Netflix now has a Castlevania series available for viewing, and it’s a long time coming!

Thirty years after the debut of the first Castlevania game, a project finally comes to fruition to bring one of the most fruitful video game series of my lifetime to life in a television series. For the past dozen years, film projects surrounding Castlevania were stuck in development hell. Three different studios and at least as many directors were linked to the project, to no avail.

It’s animated, but it’s absolutely not for kids. Before the opening credits, a woman is burned at the stake (after previously walking through a field of skeletons impaled on spikes. The levels of gore we’ve seen through the first episode have reached what would be expected from The Walking Dead, with dismemberment and disemboweling. And there’s swearing. Definitely not for young children.

The story starts by putting Dracula into something of a sympathetic light. He welcomes a young woman into his home who, to his surprise, isn’t afraid of him despite the grim tales about The Count. She has heard that he has the ability to heal, and wants to learn from him so she can be an effective doctor. Years later, she is burnt at the stake by the church in the town’s square. Even as she roasts, she begs through her tears that the once evil Count will not punish them. When Dracula finds out what they did to his wife, he lets the town know they have one year before his reign of terror over the town will begin. Not heeding his warning, the church mocks the threat and gets overcome by the demons, as promised.

The towns people blame the Belmont family, who apparently dealt in black magic and were thus ex-communicated from the church. Trevor Belmont bares the brunt of the frustration of an angry group in a bar, and we come to find he’s carrying a short sword and the family’s iconic whip.

Richard Armitage plays Trevor Belmont to sound a bit too much like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow than I would like, but regardless my preferences, the series is quite enjoyable, albeit too short at only 4 episodes and a total run-time just over 90 minutes. Graham McTavish does a great job with Dracula, giving him the deserved gravitas.

The themes involved in this movie-length series are really not what I had expected. The church is placed in something of a villainous role, secret societies exist in hopes of saving villages, and sympathetic vampires long to walk the Earth like humans. Although the series is very different than the vision I had for a Castlevania movie back in 2003, I’m hoping there’s more like it coming.

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