Friday, January 25, 2019

Hello commies!
If you love WWII history and vampires, but are tired of teen drama and lip gloss, here is a treat for you. Two in one. Occupation by Jeff Dawson is a disturbing, borderline irreverent tale set in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. 

Are you ready for vampires to regain their standing in the genre? Are you ready for them to stop "sparkling" and take on a worthy opponent? Then wait no longer. This book will satisfy even the most "blood thirsty" appetites with an added twist; one of the clans is able to release a very nasty bacteria into their respective hosts which after ninety days or so unleashes a very ghoulish end to the recipients.

The Third Reich has occupied Poland! 

The plan of "relocating" the population is well underway with one problem the Germans could never have imagined. Unknowingly, they are removing the food supply of the Romanov and Boirarsky vampire clans. Needless to say, they do not care for each other at all. Too much bad blood has been spilled over the past centuries. Will they be able to unite and take on the true enemy—the Third Reich, or will they perish as the food supply begins to diminish?

Get a copy today and find out if the clans succeed in uniting and dealing the Third Reich their first defeat..

My thoughts:
I was introduced to Jeff Dawson's work through a historical novel group. Being of German, Jewish, Polish and Russian extraction, I view WWII and the invasion of Poland through a unique lens. This topic is of great interest to me. I have to give Dawson kudos for exercising his very peculiar sense of humor. "Occupation" is a very dangerous mix of sacred and profane. I am surprised that this novel didn't ruffle more feathers among WWII purists. I can see someone saying that topics like the Holocaust or the occupation of Poland are off limits when it comes to creating alternative history / speculative fiction. You just don't take something as campy as vampires and inject them into a real human tragedy. And I think it is was a very gutsy move on Dawson's behalf, because he exposed himself to some pretty violent criticism. What is it called in politically correct circles? "Trivialization of human suffering." Dawson alternates very realistic, graphic scenes of nonchalant violence with scenes that border on campy. His choice of names for the vampire characters is peculiar. They are neither Russian nor Polish. He creates pseudo-Slavic, quasi-Central European sounding names. The end result is potent, multilayered kitsch.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Viking: Russian history for mainstream global audiences

Hello, commies and Russian history buffs!

With a budget of almost 21 million, Viking was the third most expensive Russian film. What exactly can you expect for that kind of money? More of the same old, pretty much. It better be the proverbial 100 dollar bill to be "liked by everyone".

My feelings prior to watching “Viking” were mixed to say the least. Cautiously optimistic but mostly skeptical. A part of me rejoiced at the prospect of seeing Russian history marketed to a global audience. At the same time, I knew not to expect anything too authentic, too meaty, too technical or scholarly that would alienate average viewers. Of course, the script and the execution had to be stripped of everything too ethnic, too Slavic, to make it more palatable for those who know very little or nothing about Russia’s conversion to Christianity in the 10th century and the complex man behind it. For one, the title is misleading. It prepares you for a Nordic saga. And it is a Nordic saga to an extent, as it features certain Nordic warriors on the Russian territory. The title is slapped on to attract those viewers who normally would not give a Russian historical a chance. I am not going to judge the marketing team too harshly. My biggest complaint is that there is nothing imaginative or innovative about the cinematography. Maybe I am jaded from seeing too many CGI effects. “Viking” combines the same proven tricks that you expect in a superhero movie. The same washed out color scheme with occasional splashes of blood. The hunt sequence in slow motion in the opening scene. Female characters played by actresses with highlights and spray tan. Contrived sex scenes showcasing girl power to placate the feminist viewers. If you are not preoccupied with historical accuracy, if you gulp those Xerox epics on HBO, “Viking” is another predictable, forgettable, generic Hershey kiss to shove into your mouth.