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Aprilynne Pike, author of Wings and Spells, evaluates the pros and cons of dating in the supernatural world.

— Katerina

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Back in 2008, someone suggested that the horde of zombie movies was losing ground to a clan of vampire flicks in some kind of sociological class warfare allegory. It was an interesting observation, but we paranormal authors know better than to play Freakonomics with the undead.

Supernatural trends are clearly about the romance!

Take vampires, for example. They say only a vampire can love you forever — excepting angels, demons, and a plethora of other immortals, natch — but the thrill doesn’t stop there! Tall, dark, and handsome? Check. Hungry, passionate longing with a hint of danger? Double-check. Of course, California tans and sunset walks on the beach are right out, but with that list of Class-A features does anyone really think we’re reading about vampires because of subconscious political metaphors?

Of course not! We read about vampires because we want a boyfriend who went to high school with great-grandpa, but still looks like Rob Pattinson.

Same deal with zombies: what girl doesn’t want a man who can appreciate her for her brains? And with the advent of cologne and duct tape, even that pesky decay problem is no obstacle to true love with these monosyllabic shamblers!

In the last two years, even zombies and vampires have given up ground to an advancing army of paranormals. Werewolves, for example, are all the rage! Loyal, rugged men who will definitely keep you warm at night. Let’s face it — everyone is furry for Jacob. Granted, these boys have a time of the month that goes way beyond cranky, and don’t get me started on the state of the soap after they shower . . . but really, who’s perfect?

Why stop there? Sooner or later, someone will realize that vampires, zombies, and werewolves all have one thing in common: ear-nibbling is out, and that just bites. Instead, why not date a faerie? Ethereal beauty, a love of the outdoors, and a wicked sense of humor all come together in this perfect pixie package. They can be a little flighty, it’s true, but once they’re bound to you, they’re bound for life. Make sure you ask what his real name is on your first date. Trust me, that’s information worth worming out of him.

Those paranormals a little too much to handle? Maybe a wizard or warlock is more up your alley. Human enough to fit in as the boy next door, these guys can spoil you better than any millionaire, with a wave of their magic wand — assuming they can see past the end of it. But watch for prejudiced magicians who might turn their back on you if they discover you’re kind of Muggle-y.

Still haven’t found your perfect match? Don’t worry! We’re not done yet! There are demons (the ultimate bad boys), angels (a little pious but oh so sparkly!) necromancers (very helpful should you succumb to the bad guy!) . . . even Cthulu has probably taken out a personal ad from time to time (he’ll eat you up he loves you so).

So you judge. Is our fascination with the supernatural based on obscure and subconscious social leanings? Bah! Clearly, all you need is love.

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TL: So, it would seem that Constantine enjoyed a bigger budget than Dog Soldiers, but I think it may have been ahead of its time in terms of Angel popularity. This kind of pseudo-religious apocalypse at the hands of an angel movie has been done a few times, most famously in The Prophecy and most recently in Legion. Constantine fits right in the middle time-wise, but was, in my opinion, the best of the three.

What did you think of the movie?

KW: I agree. Putting aside all bias toward werewolves, I have to admit this was a stellar movie.

One of the things I usually dislike about film adaptations of graphic novels is often the attempt to capture the look overrides other elements of the movie. The result is usually high art for the sake of high art, celebrities thrown into the mix making the the high production value fall flat for me.

Movies like Sin City, for example, wind up being nothing but a second-rate imitation (from which I frankly wanted to walk out of). Graphic novels have the ability to depict things that are unimaginable in real life and that can entail some horrific scenes. But, nobody wants to see the real Wile E. Coyote actually get smushed by the falling anvil. My measure of success for adaptations of graphic novels is balancing the art with the storyline and acting. Constantine was able to pull it off. And then some.

That said, there were a significant amount of changes from the original source, particularly the character of Constantine. What are your thoughts on filmmakers drastically altering or mixing content in the process of adapting novels for the big screen?

TL: That kind of thing doesn’t bother me that much. What works in a book doesn’t always work on-screen. The Da Vinci Code for example. They were too true. In Angels and Demons, they changed more and the movie benefited from those changes. It’s interesting to see what another mind does with the original story, what compromises they choose to make, what works and what doesn’t.

I haven’t read Constantine, so I can’t compare them, but I also appreciate the fact that the movie isn’t overdone. I found it very appealing visually but I also really enjoyed the story, the humour and the mythology. The final confrontation in this movie is fantastic – the motivations of each character and the role they play is so… cynical? Is that the word I am looking for?

KW: Agreed. The original source can’t be translated literally. I appreciate when a filmmaker can “interpret” the original source so it’s true without being literal. Keanu Reeves, though great to look at at, is not the finest actor but he did a good job. Overall, I enjoyed the acting. The cinematography and special effects were especially cool. As for cynical perspective of the characters: maybe. I think there had to be an aspect of hope to pull the protagonists out of the frightening prospects that lay ahead of them though. Don’t you think?

TL: Hope is there. But Constantine hopes that if he commits suicide (again), that he can save the girl. Lucifer hopes that if he saves Constantine’s life, that he will mess up again and go straight to Hell next time. Gabriel hopes that Hell on Earth will make humanity worthy of God. It’s a pretty grim set of hopes.

KW: Yeah, but hope is hope, grim or not. The darkest hour is before the dawn and all that. I actually like the bleakness of it in a way because despite the cool special effects, the overarching premise of the movie wasn’t heavy-handed in the way that a lot of big budget Hollywood films are with an obvious pulling at heartstrings or morality.

TL: I will tell you a secret: I Love Keanu. He picks movies that work with his Ted vs the Matrix legacy. They are always burnt out a little, they speak slowly, but they have an inner stregnth that I think he actually works quite well. So maybe he didn’t quite pull off being Buddha. He is apparently a reaally intelligent person and voracious reader.

And the young Shia Lebeouf! I had forgotten about his role in this movie. He does a great job at annoying sidekick.

What did you think of Gabriel being played by a woman?

KW: Since we’re admitting to secrets, I too will admit that I love Keanu. He’s not likely to win any Oscars but you can’t fault him for knowing his limitations and picking characters that he’s able to portray honestly. I feel that critics who find his acting wooden or reminiscent of some of his earlier roles, are biased in their reviews and pan anything in which he appears. As for Shia Lebeouf, I also forgot about him in the film and with reason. He was the biggest cliche in the movie, right up to how things end up for him.

As for my thoughts on Gabriel being played by a woman: fantastic! However, I think it worked only because it was Tilda Swinton. Any other female actor might not have been able to pull it off. She was able to balance the androgyny of this character with playfulness that was more charming than creepy. You?

TL: When I first watched this movie back in the day, it made me a fan of SWINTON. She is fierce and beautifu but androgynous, exactly. She’s perfect – a brilliant choice for this role.

Constantine was the kind of movie I wanted Legion to be – smart, dark, a little bit mystic. I’m going to give it 9/10 – it’s a contender for top of this (hopefully!) burgeoning genre.

KW: Yes, this was an enjoyable movie and one that Hollywood producers should be mindful of when creating the next films of this theme. It had all the right elements of both story line and style without being over-the-top. So, I’m going to agree with you here and give it a 9/10 also in the hopes that we see more films of this calibre in the future.

Alright, unDead nation, I am feeling a little defeated this weekend. Legion, though creeptastic in parts, was a pretty big let down. Let me just say that if you are going to watch an apocolyptic angel movie this weekend, save some money and rent Constantine.

Let’s start with the good. The creep-factor is pretty high for some parts of this movie. That old lady from the trailer is even worse on the big screen. Ditto for the ice cream man. But HOLY CRAP.. wait til you see the kid. “It’s OK. I just want to play with your baby”. *shudder*

I liked Paul Bettany, and I actually kinda liked thier take on Micheal. Michael disobeying God is a new interpretation of his angelic archetype, and I am always a fan of innovation. Michael is a pretty arrogant guy, and could be a little more forth-coming with plot-enhancing explanations, but he comes by his arrogance honestly and he’s right almost all of the time.

Gabriel, on the other hand, was a pretty weak character. And, it’s been done better in Constantine and The Prophecy. He’s somewhat of a minor character in Legion, which is strange since he is the one who leads the army of creepy possesed people. He doesn’t even appear until the last third of the movie.

About the fighting: This is the kind of movie that needs a pretty epic battle; it IS the end of the world, after all. And to his credit, Gabriel tried. He came onto the scene ready to kick-butt and take some names. But there was no ‘battle’, just a couple of scuffles.

But, the biggest problem is that nothing in the plot makes sense.

Consider this your fair warning: The rest of this is spoilers…

Things that were never explained:
Who the hell names thier kid “Jeep”?
Why don’t the angels just possess the people in the diner?
Why THAT baby? He’s just some bastard son of a waitress.
Why does the baby stop the possessed people in thier tracks?
Is this baby made of adimantium? He gets tossed around like a pigskin.
Why does Jeep get covered in angel tattoos, but never gets any angel powers?
Did this happen to the whole world? Or just the South Western US?
Were all the possesed people ok after God changes his mind?

Deanna recently pointed out an article at The Independent that basically says angels are the new vampires. The writer seems to think that the days of Nosferatu are numbered and that they’ll be replaced in pop culture by the winged. When asked why the upsurge in angelic literature, one interviewee supposed it was because “people find (angels) very approachable.”

Approachable. SRSLY?

There are so many things wrong with that sentence. First, I’m not looking for an undead creature to go to Glee club with me, even if they do have a millennia of experience in a choir of angels. Second, have you seen the creeptastic angels in Legion? Approachable? Hardly.

Photo credit: airpark from Flickr

So, are angels the new vampires? I’m going to throw you a curve ball here and say yes. And here’s why: because they’ve both got image issues.

Let’s look at the facts. Historically speaking, angels represent two extremes: there’s the white gowned, haloed goody-two-shoes on one shoulder and the horned, pitch-fork bearing devil on the other. Never the twain shall meet.

One-dimensional? You know it.

You want to talk about hierarchy of angels? Well, here’s the word straight from HR: angels are all essentially cubicle employees. In fact, Douglas Coupland could write a book about them. When it comes right down to it, they’re merely cogs in the wheels of the universe doing the same basic jobs but for different corporations: Heaven Inc. and Hell Corp.

In Heaven Inc., angels work in cubicles constructed of cloud walls where motivational posters float with positive statements beneath pictures of unicorns and rainbows. And that “Hang in there!” kitten struggling to stay on a branch.

Conversely, Hell Corp. employees work surrounded by walls made of fire. They don’t have posters at all (you know, because of the fiery surroundings) but instead are made to read e-newletters about employees of the month. Pat Robertson is January’s lead contender. And Fox News is streamed into desktop monitors 24/7.

Disgruntled? You bet. How do you think Hell Inc. started in the first place? It was the result of a failed corporate coup by Lucifer and his lackeys. You know the kind of guy he is, the one who calls in a bomb threat just to get a day off work. Well, here’s the flaw in the plan: most bosses aren’t omniscient. In the words of the Trump: “You’re fired!” (see what I did there?) Since Heaven Inc. was the only place hiring at the time, to continue employment Lucifer had to found his own competing firm: Hell Corp.

The point is, angels are all serfs to a corporate CEO. And the only two career choices they have are Assistant to the Manager (Heaven Inc.) or Assistant to the Manager (Hell Corp.). I’m going to channel fellow blogger Deanna here for a moment and just say, “Yawn.”

Werewolves, on the other hand, represent the more realistic rift between two extremes. Might I add: without the aid of props like blazing swords and fluffy wings? They’re slaves to no one’s agenda. They are the risk-takers who do things we can only dream of—and I’m not just talking about cool but ultimately slacker jobs like “resort waterslide tester.” They’re the supernatural creatures you envy. The ones that others want to emulate but with whom they would never, ever even dare try to make an outright direct comparison.

So, yeah, angels can be the new vampires. I’ll give them that. (If you follow this blog, you know what happened to vampires in the last round.) Heck, angels can be the new black for all it matters in this conversation. The point is that no supernatural creature can contest their equivalence to werewolves. Werewolves are simply in a league of their own. I say step up to the plate, angels. Show me what you’ve really got ’cause it’s game on.

[Vote werewolf today at the top left of this page.]

Here at (un) Death-Match, we like our contests. Maybe you do, too. If not, suck it up, princess ’cause we’ve got another one starting today. Only this time we’ll be pitting my gorgeous werewolves against Tan’s creepy angels (have you seen the trailer for Legion yet?)

Up for grabs: five prize packages with our two book picks (Bitten by Kelley Armstrong and Fallen by Lauren Kate). What do you have to do? Leave a comment here or tweet using the #undeathmatch hashtag about why your creature of choice should win this battle royale. Remember, we need to be able to contact the winner so that means you have to either sign in when leaving a comment (so we can reach you by e-mail) or follow us on Twitter (so we can DM you). Contest closes midnight ET on Monday, January 18.

Now, what are you waiting for?

This is a pretty big month for Undeath Match at the box office. Deanna, Katie and I are all pretty excited about the release of Daybreakers, Wolfman and Legion respectively. (But really, were all pretty excited for all three of these movies!) So we just had to know which of these movies you, our Undead Devotees, are most excited for. Check out the trailers below, and vote in our mini-poll.

Daybreakers

Wolf Man

Legion

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.

Ok, ok. You might not normally associate Angels with the likes of Vampires, Zombies and Werewolves. I get it – it’s an odd choice. Let’s just say that I was overcome with Holiday Spirit this year, and talked Deanna and Katie into Round 3.

But let’s set the record straight: we’re not talking about delicate Christmas angels or those chubby little cherubs from Katie’s post. No, in this corner of the Undeath Match Arena, you have the Warriors and the Fallen.

Exhibit A:

Gonna be a little bit of awesome, that movie.

So. Angels – not the new Wimpires.

The people have spoken and werewolves have taken down vampires in Round 2 of (un) Death-Match! It was a valiant fight, Deanna, but vampires can only marginalize so many people before the rest of society takes a stand. The clear victor here was werewolves, the people’s creature: strong, loyal…unsparkling.

Now we’re heading into round 3. So, naturally, the first question is: what supernatural creature will be going head-to-head with werewolves?

And…the answer is…

Angels.

What the what?! Oh, come on! You’ve got to be kidding me.

Angels?! At Christmas time? Werewolves might as well be going up against the freaking Easter bunny. Look people, let me just remind you that this isn’t a cute competition, OK? I know it’s hard for you to look into the eyes of an angel and vote against it, but seriously, this is a match of ferocity and sheer terror. Not, well, this:

Keep dreaming, little angels. It'll all be over soon.

The only fight these two stand a chance to win is a tickle fight. And, despite what vampires will tell you, werewolves aren’t ticklish. Nonetheless, I suspect it’ll be a losing battle for the defending champions this week what with the holidays and all the angel propaganda taking place.

Anyway, here are the books being defended:

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Fallen by Lauren Kate

vs.

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

If you’ve been following the site from the start, you know the drill. If not, place your votes on the upper left of this page, come back and vote often.

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