there's more to evil than killing

While doing research for my current novel, Googleland somehow channelled me to the page for the movie Gabriel with Andy Whitfield (beware the search term Asmodeus ... you will go many places, none of them good). The conflicting reviews intrigued me, as conflicting reviews always do, and I decided I'd like to see it just to make up my own mind.

I figured I'd have to order it and promptly forgot about the movie until yesterday when I searched the racks for Priest. Lo and behold but what did my wandering gaze find but a single copy of Gabriel sitting on the top shelf! I snatched it and decided we would watch this one first and Priest later.

It was a gritty, dark fantasy, the kind I like to read and write. In Gabriel, each of the Fallen have a particular vice they encourage. Lilith runs a nightclub where drug use is rampant, Ahriman supplies the drugs that Lilith's clients use, and Asmodeus runs the whorehouse. Asmodeus was my favorite of the Fallen. With the use of surgery, he tries to give a woman a replica of his face. The insight this gives the viewer into Asmodeus is tremendous. His vanity and desire to create someone in his image is evident in that one scene; he has succumbed to the very lust that he promotes to make a mirror of himself in someone else's face.

Like the Fallen, Gabriel finds himself succumbing to his desire for revenge and his own rage. The negative emotions he thought he could easily defeat with love are roused and inflamed because of his love for the other angels who were murdered. His hate and fury overwhelm him until he loses control of himself and pounds Asmodeus's face to a pulp. Even unto the end, Asmodeus was effective, because he turned Gabriel's very strength against him.

It's horror, but not the kind of horror the Jason-Freddy-Chainsaw Massacre crowd craves. This is a more insidious kind of horror, the kind that can maim a life and take years to kill; the kind that destroys first the mind and soul, then the body.

Too many writers think of horror or dark fantasy as a string of gory murders, which to me is just a turn-off. Any moron with an ax or gun can kill--it takes real creative genius to lead others astray and into their own doom. I think that was the thing I liked about Gabriel; the seductiveness of evil, how it can be so attractive to us even when we know better.

Don't expect Academy Award winning performances in Gabriel, but it was an interesting movie to watch, especially if you're like me and enjoy characterization over body-counts.

the return of Spartacus

It is with much rejoicing that I saw Starz is bringing Spartacus: Blood and Sand back for a second season. I'm sorry to see that Andy Whitfield won't be returning as Spartacus; he brought a certain soulfulness to the role that will be hard for another actor to emulate. I certainly wish him and his family the best of luck during his battle with cancer.

I also feel a little sorry for the actor Starz chooses to replace Whitfield. He'll spend the first five episodes with his performance being compared to Whitfield's. As a fangirl, I know we can be merciless in our judgment.

I love what Starz has done with the series, though. The characters are well-defined (very, very well-defined in some cases), smart, sexy, and definitely edgy. There are no muppets, no quirky (and do allow me to pause here and say how much I'm starting to loathe that word) heroines, and the women are given equal footing with the men in both viciousness and cunning.

Yes, there is violence; yes, there is sex; and no, I wouldn't allow anyone under certain maturity levels to watch it, but that is the beauty of Spartacus. It is good old-fashioned comic book fun that is geared entirely to adults. The series has my total fangirl love.

So kudos to Starz for keeping it going. While I'm waiting for season two, I will be keeping my appetite whetted on the prequel Gods of the Arena.

For Andy Whitfield and his family: my prayers are with you for an eventual recovery. I don't believe any of us will be watching a single episode of Spartacus without thinking of you.