A jolly old film to bring out the new and bring in the old.  This Vincent Price masterpiece was recommended to me by one of the best horror movie critics out there and I put it on the back burner at first because the title seemed so ludicrous - even though I've never been unamused by anything starring Price.  Serves me damn right, this rocked!

Let us take a few minutes to give Vincent Price his due.  He is BAD ASS.  There are a lot of actors out there who fear being typecast into a specific role, and at times, Price was one of them.  Even though he was admittedly typecast into the dark twisted well-spoken villians or the dark twisted well-spoken victims, he did a damn good job at dark twisted and well-spoken.  So what if he got typecast?  He rocked the roles better than anyone else I could imagine in his place. 

How awesome is this guy?

- succeeded in oodles of high & low-budget films

- was well-known for memorizing not only his own lines, but also the lines of the other actors (aka, dude did his homework) 
- Yale educated (and not even bought in!)

- patron of the arts, so to speak: donated almost a hundred pieces to a college in the 50's to help their art program

- appeared in Thriller (here be hilarious audio session)

- appeared on The Brady Bunch (lol!)

- appeared on the Muppet Show (happy new year)

- appeared on The Lucy Show

- celebrity roasted Bette Davis 

- made an instructional video for Sear's Roebuck employees to sell another of his art collections? 

- managed to make TV commercials humorously reusable:
(Tilex, Easter Seals, Polaroid, Wine Coolers, Stay Alive, 3D Cameras, Nestle)

- did voice-over for Burton's Vincent, a short film (Edward Scissorhands, much?)

It is also worth noting that Price wrote at least two books when he wasn't busy being a horror tycoon.  One was an art book on American Art - he gives an interesting interview on Carson, more or less commenting that too many people confuse art with galleries and price tags.  The second was a cookbook entitled A Treasury of Great Recipes, written by him and his wife Mary.  Putting the Kitsch in kitchen.

In Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee, you've got your classic horror dude triad of the 60's & 70's, which is in many ways my favorite film era because of the risks directors actors and designers took - stuff that doesn't necessarily look risky from the vantage point of now, but might not have happened if not for the originals.  This isn't to say that other decades aren't awesome (it's the recent stuff that's succeeding at actually scaring me the most - you know, when you're sitting there with your fingers plugged in your ears waiting for the thing to strike), but there was something obviously special about this time that makes me kind of envious of those who were young then (I wasn't borned yet).   I just like the colorization, the crazy half-method/half-classic hybrid acting, and the daring and possibly drug-induced plot twists.  

One of the problems with films in the last few decades is that while we can scare, there are pray few truly WEIRD gems - we often substitute succumbing to the weird with various unstable attempts at either being overly funny so that a huge audience of total morons can laugh at your stupified movie or being overly serious - since CGI can rationally make Jeff Bridges look 20 years younger (except his teeth) and you can always tack on another number to the end of The Ring and make people pee themselves at little girls with hair over their faces crawling out of televisions (the Ring wasn't that bad though, I'll admit).  We are afraid - no, terrified - of looking silly or stupid in front of an audience, and many films reflect that fear until it becomes a downfall.  The disease of taking oneself too seriously sets in (introduction to Overpaid Hollywood Actors 101).  But NOT TO WORRY FOLKS:  The Abominable Dr. Phibes is none of those things.  It is quite simply an opus of weirdness.  

I was caught by surprise by this fabulously self-aware tongue-in-cheek horror, which brought back from memory playfully-made stuff like The Prisoner and Help!.  For the first bit of the film, I was sitting there in half suspense, wondering what the hell was happening and whether or not the filmmakers were serious or joking, and the answer is really: both.  Dr. Phibes is a (for all intensive purposes 'dead') famous organist and scientist on a mission of vengeance.  He's also hideously deformed and speaks through a tube which he connects to various gramophones around his humble marbleized digs.  

Working with Phibes is his lovely sidekick "Vulnavia" (porn name much?) who carries out each task in total silence like a magician's assistant.  I would love to get my hands on her kick ass costumes, which are these 60-70's odd takes on 20's clothing and enough silly hats to make the pope jealous.  In some costumes, she looks angelic, and in others, she looks like a supervillian in the making.  
Although Vulnarnia Vulvana Vulvina Vulv.. Vulnavia is gorgeous and sleek and an interesting kind of straight-faced accomplice to the at-times laughable Price in all of his grandiosity, I was really confused about who the hell she was, or how an undead organist/scientist managed to get this hot chick working for him who doesn't say anything at all while he blowtorches life-sized wax busts and sorts brussel sprouts.  I mean did he stop by a school for hot and sadistic mute chicks on his way back from the undead? (note to self: start school for hot mute sadistic chicks - i'll be rich!!!!)  I thought she was his daughter or his dead wife or something, so that part could have been a little more clear than just re-using a Bond girl for sidekick's sake.  

I was also simultaneously amused and confused by the death scenes in this movie.  While the murders plotted and executed by Phibes and the lovely Vulvarnia Velveeta Vulva Vulnavia are hysterically ingenious and varied, I was bewildered at how all of the victims just froze where they stood and let the killings happen (with exception to the "unicorn" death - my favorite - that guy had no heads up and neither did the audience - don't worry, I didn't spoil it for you).  I thought they could have invested a bit more time into the whole 'struggle' idea.  I don't know anyone with working arms and legs who would just sit there and let themselves be devoured by vampire bats without at least attempting to get up and run. 

But then again, this film is what it is, a total horror joyride with a cast that obviously had a metric buttload of fun in the creative process.  Price supposedly had to repeatedly have his make-up reapplied because he kept laughing so hard during the filming.  I will be the first to admit that I have repeatedly misjudged Vincent Price as a total stock character of himself, and to a degree I'm not entirely wrong: the truth is that nobody does Price better than Price and there will never be another like him.  He has yet to disappoint me in a role.  I should have queued this movie up long ago, but I'm glad I finally did. 

WTF = 21 
W =  7
T = 7
F = 7

OMG: action figure desire -------------------->
(Vincent Price Masque of the Red Death)

And now, for your New Year's Eve enjoyment, the movie - follow links in 10 parts!
(one of the BEST opening scenes ever!)



I wanted SO BADLY to like this book.  I wanted to find a new flavor of horror lit in Bram Stoker Award winner Jonathan Maberry, so I stretched and stretched myself to finish this thing in the headstrong hope that there would be some amazing stuff a page-turn away.


Now I'm mostly angry that:

(1.) I bought this book rather than using the amazingly and saddenly underused resource in America that most people are unaware of known as "The Public Library" and that...

(2.) I forced myself to stick it out to the end rather than obeying my instinct to put the damn thing down as soon as I had the itchy feeling (it's not fungal, don't worry) that I was loitering in an unwelcoming  world of piss poor Stephen King stereotypes.    

I know that this is harsh, but I put time into reading this and feel cheated.  Here's your TMI for the 2010: I even kept it near the toilet when I had a stomach flu in hopes that I could finish it given the reality that I would be spending many hours in the bathroom.  The worst thing is that I feel like Maberry writes like he is on the verge of a major breakthrough into something totally terrifying and genius.  There are points where his language is scathingly original and funny and relevant to the inner monologue of today's 20-40 somethings - and oh how I wanted that momentum to stick through the whole book, but the plot kept getting in the way.  I could not buy in, no matter what angle or position or literary lube I tried.   

W= 4
T = 4
F = 3

I should state that as a reader I'm pretty much an addict trying to get hooked on a new gateway drug.  Most of the time I counteract this behavior by deliberately picking out and looking for well-written (aka Bloodletter-tastic) reviews of books by new people.  I go through author phases where I attempt to read anything and everything an author writes once I've sniffed out something good in their books.  When I bought this book, I was hoping for another authorial revelation, a new world of someone's twisted horror mind that I could sink into on dark and stormy nights.  Alas, I found the plot to be kind of unmemorable though it tried hard to shock me.  I found the characters surprisingly flat given the level of background provided.  And I found almost no real girthy underbelly of thematic horror goodness that he had the opportunity to expose in his semi-bucolic Pennsylvania community.  I know the general area fairly well and a big part of my family lives there - it's fair to say that over the last thirty-fifty years, rural PA has undergone a dramatic transformation in dealing with the industry and population changes, loss of money, etc., and there's a lot of creepy shit he had the opportunity to play with in his little town that I just didn't see. 

This is his first novel, so there's room for improvement.  This is also why when I publish my first novel, it's going to be COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS and probably public domain so when someone rips me a new a-hole while I get my feet wet, I don't have to live it down.  Given my own rippery, I hope that the author takes that voice that I saw in pieces and expands that grasp to really pull in readers on all fronts of the stories he creates.  His potential is visible in this first book, but not altogether reached.



I just realized that I've been waiting to review this movie for a long time...
Antichrist is a difficult movie to categorize and in some ways an even more difficult movie to watch.  But it is worth the watch.  Lars von Trier does not explain the movie piece by piece so if you are looking for 'the big idea' (as I often find myself doing), you might be disappointed.  That being said, I hope you can see beyond that to what the film does have to offer.

WTF = 27
W= 9
T = 9
F =9

The story centers around a grieving couple who lost their son - the scenes of his death being the beginning of the movie, shot in black and white slow-motion.  When I first saw the opening sequences, I thought I was going to be watching a modern fart film.  To a degree, this was true - the film is what you could call "artsy"...to an extent - that it's told in four chapters with weird title sequences and dreamy music and sounds.  Also the preview makes it look like an existential art film.  But it wasn't so bad as to give me acid reflux as films and books that get vacu-sucked up their own philosophical anus tend to do.  There was more substance to this story, and the watcher is slammed into that substance as soon as the death scene ends, with the parents following the hearse to the grave site, utterly horrified by the reality that they are burying their infant son.  

The cycles of denial, anger, blame, and so on begin in earnest when Willem Dafoe (the shizzy) protests his wife's (Charlotte Gainsbourg) - and her doctor's -  choice of confinement in a hospital/mental ward based on the belief that he can help her heal better at home.  It appears at this point that the death of their son has driven her batty, but when they return home, her behavior cycles downward from ferocious sex to the beginnings of hurting herself and her husband.  When the first real fits of violence begin, Dafoe's character decides (much like the fabulous decision-maker, Jack Torrance) that it's a great idea to go to the place where his wife feels most afraid and vulnerable to face and confront her fears.  Riiight.  This place, she decides, is a cabin in a forest called "Eden", a place so isolated they have to walk for most of the journey through woods, a place where calling for help would be about as effective as autotune is for Katy Perry.  Dafoe's character, a psychiatrist, pushes the limits of his wife because he believes he has the background and knowledge to be in control, but what they find at the cabin is an indomitable mix of the imaginary and the occult.       

The couple dives further into insanity and it becomes apparent that neither of them are really 'sane'.  I use that word carefully, because I am still not entirely sure what it means and I get pissed when people think they have the absolute definition.  I can only conjecture at best that it resembles getting through life and being able to enjoy it and gradually learning to be yourself without hurting anyone beyond what it takes to make progress (i.e. straining yourself to achieve something or beat a dependence or addiction or negative behavior - no pain no gain = okay vs. chopping family members to pieces, freeze-drying them and eating them for several holiday meals = not okay).  But that's a very loose interpretation.  I do manage not to chop people up, but there are some days when I wonder if a couple of artfully wielded axes in the right hands would not make the world less painfully stupid.  Today on the news I heard that a woman got arrested for dialing 911......... because she got a bad manicure...(please hold for brief screaming fit).  Ahem.  On my off days, I find myself musing: "And why do we need this asshole?"
But I do indeedly digress.  Point being, it is people who drive themselves and each other batshit.  Dafoe and Gainsbourg's characters are isolated into the dim corners of their own headfucks and what is conjured or imagined becomes beautifully/hideously blurred.  The plot contorts into the strange back-story of Gainsbourg and her young son on their trip to the cabin the previous summer to complete her "thesis" on the validity of the witch trail sentences.  While the whole thesis idea annoys me (having done a thesis myself and finding the majority of the topics in process and in nature to be more political and institutional wankery than mindblowing steps forward for mankind) it does frame the following background question nicely: are human beings (more specifically women) evil?  

I dunno.  I often ask...AM I EVIL? 

The setting of Eden and the self-punishing nature of the mourning guilty mother is almost cumbersome with Eve symbolism, but does well at forcing that question on the audience.   I think I lot of people could easily read the film as misogynistic.  I don't think it's necessarily about women-hating, but more along the lines of people hating, since the wife tries to chastise herself and her husband.  I think self-loathing is the most damaging aspect of humanity, yet we all do it to an extent, and the more of ourselves we destroy, the more it affects others around us.  The background is witch trials, but I really felt that the mother and father of the dead child are standing trial.   The 'big idea' I was searching for was: who's the judge?
Nevertheless, the word 'evil' to me is about as ambiguous as the word 'sane'.  I guess that's why I liked this movie so much, not necessarily the search for explanations (which I always do anyway) but reveling in all of the QUESTIONS. Why do we hurt the ones we love?  Is having children selfless or selfish?  (Few ever really own up to it that they should not have had kids, but I see those people all the time).  Is there a God/Devil or Good/Evil or a fine line between Sanity/Insanity?  What is the destructive/creative force behind what this couple is doing to each other?   And to what end?  The ambiguity of these questions measured up to the images von Trier gives us makes for a strange puzzle that I had to revisit.    

The imperfections of this film are many.  One of them is Dafoe's character.  You get a background of Gainsbourg and her psychosis, but all you really get from Dafoe's history (or lack thereof) is that he was often an absentee husband and father and that he takes his work more seriously than he does his family.  Even those bits and pieces come from Gainsbourg's interpretation of him not being there or not wanting to be there.  I also don't have any qualms with nudity, but I got tired of bobbing man ass within the first thirty minutes and tired of genitals altogether by the end of the film.  I'm sure there was a reason for like six bobbing Dafoe ass scenes and seeing Gainsbourg's bush like 47 times, but haven't yet figured that out.  Perhaps something to do with the banality of the body or fleshy sin, but I sense perhaps more to do with film wank.  I got the sense at a few points that this was shock-gore for shock-gore's sake, but then again, measured up to the rest of the movie, there's kind of a place for it.

Lastly but not leastly, this film is VISUALLY GORGEOUS, just so beautifully shot that you could almost call it an exercise in images if there wasn't actual substance to the central characters and their weird history.  The first time I saw this, I was just picking a random movie to watch after a long ass day.  My hubbling joined me, claiming he was about to fall asleep, but would watch a few minutes of whatever weirdness I had found.  We ended up watching the whole thing to the end, eyes peeled, exclaiming "Whoa!" in unison at certain obvious parts, unaware of how late it had gotten until long after the credits rolled.  I think if you're in a critical mood, it is extremely easy to see this movie for what it isn't, but it's also lame if you can't see the movie for just what it is.  For the record, Antichrist is a playfully sadistic experience in the realm of dark ambiguity and conjured horror.  See it. 



This blurb should have been the Brady Bunch theme tune.
I would like to begin this voluptuous rant with a word of warning to the reader: I FREAKING LOVE LOVECRAFT.  LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVECRAFT.  If I wasn't already married to the hottest mo-fo in the land....and if old H.P. wasn't so creepy (and dead)..... and if I was suddenly a polygamist, I would definitely marry him .....(and John Lennon - also dead, no dice).....(and possibly young Bruce Campbell circa 'Evil Dead' era).  I am very unrealistic about hotties.  Not that Lovecraft was hot or anything but there's more to being sexy than looks.  I'll tell you what's sexy: HE INVENTED HIS OWN FUCKING MYTHOLOGY!!!  And it caught on!!!  There are warped burnout conspiracy theorists out there who actually think Cthulu is real!!  How many of us suckers can in all honesty boast an achievement like that?........(crickets...brief creaks from the graves of the apostles and L. Ron Hubbard)......... Yeah, I thought so.  Guys: I would be tickled pink if I had warped conspiracy theorists believing in the shit I came up with.  For about five minutes, it was my goal in life and so I tried to think of my own mythological beast.  It was named "Octobagus"....I had no idea what it looked like but it had lots of tongues and occasionally hid in people's swimming pools.  It also came with a set of stickers that said: "Hello!  My name is Octabagus!".......I decided not to quit my day-job.     

But that, ye children, be utterly besides the point.  

The point is "The Dunwich Horror" is hysterically bad at its best.  A inbred cross between "The (original) Wicker Man" and a bad episode of Star Trek. "Half-witted" if you will.  I've been using that phrase a lot since I saw the poster:  "Hey bro!...I'm doing gooooood.  Feeling a bit half-witted lately.  That dinosaur birthday card you sent me was so half-witted, yeah...well, if I wasn't so half-witted, I'd consider not putting my underwear over my pants again...[screaming out of car door] HALF-WIT!"...and so on.

It's also my buzzword for the mental state required to enjoy this film.  

Here is my overly-generous review:

WTF = 16 (yeah, for realz)
W = 5
T = 6
F = 5 

I am ever so glad that Lovecraft died long before this atrocity came out because he probably would've thrown himself feet first into a woodchipper if he saw the level of mockery this film makes of the awesomely metal power of his awesomely metal horror vignettes.  What hits me even harder is that his short story, "The Dunwich Horror", is one of the best I've read in the vast and chunky anthologies of his self-made lore.  YOU DON'T NEED TO CHANGE THE GODDAMN PLOT, HOLLYWOOD!!!!!  I really don't get it, was it a copyright issue?  Did the keepers of Lovecraft's estate see what a laughable shitcake film this would be and decide to deny any actual plots being used? 

Now, readership, don't get me wrong here.  It's not that I have anything against a movie that is so bad it crosses another line into the land of hysterically good.  In fact, I love those kinds of movies!  Every time one of those movies gets made an angel gets its wings, we ALL know that!  I guess I just get a little bit homicidal stabby bludgeony antsy when you take something as gloriously intricate and beautiful as a good Lovecraftian tale and distort it into something non-ironically funnier than the episode where Batman battles the armed hippies.  And so here we have Lovecraft vs. ...................the flower children?

Normally, I would find this shit priceless.  It's just disgusting to me that you had such a sick plot already laid out there for you!!!!!  Why change it?  Reminds me of when people make history-based TV shows and change up the real history for these stupid TV plots...when the lives of the people they are blurring were totally interesting and novel and weird all by themselves.  If this were a completely different movie with a wacked out story all its own, not ripped off of one of the primordial horror writers of our time, I would be cool as a cucumber with it.  But quite simply: you don't mess with H.P. on my watch.  Dig?

I'm also going to put this out there: I was kinda uncomfortable with two things.  The first thing that made me feel weird was the quantity of Sandra Dee side-butt shots during the whole initiation/impregnating scenes.  I tried to imagine myself as a lesbian or a guy to see if this weird shit would turn me on.  Epic fail.  Totally not turned on by lengthy self-grabby side-butt shots.  Either show the whole damn thing or leave it out.  This made me realize the movie was a step away from bad soft-core porn.  So the side-butt was the first thing that weirded me.  The second thing that weirded me was Dean Freakin Stockwell.  And don't give me this "but he saaaaved the film!" bullcrap I keep hearing from the "Quantum Leap" fiends.  All I can do is conjecture as to what specific type of acid he took prior to filming in hopes that I never NEVER take it myself. 

That being said, I will briefly expostulate on what is good about this movie.  What is good about this movie is the color.  That was actually pretty much it for me - lots of high contrasty stuff typical of 70's horror films.  But there was something a bit more neat-o about it, as if the set designers were perhaps the only truly creative people in the entire production.  I think that aspect saved the movie from becoming something hopelessly forgettable.  That being said if you happen to be drunk and high on paint fumes, you will absolutely love this movie and it will reside on your 'favorites' shelf.  I was in neither of those states when I watched it having left my 1000% proof and paint fumes in the garage next to the cleaning products and laundry detergent.  It made me briefly wish I had the addictions required to thoroughly enjoy this movie but I just don't have the gusto or level of self-loathing to cultivate them.  Being my just plain sober insane and egomaniacal self, I can only categorize this film as a colorful piece of half-witted side-butt. 

And here is the preview for said half-witted side-butt for your paint-fuming pleasure:



I don't know what it is about vampires.  Seriously.  I can't decide whether I like them or find them akin to some moody drag queen you don't want to be around when she doesn't have a cigarette or a proper lay.  As the books and movies about vampires come out of the woodwork (and as I revisit the oldies), I have my ups and downs about vampires.  The Strain, however, mildly reassured me that everyone indeed hasn't turned into a pre-teen fucktard craving real sex and settling for the shitty metaphor of a bunch of emo kids biting each other.

Part of it is because I'm more of a supernatural kind of chick.  You can do more with the supernatural.  Less stereotypes to play into or to deliberately break.  Also, I do confess I'm not really a huge Guillermo del Toro fan.  I think his movies are definitely good, but I've never been knocked off my feet.  And then to make it worse, you meet the die-hards with their "Oh but man, did you see Pan's Labyrinth?  Did you see that?!  I mean, whoa!  That was totally incredible."  Del Toro is a talented director, I will give him credit where it is due, but I found it to be less incredible than something Terry Gilliam would dream up in an afternoon nap.  Still good.  Just not Gilliam.  So that being said, I've been on a bit of a vampire book thing since Twilight came out.  Let me explain that statement before you send an assassin to my house: 

Ever since the shit-tastic Twilight came out, I had to reassure myself that there was good vampire reading and film out there.  

Ok, so yeah. I was insecure. In my lamentation I also watched True Blood for this reassurance and got a lot of manicured people from Hollywood pretending to be dramatic rednecks.  I often feel that I need to explain to some people that the word 'vampire' is not synonymous with the word 'hairstyle'.  If that were true, every metrosexual in the world would spout fangs.  

The Strain gave me some - a glimmer - of hope.  One review I read before I bought it said something like "it's a vampire book for boys" or something.  I felt sad because I'm not a boy - I'm actually pretty girly (for someone who can neatly beat one's face in), but I guess I fall on the boy side of things when it comes to vampires.  I'm not saying they can't be smart, hot, or glamorous.  All I'm saying is they need to be scary.  If you can't get the scary part right, you are not reading writing watching or filming horror.  In actuality: you are reading writing watching or filming A SOAP OPERA.  Let's just get those two things distinctly laid out there.  

W = 9
T = 7
F = 7 

I'll be a Negative Nancy and start with the problems.  So you know in advance before you splurge on it in hardcover.  It starts out scarier than it ends.  That's my main issssssue with it.  But, for the sake of the story, I'd say, finish the book.  It goes from horror to thriller.  And it takes A LLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOT to thrill me.  It's also very fast-paced which for most of the book is in Hogan/Del Toro's favor.  The downside of this is the book seems too deliberately quick in parts "nothin' to see here, move along, move along".  The characters are also in some ways your typical characters dealing with a crisis of disastrous proportion.  In places their shock and awe at the situation is too stereotypical.  In my personal opinion, more people need to shit themselves when watching the dead walk around on streets.  Also, I get annoyed when you use a simile in every other sentence, and that seems to be Chuck Hogan's style of writing (because Del Toro couldn't write it himself and needed to ride shotgun, which is also a little weird).  But again that's just me.  Here is a brief imitation of said writing style:

"I waddled into the bathroom like a penguin, holding my pants as I went like a scared actor from the 50's.  As I flicked the lights on like a person flicking lights on I felt the oncoming terror of what was buried in the flabby sack of my ass hit me like a train hitting me at high speeds.  I heard a sound like a crash of thunder emerge from my pants and reared my head in a high-pitched scream like a banshee on roids.  I'll never eat Indian food again.  Like an ass."
The End 

Which leads me to the goodies of the book.  As you know, I am not of the faith that demands every horror work be filled with flying intestines.  BUT!  This book is satisfactorily gory in all the right places.  These are NOT well-groomed and dressed folk with pale emo faces and beguiling abilities of hypnosis based on their amazing Hollywood looks.  The authors made monsters.  Me likie.  The first half, the detection of the vampire threat - as opposed to a terrorist threat - combined with the initial shout-out to Stoker, I thought, was pretty fabtabulous.  I always like it when authors and directors actually try to explain the crazy shit they're writing about.  It's an elaborate lie, but that's entertainment.  Deal with it.  It's not some 'because-god-said-so' why these creatures are burned by the sun and drink blood.  The authors got fancy creative with the origins and reasons behind bloodsuckers.  Here, vampirism is biological, a predatory parasite.  Yummy!  Let me tell YOU that I am the first jackass in line to completely agree with your pseudo-science explanation.  You don't really have to go far with it, and I'll be like, "Oh, THAT TOTALLY MAKES SENSE!!!!!!"  You just have to put a little more effort than Prince of Darkness to float my boat and this novel did that.  It gave me enough fake-o-science gobbledygook to get the job done.  I also liked two other twisty details Del Toro/Hogan threw in about the vampires.

The first is (whether it was intentional or just an awesome byproduct of the story) a reference to the zombie craze of the late twentieth century.  When people are first bitten and turned they are these total mindlessly hungry creatures that will eat their own baby without a second thought.  And so you more or less have this walking-dead zombie thing going on for a while.  The second thing I like is how the parasite progresses - it gains intelligence after more and more feedings so the host (though it is no longer the person bitten) appears more able to communicate with other vampires and humans.  In this sense, Del Toro gets the best of both worlds.  He gets the rabid zombie invasion and he gets the cool calculation of a creature that navigates the periphery of the human world, taking as it pleases.  

Lastly, you have the setting of New York City and the real fear of what would happen if a seriously serious outbreak of anything lethal happened there.  How quickly it would engulf an entire population is just staggering.  How quickly those in power would run out of things to say is even more creepy.  Del Toro could have picked any city, but picked NYC probably because of its connection to 9-11 where there was this sense of wide-spread panic that he deliberately references (too many times).  I've always been fascinated with the catacombs underneath cities, and NYC has another city's worth of tubes and halls underneath its massive body.  (A la Ghostbusters II - the ooooooooooooooze! - but more terrifying).  I read this thing in two days and I am one slow-ass reader.  It has its flaws, but for sure the story will twist and wind and lead you to those dark caverns to confront the masses, and I'll tell you one thing: it ain't no pre-teen emo dance in the high school gym. 

Here's a preview for the book...