horror

The Book Monster #17 (Relaunch)

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October 30, 2013 

After a 10 month hiatus, I am relaunching my column “The Book Monster.” 

For those who have never visited my column before I would like to welcome you and invite you to keep coming back. I also invite you to read some of my old columns. The Book Monster discusses books, publishing news, authors, literature in pop culture, and anything else that has to do with books. Feel free to comment with Facebook. I would also love to hear from my readers whether you have questions, comments, etc. You can contact me by e-mail (the box with the “e” inside, below my bio) or via Twitter (the box with the “T” inside).

To my readers both faithful and intermittent I apologize for the abrupt death of the column in December; my career took me elsewhere.

Goth, vamps, and Edgar Allan Poe teamed up to save the world from emo kids last week on South Park.
Goth, vamps, and Edgar Allan Poe teamed up to save the world from emo kids last week on South Park.

This being the eve of Halloween I feel inclined to touch upon Edgar Allan Poe, father of the horror genre, who appeared last week “South Park” as the original goth. During the episode titled “Goth Kids 3,” Poe accused the goth kids of South Park Elementary of being poseurs. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone never fail in their ability to polk fun at anything and everyone, and their portrayal of Poe was hilarious. 

Poe’s masterpiece “The Raven” may be his best poem, and Christopher Walken’s reading of the poem is excellent. Enjoy:

CoralineThis past weekend I read Neil Gaiman’s “Coraline.” I heard the Tim Burton adaptation of the book was terrible and I have never seen it. The New York Times Book Review dubbed “Coraline,” “One of the most frightening books ever written.” With a review like that I couldn’t resist reading it. “Coraline” follows in the tradition of C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” in that Coraline finds a door in her home that leads to another world, only this is a world where everything is a sinister replica of the real world. Quality of plot and quality of writing made it easy for me to overlook the fact that the book is written at an elementary reading level. I wish I could’ve read “Coraline” when I was a Goosebumps obsessed third grader, but I still loved the book as an adult. This book wasn’t the most frightening I’ve read, but as far as children’s literature goes this book takes the cake.

Technology has changed the face of the publishing industry and online literary journals are popping all over the internet and the best thing about them is they are free. Wig Leaf publishes fiction under 1,000 words a handful of times every month, although I have not figured out their publishing frequency. I cannot vouch for all the fiction that is published on the site, but I have come across a few great stories at Wig Leaf. Finding a short story worth reading only takes a little bit of searching on this site.

 

 

 

Another 10 Horror Films To Watch This Halloween

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"28 Days Later" is one of the best zombie films out there. Scary movies have a way of putting us in the mood for Halloween whether that’s by scaring us, stirring up nostalgia, or having a good laugh at the things that made us scared when we were kids. For me, horror films are an integral part of Halloween and hopefully these suggestions will help you find something to watch this last week of the Halloween season. Enjoy:

1. 28 Days Later: What would it be like to wake up after long after surgery to a world gone mad with rage-infected zombies? Cillian Murphy stars in this raw film that explores the good and evil humans are capable of when things are at their worst. This film is a breath of fresh air in the zombie genre, and also one of the best in the zombie genre.

2. Disney’s Halloween Treat: Classic characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse appear in this mashup of creepy Disney cartoons. There are also clips from Disney films such as “Snow White,” and “Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.” If you love classic Disney cartoons or you’re looking for something to watch with your kids this, is a gem. The only way I know how to watch this is on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ-Gol7gUrg&noredirect=1

3. The Lords of Salem: In this Rob Zombie film, a strange album mysteriously shows up at a Salem, Mass. radio station and DJ Heidi hawthorne’s (played by Zombie’s wife, Sheri Moon Zombie) life takes a turn for the worst as she learns more about an evil witch coven from Salem’s history. Like other Rob Zombie films, The Lords of Salem is gnarly and scary and in my opinion not suitable for children. 

Heidi Hawthorne is feeling bewitched on "The Lords of Salem."
Heidi Hawthorne is feeling bewitched on “The Lords of Salem.”

4. Pet Cemetery: To what length would you go to to bring a loved one back to life? A young family buys a house in the Maine countryside and life is peachy, but local folklore and an untimely death are a recipe for disaster. Stephen King cameos as a pastor in this adaptation of one of his books.

5. The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror: Not a movie, but o’ well. “The Simpsons” has been killing it with their Halloween specials for more than 20 years. Lampooning popular horror films and putting the world of “The Simpsons” through original terrors, these episodes will leave you LOLing or ROFLing. Each episode is divided into three short cartoons. I Tunes offers Treehouse of Horror collections, or you can borrow the discs from that one friend who owns every season.

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror

6. VHS: When amateur filmmakers are tasked with stealing a VHS tape from an old man’s house, they stumble upon a collection of VHS tapes filled with raw footage of supernatural happenings. Filmed in the found-footage style and formatted into short films, VHS was surprisingly original and scary. This film is on the grittier side of the horror movie spectrum. 

7. This is the End: James Franco is throwing a big party and it’s the end of the world. Cameos abound in this Judd Apatow film where actors play themselves. I think this was the funniest movie to come out all year, but the movie was packed with elements of the supernatural and horror. 

9. Halloween: The original “Halloween” is the only way to see this film. Michael Myers, the masked psychopath who kills on Halloween night, is the last person I would ever want to see lurking in the shadows. A young Jamie Lee Curtis stars in this classic that launched one of the most successful horror franchises. The sequels to “Halloween” aren’t bad either.

10. Trick ‘r Treat: Four spooky tales chalked full of vampires, psychopaths and trick-or-treaters are intertwined into one Halloween night, leaving people dead in their wake. There is a subtle-and-dry sense of humor in the movie that had me chuckling. Anna Paquin and Leslie Bibb are star in this film.

Looking for more scary movies to watch?
Read: 10 Horror Films To Watch This Halloween
Read: 10 More Horror Films to Watch This Halloween

 

 

Book Review – Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms

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The cover artwork for Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms, edited by Dr. Alex Scully.
The cover artwork for Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms, edited by Dr. Alex Scully.

Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms is the second installment in editor Dr. Alex Scully’s horror anthology series to be published by local indy press Firbolg Publishing. The common thread running through the tales this time around is homosexuality, which may turn away some potential readers, but it should be noted that Dr. Scully manages to avoid the common editorial pitfall of pounding the reader over the head with her anthology’s thematic linkage at every turn by including a diverse selection of stories ranging from ones in which LGBTQ-ness is central to the plot to others in which it is merely implied.

Along with its main theme, Fires and Phantoms also carries on the theme of its predecessor, Enter at Your Own Risk: Old Masters, New Voices, by mixing in some rather excellent stories by older writers like Edith Wharton and Ralph Adams Cram. One can only hope that the addition of masterworks by authors from previous literary eras will continue to be a hallmark of the series going forward, although their presence does have the unfortunate effect of highlighting the unevenness of the contemporary stories that make up the bulk of the anthology.

Following a short introduction by horror novelist Robert Dunbar extolling the genre’s lack of literary status as a virtue that has granted horror writers the freedom to explore taboo subjects long before it was considered safe to do so in mainstream fiction (and an even shorter foreword by Dr. Scully), Fires and Phantoms starts off with “Alone,” a short poem by Edgar Allan Poe that evokes a certain sense of otherness and isolation that should help readers get themselves into the proper mindset to enjoy the stories to come.

However, the mood set by Poe’s work is spoiled somewhat by the first piece of prose fiction in the collection, “When You Are Right” by Robbie Anderson. The setup of Anderson’s story is interesting enough – a policeman working the night shift waits in the car while his partner patronizes a creepy house of ill repute – but it reads like a rough outline, rushing ahead to its conclusion without pausing to give the reader much in the way of interesting detail or characterization. Thankfully, the next story in the anthology, “Time for One More Show” by local Eugene author B.E. Scully, gets things back on the right track with a much more interesting tale involving a lesbian stripper who becomes enthralled by a seductive mirror-bound apparition, but the difference in quality from one story to the next throughout Fire and Phantoms is stark enough that it may prove an insurmountable annoyance to some readers.

Another peculiarity that detracts somewhat from the collection is the inclusion of three stories – “A Decent Cup of Tea” by Michele Cacano, “In the End, He Dreams” by Michael Meeske, and “Inheritance” by Richard May – that read suspiciously like romance stories that were only submitted for consideration because they happened to have ghosts in them. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad stories, but their lovelorn tone would be more at home in a Harlequin Romance novel than a gothic horror anthology.

That said, Fires and Phantoms includes far more good stories than bad, and only one tale in the second category (Chad Stroup’s “Prickle the Ivories”) truly sinks to the level of unreadably awful. Along with B.E. Scully’s salacious tale, other contemporary gems here include T. Fox Dunham’s supernatural Civil War story “Last Dance in the Rain,” Vincent Waters’ macabre tale of a devout, troubled husband “Promises in the Dark, Whispers at Dawn,” and Andrew Wolter’s surprisingly enjoyable re-imagining of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” coyly entitled “A New Heart That Tells a Tale.”

wharton_pic
Edith Wharton

But as good as those modern stories are, the best ones in the entire anthology are the three oldest: Wharton’s compellingly understated “The Eyes,” Richard Hall’s ghostly trip through the history of LGBTQ literature “Country People” (which, fittingly enough, inspired the creation of this anthology), and the one story in the book I found genuinely disquieting on a visceral level, “In Kropfsberg Keep” by Ralph Adams Cram. Dr. Scully merits some applause for that last selection; Cram’s body of work as an architect may still be relatively well known, but his literary output has rather undeservedly fallen into obscurity over the years.

Again, its homosexual themes may put off some people, but the stories Dr. Scully has assembled here are by no means just for LGBTQ readers. It’s far from perfect (what anthology is?), but if you’re a fan of gothic horror, Fire and Phantoms does enough things right to justify picking up a copy on your next visit to the bookstore.

10 More Horror Films To Watch This Halloween

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A young Jack Nicholson plays a French officer in “The Terror”

With Halloween just around the corner it’s time to start watching scary movies. Yesterday I recommended 10 great horror films, but there are many more than that. So here are 10-more movies that will make you scream, laugh, cry, or just have a fun evening with your friends.  Happy Halloween!

1. The Terror: A young Jack Nicholson stars in this 1963 film about a French soldier who washes up on the beaches of a haunted castle. He meets a beautiful ghost, a witch, and a Count who seems to be tormented by the secrets kept inside his castle walls. This film is in color, which was very rare for horror films in the early 1960’s. The special effects are top notch too (for 1963 anyways).

2. Interview With a Vampire: This is the best vampire movie ever. I’m hoping that all the Twilightfans who read this will watch this movie and see the light (or darkness?). Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise play vam

Tom Cruise (left) and Brad Pitt prey upon the citizens of New Orleans in “Interview with a Vampire.”

pires from New Orleans who must deal with eternal life as cursed bloodsuckers. Antonio Bendaras and a very young Kirsten Dunst also play significant roles.

3. Zombieland: What would you be searching for in the zombie apocalypse? Twinkies? A girlfriend? Not only does the gore exceed zombie movie expectations, the film is also hilarious. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) make an unlikely pair of zombie killers as they travel the highways blasting zombies in search of what they want. My wife and I have seen this at least 1,000 times and we still love it.

Frank, the 6-foot tall bunny, appears to Donnie Darko in the movie theatre.

4. Donnie Darko: This is one of my all-time favorite movies. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Donnie Darko, a very smart kid with some psychological problems. Darko creates chaos in his small community and searches for the keys to time travel under the guidance of Frank, the 6-foot tall bunny rabbit. All of this may sound kind of ridiculous on paper, but this movie is incredible. You’ll just have to watch it.

5. The Mothman Prophecies: After seeing this film the last thing you would ever want is a phone call from Indrid Cold. The film is based on supposed true events that happened in a small town in West Virginia. Richard Gere plays a reporter who is trying to get to the bottom of who the Mothman is. Weird happenings, strange phone calls from Indrid Cold, and the scary images of the Mothman will have you scared.

6. Creepshow: This unique film is a collection of movie shorts. One of the fine moments of the film is watching Stephen King play the role of a backwoods yokel who finds a strange rock from outer space in his yard. Leslie Neilson also appears opposite Ted Danson in a dispute over a lover that takes a sinister turn. Don’t expect this to be the best film ever, just enjoy it. It’s more funny than it is creepy. B-horror at its best.

The Army of Darkness must be defeated if Ash is to return to modern times.

7. Army of Darkness: Ash (Bruce Campbell) is sent back to medieval times in this final segment of the Evil Dead Trilogy. The only way for Ash to get back to modern times is to retrieve the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (an evil book) from a haunted forest. This is a great comedy and a great horror film at once. If your looking for a funny movie with a very dark element to it, check this movie out. It stands on its own, so you don’t have to see Evil Dead I and II either.

8. House on Haunted Hill: Vincent Price plays a millionaire who will give 10,000 dollars to anyone who stays the entire night in his purportedly haunted house. Who will live? Who will die? What is this millionaire’s motive? Vincent Price is one of the great actors of yesteryear and this is one of his finest performances if not his best. If you’re a stranger to black and white horror films I recommend starting with this one.

9. Aliens: Not to be confused with Alien, Aliensis the sequel and in my opinion the better of the two films. Space Marines (yes Sigourney Weaver is with them) travel to a distant planet to rescue colonists form the scariest aliens ever conceived. This film stands on its own. It’s also the scariest movie I saw as a teenager; I was so scared it made me sick in my stomach.

The Stay Puft Marshmellow man terrorizes New York City in “Ghostbusters.”

10. Ghostbusters: Bill Murray, Rick Moranis, Dan Ackroyd, and Sigourney Weaver star in this spooky comedy about a couple of down-on-their-luck scientists who figure out a way to capture ghosts. Business is booming for the Ghostbusters as they take on the supernatural in New York City, but can they stave off the apocalypse? Watch this movie, and you won’t be scared, you’ll be laughing. You may even find that the ghosts are endearing.

10 Horror Films To Watch This Halloween

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Whether you watch them to be scared, for laughs, or for a wave of spooky nostalgia, scary movies are an essential part of the Halloween experience. I’ve compiled a list of 10 great horror films for people to discover or re-discover. This isn’t a scariest-movies-of-all-time list; It’s a list of great movies taken from a couple different horror sub-genres in hopes of recommending a movie for everyone.

Pinhead from the movie “Hellraiser” is the author’s favorite horror-movie character.

1. Hellraiser: Is there a creepier group of villains than Pinhead and the Cenobytes? This film is not only my favorite horror film ever, but it also has the best special effects of any 80’s movie I’ve seen. The plot involves a puzzle box that summons the Cenobytes, masochistic demons who travel through time and space, who inflict their own brand of pain and pleasure on Christie Cotton and her broken family.

2. Killer Clowns From Outer Space: If you’re scared of clowns, watching this film could test the limits of your ability to handle scary. If not, it’s just fun film from the 80’s about clowns killing people with their clownish alien technology. This film is good for a late night laugh, but I have to admit, the clowns are pretty creepy.

3. Hocus Pocus: As an adult who is very skeptical about kids movies I think this movie is fantastic. Bette Middler and Sarah Jessica Parker star in this movie about 3 witches who suck the life out of children to stay young and beautiful. It’s up to some teenagers, a little girl, a zombie, and a cat, to stop the Sanderson sisters from stealing the souls of children.

4. Dead Alive: From the man who brought you The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Peter Jackson, comes the bloodiest Zombie movie ever. When a strange animal spreads the zombie virus in New Zealand it’s up to a mama’s boy to prevent the zombie apocalypse. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to fight zombies with a lawnmower you must watch this film.

5. Planet Terror: In this Robert Rodriguez creation Rose McGowan’s character proves why having an M16 for a leg might be the best defense in the zombie apocalypse. Bruce Willis, and Quentin Tarantino also star in this film about a military experiment imploding and turning people in a small town into zombies.

“It’s alive!” Gene Wilder as Dr. Frankenstein in “Young Frankenstein.

6. Young Frankenstein: Filmed in black and white, this Mel Brooks classic picks up when Dr. Frankenstein’s grandson, who goes by the same name, inherits the Frankenstein castle and travels to Transylvania to understand his grandfathers work in re-animating dead tissue. Gene Wilder kills in this comedic rendition of Frankenstien.

7. Nightmare On Elm Street: Imagine if Wolverine of the Ex-Men was not only a psycho but the ugliest man on earth, and he had Leonardo Dicaprio’s job on the film Inception. Now imagine the carnage that would result. This is one of the best horror films to come out of the 80’s, and it will make you nervous about having a bad dream.

Jack Nicholson goes crazy in “The Shining.”

8. The Shining: This film brings a trifecta of excellence to the table with Jack Nicholson pulling off the best crazy-man performance of all-time, Stanley Kubrick  as director, and Stephen King writing the book that the film was adapted from. The film combines elements, psychological, supernatural, and slasher horror into one classic film. Creepy twins, a crazy writer, a hysterical wife (Shelley Duvall did an excellent job), and the classic “red rum” scene make this movie a must see.

9. Frankenweenie: This is the only film on my list that is currently in theaters right now. I admit that I was skeptical going into the theatre, but I loved this movie. This is Tim Burton’s best work since The Nightmare Before Christmas. The film is animated in black & white in vintage-Burton style. What makes this movie so great is the morbid humor and cleverness infused throughout the movie. It’s great for the whole family.

Captain Spaulding is one of the best characters developed over the last decade in the realm of horror films.

10. House of 1000 Corpses: This movie gave me nightmares. When a group of young writers are told about the Dr. Satan Tree and decide to research this myth they run into a sadistic family, and the legend of Dr. Satan becomes reality. Captain Spaulding who runs a chicken joint/gas station/murder ride provides a little bit of comic relief in this intense film. Rainn Wilson of The Office stars in this film by Rob Zombie. Warning: This film is extremely scary and violent.

 

Book Monster Vol. 12: More Horror

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Words by Kevin Baird, EDN

The other day I was thinking about the scariest book of all time. What is it? After much debate I decided it was a toss-up between “The Berenstain Bears and The Spooky Old Tree”, Alvin Schwartz’s “Scary Stories” series, and the first Goosebumps I ever read, which was “You Can’t Scare Me.” Of course none of these books would scare an adult (maybe “Scary Stories” would), but as a child I was gullible, and my vivid imagination was still unchecked by science. As an adult I still love the horror genre. It’s gateway of nostalgia that opens up my imagination to frightening ideas and possibilities and never disappoints. So without further delay I give you, my readers—more horror.

A few months ago I contributed $1.00 to a Kickstarter for Nightmare Magazine, which was created by John Joseph Adams (whom you may remember from my last column); it features horror writing and horror art. This month Nightmare Magazine launched its first issue. You can read a couple of the stories without purchase on their website, and e-book issues cost $2.99, and they also have lifetime subscriptions for $500.   Unfortunately for me the mag is only formatted for the Kindle, Kobo, and the Nook (I have neither, I am archaic). Next time I support a Kickstarter I’ll be doing a little more research.

If you are wondering about witches look no further than “Malleus Maleficarum” or “The Hammer of Witches”. Although the book is over 600-years old, and saying the book is outdated is an understatement it’s still an important piece of horror literature. Included in this book are methods for detecting and destroying witches. This book was a propeller for the proliferation witch accusations throughout the centuries. Since it was written so long ago you’ll have to read a translation from latin. You can pick up an e-book version for as low as $1.00.

 

Clive Barker, who you may know as the writer and director of the movie Hellraiser, is also a prolific horror writer. “The Books of Blood” is a dreadful collection of stories that explore the full spectrum of the senses and emotions through both humans and evil creatures. Included in this book is “The Midnight Meat Train,” which was adapted into a film in 2008. Clive Barker is a master of creating gritty scenes, hidden dimensions of evil, and original creatures.

 

“Poems Bewitched and Haunted” is an anthology of spooky poems. Some of these poems are clever and will leave have you cackling in your chair while others will get your imagination running wild. It features well known poets such as Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and plenty of poets I’ve never heard (their poems are great too). This book is part of the everyman’s pocket library so it comes in a compact hardcover with a built in bookmark.

What’s the scariest book you’ve ever read? Do you have something to say about books? The Book Monster wants to know. You can email him at [email protected] Be sure to share The Book Monster with your friends on Facebook.

 

Where Did The Week Go…

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It’s a Thursday night and I’m trying to find an alternative to the Duck game. It’s 43-7 at halftime and I’m just not in the mood for yet another blowout. Scanning through the channels I come across FX. The Social Network, one of my favorite movies of the last few years, recently debuted on the network and they’re showing it again.

Now I could just get up off the couch, walk into my room and grab the Blu-ray I own and watch it from the beginning, but that would be too much work. The movie, which is two hours long, is scheduled from 7:30-10pm. Okay so I only have to deal with a half-hour’s worth of commercials. That’s perfectly acceptable.

Remember when we used to do this?

After pondering this seemingly innocuous (and pointless event in my life), I came to the conclusion that perhaps I was joining the masses of people choosing to view their home entertainment strictly through the television. I’ve been reading for a number of years how physical DVDs and Blu-rays are becoming more obsolete in a world of digital downloads, video on demand (VOD) and streaming, but after doing some research, it appears people are taking in their home entertainment however they can get it.

According to The Digital Entertainment Group (DEG), digital spending is up 50 percent with more and more consumers purchasing streaming devices and choosing services like VOD. That’s no surprise. But what is surprising is that annual spending on Blu-ray discs jumped 20 percent with total revenue hitting $2 billion for the first time in 2011.

Of course this number specifically references Blu-ray only, which makes sense considering it’s an HD format that’s only been around for six years, but the big increase still feels significant and an indication that perhaps any form of physical discs might last longer than we think.

But let’s get back to my original thought about the idea of choosing to stay parked on my couch instead of viewing the disc I bought. That perfectly encapsulates the shift from disc to digital. It’s a matter of convenience. After the television was invented, we discovered that having to get up every time we wanted to change the channel was just too hard so we came up with the remote control.

This was the first step toward our desire to feel completely satisfied while being entertained. The advent of the Internet allowed us to view any information we desired so leaving the house to go to the library wasn’t necessary anymore. Then came music, then books and now movies. Of course the one thing movies have that music and books don’t is the option of going to the movie theater any day of the week.

Movies will always have that in their hip pocket, but it will be interesting to see how long discs last. The sea of DVDs and Blu-rays on my wall might just feel nostalgic in another five years. Call me old-fashioned, but I like looking at something and holding it in my hand. When others see my collection, they can quickly get a sense of what my tastes are. Now picture this same scenario in 10 years. People won’t have anything to show off except a list on a screen.

That’s not a personal collection, just a queue on your computer.

Netflix Instant Pick: The Relic

I’m starting to get into horror-movie mode with Halloween coming up. Horror is my least favorite genre because the majority of the time, it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, scare me. But I do like to carve out one month for scary movies. I usually begin with my personal favorite, Alien, but after that it usually varies from year to year.

For my pick this week I’ve chosen the underrated 1997 film, The Relic. Perhaps it’s underrated because it stars Tom Sizemore, a really good actor whose career was derailed after drug and alcohol problems, and Penelope Ann Miller, an actress who hasn’t appeared in a major film (with the exception of The Artist) for more than a decade.

A monster movie both thrilling and gory.

But in the late ’90s, they were supporting actors given the keys to a major Hollywood monster movie and for the most part, they capably carry the film.

Sizemore plays Lt. Vincent D’Agosta, a superstitious cop investigating a murder at Chicago’s Natural History Museum. The gruesome crime scene appears to be connected to another crime scene at a cargo ship carrying crates intended to go to the museum. Miller plays Dr. Margo Green, a scientist at the museum who becomes interested in the contents of the crates. What they don’t know is that a large creature was part of the cargo and is now roaming the museum killing people.

For a monster movie, The Relic has high production value. Directed by veteran filmmaker Peter Hyams, the film features great creature effects from Stan Winston, good special effects that hold up and thrilling set pieces. The final 15 minutes in particular showcase all of these elements quite memorably.

They also throw in some decent scares that arrive when people are at their most vulnerable (bathroom stalls, office cubicles and murky sewer systems). I’d classify this film as more of a thriller than a horror film, but there’s still enough scares to fill the running time.

Sure there’s some giant plot holes, like how no one notices this thing before it begins its rampage, or the entire evolution of the creature in the first place, but who cares about that stuff in a creature feature. Nothing is safe, including animals, old men in wheel chairs and security guards in this extremely violent but enjoyable B-movie.

NBA Attempting to Speed Up Games, But Not Actually During Games

Professional athletes are a superstitious group. Some of them eat the same meals before every game, some wear old college shorts under their pro uniforms and others take a specific number of shots before ending shoot arounds.

Another ritual players follow before every game is the pre-game introductions right before tip-off. Lebron James likes to throw talcum powder in the air, Kevin Durant  fist-bumps everyone on press row and Kevin Garnett takes out his pre-game aggression on the padding under the basket.

This is one ritual I’d like to see go away.

Apparently Commissioner David Stern feels these little idiosyncrasies are slowing the game down so he’s initiated a time limit where officials will give teams 90 seconds from the end of the pre-game player introductions to get in place for tip-off.

Teams that aren’t ready in time will be assessed a delay-of-game warning, which could affect the outcome of games as two delay-of-game calls results in a technical foul.

This feels to me like an old principal at a prep school setting a curfew for 10 pm. Except the difference is they’re immature kids and these are grown men. I’m all for speeding up the games, but shouldn’t any changes occur during the game?

If David Stern wants these games to go quicker, he needs to eliminate a T.V. time-out as well as the pointless coach’s interviews at the end of the first and third quarters. But that would mean losing television advertising so we know that’s not going to happen. Instead Stern managed to find an area where the NBA doesn’t make money; those few minutes before play begins. Now those few minutes have become 90 seconds. Is that enough time to get a fist bump from everyone?

The Book Monster Vol. 11: Horror Edition

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It’s October. The leaves are turning orange, brown, and yellow. Pumpkins are starting to show up at the grocery store, and you might be wondering what to be for Halloween. I contemplated dedicating an installment of my column to horror books later in the month, but books take a while to read, and if I wait too long to recommend a horror book you might not get around to reading it in time.

I recently found some gummy skeletons in my cupboard from last Halloween, and I threw them away because they were old. According to Slate.com most candy doesn’t go bad and even chocolate bars have a long shelf life. I now wish I would’ve kept the gummy skeletons.

You may recall the movie, “The Raven” starring John Cusack hitting theaters in April. I don’t know anybody who saw it. I refused to see it because I thought the film would ruin one of the greatest poems ever written. Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 22% on their Tomatometer, which gave the following review “Thinly scripted, unevenly acted, and overall preposterous, The Raven disgraces the legacy of Edgar Allen Poe with a rote murder mystery that’s more silly than scary.” Some pieces of literature shouldn’t be tampered with.

If you love zombies as much as I do, which is near obsession, you must read “The Living Dead”. John Joseph Adams (editor) did a fantastic job of putting this book together. Adams scoured the annals of zombie literature to find stories covering all sides of the zombie spectrum. The zombies in this book are the horrible relentless zombies we’ve seen in so many films, others are voodoo zombies, some are only imagined, while others are thinking, feeling zombies who try to protect their still-human families. The depths of humanity are explored in these well written stories from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Dan Simmon’s, Poppy Z. Brite and many others.

If you’ve read all 486 pages of zombie lore in “The Living Dead” like I have, and you’re still hungry for more pick up “The Living Dead 2”. John Joseph Adams has put together another 492 pages of the best flesh-eating entertainment. Although I haven’t read this one all the way through yet, the stories I’ve read thus far are fantastic. This collection features stories from Max Brooks (of “World War Z” fame), and Robert Kirkman (creator of AMC’s The Walking Dead), and many others. 

 

If you’re looking for a scary picture book to read this Halloween may I suggest taking a look through The Gashlycrumb Tinies” by Edward Gorey. The book chronicles the unfortunate and random deaths of 26 children. This book is morbidly-cute and laugh-out-loud funny. Gorey’s drawings are grotesquely superb, his writing is perfectly concise and complimentary to his art, and he has a knack for giving death a humorous face.

 

One of my favorite books of all time is, “Night Shift,” by the master of horror, Stephen King. It’s a collection of stories filled with the boogeyman, murder, supernatural happenings, aliens, and vampires. One of King’s most well known stories, “Children of the Corn,” which was later turned into a series of movies is also included.