2013 Manga Reading Challenge!

FireStarBooks

Next year (well, tomorrow) I will participating in FireStarBooks' Manga Reading Challenge! Yay! I'm really excited for this challenge because I've been a manga reader since I was nine (I'm seventeen now) but I've sort of drifted away from it in recent years. So, this challenge is a great way for me to get back into reading manga!

Right now, I have 34 volumes of manga in my room but I do hope to read more than that! I am going to try to finish some series so I will place my goal at around 60 volumes.

I'm going to make a page to track my progress, and I will put the link under the challenge button in the sidebar. Happy New Year and Happy New Reading!

Merry Christmas!

Hey gang,

I just wanted to wish you all....


And to those of you who don't celebrate Christmas, I hope this year has treat you well and that the next year will too!

See you all then!

Taking a Short Break

Hey gang,

I really hate to do this, but I'm going to have a take a break from blogging for a short while. My college coursework has finally caught up with me and I don't have the time to make posts or even read.

Hopefully I'll be back after Christmas, so I will see you all then! In the meantime, I'm going to do coursework and cry hideously at the Man of Steel trailer for the fifth time.

Happy holidays!

Follow Friday (18)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: Activity! Who do you want to be? If you could choose any character from a book. What do you think that character looks like and what do you have in common?

Ahh, hard question! I think I would probably want to be Lila from Hunting Lila, because physic powers are awesome and she's awesome in general (apart from the being hunted by the marines part). I would imagine that Lila would look like Taylor Momsen did when she was in Gossip Girl. I can't really think of things that I have in common with her but I just want to be her!

Happy Friday!

DNF Review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Glow
Amy Kathleen Ryan
Series: Sky Chasers #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Romance
Released: October 2011
by Macmillan
Source: Purchased
Rating: DNF

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
What if you were bound for a new world, about to pledge your life to someone you'd been promised to since birth, and one unexpected violent attack made survival—not love—the issue?

Out in the murky nebula lurks an unseen enemy: the New Horizon. On its way to populate a distant planet in the wake of Earth's collapse, the ship's crew has been unable to conceive a generation to continue its mission. They need young girls desperately, or their zealous leader's efforts will fail. Onboard their sister ship, the Empyrean, the unsuspecting families don't know an attack is being mounted that could claim the most important among them...

Fifteen-year-old Waverly is part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space; she was born on the Empyrean, and the large farming vessel is all she knows. Her concerns are those of any teenager—until Kieran Alden proposes to her. The handsome captain-to-be has everything Waverly could ever want in a husband, and with the pressure to start having children, everyone is sure he's the best choice. Except for Waverly, who wants more from life than marriage—and is secretly intrigued by the shy, darkly brilliant Seth.

But when the Empyrean faces sudden attack by their assumed allies, they quickly find out that the enemies aren't all from the outside.

Glow is one of those book that I put on my to-read list based only on the cover and not what the book was about. So when I bought the book while on holiday, I was a little surprised to read that the book was a romance book. But that aside, I bought the book hoping to not be disappointed. Boy, was I disappointed.

I only got through half of the book before giving up from boredom and getting lost in the midst of numerous characters that I presume have absolutely nothing to do with the plot. What I did read I found to be just too slow for my liking. Apart from the New Horizon attacking the Empyrean and kidnapping all of the girls, very little interesting happened. Most of what I read was comprised of Waverly and the other girls being shown around the New Horizon and becoming accustomed with the religious ways of the ship's inhabitants and Kieran and the boys finding out a way to fix the Empyrean. Other than that, practically nothing happened. Hopefully something happens somewhere in the book, but that probably would have marked the book down if I had the patience and finished it.

I didn't find the characters of Glow to be likable at all. I have probably never come across such flat and bland characters in a book. To me, Waverly was extremely prejudiced towards the people on the New Horizon, just because they're religious. And on top of that, her decision making was terrible. I was waiting for her to be an awesome ass-kicking heroine but that never happened. Some heroine. Kieran wasn't prejudiced but he wasn't much better, he also was bad at making decisions and appeared to be motivated by some one-sided argument. Good grief...

One of the things that really bugged me about this book is the religious tones. The ship New Horizon is described as being full of hardcore religious types and it is implied that they are evil and their faith is possibly the reason why. I realise that there are people who dislike people who are of faith, but the religious people in Glow were pretty much stereotypes. A ship full of multiple Ned Flanders. I just couldn't take any more of that.

Glow is told from the view of both Waverly and Kieran and, to be honest, I found neither of them to be interesting or engaging. I found the writing style to be drawn out and added to the boring plot, which had already made my eyes feel heavy every time I looked at the page.

I got about half of the way through Glow before setting it aside forever. Everytime I picked it up, I'd read about two or three pages and then put it down again. I was hoping for a great story about love among the stars and I didn't get that. Unfortunately, this book gets a big fat DNF from me.

Review: Ed Wood (1994)

Ed Wood
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau and  Sarah Jessica Parker.
Based on: Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey
Genre: Comedy-Drama / Biopic
Released: October 7 1994
by Touchstone Pictures
Running time: 127 mins (2 hr, 7 mins)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★+

IMDb | View Trailer
You are interested in the unknown. The mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of what happened, on that fateful day. We are giving you all the evidence, based only on a secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived this terrifying ordeal. The incidents, the places. My friend, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Can your heart stand the shocking facts about 'Edward D. Wood Jr.'?
Although I'm not the world's biggest Tim Burton fan, I have been fascinated by the true story of transvestite B-movie director Ed Wood for quite some time. I haven't seen any of Woods films, but I have read the stories behind them numerous times and they're quite humorous. Before watching Ed Wood, I had heard many a good thing about the film and I decided to buy the DVD. When I put the DVD into my X Box (I don't own a DVD player anymore >.<), I was totally unprepared for how awesome a film I was about to watch. Seriously, before writing this review, I watched this film two more times.

The plot of Ed Wood is mostly true as many of the events did happen in real life but there are some that are exaggerated or even modified for entertainment purposes. But to me, that didn't really matter because most of the film is factual and sometimes you need a little bit of fiction thrown in there. Apart from the few couple of historical inaccuracies  I thought that the true aspects of the film were shown very well. I enjoyed following Ed's life and his friendship with tragic Hollywood legend Bela Lugosi, which somewhat mirror's Tim Burton's working relationship with his childhood hero, Vincent Price. It's nice when director's add personal details to their films. I think what strikes me about how the story is played out, is how heartbreaking certain aspects of the film are. It's sad that Ed doesn't really have the talent or money to make any decent films and people don't really understand how ladies' clothes make him feel but the most heartbreaking part concerns Bela. It's actually quite tragic that he's out of work, his wife recently left him, he has a horrible morphine addiction and people don't care for him anymore. I love it when a film makes me feel things for its characters, and the fact that everyone in this film did exist, heightened the heartbreakiness.

I really liked Johnny Depp's portrayal of Ed. I loved Ed's optimism, despite the fact that everything he does sucks. He's always trying to make his work better, even though it actually gets worse, always focuses on the positive and takes and immense amount of pride in his work. I admire that in a person. The real Wood was, to me, quite an interesting person as he was a heterosexual cross-dresser  He liked to wear women's clothes but he wasn't gay. He also had a thing for angora because the feel of it made him feel comfortable or something like that. During the Plan 9 scenes Ed actually directs parts of the film in an angora sweater and a skirt. Sometimes he also wears a wig while still sporting a mustache  It's kind of sad that some people don't really understand Ed's "habit", especially his girlfriend, Dolores (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) who can't handle it and is embarrassed by it. I loved how Johnny Depp portrayed Wood but I don't think that he gave the best performance of the film.

The best performance of the film is definitely's Martin Landau's performance as Bela Lugosi. Holy crap, his performance was just so good. Actually, it was better than good, it was perfect! It didn't feel like I was watching Martin Landau simply perform while doing an impression of Lugosi, he pretty much became Lugosi. I honestly didn't expect Landau's performance to be as powerful as it was and I was even surprised by some of his lines. A perfect example of a line that surprised me is when Ed and Bela are watching The Vampira Show and Bela makes a very blunt comment about Vampira's chest. I am not kidding, the line is "look at those jugs". I nearly spat out whatever was in my mouth the first time I watched the film. I also didn't expect Bela to be prone to fits of swearing, but I guess that's what drugs does to people. Although Johnny Depp is a fantastic actor, I probably wouldn't have enjoyed this film as much without Martin Landau. He definitely deserved his Oscar.

I love the way that Ed Wood looks; it has the look and feel of an old Hollywood B-movie, with the black and white and simple special effects. The opening credits of the film is an homage to the opening credits of Wood's film Plan 9 from Outer Space, which features the cast members names appearing on tombstones and changing whenever there is a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder. Since this is a Tim Burton film, rather than simply staying still, the camera pans through a creepy-looking cemetery and zooms in on the tombstones until it goes over a model of 1950s Hollywood and into a theatre where a play of Ed's is holding its opening night. I'm not too sure why the film was shot in black and white, but this is one of those films where I simply can't imagine it being in full colour. To me, the black and white fits in with the theme of B-movies and trashy movies, which back in the 1950s, were all filmed in black and white because colour was expensive.
 
I absolutely adore Howard Shore's musical score for Ed Wood. The score has a bizarre science-fiction theme to it, thanks to extensive use of a theremin (one of these: click for video) and also a Cuban-style percussion. I always say that music in a film has to be used appropriately and reflect the mood of the scene, and in Ed Wood, the music does exactly that. One of the scenes were this is done perfectly in the scene near to the end of the film where Ed is making his film Plan 9 from Outer Space just as he wants. It's a triumphant moment for Ed but at the same time it's ironic, because judging on how his other films turned out, you sort of know what's going to happen.
 
I just had to whip out the Golden UFO for this film. I loved it so much. This film made me laugh, it nearly made me cry, and that's what a good film should do. From this point on, I definitely consider Ed Wood to be one of my favourite films of all time. OF ALL TIME! I would definitely recommend this film, so go watch it! Do it now!

Review: Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Sweet Evil
Wendy Higgins
Series: The Sweet Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Released: May 1 2012
by HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Rated: ★★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
EMBRACE THE FORBIDDEN

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with a sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She's aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn't until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaiden Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He's the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?
I've been meaning to read Sweet Evil for a while now since quite a few people have been raving about it. Paranormal romances aren't really my thing but I decided to give it a go and joined a read-along for the book. I'm actually glad that I did give the book a go!

Before reading Sweet Evil, I had never heard of nephilims and books about angels and demons were pretty much untouched ground (the only angel book I'd read prior to Sweet Evil was Fallen, which was just no good). Because I didn't know about nephs, it was interesting to learn more about them along with Anna as I was reading. Learning along with the characters made my reading experience more enjoyable because it felt like I was there as the events were happening. I loved the plot as it managed to keep me engaged all the way through and even had me on edge at certain points.

I really loved the characters of Sweet Evil, they are definitely likable and grew on me more and more as the book progressed. Out of all the characters, I liked Anna the most because she seemed to be quite believable to me and I could even somewhat relate to her. I loved her narrative and being able to know what she was thinking and how she would resist things. I quite liked her relationship with Kaiden; it wasn't exactly insta-love but it was pretty quick. That bugged me a little bit, but I easily got over as their relationship developed. Although I liked her relationship with Kaiden, I'm a bit on the fence about whether I like Kai or not. He is swoon-worthy, but his personality is so hot and cold that at some times I wanted him for myself and at other times I wanted to slap him.

I have a thing for books that take me through a world or country and in Sweet Evil we are taken on a road trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles and we even go to New York. I love seeing characters going to different locations, and I especially loved reading about Anna and Kaiden driving cross-country and how their relationship develops on the journey.

I loved the narrative of Sweet Evil and being able to read in Anna's voice was incredibly enjoyable. But more important than that is the romance. Romance isn't my favourite genre but the romance of Sweet Evil was hot. I sometimes found myself reading paragraphs again, just to get the image of a scene back into my head, it was that steamy.

I loved this book a bit more than I had expected me to. I loved the plot, the romance, the characters but I'm still a bit unsure about Kaidan. He was hot, but the whole hot and cold thing put me off him a little bit. But that aside, I am really looking forward to the next book in the series!

Follow Friday (17)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: Books are turned into movies all the time! Turn it around. What movie would make a great book?

It's so hard for me to choose! I would say either Roman Holiday or Casablanca; I would love to be able to see the romance in those films unfold on page!

Happy Friday!

Review: Rumours by Anna Godbersen

Rumours
Anna Godbersen
Series: The Luxe #2
Genre: YA Historical
Released: June 3 2008
by Penguin Books
Source: Borrowed from library
Rating: ★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
December 1899, New York City

Manhattan has bid farewell to its brightest star, the dazzling Miss Elizabeth Holland. Yet the rumours about her untimely demise continue. Meanwhile her sister, the irrepressible Diana, has been seen in the company of not one, but three eligible bachelors. Might there be a fourth?

In high society, reputation is everything. The Holland family simply can't afford to be the subject of such wicked whispers. Heaven forbid that they should fall so spectacularly from grace...

There is a very fine line between the truth and lies, love and hate. And all is about to be gloriously revealed.
I wasn't too impressed by The Luxe, but I don't give up on a series unless it was excruciatingly horrific, which The Luxe wasn't. I was really hoping that Rumours would be better than The Luxe, and it sort of was. Just a little bit...

I liked the plot of Rumours a lot more than that of The Luxe, as there are more events and drama that take place. It was fun to be able to see all angles of the plot from different perspectives and also the different things that happen in the characters lives. I was glad that there were more surprises and shocks as the book progressed, rather than leaving all of the surprises until the very end.

The one thing that I liked the most about Rumours is how the characters are developed further. I found the characters to be quite generic in The Luxe, but here they are developed further. I still can't stand Penelope, since she is a mean manipulating witch, but I enjoyed seeing characters such as Lina and even Elizabeth develop so that they were more well-rounded.

I said in my review of The Luxe, that I would have liked to have seen more of New York, and in Rumours that sort of happens. Although the high-class side is shown more often, the city is more explored and the setting even switches to California, where Will and Elizabeth are living. I liked being able to see how they live and what they do in California.

The theme of rumours being circulated is present throughout the book and, surprisingly, it didn't get boring because I found it quite fun to see how one rumour could be twisted and turned on its head by many people. However, those two goddamned love triangles are still present and I honestly got bored of reading about it. And, to make matters worse, another one was added in!

Overall, Rumours is a slight improvement on The Luxe, but it isn't all that better than it. The love triangles let the book down, but the characterisation and development of the plot were the best points.

Follow Friday (16)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What is a deal-breaker for you in a book? For example, do you abhor love triangles? Or can't deal with bad editing?

I have quite a few deal-breakers in books, for example:

  • Love triangles
  • Jerk love interests
  • Nothing happening until the very end
  • Plot holes
  • The same metaphor or simile being used repeatedly

Happy Friday!

Review: Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie
Directed by: Tim Burton
Starring: Winona Ryder, Catherine O'Hara and Martin Short.
Based on: Frankenweenie (1984 short)
Genre: Animation / Comedy-Horror / Family
Released: October 17 2012
by Walt Disney Pictures
Running time: 87 minutes (1 hr, 27 mins)
Cert: PG
Rating: ★★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
When young Victor's pet dog Sparky (who stars in Victor's home-made monster movies) is hit by a car, Victor decides to bring him back to life the only way he knows how. But when the bolt-necked "monster" wreaks havoc and terror in the hearts of Victor's neighbors, he has to convince them (and his parents) that despite his appearance, Sparky's still the good loyal friend he's always been.
I'm not the world's biggest Tim Burton fan by any means necessary (in fact, before watching this film there were only four Tim Burton films that I liked) but Frankenweenie was the film that I had to see this autumn (everyone else in my house was more excited for Skyfall), not because of the director but because I really wanted to see how this special twist on the classic Frankenstein tale would play out. To show how much I wanted to see this film, I went to go see it alone on my day off from college. I was intensely hoping that I wouldn't be disappointed by Frankenweenie and I wasn't disappointed at all. Not one little bit.

Frankenweenie is a remake of Tim Burton's live-actio first film that he made for Disney and I loved the twists that Burton made to the original Frankenstein story. In the film, young Victor Frankenstein loses his beloved pet dog, Sparky, and figures out a way to bring him back from the dead but has to keep him a secret. Victor's classmates find out about his experiment and when they replicate it in order to win the science fair, chaos ensues. The thing that I loved the most about the film is how various other monster films are intermingled with Frankenstein, which I found to be quite funny. There were plenty of in-jokes that I was the only person in the cinema laughing at, such as references to Godzilla, Gremlins and even one character being a huge reference to Boris Karloff himself. I loved the humour of the film but if you aren't familiar with monster movies or classic horror films, you might not understand. Despite the film being a PG, I found a couple of moments to be a little bit scary. I didn't go see the film in 3D but I do imagine that I would have been more jumpy if I did. There are some kids that are braver than I am, and they might not be as scared as I am.

To me, the cast surprised me. Why? Neither Johnny Depp or Helena Bonham Carter appear in Frankenweenie. Not even in cameo roles. I was actually glad that Tim Burton had decided to work with Martin Short, Catherine O'Hara and Winona Ryder again because I like a bit of variety in a director's filmography. Anyway, I loved the cast and thought that everyone was wonderful. My favourite characters in the film were Edgar 'E' Gore, who is played by Atticus Shaffer (Brick from The Middle), and Mr. Rzykruski, who is played by Martin Landau. Although the character of Mr. Rzykruski was inspired by Vincent Price, I could see similarities between the character and Landau's portrayal of Bela Lugosi in Burton's film Ed Wood (my review of Ed Wood will be up next week), mainly with the accent and the way that he speaks. To me, it seemed like Victor and Mr. Rzykruski were among the very few characters in the film that had complete sense and were the most well-rounded characters since they experience quite a full spectrum of feelings. Edgar provided most of the comedy of the film and I think that casting Atticus Shaffer in the role was a perfect move since he always has me laughing in The Middle. I haven't seen many films that feature the Igor character but I do know that he is an odd character, which Shaffer does so well with his performance and I just loved every minute of it.

This may sound odd, but I'm glad that Frankenweenie was made in stop-motion animation because nearly every animated film that is released today is CGI and I always love it when animators and directors use traditional methods. The stop-motion gives the film a creepy vintage monster movie look to it as does the black and white. I can't comment on whether the 3D is any good because I saw the film in 2D and I didn't see it in IMAX either, so I don't know if that's any good. You'll probably have to find that out for yourself!

Frankenweenie's music was composed by Danny Elfman, who also composed the music for Batman, Batman Returns, Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas and even the theme song for The Simpsons. Dude's a pretty big deal to me. I loved Elfman's score, which has the typical Tim Burton feel to it and perfectly captured the feel of the film. Through the song, I knew when I should feel scared, when I should feel happy and when I should feel a bit teary-eyed.

For me, Frankenweenie is one of the best films that I've seen this year. I loved everything about it. I loved the animation, the cast, the music; everything was so good! People of all ages would like this film, and, to me, it's obvious that this film meant a lot to Tim Burton since everything looks like it is done to perfection. I would definitely recommend this film to people of all ages. One of the best films I've seen all year!

Review: Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

Bride of Frankenstein
Directed by: James Whale
Starring: Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester and Colin Clive.
Based on: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Genre: Horror
Released: April 1935
by Universal Pictures
Running time: 75 mins (1 hr, 15 mins)
Cert: PG (BBFC) NR (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Dr. Frankenstein and his monster both turn out to be alive, not killed as previous believed. the doctor wants to get out of the evil experiment business, but when a mad scientist, Dr. Pretorius, kidnaps his wife, Dr. Frankenstein agrees to help him create a new creature, a woman, to be the companion of the monster.
Final Universal Monster film! I have heard from reviews that Bride of Frankenstein is one of those sequels that is better than the original, so it's fair to say that my expectations were pretty high for it. I've wanted to see how the Bride is created since she is pretty much the only iconic female monster.

The film begins with Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron discussing Frankenstein during a thunderstorm. Mary (played by Elsa Lanchester, who also played the Bride) then continues on the story which starts where it finished, with the villagers burning down the mill where the monster has hidden. Despite the title, most of the film focuses on Dr. Frankenstein being pressured into creating a new creature by the incredibly odd Dr. Pretorius. There is also a big sub-plot involving the Monster which I enjoyed more than the main plot because it was kind of cute to see the Monster gaining a more human side (a cute horror film? yes, indeed). My favourite scene in the entire film involves the Monster befriending a blind man who teaches him about good and bad. One point of the plot that I didn't like was the fact that the Bride herself doesn't appear in the film until the last five or ten minutes. I was expecting her to be a much bigger part of the film since she is the title character.

Unlike Frankenstein, the majority of the actors in Bride of Frankenstein are British, which was a bit of a relief because the accents are a lot more convincing (even though the film is set in Switzerland). I liked the majority of the characters, but the one character that I just could not bring myself to like was Dr. Frankenstein's housekeeper, Minnie, who was played by Una O'Connor. Her constant shrieking and 'I told you so' attitude became very hard to chew and I wished that someone would slap a piece of tape over her mouth.

Dr. Pretorius, who was created by Whale for the film, was a pretty interesting character. He is much, much more irrational and even crazier than Frankenstein was in the first film and gave the film more character and personality than the other characters. He also added to the campy humour of the film and was even absurd at times, which made him more a "mad scientist" than Frankenstein ever was.

There's a huge cliche that sequels are not as good as the first in a series, but Bride of Frankenstein gives that cliche a huge slap in the face. I enjoyed this film more than Frankenstein but the fact that the Bride herself doesn't appear very much at all let it down just a little bit. The title is a little bit misleading. But, that aside, the film is incredibly enjoyable.

Sweet Evil Read-Along: Weeks 3 + 4


I'll be combining the posts for weeks 3 and 4 in one post because I missed last week >.<

Week 3 topic: Truth or Dare!

I'm not the world's biggest fan of truth or dare because I'm quite boring and don't have many scandalous secrets. My friends and I often play spin the bottle and whenever the bottle lands on me, my reaction is always:


I do enjoy spectating though. It's just really funny to hear people's embarrassing stories and laugh.







Week 4 topic: Halloween!

We're not as Halloween-crazy in the UK as I know many people are in countries like the US and we barely celebrate it at all in my house. Every year we close the blinds, lock the door and pretend to not be home, all while hoping that trick or treaters aren't going to knock on the door. Whenever someone does, my parents always do this:

Woody and Diane could easily be my parents.
They don't answer the door because we don't have anything to give to trick or treaters (it used to be teenagers asking for money and now parents take their kids to ask for sweets). Yeah, it's probably not a good idea to knock on my door on Halloween night without calling the house first.

But, that aside, I do like to party!

Stacking the Shelves (6)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which I showcase books that I have bought this week.

This week I bought:
  
Leviathan, Behemoth & Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
I read the first book of the Leviathan series at school and I don't know if the school librarian ever got the rest of the series in and I hadn't seen them in bookshops for quite a long time. I went shopping yesterday (I was supposed to buy my brother a birthday present) and I found the whole series in Waterstones. Yippee!

P.S. Sorry about the lack of updates, college work has finally caught up with me and I've had no time whatsoever to get any reading done >.< I probably won't have a book review until next Saturday!

What did you get this week? Leave me a link and I'll pop by!

Review: Frankenstein (1931)

Frankenstein
Directed by: James Whale
Starring: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke and Boris Karloff.
Based on: the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley
Genre: Horror
Released: November 21 1931
by Universal Pictures
Running time: 71 mins (1 hr, 11 mins)
Cert: PG
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Henry Frankenstein is a doctor who is trying to discover a way to make the dead walk. He succeeds and creates a monster that has to deal with living again.


As I'm writing this review, I'm about halfway through reading Mary Shelley's classic horror novel and I just had to watch the film version. I just had to! I figured that I may not actually need to read the book to understand but I've already read half of it, so at least I'm about to point out any differences.

Although the plot of the film is pretty much the same as the book, there are quite a few big differences, mainly with the characters of Victor, whose name has been changed to Henry, and Elizabeth Frankenstein. As in the stage play that this version is an adaptation of, Henry and Elizabeth are engaged to be married, rather than being adopted siblings. This didn't make much of a difference to me, as they still care for each other, but in a more intimate manner than in the book. Another big difference is that certain things have been added in. One of these is how the monster is brought to life as the book doesn't clarify how it happens (Victor doesn't tell the reader because he doesn't want his actions to be re-enacted), whereas the film shows the well-known method of using lightning. This was something that I really liked as the audience is able to see how the monster is created rather than it just appearing (I imagine a "scene missing" card being used). If you haven't read the book or don't particularly want to, I wouldn't worry about it because the basic plot of pretty much the same as the book.

Obviously the stand-out performance of the film is Boris Karloff's performance as the monster. Curiously, Karloff is credited as '?' in the opening credits but his name is given in the end credits. Weird... In the film, the monster doesn't speak (yet) and is mainly silent apart from the grunts and yells that shows that the monster is distressed. The lack of dialogue works incredibly well because you wouldn't really want to hear the monster say anything because, in my view, that would make him less scary. Especially since Karloff had a distinctive lisp (a monster with a lisp doesn't sound very scary to me). I felt quite sorry for the monster at a few times in the film, particularly when he is being tormented by Fritz (a character made up for the film) and when the villagers are chasing him for unknowingly killing Maria. The monster doesn't have a clue of what's going on or why the people are mad at him. He's almost like a child in a way.

There isn't much in the way of special effects since this is the early 1930s but the make-up used to create the monster is phenomenal. Although the overall look of the Monster is absolutely nothing like Mary Shelley's character, it is the image that pretty much everyone is familiar with. In a sense, it doesn't really matter that the monster doesn't physically resemble the monster in Shelley's book because, chances are you'd probably imagine him to look exactly how he does here, rather than the translucent yellow skin that is described in the book.

As with Dracula, the only music in the entire film appears at the beginning and end credits or when music is being played by characters on screen. Given that the two films were released in the same year, the reason for not including music will have been the same: audiences were only used to hearing music in a film if there was a reason for it to be there. It has the same effect as the lack of music gives an eerie and unnerving feeling to the scenes, especially the scene in which the monster is seen fully for the first time.

Despite there being numerous changes and things added into the film, I did enjoy watching Frankenstein and didn't particularly need to read the book in order to understand who people were and what was going on (I'm still going to finish it though!). The cast was excellent, and I absolutely loved Boris Karloff's performance as the monster. I would definitely recommend this film to fans of classic horror!

Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay
Suzanne Collins
Series: The Hunger Games #3
Genre: YA Dystopian
Released: August 24 2010
by Scholastic
Source: Gifted
Rating: ★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR

"IF WE BURN
YOU BURN WITH US"

Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But she's still not safe. A revolution is unfolding, and everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans - everyone except Katniss.

And yet she must play the most vital part in the final battle. Katniss must become their Mockingjay - the symbol of rebellion - no matter what the personal cost.
Going into reading Mockingjay, I was quite excited to see how The Hunger Games series was going to end and I had pretty high expectations. However, I didn't realise that it would take me so long to read the book and I also didn't expect to be as disappointed as I was.

The main reason as to why I didn't enjoy Mockingjay as much as the previous two books in the series is the plot and the events. In my eyes, very little happened until about three quarters the way through. Nothing happening until near the end - or worse, the very end - is my ultimate bookish pet peeve. There was just a little bit too much talk for me and not enough action. I found myself skim reading quite a lot of the time and once the action finally started to happen, I was still skim reading. I got confused at some points and sometimes didn't realise that certain things had happened.

Over the course of the series, the characters have changed so much that they were different in a way. Katniss seemed weaker to me, and even puppet-like at times because she's pretty much being told what to do and to me, that's just not what Katniss does. I was a bit let down by her since she was so strong in the first two books and here it seemed like she'd been crushed a little bit. Many of the other characters had the same treatment, but I did like how Prim had a bigger part to play and came out of her shell.

Although I liked being able to read about the rest of Panem in a bit more detail than the other books, I had mixed feelings about District 13. While it was interesting to read about how militarised the district is and how it has a cold and pressurised feeling to it, it felt quite stale after quite some time and I wanted the story to move away, which it thankfully did.

I felt that Katniss' narrative in Mockingjay wasn't as engaging as it was in the previous books. Since the events were quite slow at times, the pacing of the narrative matched it and I just wished for it to speed up. Also, Katniss' changed personality is shown in the narrative which is something that I felt brought it down. I didn't really want to read about her feelings and how it is taking an excruciatingly long time for her to make up her mind between Gale and Peeta, I wanted to see some action.

I felt somewhat bad writing this review because I really wanted to enjoy Mockingjay, I really did but it just didn't do any wonders for me. Mockingjay is definitely not the best book in the series, but I wouldn't go as far as to say that it's the worst or that I hated it, because I didn't hate it. As much as I wanted it to be, Mockingjay wasn't the spectacular ending that I wanted it to be and unfortunately I was unimpressed for the most part.

Follow Friday (15)


Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What book do you think would make a good Halloween movie? Please explain in graphic detail of goriness...

I'm not exactly an expert on scary books because most of the horror books that I have read have already been made into films >.< Robopocalypse could be a good one, since there's a lot of violent action from people being pummeled or even grinded into a bloody sticky mess by the machines. Maybe it could have a Christine-esque feel to it...

Happy Friday!
(also, don't forget to check out my Creature Feature Giveaway!)

Review: The Wolf Man (1941)

The Wolf Man
Directed by: George Waggner
Starring: Claude Rains, Warren William and Lon Chaney Jr.
Genre: Horror
Released: December 12 1941
by Universal Pictures
Running time: 70 mins (1 hr, 10 mins)
Cert: PG (BBFC) NR (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
Upon the death of his brother, Larry Talbot returns from America to his ancestral home in Wales. He visits a gypsy camp with a village girl Jenny Williams, who is attacked by Béla, a gypsy who has turned into a werewolf. Larry kills the werewolf but is bitten during the fight. Béla's mother tells him that this will cause him to become a werewolf at each full moon. Larry confesses his plight to his unbelieving father, Sir John, who then joins the villagers in a hunt for the wolf. Larry, transformed by the full moon, heads for the forest and a fateful meeting with both Sir John and Gwen.
Another Universal Monster! These are becoming the only horror films that I can watch since I'm still a wimp. Oh well. My dad's given me a brief insight to each of the films that he has seen and told me about this one the most. Werewolves aren't my favourite monsters and I haven't seen/read much that features them.

Thankfully, The Wolf Man is not based on a book so there's nothing for me to pick up on (yay!). I loved how the plot was centred around the original legend of werewolves and how becoming one has a horrific effect on Larry Talbot. I liked being able to see something where the werewolf is the central character, rather than being secondary to someone else, it made the film a bit more scary.

Throughout the film there is a poem that is repeated whenever werewolves are mentioned:

Even a man who is pure at heart
and says his prayers at night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

It sounds like the poem would get really irritating, but believe me, it doesn't. I found it actually quite enjoyable to hear and I didn't even have to Google it to type it above since it has pretty much stuck in my head.

Although I really loved Lon Chaney's performance, I felt that his character wasn't written correctly. Making Talbot the son of an English lord seemed a bit inappropriate, especially since he was American. I haven't yet plucked up the courage to watch the 2012 version of the film but I think I will be just a little bit biased against  it since Chaney's performance was just so spot on. The way he moves as the werewolf is just so monsterlike, it's fascinating to watch.

There is only one problem that I have with The Wolf Man. The film is set in a fictional village in Wales but not a single person speaks with a welsh accent. Not even a slight one. With the exceptions of Béla and Maleva, everyone either speaks in an American accent or what I like to call a BBC accent (which was how every British actor spoke back then). The film doesn't make it clear that the setting is Wales but I did like how the film wasn't set in England. Weird, but that was something that I liked.

The special effects of The Wolf Man may look primative compared to its 2010 remake, but it's still pretty cool to watch the scene in which Talbot transforms into a werewolf. He's just sitting in a chair but seeing him get progressively hairier and hairier as he transforms has an old-school coolness about it.

I think it's safe to say that The Wolf Man has given me some faith in werewolves. I've never really been a fan of them, but I think I kind of am now. As long as it's done right. I'd say that The Wolf Man is a definite must-watch for werewolf fans and fans of classic horror.

Sweet Evil Read-Along: Week 2


This week's topic is: Citrus or pear recipes!

I'm not really a fruity person, so I'll share what me and my friends usually make for parties, which is our 'special' fruit punch:

Ingredients:

  • 1 carton of orange juice
  • 1 carton cranberry juice
  • 1 carton tropical fruit juice
  • 1 quarter lemonade
  • 1 shot of vodka or tequila (don't tell my parents!)
  • Gummy snakes!

Directions (from what I can remember):

  1. Line a large bowl of the base of a cocktail fountain with the gummy snakes
  2. Add in the fruit juices and mix them together
  3. Add in the lemonade and mix again
  4. Add in the shot of vodka or tequila and mix once more
  5. Enjoy!
I don't have any pictures of what it looks like, but it's really yummy!

Remember, I'll be posting my full review of Sweet Evil when the read-along is over, so keep a look out for it!

Follow Friday (14)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish with your blog? Is it to one day become an author yourself, just for fun, maybe get some online attention, or maybe something very different?

I don't really hope to accomplish anything big with my blog because it is just a hobby of mine. I enjoy sharing my thoughts on books that I read, since very few of my friends read unless they have to. It's a good thing being able to find people who I can discuss books with without being told "I don't read" or "I hate books" or even that I "need to read some 'real' books".

Happy Friday!

Review: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Anthony Hopkins
Based on: Dracula by Bram Stoker
Genre: Horror / Romance
Released: November 13 1992
by Columbia Pictures
Running time: 128 mins (2 hr, 8 mins)
Cert: 18 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★+

IMDb | View Trailer
Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor, is assigned to Castle Dracula in the mists of Eastern Europe. There, he is captured and imprisoned by the undead vampire Count Dracula who travels to London, inspired by a photograph of Harker's fiance, Mina Murray. In England, Dracula begins a reign of seduction and terror, draining the life from Mina's closest friend, Lucy Westenra. Harker, Mina, Professor Abraham Van Helsing and Lucy's suitors join together to hunt down Dracula and put an end to him.
The first time that I had seen a mention of this film was in the fourth Treehouse of Horror special of The Simpsons. It was in a segment called Bart Simpsons' Dracula and featured Mr. Burns as Dracula. I didn't really get the reference back then but I obviously do now. There are three main reasons as to why I wanted to see this film:

  1. It's Dracula. Duh.
  2. It's Gary Freaking Oldman who is playing Dracula.
  3. Francis Ford Coppola - a.k.a. my favourite director of all time - is the director.

But seriously, I cannot gush enough about how much I love Francis Ford Coppola. Pretty much everything he does is gold. To give a few examples he directed The Godfather trilogy (my favourite film series ever), Apocalypse Now, Jack and he even directed Captain EO which is an attraction at Disneyland! Dude is so awesome this post would be too long if I talked about my feels.

I think that this film is as close to the original book as we're ever going to get. Nearly everything that is usually missed out is included: Quincey and Arthur, Dracula feeding Mina his blood, Van Helsing placing a communion wafer on Mina's forehead and even the convent that Jonathan escapes to and marries Mina in. Pretty much everything is in there. However, the biggest difference between the book and the film is that this film establishes Dracula to actually be Vlad the Impaler who became a vampire after his wife Elizabetha threw herself in a river after believing that he was dead. It doesn't seem too relevant but it does because this is a romance film. Dracula believes that Mina is the reincarnation of Elizabetha. I liked how this twist was added in because it gives a reason as to why Dracula took an interest in Mina in the first place but other than that, the film follows the book as closely as possible.

Although the cast is altogether wonderful, Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins are definitely the strongest players in the film. First of all, Gary Oldman. I liked how he portrayed Dracula in a more three-dimensional manner. He has the dark, violent side but he also has the mysteriously romantic and even erotic side in there as well. I also loved how although the character goes through a couple of drastic changes in appearance (when Harker visits him, he is an incredibly old man and gets younger as the film progresses) he still retains the somewhat suave personality. I have seen people call this portrayal as “weak” and even “wussy” because Dracula is motivated by love for his dead wife. I’m sorry, but being in love does not make a man a wuss or weak. I actually liked that he is motivated by love; it gives a reason as to why Dracula had taken an interest in Mina. So far, Oldman’s portrayal is the best that I’ve seen and even my favourite because it is so incredibly accurate.

I loved Antony Hopkins' performance as Abraham Van Helsing. He also played the character in a way that is incredibly true to the book and the character was the eccentric professor/vampire hunter that he really is because, let's face it, if he turned out to be kidding, Van Helsing would look like a complete nutjob. The accent that Hopkins did sounded more German than Dutch but that's okay because it goes unnoticed if you don't know the difference between the accents.

I hate to say it because everything is going so well so far, but I think that Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder are the weakest elements of the film. It was quite obvious that they had to put on English accents for their roles are Jonthan and Mina in which the intonation mainly stayed the same. They both had a look of bewilderment on their faces most of the time which is sort of characteristic of the Harkers since they spend quite a lot of time being confused and not knowing what is going on. Sorry guys.
I absolutely loved the set design of the film. The sets themselves compliment the costuming which is also just amazing. The sets really look like they're from 1897 and give the film quite a dark feeling in certain scenes and look quite bright in others. The typical gothic colours are used here (red, black and white) but there are also colours with certain connotations present, such as Mina's dresses usually being green, which in some cultures repsents lust. See that? Symbolism.

One of the things that I really love about Francis Ford Coppola’s films is his refusal to use CG effects and prefers to use more primitive methods. A couple of examples are using projections onto the actors’ faces and even using shadow puppets at times. It sounds like it would look like crap but it works incredibly well and actually looks better than CG works would. There are things that CGI can’t do that makeup can. The one thing that bothered me is the amount of blood that is used, especially when Lucy is being turned into a vampire. Although I don’t think blood would usually explode out of the bed-sheets hen someone is becoming a vampire…

While the score of the film itself is fantastic, I wasn't too fond of the film's "official song" which was Annie Lennox's Love Song for a Vampire. To me, it just didn't fit the tone of the film and even seemed inappropriate to have such a dark, dramatic and even erotic film only for the credits roll and hear a song that completely changes the mood.

This is only the second Dracula film that I have seen so far and already it’s my favourite. There are just so many things that I love about this film and the fact that it’s so close to the book makes it nearly perfect. Dracula actually being Vlad the Impaler was a nice twist but a couple of cast members gave quite weak performances. Other than that, I absolutely loved this film so much that I've created a new film rating!

Sweet Evil Read-Along: Week 1

This week's topic is road trips! I go on at least one road trip every year for when I go on holiday but I don't really call them road trips since they're with the family. The furthest I've ever been in the car was to Lake Maggiore in Italy. Why road trips? We can't afford to fly and my mother hates flying. Since I can't drive and I highly doubt that my dad would trust me to drive his car cross-continent, I'm going to list:

My Top 5 Necessities for the Back-Seat Passenger


#5 : Sunglasses


My sunglasses are an absolute must for road-trips. I need my eyesight to read and I really don't want to be squinting for the whole trip or I'd end up with crow's feet! And who wants those?

#4: Comfy clothes

I have to be incredibly careful about getting blood clots in my legs for medical reasons so I have to wear comfortable clothes in the car so that I can put my feet up. I often wear these slippers in the car because they're comfortable and they're fuzzy on the inside so my feet won't get too cold from the air conditioning!

#3: Sugar!

I must, must, must have sugar during a long car journey or I'll fall asleep in the car, miss my favourite songs and lose valuable reading time. And I can't afford to lose that! I'm particularly fond of jelly beans and chewy sweets since chocolate melts so easily. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've gotten out of the car and found melted chocolate on my bum. I also need a bottle of Coca-Cola to feed my horrific Coke addition. Seriously, I'll probably end up with no teeth from the amount of Coke that I've drank in my life.

#2: A good pair of headphones and awesome music
Since we always go in my dad's car, we have to listen to the music on his iPod. My dad's music taste is very hit-or-miss with me. Some of the things he listens to is really good (for example, Kate Bush, Genesis and Fleetwood Mac) and there are other things that I just cannot bear to listen to (10cc and Level 42 are among my least favourites) so I always bring my iPod and my best pair of headphones because my dad turns up his music loud so that he doesn't fall asleep.

One of my favourite albums to listen to in the car is Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins. It feels so awesome to listen to the guitar solo from Cherub Rock while driving down a really big hill.

#1: A good book!
Please ignore the nail file. I needed something
to keep the cover down and it was the
closest thing to me >.<
 Of course I have to have a good book with me! Despite the numerous times that some of my relatives have told me that they can't read in the car because it "makes them feel sick" (lightweights) I absolutely love reading in the car. It's the ultimate way to pass the time since I can't be bothered to do what my brother does and watch a film on one of the portable DVD players that we have and even though I love a good film, I prefer to watch one when I'm not bouncing around, the film isn't on a tiny screen, I can't hear my dad's music and it doesn't abruptly stop when the car engine is turned off. Books don't turn off when the car is turned off!

I'll be posting my review of Sweet Evil when the read-along is over, so keep your eyes out for it!

Review: Revived by Cat Patrick

Revived
Cat Patrick
Genre: YA Paranormal
Released: May 1 2012
by Electric Monkey
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★

Add to Goodreads | Purchase online
The world fades to nothing, and before I have the chance to think another thought... I'm dead.

My name is Daisy West and my whole life is a lie.

I have died five times. I've been Revived five times. With each revival comes a new name, a new town... a new life.

But this time I won't let myself die. This time, I've found a love that I can't let go. This time, I'm going to make my life my own.
I absolutely loved Cat Patrick’s debut novel, Forgotten so as soon as I saw Revived my instant reaction was “GIMME NOW!” Seriously, I wouldn't have settled on waiting for the library to get it in, I had to own a copy for myself. I love how the cover sort of matches that of Forgotten, since you can’t see the girl’s face but her hair is in full colour. I just think that’s really cool. I think my standards were set a little bit too high but I definitely wasn't disappointed by Revived.

The plot of Revived is what makes it so interesting. Daisy West has died five times and has been brought back each time, thanks to a secret drug called Revive. Revive is the central part of a government programme in which the drug is tested on kids who all died in a bus crash. I don’t know about you, but people being brought back from the dead by a secret government drug? Uh, yes please. When Daisy is relocated to Omaha, Nebraska she makes friends with Audrey and falls for her cute brother Matt. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way and I even found Daisy and Matt’s relationship to be a bit confusing and even frustrating at times. I've never been in love (because I’m a loser) but I don’t imagine that being in love with someone would be so difficult. There are parts where Matt refuses to talk to Daisy and won’t even text her and he seemed to be more of the girl in the relationship than Daisy was! The pacing of Revived is quite relaxed for the most part and speeds up in places, especially towards the end when the tensest scene in the book climaxes. When the book ended, I felt like a little part of me had gone missing and I wanted it to come back (clichéd, I know).

I love Cat Patrick’s characterisation and the characters of Revived were incredibly likable  I loved reading Daisy’s narratives and I especially loved her personality. She was lovable but a bit tough at the same time and her fearlessness really make her just that extra bit likable. Although Matt was really cute and sweet most of the time, I didn't like him as much as I liked Luke from Forgotten. At times he was kind of petty and grumpy and at others he was sweet and charming. Hot and then cold. I would've liked to have seen Daisy and Matt’s proper relationship and how that would have unfolded in the story but the circumstances of the events just wouldn’t allow that to happen. Darn…

There are quite a few settings in Revived and I enjoyed reading about each one of them. I’m going to be shameless and admit that when Omaha, Nebraska was first mentioned I mentally said “ooh, that’s where Marlon Brando was born!” If I didn't have a clue of who Marlon Brando was, I wouldn’t have known about the town or found it interesting.

The theme of death and bereavement was a little bit too heavy for me but once it became more light-hearted, the heaviness was lifted. But, one thing that I wish was expanded on a bit more was Megan, Daisy’s best friend and another programme test subject, being transgender. I wanted to find out a bit more about that but it was only mentioned in passing and wasn't a big subject.

Despite a few elements that I didn't like as much as I would have liked to, I really enjoyed Revived. It was nice quick read but a bit heavy at times with great characters and an interesting story. I would definitely recommend!

Creature Feature Giveaway


It's October, which means that Halloween is on its way! I've always enjoyed the fun surrounding Halloween but I never really celebrated it 'properly'. Every year in my house, we close the curtains, lock the door and pretend that we're not home. And when I was a child, I had to go to a reform Halloween party in the local church where you could only arrive dressed as someone from the Bible. Yeah. When you're five and not from a Christian family, you only know the Christmas story and Noah's Ark. Everyone was either an angel or a shepherd. They all hate Halloween at that church now.

Anyway, because I'm feeling generous I'm going to host a giveaway! Yay! Since it's Halloween, I've themed the giveaway around horror, hence the name "Creature Feature" and the fact that Boris Karloff is on the banner and the button. You know, the guy who played Frankenstein's Monster (he also narrated How The Grinch Stole Christmas, but that's the wrong time of year). I was going to put Béla Lugosi's Dracula on it, but I couldn't find a picture that was good enough.

Giveaway Details
Open internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to you
One winner will win a horror book of their choice
Giveaway will end October 31, 2012
Use the Rafflecopter to enter

Grab a button!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and have a happy Halloween!

Stacking the Shelves (5)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which I showcase books that I have bought this week. 

This week I bought:
 

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

I didn't buy much this week since I've had things to read for college and there are a ton of books that I need to read in my room. I also didn't get anything out of the library! But, anyway, I've been wanting to read the Lux books for quite a while and I also got Sweet Evil to participate in the read-along which starts next week!

What did you get this week? Leave me a link and I'll make sure to pop by!

Follow Friday (13)


Q: What is the BIGGEST word you’ve seen used in a book lately – that made you stop and look it up? Might as well leave the definition and book too.

Most of the big words that I've came across in a book were in Dracula, but the most recent one was phosphorescent, which I came across in The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. It means to radiate light without burning. I think.

Happy Friday!

Review: Dracula (1931)

Dracula
Directed by: Tod Browning
Starring: Béla Lugosi, Helen Chandler and David Manners.
Based on: the novel of the same name by Bram Stoker.
Genre: Horror
Released: February 12 1931
by Universal Pictures
Running time: 71 mins (1 hr, 11 mins)
Cert: PG
Rating: ★★★★

IMDb | View Trailer
After a harrowing ride through the Carpathian Mountains in Eastern Europe, Renfield enters Castle Dracula to finalise the transferal of Carfax Abbey in London to Count Dracula, who is in actuality a vampire. Renfield is drugged by the eerily hypnotic count, and turned into one of his thralls, protecting him during his sea voyage to London. After sucking the blood and turning the young Lucy Weston into a vampire, Dracula turns his attention to her friend Mina Seward, daughter of Dr. Seward who then calls in a specialist, Professor Van Helsing, to diagnose the sudden deterioration of Mina's health. Van Helsing, realising that Dracula is indeed a vampire, tries to prepare Mina's fiance, John Harker, and Dr. Seward for what is to come and the measures that will have to be taken to prevent Mina from becoming one of the undead.
Feel free to laugh at me because this is the first horror film that I have ever seen. I'm being serious. I've never been a fan of horror films ever since I saw Michael Jackson's Thriller for the first time when I was six. I just don't like being scared, I don't think it's a nice feeling. Even though I'm a scaredy-cat, my brother got me a box set of classic Universal monster films for my birthday and I figured that they won't be too scary since they're so old. I have read Dracula before, and I absolutely love it. The book is my all-time favourite vampire book, even though it did take me about a year to finish. Oops...
While this film version of Dracula does stay relatively faithful to the book, there are a few changed to the story, mainly to the characters. Here are a few of them:
  • Renfield is the one who goes to Transylvania to give Dracula the lease to Carfax Abbey, rather than Jonathan Harker (whose name has been shortened to simply John and given a smaller role).
  • Mina Murray's name has been changed to Mina Seward as she is now Dr. Seward's daughter.
  • Dr. Seward is no longer a suitor to Lucy, whose name has been changed from Westenra to Weston.
  • Quincy Morris and Arthur Holmwood (Lord Godalming) do not appear in the film.

These aren't particularly major changes and they didn't make a huge impact on the film or my enjoyment but I would have preferred if the characters were not changed and certain characters were included. But then again, the film would have been quite long and incredibly long films were quite a rarity in the early 1930s (to my knowledge). Other than those changes, the basic plot of Dracula is essentially the same but a bit more condensed for those who probably can't sit for hours on end.

Although it is incredibly OTT by today's standards, I couldn't help but like Béla Lugosi's performance as the titular Count. Because Lugosi was Hungarian, like the Count himself, he brought a foreign mystery to the character that seems incredibly fitting and also his deliberate slow manner of speech made the Count seem more like a walking, talking corpse, which is essentially what a vampire is. He's definitely not the best Dracula, but he's the most memorable and the one whose portrayal has been imprinted in everyone's minds since just about forever.

There aren't much to the sets, especially those of Dracula's castle and Carfax Abbey (he does sleep in a box of Transylvanian dirt, after all) but it works incredibly well because they give the appearance of being incredibly ancient and basically crumbling to pieces, which is exactly how I always imagined Dracula's castle to look. There is an interesting piece of recycled film during the scene in which Dracula and Renfield stow away on the Vesta (the Demeter in the book), which is why the movements look incredibly jerky in shots of the ship being steered through a storm.

There is hardly any music in Dracula; the only songs in the film are Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (in the theatre scene) and part of Act II of Swan Lake. That's pretty much it and the rest of the scenes have no music at all. I actually know why and it's because audiences in the early days of talking pictures were not used to hearing music in a film without there being a reason for it to be there. It actually works to the film's advantage especially in scenes were Dracula is manipulating people because it gives an eerie edge that music would usually be needed for.

Would I say that this version of Dracula is scary? Not at all, which is probably why I enjoyed it. Like I said, I don't like being scared and my first venture into the world of horror films allowed me to keep my fingernails and my knuckles stayed their natural colour. Lugosi's somewhat suave portrayal of the Count was kind of reassuring, despite its theatricality. But there is still an unnerving atmosphere to the film, especially in the close-ups of the Count mentally manipulating his latest victim. If you're wanting to be scared out of your skin, this probably isn't the film for you, but I would definitely recommend Dracula to fans of the book and fans of classic horror films.