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TV Series Review

Here's the thing about making vampires angry: They hold grudges.

Take Vlad Dracula Tepes, the country of Wallachia's homegrown boogieman. For years, he kept to himself in his castle, all the impaled skeletons planted in his front yard serving as a "no solicitors" sign. He didn't want much to do with humanity—nor they with him—until Lisa, a would-be doctor from a nearby village, stopped by looking for "secret knowledge." Oddly, they hit it off. And the next thing you know, they're married, with Dracula seemingly swearing off hemoglobin hors d'oeuvres forever.

About 20 years later, the local bishop stopped by Lisa's house (she and Vlad apparently lived separately, for some reason) and saw a bunch of science-y stuff scattered about. Well, science equals witchcraft, as anyone in Wallachia knows, and witches are entitled to a complimentary burning at the stake.

Did I say entitled? Sorry. It's more of an obligation, really.

Dracula was not pleased with his wife's death, naturally (unnaturally?), and now the people of Wallachia are paying mightily. The vampire has summoned a diabolical army, and it's working its way through the country, town by town, slaying every living being Vlad's minions can sink their claws into. Dracula won't rest until the soil is steeped in blood, the ground covered in corpses, the air filled with the stench of decay.

Unless, that is, the handsome-yet-disgraced vampire hunter Trevor Belmont can put a stop to the carnage.

From Button Masher to Blood Gusher

Netflix's show Castlevania is based on something almost as old as Dracula himself: Konami's mostly beloved Castlevania video game series.

The franchise came into being way back in 1986, when mullets were hip, video games restricted themselves to an 8-bit diet and game plots were something of an afterthought. The original Castlevania pitted Simon Belmont and his vampire-killing whip against Dracula and his monster-filled castle. The Netflix show seems to be, I guess, "based' on 1989's Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse.

But Netflix's subscribers presumably demand a bit more than a linear 8-bit story these days, and they want more graphic graphics.

Boy, is this version graphic.

Castlevania has transmogrified from its videogame roots into a lavish, anime-style production 31 years later, complete with many of the problems that this oft-adult form of entertainment can entail.

Or should I say entrail? Because we certainly see a lot of those. Spines are ripped from bodies. Heads are bashed against walls. Blood runs like bathwater. Language is extraordinarily foul—certainly like nothing we would've heard in the original game or even in 15th-century Wallachia, I'm sure. And while the show hasn't animated any sexual acts as of yet, the very first episode offered a pretty graphic spoken interlude involving bestiality.

All of this, of course, is deeply problematic—particularly for younger viewers who might scan their Netflix cues and stumble onto something that looks like a tween-centric cartoon.

But it gets worse.

I Vant to Turn Off Zee TV!

While Dracula is the show's primary antagonist, Castlevania's real villain is, apparently, the Church.

It was the local Bishop, after all, who burned Dracula's wife at the stake as priests scowled and brandished crosses. Lisa cries out in anguish to her absent husband, "Don't hurt them! They don't know what they're doing!" (Purposefully reflecting Jesus' own pleas from the cross, naturally.) Crazy for the bishop to think that she'd be in league with the devil when she's only married to, y'know, a guy whose house is surrounded by the corpses of his murdered victims and has the power to call up an army from the "guts of hell" …

And what about those naive, superstitious peasants? Thank goodness that Lisa and her husband had shoved aside all that superstition nonsense in exchange for rigorous, secular science! Like, um, vampirism and monsters, and, oh yes, the blood raining from the sky ...

Yes, the only real theological consistency we get from Castlevania is that anything smacking of Christianity is the real devil here. The vampire who's already killed hundreds of people and wants to kill lots, lots more? Well, he lost his wife, poor guy. Sure, he overreacted, but hey, he's a victim, here!

The original Castlevania game looks pretty rudimentary to us. It's simple. It's a little silly. It certainly wasn't made with the sort of technology available to us today. But even so, it's worth more of your time than the Netflix show that it's based upon.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Castlevania: July 6, 2017 "Witchbottle"

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Voices of Richard Armitage as Trevor Belmont; James Callis as Adrian Tepes (Alucard); Graham McTavish as Vlad Dracula Tepes; Alejandra Reynoso as Sypha Belnades; Tony Amendola as The Elder; Matt Frewer as the Bishop; Emily Swallow as Lisa Tepes

Director

Distributor

Network

Netflix

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

Released

On Video

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Paul Asay

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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