Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TUESDAY TRAILERS: CHAPPIE

I enjoyed District 9 and Elysium had promise, so of course I will probably see Chappie and then inevitably cry…because you know how these movies go. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings – some good, some bad – and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there's one thing that makes Chappie different from anyone else: he is a robot. The first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. His life, his story, will change the way the world looks at robots and humans forever..…Opens March 6, 2015.

Monday, November 17, 2014

SKIN GAME: BOOK REVIEW

Skin Game (Dresden Files #15)
Written by: Jim Butcher
Paperback: 454 pages
Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Language: English
May 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Series

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful. He doesn’t know the half of it….

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….


+++++++++++++

I am probably not the only one around here who loves heist movies, tv shows, and even heist books. I live for my crew on Leverage, dig movies like the Ocean films, The Italian Job, and the Inside Man. Heist Society by Ally Carter is cute and The Great Train Roberry by Crichton isn’t too bad. So what is it about the whole heist thing? Is it the danger? Is it the fact that each person on the crew has a specific job and creative ways to handle some fairly tough challenges? Sometimes there are riddles and puzzles to solve (looking at you Indy and your Last Crusade with dear old dad) which are exciting. Sometimes you have quirky little thieves who you wish your new bestie (looking at you Parker). There is excitement and danger when you set off to steal something you shouldn’t. And maybe some Parkour.

While I am a huge Harry fan, I will also be the first to admit that some volumes are stronger than others. My favorites have that amazing blend of action, violence, humor, and snark. But lately every book, while good mind you, has been kind of a downer. Cold Days gave us some massive revelations, but you kind of feel like whoa…heaviness much. So when I listened to Jim Butcher read the first chapter from Skin Game a couple of years ago at MisCon, I started getting excited. I didn’t realize it was a heist novel yet that would put Harry and Nicodemus together to steal things from Hades. It had Harry saying parkour a lot and in a way I felt like I had Harry back. Here was the goofball Harry. The loveable oaf that is the best sort of hero. I thought he was lost in Cold Days, but now maybe, just maybe I was going to get him back. Sure he’s been through a lot and I know there is much more to come, but I missed him to be honest. I missed the funny. I missed the snark. I kind of just wanted an episode of the week you know instead of the potential destruction of everything we know and love. Which I know may have frustrated people, but we’ll get to that later.

Anyway, it still took me 6 months to pick up Skin Game. I was nervous. Yep. Me. But Harry does that to me. Changes floored me. What can I say. I have been gun shy ever since. But eventually I did pick it up in Hardback form and because I love Harry so much I also decided to let James Marsters be Harry for a few hours on audiobook as he will always be Harry for me. Like I said Harry has been through a lot. And I don’t think any of us really ever expected Harry to become the Winter Knight especially when we know how insane Mab is (in that deliciously wicked sort of way). Okay so he had no choice but to take up the mantle and ever since Harry has been trying to find a way not to become a monster and bend to every single one of her desires and wishes. He is also now the warden of Demonreach which has its own peculiar little set of problems and responsibilities. You would think Harry could get a break, but of course not.

Mab shows up and lets Harry know that she has loaned his services out to another. This is bad enough, but when Harry learns that it is Denarian baddie Nicodemus, he really wants to get out of the job. This is the man who killed Shiro after all, why on Earth would Harry would work with him. If he tries to get out of the job she will let the parasite in his head burst from his skull in a bloody mess. If he does this task, she will help him remove it and thus end the migraines from hell. What is a wizard to do?

Nicodemus wants to raid Hades’ vault…yep that Hades, and steal the Holy Grail. Oh and to get there they also have to steal from Johnny Marcone. Sounds like fun right? Nicodemus has assembled his own crew which includes his sociapathic daughter/lover Deirdre, Binder the Summoner, a shapeshifter named Goodman Grey, and another magic user named Hannah Ascher. Harry brings along Murphy for his own support along with a thief of his choosing. So all that is left is to storm the Underworld.

Things I liked:
After the drama filled, tension high, and full of revelations small trilogy that were the last three books like I said earlier, it was nice to have a small change. I liked the heist theme. I liked the episodic feel of this book. Now I know there may be many who were disappointed because there were no answers to the many new questions dangled in front of us after Cold Days, but I was okay with a respite. I was okay to have my funny Harry back full of Big Trouble in Little China references and making me smile with every shout of ‘parkour’.

Of course Skin Game is not without its own intrigue and new reveals whether it is Butters and his new weapon of choice, a kiss that was a long time coming, and discovering that Hades essentially named his three headed dog Spot. Hilarious. Plus, I love Nicodemus and the Denarians. They are one of my favorite villains. They have goals and plans. Sadly for Harry, they also always seem to be two steps ahead no matter how much he tries to thwart them. They leave a path of destruction wherever they go. I will say that whenever they are around they also make sure that nothing is ever the same after they leave.

I think there is a reason for this book though. The major players are all starting to show up, things are changing, roles becoming different. I can only assume that this means we are reaching a denouement. Things are coming. So no, this was not a wasted book. I also like that we had another form of mythos in the mix with Hades. Sure we have fallen angels, angels, the fey, shapeshifters and such, but having other religions was nice. How much influence does he have? What can he do? How much will he let happen? Exciting things I must say.

Above all I loved the heist aspect and I am curious to see how the new reveals will change future tales. I hope we get to see Goodman Grey again (nice addition Mr Butcher) and now that Harry no longer has something inside his head waiting to break free, how on earth is she going to change everyone’s lives?

Things I didn’t like so much:
Yeah not a whole lot I didn’t like. Harry is having an identity crisis, everything is different and changing. I only wish Nicodemus would just die and yet I need him as a villain even if we don’t see him all the time. He and the Denarians will show up again and I know I will be glad to see them.

Okay i will admit that sometimes the pacing was bit slow and the story uneven, but I was so happy to have an acerbic Harry back that I am willing to forgive those few small things.

Buy or Borrow: Buy.

Part of:Part of the Fear Street Series
Book One: Storm Front
Book Two: Fool Moon
Book Three: Grave Peril
Book Four: Summer Knight
Book Five: Death Masks
Book Six: Blood Rites
Book Seven: Dead Beat
Book Eight: Proven Guilty
Book Nine: White Night
Book Ten: Small Favor
Book Eleven: Turn Coat
Book Twelve: Changes
Book Thirteen: Ghost Story
Book Fourteen: Cold Days
Also Recommended: The rest of the Dresden Files of course, Something from the Nightside by Simon R Green, The Matthew Swift novels by Kate Griffin and The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FURY: MOVIE REVIEW

Fury (2014)
Directed By: David Ayer
Written By: David Ayer
Genre:ACTION ADVENTURE/DRAMA
Rated: R
Time: 134 min
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs
Plot: "April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Comments: Joon-ho Bong has done some great films, The Host and Mother being two of them. Now most people haven’t heard about Snowpiercer or are lucky enough to have it show up in their local theater. I knew that US distributors wanted to cut 20 minutes from the film, but the director wouldn’t budge and good for him. Luckily the same time it is out in theaters, it is also available through our XboxOne.

When my dad and I have movie night if there is a war film out, you can wager that is probably what we will be seeing. This week it is Fury, a WWII film about a tank. Now the trailers would lead you to believe that it would be your typical heroic triumphant tale of how a lone, broken tank held the lines and took out 300 Nazi soldiers. Or something like that. Instead for me it was all about the soldiers in the tank from Brad Pitt’s ‘War Daddy’ to young Lerman’s ‘Machine’. War is brutal and this isn’t exactly the kind of film you walk out feeling all light and fluffy or even jazzed up about. Mostly it was depressing. But that is what war is. It’s depressing. It’s ugly and it’s horrific. This movie was about war. But it was also about Fury. ‘Fury’ is the tank that houses Brad Pitt and his small little family of survivors. It’s also the tank that provides the action for the last act of the film. Fury is also the emotion that is frequently spotted. Fury that war is hell. Fury that war isn’t polite. And Fury that there seems to be no way out.

Each man in the tank plays a different stereotype. You have the Jesus saves crewmember, Bible (Shia LeBeauf who is actually really good in this role despite being fairly one dimensional compared to Pitt and Lerman), the hick you love to hate Coon Ass (Jon Bernthal), and your obligatory ethnic crew member Gordo (a woefully underrated Michael Peña). It is a shame that the other men in Fury do not have the layers that Wardaddy and Norman have. Instead there are good performances with cookie cutter archetypes. The chemistry between them all seems very real and natural and I actually wonder how many things may have been improvised due to that natural chemistry.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when Team Fury and gang manages to hold a small village. Most members of the Fury crew go get drunk and find some R&R in the arms of a local woman, or you know have fun pillaging, but Wardaddy finds an apartment with two women and invites Norman to go with him. It is a tense meeting at first and I begged Wardaddy to not be like his compatriots, to be a good man. He offers eggs if the older of the two would just cook them and asks for water to clean up. It’s a brief respite from war. There is piano playing, smiles, and even some laughter. But the innocence is shattered when the rest of the crew find them. They are drunk, hostile, grabbing at the pretty German women, and being everything you don’t want them to be. They are racist, they are cruel, and completely unwelcome. Old war horror stories and past events shatter the calm. It’s heartbreaking as is the scene that follows. But that is the thing…the whole movie is heartbreaking, even the final act. Because it is about war and how it changes you, lingers, and destroys.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema (If you can). While it’s not a movie I will buy when it comes to video, I am not disappointed that I saw it. I did want more from it, but that is because you had a decent cast. It was almost as if the film wasn’t sure what it wanted to be and the pacing is slow in many parts. But like I said I enjoyed and it was entertained. And to me that is the best perk when going to the movies.

3/4 popcorns

Thursday, November 6, 2014

PARTY GAMES by RL STINE: A Review

Party Games
Written by: R.L. Stine
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Language: English
September 2014
Genre: Young Adult/ Horror

Her friends warn her not to go to Brendan Fear's birthday party at his family's estate on mysterious Fear Island. But Rachel Martin has a crush on Brendan and is excited to be invited. Brendan has a lot of party games planned. But one game no one planned intrudes on his party—the game of murder. As the guests start dying one by one, Rachel realizes to her horror that she and the other teenagers are trapped on the tiny island with someone who may want to kill them all. How to escape this deadly game? Rachel doesn't know whom she can trust. She should have realized that nothing is as it seems… on Fear Island.

R.L. Stine makes his triumphant return to Shadyside, a town of nightmares, shadows, and genuine terror, and to the bestselling series that began his career writing horror for the juvenile market, in the new Fear Street book Party Games.


+++++++++++++

When I think about some of my favorite books growing up, RL Stine’s Fear Street series and anything by Christopher Pike were pretty numerous on the teenage self’s bookshelves. Ooh how I loved the Fear street saga with the murders and the ghosts and the monsters. And Christopher Pike…he was my King and Koontz. Seriously it was all murder, mayhem, sex, booze…everything I wasn’t supposed to read all in a lovely paperback form. Babysitter’s Club and Nancy Drew they were not. I still have some of my favorites on my bookshelf such as Remember Me, Fall into Darkness, Witch, Whisper of Death, Scavenger Hunt, and the Last Vampires series. There were other horror lite books as well from Lois Duncan, Caroline Cooney, and others but those two were my favorite. Ooh I still love them as batshit crazy as some of the plots were (looking at you Scavenger Hunt).

When I heard that RL Stine was reviving the Fear Street saga after 15 years, my inner me may have squealed a bit. But love for nostalgia can be sometimes disappointing. Sometimes things we loved as kids don’t hold up to the ages. We have become different people with different tastes and higher vocabularies. And yet, there is something about the Fear Street books and that whole genre of YA horror that I still love to this day and I want more of to be honest. Plus nostalgia can be a wonderful thing sometimes and as I waited to get my hands on Party Games I started thinking about a lot of different things from my childhood and how they shaped me to be what I am today.

Party Games begins with Rachel Martin, a typical high school girl who lives in Shadyside and spends her afternoons as a waitress at one of the local diners. When her crush, Brendan Fear, invites her to his birthday party she cannot help but be excited. Sure he is a Fear and the party is on the isolated Fear Island, but those stories about the Fears are just stupid tales that no one really believes anymore. Her best friend warns her not to go, and the ominous dead rat in her bed should be a warning as well, but Rachel will not cave in. This is her chance.

As soon as the group of teens show up on Fear island, the accidents begin. It began with the boat captain, their only way off the island. Determined not to let an accident ruin his Birthday party Brendan sets up a scavenger party and asks Rachel to be his partner. But when the scavenger hunt turns deadly, Rachel finds herself fighting for her life instead of first place. Is Brendan really what he seems? Is there a Fear family curse? And is Rachel destined to be one of its victims?

Things I liked:
I was looking forward to this book so much. And because of that I had some high expectations. While Christopher Pike’s books were my favorite, the Fear Street saga came in at a close second. They were full of the supernatural, of ghosts in mirrors, and curses, and murder and mayhem. The story began slowly, but the plot of Fear Island and a Scavenger Hunt by famed game master Brendan had me intrigued. Add in an old boyfriend for Rachel and it was promising. Even more so when you hear the story of how the Fear family may have been bored one night on the island and so decided to turn out all of the servants and go hunt them for sport. Ooh potential ghosties. I am down.

Now it didn’t all go down the way I expected and there are some major flaws in the book, but we will get to that in a moment. There are some nice old school Fear Street references and little fan shout outs like that make me smile. Especially since Stine was inspired to go back to Fear Street after reading some tweets from fans who were and still are such big fans of the series. Sure the series is 15 years old and most of us teens are now pretending to be adults and kids of our own that may someday dig the series like we did.

I love anything with Scavenger Hunts and the Party Game murders were clever. I didn’t hate Rachel so that was a plus and I like the small twist in the story. There was the cheese factor that I am expecting in a Fear Street or YA horror novel (not unlike my favorite horror film).

Things I didn’t like so much:
But overall I cannot help but be a little disappointed. I know I had some high expectations and some pretty big nostalgia fondness going in, but both the pacing and the prose were a bit lacking. One of the things that I loved about the YA Horror trend is that I felt like I was reading a Stephen King story I could relate to. It wasn’t middle grade reading, but it also wasn’t full of words I had to go look up. This prose feels too Goosebumps and not enough Fear Street.

When I read a Fear Street book I want Fear Street. I want ghosts, I want the supernatural. I want curses. And Party Games really could have taken place anywhere, certainly not specifically Shadyside. I wanted more impending doom and glimpses of horror, but I really just got a story that was never really followed through and a dead rodent in a bed. I needed more than just the Fear name. I could have had so much more. This is your return to Shadyside Mr. Stine, a chance to please your readers from a bit of a go and to excite new readers and perhaps, if I am lucky, bring horror back to YA. In the end I don’t think this was RL Stine’s best, that he may be a little rusty when it comes to the Fears. Don’t talk down to your readers. Trust me they like to be scared and they will read your books if you give them the thrills they are looking for.

To finish this all off…I didn’t like the ending. Too neat. Too easy. It just doesn’t work like that. Also teenagers don’t say half of the things that were in the dialogue. Maybe I am just getting old, but I was disappointed in Party Games. Sure, I will wait for the next one and see if maybe Stine hits his stride again. And by the Powers that Be I really do hope there is a resurgence in YA horror. This just wasn’t it.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow.

Part of:Part of the Fear Street Series

Also Recommended: Remember Me by Christopher Pike, The Fog by Caroline B Cooney, Fear Park by RL Stine, and Witch by Christopher Pike

2.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Monday, November 3, 2014

NOVEMBER: WATCH/READ/PLAY

Ah November. The second month for all things pumpkin. Now we get turkey and cranberries too. I love the Autumn. It is finally starting to get cold around here and I expect we will get our first real snow here any day now. The leaves are nearly off the trees, I have decided which new shows to keep watching or just give up on, and we are finally ramping up to my favorite video game release. I have a feeling that November is going to be a lovely month.

MOVIES
Big Hero 6
Genre: Animated
Stars: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller

In short:The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes. So so looking forward to this one. (November 7)

Interstellar
Genre: SciFi/Drama
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy

In short: Our time on Earth is coming to an end, so a team of space explorers (Mathew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) undertakes the most important mission in human history: use a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage so that makind has a future. (November 7)

Foxcatcher
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave

In short: Based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances. To be honest I want to see this because I want to see Steve Carell do something a little bit different as I think the man is insanely talented. (November 14)

Mockingjay Part One
Genre: Adventure/SciFi
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson

In short: Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. Can. Not. Wait. Especially since Catching Fire was such a pleasant surprise with a new director. (November 21)

The Imitation Game
Genre: Biography/Drama/Thriller
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech

In short: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II. (November 28)

The Babadook
Genre: Horror
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech

In short: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. I love Essie in Miss Fisher’s Mysteries and the first time I saw the trailer it gave me happy little horror chills. Of course this means it will never come here. Sad face. (November 28)

BOOKS

Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier (Nov 4)
In short: In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she'll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters. With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.


A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Nov 4)
In short: Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him. Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined. A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.


Symbiont by Mira Grant (Nov 25)
In short: THE ENEMY IS INSIDE US. The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde. Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

GAMES

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare - November 2
Assassins Creed: Unity – November 11
Dragon Age: Inquisition – November 18
Far Cry 4 – November 18


Did I miss anything?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

GAMER GIRL WEEKEND: HALLOWEEN GAMING

This month’s Read Play Question from Happy Indulgence Books and Read Me Away is all about Halloween. If you enjoy video games like me it’s a great little link up that has a new gaming-related question to answer, you also share a recommendation, and what game you're currently playing. Allons-y!


What game character would you like to be this Halloween?
While I still haven’t a clue what I am going to do for Halloween this year (I am thinking Star Trek lady, Voodoo Doll, and possibly fawn girl) as I have been so busy I haven’t even looked at my sewing machine in the past two months (there goes that achievement for October), I always have my wishlist which usually begins at Halloween and then continues with a mad dash for competition before a con a few months later.

I have always wanted to do an Alice costume. Loved the game when I was in University though I have not played the recent console version. I just dig the whole gothic Lolita thing she has going on here. Plus I wouldn’t have to do a wig if I didn’t want to. For a costume, it is fairly simple and I just love the idea of having a little bit of wicked in there.

Now if I was a cosplaying goddess, I think I would have to choose either the Awoken Queen from Destiny as a recent choice (Love the collar) or Morrigan from Dragon Age. I know, I know Femme Shep should be in there, but I think the armor might be cumbersome and way too hot when out drinking and making mischief for Halloween. Honorable mentions also go out to: Little Sister from BioShock, Arkham Harley Quinn, Lara Croft 2013, and Dawn from Contrast.

Game Recommendation: Fatal Frame 2
Since this is the Halloween edition, I figure it is only fair to recommend one of the games that scared the bejeezus out of me when I was younger playing it. “Twins Mio and Mayu enter a haunted village after falling under its spell. Mio must follow Mayu with the Camera Obscura to protect her from the evil spirits.”

There is something about being armed with only a camera and your twin sister that just leaves you vulnerable. The story is decent and like all good horror games there is a creeping sense of dread throughout the game. It’s haunting. It’s scary. And I play it only when it is light out.

Currently Playing: Destiny
They may have nerfed my murder Cave, but I am still playing a bit of this every night until Dragon Age comes out. We would be playing Borderlands, but both 360s are a bit on the fritz…enough that I don’t want to risk paying monies for a game we may not be able to play. Will November 18th get here already.

You know I should take a mini break and create a Haunted House in Minecraft just to relax. Ooh that might be fun.

Friday, October 24, 2014

5 Fandom Friday: Horror Films

5 Fandom Friday is a series hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week’s theme: your go to movies for Halloween. For me this means we get to discuss one of my favorite genres: horror. Now most horror movies do not scare me at all. I love B-movie horror schlock like Friday the 13th (though I will never understand how Jason drowned as a little boy but came back as a hulking menace) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. These days horror movies are so involved with gore that they forget about having a decent plot or any real scare factors. But there are some movies out there that genuinely give the creep factor. Here are some of my favorites. Most of them may be movies you have not seen as they are not your typical flicks, but if you are looking for a fun evening, I would suggest all of these. I know I do when it comes to the Halloween-y times. What are your favorites?

THE STRANGERS (2008)
Plot : Inspired by true events, this heart pounding, nail-biting frightener mercilessly explores our most universal fears, where simply opening the door to a stranger leads to a grueling night of terror one could never imagine. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman star in this relentless suspense thriller that will keep you up at night and make you never want to answer the door again!
Why It’s Good : “Because you were home.” It’s unsettling. It’s creepy and works because of how simple it is. There are no huge sets, creepy CGI effects or even haunting score (though there is one). Instead, it relies on rattling the viewer with a story that could happen. We don’t get a clever back story on the villains. They don’t need one. They are perfectly menacing just the way that they are. The sound design is amazing and a skipping record of folk country music has never been more creepy. In fact just thinking about the unease this film creates gives me the shivers, especially since I live in the middle of the country. And can never ever watch this at home by myself due to said reasons.

SUSPIRIA (1977)
Plot : Jessica Harper stars as Suzy Banyon, a young American ballet dancer who arrives at a prestigious European dance academy run by the mysterious Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett of DARK SHADOWS) and Miss Tanner. But when a series of bizarre incidents and horrific crimes (including what Entertainment Weekly calls "the most vicious murder scene ever filmed") turn the school into a waking nightmare of the damned, Suzy must escape the academy's unspeakable secret of supernatural evil.
Why It’s Good : Thanks to my best friend Paul, I learned the joys of Dario Argento. This stylishly beautiful film has the creeps and scares you would expect in a horror film. It has one of the best opening scenes I have ever seen and the bizarre color palette, haunting music, and menacing atmosphere doesn’t stop until the very end. While the plot may be a little convoluted, it doesn’t matter. Any film where a man’s Seeing Eye dog attacks him is certainly worth watching, don’t you think? And Ugh maggots in your hair and hairbrush, it’s enough to make this girly girl cringe every time, but that is why I love it. or at least I am assuming my seven year old self connected with. They were horses, but with horns and magic.

MAY (2002)
Plot : May never really fit in and growing up with a pirate's patch to cover her lazy eye did not make things easier. Even as an adult her best friend and sole companion is a doll given to her by her mother... until she sees Adam. In awe of his beauty especially his hands she pursues a relationship for the first time in her life. But she soon finds out that people are not 100% perfect... only certain parts of them are.
Why It’s Good : I love this film. May is a mousy, socially awkward girl whom you cannot help but love. Angela Bettis plays her with a fragile beauty and her attempts at romance and friendship are ones you can relate on some level to. She spends her evenings confiding in a doll her mother would never let her take out of its glass casing and wishing she had someone to call her own. When she finally feels comfortable enough to venture out and away from her isolation things don’t go the way she had planned. The film is part black humor horror film, part bizarre romance and part tragedy. It’s a great film (I even went as May one Halloween dressed as her Halloween costume) that most people overlooked. They shouldn’t have.

THE DEVILS BACKBONE (2001)
Plot : During the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos is abandoned at a completely isolated orphanage. The tensions therein have been building for years, exacerbated by the unexploded bomb resting menacingly in the courtyard. Bullies scheme, tempers flare, and a ghost that visits Carlos's bed seems to be the key to it all.
Why It’s Good : From the mind of Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy), whom I adore, comes a film that is more a drama with ghosts in it rather than just a straight horror film. It is stylish and well-paced with a great atmosphere that relies on as much foreboding as your typical horror film. In my opinion it has some of the best ‘ghost’ effects that I have seen with ‘The One Who Sighs’ from the minute little water bubbles to the blood in water effect. The orphanage holds more than the murdered boy and watching it all unfold is a delight. So worth checking out.

THE FRIGHTENERS (1996)
Plot : In the sleepy little town of Fairwater, a monstrous evil has awakened...an evil so powerful, its reach extends beyond the grave. For Frank Bannister (Michael J. Fox), death is a great way to make a living: ridding haunted houses of their "unwelcome" guests." But he's in cahoots with the very ghosts he promises to evict! It's the perfect scam...until Frank finds himself at the center of a dark mystery. A diabolical spirit is on a murderous rampage, and the whole town.
Why It’s Good : Peter Jackson (yep of Dead Alive and Lord of the Rings fame) directed this little gem that is part black comedy, part horror and part thriller. The performances are great especially Jeffrey Combs’ demented little agent. I find it clever and a great little blend of elements. Plus it has few minor chills and I love Michael J Fox. He’ll always be my Alex P Keaton.

What are some of your go to scary films that you watch every Autumn or Halloween season?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WEDNESDAY WHAT IF: HORROR MOVIE MUST HAVES

It’s been a while since I did a Wednesday What If and now that is October I am officially allowed to post all things horror or Halloween-y. I watched a couple of horror films the other day (You’re Next, The Signal which was really more sci-fi, and old favorite Wrong Turn) and started thinking about the Final Girls and horror films in general. In horror films the final girl is a trope in slasher flicks especially that refers to the last lady alive to confront the killer and tell the story. Final Girls have included Ripley from Alien, Laurie Strode from the Halloween series, Dana from Cabin in the woods, Sidney Prescott from Scream and even Erin from You’re Next. Of course in earlier films the Final Girl was the sweet virginal girl who didn’t partake in any of the usual horror film tropes that would lead to your inevitable death (sex, drugs, alcohol, saying I’ll be right back, etc), but things changed with Scream, Buffy, and others.

It got me thinking though. Who would I want with me in a horror film because obviously I would be the Final Girl? Would I deliberately use someone as fodder to get away? What kind of weapons should I have? Would we all survive? Even though we would have lifelong therapy after? Then what do you know the lovely folks at Man Crates (who create some pretty bad ass gift crates you need to open with a crowbar) challenged me to do a post about the very such thing. It might be a match for the heavens my friends. (By the way I am in no way compensated for this, but I love challenges). Here are my What Ifs/Supplies for a Horror Film. What are yours? Let me know and I will link you up.

THE BEST FRIEND:
Buffy // Buffy the Vampire Slayer
There is always a best friend. Who better to go with me to that Cabin in the Woods, the midnight party on a Deserted Island, or visit the spooky house with than none other than the Slayer herself. Not only would our conversation be witty and amazing, but when it came down to fighting the big bad I know I have at least a little kick ass on my side. Monsters and serial killers beware, I have Buffy on my side.

THE PET:
Mouse // Dresden Files
In some movies the poor unfortunate pet does not make it, but they haven’t met Mouse from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. Not only would he alert me to danger, but I could also possibly ride him like a small pony. Sure he looks like a big friendly dog that may lick the slasher’s face off, but it is more likely that he would tear it off. Incredibly loyal and snarky in a way that only Mouse can be, Buffy and I would gladly take him along on a vacation across the moors.

THE VEHICLE:
Dead Reckoning // Land of the Dead
Sure it seems like overkill you may say when all Buffy, Mouse and I are going to do is go visit our friends at Crystal Lake or go visit Daryl and Company at their new digs at Terminus. But you can never be too prepared. Well-fortified and in a chic shade of black, Dead Reckoning can be our home away from home while traveling through the desert. If gas does become too scarce we can at least salvage what we can from our vehicle.

THE OUTFIT:
Zombie Apocalypse by filipparosberg
Chic yet practical in most horror film situations. Must haves are the belt (just in case you need a tourniquet or way to get down a zipline) and sensible shoes you can run in (heels are the mark of death).

THE FODDER:
A guy named Johnny or Billy // Horror Films in General
If things get really rough Buffy, Mouse, and I made need some fodder. And if you have seen any horror films in the past 50 years, having a random guy named Johnny means he will be the distraction you need to get away. Seriously never have a boyfriend named John, Johnny, Billy, etc because when you ask is that you Johnny, it never is. I mean this guy would be marked for death. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

THE WEAPON:
Bow and Quiver // Arrow
Now we all know that no particular weapon necessarily guarantees that our foursome is going to make it through the alien invasion/zombie infestation/murder spree alive because as well know things can go wrong (machete means close up, guns require bullets, chainsaws need gas, etc) I am partial to Daryl’s crossbow and would love to bring a lightsaber with me, but for practical reasons I am going to have to go with The Arrow’s bow and quiver perhaps with some of the modified arrows just for good measure. I will let Buffy and Our New Companion…. Carry their own.

THE RANDOM GUY:
Star Lord // Guardians of the Galaxy
You know the one who randomly shows up because he, too, is in trouble. Maybe he is the killer or maybe a very useful ally. Who knows, but ultimately we will win him over to our side or save his ass. Maybe he will save ours with his random knowledge, kick ass tunage, and secret bad ass ninja skills. Also…because. He’s needed. Man, our little trip to go see if that house is really haunted is going to be so snarky and fun. I can’t wait.

THE SUPPLIES:
The Handbag of Holding would include the following essentials.
* A multi-tool (so that I can Macgyver a few things if need be. Let’s face it being able to modify things while running from a hockey masked killer is vital)
* Portable Cell Phone Charger (Easy to throw into the bag of holding and vital. How many survivors turned into victims because they ran out of a charge)
* Water Purification Water Bottle (Hydration is important as is clean water for wounds, etc. Making sure it is water that won’t leave you off in a corner in a very vulnerable position or make things worse is essential)
* Pain Medication (seems silly but some advil or aspirin can be quite helpful)
* Snacks (we will go with some gum, jerky, and protein bars…wouldn’t do to starve to death)
* Kinetic Flashlight (There is nothing worse than having your flashlight go out on you when you’re going down the stairs to check out that strange noise. Forget batteries, have a flashlight that you power by shaking or cranking)
* Lighter (A reliable one would be nice to either light the bonfire to alert the authorities that you made it out a live or to light that propane tank nearby and kill the evil cannibalistic family)
* Holy Water (you know…just in case.)
* Super Glue (In a pinch it can be used to help without a gash, it doesn’t take up too much space, and again useful in a variety of ways)
*Duct Tape (Yep its versatile. Granted I’d only be bringing one roll so building the boat out of duct tape will not be happening as we try to escape the demons from hell, but again useful. Macgyver would be proud)
*How to Survive a Horror Film the Book (if all else fails, we can use it as a firestarter)

Wait what was that noise? Did I miss anything? What would your choices be?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

TUESDAY TRAILERS: FOXCATCHER

I will be honest, one of the biggest reasons I want to see this film is due to the fact that Steve Carrell looks frakking scary. He is one of my favorite actors when he is doing things a little more serious and like John Lithgow in Dexter, I think I am really going to like it. While I don’t know too much about the true story on which this is based, I am still curious. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: Based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances..…Opens November 14, 2014.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

SUNDAY SEVEN: SCARIEST MONSTERS (TV)

We have tackled Monsters from film. The Cinema is not the only place where there are Boogedy Boos. TV monsters can haunt your dreams as well. So let’s explore my top seven scariest monsters of television. Did I get it right? Do you have an even better monster? As usual leave your choices in the comments section.


the peacocks from xfiles
Don't Look Under The Bed
The Peacocks // Home (X-Files): Let’s start with an oldie but a goodie from the territory of Mulder and Scully. Written by my favorite duo of Glen Morgan and James Wong, ‘Home’ introduces us to the Peacocks and by the gods are they absolutely terrifying. Sure on the outside they look like a couple of deformed farmers until you realize what they are keeping under the bed. Seriously, just thinking about that episode and the Peacocks gives me the heebie jeebies. Great episode and great monsters despite being incredibly disturbing.

weeping angels from doctor who
Don't Blink.
Weeping Angels // ‘Blink’ (Doctor Who):
As a Whovian you knew that the Weeping Angels would be on my list and they beat out the Silence just a little bit. Here is why. The Weeping Angels can be terrifying yes, but they don’t murder you. They take your time and to be honest isn’t that one of the things that scares us all…not having enough time or being taken from those you know and love. Of course there is that whole don’t blink thing. Or the fact that the Weeping Angels could be anything statue like. I keep thinking about the bobcat statue near my office or the dozens of other ones in town. Shiver. What about my cute little gargoyle Book ends…Don’t think about it. Don’t blink.

the gentlemen from buffy
Can't even Shout.  Can't Even cry.
The Gentlemen // ‘Hush’ (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) : I will always remember this episode. It was snowing and I almost missed a test at my University because I wanted to watch it all. The Gentlemen are of course automatically creepy because of their perma grins and languid way of moving (Doug Jones seriously does an amazing job as the lead gentleman), but the real reason they are terrifying is because they have stolen your ability to scream for help. You cannot shout ‘Danger’ to a passerby. You cannot scream for help. Oh and they want your heart. And they use scalpels and they have terrifying henchmen.

the parasites from the xfiles
Things should not go in ears. Certainly not worms.
The Parasites // ‘Ice’ (X-Files)
: We are headed back to the monsters of my adolescence with Mulder and Scully again. This episode is another by Glen Morgan and perhaps inspired by Carpenter’s The Thing at least in the way it isolates all of the characters. Yea a parasite that drives its host into murderous fits of rage. Why it is on my list? Because things go in ears that shouldn’t. I had nightmares for weeks because of Wrath of Khan and this just reminded me that parasitic worms should not go into ears. On top of the ugh inducing way that the parasite gets into its victims, the episode deals with not knowing who the enemy is and who is infected. I am now going to go put earmuffs on.

Don't Look in the Mirror
The Phantom // ‘Mirror Mirror’ (Amazing Stories)
: I had to look up the title of this one, but as a kiddo I was addicted to Amazing Stories. But then there were episodes that left me never wanting to look in a mirror again. There is something terrifying about looking in the mirror and something is behind you. You turn around and nothing was there. It is a trope that many horror films still use, but you have to admit it is unsettling. This episode (directed by Martin Scorcese I discover) is about a Stephen King like writer who claims that he cannot be scared. But then he starts seeing a monster in every mirror he comes across and each time it seems to be getting closer and closer and closer.

Dolls Shouldn't Be Creepy
The Doll // ‘The Inheritance’ (Friday the 13th – The Series)
: Another staple of my childhood along with Monsters, Tales from the Darkside, the Outer Limits, and Tales from the Crypt was Friday the 13th the series. If you haven’t seen the series it was about an antique shop full of things that could kill you. The lead characters would go and find the cursed object and bring it back. Now in this episode you have a creepy doll not unlike the one from the Twilight Zone or Chinga from the XFiles who has murderous intent. Now dolls are supposed to be innocent and childlike, not evil. This is why the clown doll was on the movie list. This is why I will only watch Annabelle in my home while clutching a stuffed animal. Of course the doll in the episode really likes to lead people into the murder and mayhem, but again dolls should not do that. Creepy, porcelain, dead, unmoving eyes of horror. Pft.

Creepy
Eugene Tooms // ‘Tooms’ (X-Files)
: The X-Files was great with the monsters and even more so than Buffy or Who though you will see below that I mentioned a few more of the monsters from those two series. Eugene Tooms was terrifying when we first met him in the episode ‘Squeeze’ as he could fit into very small spaces and then kill and eat his victim’s livers. I liked this episode more than the first because we already know what Tooms can do and now that he has been released from the Sanatorium we know who he is going to go after. *shiver*

Honorable Mentions: The Silence (Doctor Who), The Gremlin (The Twilight Zone), Der Kinderstod (Buffy), The Vashta Nerada (Doctor Who), and Flukeman (X-Files)