, so they’re shooting hollow point sunshine.  Selene really wants to know why the Lycans have taken such an interest in this particular human.

Meanwhile, back at the fancy mansion where the vampires hang out looking bored and chic, there’s skullduggery afoot thanks to Kraven (Shane Brolly), the vampire who’s minding the store until the big Awakening Ceremony in two days when the Vampire Elder Marcus will rise.  Kraven is a real Type A personality, bullying Selene and stomping around like he owns the place, which is what he intends to do.


There’s a lot of running around in tight black leather and corsets, racing around in the rain, and people shooting at each other.  When this isn’t going on, there are chunks of expository dialogue that explain why the Lycans want to get their claws on this human, Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman).  They need his blood.  Lucian (Michael Sheen) is in charge of the Lycans.  Talk about a bad case of Small Man Syndrome.  What he lacks in height he makes up for in attitude, outstripping Craven by a mile.  Lucian is the first to bite Michael, an event that will have far-reaching consequences (as in three more sequels).


The moon is now full, putting poor Michael through the agonies of his first change.  Attendant upon his development as a werewolf are flashbacks that tell us the viewers why Lucian and Viktor hate each other.  In these flashbacks Viktor is armed with a very respectable sword.  The idea here is that Michael has ingested Lucian’s memories along with his saliva or whatever got transferred with Lucian’s bite.


Selene knows something Really Bad is about to happen, so she takes matters into her own hands and awakens Viktor so she can tell him what’s going on and find out what she should do about it.  We are now treated to a combination of Christopher Lee meets Bane as Viktor recovers from being a dried up corpse in an upside-down casket.  Fans of clockwork will get a kick out of this sequence.


Poor Selene.  She means well, and one gets the impression she has something of a soft spot for Michael, but she has broken the Covenant by waking Viktor up.  Apparently it’s Marcus’ turn to be in charge and the three Master Vampires are very strict about making sure each of them gets his time above ground.  Viktor’s all purpose solution to problems such as Michael is to kill him.  If Selene runs along and takes care of that little chore, all is forgiven.


Meanwhile, there’s a train arriving with Amelia, the third Vampire Elder, and her retinue.  They don’t really matter much, because the werewolves ambush them and rip them apart.  One would expect better of upper management vampires, especially those traveling into a location that is already having problems severe enough to merit calling this council.


Selene brings Michael back to the vampires’ mansion which sends Viktor into a complete tizzy.  If there’s one thing he hates more than werewolves, it’s a werewolf hybrid.  By now Viktor is fully restored to all his undead glory, complete with fancy robes and an interesting make-up job.  Out comes the big sword as the vampires and werewolves go at it for Last Monster Standing.  The CGI crew pulls out all the stops for some impressive transformations, Matrix-type stunts, and the predictable carnage.


This movie is a lot like the middle of one of those dreams where you’re running around searching for something.  You don’t know what it is, you don’t know where you are, but you’ve got to find it before something really horrible happens.  Then you wake up, and you never find out how the dream ends.  So it is with Underworld.  I’m not sure if the producers had a long range business plan that involved a total of four movies.  I suspect that was not the case.  Given the Rotten Tomatoes rating for Underworld (31%), and the negative reviews, it’s not surprising that Underworld: Evolution got a 16% rating and even worse reviews.

As I said, calling this sword & sorcery is stretching the term to encompass elements of horror that tip the scales in favor of that genre.  Even so, Underworld is worth one watching.  If seeing Kate Beckinsale in a corset, skin tight black leather, and Neo’s duster doesn’t thrill you, maybe you’ll enjoy the spectacle of Bill Nighy in purple eye shadow.




Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, fantasy, Horror, romance, sword and sorcery

T for Tales of an Ancient Empire

by Lillian Csernica on April 23, 2015

By a strange twist of Fate, today’s movie happens to be the sequel to yesterday’s epic adventure.  Lee Horsley, star of The Sword and the Sorcerer, was not available, so the producers did what producers always do in these circumstances: they cast Kevin Sorbo.  It’s only fair to warn you that this movie is rated R, full of half-naked vampire women and a few guys with fangs.


The plot of this train wreck is a hopeless muddle that combines guys with swords, girls with fangs, a queen about to lose her realm, and the ultimate threat: Vampire Queen Xia, roused from the sleep of centuries by treasure hunters stupid enough to break into her tomb.

Gosh, does this sound familiar?  It should.  Kull the Conqueror starred Kevin Sorbo as he went up against Akivasha, the demon queen.

The ruler of Abelar who originally imprisoned Queen Xia is long since dead, so she goes after the current royals.  Queen Ma’at sends her half-sister Princess Tanis off to Douras, some landlocked equivalent of Tortuga where all the outlaws stop off between crime sprees.


Tanis is looking for her father, but has to settle for her half-brother Aedan.  (This is where Kevin Sorbo comes in.)  She finds him thanks to the pendant he wears, an exact match of the one given to Tanis by Queen Ma’at.  Aedan is drunk, rowdy, and not really in the mood for a heroic quest.


Does this shot look familiar?  In The Sword and the Sorcerer, Talon uses a big joint of meat as a club against Cromwell’s guard when the guard is about to attack Princess Alana.

So the princess and the outlaw waste valuable time finding one half-sister Malia, and then another, Rajan, who brings her daughter Alana along for the ride.  The man who fathered these five must have been a cross between Rob Roy and Don Juan.  Thanks to him we very nearly have the sword & sorcery equivalent of the Magnificent Seven.


Maybe I’m being too picky, but if Douras is knee-deep in outlaws, shouldn’t Aedan be able to round up a few mercenaries?  Women can be just as dangerous with a sword, heaven knows, but if Queen Ma’at’s throne is at stake, Tanis better bring back enough manpower to secure the throne and take out Queen Xia.

If you read the plot summary on imdb.com, it says, “A princess is on a quest to unite the five greatest warriors to save her kingdom from a demon sorceress.”

Uh huh.  Let me sum up a lot of really bad dialogue and tedious travel shots by saying things don’t go well.  Here’s Queen Xia in all her subterranean glory:


She looks like Magenta with a bad hangover.

But wait!  There’s more!  Princess Tanis has yet another half-sister, a servant girl named Kara.  While Tanis and Kara share the same father (who must have knocked up almost every woman he ever met), Kara’s mother is Queen Xia!  GASP!  Queen Xia turns Kara into the equivalent of a daywalker so Kara can hunt down Tanis and prevent her from rallying any serious opposition.

When Our Heroes encounter Queen Xia and her bloodthirsty minions, poor Rajan and Alana end up joining their side.


When I talk about these movies, I do post the occasional Spoiler Warning if I think you might really want to see what happens.  Let me save you from making that mistake here.  Movies used to be 90 minutes long.  This one is listed as being 86 minutes.  The actual movie is only 70 minutes.  The last 16 are devoted to “Coming Attractions” of the third movie in this supposed trilogy, Tales of An Ancient Empire: Red Moon.  You know what this means, right?  It means Our Heroes don’t drive a stake through Queen Xia and her minions then ride off into the sunset.  The movie has the chopped-off ending that’s the sure sign of a badly planned sequel.

Lee Horsley made an appearance in this film, listed as “The Stranger.”  I’ve looked high and low for a shot of him in the movie, but I can’t find one anywhere.  Perhaps that’s for the best.



Filed under bad movies, Blog challenges, fantasy