Archive for » September, 2010 «

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

I’ve slipped away for a month again, but that happens from time to time. The truth is, I’ve been on a pretty big writing jag on the fiction side of things with a few projects that are shaping up nicely. What that boils down to is that most of my free time has been spent writing, which boils down further too…no time to watch movies! I have gotten some reading done however which is important for any writer to do.

Amongst the scattered novels I’m plowing through a little bit of a time, I received some new trades from Vertigo last week that made for some interesting diversion. The first of these is “A Sickness in the Family” by Denise Mina. I can’t say I’m familiar with the line but Vertigo now as a ‘Vertigo Crime’ series which is essentially your straight up muder mystery type stories. Mina has quite a history with this style of story with her six novels and her stint on Veritgo’s Hellblazer.

“Meet the Ushers. (By the way, this name is no accident). The parents, Ted and Biddy. Grandma Martha. The three kids, William, Amy and Sam. Just a normal, middle class family gathered around the table on Christmas Day. Until they start dying very violent deaths. One by one. As secrets and resentments boil to the surface, it becomes clear there’s more than one Usher with a motive for killing off the others. But in the end, the truth turns out to be far more shocking than anyone in the ill-fated family could have imagined.”

Once we dig into “Sickness”, it becomes apparant early on that we’re dealing with your standard large wealthy family arguing over inheritences. Granted, nobody has died to pass the money on to the children yet, but they’re going to argue about it anyways. To spice things up, we’re given the setting of a creepy old flat with a nasty history and the hopes of ghost stories being mixed in along the way. While standard, the story is readable yet fails to be very innovative. It’s one of those cases where you finish the story and don’t hate the fact that you read it, but you didn’t take a lot out of it either. There’s a lot goign on here in the limited amount of pages Mina has to work in. The nuts and bolts of the story are solid, I just can’t helpt to think that it would have worked better in a standard novel format where Minda could have fleshed out her characters to a more hearty presentation. As they are, they’re a little thin.

As for the artwork by Antonio Fuso, it makes a great companion on the story that is here. The black and white art fits well with the gritty setting and family drama. There are touches of a Japanese influence here and there to help to give the book a different look. Overall, the art really helps the package for me.

“A Sickness In the Family” is an allright read, but I can’t really recommend that you go beat down the doors of your local shop to get a copy. If you happen across a bargain copy or find at your library? Sure, snap it up. Keep in mind however, muder mysteries are generally not my standard fare. If you like some good crime fiction, you might enjoy this book a lot more than I did.

Curious? “A Sickness in the Family” hits shelves on October 13th for $19.99.

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Monday, September 27th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Okay, so that was a rather inflammatory title but you know what? It’s true. I’ve met quite a few people out there that have seen the “Twilight” films and declared themselves horror fans based on nothing else but said sparkle-schmultz flicks. I’d say it’s all right but you know, even if you’re just into vampires; there’s tons of better vampire flicks out there.

I’m not going to point fingers and laugh though. No, I’m going to take that extra step and offer you an education! I say “I’m” going to offer you this, but I’m just the messenger. Really, Turner Classic Movies is the educator here. But I digress…

TCM established itself as the greatest place on cable television for the Halloween season. Year after year they have dedicated the channel to spooks and scares and done a stellar job of picking the flicks to show you. This year, they’re going to spice things up a bit by showcasing a boat load of classic Hammer films every Friday throughout the month! If you’ve never read Cinema Fromage or glossed over a lot of it, you’ll know I’m a die hard Hammer fanboy, so this news is extra awesome!

Here comes the education part….

Kicking things off this Friday October 1st comes four of their biggest classics; the Christopher Lee “Dracula” films. I’m telling you; they’re great! So if you’re a horror fan that has only seen the “Twilight” flicks? I urge you to tune in Friday night and watch Christopher Lee do his thing. If you’re new to all of this, you might know Mr. Lee as Count Dooku from the recent “Star Wars” prequels or Sarumon from “The Lord of the Rings”. Yes, that guy. When he was younger, he cut a hell of an imposing figure that would make Robert Pattinson wilt like the delicate undead flower that he is.

So without further adieu, here is the entire Hammer schedule for TCM in the month of October! Be sure to check at least a few of them out, they’re unlike anything else in today’s modern era of horror!

EDIT: For my own fanboy sensibilities, I have to urge you to tune in on the 29th for the run of Peter Cushing “Frankenstein” flicks. Peter Cushing is probably the greatest thing to hit horror in the last fifty years!

Friday October 1st

8:00PM: Horror of Dracula (1958) – Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee face off

9:30PM: The Brides of Dracula (1960) – Peter Cushing faces a blonde vampire

11:00PM: Dracula, Prince of Darkness (1966) – a silent Christopher Lee attacks

12:45AM: Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968) – the most successful Hammer Dracula movie

Friday October 8th

8:00PM: Plague of the Zombies (1966) – Andre Morell uses zombie slaves for his tin mine

9:45PM: The Devil’s Bride (1968) – Christopher Lee vs black magic

11:30PM: The Reptile (1966) – theatrical co-feature of Plague of the Zombies

1:15AM: The Gorgon (1964) – what is Barbara Shelly’s deep dark secret

October 15th

8:00PM: The Mummy (1959) – Christopher Lee’s last great creature role

9:45PM: Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964) – low budget Hammer fun

11:15PM: The Mummy’s Shroud (1967) – Hammer’s third mummy entry

1:00AM: Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) – an evil spirit possess voluptuous Valerie Leon

October 22nd

8:00PM: X-The Unknown (1957) – a radioactive blob from beneath the earth strikes

9:30PM: Five Million years to Earth (1968) – third entry in the famous Quatermass series

11:15PM: These are the Damned (1963) – a neat combination of social commentary and horror

1:00AM: The Stranglers of Bombay (1960) – look out for the bloodthirsty thugees

October 29th

8:00PM: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) – Peter Cushing begins his horrific experiments

9:30PM: The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) – terror is relocated to a new town

11:15PM: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967) – Peter Cushing transfers souls this time around

1:00AM: Frankenstein Must be Destroyed (1969) – Peter Cushing at his most evil

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Thursday, September 02nd, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

This past year, the literary world was plagued with a new phenomenon; the hybrid of mixing heavy horror elements into a number of standard literary classics. You’ll be most familiar with patient zero of the craze, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. For myself, the idea was cute but the execution just didn’t pay off. For me at least. it still felt like “Pride and Prejudice” and there just happened to zombies squeezed in there. Now there are a veritable plethora of similar books out there and if you didn’t like the idea the first time around, chances are you’re not going to like any of the others. Then music journalist Alan Goldsher came and changed up the formula a bit.

Enter: “Paul is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion”. If you haven’t figured it out by the title, your favorite and mine The Beatles are zombies. Well, all of them except Ringo. He’s a seventh level ninja lord. None of that undead business for him.

Instead of a straight up fictional narrative, “Paul is Undead” is told in a collection of interviews with members of the band, other associates, fans and such. While the idea of a zombie Beatles band may seem a bit ludicrous, when it is packaged in the interview collection format it reads as a fun history. The book starts with John Lennon being shot in 1980, just like real life. Unlike real life, he’s a zombie so it’s not that big of deal. From there we learn the origins of the band, their current state of decay and their rampage over the years. It’s a great bit of fun.

Not only is the loose collection of interviews the perfect setting for such a tale, Goldsher does a great job of inventing this little world that the zombie Beatles reside. It’s not that different from our own; there are just zombies in it. Lots of them. Lots of different kinds of them. You have your Liverpudlian variety that John, Paul and George hail from. They come with a grayish pallor and a complicated process of conversion that makes killing them off a bit difficult. Other parts of the world give birth to other types of zombies. Your classic Romero shambler? They might come from the wilds of Africa. It’s Goldsher’s attention to detail and a breath of heavy imagination that gives the somewhat tired zombie genre a good shot in the arm to make it fun and different. Let’s not forget the fact that the book is actually pretty hilarious as well. The jokes run fast and frequent throughout the boys rise to fame. Remember Mick Jagger? Of course you do. He’s still out there doing his thing. That could be because he’s been a zombie hunter for quite a few decades now. Hunting zombies keep you shape. Once again, a fun little element that ties into the fun.

“Paul is Undead” is a great light and breezy read. I laughed out loud a number of times just at the sheer zaniness of it all. Goldsher does a great job of making the fantasy version of the Beatles history mirror the real Beatles history. I’m not enough of a buff to say for certain but I feel pretty safe in saying that he touches on all of the major moments in the bands reign with a high point of accuracy. He is a music writer after all and his love of band and their craft shines through. Lucky for us, he appears to love zombies as well!

Give it a read, it’s a good time!

In addition to all this, I just received word yesterday that Goldsher has just announced the sequel to “Paul is Undead”, “Poppermost Over America: The British Zombie Invasion 2”! If you want to read up, head over to the book’s blog at http://poppermostoveramerica.blogspot.com/ check it out! Be forewarned though; the site will contain a lot of spoilers for the first book, so read at your own risk!

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