Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Rough Draft by Michael Robertson Jr. and Dan Dawkins

Looks like this is one of those Stephen King/Richard Bachman type of situations, and Michael Robertson and Dan Dawkins are the same person.  I saw this book pop up for free on Kindle and really liked the premise.  Three horror writers stuck in a horror novel?  Awesome.

Rough Draft is the story of three horror writers - Victoria, Bob, and Finn, who are joined together at a remote cabin under strange circumstances.  They've all be blackmailed to write a book about a ghost town named Pike, located in rural Colorado.  In the cabin, they are completely cut off from the world.  No cell service, no internet, and the batteries removed from the cars they drove in.  Someone is monitoring the computers they are writing on, making sure they move the book along.

Although annoyed at the situation, the trio does not seem too afraid to write the book.  They figure they can bang it out fairly quickly, especially with all the research available to them.  But of course, it couldn't be that easy.  As they begin to write the book, they become plagued by strange events and supernatural occurrences.  Determined to escape, they try to find a way out, but Evil Dead-style, are blocked at every turn.  They finally do find out the reason behind their mission, which I did think tied in very well, just at the point when I was starting to get a little bored of the ghost battles.

I do wish the female character in this book could have been developed a little more.  We got a lot of background on Bob and Finn, but very little attention paid to Victoria.  I felt like she could have been more of an asset to the story than the stereotypical wishy-washy emotional mess who constantly needed to be held or protected by a man.

Overall, I did like this story, and the author's style of writing.  I'm constantly on the lookout for a new horror writer to follow, since I read Blake Crouch and J.A. Konrath books faster than they can write them!  I actually downloaded his other book, Regret, right away, and I'm currently reading it, so expect a review on that soon!  Read on, horror lovers!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Under the Dome Episode 9: The Fourth Hand

I've come to the conclusion that Angie is really the dumbest person on this show, and possibly on any show I've seen in a while.  She continues to feed into Junior's psychotic behavior, and even agrees to traipse along to his house with him.  I mean, why not, right?  It's not like he locked you in a basement or anything!  Angie is opening the diner back up, claiming she will now be the owner.  She gives Big Jim kind of an evil look and says she wants the deed handed over.  Can you just demand that?  I'm not sure.  She falls into one of those "pink stars" seizures and takes off with Junior to see some painting that his mom created like nine years ago, featuring pink stars.  I guess this is all supposed to tie together?

Some crackhead breaks into a dude's house and he takes a shot at him, wounding an innocent bystander in the process.  The dude was looking for drugs, specifically "Rapture" which he claims the Reverend sold to him out of the funeral parlor.  Big Jim returns to his house to see a new character, Max (Natalie Zea).  Apparently they were partners in this whole drug operation, and she's been kinda hiding out in the dome for the last week or so.  But now she's ready to chat.  She convinces Big Jim to start a "guns-for-food" type of program, where people can "voluntarily" exchange their guns for food/water/propane.  It seems like a lot of people are participating.

Meanwhile, we realize that Barbie and Max know each other!  And they used to bang.  Awesome.  Julia takes Barbie to go look at the mini dome, but it's gone strangely missing.  Joe and Norrie spend most of the episode looking for it, only to find that Joe himself sleep-carried it into the barn.  Joe, Norrie, and Angie all put their hands on the dome, and a mystery hand shape lights up, showing that a fourth person is required.  Who is the fourth hand!?

Barbie finds drug paraphernalia in the funeral home (shocker) and Linda investigates the propane storage.  Apparently propane is the "secret ingredient" in the manufacturing of "Rapture" and that's why they're keeping it all stored up.  Max isn't going anywhere, especially now that she has Barbie wrapped around her little finger with the real story of Julia's husband's demise.  And Big Jim seems pretty whipped as well.  Until next week!

[Sorry that these recaps continue to be SO late, but we still don't have CBS on TimeWarner here in NYC, so I have to wait 4 days to watch on Amazon Prime!  I hope this gets solved soon]

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Under the Dome Episode 8 - Thicker than Water

This bullshit with TimeWarner and CBS is getting reallllyyy old.  I want to watch my freakin' Under the Dome on Monday after busting my ass at work all day.  NOT on Friday after the rest of world watched it like four days prior.  I love you Amazon Prime, but this whole thing is just not working for me.  Get this shit resolved, plsthxbye.

Once again, Julia and Barbie are the only ones on this show with their heads screwed on straight.  Alice is dead, and her wife is holed up in the room over her corpse, mourning.  Barbie feels like the best use of his time is to dig a grave, which he is (unsurprisingly?) good at.  First, Big Jim kicks Junior out of the house, and then visits Ollie, who just hates him SO MUCH.  Remember that agreement they made about the well water?  Well apparently that's all over, because Ollie has some other farmers backing him up, and they're just going to share all the water and food from his farm.  They're both still so stuck on having "control" of the town, and does that really matter right now?  Let's all work together, people.

Junior, now disowned by his dad, has decided to side with Ollie.  He even requests that he be the one to kill Big Jim when the time arises.  Why is Junior so angry, aside from the fact that Angie doesn't want his sorry ass?  Oh yeah, just that his dad lied about the cause of his mom's death.  It actually was a suicide.  Ooops!

Big Jim gets the idea that it would best to ambush the farm with a bunch of weapons.  Barbie has a more logical idea of diverting the water to these other dry wells, and a reservoir.  But Jimbo is just set on this coming in with guns blazing thing.  Barbie decides to take off before he can and try the whole blowing up the well and re-diverting the water thing.

Barbie and Big Jim's crew diverge on the farm at the same time, and a battle ensues.   Several people are shot, and Big Jim is dragged inside, presumably meeting his demise.  But as the well is blown up, Ollie's former supporters ditch him, since they were only hanging around for the well access.  Junior grills Big Jim about his mom's death, and he finally comes clean.  Since Junior's all jacked up to shoot someone, he decides to just off Ollie instead.  Looks like that little well problem is solved.

Finally, Joe stupidly spills the beans about the egg and the mini-dome, right in front of Julia.  Of course, Julia forces him to take her to it.  He conveniently leaves out of the part where he saw Alice when he touched it, and then she died.  Julia touches it, and sees a Joe-clone, who says "A monarch will be crowned." Norrie and Angie take her snow globe collection and chuck it at the dome, which assuages Norrie's guilt about her mom's death a little.  Julia is trying to figure out what the monarch nonsense means, when the camera zooms in on a butterfly tattoo on Angie's shoulder!  Symbolism!  Until next week.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

Holy crap, the SyFy channel gods are smiling on me today, because OMG they're showing Dream Warriors!  This is my absolute fave NOES sequel!  Dream Warriors is, of course, "the one with the mental hospital," where all the patients get together and learn how to fight back against Freddy.  Luckily, Nancy is also there to help!

Kristen Parker (Patricia Arquette) is hospitalized following a suicide attempt, brought on by her dreams of Freddy.  Once inside the mental institution, she meets a motley crew of characters with the same nightmares as her.  The premise in this installment is that the kids can use their special "dream powers" to fight back against Freddy.  Everyone's powers vary -- Kristen can do gymnastics, Will is the wizard master, Kincaid is super-strong, and Taryn is beautiful...and BAD.

The gang of dream-victims gather together to fight back against Freddy, and Nancy and Dr. Gordon manage to loop in her dad to help out as well.  Freddy, of course, is having none of this, and is quick to respond with his witty quips and creative methods of doling out punishment.

Dream Warriors has some of the cooler dream sequences of the series, from the Freddy-snake to the marionette Phillip to Jennifer taking a ride into the TV.  We also learn some more Freddy backstory, when Dr. Gordon meets Sister Mary Helena aka Amanda Krueger.  Why is he a whackjob you ask?  Oh no biggie, he was just the result of a young nurse being raped dozens of times by psychopaths.

Of course, at the end, Freddy appears to finally be gone for good, but we all know that is not true, since there are many sequels left to come.  Dream Warriors is definitely one of the better NOES sequels, and even gets its own Dokken song!  Thanks, SyFy for brightening up my Sunday afternoon with one of my genre favorites.

House of Voices (2004)

I added this movie to my queue after my obsession with Martyrs but I've never really gotten around to watching it.  I was under the impression that it would be in French, but I was incorrect.  In House of Voices, a young servant, Anna Jurin, arrives to help clean an orphanage, Saint Ange, that is closing up.  Anna is hiding a pregnancy, because this is 1958 and I'm thinking it's not kosher for a young single woman to run around knocked up.

The only other people with her at the orphanage are the other worker, Helenka, and a troubled young woman named Judith, who has always lived there, and acts much like a child.  Strange things start happening as Anna's time there wears on.  She hears strange voices, has strange dreams, and starts digging up some strange information about the orphanage's past.  She believes that Judith holds the clues to the history of the place, but it's sorta hard to get information out of this chick.

After much pointless interrogation of both Helenka and Judith and even more various wandering about the building, Anna manages to find an entirely different level of the orphanage, which appears clean, well-kept and modern.  Which is odd, considering the rest of the building is falling apart.  There's all these weird bald kids with zombie eyes, which I think is supposed to somehow link to some accident that happened, but that was never really fully explained either.  But at least they are there right in time to help deliver Anna's baby.

The setting of this movie was really pretty, but that's about it.  The sound was a gigantic pain in the ass.  I had to keep turning the volume up and down and I freakin' HATE doing that.  This movie was just boring, and really has no plot to follow.  It's nowhere near in the same league as Martyrs.  Definitely skip this one.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Blood Slaughter Massacre (2013)

Full disclosure: I know the wonderful people who made this movie from the convention scene, where they are always manning the table for Mass Grave Pictures.  They are true horror lovers who are dedicated to the genre and worked their butts off to make this flick.  Everybody knows that being my friend doesn't guarantee a good review (it's a wonder I still have horror-genre friends) but I did want to provide that background.

 Blood Slaughter Massacre was originally released as a series of faux trailers and was eventually made into a full length film.  It is intended to be a riff on 80s horror, a la The House of the Devil, so keep that in mind while watching.  The premise?  Officer James Fincher narrowly avoided death by the hands of killer The Ripper.  Ten years later, the murders begin again.  Is The Ripper responsible?

I liked the 80s authenticity of this movie (the props, clothes, video quality), paired with all the cliches we've come to know and love -- the irresponsible babysitter, the alcoholic/suicidal detective, the ditz in the shower oblivious to her inevitable demise.  And I do so love a scene where a drunk chick thinks that a knife embedded in her boyfriend's stomach is an erect penis.  Also, chainsaws.  Can never have too many chainsaws.  It seems that the Ripper is back to avenge his daughter's untimely death, and there's a spiderweb of people involved, from law enforcement to teenagers to everyone's various families.  And more than one person that thinks a dead girl can be brought back by killing numerous others.

The Ripper is an effective villain...a sort of Michael Myers/Jason Voorhees silent-stalking-type with a cool-looking mask.  I liked the "theme" music whenever the Ripper appeared.  The special effects were well-done, and the gore was on-point.  It's always good to see some solid behind-the-scenes work in an independent movie, instead of just saving the cash and cutting away when it comes to the death scenes.
Of course, my review would not be without criticisms.  I definitely think some time could be cut from this movie.  Some of the dialogue scenes (the "information," the video store) and even the fight scenes went on longer than necessary, in my opinion.  One of the things I love about slasher movies is the short length that keeps them moving along quickly, and don't require that big of a commitment.

Overall, I think this was a solid throwback slasher flick with good blood and gore and nice acting skills.  The story got a little complicated, and the length a bit drawn out, so I do think it could be tightened up a bit.  But I liked this movie and I'm looking forward to seeing more from Mass Grave Pictures. The filmmakers' passion for and dedication to the genre is really to be respected in this day and age. Support independent horror, bitches, or we're just going to be watching crappy remakes for the rest of our horror-viewing lives.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Under the Dome Episode 7 "Imperfect Circles"

So, let's just say that both TimeWarner Cable and CBS are not my friends right now.  I'm not sure how many people this is affecting, but CBS is completely off the air in my area, due to some sort of fee dispute with TimeWarner.  Why do neither of these entities realize that I need my Under the Dome on Monday nights?!?!  Luckily (for me, I guess) I have Amazon Prime, which makes episodes of Under the Dome available after they air.  So, four days later, I'm able to finally see my beloved show, and I hope that TWC and CBS gets this shit resolved by next Monday, because seriously.  Also football season is coming up.

Before I start my recap for this week, can we have a quick sidebar on the fact that I did not know that Mike Vogel was in both Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Cloverfield?  Talk about a dude who has aged well.  I had to google to even remember who he was in either of these movies, and he has just gotten so attractive since then.  Not that he was hard to look at in either of those movies, but seriously he is the sexiest thing about Monday nights right now. 

Joe and Norrie are in bed together.  But it's sort of innocent because they're just planning a trip to the dome.  But she's flirting hardcore.  And, yes OMFG Barbie and Julia slept together.  More sexy reasons to watch.  Round 2 gets interrupted by a yogurt-seeking neighbor. Big Jim bitch-slaps Junior into staying away from Angie.

Meanwhile, Julia's cock-blocking neighbor, Harriet, is going into labor, due to the fact that she touched the dome.  Angie goes back to the diner to visit Rose's body even though, I don't know, there's probably other threats lurking within.  Joe and Norrie are making out on top of the dome, just to see if anything changes.  In one of the best segues/pick up lines ever, Joe suggests they have sex on the dome to switch it up.

Big Jim tries to access his propane, but gets met with opposition.  Barbie goes on undercover patrol.  Julia and Harriet get attacked en route to the hospital, by dudes jacking their gas.  Barbie OF COURSE comes to the rescue.  Angie buries Rose and tries to clean up the diner.  Big Jim comes by for a cocktail.  Joe and Norrie get spooked by the dog, but decide to soldier on.

OMG Barbie carries a pregnant woman and my ovaries are skipping a beat.  Joe and Norrie find a little mini dome, with a black egg inside.  Alice insists that Harriet push, because this baby is freakin' coming out.  Big Jim gets hammered, which is more my speed.  Wally is not taking any more of his shit, and decides that he will be the new head of the town.

Linda and Junior attempt to capture the murderers of Rose.  Really, no one should be arming Junior right now.  Joe and Norrie try to talk to the mini dome.  When Alice gets woozy, Barbie steps in to help deliver the baby!  Could this man get any more desirable?!?!  Obviously he delivers a totally healthy baby, even saving her from an umbilical cord debacle.

Junior apologizes to Angie, but come on.  Norrie comes to visit her mom.  Angie finally reunites with Joe.  Norrie begs for her mom to live.  That's sad but we're all easily distracted by both the new baby and budding romance between Barbie and Julia.  Oh, and also the car that Big Jim set on fire.  The egg within the mini dome is....maybe hatching?!  Until next week!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Irreversible (2002)

Those French.  They sure know how to make a fucked up movie.   Irreversible is a movie that is completely backwards.  It starts at the end of the story and goes back to the beginning.  It was named one of the most walked-out-of movies of the year, and 200 people walked out in Cannes alone.  On top of all the violence and rape, there's actually a low-grade sound playing through much of the movie, which causes nausea and vertigo.  Of course, there's also the constant spinning and bizarre shots as well.

The soundtrack is composed by Thomas Bangalter, aka one half of Daft Punk.  Real-life couple Vincent Cassel and Monica Belucci star as Marcus and Alex. The movie was written and directed by Gaspar Noe, also known for I Stand Alone and Enter the Void.  

SPOILERS AHEAD because it's hard to describe this movie without spoiling it.  Irreversible, is, in short, the story of Alex, who is brutally raped on the way home from a party, and her boyfriend and ex-boyfriend, Marcus and Pierre, who track down the man who attacked her.  But I guess I'll tell the story in reverse from here?  This is a hard movie to review, especially since I like to write while I watch.  They track the rapist down to a gay S&M club called The Rectum.  If you're sensitive to gay sex scenes, this movie is not for you.  But if you like someone pounding the shit out of a dude's face with a fire extinguisher, this is the flick for you.  (Also, lots of gay and racial insults, heads up)

The infamous rape scene is about as brutal as I've ever seen, maybe save for I Spit on Your Grave or Last House on the Left.  I guess it's also quite the social commentary that not only did a female direct her towards the clearly dangerous underpass, but a man witnessed the rape and turned the other cheek. At the party, Marcus acts like a total douche while Pierre tries to control the situation.  And back to a romantic scene at home, where Alex reveals she is pregnant.  Back to a calm scene in the park, where she reads a book, and we repeat the sort-of tagline, "Time Destroys Everything."

I wouldn't say this is my favorite French movie (Martyrs holds that title) but this is an intense and well-written movie, that has a really interesting structure.  Vincent Cassel and Monica Belluci are great, as expected, and I didn't think the rape scene was overdone.  The whole thing tied together really well, and I appreciated it as a film.  I don't think you necessarily say you "like" a movie that plays sounds to make you nauseous and has a woman get anally raped for 10 minutes.

Side note: Is it weird that I think Vincent Cassel is sexy?  He is, right?  I'm not much for skinny guys, but damn.

The Housemaid (2010)

In Asian cinema, the line is sometimes a bit blurred between "horror" and "thriller" and I feel this one is a little more in the "thriller" category.  But Netflix is suggesting it along with other horror movies, so I'm going to review it here anyway.  One thing that I do adore about the Asian horror genre is that the villain is so often female.  And revenge is such an important component, involving both humans and ghosts.

The Housemaid involves only humans, and comes out of South Korea.  It also involves a lot of banging.  Hoon Goh (Jung Jae-Lee) is a rich successful sexy man, and he will sleep with who he likes, thankyouverymuch.  When he is no longer satisfied with his very pregnant wife, Hae-ra (Woo Seo) he sets his sights on their pretty new maid/nanny, Eun-yi Li (Do-yeon Jeon).  Eun-yi really doesn't hesitate at all before tumbling headfirst into this torrent affair.  She seems captivated by the attractive and powerful Hoon, and oblivious to any pain she is causing to Hae-ra.

You know who is not oblivious to this shit?  The older maid, Byung-sik (Yeo-jeong Yoon).  She catches the two banging and decides to take matters into her own hands by informing Hae-ra's mother, who is vindictive as hell.  She convinces Hae-ra, that although cheating is part of life with a rich man, it doesn't mean they have to stand by idly.  They concoct a plan for revenge against Eun-yi, and Byung-Sik realizes that she's gotten in a little over her head.  But there is not only one person with plans for retribution...

So this movie was more of a revenge story, and not straight up horror, but it kept me hooked.  The sex is pretty explicit, and so is the constant wine consumption.  I almost feel like a longer movie, or even a sequel was needed, because it ended sort of abruptly.  The last few minutes were kind of artsy and weird, and maybe I wasn't reading into some sort of symbolism.  Overall this movie was definitely worth a look (it was an official pick at Cannes!) and if you can read between the lines on the ending, please comment below!

Under the Dome Episode 6 "The Endless Thirst"

So last week, the missile failed to destroy the dome and the people of Chester's Mill are feeling pretty down and out.  One of Norrie's moms, Alice, is out of insulin and she's starting to get a little loopy.  In her diabetic haze, she stumbles into the street, directly in the path of a delivery truck. (Scream King wonders who is getting appliances delivered at this time)  The truck swerves into the water tower, basically pouring out the town's entire water supply onto the ground.  Oooops.

The townspeople are trying to wait quietly and calmly in line at the grocery store, but things are getting tense since the owner is no longer accepting cash.  Only batteries and propane.  And as you can guess, both of these things are also running a bit low.  The residents storm the store and begin looting, while the very meager police force attempts to calm things down.  Also, although I'm finding the whole character extra sexy, Barbie seems to really enjoy beating on people.  More to come on that I guess.

Since the water source (some lake/reservoir) is totally polluted, Big Jim goes in search of an alternative plan.  He knows that Wally, a crotchety old resident, has a well on his property.  But he's not going to just give away that water for FREE.  He wants propane, and of course Big Jim has some extra.  Deal made.  Julia and Dodee are traipsing about with some sort of tracking contraption, trying to find the source of the high pitched noise/possible transmission.

Meanwhile, rocket scientist Angie finds safe haven in Sweetbriar Rose, the town diner.  However, another threat is looming.  Two guys break in with the intention of stealing the meat from the freezer.  They kill Rose and knock Angie unconscious.  Outside of the grocery store, everyone is going totally bananas...until it starts to rain.  This calms all the violence because everyone is like holy crap it rains in here.  It's quickly determined that the dome is becoming its own mini ecosystem.  However, Julia thinks it's communicating with them, since it "protected" them from the missile, and provided rain just when they were worrying about water.

Norrie steals medical records and goes running around town to steal insulin for her mom.  She finally steals just one dose from a child, hoping it will prolong her mom's life a bit.  Big Jim, frustrated with his son's asinine behavior, sits Angie down and promises to control Junior and take care of her and her brother.  Barbie and Julia finally kiss IN THE RAIN and ahhhhhhh I love these two together.  But mostly him because he's so sexy.  Until next week!

Under the Dome Episode 5 - "Blue on Blue"

Oh, the poor people of Chester's Mill.  They just can't seem to get a break.  They wake up to discover this huge swarm of monarch butterflies hanging on the dome.  That's weird, but doesn't really get explained. The residents are excited to see that, yay, it's visiting day.  Their family and friends have come to see them.  Officer Linda warns everyone NOT TO TOUCH the dome, then she herself goes running up to it and kisses it when she sees her fiance.  Hypocrite.

Lots of random people come out of the blue, including Norrie's dad, which she previously thought to be a random sperm donor.  Nope!  He had a relationship with your mom and has the pictures to prove it.  Julia's sister-in-law randomly has a letter from Julia's husband (who we all know to be dead and buried within Chester's Mill) that apologizes for being a screw up and basically gets Barbie off the hook for his murder.  Barbie finally plays the special ops military card in order to get some information from the dudes stationed outside.  They're all ooops, sorry but we're bombing this place in a hot minute so brace yourself.

Okay, so I have to admit that Angie is just kind of an idiot.  Big Jim lets her out of her basement prison, and she goes running for her house.  Which makes sense because she's looking for her brother.  But instead, she finds Junior.  Instead of just RUNNING THE FUCK OUT THE DOOR, she just sits down and chills with him.  This girl is the worst.  Meanwhile, Joe and Norrie are looking everywhere for Angie, as the entire town decides to take shelter underground in the old cement mill.

Big Jim has has absolutely e-freakin-nough of Reverend Crazypants and pushes his ear (complete with hearing aid) into the dome.  Boom, bleeding from the ear and dead.  Everyone is gathering in the mill, and Julia had the foresight to bring wine.  This is my kinda plan.  She also has the brilliant thought to share it with Barbie.  Bawm chicka bawm bawm. 

Everyone in this underground lair pretty much knows that the bomb is going to kill them all, shelter or no shelter, but they're trying to make the best of it.  Barbie gives DJ Phil back a watch that he must have used to pay his gambling debt.  DJ Phil dances with the girl from the radio station.  Meanwhile, everyone realizes a little too late that Joe and Norrie are still running around looking for Angie.  So everyone is underground except Joe and Norrie (sitting on a porch swing), Angie and Junior (snuggling in her bedroom), and Linda (reminiscing about Rusty at the radio station).  In one of the better shots of this show, the missile comes flying towards the dome as Norrie and Joe kiss.  We all knew the dome wasn't going to be destroyed right?  The residents of Chester's Mill live to fight another day!  But, you know, a little disconcerting that the strongest missile in the world can't destroy this dome.  Ooops.