Archive for December, 2013

Everyone who discusses horror with me, knows that I wave the flag of Hunter Shea.  He is part of a new crop of writers that are putting out great horror stories.  I suggest that if you are getting tired of reading about zombies, vampires, and or werewolves, give Hunter a try.  He has been writing some chilling ghost stories lately.

My previous post was all about transition books.  Shea nails his transition book for Jessica Backman.  We meet her 13 years after the ordeal in Alaska.  First I am happy to report that Shea finishes his story arc with the poltergeist in this story.  Poltergeists are one of my main interests of the paranormal.  While Jessica helps the family with the poltergeist, Shea develops another arc featuring Selena and her family who are having terrifying instances with Selena’s double.

So Backman becomes paired with a psychic, Eddie.  Eddie can see and talk with spirits as well as some telepathy and telekinesis.  Eddie sets out to find Jessica after meeting her deceased father.  Once the poltergeist case wraps up, the two decide to stay in contact to work Selena’s case.

Selena is being haunted by her doppleganger.  From Eddie, we soon learn there is something sinister in the house.

Shea nails the characters as usual, as well as the action.  He crafts some particularly nasty ghosts.  His development of Jessica is spot on.  I can only guess that Jessica and Eddie will be tested to their limits on their next case.  I enjoyed the book immensely and I think anyone willing to give it a shot, will too.

Suggested reading environment.  Late at night, the winter provides a perfect setup.  Turn your thermostat down a couple of degrees, just to get a slight chill in the air.  Now its just you, the book, one lamp, and an eerie darkness that seems to creep closer. 

Its a great ghost story that anyone will enjoy.

Sure the Hunger Games trilogy might not ideally be horror, but since there is really a lack of movies out in theaters right now and because I just finished the book and recently watched the movie; and frankly its my blog and I can do what I want with it.

So here’s my review of Hunger Games: Catching Fire:

I was a fan of the movie The Hunger Games over the book.  This time, I feel both mediums have their merits and their faults.  I find myself beginning to hate the main character Katniss.  The constant indecision, whining and pining over two boys, etc.  She is supposed to be this strong, kick-ass character who would prefer shooting your eye out than dating.  I felt that in the book, she often had her priorities all twisted and she lost her focus. 

The good thing about the movie is that I did not have to hear the inner dialogue of Katniss, this is a huge plus in my book.  The book does well in broadening the scope that is Panem.  Katniss and Peeta go on a Victory Tour and we get a taste of some of the other districts.  In fact the Victory Tour takes up about half of the book, along with the underlying plot that President Snow is Super-pissed at Katniss for her stunt that she pulled at the last Hunger Games. Her job on the tour is to appease Prez. Snow and try and calm down the other districts (there are rumblings of revolution and rebellion against the Capitol).

Here is the fault of the movie, they speed through the Victory Tour, not allowing the audience a chance to see the vastness of Panem as well as denying them to learn of anger from the other districts towards the Capitol.  Another fault of the movie is a key scene from the book in which Katniss goes hunting to clear her head and hikes towards an abandoned cabin her dad takes her to.

It is in this scene that she runs into two refugees who are running away from their district to District 13.  The fabled District 13, which was explained that it was utterly destroyed and its ruins left an example to the other districts of the Capitol’s power.  So anyways, there are rumors that people still live in District 13.  It is becoming a mecca for refugees of other districts.  Surely, the Capitol knows about this, so why does District 13 continue to exist?  I’ll get to that in just a second.  So the movie only briefly mentions District 13 at the end when the stolen hovercraft is heading towards it as safe destination.  If you go in cold, not reading any of the source material, then you could not grasp the gravity of Katniss and her allies heading towards District 13, which falls squarely on shoulders of the filmmakers.

So back to my question, why is District 13 so important for the rebellion?  In the book, it is explained that District 13 had the potential to make NUCLEAR WEAPONS!  As a filmmaker, how the hell do you leave this tidbit out?!?!?

Catching Fire has a difficult job, both as a book and as a movie.  Sequels are easy.  Amp up the action, allow for returning characters to grow, present more vicious villains and challenges.  Catching Fire is not a sequel, its a part 2 of a trilogy, which can be difficult to pull off.  It is the setup and the transition.  You make the character grow as well as setup for the final climax.  If you can combine elements from both book and movie, you would have a tremendous part 2.

The best part from both mediums is the end scene, which is visually gratifying.  Katniss is put through Hell once more.  More emotional baggage is piled on.  In the movie, she is awakened, given some shitty news and she takes it like the hero she shall become.  The final look at the camera will give you goosebumps.

I’d like to end this with a little quip, parodied from the college humor Batman videos on YouTube.  To make it a bit more humorous, I suggest reading this in your best Batman voice:

President Snow!

Katniss is alive

And she’s–

Super pissed.

Admittedly these are not the most current movies that I am reviewing.  Like all movie-going audiences, I pick and choose what I am going to spend my money and what I am willing to wait to show up on Netflix (either streaming or when it comes up on my DVD Que).  Thanksgiving provided an opportunity to view some titles that I felt compelled to review:

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

This has the feel of a comic-book movie.  The characters, the weapons, the scenery are very stylized.  I half expect to go to Toys R Us to find Lego versions of this movie being sold at outrageous prices.  It can be a fun movie at times and it is not a movie I regret viewing, but it is not a movie I will be seeking out for a repeat viewing. 

The movie begins with an accurate depiction of the tale of Hansel and Gretel.  The two siblings are booted from their home by their mother and led into the woods by their father in the middle of the night.  They are left alone and soon become lost.  They walk aimlessly until they come upon a house made of candy.  The door ominously opens up and the brother and sister walk inside.  (Here’s a tidbit for you, if a door opens up by itself to a place you are unfamiliar with, perhaps you should just walk away.  What waits on the other side is never a good thing.)  The witch captures them, force feeding Hansel sweet goods.  Gretel gets loose, frees Hansel and they kill the witch by shoving her into the oven.

Fast forward about 20 years, Hansel and Gretel are badass Witch Hunters.  A small town is plagued by the kidnappings of young children and are desperate to keep their people safe.  H & G are brought in; action, some decent story-development, and exploding bodies ensue.

Two things I took away from this movie:

1. Whenever there is a death, the body explodes in a shower of gore and blood.  This is one of the reasons why I feel this is adapted from a comic book.  Very stylized deaths that erase emotion from the loss of life. 

2. I love the fact that Hansel has diabetes.  This lends some realism to a movie that laughs in the face of realism.  Any child that eats that much sugar that is implied during his imprisonment would become sick.  It helps with later character development.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters is a fun, quick movie.  Like a piece of candy.  Goes down easy and quick and then simply vanishes.

 

 

Pacific Rim

Another very stylized movie from fanboy (and fangirl) favorite, Guillermo del Toro.  Bringing in elements seen in children’s television and some Anime cartoons.  Giant robots vs. Giant monsters.  There is no more plot development than that.

In the near future, giant monsters come to our planet via a giant crack in the floor of the Pacific Ocean.  The world unites and builds giant robots.  We succeed in defending out planet and soon the world governments decided to build walls and forget about the robots.  As per usual of government decisions, it backfires.  Idris Elba (who plays the commanding officer of the giant robot squadron) has one year to get shit ready.

When we are introduced to the main lead, Raleigh, he is working on a coastal wall.  He is recruited to pilot his old giant robot, but with a new partner.  We also get a glimpse of the three other robots in the squadron.  One of them features three arms.  Cool looking and gets everyone excited for some robot on monster fighting.

So after about 40 minutes of story and character development, we get what so many paid money for.  I was disappointed that in one battle, half of the squadron is decimated and defeated.

Charlie Day steals this movie with his antics.  I look forward to a sequel just to see what they do with this character.  The battles were pretty good.  Yes there are some pretty dumb parts.  But it is a fun, summer, popcorn movie.  The point is escapism, not an Oscar.

To fully enjoy this movie, I give this piece of advice: Lower your expectations.  Go into this movie knowing that it is all about an easy to follow story line, exciting fights, and not a whole lot of realism.  Also a big bowl of popcorn.

 

So I have room for a new blog feature, One-word Movie Reviews:

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance…Horrible.