The new Netflix mini-series of “Castlevania” has solid writing, great scary atmosphere, and a good plot with a unique revenge story. The music accompanies it well. The speech acting is excellent. Yet, this short term success is going to spell long term disaster for the franchise. By catering to middle-aged men instead of the children who we used to be, will the rising generation even care about Castlevania?
My parent’s surprised me with the original Castlevania for my 10th birthday while we were on a family vacation. Though I couldn’t immediately play it, I stared at the gorgeous box art for days. I read the manual cover to cover. Dreaming of the monsters, weapons, and traveling through the map in my mind of that gigantic castle. Halloween was (and still is) my favorite holiday, and now Halloween had come early to the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The summer of 1987, when grocery stores were fun. You could play arcade games or rent movies/games while the parents did the boring chore of grocery shopping. The Lost Boys and Fright Night were two of the big vampire hits. While my parents were searching for the perfect produce at Smith’s grocery store, I was back in the video section, terrified by what might be hiding inside that Fright Night VHS. But, I was a decade too young. What was a boy to do for vampire entertainment?
Cabbage Patch dolls, Teddy Ruxpin, Care Bears, Pound Puppies, G.I. Joe, He-Man, Transformers, Garbage Pail Kids, ThunderCats, Simon, TMNT, Star Wars, Ghostbusters, and…The Nintendo Entertainment System. What magical land held these treasures? Toy stores. Castlevania was born in toyland. Suddenly, monsters and demons weren’t evils to be scared of. Now, they were toys to be played with. Castlevania had done the impossible, it made Dracula accessible to children. Sesame Street’s Count was now for my little sister, for I have Castlevania!
The best art makes a life changing impact on adults and children, simultaneously. Can you imagine if Star Wars was loaded with blood and gore, with the occasional bestiality joke? It is a movie about war and does have plenty of animals. Rather than become the religion it now is, it would be a forgotten Sci-Fi B movie. In the first Castlevania episode, Witchbottle, it ends in a disgusting and pathetic goat joke that caused my wife to walk out of the theater. This is the moment where Netflix’s Castlevania went from legendary, to deceased.
“Please, this isn’t a bar fight. Have some class.” – Alucard
Castlevania forgot it was a toy. Filled with lazy, excessive swearing and gore. A good score, but nothing inspired by the games. Suddenly that gorgeous art looks like generic anime. Trevor Belmont’s excellent whip action scenes bring back the 80s only to lose them when an ear is gratuitously whipped off. Sypha Belnades and Alucard from Dracula’s Curse? The NES briefly flashes in my mind until the next gore filled murder scene. Only four episodes long, this proof of concept was one of the better Dracula stories I’ve seen. But, excellent ideas like the one year clock, the religious evil vs. horde evil, falls on the tired ears of grey-haired men. We need art that inspires elementary school students to scribble Simon Belmont in their notebooks once again. Nobody in my son’s class knows who the Belmonts are, and this extended movie trailer missed it’s chance to change that.
Halloween is becoming more blood and gore focused. Trick-or-treating isn’t nearly the event in my neighborhood it used to be. Halloween is slowly being pulled away from children’s hands like Baron Von Frankenstein’s will from his casket in Young Frankenstein. Castlevania had a chance to win my kids over and revive the franchise. Finally, a chance to fix the mistakes of “Captain N – The Game Master”, and give Castlevania it’s own show! Unfortunately, my kids won’t be watching this for a decade, if Castlevania even means anything to them when they grow up. This year we will be playing a lot of NES/SNES Castelvanias in an attempt to make it a part of our October Halloween traditions. I hope it works. You have to get them while they are young. What a missed opportunity for future generations. When the brand is generational, it will die with that generation.
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