Our favorite fright fest, American Horror Story, has more twists and turns than a game of cat's cradle in a wind storm. But it's still made of slightly predictable tropes, some cribbed from traditional genre fare and some all of it's own. Here's an accounting of what happened in last night's episode based on the scariest thing of all: math. The spoiler-phobic should beware.
New Serial Killers: 1 (Dylan McDermott)
Amazing Sister Jude Impersonations: 1
Times We Had to Hear "Fuzzy Like a Peach": 2
Times Inmates Wandered Around the Asylum Without Anyone Keeping Watch on Them: 6
Catholic Baptisms Not Done in the Catholic Way: 1
Uses for a Coat Hanger: 3 (Hanging clothes, abortions, destroying pillows)
Times Someone Said "Deadly Nightshade" With Complete Lack of Irony: 1
Shots of Pepper: 1
Badass Frances Conroy as Angel of Death: 1
Great Guest Stars: 3 (Dylan McDermott, Francis Conroy, Ian McShane)
Dead Bodies: 3 (The skinned woman, Dr. Gardiner, Kit for a second)
Times a Person Was Spanked/Slapped/Hit: 4 (Jude by the nun, Bad Santa by Jude, Kit by Dr. Arden, the Monsignor by Bad Santa)
Times We Had to Listen to "Dominique" by the Singing Nun: 1
Times "Dominique" by the Singing Nun Was Destroyed: 1
Cigarettes Smoked: 3
Loaves of Bread Kneaded: 0
Sister Jude's Freakouts: 3 (Waking up in the halo, fighting the nuns, destroying "Dominique")
Shots of that Creepy Crawly Bug Microchip Thing: 0
Aliens: 2 (or at least there were flashing lights)
Consecutive Weeks with an Escape Attempt: 8
Successful Escape Attempts: 1 (Bad Santa, presumably)
Sex Acts: 1 (Kit and Alma)
Flashbacks/Backstories: 4 (New Bloody Face skinning a lady, Sister Jude killing Santa, Jude killing Frank, Kit and Alma)
Butts: 0 (even though Dylan McDermott was on)
Adam Levine Sightings: 0
Consecutive Weeks Without the Modern Story: 3
New Monsters: 1 (Whatever Grace is pregnant with)
Unsanitary Medical Procedures: 2 (Skinning the lady, the coat hanger)
Bad Boston Accents: 3 (Sister Jude, Kit, Dr. Gardiner's patient)
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
[Photo Credit: FX]
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The vampire Lestat de Lioncourt (Stuart Townsend) wakes from a hundred-year sleep to the rock 'n' roll present day and likes what he sees and hears. Tired of the vampire's solitary life he becomes the frontman for an unknown rock band and transforms it into the latest greatest thing gaining the adulation of millions. He also decides to disregard the unspoken rule that vampires must hide away from the rest of world and writes songs encoded with specifics of the secret life of vampires. As expected Lestat's lyrics draw the attention of both the bloodsuckers who want to destroy him and the human vampire scholars (called the Talamasca) who want to study him. One young Talamascan student Jesse Reeves (Marguerite Moreau) becomes obsessed with Lestat after reading his journal from the 1800s. She learns that Lestat had a brief encounter with Queen Akasha (Aaliyah) the most ancient and dangerous vampire to ever exist and the mother of all who walk the Earth in search of blood. He gets his chance to meet Akasha again when his music awakens her from an ancient slumber. She rises and seeks out Lestat to become her king and join her in ruling the world.
The film truly belongs to Townsend and fans of the Anne Rice's novels will be happy to know he completely embodies the charismatic vampire Lestat. The little-known Irish actor who starred in last year's indie About Adam with Kate Hudson rules the screen whenever he is on it and luckily he's on it quite a lot. He's especially powerful when he is in rock star mode. Although Moreau's Jesse is fairly one dimensional she comes alive in her scenes with Townsend. Let's hope they keep asking him to play Lestat (when and if they make any more films from Rice's vampire novels) and next time give him an actress he can have some real chemistry with. The late R&B singer Aaliyah made her second film appearance in Damned as the queen. Even though she is only in the film a short time she possesses a certain charm as the ancient and evil Queen Akasha and makes a great first impression by destroying a vampire coven. Yet her acting skills are just not up to par with the rest of the cast including the charismatic Vincent Perez as the vampire Marius and Lena Olin as the kind-hearted vampire Maharet.
Damned was set to be released in the fall of last year but word of mouth had the film destined for the video shelf before it even made it to the big screen. Then tragedy struck and as the news of Aaliyah's untimely death echoed throughout the world of entertainment Warner Bros. wisely decided to hold onto it and release it in theaters at a more favorable time knowing there would be an audience who'd want to see the singer's last film. Yet for all the bad press surrounding it Damned actually pleasantly surprises you due largely in part to Townsend's mesmerizing performance. Michael Rymer's direction is not a masterpiece of filmmaking by any stretch of the imagination but it has a certain MTV quality about it which makes it appealing. That same quality however also makes it too slick glossing over the meatier parts of Rice's novel making the dialogue and action trite and sometimes downright silly. Come to think of it the 1994 Interview With the Vampire also suffered from the same thing. Maybe translating Rice's words is harder than it looks.
January 31, 2002 5:51am EST
A group of high school seniors put a boy who is eager to become part of their clique through a cruel initiation prank that involves jumping off some sort of high scaffolding into a cloudy pool at a local cement factory. When one of them Landon (Shane West) gets caught the principal decides Landon needs to hang with a different crowd and assigns him to tutor kids on the weekend and take part in the drama club's spring play. Surprise-the plan works! In over his head with the play Landon seeks help from Jamie (Mandy Moore) a dowdy bible-thumper who apparently only owns one ratty cardigan. Jamie however is not your run-of-the-mill unpopular girl. Rather than being introverted and weird she is smart witty and confident-in fact that grubby sweater of hers seems to be the only thing branding her as an outcast. The two grow closer and Landon eventually sees her inner beauty forgoing his own A-list status to be with her. But Landon learns that Jamie has been keeping a secret from him that inevitably blocks their path to happiness.
Moore the underdog of the teen pop stars dyes her hair brown and dulls herself down for the role of Jamie a simple girl that loves to gaze at the stars in her spare time. She did a great job transforming herself into her character but in the process extinguished most of what makes her sparkle on screen. Mind you the script might be to blame for creating a character so unbelievably mundane and one-dimensional. Under all of Jamie's goodness and perfection is well nothing. West does a great job portraying his character transformation. Even while Landon runs with the bad crowd West conveys a sense of humility in the character. Peter Coyote plays Reverend Sullivan Jamie's over-protective father without being too overbearing which is refreshing. An almost unrecognizable and weathered Daryl Hannah has a small but convincing enough role as Landon's mother. Maybe it was her now-brunette hair but I didn't realize it was Hannah until I saw the credits.
In A Walk to Remember director Adam Shankman steered away from being overly sentimental. The relationship that develops between the teens is actually very sweet and interestingly enough the film ends up being more about Landon's transformation than about Jamie's faith. While the film is not as flaky as the rash of recent teen movies it still manages to fall into the same clichés. Though the story is very-dare I say-poignant characters like Jamie's in trying to be different have become a stereotype: The plain Jane whose personality and convictions win over the popular guy. Remember Andie (Molly Ringwald) in Pretty in Pink? Or more recently Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) in She's All That? And though Moore has a beautiful melodic voice her singing scenes are too drawn out. We are not just treated to her crooning a chorus or two of a song during a church scene but the songs in their entirety. Even Mariah Carey spared us that much in Glitter.