Bon Temps is not Sunnydale.

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It was true last season when I said it.  After the Season 2 premiere, the declaration still rings true: TRUE BLOOD is the best show on television.  I’m not here to gush over the recent return to television, as engaging as it was, rather to address a comment Herc at AICN made, a comment that echoes sentiments I’ve seen in comment sections across the tubes.

Specifically, in his admittedly favorable preview of the S2 premiere, Herc expressed, “Bon Temps keeps reminding me of Sunnydale, and how much more fun Sunnydale was; “Buffy’s” plotting and dialogue were sharper and more graceful.”

Firstly, each a proxy for their respective show, Bon Temps is not Sunnydale and any contrast of the two is little more than rigor mortise clutching for a TV show that will never return.  Aside from a female protagonist and vampire pro/antagonists, the two shows have nothing in common.  The comparison cannot extend beyond foundation.  It’s like saying New York City is much more fun than London, yet the only real tendon connecting the two are asphalt and sky scrappers.  Each have distinct, mutually exclusive idiosyncrasies, to pretend they’re of the same ancestry and agenda is fruitless.

Pollination aside, I still don’t get how Herc can say Sunnydale is “much more fun” or that Buffy’s cobblestones are “sharper and more graceful”.  Combined those comments imply that Alan Ball’s agenda is to be both boring and dull.  Where Whedon’s was a world of teen aged apocryphal (mis)adventures and dealing with hormones, Ball’s is a world of dark acclimation to a new norm, levity being a natural byproduct of dealing with the unknown.  BUFFY sought fun, TRUE BLOOD safety nets into fun for balance.

(Spoilers for both shows abound)

Last Week in Horror News: April 26th to May 3rd

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Theatrical Trailers and Clips

  • DISTRICT 9 – Trailer for Neil Blomkamp’s alien invasion.

Studio News and Attachments

  • THE DARK TOWER – J.J. Abrams tells MTV that as soon as “LOST” finishes they’ll muscle up for the film series.  Considering STAR TREK is posed to be a huge success, I have a feeling Abrams will muster quite the budget once it hits the ground.
  • DEATH NOTE – Warner Brothers picks up the rights to the popular Japanese manga/anime/live action series about a book that grants its owner the ability to kill anyone whose name is written inside.
  • COLD SKIN – David Slade is attached to direct for Madrid films an adaptation of COLD SKIN, a novel about humanoid amphibians in the Antartic.
  • I SELL THE DEAD – IFC has picked up the Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm staring indie for distribution (presumably as part of their aforementioned Midnight Movies slate).  In theaters and On Demand August 14th.
  • THE ROAD – The Weinstein Company has now slated John Hillcoat’s adaptation of the brilliant, brilliant Cormac McCarthy novel for October 16th, ’09.
  • THE LAST VOYAGE OF DEMETER – Marcus Nispel in talks to direct a feature based on the segment of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA in which the count arrives to England on a cargo ship.


  • PHONE – The latest Korean ghosty to get a US doppelganger.  Too bad the original sucks.
  • DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE – In the largest piece of Get The Fuck Out movie news this year, Abel Ferrara is doing an update on the classic tale in which Jekyll is played by Forest Whitaker and Hyde will be 50 Cent.  Head explodes.

Indie, Foreign and Random News

  • LIVID – The French duo behind INSIDE have revealed their next project to be the tale of some punks who attempt to rob the “increasingly peculiar” house of a coma patient.
  • SPAWN – Todd McFarlane claims to have seven offers in the table to do a new SPAWN movie.
  • THE CHRIST MUST DIE – According to Stephen Fry, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh want to make use of a vacant but enormous Jerusalem set constructed in New Zealand by producing a movie in which Nazi zombies travel back in time to kill Jesus.  Kudos to whoever dreamed up that bullshit.
  • MISTER WEED-EATER – Joe R. Lansdale’s short story about a blind and creepy groundskeeper will be adapted and directed by Brian James Fitzpatrick.
  • BOOK OF BLOOD – The Sci-Fi channel will be premiering the adaptation of Clive Barker’s BOOK OF BLOOD.
  • HATCHET 2 – Adam Green says they will be taking the story directly to…space.

Non-Theatrical Trailers and Clips

Horror 2008, a Retrospective: Part 3, July to September

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July to September, always anemic pre-Halloween hump for horror to get over.  Two thousand and eight twas no different.

Part 1: January to March.
Part 2: April to June.
Part 3: July to September.
Part 4: October to December.
Part 5: Events.
Part 6: Awards. (coming)

If there was any doubt…

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…that “TRUE BLOOD” is inspired television, I submit to you this past Sunday’s, episode, “The Fourth Man in the Fire.”  Won’t get in to too many of the details as I am convinced all non-watchers will some day be converts, but it featured a cameo role by none other than Stephen Root as a gay vampire who just wants to spend his eternal life watching television in peace.

Oh, the actor’s IMDB credits do not list the HBO show, nor does the show’s page list the character, but the man was on.  Oh, and how on he was.  It’s a bit role,  though it looks to roll into next week, but in a scant few minutes of screen time Root sold vampiric, unrequited empathy with a fierce tenderness.  Props to Libby Goldstein and her casting department.  Once again you have out done yourselves.

“TRUE BLOOD” is the best show on television.

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I’m not sure a title can be more concise than that.  Perhaps an equal sign could have saved me two words.

The first episode of “TRUE BLOOD”, Alan Ball’s vampire mystery series on HBO, did not guarantee me on the series.  Network indulgent sex scenes and orotund characters in every role save the key vampire were holding me back from declaring any allegiance.  Things have changed, though.  Now we are six episodes deep and my addiction is raging.  Once again I have a show I absolutely must watch without fail every week.

“TRUE BLOOD” is not just the best new show of the fall, mind you, but The Best Show On Television.*  Every complaint I had about the series has ebbed, everything I loved about it is soaring.  The characters have tempered, each and every one of them.  Performances that seemed lofty from the get go have all found purchase.  I cannot imagine a better marriage of actor and role for a single character in the series.  Big or small, the casting department pulled off miracles.  Chris Bauer as Andy Bellefleur, a sullen detective with an open mind, is delightful.   Stephen Moyer as the stoic civil war era vampire Bill has become my favorite ex-human next only to Spike.  Ryan Kwanten as Jason Stackhouse, the sex addicted, drug experimenting embodiment of Southern freedom is all kinds of hilarious.  Even Rutina Wesley as Tara Thornton, the uppity stereotype of an on-television-only black woman if I’ve ever seen one, has become a soulful, caring presence on the show.

And then the mystery!

Last Week in Horror: September 14th to the 21st

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Last Week in Horror found no shortage of minor announcements, but enough of which excite me in earnest.  In the world of TV, Goyer and “TREK” vet Braga sell an intriguing hour long series premise to ABC, HBO renews the proven cool “TRUE BLOOD” and Sci-Fi orders full the unproven “WAREHOUSE 13”.

A few pieces of remake news, though nothing mind blowing.  And then we get to one of the juiciest nuggets of the week that I think may be a beacon of great things to come.  Two outfits have teamed up to finance four films from a quartet of rising independent filmmakers.  I’ve only seen a few of their earlier films, but all four are names I’ve only ever seen associated with positive buzz, so to know they have a new house over their heads is very cool.

Oh, and does anyone else find this innocent picture of Earth during a solar eclipse as ominous as I do?

Impressions: “TRUE BLOOD”

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Created by Alan Ball, 2008
Pilot episode STRANGE LOVE Written and Directed by Alan Ball

HBO doesn’t make bad shows.  Mind you the bar may not always lock up a notch, but a bad show they’ve never put to series.  After the pilot episode, my personal jury is still out on whether they’ve raised the bar or merely grazed it with Alan Ball’s southern gothic adaptation of modern literary series SOUTHERN VAMPIRE MYSTERIES.  It is a fascinating show hinting at inspired promises hidden in the wings, no doubt, but waffles between flights of fancy that either pay off beautifully or not at all.

Set in small town deep in Louisiana, Anna Paquin plays a perpetually optimistic, occasionally psychic waitress in an alternate reality in which vampires have recently “come out of the coffin” thanks to a Japanese synthetic plasma beverage called TruBlood that gives the undead all the nutrition they need.  The small town is all shook up by the arrival of a vampire, the town’s first, that takes a mutual interest in our chipper gal Paquin.  That and a local woman dubbed a FangBanger found dead in her apartment soon after our dashing immortal’s arrival.

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