Abraham Lincoln

Ken and Robin Consume Media: Dracula, Sandman, and Wong Fei Hong

March 15th, 2016 | Robin

Ken and Robin Consume Media is brought to you by the discriminating and good-looking backers of the Ken and Robin Talk About Stuff Patreon. Each week we provide capsule reviews of the books, movies, TV seasons and more we cram into our hyper-analytical sensoriums. Join the Patreon to help pick the items we’ll talk about in greater depth on our new podcast segment, Tell Me More.


Anno Dracula (Fiction, Kim Newman, 1992) In a world where the titular count defeated van Helsing to become England’s Prince Consort, a secret agent and a sympathetic elder bloodsucker pursue the vampire slayer dubbed Jack the Ripper. Deft plotting propels a veritable blood feast of slyly deployed literary and historical references. —RDL

The Nightmare (Film, US, Rodney Ascher, 2015) Sufferers of extreme, chronic sleep deprivation share their horrifying experiences, brought to life in deeply unnerving re-enactments. Another compelling exploration of radical subjectivity from the director of Ken and Robin fave Room 237. —RDL

Proof (Non-fiction, Adam Rogers, 2014) Engagingly colloquial tour through the science of drinks and drinking, from the mysteries of yeast to the scant evidence on hangover cures. Fill up on alcohol factoids to share with friends the next time you gather to raise a glass. —RDL

Rise of the Legend (Film, HK/China, Chow Hin Yeung, 2014) Determined young martial artist Wong Fei Hong (Eddie Peng) walks a dark path when he infiltrates Guangzhou’s Black Tiger Gang, led by wily waterfront kingpin Master Lui (Sammo Hung.) Lavishly mounted origin story shows Chinese cinema’s most filmed hero acquiring his defining trait—his moral authority. —RDL

Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition (Comics, Neil Gaiman & J.H. Williams III, 2015) The tension drained out of  the original Sandman once Gaiman realized that Morpheus was an asshole, but it remained a triumph of tight plotting and mythic scope. For this space-operatic prequel, Gaiman’s plot tightens dramatically, Williams’ superb art limns cosmic scope, and Morpheus is still an asshole. –KH

Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (Wine, Chile) Global wine overproduction means some delicious wines can be had for next to nothing, if you know what you’re looking for. This red comes out of the bottle sugary and quaffable, and acquires depth if you use an aerator. You do use an aerator, right? Make a tomato sauce with the first third, then drink some of the rest with your meal. —RDL


10 Cloverfield Lane (Film, Dan Trachtenberg, 2016) A young woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is trapped (?) in a bunker with a weirdo (?) survivalist (John Goodman) after a chemical attack (?) poisons the atmosphere (?). Shaggy dog construction renders the whole less than the sum of its well-done parts; like three great Twilight Zone episodes in a row. –KH

What Mad Universe (Fiction, Fredric Brown, 1949) A rocket crash blows pulp SF editor Keith Winton into a parallel universe AH based on Winton’s notion of what a pulp SF superfan wants to see in a pulp SF magazine. Like all Brown’s stuff it’s equal parts masculinity, style, and bananas; not a definitive classic like Night of the Jabberwock or Knock Three-One-Two but well worth bouncing your skull off of. –KH


Enemy (Film, Canada, Denis Villeneuve, 2013) In a sickly orange, brutalist Toronto, a history prof (Jake Gyllenhaal) loses his bearings when he discovers he has an exact duplicate, a bit player in movies, living in the same city. Long on influences (Cronenberg, Polanski, Kieslowski) but short on passion for the material. —RDL

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