Monday, March 29, 2010

2009 Bram Stoker Award Winners

The 2009 Bram Stoker Awards were presented over the weekend at the World Horror Convention in Brighton, England. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Brian Lumley and William F. Nolan, the Silver Hammer Award went to Kathryn Ptacek, the President's Richard Laymon Service Award went to Vince Liaguno and the Specialty Press Award went to Ray Russell and Rosalie Parker from Tartarus Press. Here are the other Stoker Award recipients:

Superior Achievement in a Novel

Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan

Superior Achievement in a First Novel

Damnable by Hank Schwaeble

Superior Achievement in Long Fiction

The Lucid Dreaming by Lisa Morton

Superior Achievement in Short Fiction

In the Porches of My Ears by Norman Prentiss (published in Postscripts #18)

Superior Achievement in an Anthology

He is Legend edited by Christopher Conlon

Superior Achievement in a Collection

A Taste of Tenderloin by Gene O’Neill

Superior Achievement in Nonfiction

Writers Workshop of Horror by Michael Knost

Superior Achievement in Poetry

Chimeric Machines by Lucy A. Snyder

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

BOOK NEWS: Fresh Blood Writing Contest Cover Copy

The third round of the Fresh Blood Writing Contest is up on the ChiZine website. It's for Best Cover Copy and this time your vote counts, so make sure you vote for the book you want to see published. Head over to ChiZine before the end of the month to vote, read the back cover blurbs and see what the judges have to say. This month Jeff Strand is the guest judge.

Monday, March 15, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Leprechaun 2

"She sneezes once, she sneezes twice, she'll be me bride when she sneezes thrice."

On Leprechaun's 1000th birthday, he gets the chance to make a woman his bride by getting her to sneeze three times. But her father spoils his attempt, so he has to wait another 1000 years before he can try again. He decides to make the woman's descendant his bride, but her boyfriend isn't going to let him have her without a fight.

The film is slow and drags a lot. I was bored and kept wondering when the leprechaun would kill someone. When that finally happened, it was disappointing because the gore was shown off screen.

The acting from the two leads is atrocious. Leprechaun's bride is one of the worst actresses I've ever seen and I could barely watch her - even her scream is terrible. But there are funny cameos from Michael MacDonald (MadTV) and Clint Howard.

This film isn't as funny as its predecessor, but it still provides a few laughs. Especially the scene where they trick the leprechaun into getting drunk. But I didn't find the few laughs I got from this film to be worth witnessing the horrible acting and dull scenes.

Rating: 2/5

Sunday, March 14, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Leprechaun

St. Patrick's Day is this Wednesday, so I'm going to review a Leprechaun movie a day until then.

While in Ireland, Dan O'Grady (Shay Duffin) steals a leprechaun's (Warwick Davis) pot of gold. But the leprechaun follows him to the U.S. to reclaim his gold. Luckily, O'Grady knows how to trap the leprechaun, but then he has a stroke. 10 years later, J.D. (John Sanderford) and his daughter Tory (Jennifer Aniston) move into the house and the leprechaun is still locked in a crate in the basement. They inadvertently release him and now he'll do anything to get his gold back.

After the leprechaun gets locked in the crate in the opening scene, the pace of the film slows drastically. If it weren't for the comic relief of characters Alex and Ozzie, I would've been bored.

Jennifer Aniston plays the exact same character she would later play as Rachel in Friends: a spoiled brat. She is fairly irritating in this film. But the characters Alex (Robert Hy Gorman, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead) and Ozzie (Mark Holton, Teen Wolf) make the film. Alex is very mature despite being only about 13 and Ozzie is slow and childlike, and together they make a great duo. Definitely the comic relief of the film - other than the leprechaun.

The comedy makes Leprechaun great. There are some hilarious lines in the film, for example:

Deputy Tripet: "Say, aren't we a little young to be out this late?"
Leprechaun: "No, I'm 600 years old."

"Fuck you, lucky charms!" - Alex

There isn't much gore, but when there is it's pretty nasty (the leprechaun on a pogo stick jumping up and down on a victim's chest, for example).

Leprechaun is a film to check out if you like horror with a bit of comedy.

Rating: 4/5

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK: Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy

He walks. He stalks...

From the back cover: HE'S NO DUMMY!

Lindy names the ventriloquist's dummy she finds Slappy. Slappy is kind of ugly, but he's a lot of fun. Lindy's having a great time learning to make Slappy move and talk.

But Kris is jealous of all the attention her sister is getting. It's no fair. Why does Lindy always have all the luck?

Kris decides to get a dummy of her own. She'll show Kris.

Then weird things begin to happen. Nasty things. Evil things.

No way a dummy can be causing all the trouble.

Or is there?

My thoughts:

First of all, that wasn't a typo. Apparently Kris will show Kris. I can't believe they made a mistake on the back cover of the book. If it had been any other book, that would have deterred me from reading it, but I remember the Night of the Living Dummy series as being my favourite as a child.

It isn't as exciting as I remember. The main characters are twins who spend the entire book fighting and trying to one-up each other, which is pretty boring. The dummies don't actually come to life until the last few chapters.

But when the dummies come to life it becomes compelling. The scariest part is that no one believes Kris. What creeps me out the most about an inanimate object coming to life is that everyone would think you are crazy, leaving you alone with the evil thing.

Overall, a pretty good Goosebumps book. Although it's a bit slow, Slappy is one of R.L.'s greatest villains.

Rating: 4/5

PG Gore: The dummy's head tilted back. His jaw dropped. His mouth opened wide.

And a thick green liquid came spewing out.

"Yuck!" someone screamed.

It looked like pea soup. It spurted up out of Mr. Wood's open mouth like water rushing from a fire hose.

Voices screamed and cried out their surprise as the thick, green liquid showered over the people in the front rows.

"Stop it!"


"Somebody - turn it off!"

"It stinks!"

Kris froze in horror, staring as more and more of the disgusting substance poured from her dummy's gaping mouth.

A putrid stench - the smell of sour milk, of rotten eggs, of burning rubber, of decayed meat - rose up from the liquid. It puddled over the stage and showered over the front seats.

Next week: Goosebumps: Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes

Friday, March 12, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Dog Soldiers

A group of soldiers training in the Scottish Highlands encounters a pack of werewolves. They meet a zoologist and all take refuge in an abandoned house to try to survive until the sun comes up. What happens when men who are trained to fight humans face a monster?

The pace of Dog Soldiers is insanely fast. After the first gory scene of the movie, there is only about 15 minutes establishing the plot before the soldiers meet the werewolves. And despite the film almost entirely taking place inside a house, it's never boring.

The werewolves are different than the ones featured in all the films I have reviewed so far. Instead of simply being a wild beast, these werewolves are intelligent and work together, making them more terrifying.

The film is pretty gory. There's a dog playing tug of war with a man's intestines, a head decapitated and a stomach super glued together, just to name a few.

I didn't care much for the characters and even though each solider was introduced, I had difficulty keeping straight who was who because there wasn't much to differentiate them.

Dog Soldiers was written and directed by Neil Marshall, who went on to make another great film, The Descent. This is definitely a film to check out.

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, March 11, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps is not only my favourite werewolf flick, it's one of my favourite horror films period. I watched it for the first time - and have watched it a dozen times since - when I was in Grade 10 and I could definitely relate to the characters, sort of being an outcast myself.

Sisters Ginger and Brigitte have a twisted relationship. They're obsessed with death and have a suicide pact - "Out by sixteen or dead on the scene, but together forever." Meanwhile, a wild animal is ripping dogs to pieces. The girls take this as an opportunity to get back at a popular classmate by tricking her into thinking her beloved dog is dead. While they're scooping up the carcass of a freshly slaughtered dog, a werewolf attacks Ginger. She's okay, but afterward she sprouts hair in funny places and has an insatiable craving for...something.... Ginger attributes these changes to the fact that Aunt Flo has visited her for the first time, but quickly realizes there's something wrong with her when she grows a tail.

The plot of Ginger Snaps is a unique spin on the werewolf tale, using becoming a werewolf as a metaphor for getting your period. I like how instead of just changing into a werewolf when the moon is full, Ginger gradually becomes one. She grows claws, a tail, sharp teeth, etc., slowly evolving into a werewolf and then turns into a full-fledged animal during the full moon.

Ginger doesn't kill many people, but the few murders are fairly gory. There's also tons of blood and guts shown from the several dead dogs in the neighbourhood. The girls' morbid art project, shown during the opening credits, of photos depicting them dead in several creative ways is my favourite gore scene of the film. It shows you right away what kind of fun film Ginger Snaps will be. In a special feature on the Collector's Edition of the DVD, they show all the photos.

Despite the gore and death-obsessed sisters, the film manages to be quite funny. It had me laughing several times.

As I already mentioned, when I first saw this film, I really related to the characters and I still do, to some extent. The characters are all realistic, flawed, interesting people with real issues (besides the whole turning into a werewolf thing), instead of the usual boring stereotypes so often shown in horror flicks. Ginger and Brigitte are easily two of the most interesting characters I've ever seen in any film, not just horror.

The performances in Ginger Snaps is one of the best aspects of the film. I have become a huge fan of Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle since I saw their superb acting abilities displayed in this movie. They're sort of scream queens too. One of Emily Perkins' first roles was in Stephen King's It as Beverly Marsh at age 12. Most recently she has played the fan girl who is obsessed with the Winchester brothers in Supernatural. Katharine Isabelle has also been in a few episodes of Supernatural and appeared in Disturbing Behavior, the made-for-TV Carrie remake, Freddy vs. Jason and Ogre. And sexy Kris Lemche (Final Destination 3) is great as the local drug dealer/ lycanthrope enthusiast.

The Collector's Edition of the DVD has a ton of Special Features, including cast auditions, rehearsals, trailers, the making of the werewolf, cast and crew bios, deleted scenes, photos of the girls' school project (as I already mentioned) and artwork they designed for the film (logos, town maps, etc.).

Ginger Snaps is more than just a werewolf film. It's also a dark comedy, a film about the bond sisters share and a story about growing up. Definitely a must-see.

Rating: 5/5

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Silver Bullet

I was planning on watching and reviewing this film before I found out about Corey Haim's death, which is weird. I've had it since before Halloween and this is the first time I watched it, so it's about time.

Based on Stephen King's novella, Cycle of the Werewolf, Silver Bullet tells the story of young Marty (Corey Haim), who is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. People in his hometown are being brutally slaughtered and the sheriff (Terry O'Quinn) can't find the identity of the killer. But Marty knows. The murderer is a werewolf and he needs the help of his sister (Megan Follows) and his uncle (Gary Busey) to kill it.

The first half of the film is very suspenseful. Lots of characters are killed by the werewolf, but for the most part, the gore is shown off-screen. But after Marty's encounter with the werewolf the pace slows down. The film felt longer than 90 minutes.

The identity of the werewolf was very surprising. I had no clue. And I was shocked at his reasoning to kill certain people. He really didn't need to have a motive, he's an animal, but I still thought it was an interesting twist.

Everyone in the film gives a great performance. I've loved Megan Follows since Anne of Green Gables. Corey Haim does a fantastic job as Marty. I can't believe he's gone....

Rating: 3/5

R.I.P. Corey Haim

Sadly, Corey Haim, 38, passed away today from a drug overdose. He was known best for his role in The Lost Boys, but also appeared in Silver Bullet, Watchers, License to Drive, Lucas and many other films. He most recently starred in the reality series, The Two Coreys, with fellow Lost Boys star Corey Feldman.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Howling III: The Marsupials

This Howling sequel portrays werewolves as sympathetic creatures and is more of a romance story than a horror film. It has one of the most convoluted plots I've ever witnessed. But I'll try to write a summary of it.

In Australia, a man falls in love with a werewolf and she gives birth to a werewolf baby. Meanwhile, an anthropologist discovers marsupial werewolves (they have pouches like a kangaroo) and wants to take them away to study them.

That doesn't sound too confusing, so I'll give you some random subplots. A ballerina turns into a werewolf while dancing onstage. The main character is making a werewolf movie and casts a werewolf to play a victim. An anthropologist teaches a class about how werewolves are real and it has been covered up so people don't get frightened.

I hated how the werewolves were shown as good creatures. The only reason I watch werewolf films is to see people ripped to shreds!

The only part of the film I liked was the werewolf baby. It somehow managed to be cute and repulsive at the same time. But why did he look like a werewolf until he was 1-year-old and then suddenly look like a regular baby?

Do yourself a favour and never watch this piece of trash. There are four sequels after this one, Howling IV: The Original Nightmare, Howling V: The Rebirth, Howling VI: The Freaks and Howling VII: New Moon Rising. One more, The Howling: Reborn, is currently in production.

Rating: 1/5

MOVIE REVIEW: Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf

This sequel to The Howling is pretty bad. And not so bad it's good either. There are a few funny scenes, but mostly this movie is just a mess.

Karen White is dead and at her funeral, her brother, Ben (Reb Brown), and his friend Jenny (Annie McEnroe), meet Stefan (Christopher Lee), a werewolf hunter. They accompany him to Transylvania to stop Stirba, Queen of the Werewolves. If they don't kill her by the next full moon - which is the tenth millennium of Stirba's birth - at midnight on that day, all werewolves will reveal themselves.

I enjoyed this film up until the point where Stirba starts using magical powers - complete with lightning bolts flying out of her hands - to defend herself from the werewolf hunters. Why does a werewolf need magical powers? Just shapeshift and tear them to shreds! The movie just got worse from there.

The special effects were nowhere near as good as the first film. The werewolves looked more like bears than wolves.

The music was horrible. It basically consisted of one crappy 80's new wave song that they played over and over. The werewolf-centered lyrics of that song rival the lyrics R.L. Stine wrote in Bad Moonlight.

Howling II is just too ridiculous and nonsensical for me. I did enjoy the gore scenes though - especially the eyeball exploding scene. Oh, and this is another movie I watched for free on YouTube.

Rating: 2/5


I already mentioned in my review of Gary Brandner's novel, The Howling, that I'm not too fond of the film and enjoyed the book more. It's not a bad film, but the pace in the movie is much slower than in the book (surprising, I know). It takes too long for the werewolves to enter the film and I was bored throughout most of it.

Obviously I was exaggerating in my book review of The Howling when I said all the film and book have in common are werewolves and the main character's name.

Here are similarities between the two (contains spoilers):
  • Main character Kayrn and her husband Bill (named Roy in the book)
  • Werewolves
  • Criminal Eddie (in the film)/Max (in the book) Quist attacking Karyn, resulting in her nervous breakdown and being told by her therapist to spend some time in the country to relax
  • Character Chris Halloran, a friend of Kayrn and Bill/Roy, and savior of Karyn
  • Character Marcia (last name Lura in the book, Quist in the film)
  • Strange neighbours
  • Kayrn and Bill/Roy's marital problems
  • Bill/Roy's affair with Marcia
  • Bill/Roy getting bitten by a werewolf
  • Werewolf sex scene
There are actually more similarities than I thought. The biggest difference - and what made the film pale in comparison - is that the book is a simple werewolf story whereas the film has a complicated plot involving Karyn's career as a news anchor, serial killer Eddie Quist, her amnesia after her encounter with him, etc. I suppose they thought the book didn't have enough of a plot to make a movie. But all these extra plotlines just bored me and I found myself sitting there wondering when they were going to get to the werewolves.

The best part of the film were the werewolf transformations. It looked very realistic how they slowly sprouted pointy ears and claws. This even redeems the film a bit because once the werewolves finally are shown they look so cool that you forget how long it took for them to appear.

I've always thought that you should read a novel before seeing the movie based on it, and I try to do so, but I've learned something: a book can ruin a movie, but a movie can't ruin a book. You can still enjoy a book after you've seen the film because it's usually so different (trust me, I've done it enough with Stephen King). But when you see a film based on a book you like, you spend the whole time comparing it to the novel (why didn't they include my favourite character, scene, etc.). So from now on I'm going to watch whatever movie I want, regardless of whether or not I've read the book.

Rating: 3/5

BOOK REVIEW: The Howling by Gary Brandner

I read this novel before I saw the film and there really is no comparison. I was so disappointed by the movie because I was expecting it to be like the book, but they're nothing alike. It's like they took the werewolf concept, the name of the main character and that's it. But this isn't a review of the movie.

After an intruder breaks into her home and rapes her, Kayrn Beatty and her husband, Roy, decide to move to the rural community of Drago. But Karyn is unable to relax when she hears howling every night. What kind of animal is making those noises?

The plot is the usual werewolf fare, but is also a fun whodunit - or who's the werewolf - with a twist.

The pace moves at a frantic speed. Kayrn gets raped in the first chapter, they move to Drago in the second chapter and hear the howling for the first time in the third chapter.

The novel has a creepy atmosphere due to the weird townspeople and Kayrn and Roy living in the middle of nowhere.

Karyn is one of the strongest, most intelligent characters I've ever encountered. When things start getting strange, she wants to leave Drago immediately. And when faced with the idea of werewolves she is skeptical, but believes and researches them at the library. The obstacles that prevent her from leaving Drago actually make sense. Her husband doesn't want to leave, so she stays for him. Plus, she never learned how to drive so she can't exactly get up and leave him.

My one complaint is the novel ends too abruptly. There should've been another chapter explaining what happened after, or an epilogue. And at just 223 pages, it's too short. But Brandner did write two sequels to continue the story.

If you enjoyed the film version of The Howling, definitely check out the book, it's much better.

Rating: 4/5

Monday, March 8, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Wings of the Butterfly by John Urbancik

I met John Urbancik at the 2007 World Horror Convention in Toronto and he gave me this novella.

Wings of the Butterfly tells the story of a pack of three shapeshifters: Nicole, a butterfly, Garrett, a rat, and Erik, a wolf. Nicole and Garrett live in fear of the controlling pack leader, Erik. When a new shapeshifter comes to town, Erik thinks it is his duty to protect the pack by killing him. But Nicole sees him as her chance to escape Erik's clutches and fall in love.

The plot is unique from other shapeshifter/werewolf stories. Instead of being about murder or anything frightening, it's about love and independence. The focus of the narrative is on the pack mentality. I almost wouldn't classify it as a horror novella, but it does have a bit of murder gore, although it's not the heart of the story.

The pace is fast, due to the fact that there's not much description, just action. The novella is only 87 pages, but I wish it was longer. I think this would have made an interesting novel.

The characters are stereotypes and not developed well enough for me to love them, but well enough for me to relate to them. But occasionally Nicole's weakness and neediness irritated me, and Garrett and Erik were overall unlikable, despicable characters.

Although I didn't care for the characters, I would still recommend Wings of the Butterfly because of its unique plot and exciting pace.

Rating: 4/5


I watched this entire movie on YouTube. It was actually pretty good quality too. I didn't even know that YouTube allowed users to post films for longer than a day before disabling them due to copyright infringement. But lately every time I look up a trailer, the entire film is on there as well, which is exciting for broke people like me.

Bad Moon
is based on the novel Thor by Wayne Smith. I couldn't acquire a copy in time to review it this week, but after watching this movie I really want to read it. According to the reviewers on Amazon, the novel is told from the dog's point of view, which sounds intriguing.

When Janet's (Mariel Hemingway) brother, Ted (Michael Pare), comes to live with her and her son (Mason Gamble, Dennis the Menace!), their German Shepherd, Thor (Primo, The Karate Dog), takes an instant disliking to him because Ted is a werewolf. And Thor will stop at nothing to protect his family.

There wasn't much of a plot to this film, basically it's just werewolf vs. dog. There weren't many characters (only two secondary characters) so only a couple people got killed by the werewolf. But those deaths were pretty gory. And the film was short - about 1 hr. 15 min. - so it held my interest despite the lack of plot.

The werewolf costume in the film looks very real and is definitely a step up from the awful CGI ghost wolves in Animals.

But my favourite part of the film is Thor. Instead of the usual dog's role in a horror film as a victim or villain, he's the hero. I love when dogs have a major role in fiction (Einstein in Watchers is one of my all-time favourite characters) Plus Thor is adorable and reminded me of my German Shepherd, Chuck.

Bad Moon is a pretty good werewolf flick and I would recommend it to any dog lovers.

Rating: 4/5

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I was looking forward to this film because it's based on John Skipp and Craig Spector's 1992 novel of the same name, which unfortunately I haven't read yet because it's notoriously hard to find. Actually there's a copy on eBay for $45 right now, but I don't even have enough money to buy a $10 paperback let alone that. But I've liked everything I've read by Skipp and Spector so far, so I thought this film would be worth a look, especially since the screenplay was adapted by Spector (he and Skipp also wrote the story for A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child). It wasn't. Even John Skipp said it's crap on Brian Keene's website forum.

When an injury ruined Jarrett's (Marc Blucas) football career, he returned to his small hometown. Now he spends his days at his lousy dead-end job and his nights at his friend's bar. One night a mysterious woman (Nicki Aycox) enters the bar and she begins an affair with Jarrett. But he doesn't know that she's a werewolf and has a dangerous werewolf boyfriend (Naveen Andrews).

I don't know where to begin. The storyline wasn't that bad, but nothing was explained, and at times I had no clue what was going on. Especially during the dozen flashbacks at the beginning. I had no clue what was the present and what was the past.

There was a sex scene every ten minutes, which was unnecessary and wasted at least 20 minutes of the film. And Jarrett hardly talked to his lover because all they did was have sex. I couldn't tell if they were supposed to be in love or it was just a fling or what.

But the worst part of the film was the CGI ghost wolves. Yes, that's right, ghost wolves. When a wolf appeared, there was a cloud of smoke and then a see-through wolf would be onscreen. They were the most ridiculous looking animals I've ever seen in a film (and I've seen Rodentz with the man in a rat suit; at least that was funny).

The tons of slow motion scenes, flashbacks and crappy techno soundtrack also added to the lousiness of this film.

I'm going to give Animals a 2 because I think the plot could've been promising (it was based on a Skipp/Spector book, after all) but the direction was just awful. Animals hasn't been released on DVD yet, it's only available on Video on Demand, which may be for the best.

Rating: 2/5

R.L. STINE BOOK OF THE WEEK:Fear Street: Bad Moonlight

Nighttime is the right time for terror!

From the back cover: She wasn't just crying wolf...

Danielle Verona can't believe the band picked her to be their new lead singer. Sher's on the road, performing at all the hot clubs. The adoring fans, the bright lights - it's a dream come true!

But when nighttime falls, Danielle can feel the terror in the darkness. There's eerie howling outside her window. And then a band member is killed - ripped to shreds by a wild animal. Danielle knows something is out there, lurking in the moonlight. Something savage...and hungry.

My thoughts:

I have always been a fan of werewolves and was constantly on the lookout for this book at garage sales when I was younger but never came across it. So when I found it at a thrift store on my first mission to find R.L. Stine books I was thrilled. And it's actually the Fear Street book I have enjoyed the most so far!

The main character, Danielle, a high school graduate taking a year off before college to tour with her band, is a welcome change from the usual Stine high school heroine. School isn't used as a setting at all and a lot of the book takes place outside Shadyside.

There's more gore and deaths featured in Bad Moonlight than other Fear Street books I've read. I guess being about werewolves, Stine couldn't avoid a few descriptions of people being torn to shreds.

The ending was surprising, but convoluted and crazy - it's almost like Stine tacked on one of his Goosebumps endings - I still enjoyed it, though.

My biggest complaint with this book were the lame lyrics Danielle wrote. Here's a sample:

"Bad moonlight, falling over me,
Bad moonlight, shining down on me,
Bad moonlight
Makes me feel so strange and new.

Bad moonlight, falling over me,
Bad moonlight, shining down on me,
Bad moonlight -
Bad moonlight, I want to die for you!"

Seriously, Stine, that's the best you could do?! And THAT song was a hit?! If I was at a bar and a band played this song I would boo them off the stage.

But lame lyrics aside, I really enjoyed this Fear Street book.

Rating: 4/5

PG-13 Gore: "What was that heaped on the ground?

A body? A human body?

Torn to pieces?

Its clothing - its skin - had been ripped and shredded.

Clawed to death."

Body Count: 5

Next week: Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Werewolf Week

I realize I just finished a theme month, but I noticed I've been watching a lot of werewolf movies lately and my R.L. Stine Book of the Week for tomorrow is his Fear Street werewolf book, Bad Moonlight, so I'm going to make it a Werewolf Week. Starting tomorrow (March 7) I will begin werewolf-related posts. Hope you all like werewolves!

BOOK REVIEW: The Keeper by Sarah Langan

After reading and enjoying Sarah Langan's most recent novel, Audrey's Door, I decided to try her first novel, The Keeper. I didn't like it as much as Audrey's Door, but it wasn't bad for a first novel.

There is something wrong with Susan Marley. The residents of the small town of Bedford, Maine cross the street when she approaches and blame her for all their problems; especially for the terrifying things that dominate their dreams. But it's not just Susan, the whole town is haunted thanks to its sinister past and dark secrets.

I've read a lot of comparisons of this novel to Stephen King. It seems every good horror novel is compared to King (especially ones that take place in Maine) and the author is heralded as "the next Stephen King." But The Keeper is probably the novel I have read that comes closest to King. Langan has descriptive prose (which can at times bog down the story), a few deep characters and TONS of one-dimensional characters who only make a brief appearance, and a dramatic ending where many people die, making up for the rest of the book being slow.

The plot of The Keeper was unique, involving a whole town being haunted instead of the usual house.

The pacing felt odd. For the most part the novel was slow, but for a few chapters an exciting plot development would take place and the pace would be fast, and then go back to being slow. It wasn't really a gradual build-up, it was more like short bursts of excitement and then back to being slow. About halfway through the book, a part titled "Resurrection", which should have been the most exciting part judging by the title, was actually the slowest part and it took me a long time to get through it. I almost gave up on the novel, but I'm glad I got through it because the finale was exciting, gory and had a frantic pace.

The atmosphere was dark and eerie. Imagining the town where every year it rains for seven days straight, gave me chills. And a brief scene when the main character is chased by a monster through a cemetery creeped me out. I was disappointed when the monster didn't make another appearance in the novel.

There are several characters in the novel, the main ones being very well-developed. The secondary characters mostly just provided the gory death scenes and made the town well-rounded and seem more real. Langan even had the ability to make Susan Marley, the supposed villain of the novel, likable.

The Keeper is an interesting novel despite its slow pace and if you can get through the boring parts, you'll be rewarded with the thrilling finale.

Rating: 3/5

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: Rob Zombie's Halloween II

A few years ago when asked if he was going to make a Halloween II remake (or a sequel to his Halloween remake), Rob Zombie replied, "I'm done. I did what I wanted to do, I came in and I made a movie that I thought was a self-contained film and now I'm walking away." And I wish he had. Halloween was an okay remake, but Halloween II is a godawful piece of trash and insult to the original Halloween II (which I love).

After surviving Michael Myers' killing spree, Laurie Strode is trying to get on with her life but is still pretty shaken up. Dr. Loomis has written a book about Michael and is on tour promoting it. And Michael is having visions of his dead mother, who tells him to bring Laurie home.

Near the beginning of the movie, there is a creepy scene where Laurie is in a hospital after her battle with Michael Myers, much like the original Halloween II. It goes on for about 15 minutes and then Laurie wakes up. I despise dream sequences and think they're a waste of time because they add nothing to the plot. At this point I wanted to turn it off and I should've because it was the only creepy scene in the whole film.

I hated all the characters in the film, especially Laurie and Dr. Loomis. They were completely different in this film than in the first one. Laurie is an irritating whiner and I wanted her to die. Dr. Loomis is leeching off Michael's notoriety and actually believes that he's dead! Where's the Dr. Loomis who is obsessed with finding Michael and keeping him locked up of the original Halloween films? You might as well not have Dr. Loomis in the film if he's just going to be a moneygrubbing douche.

Oh wait, I forgot the worst character in the movie: Deborah Myers (Sheri Moon Zombie). Just because she's your wife doesn't mean you have to put her in EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of your movies, Rob Zombie. She died in the first movie! Those stupid visions of her with long, white hair wearing a long, white dress, walking with a white horse made no sense and were completely pointless.

The characters even looked awful. Michael Myers looked like a beefed up version of Rob Zombie and was not scary at all and Laurie had horrid dreadlocks.

As much as I enjoyed House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects I don't know if I'll give Rob Zombie another chance after this piece of crap. Who I am kidding, I probably will watch more of his films - when they air on T.V. for free.

Rating: 1/5

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

5 Reasons Maximum Overdrive Rocks

Stephen King has described his directorial debut as a "moron movie" and also said that he was "coked out of my mind all through its production, and I really didn't know what I was doing." But Cujo is my favourite King book and in On Writing he wrote that he "barely remembers writing it at all," so I don't really think him being "coked out" matters much and that it was a pretty lame excuse. But it doesn't really matter because I love Maximum Overdrive. I watched it recently after not seeing it for years and here are 5 Reasons I think Maximum Overdrive Rocks and everyone should give it a chance.


"Honey! Come on over here, Sugar Buns! This machine just called me an asshole!" Hands down the best King cameo ever. If an ATM did that to me I would die laughing. I now hopefully wait for it to happen whenever I use one. I also love how the news ticker in the front of the building says FUCK YOU!


The Mighty Duck man himself.

3. Pop can to the groin

In one scene, a baseball coach approaches a pop machine and it starts hurling out pop cans, slamming one into his groin, reminding me of that episode of The Simpsons where Hans Moleman enters his movie Man Getting Hit By Football in Springfield's film festival. It made me (and the kids on the baseball team) laugh hysterically. But it's not so funny when a can slams into his head, leaving a gory mess....

4. Kickass AC/DC soundtrack

AC/DC's album Who Made Who was the soundtrack for Maximum Overdrive, the entire film being comprised of their songs, including the title song Who Made Who and classics like Hells Bells and You Shook Me All Night Long.

5. Yeardley Smith

Oh, speaking of The Simpsons, Yeardley Smith has a role in this film. If you close your eyes, you would swear Lisa Simpson has a role in this movie, which is pretty sweet.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dead Lines Webzine

Dead Lines is a free webzine which publishes short horror fiction. Their third issue was released last month and includes a homage to Edgar Allan Poe by Nate Kenyon and stories by Wrath James White, Gord Rollo, Jeff Strand, Tim Waggoner, John Everson, David Benton & W.D. Gagliani, John R. Little, Mark West, Benedict J. Jones and Jason D. Brawn. Also featured is a list, The Greatest Horror Novels of the Decade.

I just read Wrath James White's and Jeff Strand's stories and they are creepy and funny, respectively. Check out Dead Lines here.

MOVIE REVIEW: The Final Destination

The Final Destination franchise is one of my favourites. The first Final Destination film is the only movie I can remember watching twice before returning it to where I rented it. And I have seen it at least 20 times since then. I even love the two sequels almost as much as the first. So I was thrilled when I heard there was going to be a new entry in the franchise and that it was going to be in 3-D. Unfortunately, I never got to see it in theatres and just watched it recently. It isn't as good as the first three.

When Nick (Bobby Campo) has a premonition of a crash at a raceway track killing everyone in the audience, he freaks out, saving the lives of a few people. But the survivors don't survive for long because Death is still after them.

The most disappointing part of the film was the part that usually makes the Final Destination films great: the inventive kill scenes. Some of them were good (especially the opening scene) but many were so unbelievable that I couldn't enjoy them. And none of them were as memorable as deaths in the previous films. When I think of the Final Destination franchise, I remember someone getting hit by a bus, elevator decapitation and people being burnt to a crisp in a tanning bed. I can't remember any of the deaths in The Final Destination and I just watched it. Maybe the deaths would've been better if they were in 3-D.

The cast of The Final Destination was fairly lousy, mostly comprised of unknowns. This really disappointed me because all the rest of the films in the franchise have featured one of my celebrity crushes. Final Destination had Devon Sawa who I have loved since I was 10 and saw him in Wild America with JTT. Final Destination 2 had James Kirk who played my favourite character on Canadian teen drama Edgemont. Final Destination 3 had Ryan Merriman who I have loved since I saw him in several Disney Channel movies (Smart House, The Luck of the Irish, etc.) when I was younger.

But for all my complaints, it still entertained me. I think I would've enjoyed it more if I had watched it in 3-D.

Rating: 3/5