Category Archives: Media list

The top 4 movies about rock stars

Before I start this post, I’d just like to say a quick thank you to the lovely people who have followed this blog or subscribed to it by email. I didn’t expect to gain this many followers so soon and your support is really appreciated. So, thanks guys!

Now, let’s talk rock stars.

Sweat, calloused fingers, tinnitus… For musicians, it’s just another day in the life, and it’s a far cry from the cosy lives of Hollywood stars. But every now and then, the right actors and director will come together and make a truly spectacular film about rock stardom that looks just like the real thing. Here are four of my favourites that get it right.

4. The Runaways

The Runaways, aka the film where Kristen Stewart surprised us all by being really, really good. The movie follows the rising success of Cherie Currie as she joins Joan Jett’s band, the eponymous Runaways, and they set out for stardom. Visually lively with a wild musical energy, it’s safe to say that The Runaways is a lot of fun.

3. Velvet Goldmine

There’s nothing quite like Goldmine if you want a gorgeous, decadent movie about rock stardom, following such musicians as definitely-not-Bowie and definitely-not-Iggy Pop. In terms of story, it’s a raucous coming of age tale that follows a young Christian Bale as he starts his music journalism career and gets to know all the celebrities. The cinematography is stunning – and I’m not just talking about that famous roof scene – with fabulous stage costumes and sweat-drenched crowds that really capture what it’s like to be at a gig. The music is pretty fab, too.

2. Almost Famous

Almost Famous is America’s heterosexual answer to Velvet Goldmine: young lad wants to be a music reporter, travels with famous (made-up) rock band, falls in love with groupie. As rockstar movies go, however, it’s quite touching. Along with the cute romance, there are some scenes that just make you smile – the music troupe has a tendency to look like a big happy family at times.

1. Spinal Tap

Everyone’s favourite rockumentary easily makes the number one spot in this list. Director Rob Reiner takes on heavy metal with fictional band Spinal Tap, in a way that even real rockstars found a little too convincing. From the hilarious lyrics to the charming Stonehenge set design, this is definitely a movie that goes up to eleven.

What are your favourite rock star movies that I’ve managed to totally forget about? Comment below! 

Magic Monday: 5 novels every vampire fan should read

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Welcome to the first Magic Monday! On Mondays I’ll be posting a blog that has something to do with fantasy, horror, sci-fi, or anything else a little bit magical.

To start things off, let’s take a look at vampires. Books about our old blood-sucking friends are more popular now than ever, but with all the pulpier titles out there, it’s easy to miss some of the classics. Here are five super important novels about vampires every fan can enjoy if they want to really get their teeth into the genre.

1. Carmilla (Sheridan Le Fanu)

Carmilla

Not that many vampire fans seem to have read Carmilla, which is surprising considering it’s a story about a lesbian vampire. Published in 1872 and pre-dating Dracula by a couple of decades, it tells the tale of Laura, an aristocratic young woman who is tempted astray by the vampire Carmilla. Considering it appeared at the height of the backlash against decadence and the New Woman, it’s clear why this went down so well. Conservative readers enjoyed the satisfaction of that darn homosexual woman being defeated by a good strong man in the end (sorry, spoilers) and letting the poor virgin woman go free. It’s a classic hero/adventure story at heart, but its choice of monster has proven to have quite an impact. Plus, cool lady vampires.

If you want to read more of Dracula’s roots, Polidori’s The Vampyre is fairly essential reading too – since it’s a short story I’m afraid it didn’t make this list.

2. Dracula (Bram Stoker)

Dracula

It’s impossible to read up on vampires in lit without spending some time on Bram Stoker’s classic. In Dracula, the villain is truly a monster: unsympathetic, terrifying, and with no goal other than death and drinking your blood. He plagues our modern British protagonists with his scary old-world creepiness, and is defeated in the end by the heroes. Unsurprisingly, Dracula set the stage for a lot of vampire novels to come. From the odd sexual undertones, to the charming characters, and the way a compelling story manages to be carried by sub-standard prose, it’s easy to see how big an influence the tale has been.

3. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)

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Widely regarded as the second most influential vampire novel ever written (gee, I wonder which was number one), Interview signals a noticeable shift in literature’s approach to vampires. Suddenly, we’re rooting for the monster. Our protagonist Louis is bookish, philosophical, and sensitive, and struggles with his new immortality. For what was probably the first time, the vampire is given a real voice. If we want to get analytical, I could say that this shows a change in the politics of the author and readership: if the vampire represents the conservative’s nightmare (think of the foreign degenerate Dracula and sexy gay Carmilla), switching him to a sympathetic character shows a markedly liberal shift. Either way, Rice’s rich prose tells a story with a depth that no one else has ever quite matched in the vampire genre.

4. Lost Souls (Poppy Z. Brite)

Lost souls

Lost Souls was quite obviously written by a teenage goth in the 80s. For some that’s a redeeming feature, but I can imagine it being an irritation too. A hugely popular cult novel in the early 90s, Lost Souls seemed to fade into obscurity for quite a few years, but a recent reprint means it could gain traction again. It’s a wild and raucous tale of untamed, modern vampires, living a life of bloodlust, drugs, and rock and roll. The subtle sexual undertones of older vampires are eschewed in favour of something a little more, er, explicit. Graphic and sometimes violent sex scenes abound, interspersed with gore, incest, rape, and good old-fashioned murder. Oh, and a lot of blood. Not for the faint-hearted (or anyone without a completely cast-iron stomach, for that matter), Lost Souls brought the vampire novel to the modern age, and somehow managed to balance horrific gore with the lost and isolated feelings of youth. Aw.

5. Twilight (Stephenie Meyer)

Twilight

Before you have an aneurysm, I’ll reassure you that I’m not recommending this one based on the outstanding quality of its writing. This list is really about understanding the generic tradition of the vampire and how it has changed over time – and, unfortunately, Twilight is incredibly important when it comes to vampires in literature. It’s been alarmingly popular in the few years since its release, and it’s difficult to ignore a book which has become such an intrinsic part of our cultural consciousness (terrible though it may be). In Edward Cullen we see the ultimate in the broody, guilt-ridden vegan brand of vampire. The love and romance aspect of the vampire story is hiked up to the extreme, with protagonist Bella’s life pretty much revolving around her relationship with the abusive Edward. Romance – and abusive romance – isn’t uncommon in vampire tales, but the narrative usually admonishes it, or at least presents it in a way that allows the reader to see it for what it is. The Twilight series does not. The shift towards creating vampires for teenage girls to enjoy is interesting, and something that could easily be a good read. If only the novel to reach this level of popularity had actually been a good one.

What are your favourite vampire novels? Comment below!