Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Tai Chi Zero film review
Richard Burton Matheson (February 20, 1926 – June 23, 2013)
Monday, June 24, 2013
And number eight is:
New Taboos by John Shirley
Double Feature by Owen King
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
The Vegan Solution by Matt Stone (w/Chris Randall)
Monday, June 17, 2013
The Shadow of The Soul by Sarah Pinborough
The Bells of Death 1969 Shaw Brothers
And number 9 is
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Robert Bloch’s That Hellbound Train
Monday, June 10, 2013
Top 10(or 11) horror novels counted down over June and July. I enjoy doing top ten lists and I have meant to do this one for awhile. The art of the horror novel is a very special one for me. My first horror novel that I remember reading was The Stand by Stephen King, it was my seventh grade year(I still have that copy which has note in the inside cover to do a Social Studies report!). Skeleton Crew by King and Clive Barker's Books of Blood had a bigger impact on me personally, but were talking novels at the moment. Over the years I have grown to love the feeling of closing the book on a well written horror novel. Generally you have been taken on a journey, often it is one filled with terror. The most important elements often come from well defined characters. For a horror novel to work to have to either care about the characters or imagine yourself in the shoes of the character. No story can be scary if you can't imagine yourself in the moment with the characters. Imagine for a moment you are lying in bed at 2 AM and someone starts to bang on the door. You will likely go to the door confused and sacred. In a novel that might not seem to be a scary moment but if you put yourself in the moment it will scare you. These are novels I find scary, and why. You may have read them already, and if not I hope you'll check them out. Number 10 starts with a cheap tie. I honestly could not decide between these last two. Testament by David Morrell David Morrell is the author of more than two dozen NY Times bestsellers starting with the classic First Blood. Yep, that First Blood which invented the character Rambo. Testament was his follow up to that novel. I personally love First Blood but Testament to me is even better. It is both a non-supernatural horror novel as well as an effective action thriller. A masterpiece in many ways. After an amazingly brutal and heartbreaking opening chapter Testament follows a journalist who is targeted by white supremacists after he writes an article about them. The tension and suspense almost never lets up in this classic novel, Morrell's has more traditional horror novels The Totem and Creepers, they are good but Testament to me is the most effective. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum The Girl Next Door is also not supernatural. This is an incredibly intimate and intense portrayal of child abuse that is painfully hard to read. It was made into an effective movie but the novel is just one of the most intense reads out there. It also has a great opening sentence. “You think you know pain. You don't know pain..." The characters are vivid and the novel paints picture so horrible it is both hard to look at but impossible to turn away from. I cringed often and felt genuine disgust as I turned the pages. The movie is pretty solid. I would suggest reading the book first to get the full experience. That being said it is very faithful and you wont lose out if you watch the movie. David Agranoff is the author of two published novels the Wuxia Pan style horror fantasy crossover "Hunting The Moon Tribe," and the satire "The Vegan Revolution With Zombies. He is also the author of the Wonderland award short story collection "Screams From a Dying World."
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Dauntless (Lost Fleet #1) by Jack Campbell Mass Market Paperback, Ace, 293 pages Published July 2006 by Penguin You know the old saying if you have nothing good to say then don't say anything. As a critic, I just can't do that. If I read a bad book that I received a free review copy I'm trapped. So I should have just walked away from this book that I bought for $2 bucks at goodwill. I wanted to like this book but the writing is not great. The most interesting part of the back story was wasted early on when the author violated the first and most often taught rule of writing. "Show Don't tell." In the first chapter the main character's interesting back story is told in a three paragraph info dump. That back story was far more interesting than anything that happened in the first 150 pages. In fact check this out from back cover description "Captain John "Black Jack" Geary's legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild. Revered for his heroic "last stand" in the early days of the war, he was presumed dead. But a century later, Geary miraculously returns from survival hibernation and reluctantly takes command of the Alliance fleet as it faces annihilation by the Syndics." In the actual book this part of the story is only given a few more "told" paragraphs than what you read above. The story has very uneven flow often caused by a story device that gave me a headache. While it might be good science to have all the spaceship to ship communication delayed by distance, it made the story super clunky and distracted me. I thought it sounded fun. Maybe the further books got better but I think the author was not ready for prime time. (Note: after I wrote this I researched the author and found he has been writing for some time under two names. I am surprised.)
I get the impression that this was a split production from Thailand and Japan. Thai fighting arts and way of life comes off looking like the cooler way of life in this movie. Based on a real historical figure Yamada Nagamasa, a Japanese man who gained became the governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat province in southern Thailand. His story gets kungfu movie'd here. This is a first time writer director and IMDB doesn't list any other credits. That being said the direction is alright. The movie is short, pretty simple. The highlights are all found in the fantastic fights. Yamada's fighting style starts off very Japanese, traditional Japanese style, things go south when he is betrayed by a group of ninjas. Once in the Thai village he keeps getting thumped until he combines his old style with hybrid thai-japanese style. Time for revenge you bet. It's a kungfu movie. Thumbs up from me.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
I Travel by Night by Robert McCammon This is a fantastic short novel. In McCammon terms 149 pages is a short story, the man who carried 800 never dragging pages of Swan Song returns to horror with this neat 19th century vampire tale. Did McCammon ever leave horror? The Five his rock and Roll thriller has true moments of horror as did his period murder mystery novels Speaks The Nightbird and Queen of Bedlam certainly had very dark moments. This however is true supernatural monster tale mixed with a southern gothic western. Trevor Lawson is a soldier who should have died on a civil war battlefield. It wasn't the army of the north that killed him. It was vampires traveling under the banner of a group called the dark society. Lawson is an adventurer, who fixes problems using his supernatural powers. He has a card that provides the book's title. The story starts when a father hires Lawson to get his kidnapped daughter back. The kidnapper's suggest that they will only take the ransom from him. Lawson knows this is trap set by the vampires. He has been killing his own kind, chasing the vampire that turned him. You see the rumor is that the only cure is taking the vampire that turned him. This is a great little novella. McCammon is one of my favorite writers, he seems to be holding back. It is a rare, rare thing when I review a book and save something to the effect of "there could have been twice as much book." There are many elements of a long epic novel and even more that could be used to build a series. Western horror adventure tales. Do it McCammon I am sure you had fun so how about you write about four more of these please! Bottom line McCammon and horror fans...Pick this book up to read it is good fun.