Posted on March 7, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
Another round of the Flash Fire Mini-Reviews is here!
This week we are talking about one of the most well-known characters in horror. Dracula has made appearances in fiction, movies, comics and games. He has been re-imagined numerous times and always comes back for more. New concepts about the character are always being invented and new fans discover the character every year.
What follows are just a few of the many, many Dracula influenced products available today. The original novel with a twist, some games and a couple of movies make up this set of mini-reviews…
In 1897, Bram Stoker wrote Dracula, launching a literary sensation. In this new illustrated edition, Jae Lee, one of the most talked-about artists for Marvel comics, reawakens Count Dracula. Critics and fans alike praise Lee for his mastery of complex emotion and, in this book, forty illustrations present Dracula as never seen before. Jae Lee’s legions of fans will flock to this horror classic, and The Illustrated Dracula will also bring a new generation of young readers to the book.
This is the original story by Bram Stoker, re-packaged with amazing illustrations from Jae Lee (known for his work on Gunsligner Born, among other projects). I’ve read the original novel several times, but this has quickly become my favorite version. Lee’s dark, haunting art is spread throughout the book with full page spots and small cut-out characters or scenes at pivotal moments in the story.
This is one of the best looking editions of Dracula I’ve ever had the chance to read. It is a must-have for fans of the book (it helps if you like Jae Lee’s art though…).
The Illustrated Dracula is available at Amazon.com
* Details the history, hierarchy and goals of the Ordo Dracul (one of Vampire’s core factions), and serves as an invaluable guide to the world of the Kindred from the covenant’s unique viewpoint
* The Ordo Dracul — the covenant founded by Dracula himself — has proven to be the most popular faction in Vampire: The Requiem
* Features new bloodlines and Disciplines unique to the Ordo Dracul, including a new Coil of the Dragon (the covenant’s unique power), making it a sure draw to players
* Provides settings, antagonists and story seeds for Storytellers
The Ordo Dracul are one of the most mysterious Covenants in the World of Darkness. They follow the teachings laid out by Dracula himself in Rites of the Dragon. This book is primarily a “player’s guide” to the Covenant. There is a ton of useful information on the group’s history, methods, factions and politics. There are also new Bloodlines, Disciplines, Merits and other “crunch” throughout the book that is useful for Storytellers and Players alike.
I was particularly impressed with the internal factions and politics of the Covenant throughout the beginning chapters of the book. There are tons of plot threads for characters to follow and plenty of useful ideas for Storytellers to keep things interesting.
Ordo Dracul is available at Amazon.com
Blade is back and his enemies have grown in number since they resurrected their king, Dracula. Together with a new group of vampire hunters, called the Nightstalkers, led by Whistler’s strong but beautiful daughter Abigail and the wise-cracking Hannibal, they must finally defeat the vampires or face inevitable extinction.
In this movie Dracula is an ancient, inhuman creature that has been asleep for some time. Younger vampires, decimated by Blade’s efforts to hunt them in the previous movies have awoken Dracula in the hopes that he will kill the Daywalker (aka Blade).
Plenty of new characters are introduced in this movie, some taken from the comics they are based on, such as Hannibal King. While this movie is not as good as the previous Blade films, it is plenty entertaining. The entire movie feels a bit more like a comic book with high-tech weapons and more reliance on special effects than before. Dracula makes a great foe for Blade, with unusual abilities and a strange sense of honor. This is a vampire he actually has defeat, rather than beat-down.
Blade Trinity is available at Amazon.com
Fury of Dracula
Dracula has returned, and is determined to control all of Europe by creating an undead empire of Vampires. Dracula uses a deck of location cards to secretly travel through Europe, leaving a trail of encounters and events for the hunters that chase him.
Meanwhile, the hunters attempt to track and destroy Dracula using the limited information available to them – a task easier said than done when their prey has the power to change forms into a wolf or bat, and can even melt away into the mist when confronted.
To save Europe and rid the world of Dracula’s foul plague, the hunters must destroy Dracula before he earns enough victory points to win the game… will they have enough wit and bravery to defeat the dark count?
This is a new version of a game that came out in the 80’s with a better design and revised game play. Dracula is not the only enemy here, but the focus is most certainly on our favorite vampire. As with most Fantasy Flight Games’ products this is a very well produced product. The pieces are detailed, the cards have great art and the overall production quality is top-notch.
I found the rules easy to learn and fun to play. There is always something happening and no one really has the chance to get bored. This game is no cake-walk though, Dracula is a tough opponent and it will take some smart players (and often a bit of luck) to win the day.
Fury of Dracula is available at Amazon.com
Van Helsing – (Ultimate Collector’s Edition)
Legendary monster hunter Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is summoned to mysterious Transylvania on a mission that will thrust him into a sweeping battle against the forces of darkness! With non-stop action and electrifying special effects, Van Helsing is an adrenaline-powered motion picture event Roger Ebert calls “Spectacular and fun.”
Also include are the Original Films That Inspired Van Helsing: Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), and The Wolf Man (1941)
While I was not really a fan of the movie when it was first released for a number of reasons, this collection has impressed me quite a bit. There are ton of extra features (Explore Dracula‘s Castle, The Legend Of Van Helsing, Bringing The Monsters To Life, Feature Commentaries and Track The Adventure: Van Helsing Map, just to name a few) that go into the making of the movie and explore the legends of the various characters. A lot of work went into these features, showing off the entire production process from several perspectives and some amazing detail.
The third disc is a real bonus with the addition of the original classic monster movies. Dracula being my favorite of the three, naturally. With these three films as inspiration and all of the extra features the movie becomes a lot more entertaining and a welcome addition to anyone’s horror collection.
Van Helsing – (Ultimate Collector’s Edition) is available at Amazon.com
Put a Stake in it…
That’s it for another collection of Flash Fire Mini-Reviews.
There are certainly enough great Dracula inspired products available that we just might come back for another round of mini-reviews featuring the Count another time. Let us know what some of your favorites are and I just might include them next time.