Tag Archives: Vampire

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Interview with Kent Harper

The Last Knock

Kent Harper‘s no slouch: He has six features on the way, and besides acting, he’s also a writer, producer, and director. Thankfully, he was able to take a break from his day to talk about his approach to acting, film, and life in general, as well as his experiences on the set of Surveillance, which he co-wrote with Jennifer Lynch. Horror fans may often see Kent Harper as a formidable force on-screen, but he’s so much more than that. Learn about the mind behind the man, and what’s up with his forthcoming films: Villainous, Deterioration, and A Blast of Sunlight Explodes.

Follow Kent Harper on Twitter and Instagram and see everything he has going on with IMDb!

(Photo from Kent Harper.)

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Thespians of Terror: Bill Paxton

The Last Knock

A few weeks ago, we lost the wonderful Bill Paxton to complications from a stroke. The actor, director, musician, and family man, left behind a legacy of great films and cool performances from Near Dark to the incredible film, Frailty. Join us on a cinematic journey celebrating the work of the man who made “Game over!” one helluva catch phrase.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS from Twitter: 

@lancehenriksen @IndieWire @jenettebras @RealJillyG @BonafideBlack @TTBOProductions @kevinbacon @Isaacrthorne @tomhanks @MelanieMcCurdie @theclinthoward @ChadSchimke @jeremysumpter @LGWhiteAuthor @RonGizmo @lorettamilan @RiverCityOtter @Scream_Factory @JimCameron @ScarecrowVideo @jamieleecurtis @GuyRicketts @FINALLEVEL @LoudGreenBird @Dolph_Lundgren @palkodesigns

Let us know about your favorite Bill Paxton memories!

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 20th Anniversary by Billy Crash


Welcome to the Hellmouth

On March 10, 1997, creator, writer, and oftentimes director, Joss Whedon unleashed Buffy the Vampire Slayer upon the world in a television series that drew in fans from a multitude of demographics and a multitude of countries. The show featured Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, a high school student forced into accepting her fate as vampire slayer in mythical Sunnydale, California.

With a kickass theme from Nerd Herder, and her watcher Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), Buffy kept her “Scooby Gang” close (Nicholas Brendon as Xander, Allyson Hannigan as Willow, and someone just as reluctant as Buffy, the “better than you” Cordelia Chase, played by Charisma Carpenter), as she tackled, drop-kicked, and staked vampires, destroyed demons, and more in an effort to thwart the Hellmouth and save the world.

Each week, we’d find something different than the average show at the time, and for a dramatic comedy/horror/fantasy/action series, Buffy had more drama in one episode than a month’s worth of “ER” or “Chicago Hope.” Unlike other television shows that entertained and faded away by morning, people just didn’t talk about the show at the office, they incorporated the “lexicon of Buffy” in their speech, much like many of “Twin Peaks” fans who know that you can trust the Bookhouse Boys, but “The owls are not what they seem.” Buffy the Vampire Slayer wasn’t just a television show people talked about, but an event that changed how they talked.

Prophecy Girl

Beyond words, we had a vampire slayer who fell in love with not just one vampire, but two, while still kicking ass and never turning her back on her friends, the world, and the woman she was becoming. Other than “Xena the Warrior Princess,” it’s hard to think of another show that presented woman as strong, powerful, and self-assured, and who wouldn’t give a man the satisfaction of seeing her fail. Where men rescued women at nearly every turn throughout television history, Buffy saved every man, woman, and child she ran into. And even if she told others to run for safety, Buffy didn’t stand tall to play martyr or find sympathy or become a legendary figure, she just wanted to fight and win every damn time.

And with strong females at the center of the show, Joss introduced the love of two young women without exploitation or apology, and once again, the show only became stronger, more multi-faceted, and more ahead of the curve in social consciousness. If anything, on this front, Buffy brought us some of the most depth-ridden romances ever to appear on the small screen regardless of gender.

As Buffy grew, so did her Scooby Gang: Cordelia became a woman who respected others instead of laughing at them, Xander developed a spine, and little Willow Rosenberg became a witch of epic proportions. Others came into the gang, from vampire lovers Angel (David Boreanaz) and Spike (James Marsters), as well as Tara (Amber Benson), Oz (Seth Green), Anya (Emma Caulfield), and baby sister Dawn Summers (Michelle Trachtenberg). Wait, Buffy had a sister?

New Moon Rising

I remember when Dawn appeared at the beginning of season five. Michelle Trachtenberg not only appeared in the opening credits as if she had been there forever, but Buffy and her mom (Kristine Sutherland) acted like she’d had a room in the house the whole damn time. A head scratcher for certain, and many of us didn’t know the key to this sudden introduction, but that’s what Joss Whedon always did: He kept the story fresh without jumping the shark, having a special wedding episode, or the worst damn thing imaginable, the birth of a child. Instead, we got Dawn, unexpected deaths, bad-grrl Faith (Eliza Dushku), Buffybot, a slew of evil adults from high school administrators to scientists at a secret base, and an endless flow of demonic forces with their own cruel agendas. Joss changed Buffy like a pro bono plastic surgeon: He improved the exterior but didn’t mess with the heart and soul.

At one point, Buffy stated, “My mother said my life is fruitless. No fruit for Buffy.” But the entire show bore fruit. “Angel” became one of the best spinoffs of all time, and people even gave the failed Buffy the Vampire Slayer film another chance, where Pee Wee Herman’s Paul Reubens crushed it as vampire kingpin, Amilyn, and Seth Green played a vampire – which makes him the only actor to appear in both the movie and the series. The stars went on to other projects on television or the silver screen, and twenty years later, Buffy continues to be recognized and appreciated by first generation fans to Millennials and Generation Z as if the season finale had taken place last week.

Once More, With Feeling

Some shows have survived the test of time: “The Twilight Zone,” “Twin Peaks,” “Seinfeld,” “The X-Files,” and “Firefly” because they were “big damn heroes,” and Buffy the Vampire Slayer continues in that off-the-beaten path vein of absolute coolness. Yet, at the end of the day, Buffy hasn’t held up for twenty years simply because it’s cool, but it had something to say about youth, exploration, love, bureaucracy, judgment, parenting, friendship, goals, desires, humanity, and ultimately sacrifice. Even so, at its heart, at its very core, Buffy wasn’t afraid to venture into the darkest regions of the brightest characters or find blinding light within the abyss of demons. If Whedon taught us anything, it’s that there’s good and bad in everyone, and we all need to do our part to not only help bring that greatness to the surface, but to forgive those who falter at times, and give them love, respect, and a second chance.

Because when it’s your turn to save the world, you never know who’ll be fighting by your side. So hush…

Billy Crash (aka William D. Prystauk) loves great in depth characters and storytelling in horror, and likes to see heads roll, but if you kill a dog on screen he’ll cry like a baby. Billy co-hosts THE LAST KNOCK horror podcast on iTunes, and can also be found on TwitterLinkedInIMDbAmazon, and his professional website.

(Photo of Buffy from Buffy Wikia.)

Highways of Horror – Day I

If there was a storm coming right now, a big storm, from behind those mountains, would it matter? Would it change anything?

Arash – A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

In the rearview there’s nothing. No horizon. No distinction between the road and the sky. Nothing but black on black.

This can easily indicate that the past is dead and gone, and that turning back is a ludicrous option. Though not well lit, looking out the windshield certainly delivers a sense of future possibilities. But the most important – the now – me in the driver’s seat fighting fatigue, isn’t very promising.

The morning had started well enough. Up at 7:20 I rushed to get a few things ready on Wednesday, December 28 because this was the day I’d finally begin my excursion to the west coast to reconnect with my wife, Ally Bishop in Seattle, Washington – our new home. Although I had only gained five hours sleep, meeting the great Bill Hartin at Tracy’s Café in Easton was well worth waking up for. Bill had co-created FIFO (Fade In, Fade Out), a film consortium in the Lehigh Valley, and without him as executive producer, my short film, Tigers In the Soup never would have been made. We enjoyed a good breakfast and better conversation before heading back to the house Ally and I shared at 827 Wilbur Street in the “poor side” of the College Hill section. Soon, the truck that would carry forty plus boxes, a chest of drawers, Ally’s hand-painted file cabinet, and other assorted items arrived. With that, great souls materialized to help Bill and I load the freighter: Angela Mozeko and John McPoyle, from FIFO as well, and the man with a smile that never fades, Ryan Kramer. And man, did Ryan rock me with an ultra-cool Billy Crash T-shirt in a Misfits font no less! Damn!

This special gang of four really saved me. Since Ally left with Patricia Eddy and our puppies for the west coast on the day after Thanksgiving, the silence of our now old homestead became so loud it hurt. I was left with George, the Beta fighting fish, and we bonded as I cleaned, repaired, painted, and packed, as I sorted through belongings to sell on eBay, to Craig’s List, and to friends, and as I stuffed bag after bag with Goodwill donations, and sent tons of material for recycling or the landfill. The work finally caught up with me on Christmas. I woke up tired, visited my sister Elissa, brother-in-law Pete, and their nearly seventeen-year-old puppy, Max, for a few hours, and fell asleep for a bit. By the time I got home in the late afternoon, I was exhausted – but I knew sleep would have to wait. I cleaned the entire basement, and left a mountain of garbage and recycling items for the morning, and made a final run to the Goodwill donation boxes. During this time, I almost fell asleep on my feet, and lost my footing on the top steps of the basement stairs. Thankfully, I caught myself in time.

That isn’t to get a “poor Bill” out of anyone, but juggling so much for so long takes its toll as it would on any person. I hadn’t felt that exhausted since boot camp, where my entire body just wanted to quit. Angela, Bill, John, and Ryan, saved me from moving everything myself, which allowed me to store some energy for the first leg of the drive to Washington state.

After the load was secure, Angela and Ryan stayed a little longer to help me clean up the house. And once I picked up a few things for the trip, I finally hit the road at about 5:30 PM – three-and-half-hours behind schedule. To be honest, I was scared. Everything was a blur, and I doubted I could drive an hour, if at all. I then remembered a documentary of a scientific study where they showed that drowsy drivers may be far more dangerous than drunk ones.

Chocolate snapped me out of it, but a moonless night and starless sky thanks to black clouds didn’t help. I drove through an abyss so thick, only my headlights could make out the trees on occasion along Interstate 80. I had taken this trek many times from 1993 to 1994 when I attended Slippery Rock University to earn my masters in English. I had joked that one viewed the same tree over and over on the highway, but I would have welcomed the sight of any tree, or the curved edges of the worn Appalachians.

Blasting Ramone’s Mania compilation helped as I sang along with Joey, and the psychedelic folk rock of Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter kept my head bobbing. But this wasn’t the five-hour drive Ally had planned. Unbeknownst to her and me, this would be a six-hour and forty-minute venture to the center of Ohio.

I rebounded by cranking Sisters of Mercy, “A Slight Case of Overbombing” of their first greatest hits. Here, the iconic Goth god, Andrew Eldritch remixed the originals, and when it came to mundane songs from his ill-fated “Vision Thing” recording, he enticed Terri Nunn of Berlin fame to totally rock some of that albums tracks. The music filled the Chevy Malibu, and stunned some deer outside the merlot ride, and kept me awake as I entered the Buckeye State.

I thought of Drew Carey, Chrissie Hynde, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (where they supposedly keep an alien body from the Roswell incident, as well as the Kecksburg UFO), and my permanently snake-bitten Cleveland Browns. And then I saw the oddest thing, a truck with a light rack that sent out beams of green. What the Hell was that? Many know construction vehicles by their yellow flashing lights, but in Ohio, they mix it up with green and white.

Most important, and as I suspected, where I hadn’t noticed one Pennsylvania State Trooper from Easton to the border, Ohio’s finest was out in force. Just like the early 90s when I’d see suped up pursuit cruisers on the roadside. One even had “Interceptor” across the back trunk as if it had survived the original Mad Max film.

I did the speed limit as best I could, but with a half-hour remaining, I hit the gas a little harder even within a snow squall and amongst the pings of frozen rain. I passed two salt trucks, forgot about the Road Nazis, and watched the arrow on my Google Maps get closer to my destination.

When I got to La Quinta in Mansfield at roughly 1 AM, I contacted Ally to let her know I was safe, and walked across the street to a Steak and Shake and had dinner. My first meal since that breakfast with Bill. The waitress forgot to add my dark chocolate shake to the tab, and when I told her, she waved it off. Now, that’s one great Ohio welcome.

Back in my hotel room, the building weaved and bobbed as I stood in the shower. But it wasn’t an “erosion quake” as a lighter part of the Appalachian mountains rose a millimeter or two to meet the sky – it was me. I almost fell in the shower as brain and body begged for sleep. I stumbled to the bed and the last thing I remember is letting out an arena-sized sigh.

I awoke from a seven-hour slumber, far better than my normal five, ate a protein bar, and moved west towards Madison, Wisconsin before the next storm rolled in…

But in A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Arash (Arash Marandi) knew. As he drove with the Girl (Sheila Vand) by his side in their attempt to escape Bad City, storms didn’t matter. No obstacle mattered. Whether the city represents purgatory or Hell in Lily Amirpour’s intriguing vampire horror, escaping such darkness is the point of the movie. However, the answer is simple: Of course they can. Where there is love, respect, admiration, and passion, as well as a desire to go beyond selfishness, what can’t be defeated? Both had paid their ways in full. The Girl, serving like one of Mother Nature’s wolves, cleaned the streets. However, she never preyed on the weak, the sick, or the wounded, but those who used and abused, and made life worse for others. Arash did what he could to rise above the apathy and negativity, and that desire was his ticket out of that colorless void.

I’d like to think Ally and I had earned the same right to pick up and move elsewhere. We just took separate cars.

Many thanks to Airworthy’s Don Riemer, a fellow member of the phenomenal New Jersey Screenwriter’s Group, for encouraging me to keep a travel blog, and for the incomparable Jonny Numb for exclaiming “Hell, yeah” when I asked if I should post it at Crash Palace.

(Billy Crash T-shirt photo from Billy Crash.)

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Macabre Milestone: THE HUNGER (UK/USA, 1983)

The Last Knock

A different kind of vampire film, THE HUNGER explores love, aging, egocentrism, and much more, with the late, great David Bowie. Directed by Tony Scott, Stephen Goldblatt brought us excellent light and shadow as cinematographer, while Denny Jaeger and Michel Rubini delivered a relentless score of pure horror. The movie also showcases the amazing Catherine Deneuve and the fantastic Susan Sarandon – with a Willem Dafoe cameo. Loaded with tension and a string of thematic undertones, horror fans are rediscovering the film after Bowie’s passing – but this is a cinematic treat that should have been cherished all along…

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS @sharkkteethsolo @REALsharkkteeth @RealJillyG @nine_oh @Tammysdragonfly @kidneythieves @dixiefairy @horrorandbrains @GTGMcast @MelanieMcCurdie @elizabethtraub @LianeMoonRaven @SiaraTyr @AmandaBergloff @Domiesangsty @alexcooper81 @LoudGreenBird @FriscoKidTX @ThisIsHorror @CriterionCast @petermurphyinfo @SusanSarandon

THE LAST KNOCK presents: Thespians of Terror: Christopher Lee

The Last KnockWe pay tribute to the man who not only put Hammer Films on the map and played the role of Dracula more than any other actor, but a man who brought style and coolness to the genre. Come with us as we take a look at his films, his partnerships with the great Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, and we’ll hear some of his amazing quotes about the industry in which he thrived.

This episode’s SCREAM OUTS: @machinemeannow @AFiendOnFilm @BleedingCritic @PromoteHorror @DarcWorks @TimothiousSmith @Annie_Acorn @aicforever @RealJillyG @Mel_McBoutin @Netflix @shoutfactory


Crash Analysis: Why I Love LIFEFORCE (UK/USA, 1985)

MovieRoom2I hadn’t planned on writing a review (of sorts) about a thirty-year-old horror that’s been much maligned, but Lawrence Roy Aiken compelled me to do so.

Like many horror fans, Lawrence thinks Lifeforce is “awful”, and I admitted that it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Yes, that means I’m admitting that the movie isn’t necessarily spectacular, but for reasons I’ll share, I find the film compelling.

When I went to see Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce I almost walked out before the opening credits. As soon as I realized that it was a Cannon Films and Golan-Globus Productions movie, I knew I should bail. After all, both entities had developed and released a multitude of cheesy, B-movie bombs from Delta Force to Superman IV. (Both companies failed to survive the 1990s.)

Then I saw a couple of things that gave the movie merit: The film was co-written by Alien scribe Dan O’Bannon, with music from the respected Henry Mancini. Furthermore, the man who helped bring special effects to an entirely new level with the original Star Wars franchise, Jon Dykstra, was also the master of effects on this project. Finally, and originally the most important element to me at the time, the movie starred the under-appreciated character actor, Steve Railsback. Therefore, I stayed put and indulged.

Lifeforce is about a UK/USA crew on HMS Churchill, a shuttle following Haley’s Comet. As they approach, they see something gigantic in the comet – a space ship. Of course, they must investigate, and when they do, they unleash an alien presence that could consume the world, starting with the city of London. Based on “The Space Vampires” from Colin Wilson, O’Bannon and Don Jakoby adapted the work. However, Wilson’s book is a total bore. Other than the opening, the remainder of the novel is equivalent to a stage play of two talking heads discussing vampirism. The book had no bite, but at least Hooper and company were set to inject life into the narrative.

Although Lifeforce was a major expense for Cannon Films, and even though Railsback told me that this was the largest production he had ever worked on, the movie has a definite “B” feel. Unlike other movies of that type, John Graysmark was diligent with production design, along with the art department, in helping to create or enhance a multitude of settings: a British shuttle, an alien spacecraft, a church, several offices and other interiors, along with many outdoor shots. Bringing the visuals together is the late, great Alan Hume, who handled cinematography for The Legend of Hell House, The Legacy, and one-hundred more films. The movie also stars several renowned actors, from Frank Finlay and Colin Firth, to future Enterprise captain, Sir Patrick Stewart.

Why do so many people hate this thing? A couple of the visual effects could certainly be better, but for most who’ve discussed it with me, they didn’t care for much of the jumping around (there are many locations and an abundance of characters). Others think the story got out of hand and ultimately came off as silly.

No, I don’t like the film because Mathilda May is walking around naked almost the entire time (she had completely divorced herself from the movie, and from what I understand, you couldn’t even mention Lifeforce in her presence. However, she now seems to have a new appreciation for what became her introduction to feature film.) What I loved about the movie is that it was a fun horror full of action and intrigue. Yes, I immersed myself in the story and went along for the ride. I loved Dykstra’s emaciated vampires, Railsback and Firth made for a great buddy team, Finlay crushed it as Dr. Fallada, and I got to go on a whirlwind ride. Plus, I liked the story overall. Simply put, Lifeforce was an ol’ time matinee blast – a real popcorn movie.

Why should you see it? Because it’s fun, dammit. Plus, for Sir Patrick Stewart fans, you get to see him get his first on-screen kiss – at the lips of Steve Railsback. And if you love the vampire subgenre, the tale is certainly different from the typical fair, so feel free to engage in something far removed from the Transylvania legend.

About ten years ago, I purchased an original, mint condition movie poster of Lifeforce for a mere $15 (US). Sure, I felt like I had made out like a bandit, but then I realized that if the movie had been well received, the price might have been through the roof. Still, it hangs proudly in my dark purple living room in a custom frame that cost almost ten times as much…

4.5 out of 5 stars

(Photo from Billy Crash.)

Crash Discussion: Decade of Horror – The 80s

The Last KnockWe traipse through the decade with a bloody blade as the slasher reigned supreme, yet show how the 80s re-defined the vampire sub-genre. This ten-year block was built on the back of independent 70’s horror, but it also may have contributed to what many see as a drought in the 90s.

This week’s SCREAM OUTS to: @JossRadillo @1Unatrualsoul @SamesCarolyn @Theladyphantom @RealJillyG @EmilieFlory @RiversofGrue @aicforever @AnnThraxx @VicsMovieDen @TrashFilmGuru @HMPod @dixiefairy @flickmixx @HeatherOmen @Chris_Stuckmann @OwenMcCuenQuest @davidpbaker

Crash Analysis: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)


Without a doubt, A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT is the most beautiful horror film ever made.            

Lyle Vincent is the cinematographer of note who helped bring Ana Lily Amirpour’s amazing film to light. Written and directed by, Amirpour, her Persian language horror was shot in Taft, California with actors of Iranian descent.

Every actor, from Sheila Vand and Arash Marandi, to Dominic Rains and Milad Eghbali, a young boy in his first film, delivered excellent performances. With the direction, cinematography, eclectic music, acting, and well-written dialogue, as well as the pace, this is the best horror film from 2014, as well as one of the greatest of all time.

Arash (Marandi) is a young man with a hot American car wandering the streets of “Bad City.” His father’s a junkie, the pimp wants his car, a street urchin wants his leftovers, and it’s clear Arash wants out. But a girl (Vand) walks through the neighborhood leaving bodies in her wake who may prevent Arash from breaking out on his own.

Right from the beginning, we know two things thanks to Amirpour’s storytelling and use of theme: This isn’t a normal place, and the choice of shooting in black-and-white isn’t simply to save money. Normalcy is thrown to the wayside when we see Arash walk over a bridge. Underneath is a ravine populated by many a dead body. He doesn’t care, and apparently no one else does either. The use of black-and-white not only captures the grayness, the starkness of what we only know as “Bad City”, but the compositions: Vincent’s exploitation of light, dark, and shadow, create not only a sensual noir feel, but like the characters, we are relegated to purgatory. A place where light cannot stand on its own and neither can its opposite. It’s a blatant Yin Yang world, and if one wants to tip the well-balanced scales, they can’t make it happen from within the city’s borders.

Each character is damaged and far from perfect, caught in the netherworld between good and evil. Atti (Mozhan Marnó) is a prostitute abused by her pimp (Rains) and the customers who desire her, yet she’s also quick to react negatively with strangers and her body language reeks of apathy, even though she’s looking for respect. Atti doesn’t enjoy her lifestyle, yet, like every other character in the film, she is trapped and cannot escape. In this case, the players are not physically prevented from leaving Bad City but their complacency keeps them where they struggle. Maybe they won’t leave because some other place could be worse, or because they may be tantalized by the wonderful things the dark may sometimes offer, or maybe they just don’t think they’re worth it. Either way, the presence of The Girl may prevent them from choosing.

Every frame of this film is a piece of art, and A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT should be shown in a gallery instead of a sterile, commercial theatre. The music is the perfect topping for every scene, whether it’s traditional Iranian or “Death” from White Lies. Amirpour has created a strong horror that has grit and beauty, and a feminine edge without placating to tropes, cliché, or expectation.

Oddly enough, Amirpour culled the most amazing performance from Musaka the cat, the greatest ever captured on film from a feline.

Watching A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT may have one thinking of early David Lynch, or even Marco Bellocchio’s drama FISTS IN THE POCKET, or a more grown up version of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Regardless, Amirpour has delivered an intelligent, riveting, and existential experience that is not esoteric. It’s arthouse without the pretension or malaise. Her feature is smart, compelling, and conjures emotion, and maybe this is why Elijah Wood chose to help produce the feature.

In every shot there is a sense of danger, an element of foreboding that should capture the imagination of the most ardent horror fan, as well as those who care little for the genre.

A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT will linger in your mind, swim through your dreams, and will have you questioning why more horror films don’t come with so much substance and value.

4.5 stars out of 5

(Photo from Btchflcks.)

Crash Analysis Support Team: True Blood Mid-Season Rant: Do You Feel Lucky Vamp? – Guest Post from Cory Brin

We have arrived at the mid-way mark of the final season of True Blood, and the stakes True-Blood-S5have certainly been raised. See what I did there?  But are raised stakes really a good thing in this show’s send off? The way that the episodes have been playing out, I dare say, “Not so much.”

Warning, there will be spoilers following if you are not current with the show.

Leading up to this year’s premiere, the promotions posed questions such as, “Who’s safe?” and  “Who will survive?” When you couple this with the army of zombie vampires approaching Bon Temps at the end of last year’s finale, it’s easy to see that the show wanted have a conclusion dripping with action and suspense. Of course our main heroes will be in danger, but the fun will be to see what they do to overcome this new threat.

But then the advertising persisted – Facebook promos warning us that, “Everything is at stake,” and “Goodbyes are a bitch.” HBO issued bite-sized blurbs reminding us that this was the last season, and therefore nobody’s safety could be guaranteed. This year was labeled the, “Deadliest season yet,” and hash-tagged #TrueTilTheEnd.

This isn’t anything new. In a dramatic series where violent vampires are openly on the prowl, death is around every corner. This goes without saying, which makes it a little more foreboding that the advertisements were highlighting the potential demise of series favorites.  Why such the emphasis? What was their game?

Then they started dying. Tara went in the first episode, and we didn’t even see it happen.  That was a pretty lame way for a major character to go out.  Next we lost Kevin, the police officer with the slack-jawed dialect, when the Hep V vamps chose him as a midnight snack. Maxine Fortenbury, Hoyt’s over-protective mother, had her stomach ripped out when she threatened to shoot Jessica. Sadly, Alcide went down like a chump – Shot by an unseen supporter of the Anti-Supernatural Justice League. Finally, it was revealed that both poor Eric and Bill have the dreaded sickness that is killing off the vampire population.

And we’ve only hit the halfway point!

How many more will follow? Since we’ve seen them start to bring back other somewhat absent people such as Hoyt and Alcide’s father, in a “True Blood, this is your life,” styling, there is a scary chance that the show’s creators are setting up these characters just to knock them back down. There’s no telling how high the body count and bloody ooze piles will be when all is said and done.

However, what is real cause for the increased knocking off all these characters? From what we know of the plot thus far, it doesn’t seem very clear. Yes, there are the bands of Hep V vamps, but they were only responsible for two of the aforementioned kills. Plus, the A-Team seems to have already eliminated the pack that was tormenting Bon Temps.

Perhaps it’s the mounting tension between the townsfolk and their differing opinions on how to deal with the sick vampires. When citizens take the law into their own hands, there are going to be casualties. This is especially true considering these people are defending their homes and loved one. Two of those casualties were Maxine and Alcide. Though it would also seem as if this splinter group was already dispatched during the assault on Fangtasia.

But, Bon Temps is no stranger to extremely dangerous situations. This goes for humans and supernaturals alike. There have been six previous seasons where our main characters, and secondary town citizens, had to deal with a racist serial killer, a Maenad willing to make sacrifices to Dionysus, a crazed Vampire King bent on making bloodsuckers the dominate species, a Necromancer who could control vampires, and the living incarnation of the Vampire Goddess, Lilith. During all of these encounters, people have died, but they varied greatly in duration and the importance of the characters.

Now, he we are in the final season and some really well known and long lasting characters are signing off. Four important people in Bon Temps are gone after only one vampire raid, and one episode of urban unrest? When those same people survived the past six seasons? I’m about as confused as I was when nothing ever materialized from Jason’s werepanther plot.

So then, does it not seem like the sole reason for the cast list genocide is specifically the fact that the show is in its last season? Any show is of course going to add in some shockers near the end, but still, why so many? We were warned about the bloodshed, and so far they are not backing down. The season’s theme has been set and the town’s coroner will be busy…if he wasn’t already also dead.

Maybe this will all play out well, and I should just give it time. There’s a really good chance I’m jumping the gun. I want to feel like I can trust the team that is responsible for this show. But I have seen the fifth season, so this is not foolproof.

If the show continues on its murderous rampage, it will only work to destroy the legacy that it carved out for itself. True Blood has done a lot in terms of paving the way for dramatic series, special effects, and what you can do on a premium cable channel. Thank goodness it was here to show Twilight fan girls what a real vampire thriller should be.

But to adopt a mentality of being edgy and dark, only because it’s your last season, damages the show’s well-established tone. In the world of True Blood, people do die. Normally those deaths have purpose, such as advancing the plot, or evolving a character. Yet, the show has made it a point not to kill off the Bon Temps rogue’s gallery of citizens, as the town itself is the heart of the series. When everyone is together at Merlotte’s, we feel that charm that was abundant in the first season, which is what made us fall in love with the show initially.

Now, the town is in danger of being staked through said heart, even with its well-document ability to survive. Yes, the writers may be trying to establish a metaphor that the greatest danger to Bon Temps has always been Bon Temps itself, but the last season is not a great time to try this trick. When that final episode concludes, we want to believe that Bon Temps will always be there and continue to go on, even though we’ve seen the end of this particular chapter. We won’t be able to do this if the death toll continues to climb. Based on all the information we have, it seems like this is the most likely trend, with the only catalyst being that the characters are no longer needed after this season.

If this is all true, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, or at the very least seems like very weak storytelling. It would be like if all the employees got fired in the last season of The Office, or if besties started hating each other in the final installment of Friends. Could you even begin to imagine the outrage that would have followed if everyone died in the final season of Lost? These shows kept right on doing business as usual in their concluding chapters and any unique changes they made to tell engaging stories were superbly crafted and well executed.

Tara’s death wasn’t on screen. Kevin’s exit proved that the bloodthirsty vampires were bloodthirsty. Maxine’s murder may have helped bring Hoyt back into the picture, but would it have not been better to let Hoyt have a final growing moment by confronting the over-bearing matron? Alcide’s demise was the clunkiest of them all, and reeked of a slate clearing device so that Sookie would be free for Bill. Let’s be truly honest: Alcide was poorly used this entire season and his passing was more of a mercy kill.

What will this mean if a more prominent person’s number comes up? Without a need to establish a story for any future seasons, it is alarming to consider that we may lose some of our favorite characters for meaningless reasons.

I hope I’m wrong. I wish that they do have some devilish plan in place so that all of this will end well. I have my fingers crossed that need for body bags/buckets dwindles. I pray that if Eric meets the true death, that it will bring him the honor that is befit his Viking heritage. I want to believe that the scripts for the remaining episodes are sharp and purposeful.

But if the gratuitous violence on most HBO dramas in any indication, I have to ask myself one question: Do I feel lucky, punk?

Cory Brin is a Halloween enthusiast, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, a BA in History from King’s College, and is currently working on projects for the screen, the stage, and for print. Follow him on Twitter@corybrin.

(Photo from Bloody Disgusting.)