Damien – Will We Love Him? Hate Him? Or Love to Hate Him?

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Last year I saw reports that Lifetime had a new horror series entitled Damien, based on the classic 1976 film The Omen, starring Lee Remick and Gregory Peck (with Patrick Troughton from Doctor Who as the impaled priest, because you know, all roads lead back…). But when the series failed to materialize in early 2015, as reported, I didn’t know if I should be upset or relieved.

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An intense Patrick Troughton as Father Brennan in “The Omen” (1976).

Omen II (1978) starring William Holden, Lee Grant and Robert Foxworth, saw Damien reluctantly (though not too reluctant) accept the mantle of Antichrist, and Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), starring a then lesser-known Sam Neill, saw Damien’s rise to power.

The new series Damien, which somehow landed on A&E, would seem to fit in the timeline between the second and third films, whilst ignoring the remake (starring Liev Schreiber and Julia Styles) entirely. From what I understand, Damien draws heavily from the original 1976 film (not sure where this leaves the 1978 film Omen II) and follows an adult Damien Thorn (as a photojournalist, not a politician) apparently unaware of his destiny, definitely setting the stage for some great drama and suspense.

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Harvey Stephens as young Damien Thorn in “The Omen” (1976).

Given the popularity of Bates Motel, it seems fitting that A&E, instead of Lifetime, has picked up the series. Created by Walking Dead producer Glen Mazzara, one hopes for something that honors the original film’s chilling tone. Certainly Mazzara is no stranger to pushing the horror envelope.

I feared Lifetime would err on the side of “camping things up”, ala The Witches of East End (which is a guilty pleasure I admit to, in the vein of Charmed, so no angry letters, please). But for Damien, I want something else. I want to see his journey – his evolution. If there’s anything human in him, I want to see how deeply conflicted he is as he is tempted toward the dark side – “Yes, Damien, he is your father.”

This will require an actor with skill, someone who can be likable and charismatic, as well as haunted and dark. Enter fan favorite Bradley James (Merlin, iZombie). An IMDB search to see what James had been up to led me to this little tidbit, and I was immediately intrigued, and dare I say it, excited.

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Bradley James as Prince Arthur Pendragon in the BBC Series “Merlin”.

With his leading man good looks, James was cast as the heroic young Arthur Pendragon in Merlin (2008-2012), and more recently, as the funny, charming and lovable musician Lowell Tracey in iZombie (he quickly endeared himself to audiences as Liv’s ill-fated zombie lover – a sentence I thought I’d never write, and will probably never write again).

To keep audiences hooked he’ll have to walk a fine line between sympathetic/tortured and downright evil, as we know what Damien is destined to become. We know Norman Bates’ fate and the fates of those around him in Bates Motel, given the source material Psycho, still we find sympathy for Norman as he battles against a severe mental illness and hallucinations that compel him to kill.

Unlike Norman, whom we meet as a teen under the thumb of his controlling (still alive), neurotic (possibly borderline personality) mother Norma, Damien (as portrayed by Bradley James) is a grown man. He may not be so easily manipulated and he will likely be aware of his actions.

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Norman Bates as portrayed by Freddie Highmore in the A&E series “Bates Motel” and Anthony Perkins in the 1960 film “Psycho”.

As we saw briefly in Omen II, Damien initially has reservations about his future as Prince of the Underworld and overlord to humanity, but he turns too quickly for my taste, killing his cousin and best friend Mark, when Mark rejects him upon learning the truth. This is where he seems to turn towards the Dark Side, never to return. However, in Omen III the tables are turned, and it is his humanity and feelings for a woman that becomes his undoing. (Sorry for the spoilers, folks, but the films have been out for over 30 years). Again, this felt forced. I wanted to see a more remorseful, conflicted Damien. Perhaps now I’ll get my wish.

Let’s face it, we love our reformed bad boys, don’t we? Complex, brooding, bad, but with a softer side. We certainly love our tortured supernatural beings – starting with the first repentant vampire Barnabas Collins (Dark Shadows), inspiring characters like Nick Knight (Forever Knight), Angel (Angel), Methos (Highlander), and more recently, Damon Salvatore (Vampire Diaries) and Klaus Mikaelson (The Originals).

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Bradley James as Damien v. 5.0 (If you count all the films).

It will be interesting to see Damien’s development over time, and if like Klaus in The Originals, if he will walk that tightrope between villain and sympathetic anti-hero; someone who loves deeply, and is fiercely protective and loyal, only to doom those closest to him, due to his nature and the beast within (in Klaus’ case, his vampiric/hybrid nature, in Damien’s, his demonic birthright). Is Damien damned? Does he have a choice? Or was his fate sealed before he was even born?

I’m intrigued, not to mention, more than mildly interested in seeing more of the devilishly handsome (see what I did there?) Bradley James (hopefully in various states of undress… but I digress, as I often do…) and definitely looking forward to seeing him as Damien Thorn.

Damien airs Monday, March 7th, 2016 at 10pm EST on A&E after the season premiere of Bates Motel.

For more, check out this trailer for Damien.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Review

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Cover by Steve Morris

They say two’s company and three’s a crowd. This is especially true when you have the Mr. and the Ex tagging along. Complicated further by unresolved feelings, sexual tensions, and old rivalries, and you’ve got yourself a classic lover’s triangle. But like anything else in the Buffyverse, amp that up by ten. Let’s not forget, Buffy is no ordinary gal, and her suitors are both supernatural creatures of the night.

So awkward doesn’t begin to describe the encounter when Angel (Buffy’s former love) arrives to aid The Scoobies and face the news that Buffy’s current flame is none other than frenemy Spike (aka William the Bloody when Angel and he used to pal around, committing heinous acts and leaving a trail of dead bodies in their wake). Throw in some fangs and sharp implements of death and destruction and you’ve got a perfect recipe for disaster – never mind a lively “ex-boyfriend barbecue”.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Panel

TEAM SLAYERS…

Still, the team must put their differences aside, along with that time Angel killed Giles (good times), among other fond memories, to band together, bringing their collective mojo to defeat the evil Archaeus, a demon which has been attempting to control soulful vamps, and rivals for Buffy’s affections, Angel and Spike.

Of course, evil-doers must be fought, minions dispatched, and quips exchanged, in good ole’ Buffy fashion. What is actually more terrifying and surprising, is the fact that Andrew imparts some seriously thought-provoking words of wisdom, which had me waxing all philosophical. But I digress… as I often do…

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #17 Variant Cover by Rebekah Isaacs

HANGING OFF A CLIFF…

What happens next will leave you on the edge of your seats, as any good crossover event should do, with a cliffhanger that will have you crying “Noooooo!!!!” to rival Shatner’s “Khaaaaaaan!” in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Ok, maybe that’s a little bit over-dramatic, but I got your attention, didn’t I?

Once again, the team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs (love her variant cover for this issue, btw) deliver, along with Steve Morris’ cover art, suitable for framing. I really need to collect these as prints. (Steve, help a nerd gal out, will ya?)

If you’ve been staying with Season 10 of Buffy, don’t turn back now, pick up Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 17, out today, at a comic book store near you!

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Review

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Cover by Steve Morris


A Bridge Between Worlds…

I’ve always loved a good crossover. That’s just something the nerd in me can’t resist. I would become super excited as a kid whenever The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman would have a crossover event. An episode would start on one show and end on the other. It’s still true now, I geek out whenever The Flash makes an appearance on Arrow (and vice versa).  And it always worked for Buffy and Angel, even when they were on different networks, just like it did for that other super-couple Jamie Sommers and Steve Austin.

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Bionic duo and former lovers Steve Austin aka the Six Million Dollar (Lee Majors) and Jamie Sommers aka the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner).

When Angel (repentant vamp and Buffy’s former love) left Sunnydale all those years ago, we knew he’d be back, and likewise, Buffy wouldn’t (couldn’t) stay away from him either. With dark slayer Faith (portrayed in the series by Eliza Dushku) traveling back and forth between both shows, there was always a bridge, and always a chance for a crossover event. Angel even shows up briefly during the Buffy finale.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Panel


When Worlds Collide…

Is it any wonder then that the writers of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel & Faith comics have teamed up to create a season that allows each series its’ own arc, while still letting one be part of the other’s story as well.

We all know that whenever Angel turns up in Buffy’s world, it means angst and complications. Having your first love show up while you’re involved with your current love is hardly a simple matter (read messy and awkward). I call this the “ex-boyfriend barbecue”… and I’ve been there myself… but I digress, as I often do…

Ever since the “Love Dares You” arc, starting with this season’s eleventh issue, Buffy and Spike have reconnected romantically, and after many long years of waiting, fans let out a sigh of relief (myself included). Of course,  hi-jinx must ensue when Angel is called, by none other than Spike (Buffy’s other on again/off again/currently on again beau) to aid in their latest fight against Archaeus, an ancient demon who has been tormenting both Angel and Spike. There is way too much history between these three, going back to when Spike was sired (turned into a vampire for the newbie) by Drusilla (who was sired by none other than Angel). There was a whole lot of siring going on back then. Oh, those wacky vamps!

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #16 Variant by Rebekah Isaacs

Suck Up and Deal…

Of course, there’s no time to wallow in hurt feelings and awkward silences when there are demons to slay, and the old team bands together to do just that, in their own unique fashion. Equipped with banter aplenty and sharp and pointy implements of death and destruction – not to mention a whole lot of hacking and slashing – they get to the task at hand. However, it’s just the beginning for our Scoobies, and the big bad for this season has yet to be dispatched.  After all, what would a crossover event be without a cliffhanger?

As always, the team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs aim to please and do not disappoint, and Steve Morris’ cover art always impresses.

While each series can stand on its own, do yourself a favor and pick up both Buffy and Angel & Faith Season 10 books. They’re even more fun together.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 16 is due out tomorrow, June 17, 2015! Get it at a comic book store near you!

For more on Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 and Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics, check out my reviews at Skeletonpete.com.

Christopher Lee Remembered

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Christopher Lee

From immortal monster, to Jedi, to powerful wizard. He had worn many faces throughout his long and distinguished career. This week, the world mourned the loss of veteran stage and screen actor, Sir Christopher Lee.

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“Chiller Theatre” opening sequence. This creeped me out so much as a kid.

My introduction to Christopher Lee came one night, well after my bedtime, staying up to watch Chiller Theatre. 

I enjoyed (usually with one eye open) many Hammer Horror films, most of them starring Lee, starting with Horror of Dracula (1958), with Lee in the title role and co-star Peter Cushing (another favorite of mine and fellow Star Wars alum) as his nemesis Van Helsing. As a little girl, hiding under the covers, peeking out just as he was about to strike at some unsuspecting victim, I was both terrified and mesmerized by Lee’s gaze. I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was hooked.

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Lee as Count Dracula in many Hammer Horror films.

I credit my love of gothic horror to those early films. Lee’s Dracula was silent and menacing. He was far from repentant, and no, damn it, he never sparkled – he compelled – as any good (or in this case, bad) vampire should. He’d given me many nightmares, and later in life, he was also a source of inspiration for many of the stories I’d go on to write.

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Lee as Saruman the White in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies.

Years later, I was thrilled to see him as Count Dooku in the Star Wars prequels and again in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies as Saruman the White. Nearly 80 when he took on those roles, Lee showed no signs of slowing down. He even recorded the Heavy Metal Christmas album in 2012. Still cool, still relevant and still doing things his way at 90, I couldn’t help but admire him.

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Christopher Lee in Vatican City (1944).

Lee cast a long and imposing shadow, standing a full 6 feet 5 inches tall. He was a giant in every way to someone like me. From everything I’d seen, Christopher Lee was a proud man, a powerful man and a serious man.  He had served in the military, was in the RAF during World War II, and had received various honors, including knighthood in 2009. The man certainly seemed the stuff of legend.

Christopher Lee kept acting into his 90s, always sharp and full of purpose, and he left quite a legacy. I thought somehow he’d live forever… He was an original. We’ll likely never see another like him, and he will be sorely missed.

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Christopher Lee, Vincent Price, John Carradine and Peter Cushing

Christopher Lee passed away on June 7, 2015, at the age of 93. He has gone to join his friends and former co-stars, Peter Cushing, Vincent Price and John Carradine (all gone, but not forgotten.. nothing is ever forgotten…) – best known for their horror/sci-fi roles. I’m sure they welcome him with open arms. Oh, the stories they must have to share.

Farewell… and many thanks, Sir Christopher Lee. I owe you more than I ever realized…

-SylverWhisper

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #9 Review – Return to Sunnydale Part 2

Buffy Season 10 Issue 9 Cover Art by Steve Morris from Dark Horse Comics

If you ask most Buffy fans which regulars from the series they’d like to see return, or resurrected, what do you think they’d say?  Think about it… think hard. It’s not an easy choice, is it? Nor is it an impossible one. I do think there’s one “fan favorite” that would win hands down, however.

In the Buffyverse we’ve seen Angel return from a hell dimension and Spike go from soulless vampire, to ensouled vampire, to ghost, to corporeal being again. So anything is possible… but is it right?

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Buffy Season 10 Issue 9 Cover Variant by Rebekah Isaacs from Dark Horse Comics

TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES

It’s a quandary isn’t it? If you bring someone back to from the dead there should be consequences, and even then, doesn’t that lower the stakes if you know there’s always some magical “get out of jail free” card?

Still, we didn’t mind when Buffy was returned to us – albeit somewhat psychologically scarred – after her death in Season 5, when Willow and her friends chose to resurrect her with dark magic. But there was a price… There is always a price.  A life for a life… and lasting ramifications for Buffy and the Scoobies.

You would think they’d all learned their lesson on that one. Well, some folks never learn, as we found out in last month’s issue.

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Buffy Season 10 Issue 9 Preview Panel

HOW DO YOU SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE ANDREW?

This issue picks up where we left off – with Buffy, Spike, Willow and Andrew – back in Sunnydale, during Samhain, with a hell of a lotta spooky-doos and magic don’ts right at the Hellmouth.

When we last saw Andrew, he was attempting some magic don’ts of his own, using the Vampyr tome. Resurrection spells require a great deal of dark energy, and we all know there is no such thing as a free ride. Needless to say, there are some unwanted side effects, namely a soul-eating beastie of epic proportions.

Of course, this trip home to Sunnydale also leads to some soul-searching for our heroes and perhaps some promising confessions. Redemption, forgiveness and acceptance are recurring themes in the Buffyverse, and ones which come up again in “Return to Sunnydale”.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Without giving too much more away, I will say Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs (along with Dan Jackson and with stunning cover art by Steve Morris) deliver another strong installment for Season 10. And while Buffy fans may not get the ending they were hoping for, they do get an emotional and satisfying resolution to the Halloween story. Certainly worth the emotional ride.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 Issue #9 from Dark Horse Comics is out today at a comic book store near you!