Sunday, 31 January 2010

Awaken the Dead - surprising

A while ago I picked up a whole bunch of films from a company called Brain Damage Films. They were cheap, really cheap. That should have rung some alarm bells in my head. I know what cheap horror can be like after all - I've seen maybe fifty Troma films. But I thought I'd give them a god and order ten of their movies.

Well so far they've mostly been awful. The first one of theirs I saw was passable - Prey for the Beast - but most of the others I've popped into the DVD player since have been pretty awful. I've even fast forwarded through one or two.

But my persistence has paid off - at least to a modest degree. The latest of their films I've watched is called Awaken the Dead. The story is...

A former government black ops type grew sick of the "wetworks" stuff and left to become a Priest (as you do). Some years later his former commander sends him a note to meet him at his house. When he gets their he meets the guy's daughter who knows nothing about him and wants nothing to do with him. That all changes though when the town is overrun by zombies and they must work together to survive.

This is not completely awful. I know that's hardly a recommendation for a film but I was expecting absolute trash. But Awaken the Dead is not actually all that bad. Okay, the acting sucks; the effects are not exactly top notch; the filming is not of the best quality and the basic premise of a secret government project creating a weapon that turns people into zombies is hardly new, but the film has a certain appeal. And it's one that doesn't require all the female leads to have clothing that falls off at the slightest touch. There's no real titillation at all.

For one thing the take on the familiar plot at least has some new elements in it, ludicrous though they might seem when I type them - I'm referring to the black ops assassin turned priest guy. And the story moves at a decent pace, certainly enough to keep me from hitting the fast forward button.

So I was impressed. But that doesn't mean it's a cult film in the making here. It's not going to be one that's remembered with reverence in years to come. But if you are looking for some cheap horror films to stick on when you've got a bunch of friends around to have a beer/pizza/horrorfest then this wouldn't be a total waste. It should certainly give you plenty to joke about.

Two more reviews posted...

I've just seen the latest issue of Nossa Morte has been posted. It includes two of my reviews

 - Sarah Pinborough's Feeding Ground
 - The Hills Run Red

But what I really want to say is that they've redesigned their site and I think it looks fantastic.

Go check it out

http://nossamorte.com/magazine/

Update on a friend's writing

Joy V. Smith, a writing  friend of mine (through the internet only, we've never met) just emailed to let me know her interview with Hal Colebatch in Sam's Dot Publishing's Expressions magazine finished fourth in the Preditors and Editors poll for 2009.

Here's a link to the e-zine where it was published

http://samsdotpublishing.com/expressions.htm

Fantastic Book Title

I just heard about a book that will be published by PS Publishing in 2011. (Okay maybe I am harping on about PS Publishing today - live with it, I like them.)

Mike Resnick (one of my favourite authors) will be gathering together the four Jake Masters novellas he's written, adding in a new story and the resulting collection will be called "Masters of the Galaxy". Now there's a geek-boy ultimate book title.

I can't wait to have it on my book shelf.

King of Procrastination

I admit it. I am the King of Procrastination.



I wandered up stairs from my lounge to my office with the intention of doing some writing. And then I noticed an email about PS Publishing. They have an offer on where you buy two and get a third book free. Now I have many, many PS Publishing titles on my bookshelves and I am rather fond of them.



So I thought as the offer ends today I would check it out. Which of course means I had to go sort out the books. Now normally I have my books in alphabetical order by type (and one of the types just happens to be PS Publishing) which means it would simply be walk up to the shelf and check which ones I'd already got.



But with the building work going on I have had to box up most of my books and move the ones I decided to keep. When I did this I didn't put them on the shelves in order. So to be able to check which books I already had (I'd read a number of them from pdf review copies so I couldn't rely on knowing I'd read it) I had to re-order them.



Well half an hour later I have them in order and I have worked out what to order - using the last payment I received for a writing acceptance to pay for them (yes that is justification for having a spend in my mind). And so they should arrive soon.

I am definitely looking forward to them - especially the Zoran Zivkovic collection. He is one of my favourite authors.

Oh, and to complete the procrastination I popped an episode of Jonathan Creek into the DVD player in the office which means until it finished I am not actually doing any writing.

I did tell you I have lost the drive didn't I?

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Atherstone

I've been alive for more than four decades. In that time I've lived in Solihull, Birmingham, Leicester and now my wonderful small village in the middle of Leicestershire.

In all that time I've lived no more than thirty miles away from Atherstone - currently it's more like ten. But until earlier today I had never visited it. So this afternoon when I found myself in Polesworth, a small town near Tamworth I thought I would drive there, spend an hour and see if it warranted more. (I only had an hour as this idea occurred to me at 4pm and England closes at 5pm.)

Well I think I will have to return to see it in daylight. You see I like small town England and I like finding the details of the past still existing amongst the modern. And Atherstone seems as though it will give me plenty of chance to do this.

There's a rather pleasant old market place with cobbled streets all around and a church at the top end. There's a decent smattering of oldish buildings, two bookshops and a number of rather interesting looking pubs.

Now I'm not saying that it's a wonderful tourist place. But that's not what I'm looking for. I want somewhere I can spend a pleasant couple of hours, grab a nice lunch, buy a few books and general pass a relaxing Saturday. That it's only ten miles away is a wonderful bonus.

Zombies of War

If ever I've watched a film that didn't know what it was then Zombies of War is it.

For the most part it's a war film - Second World War to be precise. We have a bunch of soldiers trying to uncover a secret Nazi project. That project turns out to be creating zombies - but the film oddly doesn't go - ok, fooled you - I'm a horror film. It carries on feeling like a war film only with surreal bits.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any more unsatisfying they throw in a werewolf for no fathomable reason I can detect.

There's a nice idea for a movie under all this confusion, I just wished someone had spent the time trying to sort it all out before they started filming.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Thoughts of blogging

I started keeping this blog a while back when I invented this pseudonym and decided to have a go at writing. It had a plain and simple purpose - promote the writing.

Well I guess I do do that - at least to some degree. I do tend to post notices of any sales, rejections, publications etc. But I have to admit I've not proven all that good at writing. I've sold a number of reviews, a handful of articles and eight short stories. 

Now some people might say I've been reasonable successful, but I'm not on about sales. The reason I've not been successful in my own eyes is I'm not very good at the actual writing. I go through days of thinking about writing but not actually doing any. Well apart from this blog.

Now it's not necessarily a bad thing. You could say it's because I don't actually have a hunger for it. My day job is one I enjoy and one that pays reasonable well. So writing is something I don't actually need.

I dare say I'll carry on doing it. I kind of like the acceptances - they give a nice kind of buzz. But if there is anyone who is reading this blog I am afraid that you are unlikely to be reading the words of someone destined to be compared to Stephen King. Not that I ever thought my talent was even a fraction of his.

So I'm just going to get one with life. And I might start using this blog more to rant about some of the things I think are not quite right with the world. Oh, and continue mentioning some terrible horror films from time to time...

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Dreaming of Belgium

It's been more than four months since we spent a week driving around Belgium generally having a wonderful old time. And ever since I've wanted to go back.

We toyed with the idea of popping back either just before Christmas or between Christmas and New Year. But we had to be honest with building work scheduled for January (which has since started turning our garden into a trench filled mudbath) we figured we'd be better off saving the money.

It hasn't stopped me wanting though.

I never thought Belgium would be one of those places that would inspire this level of longing in me. I know I feel this way about Venice. Venice is particularly special. Venice gets into your blood, under your skin. It infects you.

But I never expected that of Belgium. But it got all of us. The week we spent traveling around was wonderful. Bruges is magical. Ghent is wonderful. As are Antwerp, Tournai, Mons and Brussels.

OK I will admit that Chimay the town itself was no great shakes but it gave my father-in-law a chance to visit the monastery where one of his favourite beers is brewed.

Well we have pretty much decided we are going back there this coming September. Only this time instead of hiring a cottage in the west of the country as we did last year - the cottage being near Lille (actually in Northern France just ten kilometres from the Belgium border). This time we are going to drive further into Europe before we make base - somewhere around Spa looking likely.

And the reason for such a location. It's simple - look at a map! Spa would put us close to the borders with Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - and not all that far from the Lorraine area of France - a part I've never been. We could visit places in five separate countries in one holiday without travelling more than a hundred kilometres in any direction. Now that sounds worth doing...

Serious Movies

Yeah - I've had another of those "let's watch some mainstream sensible movies" session. I watched a couple of films I can only describe as superb.

The first of the pair was Valkyrie - the Tom Cruise starring Nazi film focusing on the failed plot to kill Hitler and take over Germany led by Colonel von Stauffenberg. Now I'm not going to suggest for a moment that this film is 100% historically accurate. For one thing it's a movie for Heaven's sake - not a history text book. You have to make these things entertaining. But from the little reading I have done on von Stauffenberg there is something in it. And it actually is quite tense - even given the fact that you know how it's going to turn out in the end...

The second film was Mr. Brooks - a nicely chilling serial killer film starring Kevin Costner as the successful businessman, man-of-the-year type who has a second life at night as a serial killer and William Hurt as his inner voice, the one driving him to his deathfest.

Now Kevin Costner is an actor that constantly confuses me. He can be superb (as here). He can be in seriously good movies (as here and stuff like Dances with Wolves) but then I have to remember having to sit through Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves and his tendency for doing sports movies.  Here though he is great and I loved this film. You must watch it.

Monday, 25 January 2010

The Myth

We (me, my wife, her parents) all love Chinese movies. "House of Flying Daggers", "Red Cliff", "The Warlord" etc etc... Epic tales with casts of thousands - literally. Stories that are wonderfully over the top and spectacularly filmed.

This one was a little different though. Jackie Chan plays an archeaologist (in the Indiana Jones nick the big gem before the temple explodes variety, not the delicate scrapping of layers of soil and meticulous anaylsis). And he is dreaming of a life in Imperial China as a general. And it seems there might be something in his dreams.

This is a very tongue in cheek movie. Nothing at all is to be taken seriously - even the martial art stuff is in the usual Jackie Chan silly style. It's fantastic fun. We all loved it. As long as you don't worry about departing from reality every few seconds you'll have a great time watching this.

Secrets of the Clown (and Torture Me No More)

I like bad movies. I have never tried to hide this. In fact I've stated it quite openly - many times - on this blog. But I do have some limits.

And these two movies from Brain Damage Films not only stretched my limit but in fact broke it into many small pieces before dancing on its grave. Its a rare, rare film that moves me to the fast-forward button. And both of these managed it.

Still, at least they were cheap.

I'm not going to give you any details of the films - just in case you go mad enough to consider buying them.

New Short Story Live

My second tale featuring Jeff the Demon is now live on UK horror website The House of Horror.

you can find it at

http://www.houseofhorror.org.uk/#/i-want-to-stay/4537796336

Hope you like it


Thursday, 21 January 2010

A new sale (review)

US magazine Ghostlight has accepted one of my book reviews for their second issue. The review in question is of Edward Lee's The Black Train - a rather unsettling little horror book.

They passed on the other review I sent - that of Simon Clark's Ghost Monster. Kind of expected as they only feature one review per issue.

Evidence that a story might need to be rewritten

US magazine Necrotic Tissue have rejected my short story "Chicken". It took them a mere three days to pass on it. It's the seventh rejection it's managed to rack up in the couple of months since I wrote it.

And once again the email mentioned the fact it's written in the second person as a reason. It's a shame really as I like using the word "You". "You did this", "You did that". I find it can be more effective that He or She. And I'm really not a fan of "I".

But it seems editors for the most part don't like "You" as the protagonist. So I think I'll take it apart and turn it into "He" or "She". I certainly don't want to name the lead in this tale.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Smash Cut

This was one film I really couldn't get a handle on at first. Not so much in terms of the story - that's easy enough. But I was trying to decide whether I liked it.

It's totally cheesy, a film that's obviously been made bad. Now I have a history with this kind of movie. I've seen more than my share of Troma films over the years and enjoyed the hell out of them. But this one I just didn't manage to connect with in the way I did with films like "Class of Nuke Em High Part 2: The Subhumanoid Meltdown".

In Smash cut, David Hess plays Able Whitman, a movie director who makes Ed Wood look like a genius. His films are truly terrible, with the worst kind of special effects you could imagine. After he accidentally kills a stripper he decides to use her body (and then subsequently other bodies) to improve his movies.

So the plot sounds okay. Problem is the trashy style of the movie just didn't do it for me. It's a terrible shame really, I had serious hopes for this. But it just didn't deliver.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Some book recommendations

I've read the latest Stephen King novel "Under the Dome". It's nearly 900 pages long and I finished it. This might not seem unusual until I mention I think the perfect length for fiction is the novella. About a hundred pages is as much as you need to write the perfect story.

And yet I finished a book that is more than eight times that length. That should be enough to tell you I thought it was superb. I really did. The story's not original in the slightest (a small American town being cut of by an impenetrable dome being lowered over it - Simpsons Movie anyone?) but it doesn't matter one jot.

Used car dealer and Chester Mill's Second Selectman, Big Jim Rennie, views the dome as a chance to exert some real power in the town - and show the people how great a man he really is. Unfortunately for the town the one man who could possibly stop him, the police chief, is killed by the dome and now Rennie and his lackeys move to take control.

Against him is a short order cook, and Iraq veteran, Dale Barbara, the local newspaper reporter and a handful of kids. Not the best odds you'd think.

King has created a town with barely contained hatred and violence and then added a reason to cause the containment to fail. And he make it all so easy to believe. You come away wondering if this could happen in your home town and if the guy who runs the so and so could be as bad as Rennie. Fabulous novel.

Having finished that I needed something short. Fortunately I'd recently had a delivery of novellas from PS Publishing. So I picked out Mike Resnick's Shaka II and finished it in a single sitting (the joy of novellas for me). Set in the medium distant future. Mankind has started to expand into the galaxy but is far from a united race at home. 

Robert Ole Buthelezi is a Zulu, one who feels that power has been away from the Zulus too long. So he sets out from very humble beginnings to gain power and through a series of clever political maneuverings (yes you can read assassinations) he gets it. But control of a small part of one continent on Earth is not enough for him. He has eyes on the stars.

Wonderful, wonderful writing. Okay, I have to admit to being a total addict of Mike Resnick's writing here so this might be biased. He writes with such a swift pace. Even in his longer novels everything zips by. You rarely find passages which drag in his writing.

Now, I will admit that if you are type of reader who likes to know the colour of the wallpaper in each character's bedroom, the type of rug in their sitting room, the number of plates on the wall rack in the kitchen etc, then this kind of relentless, detail-light pacing might be for you. But I'm generally not one for over-elaboration. So it suits me just fine.

And I needed something like this after the Stephen King.

District 9

Now this has to be one of the most original science fiction movies I've seen in years.

District 9 is a ghetto in Johannesburg where the members of an alien race who arrived two decades ago are forced to live. It's a squalid hole and, understandably the aliens are not too happy about it - leading to many altercations and a high crime rate in the area.

The people of Johannesburg have decided enough's enough and they want the camp moved far away from their city. So bureaucrat Wikus van der Merwe is given the task of leading the relocation of the more than on million aliens.

This is a grimy, gritty and dark film. It's stuffed to the gills with Apartheid parallels (something that could only really be done in a South African film) - the aliens have even been given the derrogatory nickname "prawns" due to their appearance. The moral content of this is really off the scale.

But don't feel that this is nothing more than a morality play wrapped in sf clothing. There's action aplenty including some seriously good gore. There's a very well imagined alien race, with a decent level of special effects ensuring the designers' vision for his aliens reaches the screen in good order.

And there's some inspired casting. It would have been all too easy to cast a typical leading man in the Wikus role. They didn't. The actor in question is Sharlto Copley. What, you've never heard of him? Well I hadn't either so don't feel bad.

Copley is great here. He plays the slightly bumbling but ambitious desk jockey wonderfully well. You really believe his portrayal of the man who fears he's losing all he holds dear as things start to go wrong.

I read on the net he's due to play the part of Murdock in the upcoming A-Team movie. Now I know not to believe everything I read on the internet, but I hope this one is true. He'd be perfect. I have a feeling he's not going to be an unknown for long.

Anyway back to District 9. Simply put I think the aliens here are the best I've seen since the Alien movies. I rate them that high. And this film is simply brilliant.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

A sensible movie? Surely not

I watched a really good movie last night with the family - "88 Minutes" starring Al Pacino. Okay, now it's not really a surprise is it? I mean, Al Pacino is superb and he seems to have a good eye for picking movies so...

In ths movie he plays a forensic psychologist who is himself targetted by an anonymous killer on the day a serial killer he helped convict is due to be executed.

It's a tense little thriller this. Pacino is superb as the rock star psychologist with his groupie-like students, and the story actually manages to keep you wondering until near the end. Okay it is possible to pick the ending but there were two other possible threads thrown in - sufficiently well played to make them viable alternates so I really do have to admit I wasn't sure until the reveal.

Good stuff.

Two new rejections

Two emails to do with writing appeared in my inbox today, and unfortunately they were both rejections.

Kasma Magazine rejected "Let Me Get This Straight" and Everyday Weirdness turned down "Today's Recipe". I expected the Kasma rejection to be honest but I thought I had a chance with EW. Never mind.

Still I've sent "Let Me Get This Straight" straight to EW so maybe the more humorous, off-the-wall piece will be more to their liking.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Conan and Elephants

I picked up a DVD of a Conan film - looks like a tele-movie thing - called Heart of the Elephant. First off it's a really daft name for a movie. Seriously daft!

But I decided to watch it anyway. Or am watching it as I type I should say. It shocked the hell of out me in a couple of ways. Mickey Rooney is in it for one. And secondly it was the pilot for a TV series from 1997.

I am a big fan of TV sf and, although I don't like fantasy series overly, I thought I would have heard of it. I've been wracking my brain to see if there's any even slight recollection of this thing's existence but there's nothing.

Still from what I've seen of it over the last forty minutes or so (including a bit of fast forwarding when I got truly bored) I don't think I missed much. And being honest I'm not sure how much more I'm going to watch of it in any case.

In fact decision made. The DVD's been ejected...

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Thoughts on friends

I made a friend last year. If you think I'm being overly dramatic by writing that here - "surely everyone makes friends all the time" kind of thinking - "it's nothing unusual, why's he mentioning it".

Well I don't. I can't really say I've made a friend in years. I go to work every day and have acceptable, well-functioning relationship with colleagues. I do all the socially required side of working - and no, I'm not an anti-social person who does all this purely to make it look good. When I ask how they are, how things are, etc, I'm not just trying to appear normal - I have an amount of concern.

But would I ring any of these people up to go for a beer? No. Not really.

That is until one guy started at the company last autumn (replace with "fall" if American).

I'm not going to mention his name as this is a blog I maintain under my writing pseudonym for deliberate anonymity reasons. But, suffice it to say, I found someone I could consider a friend.

Only thing is he's not someone you would call the healthiest of folk. He has an uncurable disease that could flare up any time and can be life-threatening.

And since going out for a beer (or diet coke for me being teetotal) with him over the Christmas break I have not seen or heard from him. He's not been in work since - his wife having phoned in that he was sick last week.

Now - here's my thought.

After years of not making friends I believed I was happy with things the way they were, I find things have changed. After all I have my wife and I enjoy spending as much time with her as possible. I have my writing - even if it drives me to distraction when rejection after rejection arrives. I get my social interaction in the office, or in the various book stores I frequently visit.

I thought it was enough for me. But I was wrong. I'm like everyone else. Friendship is important to me. So I'm hoping that nothing serious has happened.

Oh God! Now I've Got Brains Splattered All Over Me!

In case you are wondering exactly what this blog title has to do with anything, I am going to put your mind at rest.

I watched a movie whilst doing some work this evening, and that film was Punisher War Zone (yes my taste in movies doesn't improve).

The very last line of the movie is...yes - the title of this post. And no I don't think it's giving anything away. It is very much a throwaway as the fade out begins - and takes place in a kind of a coda to the whole thing anyway, very much apart from the actual plot of the movie.

So as for the movie. Well it's unlike most comic book adaptations in that The Punisher is not a superhero and he kills people by the dozen.

It's plot is fairly thin - essentially a one man war against organised crime in New York whilst simultaneously trying to evade the law himself as a mass murderer.

But it has some pretty good actors in - a surprising number of which were English - and enough action to satisfy just about anyone. If there is any part of the human body that doesn't end up being pulped by a bullet, baseball bat or other weapon during this hour and a half I certainly can't think of it. It is out and out brutal. To sum it up I kept wandering where Vinnie Jones was - it's that kind of movie. He should've been in it.

But for all it's one-dimensional violence-fest it's fun. Fun in a way only a total bloodbath shootout can be. Perfect pick me up for a jaded soul like mine.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Timecop

Every time I find come across one of the sf movies I watched in the 80s or early 90s I buy it. And in nearly every instance I am happy to say the film didn't disappoint after all the years. I've happily revisited Salute of the Jugger (okay most people didn't like it the first time but I did), Wedlock, Running Man etc. And I've had a great time in doing it.

So when I saw the Timecop DVD in the Sale bins at tesco for the enormous price of one pound I knew it was coming home with me. And so it did.

And I watched it after more than a decade since my last viewing. It's everythign I remember. Decent story, decent effects, half decent acting - with Jean-Claude Van Damme it's never going to be an Oscar winning performance but I still maintain he's up to the task of handling an action film like this.

I enjoyed it immensely. Now I think I must head over to Amazon at some point and have a look through their 1980s sf bargains. You never know what I'll find.

Hell House

I watched another low budget horror film late last night - Hell House. It's another on the budget DVD label Brain Damage Films. I have watched about half a dozen of their films so far and they've all been awful.

But until this one I've usually been able to remember the story the day after. This one - not so much. Most of it is a blank. I can remember some people heading off to a house for a bit of partying. But for the life of me I cannot really remember what the monster was. Okay I know there was something. I read the back of the box and it mentions a demonic curse and insect infestations. But it didn't really trigger much in my head as to the details.

Must have been good.

Drag Me To Hell

Another day, another horror movie. Old, old news...

This one - a relatively big budget horror film called Drag Me to Hell from Lionsgate starring Alison Lohman - features a bank loans officer who is cursed by a stereotypical Eastern European old gypsy woman. She then spends the rest of the film either being visited by Demons intent on "dragging her to hell" or attempting to find a way of not being visited by Demons intent on "dragging her to hell".

The basic premise of the movie feels forced. The use of obvious stereotypes is unnecessary really. The same story could have been established without the lazy set up. Add to that the medium types Lohman goes to see are too overused.

But for the overfamiliarity of come elements of the movie, this is actually a very good movie. There are some real scares here. Lohman is totally convincing playing this role - you really feel for her character. Her initial total, all-encompassing terror is superbly played - as is her ongoing increasing level of despair as she understands more and more of her plight.

The effects don't let the side down either. There are some wonderfully gory scenes and some moments that might just make you jump.

Okay, I'm not sure the tag of "Scariest Movie of the Decade" is totally earned but it's miles above most of the horror films I've watched over the last few months.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Two review sales

Dark Scribe Magazine have accepted two of my reviews - for Bryan Smith's Depraved and Wrath James White's The Resurrectionist.

They want a little modifying of them for style and seem more than willing to work with me so I write reviews in a style they prefer in future - sounds like I might be able to sell them more in future. Gives me a little warm feeling (and a bit more cash I have to admit)

A new rejection

Dark Recesses Magazine have rejected my story "The Clean-Up Crew". Ah well, a third rejection for this story - one I think is amongst my strongest. I'll have to go find it a new personal home.

Thr3e

If there's one thing that's going to start me off incorrectly on a film it's when the film-makers have been clever with the spelling of the title - as in replacing the first letter E with a 3. I know it's a minor gripe but it's a bad start.

The film itself is not too bad. It's a pretty decent movie if somewhat unoriginal and with an ending you can spot a mile off. Marc Blucas (yes, Riley from Buffy) stars as student Kevin Parsons, the latest victim of a serial killer who telephones the victim just prior to the attack. Parsons is the first person to survive the attack, but this doesn't mean the killer is going to let him off the hook.

The film has no demons, no ghosts, vampires, werewolves, magic or supernaturalliness of any kind. It's a basic evil human psychological horror and it actually does manage to build a little suspense. Not much though I have to say - that telegraphed ending really does spoil any tension.

It's an okay film, a fine way of spending an hour and a half. One I recommend you watch if it comes on one of the movie channels.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Really Bad Movies

I bought some more bad horror films. I have a habit of doing it from time to time. I think there may well be something seriously wrong with me.

And having bought them I thought I should get around to watching some of them. So tonight I picked out a vampir emovie called "Bachelor Party in the Bunglaow of the Damned". The title really doesn't give you much hope with the film does it?

The story in a nutshell. A group of guys, friends since High School, decide to have one last blowout of a stag party for the first of their number to be getting married. They head off into the middle of nowhere to a bungalow owned by the uncle of the dweeb of the group.

Seriously bad acting, appalling effects and a pitifully awful story. It's one film where the remote control's fast forward button is your friend. Maybe the STOP button an even greater friend. If I was to use the phrase "I simply can't recommend this film enough" I'd be using one word too many (the word "enough" if you haven't got the joke).

This is as bad as it gets - really. You find yourself looking for the credits to see if Ed Wood still lives. And I bought eight others in the batch so I have plenty more bad movies to work my way through.

Told you there must be something wrong with me.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

There's Something Wrong with the World

I've decided.

My wife's job has taken her to Brazil this week. And in Brazil it's mid-Summer.

So while I am freezing here in the middle of the UK and surrounded by snow (to the level I couldn't get out of the village this morning and had to work at home) she is sitting outside on a patio sipping cold beer and looking out over a rain forest.

And to make matters worse she's soon off to Southern India to miss pretty much the rest of the British Winter.

Some people, eh?

Rejection city

More rejections - story of my life at the moment.

Bards and Sages rejected my short story "Have a Nice Day!" so I sent it off to Port Iris and they rejected it too.

One story, two rejections in two days.

I must be a glutton for punishment.

From Within

Another day another horror film - sounds like my life. This is the second film in a week I've seen that starred (or at least featured) Thomas Dekker from The Sarah Connor Chronicles (the other being Laid to Rest.

This film actually had a main concept that isn't totally overfamiliar - that of some kind of demonic possession causing people to suicide. Which is just as well as other elements of the plot are very much been-there, done-that

Set in a small town with the requisite outsider (Dekker) being blamed for the spate of deaths by some and the equally pre-requisite girlfriend of the high school jock who feels sorry for him.

It's got some nicely gory death scenes, one or two might make you jump or wince, and a fair bit of suspense. The acting is decent enough, the direction up to scratch, the effects of a reasonble quality.

Okay for an hour and a half's entertainment.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Books catchup

Ever horror fan on the planet should read Wrath James White. It's that simple. And by that I mean every horror fan, not you if you enjoyed Twilight and thought the vampire's were cute. I'm talking about your out and out horror fan - the one who enjoyes reading about eyeballs popping and limbs being ripped away from torsos.

I've read White novels now, the first Succulent Prey was highly disturbing (in a good way, honest), and now this The Resurrectionist. He actually manages to write original fiction. Here, his lead big-bad has the power to bring people back to life. Sounds like a wonderful gift doesn't it and not something you'd associate with the villain in a horror book. But just you see what use White has him put this power to. It's really creepy.

Simon Clark's Ghost Monster suffers straight from the off from that title. The story is a pretty basic ghost / possession tale where the main problem is that the ghosts are those of absolute psychopaths - literally, they were in an asylum before they died. As books go it's okay, nothing more. The characters are friendly enough, the plot decent enough, the action okay enough - but only barely. Clark is capable of a lot more than this, so if you've never read his stuff before don't judge him on this alone.

Moving to science fiction...

Orson Scott Card's Ender in Exile is as well written as every OSC book. He certainly knows his craft and his characters - he should know the second with this being the ninth or tenth Ender book - I lose count.

It's advertised as a direct sequel to the original Ender's Game book and tells the story of what happened to Ender between Ender's Game and the start of original sequel Speaker for the Dead. Only problem is I really didn't care.

I think Ender's Game is one of the finest science fiction novel ever written. It is near perfection. I've felt the other books that came after it were not even close. For one thing I didn't find the political side of the stories even remotely interesting, so to find a book where much of the focus is on the political machinations of Ender's elder siblings and I'm not going to be a fan.

OSC is a great writter - I've read many of his books and enjoyed the majority. But he's surely milked the Ender series enough by now. I want something original Orson, you got that?

On the other hand with Mike Resnick what I tend to want is the familiar. And yes I am aware that's double standards but go figure.

Resnick tells tall tales of the future. He gives you over the top characters performing over the top acts in galaxy spanning adventure stories that are written at break neck pace.

This latest book, Starship: Flagship is the final book (of five) in the Starship series. This series has seen decorated space navy officer Wilson Cole being court-martialled for saving the day (and a few million lives), rescued from the brig by his crew before heading into exile and attempting to make a living as a pirate without breaking his ethical beliefs. Then plying his trade briefly as a mercenary before deciding he needs to make a stand against the opressive nature of the Republic he used to serve.

This novel sees this transformation from loyal soldier to revolutionary come to its conclusion when Cole leads his force of a few hundred ships (most of which are not war ships) against the entire space navy with its more than three million ships.

It's big; it's over the top; it's in many ways implausible. Resnick doesn't care about how his spaceships work (FTL, yeah it exists. How does it work - no clue and there's no problem with that). Likewise he's not going to tell you about the inner mechanisms of the weaponry, how the government is organised, the biology of the alien races or any of the tech advances you might encounter along the way.

And it's a damn good thing he doesn't. Explanation would only get in the way and spoil the flow of his legends. And that's really what he's getting it. This is fun stuff.

Now I'm not for a moment going to tell you that this is sf of the highest calibre. I don't think Resnick was trying to write a sure-fire award winner here. He's just out to entertain when he writes stuff like this and he definitely has done.

I guess everyone has to start somewhere

And by the title of this post I mean actors. I was skimming through a whole bunch of DVDs in a discount bin and saw "Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation". Now that['s enough to make me interested. After all with a title like that you just know this is going to be a really bad movie. And I wasn't mistaken. The story is ludicrous, the effects low grade but that's exactly what I expected.

What I didn't expect was the cast list. This film, made in 1994, stars Matthew McConaughey and Renee Zellwegger, names that should be familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in American films. But 16 years ago these two were unknowns and so not able to be all that choosy about the films they accepted.

So is this an embarassment for them. Well for McConnaughey I'd probably have to say yes. He can act for sure and shows it to some degree here but he is playing an immensely over-the-top psycho so his chances were very limited.

Zellwegger, however, playing the potential victim who fights back fares a hell of a lot better. She actually manages to emerge from a film as decidedly second-rate as this with some kudos intact.

Would I recommend you buy this? No, not really. Would I recommend you watch it? Well, maybe. It depends on whether you have enough friends who like sitting round for an evening, drinking beer and watching B-Movies. If you have enough of these good folks, add this to your list. It may end up being fast-forwarded a lot but you'll have a laugh with it (or should I say at its expense).

Laid to Rest

Now this is a horror film that doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is. There's no pretensions, no apologies, no let up. It's just out and out horror, human style.

Bobbi Sue Luther plays a young woman who wakes up in a coffin with no idea who she is. And to make her life more miserable there's a masked serial killer trying to kill her.

So no new ground broken here then you might think. And yes you would be right. But it really doesn't matter. This is not out to be the most original horror flick ever, it's just out to give you a scare or two and entertain. And it does it well enough, even if some of the effects are not quite up to par. My kind of movie.

Inglorious

Once more I am not completely up to date with my movie watching. But I have finally managed to watch the latest Tarantino film Inglorious Basterds.

It's quite an unusual fiom for a major American production. For one thing large parts of the movie are in languages other than English (French, German and Italian). But it is most definitely a Tarantino film.

The Basterds are a group of Jewish American soldiers on a covert operation in World War II Europe with a mission to kill Nazis lead by Brad Pitt. They're quite good at it too. And they're going to get incolved in a plot to kill Hitler and the higher-ups of the Nazi Government.

There are some moments of serious tension in this movie, some strong violence and the usual over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek Tarantino brilliance. Yes, I am a fan boy but this is Tarantino back to his best.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Given my orders

We went out for a few drinks in a local pub yesterday with a friend of mine. This wasn't a case of getting very drunk or anything. Although my wife had a couple of glasses of red wine, the other two of us drank nothing but soft drinks the whole time (I don't drink anything alcoholic at any time so not much of a change for me).

During the course of a pleasant afternoon they ganged up on me and announced they thought I was feeling sorry for myself and should get over it. They were referring to my writing. I've not really been doing any for weeks, just the occasional review here and there but nothing more - no articles or short stories.

I will admit to not having been in the best frame of mind for a few weeks and the regular receipt of rejections was not helping this mood, but they were right with one thing. I was using this as an excuse.

So today I've taken their advise to heart and got on with it. Result so far is one new short story written and submitted to Everyday Weirdness. Now okay it's not the longest story I've written (800 words or so). But it's a start.

Now I'm going to try to catch up on the reviewing - I have four books that I've read over the last couple of weeks that are as yet unreviewed. So here goes...