Saturday, January 30, 2010

Carmillas: "Nightmare Classics" (Review)

Spoilers Ahoy!

Second in my series of reviewing adaptations of the Joseph Sheridan LeFanu vampire classic Carmilla. A word of explanation--my goal remains to only review actual adaptations of the original. Movies or shows that simply use the names "Carmilla" or "Karnstein" do not count. Not for my purposes, anyway.

This time, 1989's edition of Nightmare Classics transporting the characters to the American antebellum South. Yet again Laura is given a name change, this time to Marie for some reason (played by Ione Skye) with Meg Tilly as the title character. A Van Helsing-stand-in named Inspector Amos is included but sans any personal stake in tales of vampires--quite unlike Baron Hartog of The Vampire Lovers or Baron Vordenburg of the novella. Rather Roddy McDowell's character is there to (rather surprisingly) piece together clues about what is going on with some explained deaths--including one from a swarm of bats!

One problem with adapting LeFanu's tale is the lack of obvious conflict involving our narrator/main character. In this one, tension between Marie and her father (Roy Dotrice) fills the void, at least partially from the fact Marie's mother deserted them both. Relations between them are chilly at best, with the girl's loneliness like vinegar on an old but unhealed wound. All too eagerly she leaps at the chance to have a friend, a real friend, and if that friend turns out to be a creature from beyond the grave--well, what of it? One of the most effective sequences in this version is when the two girls play in the night, Carmilla revealing some of her powers to a delighted Marie. Meanwhile Inspector Amos tells Marie's father about the supernatural danger threatening this house and home. Which brings us to arguably the most startling and famous image of this version--Carmilla literally floating in the air as she feeds upon a willing Marie.

As far as I know, this Carmilla is one of only two adaptations to end with the strong hint that the vampire hunters are too late, that while Carmilla herself is destroyed the titular heroine of the story has taken her place among the undead. Indeed, that is one of my favorite "bits" from this version. And honestly, both Skye and Tilly measure up to Doctrice in the acting department (the same cannot quite be said of McDowell, but he isn't bad by any means). Watching this film, one understands Marie's interest in her strange friend, while the interplay between father and daughter feels essentially real.

But the story just does not flow well at all. It feels rushed, and ultimately some of it seems stapled together rather than arising from the action. Odd details pop up, such as the notion that Carmilla was the one who took Marie's mother away, but nothing is really made of this. Nor does it make that much sense. I mean, if there was a whole tomb full of vampires wouldn't a whole lot more deaths be going on? And what about Marie's mother? What was she doing in that tomb? Not to mention (well, actually to mention it) exactly what Carmilla's plan at the end seemed to be.

I also have a pet peeve in vampire stories--namely, that piercing the heart should simply not be easy. That's why we have rib cages, after all.

Still, in this one the narrator was not some gormless little girl. She was a young woman with personality (albeit one nothing like Laura of the novella). And it is reassuring to see no obvious young male suitor--which in turn gives a tiny hint of (at least emotional) incest regarding her father. Juicy stuff! The stuff, to coin a phrase, of nightmares (hence the title). But it doesn't really come together. Methinks one reason is length. At a mere 51 minutes how can one do justice to this story? Especially while cramming it with gore and violence for no good reason?

Not an unworthy effort, but on the other hand not quite a successful one either.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Carmillas: "The Vampire Lovers" (Review)

Spoilers ahoy!

This is a little project I've been considering for awhile--reviewing every single serious adaptation of Joseph Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla, or at least the ones recorded. For the record, I will only review stage productions I've actually seen--which at present is zero but hopefully that will change.

In 1970 Hammer Studios looked back at a solid decade of success, remembered today with fondness by fans of genre film. They had more-or-less discovered Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee (among others). Whereas Universal Studios' horror classics had been icons for generations, Hammer re-invented those same ideas with a distinctly British and more modern slant. Arguably their greatest success in this direction was Dracula. Lee at last supplanted Lugosi in many imaginations as the ultimate Dracula. Other vampire films followed, bringing fangs and bare bosoms as well as technicolor blood to the screen.

The Vampire Lovers marked a new mini-franchise for Hammer. Instead of linking the story (however slightly) to Bram Stoker's famous novel, instead they went after LeFanu's atmospheric tale of tortured love . Of course the lesbianism of the tale got maximum attention (or at least as much as they thought possible under the eyes of the censors), along with pleasantly copious amounts of partial nudity by lovelies such as Ingrid Pitt and Madaline Smith. No complaints there! But they also did what one expects in a Hammer film...

Extra blood, extra violence, extra sex. For example, this film has Carmilla physically seduce the heroine (re-named Emma for some reason) then do the same to her governess Madame Perradon (Kate O'Mara, later to achieve genre fame as The Rani on Doctor Who)! Far more was made of people suspecting a vampire might be in their midst, and Carmilla's response was to seduce/slaughter those who stood in her way. Along those lines, much more was made of the final "hunting" of her grave, intercutting those scenes with Emma's rescue by a suitably young male love interest (something totally absent in the original).

And yet...

Unlike almost any other version, this lurid (for its time) titillation feature captured an essence missing from virtually all other versions. Carmilla in this film is a tragic figure, one literally in tears as she is forced to feed, and broken-hearted at seeing Emma's reaction to the truth. Pitt is actually a bit old for the part, but she does a wonderful job of coming across as a someone in love rather than lust. Nor is that a function of the performance alone. We see the vampire prey upon another young woman (this one named Laura) without as much drama. Carmilla is so taken with Emma she tries to take her away, precisely where and to what end is not clear. Likewise Carmilla seems influenced/dominated by a strange man in black (a role initially offered Christopher Lee but he turned it down). Sexism? Perhaps. But the goal here pretty clearly remained to lend sympathy to the "monster" by making her not completely responsible for her actions. Likewise, before her beheading by Cushing's General Spielsdorf, Pitt's character seems almost to welcome it.

Hammer went on to make two other films more-or-less sequels or prequels to this one--Lust for a Vampire and then Twins of Evil. Pitt refused to reprise her role either time. Under pressure from censors, each film had less and less lesbian content. The supposed "love story" of the former was at least some attempt at capturing the chemistry Pitt and Smith clearly found. Alas, it didn't work. One other movie, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, had some tiny connection to the "Karnstein Trilogy" but nothing more.

So we are left with what should have been the trashiest version, but which in some ways was the most faithful.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hart's Hope (Review)

My entry in AW's Book Review Blog Chain

Years ago, while reading a book about writing by Orson Scott Card, I came across his account of how he came to write the novel Hart's Hope. In and of itself this was a story of magic. He almost doodled a map on some unusual paper (interestingly, some special paper is how Stephen King began writing The Dark Tower), in the process creating a locale--what became the city of the novel's title. One of its most unique features was its different gates, each designed for a type of visitor or inhabitant. Hence a Merchant's Gate, a Priest's Gate, a Warrior's Gate, etc. And of course the hidden gate for wizards.

Likewise, Card later took an idea from a workshop on writing that he often gives, in which ideas are simply tossed out then explored at breakneck speed to see what you get. In this case, he was exploring magic and its cost. What he came up with was blood. Magic fueled by blood, but with the type and nature of the blood impacting the degree of power involved. Human blood gets you more than, say, insect blood. Use up all the blood in a person, and you start to do some serious reality-bending. But wait--it gets more chilling. Young blood is more valuable still. Hence nothing is more powerful than a newborn--nothing except maybe your own newborn's blood...

Prepare yourself. I'm about to gush. Hart's Hope is one of the most powerful, moving and mind-bending fantasy novels in the world. I unhesitatingly recommend it. For one thing (and this is in many ways one of the most minor), it bears little or no resemblance to Tolkien. Please don't view that as a dig at Lord of the Rings. But it seems obvious that way, way too many epic fantasies are little more than re-workings of Tolkien's trilogy--or stories in a fantasy environment with utterly modern sensibilities (Kurtz, Eddings, etc.). Not so this work.

It seems to be tale of a boy named Orem. Note the words "seems to be" because the narrator (and that person's identity is one many surprises) says more than once it is not. Orem is an illegitimate son of a King, a chosen one with a unique ability that will allow the overthrow of a tyrant. Just from those words, one imagines a generic kind of plot already, yes? Don't worry. For one thing, the tyrant in question is not Orem's father--who is a good, maybe great but far-from-perfect leader. And the quest (of sorts) upon which Orem embarks is many times more heart-wrenching than that of Frodo, Thomas Covenant, Harry Potter, etc. Nor is he give a choice. The Gods in this story have been bound--the Hart who governs the affairs of men, the Sweet Sisters (a pair of conjoined twins melded at the face) who govern and oversee women's truths, and the God Called God who has only recently come to this land. Only a great magic could have chained the Gods as was done, and one of the powers of this book is one understands precisely the darkness of the person who performed this great and terrible magic. We meet her when she is a child. But all great magic is terrible magic. To free the Gods and overthrow the tyrant will take another great magic--which is to say, something terrible.

Yes, the book remains realistic in description and feel, given that fact that magic is real and visible. What it also manages is to capture the "feel" of a genuine fairie tale, as opposed to the sanitized versions with which we (or at least I) grew up. In the original, after all, Cinderella's sisters mutilated themselves to fit into the golden slipper. My favorite version of Beauty and the Beast has the former character wear out several pairs of iron shoes searching for her husband. And the Soldier-Who-Cheated-Death ends on a very mixed note indeed. Likewise the tale of Orem is one of real sacrifice, yet has that compelling charm of a fairie tale, or a myth, or a dream.

Collectonian -
Lost Wanderer -
DavidZahir -
RavenCorrinCarluk -
Jackie A -
Forbidden Snowflake -
veinglory -

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guilty Pleasures: Honor Harrington

My entry in the January 2010 Blog Chain "Guilty Pleasures".

I enjoy science fiction. More, I have a fondness for the subgenre of 'space opera' which includes such luminaries as Star Wars, Babylon 5, Farscape, Revelation Space, and the Vorkosigan Saga. So I'm just a bit guilty at admitting to enjoying the Honor Harrington novels by David Weber.

Notice the verb. "Enjoy" not "admire." Virtually all the elements of this particular space opera have, at least in my eyes, been done before and better. For those who don't know, Honor Harrington was a more-or-less conscious effort to create a female Horatio Hornblower in outer space. England in this case is the Star Kingdom of Manticore, an unusually rich system of three Earth-like planets (each named after a mythological creature, a conceit containing a certain charm of its own). Opposed to it is the People's Republic of Haven, a vast empire devoted (in theory) to the most egalitarian of ideals while in practice ruled by an imperialistic oligarchy terrified of the proles to whom they must keep giving bread and circuses. As the series begins in On Basilisk Station, some factions of the Star Kingdom have realized for decades it is only a matter of time until Haven sets its sights upon them. So they've been trying to arm themselves for the conflict-to-come, against the fierce opposition of Liberals who regard Haven as no threat and allocations to any defense budget as pure barbarism. Haven eventually even gets its own Committee for Public Safety headed by Robert S. Pierre no less, while the Star Kingdom has two brothers--one a career politician and the other one of the most brilliant military commanders of the age (at least neither is named Wellington).

Fair is fair, other historical parallels abound. The most obvious is the whole problem of appeasement vis-a-vis WWII, and then there's the fact that Manticore's reigning queen is named Elizabeth, as far a cry from Prince Regent as one can imagine. As the seemingly never-ending series progresses, Honor Harrington herself becomes less Hornblower-esque and more clearly Nelsonian. At this point she's even lost an eye and an arm! Both were replaced with cybernetic versions, natch.

If all this sounds like fun, you're right. But let us examine the other side of it. The politics of this universe began as extremely simplistic and frankly not-a-little right wing (and more than one fan of the series all-but-spouts Rush Limbaugh as a fount of all wisdom). Haven, it turns out, is pretty clearly the United States but with the welfare state taken to a dystopian extreme. The biggest ally of Manticore sure bears a startling resemblance to some kind of futuristic Utah, semi-Mormons with polygamy and all. The Solarian League is presented as a complacent version of Western Europe writ titanic, while the wise autocrats of the Andermani Empire can be seen as authoritarian regimes once viewed as our bosom buddies during the Cold War.

You know, like Saddam Hussein and the Shah of Iran. Or August Pinochet.

But Weber seems to have realized the (I believe inadvertent) message he might have been sending and so the series has veered into other directions. By now the economic-political landscape of the War (note the capital) has grown more complex, and yet paradoxically more simplistic by introducing an unequivocal example of evil. This is Manpower Inc., a corporate group that practices actual slavery, combining all the virtues of organized crime with that of pure fascism. Haven itself, like Manticore, is now more a prisoner of historical conflicts as well as manipulation by the evil masterminds of Manpower.

More objectionable, at least in my mind, is how the books are loaded with datadumps, often in as crude a manner as possible (and sometimes for subjects nearly too boring for words--like the differences in calendars between planets). At least the battle scenes (told in ofttimes excruciating detail) make some sense of using these as part of the reason why events play out as they do.

But the real problem? The characters. I don't believe in most of them, and those I do still come across as at best two-dimensional. Honor falls in love fairly early in the series, and even now years later I remain puzzled about who this person was and why anyone would fall for him. Other than a certain degree on almost-Boy Scout integrity (not at all an uncommon feature in these books) he had no personality I could discern. Pages and pages are given to describing support officers on Honor's various ships, pretty much every one remaining as nothing more than a list of character traits rather than people. The stories themselves are deliberately melodramatic, with complex plotting and situations substituting for depth or irony.

And yet...

They are really are fun to read if you're in the mood. Like the literary equivalent of kettlecorn, they hit the spot sometimes when tired or just have a yet for a ripping yard that takes itself not-too-seriously while not straying into parody.

Behold the participants in the "Guilty Pleasures Blog Chain"
Claire Crossdale -
Fresh Hell -
shethinkstoomuch - -
Lindzy1954 -
RavenCorrinnCarluk -
Forbidden Snowflake -
AuburnAssassin -

DavidZahir -
NEXT: Charlotte49ers -
Fokker Aeroplanbau -
laharrison -
collectonian -
capes&corsets -
vfury -
Bsolah -
JackieA -
LadyCat -
AimeeLaine -

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Five Little Pigs" (Review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Growing up, I shared with my Mum a pleasure in reading the mystery novels of Agatha Christie. She enjoyed Miss Marple but my own tastes ran to Hercule Poirot and his "little grey cells." Years then decades passed, so my tastes altered and my reading partook of what (by virtually any standard) more sophisticated fare.

Yet I never ceased feeling nostalgia for Poirot and his cases.

Some years ago, David Suchet was hired in a brilliant bit of casting to portray the Great Belgian Detective (he himself would insist upon the capitals) and watching the shows in which he solved those cases was ever a delight. My darling, late fiancee shared a love of those programs and we started collecting the DVDs. And we agreed on which one was best.

Five Little Pigs was written and set in the 1950s but the filmmakers wisely took the story back to Poirot's more natural heyday, the 1930s. If one looks carefully, there are references to the growing crisis in Poland in a headline, which makes 1939 a good bet. A young woman hires the detective to solve the murder of her father--a crime for which her mother was executed fifteen years earlier. She needs to know the truth. It gnaws at her, poisons her life. She needs to know. Here the show makes another welcome change from the novel. On the written page, this young woman is engaged and seeks to soothe her fiancee's doubts that he is wedding the child of a murderer. Not a very loving fiancee, in my opinion--on top of being fairly stupid to boot. After all, the whole human race can call saints and sinners kin, of every description. Much stronger to make the motive behind young Lucy's actions her own pain, her own doubts about the memories she had of loving parents.

The whole structure of the case gives the story a lovely symmetry. Five people other than the victim and his wife were present that weekend. If the wife is innocent, it follows one of them must be the murderer, hence the title. Poirot interviews each in turn, and amid flashbacks we see them then as well as now.

What is so amazing about Five Little Pigs is how utterly and totally routed everything is in the emotional lives of the characters. Poirot's entire case depends upon understanding that, so what we get are amazingly nuanced performances in a top-notch script with superior actors. And a beautiful stylistic choice is made because the film involves really two sets of flashbacks. One is the very summer the crime took place, filmed in a golden haze. But then there are a few memories going further back, when the artist victim was an adolescent and friends with three people who would be present at his death. These memories are more disjointed, with an almost colorless palate.

But on to our suspects...

Elsa Greer, the victim's model and mistress, now a Lady but then the teenager who caused such a huge fuss by proudly announcing he was going' to leave his wife and marry her. Played by Julie Cox as an odd combination of fierce and fragile.

Philip Blake, the artist's best friend who was clearly devoted to him and cannot stop loathing the man's wife. Now a brittle but charming man, given to drinking much too much, but not to the point of actual drunkeness. Yet another marvelous performance by Toby Stephens.

Meredith Blake, Philip's brother and the victim's neighbor, not-so-secretly in love with both the wife and also with Elsa! Marc Warren did a wonderful job of portraying this oddly sensitive man with far more steel than others suspect, but also frankly less feeling (in clear contrast to Philip, who pretends to a stiff upper lip but sometimes seems on the verge of tears). These days a recluse.

Miss Williams was the governess of both young Lucy and the wife's younger sister, Angela. Played by Gemma Jones as almost the perfect Nanny/Dragon of the stereotype, yet with a tender regard for some that leads her to some beliefs she doesn't quite succeed in reconciling with her firm principles. Currently living uncomplaining in reduced circumstances.

Angela, the wife's young sister played by a relative uknown, Sophie Winkleman (been following her career ever since watching this movie). Of all those interviewed, the one other person utterly convinced of her sister's innocence. Her teen self was played by Talulah Riley, a highly intelligent but tempestuous girl who later grows into a very accomplished scholar.

The rich interplay of these characters is part of what makes the movie so engrossing. Philip, for example, with his oft-stated loathing of his best friend's murderer--it becomes clear this is a much more complex thing. In truth, he actually liked her very much but was jealous, and he spends rather a lot of time smothering the liking he still feels for her. Meredith, on the other hand, seems to have already figured out what really happened--or been on the verge putting it together but refusing to take the final step and see the implications. Elsa, despite being a middle-aged wife of a peer and a scandal magnet in her own right, remains at heart a girl out of her depth putting on a brave face.

On top of all this, the lines are witty, the photography gorgeous and the production design pretty much perfect. The tiny details are part of what makes it all work so well. Lucy, the girl who so needs to be able to feel her memories are not a lie, drives a convertible with the top down. Well of course. She is her father's daughter after all, a man who reveled in life. And equally naturally, when giving a ride to Poirot, her speed inspires him to hold his hat on with the tip of his elaborate cane! Marvelous!

More than that, I was left with a genuine desire to know what happened next? Will Angela and her old Governess now remain in contact? So much of Meredith's and Philip's emotional lives are pulled out from under them--how will they cope? The blitz is only a year or so away--I keep imagining Elsa refusing to go into the shelter, wanting to see the explosions and hoping one of the bombs will find her. And Lucy--what does her life hold now that she knows the truth of precisely how both her mother and father came to die?

Really, this movie is a gem. I cannot recommend it enough.

Monday, January 4, 2010

"Young Dracula" (review)

Spoilers ahoy!

Young Dracula was a show on CBBC (i.e. Children's BBC) that sadly lasted but two seasons. This fact continues to depress me. Being quite the fan of vampire fiction, I'm pretty familiar with most vampire-related television series. Most, let us face it, end up poor at best. Rather than go on about the mediocre ones (yes, I'm talking about YOU Moonlight), here is a post of praise for a minor masterpiece. That it was a children's show just shows how US programing continues to think children are dumb and need protecting from the truth -- with much of recent political history in this country as one result.

But I digress...

In the present day, Count Dracula wearies of one too many heavily armed mob of peasants, deciding to relocate to England. He leaves it to his eleven-year-old son Vladimir (who understands thing like the internet) to find a suitable castle. Hence the Count, daughter Ingrid, son Vladimir and their grotesque manservant Renfield end up in Stokely, UK -- a very ordinary large town or small city with a castle on the hill in the center of town. Okay, so far so good, if not particularly impressive in the originality department (an overblown value in our culture, at least IMHO).

What follows is a lot more compelling, entertaining and clever than Kindred: The Embraced ever dreamt of becoming.

The series focus is young Vladimir, who doesn't want to become a vampire at all. In this world, vampires have relatively normal children who gradually grow more vampiric in their teens. On their sixteenth birthday, they look into the family's Blood Mirror and see their vampire selves, which emerges and joins with them (hence the lack of reflection -- a nice bit of lore, that). Vlad would do almost anything to avoid this, which horrifies his father no end. Yet the Count's fifteen-year-old daughter Ingrid is everything he could hope for--cunning, cruel, eager to earn her self-proclaimed title "Princess of Darkness"--but since she's a girl, he doesn't care. At all. One of the running gags (that is also kinda heartbreaking) is how she continues to try and earn her father's approval, to no avail.

Returning to Vlad, once in Stokely he makes two friends. Robin Branagh is Vlad's own age while his sister Chloe is a little younger, and a child prodigy (she reads Egyptian hieroglyphics at age twelve). Robin adores vampires, goes to school in a cape, tries sleeping upside down like a bat, and is one of the few people to figure out the newcommers are in fact undead (many assume the Count, interestingly, to be a rock star). He becomes Vlad's very best friend, and if you get a Harry/Ron/Hermione vibe from all this, you are not alone (I personally felt Chloe had a little bit of a crush on Vlad, but that is a matter of opinion).

Truth to tell, even breaking down all the characters and their relationships in the show would be a lengthy post in and of itself. More, all that background remained consistent. Even more, the characters changed, demonstrating a complexity that lots of series about grownups never manage. Vlad, for example, rather likes the powers he starts to exhibit in the second season, and has profoundly mixed feelings about his sister and dad. Ingrid, for all her haughty (and hilarious) cruelty, shows a startlingly tender side at odd moments (when Robin's parents give her a gift, for example). Then there's the Count and his estranged wife, probably the most shamelessly evil woman in the world. He both adores and loathes her, precisely for that reason despite (or because of) being the target of so many of her schemes.

Let us make some things clear. The show is funny, but the humor arises more from the interplay of characters than the overt gags (although those are pretty giggle-worthy). Also the show is aimed at children. No nudity, no sex (although a lot of flirting, some of it a tad steamy), most of the violence is off-screen, the plots tend to be simplistic and the secondary characters are nearly always played for laughs. Everything is exaggerated enough to be not quite real, but consistent enough to seem that way on its own level.

Episodes included such relatively mundane matters as report cards (the Count was furious that all the teachers liked Vlad, and was mildly proud that Ingrid was described as a force of malice and chaos in the classroom) and the esoteric, like a quest to find an object which would "cure" vampirism. Other plots involved Robin and Vlad falling for the same girl (and an disturbingly poweful cologne that makes one irresistible to women), Ingrid falling in love, a visit by the Count's brother and his equally dysfunctional brood, the constant attempts by the local woodshop teacher (named Van Helsing) to prove vampires existed (said attempsts often involving cross-dressing for not-quite-adequately explained reasons), etc.

Sadly, the show ended because CBBC lacked the funds for a third season. After 27 episodes and a cliffhanger, the series ceased production. The lead, Gerran Howell, has probably grown up too much over the last two years to pick up where the series left off. As far as I know, the show has not yet been released onto DVD but one can still watch it on YouTube if you look for it. Please do! The effort is worth it!

And just for fun, here are some of the "fan videos" associated with the show. Enjoy!

"Bringing Sexy Back"

Robin and Vlad, friends

"Requiem for a Dream" (is there any fandom that hasn't used this music?)

About Vlad...

About Ingrid Dracula...

A fanfic crossover...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

NoKiss BlogFest

Behold my entry for the NoKiss BlogFest! The rules are actually pretty simple. Herein is how it is officially described:
We'll be posting scenes from our WIPs, favorite books, movies, and tv shows that show the almost kiss-- the rising, crushing, excruciating, longing, tension that comes from when two characters get oh-so-close to kissing that you can just feel it....and then...they don't!

For my entry, I've chosen a bit of fanfiction I wrote some years back for the virtual spinoff series WaTchers. Quite simply, this was intended as a spinoff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer put together by fans who just didn't want the show to go away. We did our best to recreate the "feel" of a t.v. series, including a rigid refusal to let the readers "inside the heads" of characters as well as (as you can see) screencaps created for each episode.

"Strange Bedfellows" involved none other than the terminally blond vampire Harmony Kendell and her friendship with an original character -- Luna. Luna is a combination of total ditz and supervillain with more than a touch of good old-fashioned stalker. By sheer chance they ended up allied, and became best friends. Yet the terminally clueless Harmony hadn't yet realized an important fact -- namely, that Luna had fallen for her. Hard. Nor did she figure out that her best pal was trying to seduce her for most of the episode (if you want to find out whether she ultimately succeeded, you have to read the whole episode).

A certain sad note amidst the silliness. We would "cast" guest stars and the part of Luna was given to pictures of the lovely and talented Brittany Murphy, may she rest in peace.

Cut to:


Bridal Suite – Night

Most lights in the bridal suite were dimmed if not altogether ‘off.’ A wash of light from the bathroom poured in, along with the last remnants of steam and the scent of bubble bath.

Harmony moaned, a little smile on her face. "That feels…so great!"

"Glad you like it," said Luna from behind her. They were close enough Luna barely had to whisper. Her fingers worked their way along Harmony’s bare shoulders and neck. Unlike the half-naked blonde before her, Luna wore a simple blouse and skirt. A very simple blouse. One that could be slipped off in less than a second. Ditto the skirt. Her shoes were at the edge of the bed where she’d left them before crawling behind Harmony.

Smiling contentedly, Harmony held a thick towel to her chest, rocking slightly with the rhythm of her new best friend’s massage. "Wow," she murmured, "your fingers…how’d you get them so strong…and…nimble?"

"Practice. Lots and lots of practice."

"It shows!"

"Oh, I’m nowhere near through with you."

"Goody," Harmony giggled. "Oh!"

"You like that?"

"Well, duh. Yeah!"

"I’ll do it again if you really want."

"Go for it!" Harmony’s eyebrows shot up. "Woah."

By now Luna’s thumbs were working their way down Harmony’s spine, the rest of her fingers doing a little drum motion on the muscles below each shoulder blade.

"I am so glad," Harmony said, "you keep your nails short."

"Yeah," Luna agreed, her eyes fixed on the bare back before her, "well, long nails get in the way. You know what they call a girl with long fingernails, don’t you?" She had a little smile on her face as she asked.

Blinking, Harmony thought. "No, what?"


Harmony thought some more. "I don’t get it."

"Don’t worry about it. You will." By now Luna’s fingers had reached Harmony’s hips. She had to shift her position. As a result, now both her hands began to undulate firmly into the muscles near the sciatic nerves. Luna’s face was forward, barely two inches from the blonde vampire’s naked flesh.

"That feels…oh my god…" Harmony said huskily.

"You…you smell so good…" Luna whispered.

"I used those ball salts you gave me. Oh! Do that again?"

"Okay. Like that?"


"Harmony honey…"


"I’ve never felt skin like yours before. Smooth…and cool…like silk…"

"That’s ‘cause I’ve always tried to take care of my skin. Not that I really have to anymore. And of course I’m cool. I mean, think about it. I’m dead!"

"Not to me."

"Aw, you’re so sweet. Wow. And warm! Your hands are like…I dunno…something warm and strong and firm, that feels really really good…I mean, really good…"

Luna’s open mouth was barely half an inch from Harmony’s shoulder. "I can make you feel even better…" she purred.


"If you’ll let me, I can make you feel better than you ever have before!" Luna’s voice had dropped an octave.

Harmony grinned, eyes bright. "Go for it!"

Luna’s long, shuddering sigh in response was interrupted by the sudden, hard rap of the door. She did a take. The knocking came again.

"Darn it, what do they want now?" Harmony stood up off the bed. Her back was turned and so she couldn’t see Luna’s crushed expression. Letting the towel drop, Harmony reached for her robe. Another round of knocking masked the lustful whimper from Luna.

"I’m coming, I’m coming," yelled Harmony at the door.

Luna bit a pillow.