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Unlike Vampires and Werewolves, whose respective traditions are only a few centuries old, Angels go waaaaaaaay back. A few millenia at least. Having been around that long, a few of them have reached a kind of celebrity status, at least among the religious set.

But where can you find them in popular culture? Let’s find out together.

The Metatron

The Metatron is number one among all the angels in Heaven. Now, I could tell you all about his job description, or I could let the wonderful Allan Rickman do it:

He also figures quite prominently in Philip Pullman’s The Amber Spyglass.

The Archangels
There are generally thought to be 7 Archangels. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel are almost unanimously agreed upon by all Western religious traditions to be part of this group. The other 3 angels’ names vary depending on the source.

Michael
Now, if THIS is what you are thinking of when I say Michael, you might be following the wrong blog.

Michael is the head of God’s Army. When Lucifer rose up in Heaven, it was Michael who led the defending army, and who personally put Satan in his place. In Judaism, it is believed that Michael was the protector of the Jewish people back in the day when other gods still existed in the Middle East. Michael is almost always depicted with either a sword or a spear. He is the warrior angel, no doubt about it.

In the upcoming movie Legion, Michael is the only angel fighting on our side. Michael is mentioned in the Milton’s classic Paradise Lost, and according to wikipedia, The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was based on the diary of a man named Father Bishop, who performed an exercism on a 13-year old boy. During the ritual, “the boy saw a vision of the Devil and ten of his helpers engaged in a fiery battle with St. Michael. At one point during the dream, the angel smiled at the boy and said “Dominus.” Shortly thereafter, the boy shouted out: “Satan! Satan! I am St. Michael, and I command you, Satan, and the other evil spirits, to leave the body in the name of Dominus, immediately.” Thomas B. Allen also used this diary as a source for Possessed: The True Story of an Exorcism.

Raphael
Raphael is God’s Healer. In art, he is generally depicted holding either food or medicine, not a weapon. In Paradise Lost, Raphael is the voice that talks to Adam about the Tree of Knowledge, and also the history of the War in Heaven.

Raphael is known for one battle – his fight with Azazel, whom he bound and cast into a crag.

Gabriel
Gabriel is about to take the spotlight from Michael, IMHO. Traditionally, he has been God’s herald, delivering important messages to humanity on His behalf. He will also be the one blowing the trumpet that will signal the End of Days. Like his buddies Michael and Raphael, Gabriel was also in Paradise Lost, as the chief of the angelic guards placed over Paradise. More recently, Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses has his main character be the modern incarnation of Gabriel.

But it’s on the big screen that we see a darker side of Gabriel, on that shows the angel to be jealous of humans, and rather violent. In The Prophecy series of the 1990s, Gabriel (played by Christopher Walken) wants to destroy humanity because he is sick of the love God shows them. This theme is played out again in the 2005 film Constantine, where Gabriel is played by Tilda Swinton. She plots to release Hell on Earth so that humanity will have to fight and earn God’s love. And of course, Gabriel will reprise this role in Legion, leading the army of God to destroy humanity.

Oh, and did you know that vampire slayer extrodinaire, Van Helsing, is actually the angel Gabriel? True Story.

Uriel
Uriel is the angel with the Firey Sword. He booted Adam and Eve out of Eden, and now stands watch there, barring reentry. He is the angel of repentance and wisdom, who both delivered important figures from harm and taught the prophets divine knowledge.

Uriel’s best known reference might be the book Uriel’s Machine: The Ancient Origins of Science. It is based partially on the tradition that Uriel taught Enoch (a rather holy man who may or may not have become The Metaron) all about the solar system.

And finally, the angel you’ve all be waiting for…

Lucifer
Also known as Sataniel, he was originally an Archangel. In the Latin, Lucifer translates to Bearer of Light. It is said that he was the greatest among the Angels at one time, the most beautiful, and the most dear to God.

However, Lucifer wanted to be as powerful as God, and had to be put down. Michael and Gabriel put him in his place and beat back his armies. They were thrown into the depths of hell, and have since been thought of as demons.

Now, there are literally thousands of references to The Devil and Satan in movies and literature. But, to get a good sense of Lucifer as a fallen angel instead of the father of all evil, I would recommend Paradise Lost, or I, Lucifer.

Since I am new here, maybe you don’t know that I am one of Kelley Armstrong’s biggest fans. (Full disclosure: I also work for her publisher, but that came about 5 years after I discovered her books.) In fact, last month, when Round 2 of Undeath Match was announced, I did a happy dance in my cubicle knowing you were soon to discover the awesomeness that is Bitten. Because Kelley Armstrong is a great writer, and she made werewolves sexy.

But the Otherworld isn’t limited to werewolves – there are witches, vampires, and demons. And yes, there’s an angel in this series too. And because Kelley is Kelley, she’s a bad-ass rebel kind of angel. Yep, Eve Levine is just the kind of woman I’d draft for this team.

Eve spent life as a black witch. We first meet her in Stolen, the second werewolf novel in the series. It was mostly a supporting role, but she definitely got my attention – right up until she died trying to save her daughter. I thought that was it for the feisty witch.

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when Eve got her own story in book five, entitled Haunted. (Go on, read a little bit here, I’ll wait.) A romp through the afterlife featuring ghosts, demons and the Fates, Haunted is the story of how Eve “got her wings” (And here’s a spoiler – there are no bells involved.)

It’s been nearly five years since we’ve heard from Eve, and being in the know at Random House Canada, the next few books were not slated to feature angels. But it turns out Kelley was missing Eve too. And so, a novella was born. Brand-spanking new from Subteranean Press, Angelic is Armstrong’s second book featuring Eve and her firey sword. From Kelley’s site:

Angelic CoverAs a half-demon master of the dark arts, Eve Levine isn’t what anyone would call angelic. That’s exactly why the Fates chose her for the job. She’s their secret weapon against the forces of evil.

However after five years, Eve is tired of being the designated rebel of the angel corps, expected to break the rules, then penalized for it. When the leaderless djinn stage an uprising, Eve sees the perfect chance to get herself fired. As she plunges deeper into the demon world, though, she realizes she’s in danger of losing a lot more than her job.

She’s a half-demon… and an ANGEL. That combo right there is why Eve (and Kelley) deserve to be on Team Angel. I can’t wait to read this novella.*

*I am sorry to say that my copy is most likely sitting on my doorstep as I write this, while I am a few hours away visiting family for the holidays. But soon, it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.

Here's an Idea Bella: Run. Fast. With Both Feet.

Katie and I became slightly enraged talking to one another (not AT one another) about New Moon. As it’s been well documented, I think this film is one giant sparkle away from complete suckage, but who am I to begrudge the tween girls their indulgences. Wait…that’s exactly what we do below. So, without further ado, Katie and I go head-to-head with the Twihards. We fully expect backlash. Indeed, we do.

DEANNA
Good afternoon friend. So, I hear you’ve had the pleasure of seeing New Moon. There’s just one thing I want to point out before we start our undeath match unreview — that director Chris Weitz has been saying all over the place that if people just don’t like and/or get the film it’s because it’s not made for them — it’s for the “fans.” Personally, I think this is just one giant cop out.

Thoughts?

KATIE
Um, wow. That’s, like, a supernatural-sized cop out. Would you care for a slice of humble-pie with that statement? I get that he was burned pretty badly by his work on The Golden Compass but, come on, dude. That’s like saying people who hate the Twilight series of books just aren’t “fans” of the genre. A good movie is a good movie. And a bad one is a rotten tomato.

Period.

Likewise for books. And, for the record, that doesn’t mean a bad movie or book can’t be a commercial success.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gary Oldman in "Bram Stoker's Dracula"

Gary Oldman in "Bram Stoker's Dracula"

So, I’ve been reading Bram Stoker’s classic tale, Dracula. I figured I should back up my literary smackdown with more than just empty words, and I have but one thing to say: it’s TERRIFYING.

First published in May 1897, Dracula’s an epistolary novel, and it’s not unlike Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in tone (and that’s one of my all-time favourite novels). At first, I wasn’t convinced I was going to like reading this book. I bought my copy at The Strand the last time I was in NYC and have been meaning to read it for, oh, about 18 months now. Oddly, if it wasn’t for this Undeath Match, I doubt I would have gotten to it before 2045 or so…

Anyway. I’ve only read about 100 pages so far and right now Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor is missing and his fiance, Mina, is worried. Jonathan left months ago for Transylvania (and you see where this is going) to finish off a business deal for Count Dracula, whose considering a move to England (so he can terrorize the English, bah!). At this very moment, there’s a ship in the harbour near Whitby (UK, not near TO) that’s being steered by a dead man.

Another interesting thing to note: When Jonathan arrives in Transylvania, he goes by coach to Count Dracula’s castle. Wolves are howling. They chase the coach. They bare their fangs. And then, suddenly, they’re subdued, almost as if a far superior being has just whipped them into shape. Perchance this is the first literary occurrence of the Undeath Match. Oh, and what a shock, the vampires come out as the superior being yet once again.

Indeed.

All in all, actually of the two vampire books I’ve read in the last little while, Dracula‘s far more entertaining than a certain other book that’s currently dominating bestseller lists around the world.

/Off topic. In terms of book-to-movie translations, how did this end up with “Bram Stoker” in the title? The book and the movie couldn’t be more different. Anyone? Anyone?

We went to see The Road on Saturday night and there was a preview for Ethan Hawke’s new vampire movie, Daybreakers. Um, I squealed. Like a teenage girl who sees Edward on screen for the first time. And, look! His character’s name is Edward too. But, happily, he’s far more age appropriate for a girl like me. Yum.

Also, the movie doesn’t look half bad, right? What cool Hollywood actors are playing werewolves in upcoming awesome films?

[Crickets]

Exactly.

So, as of late, the arguments coming from my lovely counterparts here on The Undeath Match have said the following about vampires:

1. They hate the environment.

2. They are pretentious.

3. They hate Canada, kittens and women.

I’m not even going to front any more. I’m not going to get all cheeky and witty and wordy. I’m just going to say one thing: vampires aren’t human. When you come right down to it, it’s probably the very best thing about them. But why? I mean there are obvious disadvantages to being undead, primarily, you know, the whole being dead thing.

Well, right now both Katie and myself are suffering from a really nasty cold that’s got us laid up and miserable. A sore throat, a lot of coughing, some gross phlegm. Being sick is honestly kind of sick. All those gross bugs (like the common cold bug below) crawling microscopically around inside your throat, your stomach, your lungs. I mean, ew.

I’ll bet dollars to donuts that not a single vampire would have to go through the utter disgrace of having runny nose, sore throat, or a hacking cough once a season. No vampire would be forced to endure the frustration of standing in line for hours for an H1N1 vaccination. You know why? They’re not human.

Conversation between Deanna and her husband last night:

“Honey, are werewolves immortal?”

“No, why would they be? They’re  human. They’re shapeshifters but they’re human.”

Huh.

I guess that means werewolves can catch all manner of viruses, from the common cold to the dreaded H1N1. They’re sniffling, sneezing, body-ripping wolfy cesspools of germs. It’s bad enough they’ll try to kill you, but good grief, on top of everything, they can still give you a cold too.

#1 reason why vampires remain superior? They won’t give me a cold.

shaun-of-the-dead

The Zombies from Shaun of the Dead Wear Great Outfits as They Lust for Flesh

The last thing I want to do is help Dan lose any more painfully than he has already…but, I said we’d post up the 10 Best Zombie Films and by gosh, here they are in no particular order. Again, I had help compiling this list. Again, holler back if we’ve gotten it completely wrong.

Shaun of the Dead (2004) directed by Edgar Wright
This one’s easy. It’s funny, has lots of gore, and moves from “good horror film” to “great film” easily.

Dellamorte Dellamore aka Cemetery Man (1994) directed by Michele Soavi
Rupert Everett is super hot! Also, if you’re catching a theme: comedy seems to work well in terms of making a successful zombie film. Um, we like a touch of funny with our gross and our scary.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) directed by George A. Romero
Obvious one.

Day of the Dead (1985) directed by George A. Romero
Ditto.

Fido (2006) directed by Andrew Currie
While it might not be the greatest film we’re listing, it stars Billy Connolly and is actually a Canadian film — and not just a picture made here and dressed to look like some inane American city/place (Resident Evil; we’re looking at you).

[Rec] (2007) directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza
The whole hand-held, one cameraman “faux news” technique (kind of akin to Cloverfield only they’re technically professional news peeps in [Rec]) does the trick in this Spanish film. See if you still want to grow up to be a firefighter after watching this picture.

Dead Alive (Braindead) (1992) directed by Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson with a decidedly lower film budget.

White Zombie (1931) directed by Victor Halperin
Before zombies were reinvented by Romero. Bela Lugosi in all his creepy overacting glory.

I Walked with a Zombie (1943) directed by Jacques Tourneur
Jacques Tourneur also directed Cat People. This film’s truly an old school zombie/voodoo deal that is also an adaptation of Jane Eyre. Hummm, I wonder where the idea for P+P+Z came from?

Dawn of the Dead (remake 2004) directed by Zack Snyder
I know we just made a snarky comment about films made in Canada to look like the “Midwestern” US (or anywhere in the US) but this picture is kind of the exception. Plus, Sarah Polley rocks in it. And as far as remakes go, it’s pretty damn good.

“Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men.”

Umm… Discuss?

(via Bookslut)

Could this be the scariest book to come out this October? (via Flavorwire) Dacre Stoker (with Ian Holt) picks up the nib and carries on with Bram Stoker’s original character:

With Dracula the Un-Dead, Dacre Stoker (Bram’s great-grandnephew) and Ian Holt revive the original vampire king, just in time for Halloween.

This authorized sequel picks up 25 years after the classic Dracula, and is based largely on Bram Stoker’s handwritten notes for characters and plot threads. Taking a new generation into account, it features Van Helsing’s morphine-obsessed protégé; Mina and Jonathan Harker’s lawyer-turned-actor son; and even the elder Stoker himself as a London theater director.

Check out the official Dracula the Un-Dead website, follow the authors’ blog, read The Guardian’s analysis of the project, and buy the book.

Flavorwire posts up the trailer, which I’m going to come right out and say isn’t all that scary. Fingers crossed the book delivers:

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been away for a couple weeks (anyone? Aw come on! Surely someone noticed? Mom? Geez…), and while off on my adventures I missed a whole bunch of vampire/zombie action, so here are some links for your undead reading pleasure:

Zombies are the New BlackThe National Post reports that George A. Romero, legendary film director of the zombie cult-classic, Night of the Living Dead, has been commissioned to write his debut novel. No prizes for guessing what it is about…

The Everything Vampire Challenge — Ardeth Blood wants you to do 6 things vampire related and blog about it. Huh. Is anyone doing ‘The Everything Zombie Challenge’???

Vampire-Hunting Kits in LA Weekly — “Some of these vampire hunting kits are ‘authentic.’ Some were assembled by artists aiming to capture the antique beauty of the things. Others are straight up hoaxes.” No shit.

8 Horror Webcomics To Read in the Dark compiled by io9 (Raising Hell by Andy Belanger shown above!).

Little Women and Werewolves — *cough* shameless-bandwagon-jumping *cough*

An oldie but a goodie — Capcom’s Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles tee for the San Diego ComicCon a few months back (above). On a related note ThinkGeek have Zombie Brains Hoodie… Who says zombies aren’t stylish??

AND lastly — Deanna (our resident blood-sucking harpy — no wait, that didn’t come out right… Umm… ‘Vampire-In-Chief’? Note to self: STOP DIGGING…) has reviewed P+P+Z at her blog Tragic Right Hip. Expect a more scathing take here at a later date…

(PS special thanks to @AliasGrace for sending me most of these links!)

George A. Romero, legendary film director of the zombie cult-classic, Night of the Living Dead, has been commissioned by UK publisher Headline, to write his debut novel

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