Tag Archive: vampires

But wait, there’s more…

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The funny thing about movies is they are not always what you think they are about. The best movies have more than just the simple storyline we are told about in the beginning. There needs to be a thread that is outside of the love/action/horror/adventure tale we are watching.

Carrie 2013My son watched Carrie (2013) this past weekend. It is a remake of the old Brian DePalma horror film he has wanted to see. But here was his interesting take on it.

He thought it was more of a chick flick.

The story is based on a Steven King novel in which a shy girl is bullied relentlessly by her classmates. Her mother is a religious zealot who teaches her daughter to think about anything that makes most people happy as a sin. She also avoids telling her daughter about the birds and the bees. This makes for a very painful experience when her body changes and Carrie has no idea what is going on.

What her classmates or mother are not aware of is that Carrie is developing powers of telekinesis, the ability to move objects around. They become aware on the night of Prom when a cruel joke is played on Carrie and she breaks. Anger over years of unfair treatment is released, causing death and mayhem throughout the town.

Director Kimberly Pierce worked modern elements into the movie such as youtube and smart phone bullying. But she also brings a distinct female voice that leaves the male characters as single-note caricatures. The gore and action is there but so is the feminine perspective. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Still, the movie is not for the younger members of the house, keep it for the teens.

The next night, my daughter and I watched The Lost Boys (1987)starring Kiefer Sutherland and Jason Patric. This movie had everything 80s about it: the music, the hair, the clothes. There were reflections on hippie parents and references to the Brady Bunch. It was a very hip, pop culture centric movie of its day. My daughter asked if the title was a reference to Peter Pan.

Lost BoysThe story is about a mother and her two sons, Michael and Sam, moving back to Santa Clara after her divorce. The former resort town is now host to a boardwalk amusement park on the beach. But the town has loads of missing people with posters on every post and bulletin board.

The reason why is simple. And before you know it, Michael has been seduced by the group of bad boys. Who doesn’t want to hang with them and do what they do. They ride bikes, they have the prettiest girl around hanging with them. But his little brother Sam learns that the town is a haven for vampires. If he wants to help his brother, he is going to need help.

While this movie does break some of its own rules about vampires, it is a fun effective teen movie about fitting in and finding your way in strange territory. Its about regrets and moving on. And the Peter Pan figure is not the one you expect it to be. As for the violent scenes, they are not as bad as some horror movies but it is not something I am letting my ten year-old or any younger children watch either.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Book cover image from kobobooks.com

Book cover image from kobobooks.com

Christopher Benson has a fertile imagination. And in this imagination he knew that vampires were not the cuddly creatures they were being turned into by various novels, films, and tv shows.  So Benson created a series about vampires that holds nothing back about his vision of the vampire world.

This month, Author House releases his third book in the Vampire 2000 series in which our protagonist must put an end to a creature he created out of grief and anger.

Take a few minutes to stick around as Benson takes the time to answer a few questions about his writing process and his main character, Cornelius.


1. Vampyre 2000 is a complex and fascinating read. How did you come up with the story?

Vampyre 2000 (pronounced “vawm-peer”) was really a compilation of ideas that I had kept in my head and in a writing journal for years. I had read vampire novels, watched vampire movies and even seen them on television. In all those instances, it left me feeling that if I would’ve written the story I would’ve done it differently. So I finally decided to write one and do it my way.

2. Tell us more about the world you have created.

I tried to create a world that mirrored our own. One where most people are completely oblivious to the dark realities that are hidden within it. Although it is a fantasy world and I had the liberty to make its environment any way that I needed to fit my needs, it is based on an actual metropolitan city in America; The Bay Area. Since no one in their right mind would truly believe that vampires actually exist, the original working title of the book was
“You Wouldn’t Believe Me if I Told You”.

3. Before you began writing, you kept a journal. How did that help you create such a captivating world? Can you tell us a little more about your process?
In the beginning, that journal was the single most important tool for writing this story. Whenever I had an idea, anything at all, I wanted to record it there. I would throw out the weaker ideas and focus on the stronger ones. When I finally began to write Book One, the characters of Rita and Cornelius had already been developed as well as his unique origin. I kept ideas in that journal for three and a half years, without it I’m quite sure that some of those ideas might never have made the books.

4. How is this book different from other vampire books out there?
There are many things. It’s adult in nature without being overly explicit or excessively vulgar. It is based on a real world, one that the reader will have no difficulty in relating to. V2K contains a great deal of realism; for instance, the way in which the vampires feed is written with a lot of detail. But I think the biggest difference is the treatment of the vampire. Subtle things, as well as his origin, separate Cornelius from every other vampire out there.

5. How did your background as a history major play into the story? What research did you have to do?
It helped me to keep everything in context while writing this story. Even though this is a fictional story, I wanted the reader to feel that the book was taking place in our world. I did this by showing that Cornelius’ world shared the same history with our own; that they were one and the same. I researched West African vampire legend, used an actual slave ship that was prosecuted in 1807 for illegal slave trading, mentioned the events that led up to The Civil War and one of its actual battles.
6. Your goal in writing this book was to make modern day vampires seem realistic. What are some of the ways that you accomplished this?
I wanted to establish the theme of realism immediately with Cornelius’ origin. I wanted his back story to be believable and not come across as magical or fantastic. Another way was to define how a modern vampire would live and the extraordinary abilities that one would have. In my story vampires do not turn into bats or clouds of mist. They lie in their true state, a corpse, during the day and they need to drink human blood for survival. Although they are superior to a normal man they are also extremely vulnerable. A stake through the heart, beheadings and especially fire are some traditional ways to kill my vampires. As a matter of fact, since Cornelius does not hold a job, own a car, have a driver’s license or pay for car insurance, he uses the subway and takes the bus. And the money that he uses to clothe himself and do the things that he needs comes from the victims that he preys upon.

Author picture courtesy of PR By The Book

Author picture courtesy of PR By The Book

7. Cornelius is a complex hero. Did anyone from your life inspire him? And how did you balance his good qualities with his negative qualities?

Many people have claimed that Cornelius is more than a simple extension of myself. I’m still thinking about that, but the readers must remember that even though he has become such a likable character he is still a vampire. Whether he wants to or not, he must violently end the lives of innocent people in order for him to survive. Even though he is the perfect killing machine, Cornelius has retained his early nineteenth century morals and ideals as well as much of its dialect. Somehow he has been able to maintain a high level of dignity and sophistication throughout the dark and violent life that he has led; a
life that he never wanted and never asked for. Being a good man at heart, he has always regretted and had great remorse for what he has had to do.

How did your childhood fascination with fantasy play a role in creating the books?

It taught that me that there was no limit to my imagination. My imagination is vast and probably infinite. Fantasy and Science Fiction books showed me that if I can picture it in my mind that I can write about it.

What author would you say had the greatest impact on your style?

Hmm, that’s a tough one. At first I wanted to say John Milton and then I thought about William Shakespeare. Both of them were responsible for cultivating my love of the classics. But I can’t forget about H.G. Wells either.

10. What is it about love that can be so redeeming in characters like Cornelius?

Love can make people do things that they wouldn’t normally have done. It opens their eyes to what is important and shows them a path through the wilderness. Love has the power to take hold of the deepest recluse or a violent killer and give their life something worth living for. It provides purpose to those who had none.

11. Where can we learn more about your books? 

 Visit the V2K website at: http://www.vampyre2000.com

12. Do you have anything else in the works?

I do, a story titled “OS”. It’s a Science Fiction story set twenty five years into our future. It is a harsh and bleak world where man is forced to ask him self a frightening question. Should the activity inside of a computer chip be recognized as another form of life?

Making Do

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

One of the problems of renting movies from the store in town is that the movie I want to see is not always back and ready when I am ready.

Case in point, Sunday I was ready to watch The Odd Life of Timothy Green starring Jennifer Gardner and Joel Eddgerton.

I wanted to watch a life re-affirming movie, one that reminds me a of the joys that are mixed in with all of the sorrows.  The story is about a childless couple who write down all of the aspects of their dream child that they have not been able to conceive. Then they take the papers, put them in a box and bury the dream in the back yard. Imagine their surprise when a child comes from that spot who slowly reveals himself to be all of the things they dreamed. That was the movie I was hoping to see.

What I saw instead was the movie box with an empty hook for the tag.

Someone had beat me to the movie, someone was enjoying it but I was not.


That is when I went with my second choice, Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp.

I had put this movie on my list of safe scares. Trust me, there are things here to scare a little kid but not a tweener or anyone older.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Poster Image from IMDb.com

A re-vamp of the 1960s soap opera, this movie brings Barnabas Collins (Depp) back to his mansion in Maine after being trapped for nearly 200 years. His goal is to bring greatness back to his surviving family members. Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer) is the strong matriarch raising her daughter while Roger (Jonny Lee Miller) is the weak willed patriarch more interested in lifting money than making it. Nor is he interested in his son, David,  who misses the mother who died at sea.

The family appears to be plagued by a curse. Their livelihood has failed, they are barely keeping the manor together. Elizabeth hires a new nanny for David who fits in perfectly, maybe too perfectly. But the curse is really a series of problems caused by vengeful former lover of Barnabas who has lived as long as he has and worked to create a fishing empire.

What works is Johnny Depp as Barnabas. He delivers lines well and remains true to the character, with the exception of one or two scenes that are entertaining but do not work. However, when he is paired with Pfeiffer the air crackles and pops. They share the same goal and intensity of saving the family. There are hidden layers for nearly every character that makes you want to keep watching.

However, I find there are some glaring problems with big holes in the plot and characters that do not stay true to themselves. I wanted more Victoria, David and Liz, less Doctor Hoffman. I wanted more gothic atmosphere and less killing.

For me this movie was a miss while my 15-year-old thought it was a hit. Perhaps it is a case of great style, little substance.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Book Cover Image from IMDb.com

It is that favorite time of the month when I talk about a recent Chick Lit book that I have read for the reading challenge sponsored by Chick Lit Plus.

I have enjoyed this challenge as it has forced me out of my comfort zone of reading only Jane Austen. I love Jane, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes you have to force yourself to read other authors.

This month I decided to delve into a vampire novel. I walked around my favorite used book store and picked out something that appealed to the eye. Real Vampires Don’t Diet by Gerry Bartlett.

So this time around our vampire protagonist is a girl who wears a size 12. She has curves with real breasts and hips. Gloriana is also 400 years old and currently mentoring a new vampire who happens to be a rock star.

In this series, vampires cannot eat or drink, they will get a huge hangover if they do. And they must sleep when the sun comes up otherwise they pass out where ever they might be and the sun, yep, it can do damage.

In this book, Glory’s boyfriend is gone in order to save his daughter and Glory must handle Ray the rockstar when he decides to go on a Jack Daniel’s Binge. So she has to babysit the man and help him recover. In the meantime they get mixed up with a siren who forces the duo to bring her three males vampires or they are burning in hell forever.

I guess I was expecting a good romp, some vampire action,  and snarky dialogue. I read reviews of this book at Barnes-and-Noble which raved about what a fun read this book and others in the series were, how they were addicting. When I went over to Amazon, I could have sworn I was reading the exact same reviews.

But here is what they did not tell you.

Every other sequence is about sex. Maybe it is one character trying to seduce the other or wishing for the other or imagined sex or actual sex. But there is a lot of sex in this book and it gets a little graphic at times. After a while, it was boring. Ho-hum, she is lusting aster Ray but resisting because she loves Jerry. Ho hum, she is about to have sex with Jerry. Ho-hum, she is meeting other handsome vamps and thinking about having sex with them.

Then there are the actions sequences which are quick but nearly deadly. And yet, Glory wins every time except with the Siren. Watch her take out bad guys, watch her constantly hunt mortals, watch her fight off advances from guys who want to have sex with her.

The reviews raved by the fun banter in this series but what I found was drivel. If it wasn’t a bunch of complaining, it was sex talk or drooling over whoever was the sexiest body in the room. By page 20, I was bored with the characters. By page 70, I began shifting around the book to see how it progressed. I have not finished the book, I am not going to finish the book. But I am putting it on the pile of books that are going to the used-book store.

This was a sorry excuse of paper and Gerry Bartlett owes me an apology. If I am promised witty banter, that is what I want  and not the soft porn or half-assed action that I got instead. Would I recommend this? Only if it was the only thing available while at a summer resort before heading to the beach. You won’t mind ruining this book with water, sand and sunscreen because those three items are more interesting than this book.

Have you been disappointed by a book lately?

Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Bella and Edward from Breaking Dawn, Image from IMDb.com

This past week I was looking at the stories about the fall movie season and noted the large picture of Edward and Bella from the latest movie in the Twilight series.


As I looked over the ads, I saw a picture for Fright Night starring Colin Farrell as the villain of the movie.


I could not help thinking that I am happy to see vampires once again becoming the big mean bad guys. Sure, Edward is a romantic sort. So was the Brad Pitt character in Interview with a Vampire.


And yet, and yet, there is a reason for the folktales and legends of vampires. We are meant to be scared by them. These stories tell us to be wary of the dark and strangers – no matter how attractive they might be.


Poster Image from IMDb.com

One vampire movie that has always stuck in my head is The Lost Boys with Jason Patric and Kiefer Sutherland.


The story is about two boys and their mom who move in with their grandfather in a small California sea-coast town. The older boy is drawn to a rough crowd by a beautiful girl while the younger boy makes friends with comic book geeks who clue him in to the dangers of the town.


The older brother realizes he is on his way to being a vampire while Mom is dating a new guy. It becomes a full-blown battle to remain family with the living or join a new family of the dead.


It has been years since I have seen the movie but I cannot forget the song “When You’re Strange” by The Doors playing over the credits.


1992 Poster Image from IMDb.com

While perhaps it is a bit campy, Dracula starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves still gives me a bit of a scare. It is reminiscent of the great German vampire movie, Nosferatu with its shadows and mood. The point is not to humanize the monster, which it tries to do, but to show that Dracula is a monster. That he has committed crimes against God that have led to his current life.


We might see Mina falling for the beautiful aspect of the Count. And yet to become his lover she must drink his blood, she must step over to the dark side. It will endanger all of her family but who cares when it comes to romantic obsession.


You might notice that none of these movies are meant for younger children and you would be correct. I firmly believe that some movies are meant for kids when they get older. Vampire movies that have no sense of limits when it comes to violence should have limits as to who can watch them. That is simply my opinion. However, I am curious what other people might think. I have friends who love the horror genre and share this with their teenager who is now making interesting short films in that genre. I am sure their opinion is different from mine.


As the Halloween season is near, I would like to hear from people what age is acceptable for various horror movies. You can drop a note below in the comment section. 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Friendly Scares

Family Movie Night

Because of deadlines, the time I write this column is always about a half a week from the time you will read it. So what is foremost in my head is the wonderful concert I went to that featured the high school and grade school bands, performing three numbers separately and together for two numbers.

Picture by Puddleduck

Those of us with children or grandchildren in the grade school band know the excellent program Mr. Smith has created. This was my first concert at the high school and I was very impressed with Mr. Mayden’s work. The second number, Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre, was a difficult tune. It seemed to me there would be times that your instrument would sound slightly off when you were doing the correct notes. The students rallied and kept going even when it seemed impossible. It had an eerie yet beautiful quality to it.

So perfect for the season.

One thing that is always troubling about this season is what movies should one watch with the little ones. I mean, I am not showing my kindergartener or 4th grader Halloween or Saw or any number of scary movies that feature blood and gore. But they do make the request for scary movies.

One friend told me her younger daughter stated she was excited to see the scary movies, the ones featured on Disney Channel. That is really the route to go. Plus, there are a few movies that were in theaters only a few years ago that are truly scary and appropriate for the younger crowd. These are what I call the “family friendly scary movies.”

Scooby Doo and the Gang from the live action movie series. Picture from IMDb.com

One of my go-to-scary-movies for kids is anything “Scooby Doo.” I find these movies can be a little scary with Shaggy and Scoob leading the way to shaking in your boots. Thelma, Fred and Daphne show us how the monsters and ghosts are fake. In the few instances when they are not, the gang also displays how to think fast to save the day. Their cunning always wins out over greed.

One spooky movie for the youngest of age groups is The Little Vampire starring Jonathon Lipnicki back when he was a cute little boy. He discovers a family of vampires has moved into his neighborhood when he meets the boy who is his age. The trick becomes figuring out how to save the family. Well, we know kids can do miraculous things if given a chance and this is a cute movie with only small scares to it.

Monster House poster, Picture from IMDb.com

Another movie I would go with is Monster House. The story is about three pre-teens who discover the haunted house on the block does more than just sit there, especially if it thinks someone might try to damage the house. This PG rated flick is perhaps best for 8 years and up. It has some beautiful animation and I enjoy the characters, even more so once I discovered that Mitchel Musso from Hannah Montana plays the best friend.

Have a safe and happy Halloween this weekend!

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.

I am not sure when it happened but I became a big Jane Austen fan.

Perhaps because I am a romantic at best, there’s a gracefulness in her books I really love. I am always on the lookout for grace, especially in a house of three boys and an outdoor loving husband.

In the last decade it seems that a lot of people have jumped on the Austen train. People are writing sequels to her novels, re-writing novels to include zombies or vampires. One series makes her into a detective. Heck, there is even a book about the financial world created by the Austen boom.

There is a real part of me very upset about this. Can’t these people create their own characters, their own worlds, their own novels? I realize fan fiction can help people learn the ropes in character development and plotting devices but after a while it looks like laziness to me.

On the other hand, I really admire writers who take a small aspect and make that their novel without relying on Jane’s plots. One book, of which I have completely forgotten the title, created a sister for Mrs. Goddard from Emma. In this book we hear tidbits about Emma or Harriet but the novel is about how this sister is dealing with her re-marriage to a friend of her late-husband. She writes back and forth with her sister and we get a taste of London at that time.

Michael Thomas Ford has written a hilarious novel in which we find out Jane was turned into a vampire by one of the notorious men of her era. Jane Bites Back is a delight as we see how Jane deals with the truth of being a vampire, finding love and trying to get her last novel published after over 100 years. We get some fresh characters and find a few others from history who add to the fun.  Plus we see how Jane deals with some of the most opportunistic writers of the Jane Craze.

Another fun Jane-themed novel I have come to love is Austenland by Shannon Hale. Here we follow Jane Hayes who is bequeathed a three-week stay at Pembrook Park. This exclusive resort allows its visitors to completely sink into Regency life, including a final ball and a potential love interest. While Aunt Carolyn intended for Jane to get over her Darcy obsession and step back into real life, Jane finds herself having a difficult time going into the fantasy at first.

Austenland by Shannon Hale, picture from Barnes & Noble.com

But when she lets her inner Lizzie come out and battle to keep from being made into Fanny, lets just say this plain Jane plays the game hard.

Tomorrow I will get into just who I think should be in the movie version of both of these books just in case Hollywood or Emma Thompson or BOTH come calling.

Karyn Bowman lives in Kankakee County with her outdoor writer husband and four children. Become friends with Karyn on Facebook.