As I wrote my Movie Suggestion for ‘The Monster Squad’, I had a silly idea that I couldn’t get out of my head… The idea? To find out, in Pathfinder/d20 terms, just how tough the encounters in the movie were!
So if you want to know how well your Pathfinder characters would compare to a team of kids, their pet dog, a few adults and Frankenstein’s Monster, you’re about to find out!!!
Also, keep in mind that THERE ARE SPOILERS regarding the movie!
O.k, let’s take a look at the monsters…
Now, the Monster Squad has three Encounters during the movie.
Not bad for a bunch of kids!
With Halloween approaching, people might be looking for movies to watch to put them in the spirit of the season. Lots of horror movies will come up as obvious choices, but I’d like to take a moment to point out a movie that, perhaps, represents Halloween a lot better than any horror movie out there… ‘The Monster Squad’.
What is Halloween (for adults), if not the sense of child-like wonder in these fantastical elements that permeate our popular culture? Everyone becomes a bit of a kid, dressing up, talking about monsters… Why, the other night I had a horror movie marathon with some friends, and in-between each movie we’d have debates about how monsters worked, what the rules were…
The kids in ‘The Monster Squad’ are a lot like that, with many scenes early in the film showing them talking about how monsters ‘work’, what kills which monster… It’s almost like a Tarantino movie in a way, where characters are established not through some awkward exposition dialog, but rather by watching them interact with each other. (I know it’s a weird comparison, but in my head it makes sense!)
So, a bunch of kids up against classic horror monsters… Is it a kids movie? I haven’t checked the rating, but I’d say that yes, it is. And yet, it doesn’t look down on kids, doesn’t think they’re stupid… And thus, an adult like me can enjoy the movie. The monsters act like monsters, they don’t suddenly become clumsy and funny as if someone had told them they had to tone it down because they were in a kids movie. They might be a little less competent at killing when it comes to main characters than they would otherwise be with side-characters, but it’s often the case in countless adult horror movies. And Dracula accumulates an impressive body count that I did not expect when going into the movie!!!
So who is this movie for? I’d say it’s the perfect Halloween movie, because it’s for everyone who loves monster stories, no matter their age. It might be very scary for some kids depending on their age, but frankly I haven’t seen anything that’s worse than what I see in many modern fantasy movies that parents bring their kids to. And adults should be equally entertained if they allow themselves to get into the spirit of Halloween.
Trick or treat!
What an amazing book this is, one of my best reads in a long time! ‘In the Shadow of Dracula’ is a compilation published by IDW of old vampire stories dating from 1819 to 1914. That means many predate Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’!
Many of the stories are ones that I had heard about for years as a fan of vampire fiction in general, and when I saw all of them compiled in a single volume I brought it home right away.
Among those are ‘The Vampyre’ by John Polidori, which stars the blood-thirsty Lord Ruthven, based on the real-life Lord Byron. We also have ‘Varney the Vampyre’ by James Malcom Rymer and ‘Carmilla’ by J. Sheridan Le Fanu. Many others I had never heard of before, but all of them seem extremely interesting reads, and not only for their historical importance in horror literature. (Like I mentioned before, most of these stories were written well before ‘Dracula’ was.) Speaking of the Count, Bram Stoker’s short story ‘Dracula’s Guest’ is also included. I believe many modern publications of ‘Dracula’ include this short story as part of the main book these days.
This compilation is edited by Leslie S. Klinger, who also provides annotations where necessary for the contemporary reader to comprehend Victorian speech and habits. While I have only read the first few stories, the quality of this book and the stories it contains has already taken over all of my reading time. While I usually juggle between different books at the same time depending on my mood when I decide to read something, I now only go back to this one, and believe that I’ll do so until I’ve turned over its last page.
Every story has a page before it with a paragraph giving us a small historical account about the writer(s). I browsed some by curiosity, finding writers from different countries and styles. The very last story of the book has caught my eye, to the point where I might actually read it next instead of continuing the book in order, but then again I might stick to reading them in chronological order as the book has set them. In any case, this last story is ‘Aylmer Vance and the Vampire’. From the description that precedes the story, Aylmer Vance is a character somewhat similar to Sherlock Holmes who appeared in many published stories that were finally collected in ‘Aylmer Vance, Ghost Seer’ in 1914. The description made this character out to sound very interesting indeed, and if I enjoy this story featuring him as much as I’m expecting to, I’ll track down the rest of them.
If you’re a fan of vampire stories, this book is highly recommended. These days the vampire has been adapted to all genres and styles to the point of sometimes becoming unrecognizable, so it’s a welcome change for me to go back to their roots in fiction.
It’s the fight between two blood-suckers who hunt other blood-suckers while wearing long black leather coats and taking no crap! Also, both have weird hair.
There’s one thing I need to get out of the way first. The fact that the Blade movies had more time and money to put on their fight scenes will not be taken to mean that Blade is the better fighter because of it. Story-wise, both have proven they possess superhuman strength and agility as well as incredible fighting skills.
So what sets them apart as fighters then? Both are confident and even arrogant when they fight, but there are many differences. For starters, Blade has a much more disciplined fighting style while Spike fights more savagely. It is difficult to say which fighting style would be best, so we’ll have to look at other factors. When Spike uses weapons, it is more often than not medieval weaponry, while Blade uses high-tech gadgets and weapons that go beyond the scope of normal technology on top of his sword and stakes. It is safe to say that Blade has the upper hand when it comes to weapons.
I’m just not that sure that the weapons seal the deal though. The first Slayer that Spike killed was armed with a sword (just like Blade would be for most of the fight) and Spike still won. And that was when he was much less experienced than he is now! When you really look at it, Spike could probably have killed Buffy if his heart had been into it back when he was evil. Drusilla had implied as much in the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ Season 5 episode ‘Fool for Love’ and Spike himself confirmed it in Season 7 when he told Buffy “You’ve never met the real me.” When it comes to killing vampire hunters, Spike has an almost untarnished record with one exception because deep down he didn’t really want to do it.
There’s also the fact that Spike has dealt with many more Big Bads than Blade has. Blade confronted a god once (Deacon Frost/La Magra) and managed to win only through the use of his EDTA darts. Spike spent time sparring with one (Illirya)!!! (While Illirya is referred to as an ‘Old One’, she seems to be a creature similar to Glory from what we’ve heard of both, and Glory was considered a god.) Sure, Spike couldn’t have beaten Illirya, but the fact that he spends more time against foes that are more powerful than he is means he has to be that much better in a fight. Blade often just fights against minions and thugs until it’s time for the final confrontation at the end of the movie. And even if you look at those, in the first movie he won only because Frost/Magra underestimated the weapon used against him, in the second the bad guy offed himself when he realized that the close kill had stopped his pain and in the third movie Blade needed an assist and a surprise attack to kill his opponent.
I imagine Spike would come out of the fight extremely wounded and far from well, but he’d add another vampire hunter to his list of people he’s beaten. And possibly steal Blade’s coat if his own was too damaged during the battle.