2013 in Review

Happy New Year everyone. I was waiting for WordPress to give me my year in review, but no such summary and statistics came up for this blog, and so I thought I should come up with a movie summary instead. I had posted this without detail on Facebook, and I guess I would share this in detail here for the new year.

2013 copy

Best Malayalam movie: Celluloid
Its awesomeness approved by Kerala State Film Awards and the National Film Award committee of India. Prithviraj starts the year well. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/02/16/celluloid/

Best Hindi movie: Madras Cafe
There is absolutely no doubt about this one, as even with actors not known for their acting, this movie nails it. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/madras-cafe/

Best English movie: The Conjuring
I had thought long and hard about this one, but a horror movie always deserves an extra push and this one deserved it. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/the-conjuring/

Best Animated movie: Frozen
Unlike Brave, this year has a respectable animated movie at the top. People of no age group can afford to miss this one. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/01/frozen/

Best Action movie: Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro doesn’t miss out as he makes the right robot movie in our world plagued by Transformers. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/07/12/pacific-rim/

Best Visual experience: Gravity
This visually superior movie is all set to make it big on the Academy Awards next year, that is for sure. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/gravity/

Best Thrills: Drishyam
The director Jeethu Joseph maintains his cent percent record with another thriller, his second super hit of the year. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/drishyam/

Big Surprise: Philips and the Monkey Pen
Not that inspiring from the name, and not at all hyped, this movie is a beautifully crafted allegory with children as main characters. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/monkey-pen/

Righteous One: North 24 Kaatham
This movie is so simple and yet scores with the simple thoughts about goodness, righteous and happiness, and it has the power to change lives. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/north-24-kaatham/

Magical Movie: Amen
This movie is magical with or without its clear share of magic realism, and it is one of its kind, to be remade in other Indian languages. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/amen/

Powerful Experience: Rush
For a movie which can bring even non-Formula One fans to feel the emotions, there is no evil to be said about this one. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/rush/

Game Changer: Go Goa Gone
This movie might be the best thing that has happened to Bollywood in 2013, and I hope that this zom-com brings good changes instead of mindlessness. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/05/11/go-goa-gone/

Personal Favourite: Memories
One of the two brilliant movies from the director of the year, this movie establishes Prithviraj as the Malayalam actor of the year. Check for review: https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/memories/

Unnoticed One: 10:30 am Local Call
This movie had lots of good things about it despite a small cast except for Lal. This is a thriller as well as a love story with strength at both levels. Sadly, it didn’t get the attention or the appreciation it actually deserved.

Worst Malayalam movie: Kammath and Kammath
The movie provides us a world of nonsense and one can’t even understand what they say or intend to say. It wastes two actors and two actresses in a few hours of crime which they call a film. The side-effects of this movie include an eternal hatred for dosa which I could overcome only by hating idli.

Worst Hindi movie: Besharam
The shameless movie of the year has one of the so called young actors of the future in one of the worst roles anyone can do. This movie is a disgrace to Gandhiji as it released on the day of Gandhi Jayanthi. Taking in a whole family of actors and adding bad jokes which are older than our leading actor doesn’t help either.

Worst English movie: Mortal Instruments
This movie wonders who is the lover of whose brother and demons, vampires, hunters and werewolves have never been this retarded. There is this nonsense which makes Twilight look better. One comes to know that Lily Collins is incredibly cute, but the story or the characters makes no sense even when they are not on screen.

Most Undeserving Hit: Chennai Express
This is a painful watch as its take on the South – the actress has a Hindi accent which is not from the South of India, but from outside the nation, and the movie isn’t even funny enought to be taken lightly, and its romantic side is terrible. This is a clear case of stereotyping, and with all due disrespect to Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3, this will remain the undeserving one.

Of a Mental Asylum: Olipporu
From the moment it begins, to the end, the movie has tried to do something intellectual, that is for sure – but at most times, it makes no sense and with this movie, I have stopped watching Malayalam movies on the first day, alone. In the movie Nadan, Jayaram tells a few words which are applicable for this movie.

Worst Drag: Annayum Rasoolum
This had three hours of nothing but drag – the hero looks at the heroine, and keeps looking at her till the end of first half, and in a relationship of few words, they kiss, he goes to jail and she dies in a world of pathetic pseudo-romance. To add to an already slow movie, there is slow motion – what is wrong with these people?

Worst Drift: Bicycle Thieves
This movie drifts again and again with no idea where to go and what to do with its characters. There are twists of no sense and characters of no use. After stealing the title from Vittorio De Sica, this one comes up with a heroine who looks many times younger than the hero, and lead by her being weird. almost everyone acts strange, wonder why.

Worst Emptiness: Kili Poyi
This one has nothing, but smoke inside it, with clear glorification of drugs and a loose lifestyle, and its characters are so plain that one can hope to have just smoke inside it and feel the emptiness throughout the world. The movie itself is a black hole which has unfortunately made an impact of nonsense.

Worst Lie: Neelakasam Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi
This movie is a lie from the beginning to the end, and has characters who use the mask of travel for being stupid and aimless. The leading character is a man who pretends so much that he obviously has no identity of his own, and the journey is useless. This is rather an Indian Born Confused Desi (IBCD).

Worst Stupidity: ABCD
This one uses that kind of jokes which can’t appeal to even the worst of brains, and it is surprising that it became a big hit. The story of two shameless people who live a shameless life to end shameless doesn’t bring up any interest, except for the fine debutant performance of Jacob Gregory.

Unbearable One: Sringaravelan
This year’s most shameful comic movie comes up with a hero who falls in love with the heroine in another strange and meaningless way and their adventure is indeed a mentally retarded one, with the only hope being the beautiful heroine. Why would someone subtitle a movie “The Romantic Fighter” is beyond all hope.

Clueless One: The Host
There are no Twilight movies this year, and this movie is the worthy successor to that legacy, coming from a work of the same author. From the beginning to the end, this is a clueless alien invasion with no sense. At the end of the movie, we are aliens and would wish to escape from that world.

Worst Hype: Django Unchained
A story of violence and racial hatred has the shoot-at-random-people theory going throughout it. If the colour is different, shoot more people, and dead people are so much fun in this movie. Show a grin after you shoot people, because murder and destruction is so much fun. I have written a review, but you needn’t read it 😀

Malayalam Only:
Best Actor: Prithviraj Sukumaran (Celluloid, Memories, Mumbai Police)
Second Best: Fahadh Faasil (North 24 Kaatham, Amen)

Best Actress: Remya Nambeesan (Philips and the Monkey Pen, Left Right Left, Nadan)
Second Best: Swati Reddy (Amen, North 24 Kaatham)

Best Pair: Fahadh Faasil and Swati Reddy (Amen, North 24 Kaatham)
Second Best: Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim (Neram)

Best Performance: Prithviraj Sukumaran in Celluloid
Second Best: Prithviraj Sukumaran in Memories

Best Negative Shades: Indrajith Sukumaran in Left Right Left
Second Best: Indrajith Sukumaran in Ezhamathe Varavu

Best Villain: Joy Mathew in Amen
Second Best: Sreekumar in Memories

Best Supporting Role: Indrajith Sukumaran in Amen
Second Best: Fahadh Faasil in Immanuel

Best Comic Lead: Asif Ali in Honey Bee
Second Best: Kunchacko Boban in Pullipulikalum Aattinkuttiyum

Best Debut: Reenu Mathews in Immmanuel
Second Best: Keerthi Suresh in Geethanjali

Surprising Performers: Vijay Babu in Philips and the Monkey Pen
Second Best: Lena Abhilash in Left Right Left

Best Impact: Shobana in Thira
Second Best: Indrajith Sukumaran in Amen

Best Character: Georgekutty in Drishyam (Mohanlal)
Second Best: Sam Alex in Memories (Prithviraj Sukumaran)

Best Director: Jeethu Joseph (Memories, Drishyam)
Second Best: Lijo Jose Pellissery (Amen)

Best Child Artist: Esther Anil (Drishyam)
Second Best: Sanoop Santhosh (Philips and the Monkey Pen)

Best Song: Memories Never Die (Memories)
Second Best: Etho Sayahna Swapnangalil (10:30 am Local Call)

PS: Most read movie reviews:
Drishyam (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/drishyam/)
Oru Indian Pranaya Katha (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/oru-indian-pranaya-katha/)
Phata Poster Nikla Hero (https://moviesofthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/09/24/phata-poster-nikhla-hero/)

*103 movies watched on the big screen this year, with 71 of them reviewed. There were 44 English movies, 43 Malayalam movies, 12 Hindi movies and 4 Tamil movies. Total Reviews including honorary ones = 109.

Aurangzeb

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Talking about Aurangzeb, one has to wonder why this name for a movie which resembled Don and its remake in its first trailer shown in the theatres, but then you remember the Mughal Emperor who fought for kingship over kinship (“kingship knows no kinship” as declared by the movie itself in some of the posters), as the young emperor battled his brothers and also put his father under house arrest in the Agra Fort for the control of the throne; then after his formal coronation in Delhi, he does execute his brother, the eldest son and the heir apparent of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz Mahal, Dara Shikoh – as it is recorded in the annals of history. But his striving towards achieving his aim, and his master tactics might have also been considered while giving this name to the movie. His continuation of warfare might be another thing – the desire to achieve more heights, as he built up a massive army for more and more military expansion throughout the boundaries of his already vast empire. He was among the wealthiest of the Mughal rulers if what is written about him is true. By 1690, Aurangzeb had territories stretching from the South to the Afghan area. But after his death, the empire built on blood and intolerance breaks apart, something which has to be considered with the kingship of this movie.

The movie starts with a quote from The Odes, a collection of Latin lyric poems by Horace a.k.a Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the famous Roman poet from the age of the first emperor and the founder of the Roman Empire, known to us as Augustus Caesar. I can’t bring myself to remember that quote, but here we have another emperor! Never mind, our story follows the illegal real estate developer Yashvardhan (Jackie Shroff) and his always pleasure-seeking arrogant son Ajay (Arjun Kapoor). Rishi Kapoor, Prithviraj and Sikandar Kher is one cop family and challenges the family of criminals in a battle which is more unseen than seen. The police department succeeds in capturing Ajay and torture him, while they send out Ajay’s twin brother, Vishal (Arjun Kapoor), to Yashvardhan to find his secrets and bring his empire down to earth from the sky which it has set as the limit. Vishal joins the crew and becomes an informer, with a desire to take revenge for his mother who had to run away from his father Yashvardhan due to his dirty deeds. Here, the two brothers create the idea of Aurangzeb – the king, who puts his throne, sceptre and crown ie kingship above kinship. But in another way, Arya (Prithviraj) is also Aurangazeb – the concept not being limited to one person. Even his family of police officers has interest in real estate and they are all businessman on the end of the day. They fight their own battles, and the result is clearly unpredictable with the high emotional element involved.

Prithviraj Sukumaran has come up with a simple, yet excellent performance. There was evidently no mistake when he was declared as the future of Malayalam movie industry, and now he has moved further north and extended his domain more than once. He has been both the most liked and the most disliked movie actors the Malayalam movie industry has ever seen, and there has been unnecessary controversies for sure. For the Bollywood audience who don’t know him, right from the beginning of his career through Nandanam to establishing himself as part of the elite class in Thalappavu, he had a good number of ups and downs in Malayalam movie industry, and is now at the zenith of his glory with Ayalum Njanum Thammil and Celluloid, which brought to him the Kerala State Film Award for the second time, after a gap of six years. Lets just forget Aiyyaa and consider this his Grand Hindi debut, as he is indeed leaving a permanent mark with this one. Along with these movies mentioned, if you need to watch more of his movies, I would recommend Vargam, Akale, Indian Rupee and Classmates, two of his interesting performances which also have their own entertainment value.

There are also a number of critically acclaimed off-beat movies, like Akasathinte Niram, Veettilekkulla Vazhi and Manjadikuru. City of God and Manikyakallu are also worth mentioning here. But still, there might be no other movie like Celluloid, and as watching it might also be a tribute to the Indian movie industry, I would recommend it the most – Prithviraj is also at his best there, and therefore it is a must watch for all the true lovers of movies. His presence in Tamil is also to be noted and he is there in Telugu too, even as I have not explored that much. His other release in Malayalam, Mumbai Police also seems to be running pretty good in the theatres. After having a bad patch, he is now back in full power, and he is slowly blending into that police officer role which didn’t seem to suit him in a number of movies which failed miserably, but has now become part of his new series of roles in more than one language. Prithviraj had the opportunity and the option to step up, and he has successfully done that. There shall be more of him in Bollywood too, there is no doubt about that.

For the people who are confused already, Prithviraj is not the hero and neither is he the villain in this movie. But he surely does more than one job, as a businessman police officer, as the saviour and upholder of the law, the husband who forgets to smile at home (even as he has a grin when dealing with crime) and finally, as the family man who does what is expected of him. The big screen presence might have actually come up as a surprise for both his fans as well as the common movie watcher. He also narrates throughout the movie, and has presence on the big screen very often. Thus he does something more than being the supporting actor here. His character is there from the beginning to the end, as if he is the one who watches everything. His character has his understandings and transformations, and none of them seem to put the actor out of ease. The role of the two protagonists belong to Arjun Kapoor does the two characters with so much ease, especially the more evil side – the other one is just fine. There is no doubt that he is among the best of the young talents and he has proven it once again through this movie. After his performance in the action romance drama Ishaqzaade, here he comes up with another treat for the viewers. So, here are two actors, doing their job very well.

Sashaa Agha, the daughter of the Pakistani singer and actress Salma Agha also makes her Bollywood debut in this movie. Other than being the gorgeous presence in the movie, the twenty one year old also sings in the movie, the song being well received already. Even if one has to wonder if she is a little uncomfortable out there and there is a sure confusion around, the plot would have run well without that character, and considering that, she has done more than enough. She has surely earned her spot to be there, and her bikini-shot has already made it to the trailers; her song video already watched a lot; her debut surely a great one which has touched the stars with the role in an Yash Raj Films production. In total, it should be a perfect beginning for her. Jackie Shroff is a solid presence in the movie and same is the case of Rishi Kapoor, both of them contributing with more of themselves than anything else. The two would seem to be on the sides of evil and good in the beginning, but later fade into a grey from which the roles would seem to be reversing a bit, even as none of them really gets out the greyness which engulfs them. The latter stands out as the mastermind and the visionary. The cast makes the movie mostly about performances rather than the plot or anything else, as they have all done a very good job.

Despite the rise of my new blog; http://divineepic.wordpress.com/ and a possible further development which awaits it, the movie reviews shall continue and the movies of the soul shall continue to influence the minds without any halt, as they form an integral part of the weekend which restores the soul from its low energy stage to the supreme stage. Aurangzeb doesn’t fall behind in doing the same either. We have loved Don, and this movie leaves us no option, but to like it for what it is. With all the thrills and action sequences, Aurangzeb leaves the viewers with another thing – a message about the importance of brotherhood and the divine superiority of kinship over kingship in a complicated simplicity as it adds a certain kind of “thrill of eventual goodness” to whatever might have been a game of blood otherwise. With a little more vision, it could have been a classic for sure. The last week might have belonged to space travel and zombies with one English and one Hindi movie, and the earlier week belonged to a shootout or rather an encounter, but this is undoubtedly the week of Aurangzeb – not the emperor of history, but the new king of this century. The new blog belongs to another world, not of the movies; but this one belongs completely to this one world of celluloid, even as it shall never be free from the effects of that outside world which decides more than what it can handle.

Release date: 17th May 2013
Running time: 137 minutes
Directed by: Atul Sabharwal
Starring: Prithviraj Sukumaran, Arjun Kapoor, Sashaa Agha, Amrita Singh, Jackie Shroff, Swara Bhaskar, Deepti Naval, Tanve Azmi, Rasika Dugal, Sikandar Kher

aurangzeb copy

@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Amen

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There are few movies which the Vampire Bat would watch a few thousand times other than the horror flicks and the Malayalam movies of the 1980s. The end of this movie was that moment when the Vampire Bat actually felt the same – that moment when he was light enough to fly. It was the moment this bat felt that he was that feather which felt the wind lifting one’s self towards the starry sky. It is not exactly the feeling he had after watching Celluloid, as it is more comparable to that status where he was, after watching Pranchiyettan and the Saint. This rarely happens to the Vampire Bat, for this one has the status of being the second. With its visual beauty of nature, it is comparable to Ordinary, as this one highlights the backwaters while the Kunchako starrer had concentrated on the hills, mountains and the related greenery with fog. There is thunder, dark clouds, water bodies in its maximum body – how can one person do justice to this movie with a subjective review is a question which might remain answered; but what would an objective review do other than being too scientific and technical? This soul would keep closer to the former as possible, and in that way find himself in the process. Here, we have the story of an ancient church parish and the people, a love story and a band’s struggle for survival. The whole story can be read better from the beautiful characterization rather than as a plot.

Swati Reddy as Sosanna – such a character and so much of wonder in that performance! I can’t remember seeing such a female character on screen in any Malayalam movie. One has to wonder who she really is! The first guess would be that of a Keralite Juliet who comes out to the balcony (here, as the house is more of a traditional style, looking through the window) listening to the divine music by the artist that is Solomon (Fahadh Fazil). Well, they don’t die and so lets leave the tragic side of Romeo and Juliet behind. They can still have the title in the name of divine love, but on second thoughts, Sosanna is more of Rapunzel, imprisoned in a tower by the evil ones; her use of frying pan even bring the memory of the newer Rapunzel of Tangled (please avoid the hair details). Her character is the centre, around which the whole movie is built, even if our heroes get more screentime. Each and every second of her presence indicates something which is to happen, and the whole divinity rests on herself and the music. She, the angel in white dress, the absence of black and greyness. She is complexity in simplicity – all in one; more than one simple village damsel – lovable and admirable with all her positives and negatives.

She is no different from the Rapunzel of Tangled on most of the occasions – she pushes the kapyar into water and asks her lover if he wants to be the Father in a church or her children’s father; she pours chicken curry over a gunda and hits him with a frying pan; she eats “naranga mittayi” with that happiness which William Wordsworth might have felt after seeing Daffodils; she uses paper rockets as love letters; she reads only from Solomon’s Song of Songs when asked to read the Bible; she talks about love in a cemetery (the Vampire Bat’s recommndation for this one) – the saga continues for Sosanna is not the weaker one to be subdued; for she is the frying pan fighter striking fear in the minds of the most powerful gundas. She is the passionate lover, the advisor, the fighter, the damsel in distress and still in lesser distress than her lover who is the man in distress. She is our blessed damozel; of this world and not the other, not the one Dante Gabriel Rossetti pictured in heaven, but the one person who continues to bless this movie with her presence. How can one not consider this one as a non-animated character at any stage? The words describe less and the scenes visualize more.

Fahadh Faasil as Solomon – he has done it again, and I might end up using this same sentence for the same actor for so many occasions that I would lose count of it. This is not brilliance unexpected, and I would always keep the expectations high on one actor. Fahadh in that Christ costume for the festival was something which made divinity come down from heaven. All the jokes related to his character and Sosanna are so genuine and wonderful – or even beautiful, if jokes could be termed “beautiful” with all its aspects. Here is a character of simplicity, lack of self-confidence and unparallel love. He is the new Romeo in many aspects, and he is the Jack of his ever-sinking Titanic that is a life of poverty which can only be made to be of any hope by getting himself into the music band sponsored by the local parish church. This character’s life surely is a divine comedy as it is subtitled, as the title character travels through his own inferno, purgatorio & finally the paradiso achieved by his merit. He is our own Dante Alighieri. Hell, purgatory, and heaven – they are all in this world for Solomon, the ultimate underdog. If Sosanna is more of an unpredictable character than her lover, Solomon steals the show by being predictable and still rising to the occasion. This might be Fahadh’s best performance ever, even as I am sure that I will be forced to say that again on another occasion.

Indrajith Sukumaran as Father Vincent Vattolli – always been in my list of favourite actors, and I am short of words for talking about this one – no do not bring me the dictionary, for I have word substitutes working for me. He is the exact opposite of the Vicar Father Abraham Ottaplakal (Joy Mathew). While the former tries to save the band, unite the two lovers and keep the church as the ancient structure, the latter tries to dismantle the band, separate the two lovers and rebuild the church. Both have brought the levels to new heights as one becomes so likable and the other detestable – the two characters are played with such perfection that one can’t resist believing them as what they are. There are times when one has to wonder how close to evil and away from the neutrality of the beginning, the Vicar happens to be as the second half progresses. The big paradox here is that the revolutionary new entrant is the stronger believer and the traditional, orthodox Vicar is the lesser believer who has his own agenda. Their church at Kumaramkari is not just a simple old structure, as they say that the legend is that Saint George had made Tipu Sultan’s attempt to raze the church a failure. This belief is what runs in the veins of the parishers and this is where Father Vattolli has reached – this is also where Father Ottaplakal makes his own decisions with no divine intervention; not a desired situation for sure. But there is more to Father Vattoli than it would seem to be, as the end twist would create that dream climax.

Saint George and the church are more like characters in the movie, but more shall not be talked about that divinity. Kalabhavan Mani’s Looyi pappan is a very powerful character throughout the movie; someone who fails to accept defeat – the man who wins the war even as he loses most of the battles. He seeks redemption after the death of his best friend who was the soul of the band – a music band which has been continuously on the losing side for a long time after the tragedy. Rachana Narayanankutty as Solomon’s sister and Natasha Sahgal was Father Vattoli’s admirer, joins the cast’s beautiful performance. Makarand Deshpande’s nemesis character is immensely powerful and Sunil Sukhada’s Kapyar works in more than one way. Lijo Jose Pellissery has given the viewers an early Easter gift, and it might be the best in the theatres right now. What else could be said about such a performance? But it is surely not free from the slightest of negatives – even among the best of jokes, lie the totally unnecessary, ridiculous jokes which tends to take away some of its beauty. But they could be avoided and the movie could be continued to be watched as the divine comedy as it is, for there is more to it than just the usual stuff. No, this is not the typical new generation either – for this is typical divinity, if one could call it so.

This exuberance is magic, and that is just to give the movie its due. But the truth is much better; for exuberance is just a word and so is magic. Amen is something which has dropped from the firmament, not like the fallen angel Lucifer, but as the medium of divinity which the world of the upper level has provided us with. Can you find faults within the story? If yes, isn’t there the flurry of intelligence and brilliance to cover them all? That would be a clear yes for an answer. No, the movie still doesn’t pretend, and it never needed to. It never needed to wear a mask like Annayum Rasoolum; a mask of goodness and reality which that one dragging movie has been wearing! But this one wears its own skin as a mask – no fake faces to cover its simplicity. Everyone has been incredibly good at what they were doing with this movie, both outside and inside – even the songs and the movie posters have contributed in such a way as to make this movie one of its kind – something which can lead and not follow; bring that thunder of wonderful change. I felt the magic realism and dream visions as well as its re-assertion of faith, belief and hope with divine intervention. Oh beauty of a movie, thy name is Amen – anything else would be so inappropriate right now. If I am to die after watching a movie, this might be one of them worth dying for!

Release date: 22nd March 2013
Running time: 160 minutes (estimate)
Directed by: Lijo Jose Pellissery
Starring: Fahadh Faasil, Indrajith Sukumaran, Swati Reddy, Rachana Narayanankutty, Natasha Sahgal, Joy Mathew, Kalabhavan Mani, Makarand Deshpande, Sunil Sukhada

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.