Modesto Jane Con: Gowns & Groans, A Costumer Looks at Regency Costumes on Film and Stage

So Modesto Jane Con was this past weekend. From January 10th-12th there were all kinds of workshops, activities, movies, an opera, and even a fashion show!

I, unfortunately, could only go on Saturday, but I had so much fun and I can’t wait until the next one! If there is a next one…

So your $30 ticket allowed you to attend the workshops (BOTH DAYS) and see one showing of Mansfield Park Opera (your choice of Saturday or Sunday).

I dressed up for the event (I’ll post on that later) and brought a reticule my sister made. Reticules are tiny, so I couldn’t pack everything in my bag-just the essentials. Debit card, credit card, ID, fan, gloves, pens, glasses (as I was wearing contacts) and a handkerchief. I wasn’t too worried about the size of the reticule though, as I had planned on purchasing one of their cute tote bags.

I also brought my notebook, as I planned on taking notes and later posting them (as I am now).

Our group was traveling from 1.5-2 hours away (depending on that CA traffic) and left around seven and arrived a little after 8:30. We actually headed to the theater as I was looking at the wrong event. You know me and navigating, I always get lost!

I then redirected our group, and we went to the library. We easily checked in and finished just as they announced the first workshop: Gowns & Groans

So of course, we were excited about this workshop. We wanted to learn more about the Regency gowns and who can resist the chance to snark about costumes?

Let the snark begin!

This workshop was run by Kristine Doiel and Hillari DeSchane

“Costumes have a coded language all their own. They can transport us back to Austen’s time and speak volumes about the characters, or they can be a constant distraction and prevent us from losing ourselves in the unfolding drama. Join veteran costumer Kristine Doiel on a lively, and likely to be controversial, stroll through this Regency costume Hall of Fame and Shame.”

Kristine Doiel is a costume designer and theater educator with over 50 theater and dance productions to her credit. A lecturer at Fresno State since 2017, she has taught costume and theater classes and mentored student designers. Awards include the UC Davis Provost’s Fellowship in Arts, the Princess Grace Foundation Theater Grant and a Dramalogue Award for costume design for The Rivals in Santa Barbara.

Hillari DeSchane is a JASNA life member and a board member of Opera Modesto. Her pre-show opera talks have become audience favorites. DeSchane’s first Regency pet cozy: A Christmas Tail: A Regency Holiday Mystery received a Certificate of Merit from the Cat Writers Association hillarideschane.com

Picture by Arnold Chavez

So Doiel started off the workshop talking about her background; moved onto the judging of the film depictions, finished with her experiences in costuming the Mansfield Park Opera, and concluded with a Q&A.

Part I: Doiel’s Background

Doiel shared that didn’t have a background in Regency wear, and had to do research on it-being an archeologist, literary analyst, and art historian all in one. I enjoyed this aspect of her talk as you don’t really think about that when watching a film or performance, that not only do the clothes have to be accurate-but they have to reflect the action of the scene, the context of the characters, and the literature of the piece.

That’s a lot

It reminded me of when I studied art history and how you looked at the art and what it was saying, but at the same time also looked into what was happening at the time and how that influenced it. There are many layers you have to work through-such as a self portrait of an artist wearing red, blue, and white takes on a different meaning when it was created post-French revolution, such as to show liberty, fraternity, that is one of the new citizens, etc.

Part II: Gowns & Groans

The next part of the discussion was Doiel reviewing the clothing choices in Mansfield Park (1999), Mansfield Park (2007), and Pride and Prejudice (1940).

So to start with, I do not like Mainsfield Park (1999). 

Not for me..

Eventually I will review it, but as for now-we will get back to the clothes.

Gowns:

Doiel felt that quite a bit of the costumes in here were accurate. Lady Bertram wore flimsy, lacy gowns that looked like something the wealthy class would wear, but older-late 1700s and post-French Revolution. It fits as Lady Bertram wouldn’t be at the height of fashion, but wearing something more her time. Maria, Julia, and the men were all accurate.

Groans:

So here is the good part, let’s start talking trash! J/K, Doiel was very kind in her remarks, trying to not be too judgmental and try to reason why a certain outfit would have been picked.

The first offender: Fanny Price played by Frances O’Conner

So in this Fanny wears a lot of what looks like a jumper or vest over a shirt. This is not accurate at all. Instead the film, which is one reason why I can’t stand it, doesn’t follow the book at all when it comes to Fanny’s character. Instead, they turn Fanny into Jane Austen, and emphasize the writing aspect, dressing her in this more masculine, “writing type” outfit. I call it a “writing type” outfit as when I saw this the first time it made me think of Jo in the 1933 version and she was a writer. It also is similar to what Jo wears in the 2019 version of Little Women.

The other offender: Mary Crawford.

All of Mary’s clothes were too contemporary. I mean look at the dress above, it is something that we were wearing at the start of the millennium, rather than 185 years earlier. remember wearing sleeves like that on my clothes.

She also has an outfit with a giant collar, that is just what? Doiel pointed out that the person in charge of wardrobe would have the resources and done the research on what was accurate and somebody (whether them, the studio, actor, or the director) picked this for a purpose. Doiel didn’t know why, but guessed that either the director or actor wanted something more modern to relate to audiences.

Mary’s outfits definitely were the worst.

So Mansfield Park (2007) is not the most accurate of films, as they cut a lot out to keep it at standard movie time length-however I am apparently one of the few that actually enjoys it.

Gowns: 

She didn’t talk about any she liked as it was time to move onto the next section.

Groans:

The offender here was Billie Piper as Fanny Price.

So Doil noticed that Piper wore a wide range of styles and thought maybe it was so varied as the production wanted her to be wearing hand-me-down gowns. There is a diamond dress that she wears that is completely inaccurate to the time period. Also her hair is one hundred percent wrong, as it is too modern, and she would have had it pinned up as she isn’t a young child. I think that is an interesting comment in light of the Emma Vogue photo shoot. 

The other outfit that Doiel pointed out as wrong was the white wedding dress Fanny wears at the end of the film. White wedding dresses only became popular after Queen Victoria, prior to that they were colored dresses. I disagreed with this as I thought the white dress was more a comment on Fanny’s innocence, sweetness, and morality versus being white to be in with what is in fashion today. I mean, after all this takes place after an affair, a love proved false, and all the manipulations by the Crawfords. Plus, it is a foil to Maria’s dress who had opulence (check out that hat) and color, Fanny’s being plain not because of what she was forced to wear (as I am sure Sir Thomas would have bought her a different dress), but a testament to her character. But that’s just my thoughts…

The last one we looked at was Pride and Prejudice (1940) a film I love, but apparently a lot do not.

Gowns:

Nothing was accurate.

Groans:

The film was set in the 1830s instead of the Regency period and no one quite knows why. Some say it was because Gone With the Wind was so popular and they wanted to use costumes like that. Others say it was because the Regency gowns seemed too plain. Others believe it was more cost effective to use these gowns than create new ones. Doiel thought that they might have picked such extravagant costumes as England was having to o with sparse materials, “mend and make do” as the slogan goes, and seeing such fun fabric and opulence would raise spirits. I don’t know if we will ever know…

Hmmm

Doiel said that she felt that this style works for Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, and Lydia as it is extravagant, frivolous, oversized, and fits their characters.

However, with Elizabeth, it works against her.

*Sigh* Laurence Olivier looks great, but he is wearing pants instead of breeches (as are the other men (see below on the view of pants) and Colonel Fitzwilliam wears a kilt (?).

That’s where we ended, although I wished they had discussed Mansfield Park (1983) as that one has some doozies in choices. I mean look at their hair.

From left to right: Edmund Bertram, Mary Crawford, and Mr. Yates

Part III: Costuming Mansfield Park, the Opera

So Doiel said that when costuming something that takes place in the past, buying the right type of fabric can be a problem. You need something that looks right on stage, fits together as a whole (in color and style), and needs to be accurate as to something they would wear.

Doiel did say that she was fortunate in this Opera to be able to reuse costumes from an earlier production, Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley that had been done in December 2019.

She brought swatches in of the different fabrics for each characters costumes, and me and my group really liked that. We all enjoyed the closeup look and when we watched the performance later in the day, looked at the costumes and remembered what we had seen earlier in the workshop. We also loved that her mom, who helped her sew and cut things out, was there. It was so sweet how she helped hand out the swatches and supported her. I had tried to take a picture of the one for Fanny, but the people in my row wanted me to pass it along and the pic came out blurry.

Doiel’s favorite dress of the production was the gray number that Mary Crawford wears in Scene 5: Chapter Five. In the Wilderness. It was originally worn by Anne de Bourgh in the Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley. I tried to get a good picture, but this was all I got.

She also loved the Navy suit that Edmund wears as she made it.

Part IV: Q & A

Doiel ended the session by answering questions and talking about Regency wear. Breeches were standard menswear. Pants, or pantaloons as they were called, were not to be worn by the upperclass. They were said to cause a scandal because they showed everything too well-even though in reality breeches showed more. But you know how I feel about that!

This should say breeches instead of pants, but I didn’t write this so it gets a pass. It was an instagram answer from a question I asked my followers.

She said that pants were worn only by the lower class workers, so wearing them was seen as trashy.

Someone asked about the muslin we have today versus then, and she said it is different. The muslin sold in stores today is mostly white and work wear, instead of dress wear. Back in the Regency period it would be block printed, decorated, different colors, and came from India. The muslin was semi-sheer and lightweight, like cotton. Of course whenever I think of Muslin I think of:

India greatly influenced what people wore-in colors, patterns, and of course ladies adopting the use of a pashmina. I had noticed that when I was trying to find something to wear to Jane Con.

From Emma (1996)

Women and men always wore gloves when going out of the house. Doiel mentioned how they weren’t doing that in the Opera as it was too difficult with all the clothing changes. That means that that hand clench scene in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice never should have happened as both Darcy and Elizabeth should have been wearing gloves.

One woman asked about lace, and lace was very in fashion. It came from India or France (probably not as much from France at this time as England and France had been fighting) and was used on hemlines and sleeves.

My book club + sister really enjoyed this discussion. We wished that Doiel had judged the costumes a bit more, (as who doesn’t like a good rip ?), but understood that she was trying to be fair.

We loved that she stayed on topic-discussing only the clothes instead of the actual films. We would have liked to hear her thoughts on more films or more on costuming the show, but understood we only had an hour and had to be a bit limited to have enough time to cover everything.

DeSchane did a great job moderating the workshop, with her interesting questions and keeping an eye on how much time we had.

We loved it and learned a lot. In fact, later we watched the 1983 Mansfield Park and discussed what we learned in this when we looked at the costumes.

This workshop.

For more on Regency clothes, go to Muslin: The Fabric of Jane’s Life

For more Mansfield Park, go to Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

For more on Jane Austen, go to Praying With Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen

Rational Creatures: Fanny Price & Mary Crawford

Rational Creatures edited by Christina Boyd

For those of you who might have missed the last post, Rational Creatures is an anthology of short stories on the different women of Jane Austen:

But just not the main heroines-there are a few other side characters like Miss Bates-and of course a couple of bad girls like Mary Crawford and Mrs. Clay. Each story gives us a look at these rational creatures.

So far we have reviewed Elinor and Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility with Self-Composed by Christina Morland and Every Past Affliction by Nicole Clarkston & Elizabeth Bennet and Charlotte Lucas from Pride and Prejudice in Happiness in Marriage by Amy D’Orazio and Charlotte’s Comfort by Joana Starnes & Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, and Harriet Smith from Emma in Knightley Discourses by Anngela Schroeder,The Simple Things by J. Marie Croft and In Good Hands by Caitlin Williams And what have I thought of it so far?

This one is on Mansfield Park:

If Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are often forgotten or ignored Mansfield Park is just plain hated on. Mostly because people think Fanny is “boring” and “spineless”.

But Fanny isn’t boring or spineless. Mansfield Park is a great book and Fanny is a fantastic character! Fanny is a sweet kind girl-niece to the Bertram family, and was sent to stay with them. Instead of being treated as family, she is seen as “less” because of the “bad blood” inherited from the low class, wastrel father her mother married down to.

She is particularly mistreated by her evil aunt and two cousins; all of which take pride in bossing her around and being as cruel as can be. Fanny is the essence of sweetness, taking this injustice in stride and trying to remain optimistic in a bad situation.

The life of the Bertrams are interrupted when a Mr. Henry Crawford and Miss Mary Crawford come to visit their half-sister Mrs. Grant. Mary is set on winning the eldest Bertram, but finds her being struck by the younger. Henry’s sole purpose is to upset the apple cart by going after the Bertram sisters for fun, but having no intent of follow through. Will the Bertrams survive this?

That is not good,

So Mansfield Park is in a unique position. I believe (not quite sure as I’d have to count them) Mansfield Park has the least amount of adaptations. Besides Dangerous to Know the only one I’ve looked at are the films. And I know a lot of people like it, but I could not stand the Mansfield Park (1999) film as they had no concept of Fanny.

Did you even READ the book?!

Fanny is a hard character as society today doesn’t seem to like or encourage this type of character, but want them to be more aggressive, flashy, or loud. So I was a bit anxious, would this go well or would they fall into the same trap?

The Meaning of Wife by Brooke West

We pick up in this story at the end of Mansfield Park. Fanny turned down Henry Crawford’s proposal and was sent home to live with her family as punishment. Then Tom became sick and almost almost died. Fanny was brought back to Mansfield Park. Henry ran off with Maria Bertram-Rushworth. Mary Crawford wished Tom would have died and didn’t see the scandal of Maria and Henry as a big deal so Edmund ended everything.

A lot of people think Mansfield Park is boring but it has quite a bit of action in it. Look at that summary.

Anyways, so Fanny and the Bertrams are hanging out one morning when Tom reads a letter about a friend’s sister who is going to Europe to study philosophy. He makes a snide comment and then Edmund chimes in with a compliment to Fanny, that actually insults her. WOW!

Dude just pulled a Barney Stinson:

“The backhanded compliment is truly an art form – the best will lower the intended target’s self esteem thus making them more susceptible to the power of suggestion.”

Fanny has been crushing on Edmund for years, although I honestly don’t know why. If I had to rank my favorite Austen men, Edmund is on the bottom. I am joyful that Fanny gets her true love, but I think she could have done better.

Nope!

Anyways, Edmund looks at her with ardor and Fanny should be happy, but he completely just insulted her, again. Ugh.

Seriously stop!

Fanny shares how she would enjoy such a trip that they discussed and then Edmund says:

“The journey alone would be well beyond your capabilities.”

Ouch! This dude.

The conversation at the table made Fanny think and wonder and she takes a look at the book they were skewering, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman and enjoys it.

As Fanny finishes reading, Edmund comes to talk to her. He tries to console her over her heart being broken by Henry. Ugh, men. He won’t listen that she isn’t heartbroken.

But ugh, he won’t listen. He goes on for a while, talks about Mary who he has been mooning over, and then proposes.

He’s been my least favorite and West made him even more so.

Ugh!

So then the story takes a twist. Fanny refuses him!

But I wasn’t upset with this twist. West did this really well as Fanny considers whether or not this will be the best choice as does Edmund really know her? Does he really care about her? Or is she his rebound from Mary. I love how she has Fanny wanting to say yes, the thing she has wished for her whole life is in her grasp, but is it what she really wants?

Hmm…

This is where I was hooked in. I LOVED it. We have Fanny considering is this is what she wants? Will this lead to happiness or a marriage like her mother and aunts have? Could she be happy with Edmund? Should she search for happiness in another person? What does she want to do with her life?

West has set the standard really high for any Mansfield Park adaptations. She really captured the character of Fanny, put her own twist on it, showed how she was the powerful character she is without ripping off Elizabeth or changing her complete personality.

And the ending was so cute. You’ve got to read it. I actually liked Edmund and Fanny together and this whole story made me like him more. We don’t really see Edmund romantically in love with Fanny:

“I purposely abstain from dates on this occasion, that every one may be at liberty to fix their own, aware that the cure of unconquerable passions, and the transfer of unchanging attachments, must vary much as to time in different people. I only entreat everybody to believe that exactly at the time when it was quite natural that it should be so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and became as anxious to marry Fanny as Fanny herself could desire.”

-Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

So it was cute to see him actually romantic. So adorable.

“If an idea takes root in your mind and you find merit in it, then I am persuaded that idea too, is moral and right. Your endorsement is all I need.’ He [Edmund] set his book aside and took her hands in his. ‘You are all I need.”

Brooke West, The Meaning of Wife

For more by Brooke West, go to “Last Letter to Mansfield” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MATURE

For more on Fanny Price, go to Austen Avengers Assemble!

What Strange Creatures by Jenetta James

Mary is living with her uncle, the Admiral. He is a cruel, horrid man and it has become more unbearable living with him since her aunt passed away. Anyways, it seems to be an ordinary day, until a magistrate from Bow Street, Mr. James Hunter, comes calling about her missing friend, Miss Verity Stanhope.

Gone Girl

Mary just laughs it off thinking that she probably ran off with some guy. She thinks they eloped and will be back, or took off and now have to elope. But Mr. Hunter assures her that this isn’t a “normal” disappearance. She is the third in a serial kidnapping.

What? A mystery? And a Jane Austen mystery?? You know me…

Mystery, you say?

So where will this story take us? Is she going to become a super sleuth? Will she solve the mystery? Could it be someone she knows? Henry? Her uncle, the admiral? A new character? I’m invested.

Ready for any case

He questions her, but there is no new information regarding her missing friend. Although Henry did leave early. And Verity always liked him. Hmmm….

Hmmm…

No, he has an alibi. It is clearly not him.

Mary keeps trying to shrug it off as an elopement as Verity was having a fortune coming her way, but Mr Hunter is not convinced. The two share a brief flirtation, and he is gone. A brief flirtation is all it could be as Mr. Hunter isn’t the type of man Mary is after.

The next morning Mary is at home with the Admiral, ugh. Things are harder with him now that her aunt has passed and Henry is away. She tells him about an invite they received, but he declines as he will be out. He always does that sort of thing, could he be up to something nefarious? Such as…kidnapping?

Hmmm

The admiral doesn’t care about her or what she does, she can go to the party by herself. And he doesn’t care about this Verity business, as he sees her as just a dumb female.

This guy!

Mary tries to stay away from the idea that it is more than just an elopement, but Mr. Hunter’s words keep coming back. She goes shopping and is enjoying herself, but then thinks how can she be happy and go out when something horrible could be happening to her friend?

“The loss of a person one loves, however so occasioned, can draw a line through happiness as surely as any of life’s misfortunes.”

She continues on her way and then she notices a carriage, it seems that wherever she goes the carriage follows. She goes, it goes. She stops, it stops.

She starts to become alarmed and wants to go into a shop when someone comes out…Mr. Hunter?

Huh?

He followed her?! Is he the kidnapper?

Yes, he followed her, but just because he was worried maybe she could be next. He wasn’t going to say anything, but she was about to go into the shop of Madam Villechamp, a place where all the women who disappeared went into before they vanished.

Mary never would have gone in there, (except she was being followed), as her aunt always forbid her. Her aunt didn’t like the shop. But Mary must know what is going on and so she makes an appointment. She goes to check it out and when the assistant is out of the room she starts investigating.

She goes through the correspondence and writings There she finds a letter from her uncle! Her uncle’s mistress is Madame Villechamp! And he wants her to move in with him.

She runs to Bow Street and talks to Mr. Hunter, and finds out that Verity was found, it was an elopement. Mary talks with him and leaves to start a new life, going to visit Mrs. Grant and entering the Bertram’s lives.

So…what about the missing women? Their disappearances? Serial kidnapper? What happened? I wanted to solve the mystery.

But that aside, I think Mary was very well-written and I liked how they showed her character. And I enjoyed the view into her dysfunctional family as it really does give a great view into their dynamic.

For more by Jenetta James, go to “The Lost Chapter in the Life of William Elliot” from Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE

For more on Mary Crawford, go to Anna Karenina Made Me View Maria Bertram-Rushworth and Mary Crawford Differently

These stories were really great, even though I didn’t get to fully utilize my detecting skills.

Next time…it has been a while since a Bebris mystery.

 So we have had nine incredible stories. Will the next ones be just as good? I guess I’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂

For more reviews of Rational Creatures, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more by Christina Boyd, go to Rational Creatures: Emma Woodhouse, Miss Bates, & Harriet Smith

For more Mansfield Park, go to Once Upon a Time There Were Three Sisters…

For more Austen book reviews, go to Little Literary Classics Mansfield Park Cloth Book

Dracula. Not Myth, Nor Ravings of a Mad Irish Novelist, Oh No, He’s Real: Dracula 2000 (2000)

dracula_two_thousand

Dracula. Dracula: not myth, nor ravings of a mad Irish novelist, oh no. He’s real, I assure you.

A long time ago, AMC used to do Fear Fridays. Every friday night at 8 they would show a horror film, and not stop until early Saturday morning. But then they pushed it back to 9, then 10, then 11, then 12, then 1 am, then 2 am; still calling it Fear Friday although it was actually Saturday morning. And then they just stopped doing it, which deeply saddened me as I saw many a good, creepy film those Friday nights.

Why did it end?

Why did it end?

This however, wasn’t one of those good movies.

Hate YOu

My sister and I saw this on one of those Friday nights and I hated this film. I thought it was dumb, stupid, boring, made no sense and couldn’t hold a candle to Bela Lugosi in Dracula (1931). And I vowed to never see it ever again.

never-say-never-in-front-of-fantasy_1279

Last week, my friend and I were having a horror film marathon. We saw Once Bitten and then were in the mood for a more serious film. She was going through the list and wanted to see Dracula 2000 as she has never seen it before. I was like

No thank youhowaboutno

She then asked me what the film was about, if I could give her a summary, and I tried to tell her…

Uhhhhhhh

Uhhhhhhh

But I couldn’t remember. The only thing I could think of was that it had Johnny Lee Miller (who played Mr. Knightley in Emma (2009) and Edmund Bertram in Mansfield Park (1999) as the regular person thrust in the adventure (the only character I liked); Gerald Butler as Dracula (the reason I watched it the first time) but he was so young that it didn’t even look like him and I hated his character; a weird scene in the record store; and that I hated it. Why did I hate it, I couldn’t remember. The movie must have been so horrible I just wiped it from my memory banks.

Where

Since I couldn’t remember it, and thought maybe I was too harsh a judge, we decided to watch it and see if it was different this go round.

I-am-going-to-try-this-Well-Rested-Makeup-Tutorial-it-works-amazing-1024x1024maybe

I HATED IT!

HateEverythingthewomen

I thought it was horrible and stupid. So you know what that means! A countdown!!! Yes, let’s go over everything I liked (barely anything) to everything I hated (practically everything!)

halloween banner

Synopsis:

The film is supposed to be Dracula set in modern times rather than 1831, so the year is 2000. In London, Matthew Van Helsing (Abraham’s descendent) has an antique store in which he is training Simon (Johnny Lee Miller). That night everyone but Matthew goes home, and unbeknownst to him his secretary Solina is part of a ring of thieves that breaks into his vault. They find nothing in there but crosses and a coffin, taking it as it must be valuable.

But something terrible lurks inside.

But something terrible lurks inside.

When Matthew discovers the theft, he goes after them, leaving Simon to watch over the business. However, Simon is worried about his mentor and follows him instead.

The thieves open the coffin and reveal that it is Dracula (Gerald Butler) who turns them all into vampires.

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them. Van Helsing: Doing them? Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: "Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!" Van Helsing: What did he want you to do? Renfield: That which has already been done! [giggles sinisterly]

Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them.
Van Helsing: Doing them?
Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: “Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!”
Van Helsing: What did he want you to do?
Renfield: That which has already been done!
[giggles sinisterly]

He then heads to New Orleans, LA. There lives Mary Heller, a devout Catholic, who has had strange dreams/visions her whole life but they seem worse now than ever before. She keeps seeing this man, unsure of who he is, but us viewers know him as Dracula.

Dracula

Simon and Matthew team up and try to destroy the new vampires, Simon originally shocked but after being attacked admits they are real. Matthew then reveals his secret, he is really Abraham Van Helsing, the Van Helsing.

Count Dracula: Van Helsing. [Van Helsing turns to face Count Dracula] Count Dracula: Now that you have learned what you have learned, it would be well for you to return to your own country. Van Helsing: I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy. Count Dracula: You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived. Van Helsing: Should you escape us, Dracula. We know how to save Miss Mina's soul if not her life. Count Dracula: If she dies by day. But I shall see that she dies by night. Van Helsing: And I will have Carfax Abbey torn down, stone by stone, excavated a mile around. I will find your earth-box and drive that stake through your heart. Count Dracula: Come here. [Dracula raises his hand to hypnotise Van Helsing] Count Dracula: Come here...Your will is strong, Van Helsing. [Van Helsing reaches out for his crucifix as Dracula looms toward him] Count Dracula: More wolfbane? Van Helsing: More effective than wolfbane, Count. Count Dracula: Indeed. [Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]

[Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]

When he discovered nothing worked to kill Dracula, he imprisoned him in a coffin and took his blood to keep him young as he continued to try to find a way to destroy him. He was married and they had a daughter Mary, and in her blood is Dracula’s blood. When he told his wife the whole story, she left him and took his daughter to America.

And run fast

Dracula has lost his male vampires, but has three wives: Solina, the secretary; Valerie, a news reporter; and Lucy, Mary’s best friend. Simon and Helsing split up to look for Mary, Helsing being killed by Dracula and the wives at Mary’s house. Simon finds Mary and they escape, only for Mary to be captured later. Simon tries to help her; but is no match for all the vampires.

Dracula

Before Dracula turns Mary into a vampire, he reveals that he is Judas Iscariot and that is why he hates silver and crosses. He tried to hang himself, but the “rope broke” and God turned him into a vampire.

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I know. He turns Mary into a vampire, but I guess her already vampire blood counteracts it as she is not his slave.

You-serious?-Not-happening-babe!

She saves Simon, kills Dracula, and decides to continue the family business (although if she killed Dracula it is over) turning into a female Blade, kinda-sorta.

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So What Was Good?

There was only one thing I liked in this entire film, and that was Johnny Lee Miller’s character, Simon.

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Simon was extremely likable because he was just a regular person thrown into this situation and trying to make sense of it. All his reactions are spot on to when he thinks people are crazy to finally becoming a butt-kicking vampire hunter. He is kind, compassionate, caring, intelligent, and extremely witty.

Marcus: [Simon produces a cross] Sorry sport. I’m an atheist.

Simon Sheppard: [a dagger pops out of the cross’ base] God loves you anyway.

The other thing I like about him was how he represented the everyman or everywoman. Here is a guy who has read old inscriptions, heard stories, studied antique weaponry, etc; but studying and hearing it is much different than having to use it, have the myths be real, and be expected to hunt down vampires. He tries his best as he discovers this new reality, and even though he makes mistakes, all is forgiven as he is us, the viewer, in a sense. I thought he was fun and the best thought out thing in the film.

I like it!

I like it!

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So What Was Bad?

Everything else. Seriously, I mean it. The rest of the film was absolutely horrid.

1) Too Many Stars

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Like Scre4m it is hard to focus on a plot of a film when you are being hit right and left with people who are really famous. In every scene it felt more like a game of “Which Star Will Pop Up Next” rather than watching a film about Dracula. I mean we have Shane West, Christopher Plummer, Johnny Lee Miller, Omar Epps, Nathan Fillion, Vitamin C, etc. When casting you really have to be careful and not have too many recognizable people, or else your audience will be going bug-eyed.

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2) For a Dracula film there isn’t a lot of Dracula in it.

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Dracula is supposed to be about Dracula; but Dracula actually has a small role in this film. And unlike previous films, Dracula wasn’t even played by a big star with top billing; instead they choose Gerald Butler who had very little on his acting resume at the time this film was made. To me that is incredibly strange as he is the main character, THE TITLE CHARACTER. He should be the star, the biggest personality. Instead Dracula has very little dialogue and spends most of his time just creepily staring at people.

He's creepin' in your windows. He's starin' at your people.

He’s creepin’ in your windows. He’s starin’ at your people.

I didn’t like that, not one bit. As much as I disliked Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and I did a lot, at least that one knew what to focus on, DRACULA! It was a weird decision made by the writers, and a bad one.

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3) Mary, Mary Quite Boring

Bones David Bored I;m bored boring

Mary was so boring! I mean it what a yawnfest. All she did was cower, snivel, and act as if she was going to have a breakdown. Her character was bland and completely underdeveloped other than “good”, “Catholic”, and “British”. Now don’t get me wrong, the breakdown character can work but only in films where it is about psychological damage, like Rebecca, Gaslight or Under Capricorn, not a monster movie. In this type of film that kind of behavior is boring!

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4) Taking Blood to Live Longer, Yet He Doesn’t Become a Vampire

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In the book Dracula, the way to have someone become a vampire is to give them vampire blood. In this film Van Helsing keeps transfusing vampire blood into his body to live longer, but doesn’t become a vampire. That makes zero sense! If you ingest vampire blood you are a vampire. Pure and simple.

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5) Dracula is Judas

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Yes. It turns out the reason Dracula hates silver, crosses, bibles, Christianity, etc…is because he is Judas.

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Why would God turn him into a vampire? Why would God create a being that cannot be killed but kill his people making their souls unable to move on? That is just unbelievably dumb.

I mean if the devil was the one who did it, it would still be really dumb, but make a lil’ more sense.

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So yes it was dumb, incredibly dumb. Just stupid and horribly boring. My advice? Just skip it.

And after we finished the film, I asked my friend “What do you think of it?” Her response:

You as in the film

You as in the film

So there you go, not just me.

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To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

For the previous post, go to I’m…a Werewolf: Teen Wolf (1985)

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For more Dracula, go to We’ve Seen Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)

For more vampire films, go to I Don’t Want to Be a Vampire. I’m a Day Person: Once Bitten (1985)

For more on Judas Iscariot, go to The Arrest

For more modern remakes, go to Heroes are Not Born, They’re Created: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)

For more sucky remakes, go to Every Three Thousand Years, the Stars Align. Unleashing an Army of Monsters: TMNT (2007)

For more Gerald Butler, go to Pot o’ Gold: 17 Irish Heroes

What’s Your Favorite Scary Movie?: Scream (1996)

So this Horrorfest, I am going to be doing something a little different. We are going to have “Screamtastic Saturdays”. Every Saturday in October going to be on a different Scream movie. So let’s kick it off with:

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What’s your favorite scary movie?

*Spolier Alert*

So I really loved this movie. I have to say that Wes Craven as one of the horror kings totally tanked on Nightmare on Elm Street. This was by far, much better. One of the coolest things about this film is that it is a parody of horror films, while still being its own horror film.

So the beginning starts off with Drew Barrymore cooking popcorn and preparing for a fun night in watching scary movies with her boyfriend. Just like When A Stranger Calls, she receives a strange phone call and is at first into it, thinking it is just a joke.

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However, it slowly turns as the caller threatens Casey that he is going to kill her and her boyfriend.

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But she has a chance at being saved, all she has to do is answer who was the killer in Friday the 13th.

“Phone Voice: Name the killer in Friday the 13th.

Casey: Jason! Jason! Jason!

Phone Voice: I’m sorry. That’s the wrong answer!

Casey: No, it’s not. No it’s not. It was Jason.

Phone Voice: Afraid not. No way.

Casey: Listen, it was Jason! I saw that movie 20 g******* times!

Phone Voice: Then you should know that Jason’s mother, Mrs. Voorhees was the original killer. Jason didn’t show up until the sequel. I’m afraid that was a wrong answer.

Casey: [Weeping] You tricked me.

Phone Voice: Lucky for you there’s a bonus round, but poor Steve… I’m afraid he’s OUT!”

So Steve is murdered and Casey runs throughout the house trying to get away from the killer. Of which she doesn’t make it out and finds herself victim #1.

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And thus the body count begins…

So the killing of Drew Barrymore holds two significant things. One, she was one the most famous actress in the film, and was killed first. This was supposed to be a homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), in which the most famous actress of the film, Janet Leigh, was only in the movie for a short while before she was killed. This was also supposed to be a parody of Craven’s film Nightmare on Elm Street, when the first character we meet, Tina (played by Amanda Wyss),is killed. Craven also had his character Casey wear white just like Tina in Nightmare on Elm Street.

The next day, the town Woodsboro is just ravanged by reporters who are eager to find out more about this murder, especially since it occurred almost exactly a year after their little town experienced a murder just as gruesome. The murder of Maureen Prescott by Cotton Weary.

Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is trying to cope with everything that is going on.

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She is having a really hard time with the anniversary of her mother’s death. When she hears about the murders and sees the reporters it brings the mess of the past year back to her. The memories just come flooding back.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

One of her other big issues is her boyfriend Billy Loomis.

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Okay, I just have to go off on a tangent here: Billy is sooooooooooooo creepy looking. When I first saw this I was like he is toooootally the killer. I mean LOOK AT HIM! He has killer written alllll over him. Those eyes, they are super frigtening. And the way he talks? He tells Sidney that he was watching Silence of the Lambs and that made him think of her and want to come over and get funky. What a freak!

Certified Creepo Ribbon

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(BTW it is another Psycho reference. Billy Loomis is a homage to Sam Loomis, Marion Crane’s boyfriend in Psycho; and Dr. Sam Loomis in Halloween.)

Anyways, so the two have been having issues since Sidney’s mom died. She was so traumatized by the event that she has isolated herself and found it hard to let anyone in again. Her best friend Tatum is cool with it as she understands she needs time to grieve, but Billy has been having a hard time backtracking from third base to the benches. Ladies, let me just say that if any guy ever tries to pressure into having sex when you aren’t ready, junk punch him and run away. You don’t need that loser in your life.

That day her father has to go out of town, leaving Sidney all alone in a big house.

Yep, gonna make references all night.

Yep, gonna make When a Stranger Calls  references all night.

She makes plans to meet up with Tatum and stay at her place, but falls asleep. Tatum is late picking her up as her cheerleading practice went way over. While Sidney is waiting she gets a phone call from the killer who starts harassing her. And she stupidly calls throughout the house trying to find him.

Killer Scary Movie

“Sidney Prescott: Can you see me right now?  Ah, okay. [puts a finger in her nose] What am I doing? Huh? Huh? What am I doing? Hello? [takes finger out] Nice try, Randy. Tell Tatum to hurry up, okay? Bye now.

Ghostface: IF YOU HANG UP ON ME, YOU’LL DIE JUST LIKE YOUR MOTHER! Do you want to die, Sidney? Your mother sure didn’t.

Sidney Prescott: F*** you, you cretin!”

Soon the killer comes in her house and she has to run away from him and try to get the police there. Billy shows up, climbing through her window. Sidney sees that he has a cellphone and freaks out, having the police cart him away.

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So there are a couple places that were filmed in Santa Rosa, CA. One was the bathroom scene in which Sidney is attacked, the other is Tatum’s house which is right across the street from the house used in Pollyanna (1960). It is also across the street from the house used in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). The house in the opening scene was next door to the house used in Cujo (1983).

Sidney spends the night at Tatum’s house and the next day is completely crazy. Billy was released as they had nothing to hold him. And they still are unable to find her father as he never checked into his hotel. Plus Gale Weathers, a reporter who has been harassing her for a year,  and all the other reporters are driving her crazy!

“Gale: There she is! Sidney, hi, what happened? Are you alright?

Tatum: She’s not answering any questions alright. Just leave us alone.

Sidney Prescott: No, no Tatum it’s OK. She’s just doing her job, right Gale?

Gale: That’s right.

Sidney Prescott: So how’s the book?

Gale: Oh it’ll be out later this year.

Sidney Prescott: Oh, I’ll look for it.

Gale: I’ll send you a copy.

[Sidney turns around a punches Gale in the face]”

Scream-Punch

Also at the school we have a little Wes Craven easter egg, as he dresses up as a janitor in a Freddy Krueger sweater.

So the principal decides to suspend school until further notice as it is just too risky for the students. After they all have left, he finds himself joining the body count as well, victim #2.

victim

The death of the principal was actually added to the film late into production. Bob Weinstein noticed there were 30 pgs in the script were nobody died and they decided that they needed another victim.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Billy’s friend Stu decides to throw a party and have all the kids in school come. I don’t understand why anyone’s parents would allow their kids to go out like that with A FREAKIN’ KILLER ON THE LOOSE. Come on people, Parent!!

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At the party, the kids are chillin’, drinking beer, watching horror films, etc. Billy and Sidney go upstairs and talk, resulting in the two having sex.

Meanwhile downstairs everyone is chillin’ while Tatum goes off to the garage to get more beer. The scene in the garage is the only weak link in the film. First of all when Tatum walks over to the garage door and it almost closes on her, that would never happen. My dad is a contractor and I remeber when I was a kid I thought the garage would close on me too. However, they design garage doors specfically to not do that. In fact they have a certain radius that if someone was to walk within that radius the door would stop. And come on she IS IN A FREAKIN’ GARAGE!!! Do you know how many weapons there are in that thing? She passes over a hoe, rake, and a shovel! You see all kinds of tools throughout their fight too. She could easly find something to attack him and win. Although I do have to give props to Wes for allowing Tatum to to put up such a great fight.

Victim #3

Victim #3

Back in the living room,  Randy is giving a rundown on how to survive a horror film,  (* are the rules that are given by the killer).

  1. You will not survive if you have sex
  2. You will not survive if you do drugs or drinks
  3. You will not survive if you say “I’ll be right back.”
  4. Everyone is a suspect
  5. *You will not survive if you ask “Who’s there.”*
  6. *You will not survive if you go out to investigate a strange noise*

While all this is going on, Gale and Tatum’s brother Officer Dewey, have been spying on the party. Gale has snuck a camera into the party, so that she can view everything from her van. She and Dewey both take a break though, “walking off” together where they come upon Sidney’s father’s abandoned car.

Mal_huh Whoa Wow

Everyone back at the party gets the news that the principal is dead and had been strung up on the football field. Almost everyone leaves; with just Randy, Sidney, Billy, Stu, and Gale’s cameraman Kenny (in the van) staying behind .The killer comes out and starts attacking.

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One of the best scenes is the scene where a drunk Randy is telling Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween to turn around while the killer is behind him. He constantly repeats, “Jamie, turn around. Turn around, Jamie!” as the killer is slowly creeping up behind him. The actor who plays Randy is also named Jamie (Jamie Kennedy) and the killer was currently behind him. This is also the only scene in which the  killer is actually one of the actors. Skeet Ulrich had asked specifically if he could wear the costume for one scene.

So Kenny and Dewey fall victim to his knife.

Victim #8

Victim #4&5

After Sidney and Billy are done having sex and have placed their clothes back on the killer charges in and stabs Billy. Sidney manages to run away and finds Tatum’s body.

As she continues running away she ends up getting in the way of Gale who was fleeing the killer from her van. Gale swerves to miss Sidney and crashes, getting knocked out. Sidney goes back to the house, taking the gun from the dying Dewey. She runs into Randy and Stu and is unsure who is the killer. She then runs into a wounded Billy and gives him the gun. Billy immediately shoots Randy and stands up.

Say What

Yep, Billy isn’t injured at all. In fact, it was all a ploy he is the real killer.

dun-dun-duuuun

Corn Syrup

Billy: Corn Syrup, just like in the real movies.

Yep, the whole time Billy and Stu have been the killers. From Sidney’s mom to everyone else.

“Sidney Prescott: Why? Why did you kill my mother?

Billy: Why? WHY! You hear that Stu? I think she wants a motive. Well I don’t really believe in motives Sid, I mean did Norman Bates have a motive?

Stu: No.

Billy: Did we ever find out why Hannibal Lecter like to eat people? DON’T THINK SO! See it’s a lot more scarier when there’s no motive, Sid. We did your Mom a favor, Sid. That woman was a slut-bag whore who flashed her s*** all over town like she was Sharon Stone or somethin’.

Stu: Yeah, we put her out of her misery, ’cause let’s face Sidney, your mother was no Sharon Stone,hmm?

Billy: Is that motive enough for you? How about this? Your slut mother was f****** my father and she’s the reason my mom moved out and abandoned me. [Sid looks astonished] How’s that for a motive? Maternal abandonment causes serious deviant behaviour. It certainly f***** you up. It made you have sex with a psychopath.”

Yep, and not only that the planned the whole thing out so that her father would take the blame, make it look like he had a mental breakdown on the anniversary of his wife’s death and started killing people. They had kidnapped him and bring him out for their final act. Billy and Stu planned that attack on Sidney to make any second arrest look false and questionable.

you're evil

Of course their plan will not be complete until they make themselves look like victims. Stu stabs Billy, and Billy stabs Stu. While the two are monologing and arguing they have seemed to forget one important thing.

 Sidney and her father have disappeared.

“Stu: S***…

Billy: What?

Stu: Oh, s***.

Billy: [They go into the kitchen to find Sidney and Mr. Prescott gone] Where are they? Where are they?

Stu: I don’t know, Billy, but I’m hurtin’, man!

Yep, just like they say in Dial M for Murder (1954), you can never plan the perfect murder. What sounds good on paper can never transfer to real life, because in real life there are just too many things that can go wrong.

“Margot Mary Wendice: Do you really believe in the perfect murder?

Mark Halliday: Mmm, yes, absolutely. On paper, that is. And I think I could, uh, plan one better than most people; but I doubt if I could carry it out.

Tony Wendice: Oh? Why not?

Mark Halliday: Well, because in stories things usually turn out the way the author wants them to; and in real life they don’t… always.”

So here Stu and Billy find themselves completely off script, and unsure…

[the phone rings]

Stu: Should I let the machine get it?

Billy: [answers it] Hello?

Sidney Prescott: Are you alone in the house?

Billy: B****! You b****, where the f*** are you?

Sidney Prescott: Not so fast, we’re going to play a little game. It’s called: Guess who just called the police and reported your sorry motherf******* a**!

[Stu is slowly collapsing to the floor]

Billy: Find her, you dips***! Get up!

Stu: I can’t, Billy. You already cut me too deep. I think I’m dying here, man!

Billy: [Billy gives Stu the phone] Talk to her. Talk to her.

Stu: Hello?

Sidney Prescott: Ah, Stu, Stu, Stu… What’s your motive? Billy’s got one. The police are on their way. What are you going to tell them?

Stu: Peer pressure. I’m far too sensitive.

Billy:[Billy takes the phone back] I’m going to rip you up, b****, just like your f****** mother!

Sidney Prescott: You’ve gotta find me first, you pansy-a** momma’s boy!”

Now the game of cat and mouse has changed with the hunted becoming the hunters.

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In the end Gale, Sidney, Dewey, Mr. Prescott, and Randy survive.

So that was Scream one of the best horror-parodies ever made. For more fun check out Scream in 30 sec with bunnies. And How It Should Have Ended

This film really brought back the slasher genre, as after this slasher remakes and slasher film numbers escalated. It also brought up the debate on whether or not violence in movies affected people and caused them to become more violent? The most important thing is that this film increased the use of caller ID and made such phone harassment much harder. Although not for me.

The other thing I realized in this film is that I am soooooo Randy.

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I also realized that just like The Cable Guy, I’m only a few steps away from the crazy.

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Well, that’s Scream. Tune in next Saturday for Scream 2.

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To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart

To go to the previous post, go to In Their Proper Place

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For more on Scream, go to When Horror Doesn’t Stay on the Screen

For more on Wes Craven, go to Krueger Town

For more on phone harrasment, go to It’s Coming From Inside the House

For more films influenced by Alfred Hitchcock, go to Everyone’s Entitled to One Good Scare

For more on serial killers, go to Hello? Is There a Killer in My Kitchen?

For more on slasher films, go to Camp Blood

For more films that spanned numerous sequels, go to He Who Walks Behind the Rows