All is Not Quiet on the Western Front

And by “front” I mean “vampire movie remakes” and by “western” I mean just that in one of the two cases. And by “quiet” I mean “good.”

I’ve been keeping y’all* updated on the two vampire movie remakes due to be hitting theaters near you in the near future. The first is the Fright Night remake and the other is the Americanization of Let the Right One In, retitled Let Me In.

I’m sorry to report that neither is looking promising.

They’ve turned Peter Vincent into Criss Angel:

Doctor, why? This is worse than when the Daleks and the Cybermen fought each other. Exterminate! Exterminate!

Even Roddy McDowall didn't wear that much makeup for Planet of the Apes

No one should look like Criss Angel. Not even Criss Angel wants to look like Criss Angel, which is why he always looks like a douche-canoe different.

They’ve turned the morally ambiguous, romantically turmoiled, sparsely intense Swedish thriller into an oh em gee she’s evil, dumbed down, American snore-er with the subtitle: INNOCENCE DIES. ABBY DOESN’T.

Half of the dialogue is stolen from the Swedish and half of it is made up to fit into the black-or-white-there-is-no-gray mentality that Mr. Cloverfield thinks American audiences want. He’s also reporting that he’s “written” the screenplay. I feel as though I need to have a talk with Mr. Cloverfield and tell him the difference between “writing” and “adapting.” One involves him choosing to acknowledge a respected source that simultaneously guides and shapes his work, but leaves him room to grow as a movie director and the other involves my fist.

And in case you’re wondering, The Vampire Diaries is back and I’m still hoping that SOMEONE OF IMPORTANCE (read: Elena**) is going to die and stay dead. This has yet to happen. I have a feeling it never will.

*VAM-pie-ur. SUH-kie. She-YET. These are all words I’ve learned from True Blood.

**I named a character in my novel Elena. She died. A horrible death. There was much gnashing of body parts, but not so much of teeth.

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“In Exile” by Lisa Gerrard and “The Proximity of Death (Blue Eyed Boy)” by Jordan Reyne

It’s almost Monday, right? Not that I’ve been sticking to the Muscial Mondays all too vigorously as of late, but as a friend (hi, Jessica!) once pointed out, she keeps tabs on my musical tastes and enjoys my recommendations. Which is really just a way of me saying I’m flattered that many people think it’s okay to bribe someone in order to destroy American Idol forever so no one has to be subjected to Daughtry ever again I can spice up music collections.

Lisa Gerrard is the lucky lady tonight and the song “In Exile” is off of her second solo album The Silver Tree. (The cover, to me, looks like the tree o’ dead bodies in 300, but that just makes her more awesome.) I say solo album because Ms. Gerrard likes to collaborate and was a founding member of Dead Can Dance, one of my favorite bands in the darkwave/dream pop/goth rock genre. Which is more impressive than that sounds. Most people, however, will recognize her voice from the vast amount of soundtrack collaboration she’s done, and most notably, the theme to Gladiator. (And if there’s one thing I love, it’s stamping my toilet with cleaners that turns the water blue. And if there are two things I love, it’s stamping my toilet with cleaners that turns the water blue and crazy socks. And if there are three things I love, it’s those two and movies where ‘British’ is synonymous with Greek, Roman, or my personal favorite, Bad Guy.)

Now, usually I take a few moments to post some lyrics and sort of analyze a deeper meaning to the song, but, alas, since Ms. Gerrard sings in many languages, simple vocalizations, and even in an idioglossia, I can’t do that here. Or, I could try and get a little something like:

Ohhhhouyeeeeeee ayiiiii ieeeeeeee
Ummmmmmmmmmmm’aohhhhhhhh’aoouuuuu
Ohhh’aaaaaaaaa’a’a’a’a’a’a’a’aaa

And be like Professor Higgins. Or, rather, ‘Iggins. So, does that make me a misanthropic yet brilliant genius? Well, my right knee hurts

But, most of Ms. Gerrard’s stuff is melancholy, meditative and redemptive. Her deep range, searching vocals and glistening vibrato create a creeping, dark atmosphere of loss and heartbreak. There are rarely songs that can be classified as uplifting — at least, not without a bitterness to them, almost as if peace has finally come at last, but only at the cost of a greater sacrifice — and all invoke a deeper sense of longing for simpler existences and innocence.

Which is why I believe she fascinates me so; we can all understand an emotion like happiness. There are many times, even in my own life, when I’m happy without a particular reason in mind. But if I’m sad or despondent, I’m constantly searching for a reason and trying to rationalize it and break it into digestible and palatable chunks that are a mite more manageable. Anyone can be pitifully annoying and happy and write a song about it, but it takes real self-reflection, a deep ability to dive into depression and see what makes it tick in order to write a sad song. A sentiment, I believe, that testifies to why I love sad music so much here on the Songs to Die By hour.

And because I’m such a nice gal, I’m giving you a double dose of the depression! Since I can’t really analyze Ms. Gerrard any more than that, and certainly because I don’t want you to suffer from a lack of mysterious and depressing music, I give you Jordan Reyne! She’s from New Zealand and sings a lot about her homeland. She reminds me of Lisa Gerrard because of her voice, her strange arrangements, and even “The Keening Song” is in an idioglossia. Unfortunately, I can’t find that one on the tube of you, (but if you go to her website you can download much of her music and Dr. Kevorkian and the Suicide Machine or The Ironman is what I’m obsessed with now) so you get:

It’s an actual music video! When has that ever happened before? Never! Time to go call in my flying pig. His name is Harvey.

Goodbye, Mr. Van Dien

I finally did what I’ve been threatening to do for months now: I canceled my cable. So, watch out, Internet, you could be next. (Let’s just say that horse head didn’t get into your bed because of a freak accident involving an airplane, a clown car, a travelling miniature pony circus, and the propeller from the prop boat from Jaws like I originally told you.)

I found that there was nothing on that I necessarily liked watching and was, rather, getting into a state of a lobotomized Jack Nicholson whenever a marathon of America’s Next Top Model came on, but without a redemptive escape involving the Chief. (Which, in this metaphor, would be watching the original Doctor Zhivago or something.) And so, because I have the willpower of a three-year old who has to go pee, I though it best to just let my viewing of infomercials, horrible reality TV shows, and re-runs of CSI go softly into that quiet night. (Which is, in and of itself, a metaphor for me cussing out the cable man who wouldn’t let me calmly and quietly cancel my cable, but was much more like trying to pull teeth from a three-year old who has to pee.)

With all of my new-found time, I intend to finally see how many vampire movies I can watch in a row write much more,* but with every gain comes sacrifice. Like Uncle Ben said: eat more rice with great power, comes great responsibility, and now that I’ve given up cable, I must accept the fact that I will never see Casper Van Dien’s face again. Ever.

Mr. “King-of-Crappy-Sci-Fi-Movies” Van Dien is, quite possibly, one of the most handsome men ever to grace my television screen, but, unfortunately for him, he is not a good actor — I have a hard time admitting this about him and Mr. “Whoa” Reeves — and, unfortunately for me, he doesn’t star in movies that make it to the big screen anymore. Or really, ever.

But, Emkay, you might say, because you too, have a ginormous crush on Mr. “Perfectly-Square-Chin-for-a-Superhero” Van Dien: “you can always watch him on Netflix, or the Internet.” To which, I will respond, “Yes, but I will never intentionally seek out any Casper Van Dien vehicle because, well, they suck giant monkey balls.” (I learned my lesson from Modern Vampires, and Mr. “I’m-Once-Played-a-Indiana-Jones-Look-a-Like-in-a-Horrible-Sci-Fi-Movie-Which-Makes-MK-Love-Me-Even-More” Van Dien is one of the very few people to not make me happier by starring in a vampire movie. Another is George Clooney in From Dusk Til Dawn because, to me, that’s a clear case of a “You got some Tarantino in my vampire movie!” and “You got some vampire movie in my Tarantino!” and while I like both separately, I apparently don’t like them together.)

So, with my cable goes my friendly neighborhood ghost. It was a pleasure, Mr. “I just. . .I can’t. . . .” Van Dien. May your made-for-TV charms grace the flickering screens glittering in the dark in living rooms across the world, but never again in mine.

Until I give in and get my cable back, that is.

*I have a very sensitive ambience-o-meter that gauges where and how successfully I can write. As it is now with my crappy, insensitive, annoying, loud neighbors, the needle is steadily pointing at 2 between 0 (what the hell does a pen even look like?) and 10 (this is like when I was 12 and writing the very first draft ever of my novel and I could just write and write and write until the idea that it needs to be good ever entered my brain.) Even though I will not be distracted by psychic pets from Jersey or scantily clad ladies with bubble-gum dispensers for brains — or both — I doubt I’ll be able to effectively write anything until I feel as though my apartment is my own again, and isn’t just a battleground between my raucous neighbors, my apartment manager, the police, and myself.