Saturday, September 30, 2006

BAITED review by Yolanda

Some of you might be familiar with Yolanda from the response section of my blog. She's a writer as well as a big Bombshell fan, and I'm lucky enough to have her visit my site and read my books! She gave me permission to share her blog review of BAITED with you all. I wanted to post it because I'm so thankful to anyone who goes out there and gives props to my work. Thank you, thank you, thank you--you guys really are the best!

Here's Y's blog link:

http://ysfetsos.blogspot.com/

Y, I appreciate it, and thank you to everyone else as well!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Theater: THE WIZ

One of the hardest things about not living full-time in San Diego anymore (besides the obvious—like seeing family and friends, and oh…living in San Diego) is the inability to attend the entire La Jolla Playhouse season.

In previous blogs, as well as the old Crystal Says… from the main website, I’ve written about how great this arts program is. (BTW, you can check the Crystal Says… archives for lots of movie, TV, and pop culture reviews.) Every new play, musical, or “miscellaneous offering” is an event. I’ve seen things like JERSEY BOYS to HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING go from Playhouse infancy to Broadway success. I’ve also seen some performances that I wouldn’t normally attend because they wouldn’t jump out at me in a weekend newspaper listing—though they ended up being some of my favorites. Programs like PETER AND WENDY, in which one woman did about forty voices while manipulating puppets in J.M. Barrie’s heartbreaking tale. (Boy, there are lots of parentheses today, but I have to interject that the pure, stripped-down version of PETER PAN is one of the saddest, most profound stories out there.)

This time I got to attend another musical that will probably end up on Broadway before all is said and done: a revival of THE WIZ. The bottom line is that I very much enjoyed it, but my reaction was definitely on the low side of what the rest of the audience was feeling. They were absolutely gleeful at the end, and the applause for the singing, dancing, and story was well deserved, though I was more reserved because I had a sort of been-there-done-that feeling from watching too many episodes of SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE and lots and lots of previous musicals.

Barring that minor point, there were incredibly high points in the production. The director, Des McAnuff, is the man responsible for THE WHO’S TOMMY, HOW TO SUCCEED…, and JERSEY BOYS. His take on THE WIZ didn’t include making Dorothy a schoolteacher, as she was in the cult movie, but to keep her young and use her journey to Oz as an allegory for a country girl’s fears of a big city, as well as the trials of growing up. Accordingly, the brilliant set design and costumes did most of the impressing, IMHO. The set features a “yellow brick” road (actually black and silver) that winds through the audience, plus a theater-in-the-round seating style. The intention was to conjure a “rock concert”/urban feel, and there were hanging screens that alternately showed surreal transmissions of the actors singing on stage and atmospheric images supporting the action (as during the twister). I wasn’t crazy about the performance footage because it made me think of a cheap cable-TV channel, not a concert. But I did appreciate the statement those screens were making: technology in this WIZ is prevalent, something that decays and separates while nonetheless allowing society to grow and come together. And I loved the rest of it: the steel-skeleton overhang that allowed the performers to play to all sides of the audience. How about the costumes? Well, you’d have to see the Tech-Geek’s-wet-dream gleam of a Tin Man or the Marie-Antoinette-wears-cotton-candy version of Glinda to believe it. The wardrobe is symbolically important to each character, like the bling-master of a Cowardly Lion who wears cornrows and needs to touch up his bleach job. Also, we’ve got a man playing Toto in the Oz portion of the show, and when he uses the wheels on his sneakers to fly around the “road,” it shows the dog’s exuberance without even a line of dialogue (or a bark).

Can I also add that David Alan Grier (IN LIVING COLOR) played the Wiz? Sweet.

Basically, if you’re in the UCSD area, try to get tickets. It’s highly enjoyable and wonderfully creative. Decent for kids, too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Just popping in

Just popping in today to give a quick update. Since I have only 3 more BREAK OF DAWN chapters left, I'm going a tad nuts. My drive is begging me to finish it, but I'm realizing that I have more to write than I thought (of course), so time-wise, it's not going to go as quickly as I had planned. Boo! But at least I'll have a thorough wrap up of everything this trilogy has been leading up to. I think, so, anyway.

At any rate, today the finale's "big fight" will begin. It will continue in the next chapter and then...the dust settles. As much as it can, anyway, in a book where devastation is a part of life.

Hope you have a great week. I'm off to do battle.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A nice message from Mia


It’s always a boost when someone writes in to tell me that they enjoyed one of my books. And when my friend Mia Zachary, who writes romantic mysteries, Blazes, and even paranormal, dropped me a line about BAITED, I smiled for hours. Mia reads and writes nearly the same kind of books I do, and she had this to say about my October Bombshell:

"If you're looking to lose several hours, find Crystal Green's BAITED and settle in for a fast-paced, well-plotted read that offers beautiful turns of phrase and unexpected twists!"

Isn’t that nice of her? And wouldn’t that put a big old goofy grin on your face, too? LOL. It definitely made writing my next WIP chapter easier.

If you’ve been reading my work and you like it, I think you’ll enjoy Mia’s work, so check out her websites (Yes—plural!):

Romantic mystery book(s)
http://www.steelemidnight.com/

Sensual Romance with a Touch of Sass
http://www.miazachary.com

In Search of the Fiction Fairy
http://miasbedroom.blogspot.com

In the meantime, here I go on chapter 22 of BREAK OF DAWN, book 3 in Vampire Babylon. Things are intense right now, as I have 5 chapters left and have to wrap up 1) the main mystery 2) the relationships 3) many, many loose ends regarding everything else. Yiiiiikes.

Hope you’re having a fun weekend.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

SMALLVILLE 3

I have finished season 3! I'm just falling more and more in love with this series as it goes along, and I can't believe that I wasn't on board since day one.

Though this season felt pretty uneven to me--great episodes popping up among some fairly boring ones that feature Lana, of course--the big picture is very compelling. Lex is starting to show signs of warping from an anti-hero into a full-fledged monster. (How shiver-inducing was that one ending when Lex told Clark that maybe the bad-guy monster in a prophecy just might be the good guy if you interpreted the story in a different way? Yikes.) Clark's powers are getting collectively stronger, too. And Lionel Luthor is just a baddie. What a great, set-chewing villain.

One of the best episodes showcased Lex as a little boy and revealed what really happened to his dead baby brother. The transitions from present to past in this episode were very theater-esque, with lighting changes signaling the flashback. It gave the plot a tragic, Shakespearean feel. In fact, this episode was one of my favorites because it made Lex into The Joker from THE KILLING JOKE. (If you haven't read this Alan Moore graphic novel, find it. Now. Yes, it's brutal--and I don't say that lightly--but it broke my heart. I'll never look at the Joker's manic smile in the same way again, and when Heath Ledger said that his Joker in the next Batman movie, THE DARK KNIGHT, is "all about the eyes," he's got it. He understands THE KILLING JOKE, and he's going to nail that part.) This SMALLVILLE episode planted just one more seed of pain in Lex's backstory, and it's going to be pure agony to see him descend into the Lex of the future.

Guess who my favorite character is?

Anyway, Tom Welling is improving with each season. I particularly enjoy it when he gets to play it dark. I'm not necessarily talking about the red kryptonite episodes, either--those can be cheesy and kind of squicky. I'm talking about when *Clark* gets angry.

And I enjoyed "Kara from Krypton" too, though I wish they'd have left the door open for Supergirl. (I'm reading the new Supergirl: The Girl of Steel comics right now. Interesting stuff.)

So I'm waiting for season 4. Looking forward to Lois Lane coming to town. How are they going to work *that* into the mythology?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Movies: THE BLACK DAHLIA

Could be some spoilers here, okay?

As you well know from my little review of HOLLYWOODLAND a few blog entries back, I do love those Tinseltown noir movies. I love the rainy streets and seedy bars. I love the wisecracking P.I.s and depraved interviews with society's monsters. That's why I had such high hopes for THE BLACK DAHLIA's page-to-screen transition. And that's why I feel so let down.

First, the positives about this film: love the time period, of course. Love Mia Kirshner's performance as Elizabeth Short. And I love any movie--including L.A. CONFIDENTIAL--that uses the term "shitbird." It is the most hilarious word to lose meaning in our lexicon ever.

Then, the negatives, which would include...the rest of the movie. Oh, my, the rest of the movie.

I haven't read James Ellroy's book, though it's been topping one of my TBR piles for about three years now. (That would be the dark mystery pile. Yes, I am that detail-oriented.) I don't know how the movie script compares with the book, but I'm thinking that the entire main storyline had to be more interesting in novel form. Much to my surprise, I found out that the prime plotline involves two L.A. detectives, Bucky and Lee. There's a lot of intricate stuff going on including shady cops and bank heists and also the requisite femme fatale, Kay Lake. (And THE BLACK DAHLIA actually has more than one bad mamma-jamma. Believe me.) I'm sorry to report that Bucky, Lee, and Kay are the most trying part of the film. It stunned me that a story titled in reference to Elizabeth Short, whose murder is probably one of our country's top five most intriguing mysteries of all time, doesn't actually dwell on her demise as much as you'd expect. Much of the action is devoted to the main love triangle and Bucky and Lee's own not-quite-love story. But the film is at its very best when Mia Kirshner is on screen: she brings an almost palpable tragedy to Elizabeth's cryptic life, and as a dead character, she's more alive than any of the breathing ones.

There is the bonus of a wacky dinner at the Linscott household though. They're the Addams Family-on-gothic-crack and I quite enjoyed that part.

Now, I love a lot of Brian De Palma's movies. CARRIE is a masterpiece, and DRESSED TO KILL contains some of the creepiest moments ever committed to film. BODY DOUBLE is so clever and exhaustively compelling that it has a place in my movie collection, too. And THE UNTOUCHABLES? Love, love, love. At times, I felt that THE BLACK DAHLIA was sort of a cross between THE UNTOUCHABLES and L.A. CONFIDENTIAL in tone, but where THE UNTOUCHABLES worked, THE BLACK DAHLIA drowns. THE UNTOUCHABLES has the same semi-operatic vibe, a touch of overkill in the acting and the music. But take, for instance, the BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN/train station scene from THE UNTOUCHABLES and compare it to the similar Bucky-goes-after-BD-on-the-stairs scene (I'm trying to keep this pretty spoiler-free, but if you've seen the film, you know what I'm talking about.). It has the same grand feel, the same use of slow motion, but in THE UNTOUCHABLES, the over-the-top presentation utilized suspense and a certain doomed beauty. In THE BLACK DAHLIA, it's just over the top.

And...boy, so many other things to comment on. What was going on with Hilary Swank's character? Here we have a woman who is supposed to be Elizabeth Short's lookalike, and every time someone mentions this, it takes me out of the movie because there is no resemblance beyond dark hair. Elizabeth Short and Mia Kirshner share a particular striking feature--their ice-blue eyes--and casting someone with that *one* little similarity would've made so much difference. Also, there's the ending. Alas, the ending. All of a sudden, the audience finds themselves in a Hammer picture. There were so many "Whaaaat the...?" moments in the finale that my audience actually started to grumble. No joke.

That said, I still think Brian De Palma is an artist to always watch. I truly believe his next movie will be brilliant. I was just disappointed here, but I'm still going to go to his films....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Going to contract again

Couple of little updates here....

First, last month's contest winner has confirmed. Congratulations to Richard Degler! I hope you all have entered this month's contest, because there are some very good Bombshells in the prize package.

Next, I'm finally able to announce my latest sale because I just signed the contract. (I don't like to shout out the news until things are official.) I'll be writing the third book in the next Montana Mavericks continuity series for Special Edition! I'll be developing my story, which has to do with unrequited love (Those are sweet.), after I finish this third Vampire Babylon book. What a switch, huh? But that's what keeps me on my toes with writing. The book's tentative title is THE BEST MAN, and I believe it's scheduled for September, 2007. This means I could very well have six new releases next year--if my second Vampire Babylon book (MIDNIGHT REIGN) is slotted later in 2007. Here's a quick look at the schedule as it stands:

February, 2007
NIGHT RISING, Book 1 in the Ace Vampire Babylon series (Chris Marie Green)
JINXED!, Harlequin Blaze (Crystal Green)

April, 2007 (subject to change)
THE PLAYBOY TAKES A WIFE, Silhouette Special Edition (Crystal Green)

July, 2007
THE ULTIMATE BITE, Harlequin Blaze (Crystal Green)

September, 2007
THE BEST MAN, Silhouette Special Edition/Montana Mavericks (Crystal Green)

Possibly MIDNIGHT REIGN, Book 2 in the Ace Vampire Babylon series (Chris Marie Green)


This means BREAK OF DAWN, Book 3 in the Vampire Babylon series would come out sometime in 2008.

Hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Bookshelf: THERE AND BACK AGAIN: AN ACTOR'S TALE

Who's a LORD OF THE RINGS fan? Raise your hands up high, because I know you're out there. I, too, adore these movies as well as the books, and I'm in perpetual awe of what Peter Jackson and company did in translating these epics from page to screen. So it only makes sense that I would eventually read Sean Astin's account of life on the set.

Now, I have to be honest. I did pick up this book with high hopes of hearing a yarn or two about Orlando Bloom. Can't help it--he's a hottie. But, at the same time, I wanted to know the nitty-gritty of filming the Battle of Helm's Deep as well as how things like the set pieces and costumes were conceived. And, for part of the book, I got just that (but details about Bloom only came near the end of the book. Bummer!). For the other part, I was educated about Sean Astin's acting and life philosophies, which were interesting in and of themselves. As you know, Astin is the son of Patty Duke and the stepson of John Astin, so he's a "Hollywood kid." But in spite of the sad images that term brings up, it sounds like he turned out very well. This aspect of his story is enlightening, especially since my Vampire Babylon heroine, Dawn Madison, is of the same breed. (Hah--you didn't think I'd read this without research in mind, did you?) Astin is very forthcoming about the good as well as the bad choices he's made in business and in general. In fact, his candor is sometimes stunning since he doesn't hold back on opinions regarding people like Ian McKellan *and* Orlando Bloom. To balance things out, though, he always takes blame where blame is due, especially if he's the responsible party.

If you love LORD OF THE RINGS, well, you've probably already read this and I've only gotten my slow butt in gear. But it's an interesting take on just one of the stars of the trilogy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Movies: HOLLYWOODLAND

Just a note before I delve into this mini review: I'm still waiting for last month's contest winner to confirm, so the name hasn't been posted yet. The winner has until the 22nd....

Also, Cathie M. took me up on that offer from a few blogs ago! If you wish to post links on other websites so other people can see the BAITED teaser, please scroll down to the blog titled THE OFFER, okay? Details are there, and there's still some time left! (And thank you Cathie!!!) (Oh, and please remember, no spamming. )

Now, I know I mentioned that I would review Sean Astin's account of working on the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, but I wanted to talk about HOLLYWOODLAND before that. I really liked this movie, you all, even though the people I saw it with weren't as impressed. HOLLYWOODLAND is primarily about the mysterious death of George Reeves, who played Superman in the old serials. Woven into that backstory is the present-day detailing of a down-on-his-dreams detective (Adrien Brody) who gets pulled into the investigation. At first, Reeves' death is ruled a suicide, but strange questions lead to the suggestion of murder.

I loved several things about this film: first, the story fascinates me. Who can explain those two extra bullet holes in the floor of Reeves' room if he committed suicide? And how can a man with such talent and charisma choose to end it all?

Second, the period details get me every time. I adore movies about the workings of old Hollywood and, indeed, I try to thread them into Vampire Babylon every chance I get. And this is a noir tale, exploring the seedy side of L.A. with the help of one of those morally ambiguous gumshoes who talk tough but really have this innocent side that's somehow shocked by how depraved people can get. Adrien Brody's Louis Simo is one of those detectives, and when you realize what his whole subplot is about, it's extremely affecting. (Keep an eye on his estranged son's connection to Superman. It's a powerful moment when you realize what's really going on with his kid in the last shots.)

Third, Ben Affleck is back, and his turn as George Reeves is heartbreaking, especially at the end. My movie companions weren't as impressed with Affleck: they thought his performance was part parody and that he was too young for the role. I didn't get that at all, but that's just how I saw things. Do you remember how, in THE AVIATOR, when Cate Blanchette played Kate Hepburn, she seemed to be ACTING! I chalked that up to Kate Hepburn being larger than life at all times, as if she had to prove to everyone--even herself--that she was a big as her image on that silver screen. I felt the same way about Affleck and Reeves: except here, there's a pathetic undertone because Reeves knows that he isn't that persona, and maybe he never will be.

Diane Lane was pretty great, too. But isn't she always?

Recommended for a haunting day at the movies.

Monday, September 11, 2006

iPod shelf: THE TWINS OF TRIBECA

While writing my Vampire Babylon books, I always try to read something that will give me a Hollywood vibe. Makes sense, because this is the setting for all the paranormal mystery-noir action, and reading so-called "true" stories about the business and playtime in Tinseltown add fodder to my tales.

My latest research tool was the audio version of THE TWINS OF TRIBECA by Rachel Pine. Here's the deal: Pine used to work for Miramax, the "big little" independent company based in New York. If you keep up with movies, you know that Miramax used to be the baby of Harvey and Bob Weinstein, and this production company was masterful at putting together successful Oscar campaigns. Pine was one of their worker bees for a limited time, and she has fictionalized her experiences in this book, painting very broad pictures of well-known people while giving them fake names to "hide" their identities. (For those references that are harder to figure out, just read the book with IMDB.com open on your computer, look under "companies," and type in Miramax. You'll get a long, long list of their releases, and you'll be able to figure out just about every tongue-in-cheek nod.)

TWINS was pretty fun to "read" (I bought the audio version helmed by Ana Gasteyer, the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alum. She's absolutely great.). I loved trying to guess who was on stage at each given moment, and there's some good inside juice here, too. Sure, it goes over the same ground as THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and THE NANNY DIARIES, but I felt as if TWINS' heroine wasn't as much of a doormat. Fun stuff.

Coming soon, another bookshelf offering: THERE AND BACK AGAIN: AN ACTOR'S TALE by Sean Astin.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The offer

First, just an update on my main website: it's almost done. As soon as you receive the "What's the Scene with Crystal Green?" newsletter, that's the sign to come on over!

Second, Karm and Yolanda have inspired me to make an offer to anyone who would like to do this. And I'll put a time limit on it: the end of October. Yolanda and Karm have created links to the BAITED teaser from their own sites, but if you don't have a personal site and you can manage to link elsewhere, contact me via my site (use the Contact Crystal button), show me the link, and I'll send you one of my autographed backlist books. Sound good? Only one thing: please don't spam, okay? :)

Here's a good address to use for your link if you'd like to do this:

Link to the BAITED video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAjGv3LMb2c

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Question about the BAITED teaser

Karmela Johnson asked me a very good question about the BAITED teaser that's playing on www.youtube.com. Did I create it? she wondered.

The answer is...nope. I hired a company called COS Productions for this project. Here's the story: When I went to the Romantic Times convention in May, I heard Sheila Clover English, an executive producer at COS, speaking about these videos during a promotion workshop, so I stopped by the company's booth. Truthfully, I've never been so excited about a PR opportunity, so I went for it. COS offers 1) the teaser (as you see with BAITED), which doesn't use actors or 2) a full-blown trailer with characters and actors. I wanted to base my teaser on BAITED's prologue, which really sets the tone for the book and does some of the selling for me. I wrote up a script, Sheila loved it, and we went from there. However, they will do the script based on a synopsis and ideas from the author, so you can go that route, too. However, since I am a control freak, I wanted to give it a go. So what you see in the video is a joint effort: my text and basic structure, and COS's images, sound effects, and detailing.

If you're interested in COS, here's their website:

www.cosproductions.com

Also, if you'd like to see the BAITED teaser again, here's the link:

Click here to see the BAITED video!

BTW, Karm told me that she posted the link on the eharlequin.com website, and I'm really thankful for that. This is a promotional tool, so if any of you want to do the same on any other sites (or in emails to your friends) you have permission! In fact, I'd be grateful to you, too!!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

SMALLVILLE 2

And the SMALLVILLE marathon continues.

I just finished season 2 and am eagerly awaiting the delivery of 3 from Netflix. Come on, 'flix! Rush service. Don't you know I need me a fix from 'flix?

Aaaaanyway. I really think SMALLVILLE improved from the first season. Why? Probably because there's more mythology involved. It's funny, because with the X-FILES, I liked the stand-alone episodes more than the shows that added to the alien conspiracy. With SMALLVILLE, it's the opposite: whenever there's another episode about the road to Man of Steel-dom, I'm all a-flutter. Can you imagine me during "Rosetta," the episode with Christopher Reeve as Dr. Swan? Hi, I'm the person sitting on the couch with a lump in her throat as a variation on John Williams' "Krypton" theme from the movies plays in the background, growing, building, until it becomes the full-on real thing. Ah! And then, at the end of the episode, when the music goes, "Dah, dah-duh dah-dah...DAH DAH DUH." I almost cry. It's true.

But when Clark explodes with his newest superpower in "Heat"? Um...hilarious? I might've rewound that little gem about ten times. Yes, it was gross when he was getting all teenage-wiggly while checking out his very inappropriately dressed new biology teacher. And when his heat vision (excuse my French here) SPLOOGED on to the movie screen and set it on fire? Hee--let's rewind that again.

So as I begin season 3, I'm looking forward to a few things I've heard happen: Jensen Ackles (right, Karm?). The appearance of Lois Lane (Cat fights? Oh, please, have it be so!). Brainiac (Spike, Spike, Spike!). And, of course, the delightful sight of seeing Tom Welling fill out even more.

BTW, I've been reading the recaps over at www.televisionwithoutpity.com, and I'll never be able to watch SMALLVILLE the same way again. Ho-yay!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Top five songs on iTunes

Just in case you want to know what I'm listening to these days, I decided to blurt out my top five. Naturally, this does not include the other 117 songs I have on my list so far (I'm just getting started!), but there's time to share those in the future.

Most played:

5. RAMALAMA (BANG BANG) by Roisin Murphy
I fell for this extremely strange yet catchy tune when it was featured on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. The choreography was so fun and creepy, showing us a sort of zombie ball, that I ran to iTunes and downloaded, quick as you please. Imagine my glee when I discovered that the song stands on its own and, without the dancing to distract, actually has some colorfully odd lyrics to decode.

4. WE USED TO BE FRIENDS by The Dandy Warhols
I just love this group, period, but this is one of their most rousing tunes for me. It really makes me want to bop around with its playful beats and phrasing. You might have heard it since VERONICA MARS uses it as its theme song.

3. CRAZY by Gnarls Barkley
How can you not move to this tune??? It's cool and evocative, bringing to mind a bitching lounge where a singer is pouring out his heart into a microphone while you sip a martini and chill. And then you dance.

2. STRICT MACHINE by Goldfrapp
Yes, this is the song Verizon uses to advertise their chocolate phone (or whatever it's called: I'm busy listening to the music) but don't get all high-minded about how Goldfrapp "sold out"--just enjoy this techno smooth eighties-type ditty. It's seriously as addictive as chocolate.

1. TENDER IS THE NIGHT by Jackson Browne
An oldie but goodie and a song that just happens to be one of my favorites EVER. Hauntingly poetic lyrics coupled with a restrained be-bop groove, it'll bring back thoughts of your more innocent days. I play it over and over again. Can't help it.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Seven reasons that I love BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA

Yes--I am going to give you a whole seven reasons! However, before that, I have an annoucement: my main site will be updated early next week, after Labor Day Weekend. My designer and I haven't forgotten about doing it--it's just because of the holiday weekend.

That said...here we go!

In order to get back into the vampire groove for BREAK OF DAWN, my third Vampire Babylon book, I’ve been engaging in the same old tricks: reading fantasy and sci-fi (which reminds me of the importance of world-building complexity) and filling my head with movies to stimulate my "inner eye." One film that I’ve been saving to view while writing this third book is BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA. I haven’t seen that gem in years, and watching it once again made me wonder why.

So why does BS’sDRACULA rule? Let’s consider this question in a geek-riddled analysis.

1. The movement. What I mean by this is a certain tone created by how the characters and the scenery themselves move. At times, Francis Ford Coppola filmed the actors backwards so he could give their choreography a certain freakish grace. (Note the scene with Lucy in the crypt as she climbs back into her glass coffin.) Remember how Dracula occasionally floats instead of walks? Or how about those brides of his, creeping along in an erotic yet insect-like dance of entwined limbs? Love, love, love it all. Something else to consider: the movement of the camera, which at times is positioned so that the walls actually seem to suck inward in breathing eeriness.

2. The art direction. A castle shaped like a withered old man sitting on a throne, the decadent Westenra mansion—every scene possesses an amazingly effective tone. In fact, every time I watch this film I see a hundred more details I missed the first time.

3. The transitions between sequences. It’s breathtaking when this movie flows from one point of view to another. Whether it’s a peacock-feather fan splaying over the lens, or an almost subliminal image of Dracula bending over an ailing Mina when his character isn’t physically there, lingering beauty and spookiness serve as preludes to each scene.

4. The costumes. They’re crazy and wonderful, sometimes even anachronistic. A wolf-like suit of armor for Vlad; the orange-red themed, sexually whispered nightdresses for Lucy; an otherworldly bridal gown for our redheaded victim; the sumptuous and rotting clothes of the brides—all stunning, all adding to the unease of the tale that’s unfolding before us.

5. The evocative vibe. Do you all recall the shadows that follow and mock Dracula and Jonathan on the castle walls during the first part of the film? Brilliant. And how about Jonathan’s wolf-howling ride up to Dracula’s castle? Shiver-inducing.

6. The music. Perfect. I can say no more.

7. The hot cast. Cary Elwes, Billy Campbell, Richard E. Grant, Keanu Reeves. A feast for the hormones. I know I’m leaving out Gary Oldman, and there are a lot of women who dig him, but…nah. I’m way more into the love square with Lucy and her three suitors.

Operatic, romantic, and horrific—DRACULA is one of my top fifteen movies ever.