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Showing posts from October, 2009

Article sale confirmed

I wrote an article on the Saw movie franchise some months ago and sent it off to Shroud Magazine.

Well I had confirmation today that it will feature in issue 7 of the magazine - which is just about to go to the printers.

It's a magazine I am particularly partial to, so I always like being featured.

The Last House on the Left

There's been a number of remake films over the last couple of years. Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hills Have Eyes, etc, etc. And now The Last House on the Left.

I started of avoiding these like the plague. I loved all of the originals and thought these could only be second-rate at best. However having watched a few of them i have to say that generally these remakes have been quite good. I liked Friday the 13th immensely for one.

So I thought I'd give the others a chance, and the latest is The Last House on the Left. And thankfully this trend of them being actually quite good is continuing. The plot in a nutshell is married couple and teenage daughter head for their house in the country. Daughter is attacked and left for dead. Her attackers then seek shelter from a storm in the guest house her parents own, without either party knowing about the other.

Bit of a twisted little plot this one. It's well acted. The direction is spot on, the plot paced superbly and the gory bits just…

Sunday night's are a bitch

I like my job. I really do. But I still get the Sunday night feeling, that wish that Monday morning didn't need to happen. I'll get over it. I know within minutes of getting to work tomorrow I'll just get into the groove and do my thing. I mean it's not as though I've had a two day break or anything. I spent this morning compiling, testing and deploying a new version of the software.

At leas tI've managed to finish off one story and find somewhere to submit it - and find a possible home for another short story, one whose earlier submission I've adjudged to be dead and buried - six months with no answer is enough for me to realise there's no hope.

Fingers crossed on these and the others I have out there. I've subbed half a dozen others this week, okay two of them came straight back rejected but I'm trying. One of them was good enough to give some advice not just a standard form rejection. So I owe some thanks to them - Ruthless People Magazine, pro…

Stay Alive

Playing a violent horror game? Sounds a pretty harmless activity. However add in an incantation before you play and whatever happens to you in the game happens to you in real life. You die electronically, you die for real.

One by one a group of friends die two deaths, in the game and in real life...

That's about it really. Second rate horror. Not too bad but without anything to raise it above the mediocre.

I've just realised from re-reading this posting and reconsidering the previous one I'm sounding rather negative about things - well certainly these two movies.

I'm not normally a negative person. I normally try to find the positive in even the worst horror movie. But I simply couldn't this time. And it's possible because neither of them are bad enough to be considered B-Movies in the traditional sense. I guess I'm just in a picky mood.

House of 9

Now here's a film that has exactly no originality whatsoever. Put nine people in a locked house and promise five million dollars to the last one left alive. Been there, seen that. So is it any better the eighty-fifth time?

Well not really, no. Okay it does benefit from one two decent actors - Dennis Hopper, Kelly Brook, Peter Capaldi - but it doesn't fire particularly. It's not the worst hour and a half of cinema I've ever seen. Being fair it's not even close. It's far too slick and well filmed to be all that bad, but you can easily find something more worthy of an hour and a half of your life.

Fortunately I was working with it playing in the background.

Another story goes live

Everyday Weirdness - the site that provides a new tale every single day of the year - has posted my short story "How May I Help You?" to their site as today's story. I have such a smile on my face as I've sold a Jeff the Flesh-Shredder tale. Basically he's a demon who's taken rather a fondness to life on Earth that I came up with a little while ago and I've written three comedic stories featuring him.

I like him as a character, he's fun to write. My wife likes him as a character and wants me to write more of them but as the stories had been rejected and rejected and rejected I stopped. I couldn't see the point if no one else liked them. Okay it came close if my wife wanted more but she understands I'm trying to write things that sell.

So anyone, one sold. And it can be found on their site which is at

http://everydayweirdness.com/

If you don't go there today, you'll need to find October 23rd 2009 for my little tale.

Hope you enjoy it...

...an…

How Many People Can You Offend in One Book?

Well okay, there's no simple answer to that. But I know one thing. Frankie Boyle is certainly having a go to see if he can set some kind of record.

I've been a fan of the TV show Mock the Week since it first started and its irreverent approach to the news. It runs for about a dozen weeks each summer and takes the mickey out of anyone unfortunate enough to be famous at times in a really cruel way.

I know that it might not be the most considerate thing to do - finding humour at the expense of others but I find a lot of what is on this show extremely funny. I know my desire to be fair and even handed should preclude my finding cruel humour amusing but I just do.

Well on the show possible the most cutting of all the comedians is Glaswegian Frankie Boyle (who unfortunately has recently announced he will not be returning).

But he has brought out a book. In theory its a biography and I am normally appalled by the concept of reading celebrity biographies. But in truth there is not all tha…

Reminiscing, Candyman style

The other day I wandered into a video store and they had a deal on - horror films at 4 for fiften quid. Anyone who knows me would this was too much of a temptation for my to resist so I bought a few - okay four to be exact, I'd got most of the films in the selection.

One of the DVDs I picked up was Candyman. I'd bought this years back on video tape but the tapes are all long gone (thanks to my having good timing for once and selling them all just after DVDs were released - back before people decided they didn't want tape anymore).

So it's probably been best part of two decades since I'd seen it. Well it is as good as ever. Okay the premise is as corny as ever - say his name five times, not the most original premise - but the film is compelling. I loved it then, I love it now.

Music - always good to find a really good new album...

...I just didn't expect it to be by Kiss.

I've been a rock fan all of my life. When I was a akid and most of my friends were into Abba, I liked The Who and The Rolling Stones.

Three decades later I still do, but in the years getting up to now I've found many, many more artists that I've liked. In my teenage years it was rock - straightforward, simple rock. Bands like Rainbow, Whitesnake, Kiss, Saxon etc were it for me.

Okay in more recent times the progressive rock side (always a liking existed it just was dominated for a while) has taken over - with much veering into softer areas like Yusuf, Suzanne Vega, Van Morrison - and my listening has been dominated by Rush, Dream Theater, Yes, King Crimson and the like.

But I still have a soft spot for bands like Kiss. So when their new album was released I thought it worth buying and giving it a listen. Well I've listened to it many time since then. I like it a great deal. It's a group of guys who know what they do best an…

Contracts - imminent publication

I received the contract for two reviews accepted by online zine, nossa morte. These were a book review of Dean Koontz's Relentless and a film review of Dead Girl.

They should both be featured in the November issue - live in a week and half. Here's how you get to there site in the meantime as there's all kinds of good stuff on there.

http://nossamorte.com/

Rejection time

After a nice little run of acceptances I got a rejection email today - from Reflection's Edge. Never mind, it happens. A second turned up from Ruthless People Magazine. Back to normal I guess, not disheartened though. I just submitted them elsewhere and am intent on getting back to writing this evening.

New Myths - New Sale

I've sold another article - this time to Science Fiction / Fantasy / Mythology website New Myths

The article is a brief biography of Isaac Asimov - pretty much my favourite author of all time. It's my fifth sale to this site, after four book reviews.

You can find the site at

http://www.newmyths.com/

New Short Story Sale

sf/horror/weird website Everyday Weirdness has decided to run my (hopefully) comedic horror short story "How May I Help You?" and it's going to be posted next week.

Here's a link to the site

http://everydayweirdness.com/

Push

Every now and again a science fiction film comes along that does something I didn't expect. Push is one such film.

Okay most of what I expected was indeed the case. We have superpowered humans, bred during the cold war, facing off against each other - state run Agency vs Asian gangster mutants vs independent reluctant (I just want to be left alone in true Marlene Dietrich style) heroes. Add in the independents having seemingly impossible odds to overcome and you get the idea.

But it raised itself above this wonderfully well. It's like the X-Men being scripted by Philip K. Dick and set against a more current version his Bladerunner backdrop.

Very enjoyable it was too.

Outlander

This looked good from the moment I first saw it - right from the promo poster. Since that day I've wanted to see it. And as I don't go to the cinema this has meant a long, long wait.

Well this past weekend I finally had the chance (I had to wait for my wife to return from her business trip to Malaysia to watch it adding another little delay).

So was it worth it. Well the story is a little preditable. We'd all pretty much guessed the ending by about fifteen minutes into the film. In fact the whole of the story holds no surprises whatsoever. It is totally formulaic. But for that it is simply wonderful.

On a Sunday afternoon a film that is totally straight down the line, no messing about romp. Perfect!

The story is an alien (looks pretty human to us) lands on Earth - well crash lands more like having suffered an alien attack - in the middle of the tenth century Norway and is captured by a Viking clan. And yes he manages to befriend them and rally them to his cause - fighting the …

Another review sale

Just got the news that US magazine Ghostlight will be featuring one of my book reviews - of Dean Koontz's Dead and Alive in their debut issue due later this month

House of Horror - repeat business

A few days/weeks ago I sold a story to online zine House of Horror called The Waiting Room. This evening I got a contract through for their print special edition - they picked my story as one of the best on the site for this pritn release.

OK not an enormous amount of cash for it but kinda cool.

European Union Enlargement

Anyone who knows me knows I am a strong supporter of the European Union. It has its flaws but I believe it is beneficial for all member countries - and this includes the United Kingdom whatever our press say about it.

Well today the European Commission has released its annual report on Enlargement and it contains some encouraging news - especially for Croatia and Macedonia.

The verdict is Croatia should complete its accession talks next year with entry likely in 2011 or 2012 - which would bring our number up to 28.

And the Commission has recommend talks with Macedonia begin - starting the formal process of the country joining.

From my point of view I think this is fantastic news.

Other countries on the candiate / potential candidate list haven't faired so well in the Commission's opinion with Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Turkey, Montenegro and Kosovo all having been identified as having issues remaining that would block accession talks - either in terms of corruption, lack …

I need to be back in Venice

(Please don't feel this is a whinge - comments below should explain my thoughts)

It's been two years since I was last in Venice. I miss it. We used to go every single year until 2007, sometimes more than once a year.

2008 came. The recession came and it affected us like many many other people. My wife lost her job and although she got another one three months later it was for quite a lot less than the previous one.

So the holidays unfortunately were sacrificed. We didn't go anywhere that year - cancelling the trip to the Loire Valley in France and the booked Venice trip and the still undecided third trip.

This year we drove over to Belgium for a week which was a quite wonderful holiday but we still couldn't return to Venice. And only one holiday in the year!!!

I sound terribly self-absorbed don't I? I'm not I can assure you. I've just heard similar feelings being expressed by other people of late (overhearing conversations in pubs and cafes). And I don't agr…

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane

I'd heard good things about this film - although I am trying to remember from whom, or in which magazine so I treat the next opinion with a certain skepticism.

Mandy Lane is an American high school student - pretty, blonde and basically the one girl all the boys want. She and a number of her schoolfriends head to a remote ranch for some high-jinks (or something a little more biological). Only problem is that there seems to be a killer on the loose.

It's ok I guess. The film's well made just not that inspiring. The story feels like a hack together from a number of plot parts from a number of other high school horror flicks. I wouldn't say I consider the time spent watching it a waste - it's just not a film I'm ever likely to want to watch again.

Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2

OK this film is more than 20 years old I know. But I hadn't ever watched it and it was only two pounds in a bargain bin so I thought why not.

Boy that was two pounds and an hour and a half of my life completely wasted. Although to be fair it was on whilst I was working so I guess the time wasn't a total waste. The film was, however.

There's bad and REALLY bad. This came in the second catgegory.

Essentially Dennis Hopper plays a cop who is obsessed with finding the killer of the original film - given that his daugher/son (I forget) was one of the victims. He hatches a plan to use a local radio station to flush the killer out.

Problem is this is camped up to the extreme. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a classic horror film - albeit looking a little dated if you watch it now. This is more comedic than anything else.

Pity!

Frost/Nixon

Just to prove I watch films that aren't sf or horror, last night we watched Frost/Nixon. And wow!

Frank Langella is superb as Nixon, and Michael Sheen is as convincing as he always is in character parts such as this. The impressive nature of the cast doesn't end there though. This film is peppered with great actors - each turning in a fine performance. Kevin Bacon is superb, making the sychophantic nature of his character totally believable - and quite unsettling.

Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell maintain the standard playing the two journalists researching Richard Nixon's life and career preparing for the interview session. Quite simply there is nothing about this film that is less than brilliant.

Mind you I don't expect anything else when I see Ron Howard's name listed as director.

Fido

I'm continuing my recent trend for watching Comedy Zombie movies. The latest one is a 1950s styled (in a Pleasantville way) tale called Fido. In this world the zombie wars have been won - for the most part. ZomCon has created a collar for controlling zombies. As long as the collar is worn and working the zombie's desire for human flesh is nullified and they become slaves of humanity.

Billy Connolly, one of my favourite comedians, plays a zombie bought by the Robinsons (despite the anti-zombie feelings of Mr Robinson). He quickly becomes the best friend of Timmy Robinson. His mother also develops feelings towards him.

Unfortunately a malfunctioning collar sees Fido eating one of their neighbours - an event which could see the Robinsons exiled from the safety of town into the uncontrolled countryside - packed full of zombies.

Wonderfully surreal movie. Okay it doesn't have the constant laughs promised on the cover quote but it is simply wonderful.

Billy Connolly manages to compl…

Burn after Reading

I watched a really odd, good film last night. It's the Coen Brothers' Burn after Reading, a wonderfully surreal, political black comedy. Absolutely perfect type of film for me - warped, twisted etc etc.

The cast is pretty impressive - Brad Pitt, George Clooney and John Malkovitch to name but three. Splendid! Splendid! Splendid!

New story online

I have a new story go live - over at Hypersonic Tales. This time it comes with an audio version.

You can find it at

http://www.hypersonictales.com/hypersonic2/index.php?slab=slabid-41

Another mag bites the dust!

Necrography, a US horror magazine, has died after just the one issue. Sad news.

Old Films - Dark Angel

I have watched a lot of films in my life. Okay that statement hardly means I stand out from the crowd, most people in Britain (not to mention the USA, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, etc) almost certainly watch a lot of movies.

From time to time I like to revisit some films I liked in previous decades, most notably the 1980s. This is the decade when I started really getting into movies, and science fiction movies in particular.

I have hundreds of films like Alien, Bladerunner, Terminator, Alien Nation, Dune and Total Recall in my collection - although no Star Wars films, I've never been a fan - as well as a number of B-Movies and other obscure titles like Trancers, Scanners, Videodrome, Enemy Mine, Lifeforce and so on.

Well yesterday while we were out I wandered into a DVD store and they had a copy of Dark Angel with Dolph Lundgren REAL cheap. Now I can't resist that can I?

So I've watched it - first time in two decades. And I had great fun. Okay it's about as bad as I reme…

House of Horror

My short story "The Waiting Room" has been posted at House of Horror

You can find it at

http://www.houseofhorror.org.uk/#/the-waiting-room/4535768738