KastleVania 4: Vanian Legenda (stylized as KastleVania IV) is a 2012 feature-length Castlevania fan film created by the Finnish HOViNET Team. It is a stop-motion film created using Lego bricks (or "brickfilm") and digital visual effects.
HOViNET Team was founded in 2002 by the Kortelainen brothers of Hovi, Finland. After receiving their first digital camera, they decided to start making films using their Lego collection. By 2004, they had made three Castlevania-themed short films, each titled after one of the original NES games. These early films had a very low framerate, and did not qualify as full-motion brickfilms.
However, by 2005, they began filming the feature-length sequel. Parts for the sets were acquired from Bricklink.com. Frames were shot on a Sony Digital Handycam DCR-TRV33E camcorder, at a resolution of 1152x864. The shot frames were subsequently cropped in editing to match the DV aspect ratio of the editor. Additional cropping was performed to convert the film to 16:9, for exporting to 720p HD. Adobe Premiere and MonkeyJam were used for editing.
Several sequences in the film feature extensive digital effects. Some effects shots used compositing ("green-screening") to overlay multiple bits of animation. Lego characters that animate stiffly or are difficult to pose, such as the skeletons, were digitally manipulated. Various effects, such as lightning or snow, were superimposed, and computer animation was used exclusively for the "8-bit" segments. Computer graphics were done using Adobe After Effects and PhotoShop.
The budget is estimated at 10,000 Euros, most of which probably went into bricks considering the comparatively cost of the software and hardware. The total number of shot frames is approximately 110,000<refname="YouTube video description"/>.
The film opens in 1698 in the town of KastleVania, at night. Trakula flies in while in bat form and attacks a woman in her room, as some townsfolk lie hidden in wait. Trakula is then ambushed by the villagers, including Simo Bellmount and his wizard friend Fayring, who seal him in a stone coffin. They chain down the coffin and surround it with undercooked blood pancakes, to ward off the vampire's awakening. Peace is restored to the land. 50 years later, as Trakula's evil is due to return, a starving tramp finds his way into a ruined KastleVania and eats the pancakes. Trakula awakens, crushing the tramp's legs with the lid of his coffin.
The following year, in the Hackplains, Simo Bellmount, now an old man, confesses to Justus that Trakula could not be killed, and he must defeat him once and for all. To gain the experience needed to do so, he is sent to meet his great-uncle Ralf, an innkeeper in KastleVilla. He is handed a family heirloom, the Talisman of Anti-Magic, to aid him in his quest. On the way, he is accosted by the Hornjack bandits, who steal the Talisman. Ralf welcomes him, and the next day, he explains that the town is under Imperialist control. Thanks to the animosity towards the Empire's taxation, Mayor Puuma allows Justus to stay. To earn his keep, he is sent to hire Elias Fisgars Jr. as the town blacksmith. He succeeds, and as they make their way to town, they encounter Lonksu, the tramp from the opening, now fitted with peg legs, and take him in out of charity.
Shortly after their return, the Imperialist tax collectors arrive, and seize a villager's sheep. The incident convinces Puuma to form a militia to fight the Imperialists. Justus and Fisgars set out with some men to attack the Imperialist fortress: their first assault is a failure, so they construct a Trojan Horse-like duck sculpture (a tribute to Monty Python and the Holy Grail) as an offering, to district the Imperialists and take over the fortress. Within, they free two captives: Goffheat, a kleptomaniacal alchemist, and Waarenstrain, an archer; both join them on the way back to the village. They loot some gold and a horn, and return to KastleVilla, with some casualties. As the mayor ponders what to spend the gold on, a corrupt preacher cons them into donating it all to the church. Justus, angered at their foolishness, heads home. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Trakula had a shapeshifting spy posing as a scorpion, the Mortyria, whom he sent to kill Simo.
Justus discovers Simo's corpse, and takes it back to the KastleVilla church for burial. To learn the killer's identity, he goes with Goffheat to see his master, Fayring. Fayring pairs Justus with the Hornjacks, who as it turns out are also on a quest to destroy Trakula. Fayring explains Trakula's backstory, and claims that the only way to destroy him is to reunite the three parts of the Manasplinter: the Talisman of Anti-Magic, the Dargonfang and a third artifact belonging to the Imperialists. Justus assumes that the horn he found is the Imperialist artifact, and they set out to find the Dargonfang. Justus, Goffheat and the Hornjacks head straight for the Temple of Dargon, while Waarenstrain, Lonksu and Fisgars go through Miners' Hamlet.
Both parties then have to face the Mortyria's traps. Justus's company confronts zombies at the church, then bewitched primitives in the marshes. Lonksu undergoes a curse of insatiable hunger, which Goffheat cures when the two groups reunite. Next, the Mortyria reanimates the Temple's Dragon. Both groups meet up again at Dargon Tavern, where Yoshisada, former commander of the Hornjacks, advises them to consult with his master, Hirosike. The parties split up again, as Justus, Goffheat and the Hornjacks make for the Temple in the mountains and the others follow Yoshisada. They arrange to meet up at Mildew Pond.
Hirosike informs Fisgars's party that Trakula is a partly vampiric human who requires mana to remain immune to vampires' weaknesses, and that the Manasplinter could destory his mana. They run into a priest and a Viking, Jörgensson, who join their expedition. Lonksu and Waarenstrain head with the priest to his base. Meanwhile, Justus's party finds a fake Dargonfang in the Temple, and narrowly escapes the Dragon by going into a cave. There, they find the real sword with the King's corpse. They also find the King's journal, which explains that the skeleton army of Dargon, purchased from Trakula, has turned against the kingdom and slaughtered its people. With the other company, the Mortyria attacks Fisgars, who fends it off but loses the use of his hand in the process.
Justus's party makes its way out of the cave. Trakula, disappointed in the Mortyria, sends it away for a while. The parties meet as arranged, then head for the priest's base. The Dargon troops there inform them that Trakula is preparing to attack them, and that Justus must infiltrate Trakula's castle with the priest and open the gates, so that the party and troops may attack the fortress. Two soldiers head south with the horses to distract Trakula's skeleton army, while Justus infiltrate the castle. Justus accidentally kills the priest during a confrontation with some skeletons, but manages to open the gates. Meanwhile, his party realizes that Lonksu has gone missing.
Inside the castle, due to "Trakula's curse", Justus enters a side-scrolling, pixelated environment, mimicking the NES Castlevania games. He makes it to the end and opens the gate, and the party begins its assault. They forge ahead through droves of skeletons, losing a soldier along the way, until they come across three passageways and split into groups: Justus, Goffheat and Yoshisada; Fisgars and the Hornjacks; and Warrenstrain, Jörgensson and a soldier. Fisgars's party is ambushed by some kind of spell in the throne room. Waarenstrain's group confronts the Mortyria, and Justus arrives to finish it off. Goffheat is able to identify the shapeshifter, and cannot recall hearing of such a powerful being acting as a servant. Realizing how powerful Trakula must have become, the party goes to help out the Hornjacks' group. In the throne room, they find their comrades crystallized.
Meanwhile, Fayring realizes that the Imperialist artifact is actually a golden disc atop a post near the entrance to the fortress. Thanks to his magic broomstick he is able to retrieve it and head for the castle. On the way, he picks up Lonksu. After handing over the artifact, he begins unfreezing the crystallized party members. Too late, Justus realizes that Trakula had set a trap for Fayring, and the wizard, focused on reversing the spell, is killed by one of Trakula's spells, along with Lonksu. Trakula appears, and immediately kills Jörgensson, the Soldier, Warrenstrain and Yoshisada. Their deaths buy Goffheat enough time to finish crafting the Manasplinter, and Justus may now do battle with Trakula. Trakula creates a portal to a dimension of his own creation and escapes; Justus, believing the Manasplinter could be effective against the magic of the dimension, follows him.
Within, Justus finds a surreal white expanse full of bizarre deathtraps. He reaches Trakula and is about to slay him, when he notices that he has no reflection in a nearby mirror. Realizing the implications, he stabs himself in the heart; now his soul is in Trakula's body and vice-versa, and each body reverts to its true form. Trakula's stabbing frees Fisgars and the Hornjacks. Justus and Trakula reappear in the throne room, and Trakula, his mana destroyed, becomes a pure vampire. The Hornjacks are quickly defeated, and Justus faces off with Trakula at the top of a nearby tower. Justus takes a brutal beating, but manages to let in the sunlight just in time to dissolve Trakula into vampire dust.
Justus falls unconscious, dying, but wakes to see Fisgars tell him Goffheat's healing potion has saved him. Fisgars also tells him that the Manasplinter is now stuck between the two dimensions, and the Hornjacks are alive. Goffheat is told to dispose of Trakula's remains, but his greed gets the better of him and he gathers the valuable vampire dust. Meanwhile, the Dargon troops notice that the skeletons have disappeared. The survivors set sail on Trakula's ship and return to KastleVilla.
Events, however, start taking a somber turn. Goffheat cuts his hand while cutting up the vampire dust; the blood revives Trakula, who escapes in his bat form. Goffheat swears not to speak of his mistake. Soon afterwards, the Imperialists attack and recapture KastleVilla just as the village is celebrating Justus's victory. KastleVilla is turned into an Imperialist stronghold, and resisting villagers are executed. Puuma, Justus and the Hornjacks disappear, their fates unknown, leaving little hope for rebellion. The film closes with Trakula flying back to his castle as a "The End?" message appears.
Cast and charactersEdit
Note that many of the characters in the film have had their names altered, possibly to avoid copyright issues with Konami.
- Mikko Kortelainen as Justus Bellmount, grandson of Simo Bellmount, sent to defeat Trakula and restore peace to the land.
- Lauri Heikkinen as Elias Fisgars, Jr., a blacksmith who gets hired by Justus and joins him in his quest.
- Vili Vaaras as Wilhelm Waarenstrain, an elven archer who joins Justus' party.
- Matti Kortelainen as Goffheat the Alchemist, a greedy, kleptomaniacal alchemist who joins Justus' party.
- Toni Määttänen as Lonksu, a tramp who follows Justus on his adventure.
- Ismo Aavaharju as Fayring the Wizard. A friend and ally of Simo, who goes on to help Justus as well.
- Janne Kortelainen as Simo Bellmount (presumably Simon Belmont), Justus' grandfather. He imprisoned Trakula in 1698, and beckons Justus to drive him back in 1749.
- E.A. Kaukiainen and Esko Karvinen as Yorimoto and Yohitune, the Hornjacks. They are bandits who rob Justus, but then join his party to fight Trakula.
- Mauri Majanoja as Mayor Puuma. The mayor of KastleVania, he takes action against the Imperialists.
Music and sound designEdit
Sound design was done in Adobe Audition. Much of the soundtrack consists of actual Castlevania music, some of it remixed. Most incidental music is from video games such as Baldur's Gate II, Settlers IV, The Elder Scrolls IV, Tales of Monkey Island, and Age of Empires III. TES IV also supplies many of the sound effects, along with Warcraft, Findsounds.com, Civilization and Castlevania itself. Other sound effects are custom-made by HOViNET.
HOViNET published several teasers and trailers on their website and YouTube page during the run-up to the film's release. Several "Making of" videos were also released at that time, while others were published after the film itself. A technical commentary track has also been released. Much of the promotional material is not subtitled.
The film was released in Finland on November 26, 2012. HOViNET promoted the film at Model Expo 2013, a LEGO convention, by displaying a diorama illustrating several of its scenes and distributing free DVD copies.
Reception of the film has been positive: it has a high like-to-dislike ratio on YouTube, an 8.2 on IMDb and a 4-star rating on bricksinmotion.com. The humor of the film and commitment to making a full feature were praised; however the "downer" ending has been criticized by some. In its defense; HOViNET stated that it was realistic.
The film has been covered on some websites, including Kotaku and IGN. However, these have apparently failed to attract attention as the articles have no comments and the film has yet to reach 70,000 views. Most comments on the video itself are in Finnish, indicating that the film is not as well known internationally.