Blade II

Genre: Action
Year: 2002
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Luke Goss, Leonor Varela, Norman Reedus
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Producer: Avi Arad
Writer: Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan
Music: Marco Beltrami

Blade is back, and he reluctantly joined an alliance with vampires to take out Nomak, the carrier of a genetic mutation of vampirism that when transmitted through saliva, turns vampires into Reapers.

Donnie Yen Choreographed Gold
Right off the bat, I noticed the choreography of the fights was different in this movie. It was more martial arts than the first Blade, and it was no surprise when I found out Donnie Yen was behind it all. Master martial artist Donnie Yen also starred in this movie as Snowman.

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I recognized the difference in the first major fight. The fighting was more physical, more detailed and it hit right with martial arts techniques I was familiar with from other like movies. It
had less of an American brawn feel and more of a controlled, artistic touch. Say the difference between Jason Statham and Jet Li.

Speaking of that first fight, when Blade stabbed the last guy in that sequence, the way he stabbed him right up close. Loved that personal kill.

When Nyssa and Blade fought, their sword fighting was so engaging and their skill almost even. It was a nail-biting fight. Flawlessly executed (except the CGI parts which were obvious and unnecessary). Don’t know about you, but seeing how well the masked vampire fought against our strapping hybrid, I was shocked and applauding that she was a woman. So was Blade.

Nyssa
A king’s daughter to the end. Strong and beautiful, just how I like a female warrior. Nyssa proved that a female lead can be gorgeous without compromising her character. Of course,
Leonor Varela is a naturally alluring woman with an irresistible accent, but she wore her hair up almost the entire film, was fully clothed, and was still the sexiest woman in the Blade franchise because of it.

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Not to mention, she pulled off being a king’s daughter flawlessly. A little bit spoiled with an attitude that bites, and the honor of a queen. She was tough on Blade, tough enough to lead a pack of soldiers, and still delicate enough emotionally to become romantically attached to Blade.

Come on, Blade and Nyssa made the ideal couple. Both have hard shells and soft centers, both were betrayed by their parents, both are vampires. Not once did they kiss in this
film, but they didn’t have to. It was love, and we called it when Whistler did.

The Reaper Strain is Realistic
If you’ve noticed, realism is one of my favorite features of creative work. So when they pitched the reason behind Nomak’s existence, I was jaw-dropped and fully satisfied by a film.

When Blade meets Overload Eli Damaskinos, he opens by explaining that once bitten by a vampire, the vampiric virus spreads within the human bloodstream in the course of 72 hours.

Blade: “Like cancer.”

Damaskinos: “Cancer…with purpose.”

Kounen: “Unfortunately, viruses evolve too. We’ve encountered a new one. We’ve dubbed it the ‘Reaper Strain’. And like any good pathogen, it appears to have found a carrier.”

Reapers feed off vampires, but the vampires don’t die, they turn into carriers of the Reaper virus. Reapers require hourly feeding, and thus within a short period of time would transmit the virus to thousands of vampires.

Blade: “Looks like he was doing me a favor.”

Damaskinos later: “When they are finished with us, who do you think they’ll turn on next? Your precious humans. Not one of them will be left.”

Like Blade could resist protecting us mortal folk.

The Bloodpack

Rarely in film do you love all the characters of a group. In the Bloodpack, I found every character to be unique and memorable. Even Priest who wasn’t as vital as the others.
Lighthammer, Fur Elaine, Priest, Reinhardt, Snowman and Chupa. The whole pack was a phenomenal gang of characters assembled for no purpose less than hunting their immortal
enemy: Blade.

I think every actor fulfilled their roles as these characters. Let me say that Donnie Yen (as Asians usually do in American movies) got the short end of screen time. He was the coolest!
Armed with a sword, he kicked ass and looked killer doing it!
All of the Bloodpack fought for their cause: to carry on their species. Which meant they loathed and opposed Blade the whole movie. I admire the characters staying loyal to that. Even
though their hatred of Blade made us despise them all the more.

The Bloodpack had the best slow motion swagger! Played with the sick intro from the song “I Against I” and you have the badass assembly every actor playing a comic book character dreams of.

Nomak
I don’t know about you, but I was rooting for this guy from the start. His demeanor from the beginning of the film was that of a broken heart, of someone betrayed by a loved one. His
character stayed consistent in this whole film. But what attached us to Nomak wasn’t sympathy, it was his shared vision with our protagonist:

Nomak had a rage that expressed itself in his fights, all the way up to Blade. Nomak wasn’t the antagonist in my book, but I think he considered himself a bad guy. What happened to him was unfortunate and unfair. What he fought for was honorable.

I found myself silently cheering for Nomak throughout the entire film. When he came running into Damaskinos’ lair, it was a small victory to me. Seeing him running in on the security camera, knowing he made it where he was needed most, knowing he came to take down the same guys Blade was after. It was all perpetually pleasing.

I’ll tell you, I never mourned a villain’s end except Nomak’s.

Nomak: “Isn’t it strange? It hurts…It hurts no more.”

His heartache, he meant, because that’s where Blade stabbed him.

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I will say, though, that Nomak and Blade fighting was thrilling to watch. The beginning of their fight is just them, two super beasts, running toward each other and then crashing. For a
minute, the camera work is sloppy when it seems like there’s a bunch of grabbing and handwork. But then we get body slams and fancy footwork and it all captivates you seeing alpha go against alpha. One of my favorite fight scenes in all of Blade.

M.O.
I talked about it last review in Blade how the movie functions in a pattern: Blade is drained of his blood, refuels with the help of a secondary character, kicks the asses of thirty goons, and then takes out the head bad guy. This movie followed that structure to a tee. Blade was drained to give life to more refined reapers like Nomak. Whistler was the secondary character who dropped Blade into the vat of blood. Now let’s talk about taking out thirty goons.

When we go into this scene, Crystal Method’s “Name of the Game” hyping us up, Blade warming up with some neck roles, we’re ready for this to go down. Bring out your best. Blade
can take ’em all. Even without his sword, Blade wiped the board clean! And as he neared Reinhardt, the bald vampire started to panic in fear of Blade. Hell, I would too if I wronged the Daywalker.

My favorite part was when Blade picked up a guard straight WWE style and leveled him on some glass. I held my breath and internally applauded the move.

Same M.O. Different delivery. All entertaining.

Tunnel Climax
I for sure thought they weren’t going to make it. Rarely does a movie ever have me on the edge of my seat like that. One of the best parts about Blade movies is that the predictable is disguised as unpredictable, and vice versa. So when Blade and our remaining protagonists are surrounded by Reapers, it’s down to the nail. They’re swarmed, drowning in them, bound to get bitten. And it doesn’t turn out how I thought it would. Great tension and action.

No Compromises
Making a film where your characters are affected by specific variants (sunlight, for instance) leaves plenty of room for goofs. There were dozens of times when this movie could have skimped out on the CGI or taken shortcuts but chose not to.

When Reinhardt was running through the tunnels, for instance, streams of daylight were leaking through manhole covers above him. Ron Perlman easily could have ignored the burning sensation he should have felt as a vampire when crossing that light, but didn’t. It was only two seconds of the movie, what did it matter? But it was such commitment to his character that it made him realistic.

Also, during the House of Pain shootout when Chupa is spraying bullets all over the place, they didn’t just have the vampires get shot and fall out of frame. Crew members made sure those vampires turned to CGI ash. That created an entirely realistic atmosphere to the audience that I—at least—appreciated.

Blade Got Cocky
I spoke last review of Blade’s expression being mostly in his voice. In this film, Blade was entitled to being cocky. My favorite scenes being when Reinhardt targeted Blade in the
club, and Chupa pointed out that Blade had Reinhardt marked in return. That smile Blade flashes was so cheeky and satisfying.

It happens again when Blade stands next to a loose end vampire from the beginning of the movie who happens to be at the club where the Reapers are. The bald vampire jumps when
he sees Blade and flees in grateful panic. Blade’s smirk at the fear his mere presence induces was deserved.

Blade’s One Liner
While Blade didn’t get to deliver this one to Nomak himself, it went like this: “Nomak’s the carrier. It all started with him; it’ll end with him.”

Whistler also had some pretty good lines this one: “Some of us can’t see in the dark, you fucking nipplehead. What am I supposed to do?”

Opening weekend in March 2002, Blade II brought in over $32 million dollars. Worldwide, this film grossed over $155 million. Impressive, isn’t it? When the second film in a franchise outdoes the first?

Blade

Genre: Action
Released: 1998
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Dorff
Producer: Avi Arad, Joseph Calamari
Director: Stephen Norrington
Music: Mark Isham

A half-vampire, half-human hybrid hunts his own species, and faces the reign of La Magra, the blood god.

Let’s open this review with some honesty: Blade is the best vampire. He has all of their strengths, none of their weaknesses except the thirst. Regeneration, heightened senses, daylight immunity, immortality. Aside from being a vampire, Blade is also a martial arts expert and is geared up with some of the most sick weapons to aid in his vampire hunts.

Wesley Snipes
To give credit where it’s deserved, Wesley Snipes as Blade was a flawless performance. One of the hardest things I’ve heard actors mention is playing a character with low humanity. When an actor spends hours in makeup and wardrobe on a movie set, they want to fulfill that character by expression. But to play Blade is to really do less. Blade expresses himself in fighting the cause. But to act as Blade means to speak very little, use virtually no facial expression. With Blade, tone and mood was in his voice. In this Blade, there were lots of scenes without sunglasses, so Wesley got to use his face to express mood. For the remainder of the franchise, that becomes quite seldom.

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All of Wesley Snipes suited Blade. From the physical strength to the soft eyes, the depth of his voice. You know an actor satisfies as their character when two things happen: 1) the audience cannot picture someone else in their role; 2) when you refer to that actor AS that character outside of the movie. I still do it when I see Wesley Snipes. To me, he will always be Blade. And to this day, I can’t fathom anyone else playing the Daywalker.

Martial Arts
Wesley Snipes has been practicing martial arts since he was twelve years old, and his skills showed impressively in this film. The fight scenes were so well-choreographed, so well executed that they left no reason to disengage from them. You wanted to be there for every move, for every take down, for every time Blade took on a dozen guys and turned them all to ash.

The opening fight gave us one of the most entertaining introductions to a character in all of cinema. Indirectly, we learned so much about our main character from this fight. Just to name a few: how the vampires fear him, and the expertise that earned him that fear, his control of the fight, his self-confidence walking into a nest of adversaries. Most importantly, Blade’s purpose for fighting his own kind: his love of humans.

Best Fight Parts
When Blade and Frost clash at the end, Blade flips off the stone edge and his sword meets Frost’s. That crisp shing, that entrance will always give me goosebumps. What a way to address a challenge.

The funny part is that it took Frost to upgrade to the blood god for him to be equal to Blade’s strength and skill. Which is realistic considering without the possession of La Magra, Frost is nothing more than a rebellious boy with authority issues.

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No Cape Necessary, Just Give Him a Sword and Sunglasses
Blade’s coat, sword, and sunglasses are his staples. In the opening fight scene, the way he throws the coat behind him the way wind throws a cape, that was artistically appealing for Blade’s character. Such a cocky move, such a powerful expression. When he moves that coat aside, exposes his weapons, we know it’s about to go down.

When he removes his sword, though, it’s all over for the enemy. They might as well drop their guns and run. Blade is a marksman with that thing. He and his sword are bonded. He knows its limits and strengths, he’s aware of his limits with it. He uses the sword to the maximum of its and his capability.

Blade’s sword is unique, and it remains identical across the franchise. His sword has a handle that springs open and slices the hand of anyone not meant to hold it. Quinn discovers this first in this movie, and that feature of Blade’s sword remains the same throughout all three films.

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Smirks
Like I mentioned before, playing a role like Blade requires actors to do less expression. Suiting this film, however, Blade smirked at his victories and sassed where it was due. In the opening fight, the way he smiled presented more his knowledge of his environment, of his enemy, and less of his boasting about his own skill. When he faced off with Quinn for the first time and smirked, it almost said, “Remember this?” as he threw his double-bladed wing. Quinn did, of course, and ducked before Blade launched it and killed all the guards.

Blade later smirks out of conceit because damn, Blade’s just that good, y’all, and he deserved that. This is the Blade that ripped one man’s throat out and threw it at another man as a distraction. The Blade who’s always one step ahead of his enemy. The Blade that scoffed at a blood god and dissed Dracula. Needless to say, Blade’s a badass and he knows it.

M.O.
The Blade franchise follows a pattern. The film opens with Blade killing a nest of vampires. And it ends with Blade being drained of his blood, revived by one of his secondary characters, after which he goes and slays a small army of goons and then takes out the main villain. The first and second movie follow this pattern almost to a tee.

The best part is that, even though this is Blade’s modus operandi, the films disguise the obvious. You’d think we get to these predictable parts and we’re like, “Ope, here we go. Blade’s been drained of his power, now he’s going to be revived and kick the asses of twenty guards.” But when you’re watching the movie, it goes more like this, “Aw, yeah. Blade’s about to be revived, and when he wakes, you motherfu* better run ‘cuz all y’all gonna taste the end of his sword.”

Every time Blade is anywhere in the movie, it’s for a reason. So when the film opens with him killing a nest of vampires, it’s because there’s a bigger purpose than just turning them all to
ash. In the first film, he’s rescuing that human. In the second movie, it’s because he’s after information. When he’s drained of his power in both movies, it’s because they needed it for the same reason (his blood is better than theirs), but the predictable is overlooked for sheer entertainment. The baddies get bigger in each film, and we so highly anticipate Blade taking them on, we await that climatic action so eagerly we don’t even care it’s the same plotline in both movies.

Blade’s One Liners
When he faces the bad guys, Blade always threatens them with a one-liner. To Frost, “Frost, you’re nothing to me but another dead vampire.”

Costume Design
Tactical and visually stimulating. Blade’s vest, coat, gloves, glasses, his weapons all strapped to him, his sword at the back, the combat boots. The whole tactical look was never out of place in this unrealistic in his settings. Out of place in a crowd of ordinary citizens, sure, he’s geared for war, but in the warzone, he fit right in. Versus a costume like Shazam’s, which obviously attracts that comic book character feel.

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Whistler
A grandpa with a shotgun, Whistler is just as vital to the vampire-hunting game as Blade. Whistler makes all of Blade’s weapons and tracks the nests, decodes the vampire’s plans. Whistler is the brains, Blade is the muscle, but neither could function without the other.

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Whistler, though, is such a great character. He’s equally as sassy as Blade because he’s simply “too damn old for this shit”. Whistler’s tough enough to be in this fight with Blade, and he makes one hell of a sidekick.

Whistler is also our comic relief.

  • “Someone get me a ***damned wheelchair!”
  • “Catch you fuckers at a bad time?”

They could have put anyone in this position for any reason. But Whistler was created a father figure to Blade, and his purpose was served realistically. Whistler wasn’t put in there for show. He was put at Blade’s side for meaning, and that sense of heart is something you rarely see in cinema these days. A sidekick that’s essential to the main character. Not someone put there for sex appeal or for the credit’s sake or to serve a political message or to root for a socioeconomic class, or race, or weight class. But someone put there because the character needs them there.

Karen
I love that Karen and Blade didn’t fall in love. That would have been the obvious relationship to create between them, but not a realistic one.

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Karen proved herself to be a bad bitch. Instead of becoming a victim to vampirism, she took her medical degree and created a cure for herself. Instead of becoming a victim in the end, she dug herself out of that tomb and blasted the bad guys away with that double barrel. She picked herself up every time like a grown woman should, and she became one of my favorite female characters in action.

Blade’s Mother, Vanessa
Blade’s heart was yanked at so many ways in this film. Between Whistler and reuniting with his mother who Blade thought was dead. His mother, the beautiful Sanaa Lathan, did not turn out to be the maternal figure I anticipated. As a mother myself, her role was confusing to watch, but it was well-written and I wouldn’t have wanted her any other way.

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She made one hell of a hot vampire. Much the way Aaliyah turned us all onto the seduction of vampires in Queen of the Damned, Sanaa Lathan brought the sex appeal to vampires that the action film needed.

The only lesson she ever taught Blade was one that he carried with him the whole franchise: “Sooner or later, the thirst always wins.”


What a successful vampire movie! A thrill to watch, a story worth retelling over and over, a character so bad ass my six-year-old son plays Blade for pretend.

On opening weekend alone, it brought in 17 billion. Worldwide, this movie grossed over 131 million dollars. I’d say that was a hit.

Hellraiser

Released: 1987
Cast: Andrew Robinson, Clare Higgins, Ashley Laurence
Director: Clive Barker
Writer: Clive Barker
Music: Christopher Young

Frank Cotton’s insatiable appetite for pleasure led him to Lemarchand’s box, a device that once solved, unleashes four demons. Upon Frank’s disappearance, Larry Cotton (Robinson) and his wife Julia Cotton (Higgins) move in, and Julia discovers a bloody way to bring Frank back. But as sensational writer, Clive Barker, said himself, “There is a happy ending, but not for everybody.”

I remember watching bits of Hellraiser as a teenager, but vowed never to watch the film in its entirety because I couldn’t stomach the gore. When I read the novel, I uncovered the
erverse nature that led to the conjuring of the Cenobites, which gave them and their gory nature purpose. The novel inspired me to at least try the film, and honestly, it was a waste of my time. Let’s just say, I’m extremely biased toward the book.

What didn’t work for the movie:

Unnecessary Monsters
What I remember most encouraging my distaste for the film was the scorpion creature and the dragon at the end. In my opinion, according to the original written work (the novel), the
Cenobites were perceived as the antagonists. (Actually the Cenobites weren’t the antagonists. The cheating murderer Julia and the sexually sadistic zombie Frank Cotton were the monsters.) But to identify monsters, the Cenobites were the worst.

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As their introduction into cinema, the Cenobites deserved all of the fear of the audience and were overshadowed by this grotesque, unnatural scorpion creature. I hated it. It wasn’t scary, it wasn’t in the book, and it wasn’t necessary. It scared Kirsty in the hospital for like, sixty seconds for no reason whatsoever. Then it reappeared in the climax to fight Kirsty for the puzzle box for an incredibly annoying amount of time.

The dragon monster also ticked me off. He was supposed to embody the character from the book called the Engineer, but him bursting into a dragon and flying away with the box was a
less satisfying ending than what the end of the novel was.

Ashley Laurence as Kirsty
I stopped loving her over dramatic reactions by her second scene, I believe. Beautiful girl with thick, curly chocolate hair and those powerful eyes. But her crying, “Daddy” as a grown
woman annoyed me. Her overdone emotional panic annoyed me. Her screaming was great. Definitely flawless for an ’80’s horror film. But everything else she did on screen was painful to watch. She acted like a baby to her daddy and was a pathetic victim. I cannot handle female roles like this. She tainted Kirsty’s character entirely. For what? A beautiful face?

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If Barker had written his original character into Kirsty’s place, the film would have struck gold for me. Kirsty in the novel is envious of Julia for being married to “Larry”, and while Kirsty is a victim the entire novel for her love for “Larry”, the way the book ends makes her character development feel like a personal win for the audience. I loved that Kirsty much better than the whiny daughter Kirsty.

The Storytelling
In the book, the storytelling was smoothly written and lathered with delicious imagery. The moods were tangible and the family drama was realistic. But in the movie, the scenes felt
brief, which left a lot of the moods undeveloped. I mean, look at the introduction of what happened to Frank.

When Frank solves Lemarchand’s box in the movie, we see him get caught up in the chains and then the scene cuts to the house, so we anticipate the story is shifting to the present time. But what they’re really doing is time looping to the near future right after Frank is ripped apart. It shifts from the house right back to the Cenobites and their room of grim death. Blood all over the floor, chains and hooks dangling as the Cenobite gathers scraps of Frank’s flesh to reconfigure his face.

And then it cuts again to the house, and it’s really present time now. Talk about a dramatic cut to tension and fear. Like being interrupted during intercourse and having to start the mood all over again, that’s how disappointed I was in that introduction to our villains.

Read the book’s first chapter, and you’ll realize it could have gone a lot smoother than that.

Subtle Changes that Made a Big Impact

  • Larry’s name in the book is Rory. Why change the name?
  • Kirsty in the book was a woman Larry’s age, and was envious of Julia’s relationship with him. Why change this for the film? The motives for Kirsty’s involvement, the victory we felt when she escaped the house and the Cenobites. All of it was well-stitched together. Was the change in character solely for the credits? To introduce a young actress (Ashley Laurence) for views? What corruption.
  • How the film made it seem like Frank enjoyed the torture of the Cenobites when in the book, it says, “He wanted pleasure, until we gave it to him. Then he squirmed…” (page 136)
  • There were no bells to signify the arrival of the Cenobites. They used chains to simulate the sound of bells, but I think tension would have been more successfully involved had the bells notified us of their arrival like in the book.
  • The Cenobites came for Kirsty—despite their deal in the hospital to trade Frank for her—which robbed us of our sense of personal justice. Through Kirsty, we delivered the real monster to his “maker”. Instead, the film had to have Kirsty in a dramatic climax running around the house, screaming, fighting the Cenobites and the infamous scorpion-thing with the puzzle box.

What Did Work For the Film:

Make Up

Pinhead was a six-hour transformation in the first film. Imagine spending six hours in a chair and then having to spend an entire day dressed up as Pinhead. What incredible makeup.

Pinhead and the chomper were the best Cenobites. The fat one with the stitched eyes was the least impressive. At least the female Cenobite had her voice. She wasn’t visually scary, but her voice was unnerving. The calmness of it versus the grotesque nature of what she spoke of, brilliant.

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The resurrection of Frank with Larry’s blood was interesting. Gooey and slimy, and appalling. The boards shook way too long, but when half of Frank was structured and he sat up
to release that roar, I was impressed.

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Now, when Frank came crawling out at Julia, I would have screamed bloody murder in the theater. I cowered back in my seat, hiked my legs up off the floor. It was a great jump scare,
and the makeup was intensely petrifying.

After the first kill, when Frank walks to Julia and we hear his wet footstep squelch on the wood. That was an invigorating auditory engagement. I felt that just how I felt his wet, slimy
hand touch the back of her clean white blouse.

Frank’s makeup after the first kill was fantastic for ’87. It was disgusting and vile, exposed and realistic. Down to the bones on his cheeks and the rippling nerves.

Uh, no.

Anyone notice the generic straw-sucking sound when Frank drains the man with the blue tie?

True to the End
Compared to the book, the ending of the film remained nearly identical. The movie didn’t reveal that Frank had drained his brother, Larry, before Kirsty got there. We learned that as Kirsty did. Frank reveals himself, beckoning to Kirsty, “Come to Daddy.” Frank stabbing Julia instead of Kirsty. Down to the word in some scenes, the movie and book were parallel.

My intentions weren’t to create a book comparison to the film. Though I’m a writer and I enjoy reading, I’m really more of a film-fanatic. I’m a visual learner, I enjoy visual stimulation
best. But not on this one.

I did not expect the film to be identical to the book. Did the changes to the story and characters work for the film? Yes. Was it a success? Obviously.

As a writer myself, I understand second chances. A year later than the Hellraiser book was written did Clive Barker have the opportunity to film the movie version. So maybe he had to alter things from the book to fit filming. Maybe he changed things he felt he disliked about the novel. To me, it’ll always be a cheat. He wrote the book how he envisioned the story. He should have made the movie the same way, or waited until he could.

The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker

Genre: Horror
Published: 1986
Publisher: Dark Harvest

Summary:
“Frank Cotton’s insatiable appetite for the dark pleasures of pain led him to the puzzle of Lemarchand’s box, and from there, to a death only a sick-minded soul could invent. But his
brother’s love-crazed wife, Julia, has discovered a way to bring Frank back—though the price will be bloody and terrible…and there will certainly be hell to pay.”

– Back Cover, Hellbound Heart

Evaluation:
When I initially picked up this book and saw it was only 164 pages and in large print, I assumed it to be an easy read. But Barker’s language was so illustrious that it made me savor every word he wrote.

Right off the bat, in chapter one, Barker wrote:

A great line. But my favorite is on page 31. Barker wrote about the seasons with such tangible descriptive language that I embraced his perspective with doubtless totality:

“The seasons long for each other, like men and women, in order that they may be cured of their excess.
“Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its
fruitfulness.
“Even winter—the hardest seasons, the most implacable—dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.
“So August gave way to September, and there were few complaints.” (page 31-32)

While the language was enthralling, graphic and horrifying was the tale itself of Frank Cotton and the Cenobites (sounds like a snappy 40’s quartet). Villains are everything to me, and it’s not often that I read a villain that I fear for the sake of the characters. But after what the Cenobites did to Frank Cotton, I
feared for any other living soul that touched Lemarchand’s Box:

And that was just Frank reconfiguring himself. Imagine what he looked like when the Cenobites whisked him off to “Wonderland”.

The Cenobites and their hellish torments were the perfect dose of fear. Never before Lemarchand’s Box existed anything more cursed.

The Cenobites themselves were sadistic antagonists
sketched in the mind of a man with one toe dipped in the Eternal Flame. While I felt the movie version of this story (Hellraiser) was hard to watch due to the graphic nature of the Cenobites, the book depicted them to equal brutality, but in moderation. Barker used so few words to describe a visually tangible image:

Okay, I’ll stop flattering Barker’s writing.

The book was beyond entertaining! I was impressed with Barker’s dark imagination. The Cenobites were one of my favorite literary villains. Gnarly and dreadful creatures, tormented and tormentors, summoned by a puzzle box. One of my favorite subtleties of the Cenobites was the ringing of bells at their invocation. Every time I read the word “bells” in this book, instant tension was triggered.

Creatively woven into this dark horror was a love drama that so suited the mood. No spoilers, but Julia has a reason behind her bitterness. And Kirsty’s role in the book made the ending more satisfying. Like Clive Barker said in his interview after Hellraiser, “There is a happy ending…but not for everybody.”

The book was a fantastic read. The twisted love stories, Frank’s selfish obsession to regain life, the dosage of blood and gore. All the masterful writing of Clive Barker, his inventive imagination, and a perfect ending made this book a must-have. Definitely will be reading it over again. If you haven’t picked
up anything of Clive Barker’s, please, do so now. Starting with this classic wouldn’t be in bad taste.

The Demon of Brownsville Road by: Bob Cranmer

Chapter 1
The book was filled from the start at chapter one with cliffhangers. Not at the end of the chapters, but throughout the entire chapter, and there were so many that I feel as though the majority of them killed me because he left them hanging too long. Cliffhangers are only successful in a story if you place them properly in succession with the dramatic outcome. If you just throw in a bunch of “and then this happened and we were in the turn of our lives” but never tell me where the turn ends up, I feel betrayed, lost a little.

Chapter 6
At this point, I’m beginning to believe this “demon” is a metaphor for the religious, parental and political challenges of his life. There have been paranormal experiences sprinkled here and there, but only in the first chapters and the cliffhangers from chapter one haven’t been answered yet, so I have entirely forgotten why I was initially frightened for him in the first place.

Chapter 7
The transition into the paranormal events wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped. It was like the previous chapter was all about his changing in his faith in God, in his beliefs and then BAM he’s in a haunted house now. It wasn’t as though all this activity had been happening all along because he separated the book into what happened in his social and religious life and then what happened in his personal life instead of what was happening all at once over the course of the years he was in that house being haunted by this demonic entity.

Chapter 19
By now, after being educated by his experiences with this demon and what the church had told him about it, I’m feeling encouraged that I am strong enough to fight evil and protect my home and family, so long as I’m merely a vessel for God’s power. So that God fights through me. Clearly from Bob’s experience, it may be a long process and it may seem repetitive at times, but it’s worth it if it means your home will be your home and never the devil’s again.

There were moments throughout the story that were exceptionally beautiful in terms of figurative language. Pulled me right out of the nonfiction that I had rode out from chapter one to chapter seven and right into this totally different mood of a story of a man who’s fighting to save his life, his family and his house.

Example: “In hindsight their two visits were somewhat messy affairs, like lancing the outer surface of an infected wound, especially in opening up the area under the staircase. Hopefully we could now treat the infection with our holy antibiotics.” (page 228)

Example: “This once roaring fire had been smothered. Its evil and rage had been overcome with the power of our love, and the power of God’s love for us.”
(page 262)


The Cranmer house is said to open as a bed and breakfast.

Overview: The Demon of Brownsville Road (Bob Cranmer) was a spectacular nonfictional adventure into the depths of evil and how faith and strength overcame it. When I say “depth” I honestly mean this because the origin of this demon’s purpose at the house on Brownsville Road was not linked directly to
Bob Cranmer or his family, but to the sins of those who lived years and years before Bob was even conceived. This kind of attachment of an unspeakably evil force unbeknownst to the average person is the sole reason that the battle between God through Bob Cranmer versus the demon was the most raw,
triumphant war man could possibly endure.

Movies and television shows persuade us to believe that demonic activity only persists for a short time, escalates at an abnormal rate before there is a climatic battle of life and death, and then all is well and it never happens again. In reality, Bob Cranmer and his family proved that demons are persistent predators and will sap up every second of a person’s life until the end.

Individuals who are suffering a demonic infestation or individuals who are present or fixing to become present in the paranormal need to read this book. It provides a sufferer’s insight on how strenuous a demon can be on someone as well as how unfailingly strong your faith must be in God for you to overcome the demonic.

This story is an epic journey through the primitive warfare of good versus evil. An American man being tried again and again by this demon as the city around him begins to unfold with vigilantes and before long, the depth of this demon’s power begins to manifest at home for Bob Cranmer. To know that this
demon was capable of affecting Bob’s life far before he was even in that house is astounding. When Bob moves in, battles this demon and overcomes it with many trials, errors and deaths along the way, it comes to show that with God working
through those who believe, and through persistence in your faith, all is possible.

C18: Memory Lane

A forbidden suburban street. Forbidden for where it led: down memory lane.

Turning into the nicer part of town to Anja felt like Little Red Riding Hood skipping downtown after dark. The sinking feeling that she was driving herself deeper into trouble remained subtle until she turned left just past the wooden fence before the stoplight. She continued all the way down to the stop sign.

“What am I doing? What am I doing?”

Anja gripped the steering wheel for barring. If she didn’t look up, she wouldn’t know where she had driven to. She wouldn’t realize how close she was to him. The panic writhing in her gut wouldn’t surface, and she could remain entirely in control of herself.

“What am I doing? Why am I afraid?”

Anja raised her eyes to the windshield. She glanced to the left. Right down there, through the side streets, was Sal’s old burger job. The silver car flashed before Anja’s eyes. Sal getting out of the driver’s seat. Jennifer getting out of the passenger’s. Stung by betrayal, Anja’s eyes wet instantly. She looked back to her steering wheel.

“I can’t. I can’t. I can’t do this.”

BEEP! BEEP!

A horn blasted behind her.

“Oh. Sorry.”

Anja released off the brake, rolled into the street and turned right. She swung left on the next street and crept down a side road between two white houses. She steered into the empty
lot behind one of the white houses and parked her car.

“Just gotta turn around. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to do this.”

Anja took deep breaths in and exhaled them through tight lips. Her hands vibrated on the steering wheel no matter how hard she gripped for control.

“Come on! Just go dammit. Come on.”

She sobbed and threw herself back in her seat. “I don’t want to see him. I don’t have to.”

C17: 13th Hour

Near downtown Geneva, just two blocks from the Novella Bridge, the nightclub 13th Hour served booze until two AM, supplied drugs bagged by the ounce, and sold to-go partners in leather and lace packaging. And on occasion, cursed slaves with demonic power.

All under Cobra’s command.

During the day, 13th Hour looked like a polished, but abandoned building under renovation. At night, Keitaro hadn’t seen much other than the dark, dank backside of the building. Illuminated by a lonesome lantern outside the basement door with a view of the abandoned strip mall across the street.

“That’s the cleaner’s van.” Victor nodded toward the unmarked white van parked outside the club.

From outside the closed down barber shop under the Novella Bridge, Keitaro safely assessed the nightclub. The parking available on the property’s lot exceeded no more than thirty spaces or so. Enough for the staff maybe, but not for the amount of guests the club could accommodate. Keitaro noticed an empty lot across the street; possibly a customer parking lot. The building was constructed like an expensive villa.

Embellished with elegant black trimming and eggshell-colored concrete walls. The structure resembles traditional yet subtle
styles that, with one glance, brought Mexico to mind.

“There are two fire exits?” Keitaro spoke toward his shoulder without taking his eyes off the nightclub.

“The entrance we can see from here, and the one by Cobra’s office that leads out back.”

“Okay. Here’s the plan. I need to know the building’s blueprints thoroughly, to judge distances and develop comfort in the environment. Go in as if you’re me, which means no walking through walls, no transporting yourself across two places.”

“You’ll be able to see what I see?”

Keitaro nodded.

“Can you hear my thoughts or should I speak aloud?”

“Speak, please.”

C16: My Mary Jane Watson

“There’s a new smile on your face.”

Anja flipped her phone face down. “Hm?”

The Latino woman across the table forked another bite of tamales into her mouth.

“You’ve been wearing that smile all day.”

“Have I?” Anja said as she rubbed her sore cheeks.

“Oh, come on, honey. You’ve checked your phone ten times since we’ve been sitting here. What’s the good news?” The seventy-five-year-old woman scooted out a chair next to the Latino woman.

Anja tucked her hands between her legs, scooted to the edge of her chair and whispered, “I’m waiting on a message.”

“From who?” the Latino woman said.

“A man?” the elderly woman said.

“A man, yes.”

“Oh. A potential boyfriend?” the elderly woman said.

“A person of interest for now,” Anja said.

“What’s he like?”

“Yes, dear, tell us all about him.”

“Well, I just learned from a friend of mine that he works at a restaurant, and he wants to take me out to dinner so he can ‘inspire envy in others’.”

“Those are his exact words?” The elderly woman flung a dramatic hand to her chest.

“Oh, Anja,” the Latino woman said. “He sounds dreamy.”

“He didn’t look very dreamy when I spoke to him. He looked like a homeless person. He was all beat up. His face was swollen. One of my friends who met him said he was mugged.”

C15: Axeman, Uncle, and Papa Shotgun

“What are we doing here?”

“Practicing.”

Keitaro skipped up the front porch stairs.

“Practicing what?”

“Before we go.” Keitaro pulled his hand away from the doorbell he almost pushed. “You should know how haunted this place is.”

“Why you telling me? You’re the one going in handicapped and unarmed.”

“I am armed. You’re my weapon.”

“Okay. So then how haunted is this place?”

“You can handle more than one opponent at a time. right?”

Victor turned and rested his shoulder against the doorframe. “Look, I know why that fight in the alley might make you think I need practice—”

“Fighting as a ghost is different.” Keitaro hesitated on the doorbell again. “It’s better.”

“Easier?”

“Not by a longshot. But it has perks. Self-healing, manifestation, teleportation.”

Keitaro pushed the doorbell. It chimed inside and Keitaro pressed his ear against the door to listen. Victor peeked around Keitaro’s back at the empty driveway, no garage.

C14: Work to Do

Bang-bang-bang!

Keitaro glanced at his wrist watch. A little early for room service.

Bang-bang-bang-bang-bang!

“Keitaro, it’s me!”

Keitaro tucked the rest of his button-down shirt into his pants and zipped them up. He opened the door a crack.

“Holy shit. Your face is…normal-ish.”

“I didn’t call for you,” Keitaro said.

“I know, sorry. But you got a special delivery.”

Keitaro heard the crunching of cellophane, but couldn’t fully see the package in Robert’s arms. He opened the door the remainder of the way. “What is it?”

“For you, man. From ‘the lady in the blue dress’, the card says.”

Keitaro moved like he meant to chase her down. “She’s here?”

“No. She dropped it off at the front desk.”

“You saw her?”

“What do you think I do all day? Wait by the front desk watching guests come and go? No, I’m in the back. I got chores to do, errands to run,” Robert said on his way into the hotel room. Keitaro accepted the gift and shut the door.

“I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but one phone call can make history,” Robert read the card.

“It’s a care package,” Keitaro said with a smile that nearly broke his lip wound open. He untied the bow, unwrapped the cellophane and admired the trinkets inside.

“Aw, man. She got you the good stuff. Gummy band-aids. Classic. Think these are real?” Robert rattled the pill bottle.