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Showing posts from September, 2009

Razor Fresh Horror

I picked up three films the other day from a new distributor (by that I mean one I've not bought before) called Brain Damage Films.

The three titles - all of which looked my kind of awful - are Silent Bloody Night, Death of a Ghost Hunter and Prey for the Beast. Well this evening I decided to try the first of these.

It's a German film, although the actors (I'm using the term roughly) speak in heavily accented English. The story has two men in small town have sex with a woman they meet in the woods. This act seems to kick off a series of revenge murders by her family.

The plot is pretty awful to be honest. Not a single jot of originality. The acting is bad, but then again the actors are hampered by having to act in a foreign language, and the effects are seriously bad - all you have to do is wait for the decapitation shot and you'll know exactly what I mean.

But despite all this it has a definite B-Movie charm. You don't expect these movies to be any good. It's not …

Shutter

Another night, another horror film. Tonight's selection is Shutter, an American film set in Tokyo - I'm guessing it's another J-Horror remake like the Ring or the Grudge. It doesn't matter particularly as I haven't seen the original so I am able to judge this on its own merits.

Well it's ok. Essential a photographer and his new bride travel to Tokyo where he has a fashion shoot assignment only for a ghost, literally, from his past - return to torment him and kill his friends.

It stars a group of people I've never heard - surprisingly no Sarah Michelle Gellar - although I did half-recognise the lead actor. Not enough to make me head to IMDB to see what else he's been in mind you. It's Joshua Jackson in case you have heard of him.

He's not bad, can act reasonably well - certainly more than enough for a film like this - it's not Shakespeare after all. Rachel Taylor plays his wife and also does a decent job. She certainly sells the scenes when she …

Old tunes

About two years ago we came up with the plan of selling this house and buying a new house with my wife's parents. Something decently sized for the four of us.

So we emptied the house of a lot of our stuff - we are both mad collectors - and put it all in storage.

The photographs were taken, the brochure created and house went on the market. And then the recession happened and virtually no one came to look. For over a year we waited, nearly two. And nothing happened at all. Not even close to a sale. Well one guy did decide to put in a silly offer. He wanted us to knock 40% off the price and this was after we'd already reduced it by 25%.

So we decided not to move. We weren't moving to get somewhere new anyway. We like the village where we live. We just wanted more room.

So we hired an architect, told him what we want and he drew up the plans. They were submitted and now we wait. Hopefully someday we will get the go ahead but that's up to the council's planning department.…

Repo

I don't like musicals, never have done. My mother watched an awful lot of them when I was a kid and it has put me off for life.

Okay there are a couple I like. Rocky Horror is one obvious example , Blues Brothers is another but generally I am not a fan of the format.

I do watch one from time to time though. I've seen Evita - well made but not my thing. I saw a musical of Jeckyll and Hyde some years back with Paul Nicholas and it was well done but I still didn't like it. I watched Moulin Rouge, at my wife's request, and thought it wa sokay for a musical but still I didn't like it. I've also encountered bits of others but never finished them. Hell I didn't even like Tommy the Film and I have been a fan of the Who for thirty years.

So Repo: The Genetic Opera had a lot to overcome if it was going to get me to like it. Okay it was horror which I definitely like, but it was still a musical.

Well I've watched it. I even managed to get all the way to the end. And I…

What's up with England?

I've been an cricket fan for years and, being English, an England fan. Now I've happily watched them beat the Australian team this summer 2-1 in the Ashes test series and then unhappily watched them get soundly beat 6-1 in the one-day international series between the same two teams.

So I had little if any hopes for the team in the Champions Trophy this week in South Africa. Well two matches in they've won them both - and this is against Sri , one of the most explosive run-scoring teams in the game, and South Africa, the tournament favourites who are now out.

This is the same team that earlier in the year were beaten by Holland in the Twenty-20.

Unbelievable! I can smile for a bit. They probably won't go any further but they've made it to the semis.

Formula One

When I was a kid I used to watch a lot of Grand Prix. About ten years ago I gave it up, feeling it had become a little formulaic.

Well a little over a year ago I changed jobs and a number of the guys in the new company are Formula One fans. I listened to their conversations after the races in the 2008 season, and then in the run up to the 2009 series. So I decided to give the sport a go again.

Well, much as I am told that the 2009 season is a bit dull in comparison to earlier years I am hooked. Okay this might be down to the fact that ten years away has made it fresh for me. And also the fact that the technology has moved on so much, both in terms of the cars and the TV coverage.

But when it comes down to it I am enjoying this. I try to watch the qualifying when I can - as it can often be the most exciting part of the racing weekend. I watch the whole of the race and even stick with it through the interviews, post-race analysis national anthems - even the dull British one just played. An…

The Day the Earth Stood Still

This was a film I was very wary of watching. I like the original. It's a classic of 1950s sf. And the new version starred Keanu Reeves.

Now I am not as down on Keanu as most people. Ok he's not the greatest actor in the world, but he's okay if he's in the right part. I thought he was quite superv in the Matrix. I simply cannot think of anyone who would have been more suited to that role than him. He had the look nailed down perfectly.

But I then remember him in Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare film "Much Ado about Nothing".

In general he worries me when I see his name on a film but balance it with a realisation that more often than not I've found him to be good.

Well fortunately he was good in this film. His understated acting suited the part. The role needed an almost Terminator-robot style of emotionless logic and he delivered it.

As for the film. Well I loved the new Gort. The massive increase in size was perfect - genuinely scary feeling.

The plot wasn'…

The Return

I was wondering the other day just how many horror films have starred Sarah Michelle ? Scream 2, The Grudge and Grudge 2 came to mind pretty quick. But this one, the Return, didn't. I have to admit I couldn't recall ever hearing of it when I saw it on the shelf in the video store.

Well having watched it I can understand why. It's not exactly the greatest film of all time. In fact in many ways it's pretty crummy. Might just be me being a little jaded but I found it tired and uninspiring.

Gellar plays a young woman with a traumatic and supernaturally-tinged (it is suggested) past. The grown woman is a little fragile but driven to succeed as a salesperson. The biggest acocunt going would mean she needs to return (hence the title I guess) to the place where all the spookiness of her kid-years took place.

And that's it in a nutshell.

It just didn't grip me whatsoever...

Thirteen Ghosts

Now okay this film has been out for quite a while. I know. It's been sitting there on the shelf for about five years unwatched. So I thought I should put this right.

Well the first thing I can say about it is "what a house!" The film itself is okay. Story's not too bad, cast pretty decent - the nanny outacts everyone.

But the house is stunning. I want one. A house with so many inscriptions, runes and mystic gizmos all around. Superb. Not sure I would go for the glass walls or the ghosts trapped in the basement part but the architecture was amazing.

The ghosts were a little too obvious, a little too overdone, for my taste but it didn't spoil the movie.

When Evil Calls

I popped on a UK horror comedy as I did some work on the day job this evening. It was prepping a release of the software. A bit of a follow the instructions thing really. As long as I end the evening with every step ticked on the list three times (don't worry why three times, I know) then I know I have completed it all.

So anyway the film. I picked When Evil Calls. It's a low budget thing that features Sean Pertwee, Chris Barrie from Red Dwarf and French actor Dominique Pinon (form Delicatessen) and basically is a series of short linked skits about six form students (high school seniors in American) being offered wishes via SMS. And yes of course the wishes are going to come true, just maybe not as you would expect.

It's a little clumsy in some ways -deliberately so so don't sweat it - but I could imagine the style might annoy some people. Anyway it's tonuge in cheek, but not too much in your face. It's not going for excessive surprise or originality - most of th…

The Roll is Over

I'm getting these responses thick and fast at the moment. Only slight downer is that the latest one, from Shock Totem, was a rejection. It was for an article on Venice - not the first one I've written and sure it will not be the last. I am a little Venice obsessed.

Anyway, I'll have to find somewhere else to send it.

Fingers crossed

Yet Another Short Story Sale

I'm having a good few days. Horror ezine The House of Horror has accepted my short story "The Waiting Room" and will be featuring it next month.

Fingers crossed on the other submissions I have out there.

I'm going to have to write a few more.

Another Short Story Sale

I'm on a bit of a roll here. I've had confirmation from new sf mag Outer Reaches that they want to publish my short story "Hunting for Scraps".

Again not going to get rich from it, but it's all good. I'm just enjoying it.

A short story sale

Ezine Hypersonic Tales will be featuring a science fiction short story of mine called "They're Closing the Yard Today" in their next issue.

Again, like nossa morte, it's not the highest paying market but I care not one jot. IT gave me a very good buzz, smile beaming from ear to ear and all that.

Another review sale

I've received notice that nossa morte will be featuring another of my reviews in their next issue - covering Dean Koontz's book Relentless.

Its a ezine I am rather fond of and am happy to say I have had at least one review in every single issue.

Doesn't earn me all that much but I don't care. It's nice to be accepted

Dead Snow

Try as I might I cannot think of a simgle Norwegian film other than this one. I certainly have never watched one.

But despite some initial concerns I found it a pretty decent. My concerns were the comedy angle. I know very little about Norway when I compare it to the USA or the EU countries France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland, Belgium, etc or even the Commonwealth (ie cricket playing) countries Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and the various Carribean countries.

So in not having much in common culturally I thought that I might not get the jokes.

I did. I laughed in places, although its not a laugh a minute comedy. But it's well acted, well made, and well directed. It surprised me, and very pleasantly so I may add.

Top marks.

The Hamiltons

I completely missed this horror film when it came out three years ago. Never heard a single thing about it. Don't know why but it went under my radar totally.

Thankfull though I managed to find a copy over the past weekend and give it a watch, because, despite a bit of a slow start, it is a pretty original little tale with a twist I didn't see coming. Okay the acting is not all that good and the direction leaves a little bit to be desired but it is different and I like different.

The Boat that Rocked

This is another of the films I can actually sit and watch with the family - unlike some of the horror tales that I watch in my office whilst working.

Essentially its a comedy take on the British pirate radio stations of the 1960s, written and directed by Richard Curtis and starring anumber of people you would expect to find in a Richard Curtis - Bill Nighy, Rhys Ifans, Emma Thompson - and one or two others - Philip Seymour Hoffman and Nick Frost.

It's packed full of sixties music, frivolity, a little hearted attitude towards sex (although little is actually shown on screen and lots of overt Britishness counteracted by a token yank (Four Weddings, Notting Hill anyone)

But oddly for a Richard Curtis movie its not a plot heavy as you might expect. This is really a romp, a very fun romp but don't go looking for the meaning you found in his previous films. Just enjoy it.

Dan Brown

I've not read any of the Dan Brown books. They don't interest me enough to read them, but equally they don't make me want to avoid the movie version, even if the first film wasn't as good as I'd hoped.

So when my wife, who happens to be half way through reading the latest book The Lost Symbol, suggested we watch Angels and Demons it seemed like a good idea.

And thankfully the film didn't let me down. I found the story considerably more gripping than the Da Vinci Code. Okay you might say its exactly the same story in some ways, there are codes to be deciphered. clues to be found and followed and...la la la - you've heard it. But it held together a lot more this time.

Tom Hanks not having the silly haircut definitely helped too.

New Sales

I had a couple of very pleasant emails arrive this week from online zine New Myths. A little while ago I submitted a couple of book reviews to them (of Richard Satterlie's Imola and Brian Keene's Urban Gothic).

I'll add a link to the reviews when they are posted.

Better get back to doing some actual writing...

A new candidate for the worst movie ever

I've been watching bad horror films for years. They're great fun. A truly bad horror film can be hilarious, especially if the film makers are trying to not let their limit budget restrict them.

For a long time I have consider a movie I watch nearly twenty years ago, called Mutant Kid, to be the worst film I have ever seen (in my opinion at least) but I now have a new candidate for this honour. On a whim and because it was so cheap I picked up a DVD of a film called Aquanoids. This morning I watched it and it is (again in my opinion) absolutely awful.

The film is set on the Californian coast on the fourth of July. The premise is that there are underwater mutant monster called Aquanoids who are killing anyone who ventures into the sea. The acting is bad, seriously bad. The plot (yes, there is one) is risible, truly ludicrous and the effects appalling.

Now normally this could be regarded as funny. But unfortunately the film didn't elicit a humourous response. I just found it bad…

Belgium

Belgium is underappreciated. I first went to the country nine years ago, spending four days in and around Brussels and I feel for the country and its people completely...

Well it was about time I managed to get back there so the last week has been spent wandering around the country as a whole.

We visited Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, as well as some smaller towns like Tournai, Chimay (mainly for the Trappist brewery), Mouscron and Diksmuide.

Bruges is wonderful, one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited - in fact with the exception of Venice I would say it is the most romantic place I've yet been. It misses out on only one thing for me - it allows cars into the city, something Venice obviously does not. But this intrusion of modern life into its medieval dreamworld holds it back from being truly wonderful. One day here as simply not enough and we plan to return as soon as we can.

Ghent has a fantastic medieval centre, albeit one you have to reach by walking through so…

Made it onto IROSF

My review of four PS Publishing novellas went live on the Internet Review of Science Fiction with their September update.

It can be found at http://www.irosf.com/q/zine/article/10580