With the second season of Netflix’s Castlevania due out on October 26th, and a treasure trove of Castlevania content unveiled for December’s Super Smash Bros Ultimate, I’ll be marking the occasion with a series of Castlevania-themed content. First up is a reminder of why the Netflix series is so good: especially for a video game adaptation.
With the next eight episodes of Netflix’s Castlevania coming out just in time for Halloween, this is a great chance to watch the first series if you’ve been meaning to do so. Or, if you’ve seen it before, why not revisit it? After all, with only 4 episodes in the first season it takes less time to watch than most movies. For long-term fans the series might be too brief – it does feel like the series ends just as the action gets started – but that’s okay because soon there’ll be 8 more episodes! Its perhaps best to think of the first season as setting up the premise, establishing the backstory and bringing characters together. Hopefully the second season will build on this and give us a significant portion of what happens next.
If you needed another reason to watch the series it’s written by Warren Ellis, the man behind such masterpieces of graphic novels and comics as Gravel, Red, Transmetropolitan as well as stand-out runs on numerous Marvel titles, to name but a few. Ellis adopts an intelligent approach to adapting the game. Its most clear influences are from Castlevania 3, but it neither slavishly adheres to the constraints of the game nor throws them out entirely. It wonderfully expands upon the world of Castlevania to give us a horrifying glimpse of life outside Dracula’s castle – and gives us a strong understanding of why he needs to be stopped.
The best thing about the series, though, is its tone. It wonderfully evokes Gothic horror in its tropes and tone. The villainous Church and quasi-Medieval tone seem like they’re straight out of the pages of early Gothic novels, whilst Dracula’s creatures roaming the land and the overall sense of fear that is drawn into the faces of the town’s people give it a very powerful folk horror vibe. It also gives a lot of depth to Castlevania’s Dracula, giving him clear motivations and a bit of personal pain thrown in. Drac also receives some fleshing out in-line with the Count modern audiences might expect – he spots dashing facial hair and is at heart a romantic.
Even if you’ve never picked up a controller in your life Netflix’s Castlevania is comes highly recommended as loveiletter to Gothic horror.