The Curator of Schlock #85 by Jeff Shuster

Blade

All vampires must die!

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Batman & Robin killed the superhero movie. No one really mourned. We had all given up hope that Hollywood would ever get the genre right. I didn’t care. I still had the new Superman: The Animated Series to keep me entertained. Warner Bros. had even commissioned new Batman cartoons in the wake of Batman & Robin, no doubt in an effort keep the property from completely fading from public view. I was happy, but I knew that superhero movies would forever remain, as Roger Ebert said, “a disreputable genre.”

I think it was about a year later when one of my friends mentioned that they saw the trailer for Blade. I had never heard of Blade. I guess he was another one of these unknown Marvel characters that all of the Marvel fans knew intimately. I knew that Marvel movie adaptations of the past made Batman & Robin look like a cinematic masterpiece. I read horror stories about adaptations of The Fantastic Four and Captain America. I’ll have to get to those someday, if Marvel hasn’t sent mercenaries out to destroy every last VHS copy.

I didn’t have high hopes for Blade, but it had been getting enough buzz that I figured I’d give it a look. Sometimes you see a movie that’s a reminder of why they built movie theaters in the first place. Blade from director Stephen Norrington is one of those movies.

The movie starts out with Traci Lords luring some dork to a secret nightclub inside a meat packing plant.

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She’s all hands on with him until they enter this secret dance hall complete with DJ and techno beats. The place is filled with club kids that look like Calvin Kline models and they’re fist pumping and grinding. Only problem is everyone is ignoring the dork. Tracy Lords shoves him away. He’s like the nerd who was invited to the cool kids party only to be made fun of later. Then blood rains from the sprinkler system, the club kids bare their fangs, and the dude realizes he’s in a club full of vampires.

I used to read those old Tales from the Crypt comics from the 1950s. I remember this one story where this guy arrives in his hometown and his sister warns him not go out into town after dark, but the guy ignores her because he’s hungry. He finds a restaurant where he partakes in a strange 7-course meal that includes tomato juice that’s too salty in addition to other dishes roast clots and blood sherbet. His sister shows up and reveals that she’s a vampire and that everyone in the restaurant are vampires and that he’s been eating blood based dishes the whole time. The last panel of the comic shows the guy strung upside down while vampires are filling their glasses with blood from a tap screwed into his neck. “Nothing like the real stuff,” says one.

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Like in that Tales from the Crypt story, the vampires take glee in tormenting the poor human that was lured into their club. They don’t take notice of the tough looking hombre with the black trench coat and sunglasses who grinning at them. A wave of fear and anger washes over the vampires. They whisper “It’s the Daywalker.” and I surmise that Blade(Wesley Snipes) has arrived on the scene. They all decide to charge him and that’s they’re first mistake. A shotgun blast turns vampire after vampire into fiery ash. Blade even has a katana blade and some ninja star boomerang thing that makes short work of every vampire that’s stupid enough not to run away.

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The movie grabbed me at that point and wouldn’t let go. It managed to flip a classic Tales from the Crypt ending on its head, making the vampires the hunted instead of the hunters. One of the reasons I loved reading Tales from the Crypt comics when I was a kid is because I always found monsters more interesting than heroes, and Blade is a monster. He’s a half-vampire due to fact that his mom was bitten when she was pregnant. He needs to take a special serum to keep his vampire side at bay lest he become what he hates.

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And there’s no reason not to hate the vampires in this movie. They’re an array of pompous jerks, scumbags, and psychopaths. There’s no grey area here. Blade sees vampires as all evil and they all need to die because vampires are all evil and they all need to die! None of this True Blood, vampires deserve equal rights crap!

Blade even has his own Alfred in the form of a cantankerous hillbilly named Whistler (Kris Kristofferson).

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Blade’s arch nemesis is Deacon Frost (Stephen Dorff) a megalomaniac who wants to fulfill some dark prophecy about resurrecting the “Blood God.” Frost can only be described as a perfect asshole, but he is genuinely funny like when he sees one hears one of his vampire minions pleading for help after Blade catches him and Frost says, “Pearl, you’re history. Have the good grace to die with some fuckin’ dignity.”

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These days the superhero genre is as reputable as the western or gangster film. When you go to see Avengers: Age of Ultron keep in mind that the movie wouldn’t be possible if not for a little movie featuring Wesley Snipes slaying bloodsuckers with his trusty Katana.

Five Things I Learned from Blade

  1. Don’t go to raves in meat packing plants.
  2. Who needs the Batmobile when you’ve got a 1968 Dodge Charger?
  3. Morbidly obese vampires are very unpleasant.
  4. Actors can be very expressive while wearing sunglasses.
  5. Some movies actually live up to their trailers.

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Jeffrey Shuster 4

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.

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