pen rainbow

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday—The Reading Corner

Abraham Lincoln—Vampire Hunter & The Academy Awards

I was a vampire fan long before it was trendy.  I'm not sure why because TV shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits scared the whizzle out of me when I was a kid, but I think it was Anne Rice's opulent portrayal of the New Orleans vampire, Louis de Pointe du Lac, his ancient vamp master, Lestat de Lioncourt, and the uber-scary Parisian vampire, Armand, who sucked me into the vamp lair for good.

Before that, I was a nonapologetic fan of the primetime gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows (1966—1971).  It came on after school and predated the untapped potential of young female vampire fans by about 35 years.  I was a soap opera junkie, just like my grandmother, Betty, who never missed a single sappy episode of, As The World Turns.  I always got a kick out of the Claymation-style revolving planet and the hypnotic voice of Dan McCullough who invited 1960's housewives to take a break from the dishes and laundry to watch TV for the next thirty minutes.

So, I was expecting to love the book, Abraham Lincoln—Vampire Hunter, by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I have learned not to judge a book too early, and I was only slightly put off by the author's epistolary style, which frequently switches the reader from diary entries and historic excerpts to a first-person narrative of the story.  About three-quarters of the way through the book, I realized that the pace and structure of the story was consistent with the nature of vampires—fast, predictable, and chopped up.  Now, I was starting to appreciate the book for its humor.

The violent encounters in this book got to be tedious, though.  The vampires were cartoonish, unlike the sensuous, angsty vamps in the recent Twilight series, or the complicated, tortured souls of The Vampire Chronicles.  I did, however, enjoy the vintage photographs of Abraham Lincoln posing with the vampires.  They were humorous, which is the overall intention of the book.  It's campy, like every zombie movie that's ever been made.  

The book is retro in a lot of ways and reminds me of the old low-budget horror and Sci-Fi flicks.  If you like that style, and you don't mind lots of decapitations, guts, and torn off body parts, and you might like this book.  The author puts a new spin on the slavery issue.  I was expecting a deeper, more complex story, but it is more along the lines of Dark Shadows, with the Civil War as the backdrop instead of an 18th Century fishing village in Maine.  The upcoming movie, directed by Timur Bekmambetov, starring Benjamin Walker as Lincoln, is scheduled to be released next year.
2011 Oscar Wrap-Up
I agree with all of the winners except Melissa Leo for Best Supporting Actress, and that is only because I  know too many real people who are just like the character she played.  Amy Adams would have been a more deserving winner or Helena Bonham Carter, who did a bang up job as Queen Elizabeth I, wife of King George VI, in The King's Speech.

James Franco & Anne Hathaway did a pretty good job hosting the show!  They are hard workers and gave it their best.  When he's not delivering Oscar-nominated performances and winning Golden Globes (Best Actor, Pineapple Express, 2008), James Franco is a filmmaker with an MFA in Writing from Columbia (2010) and a Ph.D. student in English at Yale.  Anne Hathaway is luminous, no matter what she does.  They are both movie stars, and I look forward to seeing them grow as film artists.  Billy Crystal owned it when he came out to introduce the Bob Hope tribute, and 74-year old David Seidler (Best Original Screenplay, The King's Speech) gave the most eloquent acceptance speech all night when he said that his father always told him that he'd be a late bloomer.

On my list of things to do:  Rent, Inception