Tag Archives: horror

Alien (movie review)

ALIEN (1979)

DETAILS:

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Sigourney WeaverTom SkerrittJohn Hurt
Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes
Categories: horror, sci-fi, space, action, franchise
Runtime: 
1 hour 52 minutes

Release Date: June 22, 1979

OVERALL: Slower then many think it will be due to the sequel Aliens, but an incredibly rich horror story in space.

STORYLINE

In deep space, the crew of the commercial starship Nostromo is awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel. The terror begins when the crew encounters a nest of eggs inside the alien ship. An organism from inside an egg leaps out and attaches itself to one of the crew, causing him to fall into a coma.

REVIEW

I love the entire franchise, but to be honest up until rewatching this movie this summer (2018) this was one of my least favorite installments. However, after watching it as an adult (I had only watched it as a teen, or just post-teen, early twenties) I was always bored with it. I was wrong as I look at it now.

The movie doesn’t waste much time at all on backstory. You are given seven characters that fill specific archtypes. Instead of getting sidetracked Ridley Scott, Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, the creative influences, focus on building a slow ratcheting tension. For the first time I was able to fully gain an understanding of why it was so popular. It was the reason so many other movies have copied it.

The action and suspense are excellently directed and acted. Scott picked the best people I could imagine for each of the roles, and while he may have been unorthodox in his filming (he didn’t tell anyone that John Hurt’s chest was going to explode and an alien come out because he wanted a real response) he was very good at catching those emotions, the ambience. The sets while inexpensive were lit in a way that covers most of the issues.

This was the first time that the movie didn’t seem like it lasted 9 hours long, but that it was over almost too quickly. I can’t recommend it more for people that like a slow boiling horrorfest. I liked it enough I now own it.

 

TRAILER

 

The Mist (tv show)

THE MIST

DETAILS:

Creator: Christian Torpe
Stars: Morgan SpectorAlyssa SutherlandGus Birney
Based on: “The Mist”, by Stephen King
Original Network: BBC America, BBC Two, Netflix
Episode Dates: June 22, 2017 – August 24, 2017

OVERALL: Much like a lot of adapted works of King, there is good and bad in here. I would lean more towards good, but its a close call.

STORYLINE

After an eerie mist rolls into a small town, the residents must battle the mysterious mist and its threats, fighting to maintain their morality and sanity.

Worth it? Maybe, I am stuck on the edge… I should let the Mist decide for me.

I can’t decide if it should be cast onto the trash heap, or if I want to see a second season.

The story has a lot of good possibilities, and I like the basic setup of MOST of the characters. I especially loved Frances Conroy (from American Horror Story) and Alyssa Sutherland (from Vikings). The chemistry for almost all the characters is good.

The writing however isn’t so good. Some of the deaths in the Mist were pretty hokey, and the base conceits of the story and characters were overdone tropes. The movie was a lot better in writing and direction, then again it was Frank Darabont so of course it was better.

The changes in what they had the Mist doing and how it effected people was also new and interesting, and allows a lot of possibilities in the universe. As a person who runs tabletop roleplaying games it would be a fantastic world to set a game up in (well not a long term game, more like a Call of Cthulhu game where everyone will die eventually, or at least most everyone).

I could get past some of the bad acting (it was only some acting that was bad), I can get past the hokey deaths as well. What I am having a hard time getting past is a trope they centered on one of the characters. This is a spoiler, so don’t read any further if you don’t want to know details!!!

I dislike Adrian, the gay/bisexual/weirdo kid dynamic with Jay, the popular jock. In this show Adrian is the only real LGBTQ character (his sexuality is more on specific people not gender) but he is also a rapist and a monster who turns on people. He is the only queer representation in the entire series and they make him the bad guy, while the jock named Jay is actually altruistic and falsely accused of raping the main teenage girl in the story.

Are we back in the 1960s where the only queer representation is a monstrous rapist who is not trustworthy and who kills and rapes his own family/friends group. Oh, I forget there was one other possible queer character who is a bully and beats people up to cover up his homophobic behavior.

I don’t mind that Jay is innocent and he is a good kid, my issue is that the monster is the one queer character in the entire show. I am not sure I can get past that.

Pros: Great possibility, lots of options as a storyteller.

Cons: Horrific stereotype of LGBTQ, bad directing and really hokey deaths on occasions (really leeches falling on someone from the ceiling.

Here is the trailer:

 

Bates Motel (tv show)

BATES MOTEL

DETAILS:

Creator: Anthony CiprianoCarlton CuseKerry Ehrin
Stars: Vera FarmigaFreddie HighmoreMax Thieriot
Based on:
“Psycho”, by Robert Bloch

Original Network: A&E
Original Release: March 18, 2013 – April 24, 2017

Worth it? Yes, and don’t tell mother!

STORYLINE

A contemporary prequel to Psycho, giving a portrayal of how Norman Bates’ psyche unravels through his teenage years, and how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma, truly is.

REVIEW

I have to say this is the biggest surprise of a tv show that I have had. Far better acted, written, and was far more interesting then I ever would have given it credit.

When I originally saw teasers and trailers for the show I assumed that it was going to be A&E’s copy of a teenage CW show with teen angst and drama. I had absolutely no interest after catching the first episode because it dealt with Norman at a new high school. I was entirely wrong about the show.

I had assumed it was only a teenager show mostly because the actor looks like, and it is a young Norman Bates, and they focused on his mom a lot in the beginning, but for some reason I assumed she wouldn’t be a lasting character. I mean how do you make Norma Bates, AKA “MOTHER!” a regular character. Not only is she a regular (and she is there on screen until the last episode), she is on the same level as Norman and they are both great characters, acted by very good actors.

There is of course a lot of drama, violence, death and insanity, but that is expected from a reboot prequel of the original movie “Psycho”. It hit all the notes for me, including the surrounding characters, unexpected reveals and even though several key facts about Norman are changed it is definitely Norma Bates.

The only thing I hesitate on, and this isn’t a poor reflection it is still great, I would have handled the last 3 or 4 episodes differently. SPOILER ALERT: I would have not had the final 3 or four episodes end the way they did, wrapping up the storyline 100%, instead I would have changed a couple of things that would allow it to end, right about where the movie started. That however isn’t a bad thing, just a style thing.

Pros: Excellent acting, writing, and kept my interest over the five seasons, even if I cringed sometimes.

Cons: I stylistically would have wrapped it up at a different point, but that is purely a dramatic choice.

I am really glad I did start watching it, and I encourage others to give it a try.

Here is the trailer, I really wish though it didn’t have that CW feel at the beginning:

 

 

 

Fortitude (tv show)

FORTITUDE

DETAILS:

Creator: Simon Donald
Stars: Richard Dormer, Björn Hlynur HaraldssonSienna Guillory
Original Network: Sky Atlantic
First episode date: January 29, 2015

OVERALL: A very interesting twist on a police investigation show.

STORYLINE

Perched on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Fortitude is one of the safest towns on earth. There has never been a violent crime here. Until now.

BREAKDOWN BY SEASON

SEASON 1

Worth it? Yes

Fortitude is a fictional location in Artic Norway, with an unusual population consisting of a lot of people not from Norway. It is almost a direct comparison to the way that Alaska was for the USA for a long time, comprised not of locals but of people from different parts of the country/world trying to either start something new, or get away from something old.

The basic concept is about a company trying to build a vacation getaway/go to location in the artic, while there are also a research facility and some sort of mining/oil location. All of this is in danger when a headless body is discovered, a murderer is lose and there is something more then a banal human doing the killing.

The acting is great, and the writing makes it feel like these people do know each other. You can feel them sort of group together when Stanley Tucci comes in as a British investigator for the death, and Tucci’s struggle to find out what actually happened.

The whole storyline is over by the end of the season, they wrap up the killer and supernatural parts of it cleanly, leaving the show with a solid conclusion. I very much enjoy this with British shows, the idea that the season can stand alone.

The one down part is the show does drag a little. It gets slower in the middle then I would like, and that could be my American take on shows, but they could have reduced this from a 12 episode show to a 10 episode show and it would have only been better

I suspect part of this is the show starts to have a lot of relationship drama, where they really shouldn’t be, and slows down the story just for drama’s sake. Never a good thing.

Pros: Excellent acting, writing, location.

Cons: Could have been a little shorter, a little less relationship drama that went nowhere.

Caught my interest enough I will have to see what Season 2 will be about.

At the Mountains of Madness (book review)

At the Mountains of MadnessAt the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book Type: Audible Book
Length: 4h 48m

This is perhaps the best example of Lovecraft in his more dry tones. If you are hoping for a first person perspective, down and close to the horror you won’t really find it here. This is the retellings of a crazed survivor, a prime example of Lovecraft’s tendency for that trope. More of an after action report then the actual tale as it unfolds.

Unlike a lot of his other work, this example of his writings does not contain a lot of his problematic views. Other stories are racists, sexist and xenophobic, however here none of that appeared evident.

The writing style is dry though. It takes a peculiar liking for this kind of work for other readers to appreciate it, but for me it had a lot of good building blocks. He had links to other stories in his mythos, and he definitely had a lot of details in the story itself, maybe too many for some people.

You can see though where he inspired people after him. This story could easily fit in the worlds of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and many newer horror authors.

If you like Lovecraft, or any of his inheritors (Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E Howard, Robert Bloch, and others like August Derleth) then this is something you want to read.

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American Horror Story (tv show)

It should be noted that I have since moved to just updating the original review, this post was originally broken into seasons. I have tried to update further seasons below the intro. Starting with newest and working back.

DETAILS:

Creator: Brad Falchuk, Ryan Murphy
Stars: Jessica Lange, Lady GagaKathy BatesAngela Bassett 
Original Network: FX
First Episode: 2011

OVERALL: A great horror series. The best part is its an anthology, if you don’t like one story come back the next year for a new one.

STORYLINE

An anthology series centering on different characters and locations, including a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, a hotel, a possessed farmhouse, a cult, and the apocalypse.

BREAKDOWN BY SEASON

SEASON 5

Worth it? Yes

Now AHS has finally hit its stride and is in that sweet spot of horror and drama.

Overall this is the best season so far that I have seen. The stories all wrap around a hotel, a countess, things that are similar to vampires, spirits and serial killers. The base idea is wrapped around a similar serial killer H.H. Holmes who owned a hotel that was sometimes called the Murder Castle in Chicago.

The real serial killer claimed at least 27 people were killed in various rooms when they checked into his hotel. Of course in traditional American Horror Story style the body count is upped by tenfold, using chutes to hide bodies, ghosts to kill guests and visits from other serial killers.

Even though the story focuses on a possible serial killer, my favorite character is Liz Taylor, played by Dennis O’hare. He as fantastic, and I found his story definitely interesting and touching.

My favorite character

Lady |Gaga made her AHS debut here, and she did well, along with Kathy Bates and the returning cast. I really didn’t have anything negative to say about this season at all.

Pros: The show finds its groove, the cast are at their best and Lady Gaga does fairly well in my first exposure to her acting.

Cons: I wish they had focused on Liz more.

The show keeps putting out good content, it doesn’t feel like they have exhausted the theme of the show yet.

SEASON 4

Worth it? Yes

Now we are getting back into the wheelhouse of horror. Some scary things, some bizarre things, and some good acting by everyone means this is a definitely better season.

This story about a freak show run by Elsa Mars, a German woman who leads the group in Jupiter Florida in the 1950s.

The story is about the Freakshow itself, the new people they meet and the subsequent background stories, a murdering clown, a possible second clown, a summoned creature and references to two other seasons of American Horror Story.

The acting is very good, there are several main characters of people who are unique, and there is Michael Chiklis (from the Shield and the Commish). There is some scary parts, and a lot of trying to figure out where a person fits in.

My only part I didn’t like was Sarah Paulson’s role. She was an excellent actress, but trying to play both twins of a Siamese twin, just didn’t work for me. However, it wasn’t Ms. Paulson’s fault, she did well, I just couldn’t buy her character for some reason.

Pros: Even better then the first three seasons, the story is fairly unique, the characters are very entertaining and Jessica Lange can sing really well.

Cons: The Siamese Sister bit didn’t work for me.

I am looking forward to Season 5, where we get to meet Lady Gaga in a role.

 

SEASON 3

Worth it? Yes

We are back for more of a return to the style of original American Horror Story: Murder House (Season 1)

I really love the anthology setup for tv series like this. It allows a complete story to be told in a season, so there is no annoying cliff hangers that are never answered. It allows a good story to be told because there is a start, middle and end, and it is especially good because if you have an idea that doesn’t work for everyone as a story, then they can come back the next season and may find something they do like.

We have gotten away from the even vague suggestions of aliens and abduction in this season. Here we are in New Orleans and the story is about a power struggle in a witch coven, while there is a war with a voudon priestess and her support with a mixing of witch hunters involved.

Almost all of the cast is back, but they have added Kathy Bates and Angela Bassett. The acting has gone up several notches, even though there are some teen witch angst (but in a AHS style) and when you have Angela Bassett, Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates all in the same room the acting just soars.

Pros: The biggest pro is the changing stories between seasons, followed by a more supernatural/witch feeling in this.

Cons: Probably a little too much focus on teen witches, I understand why they did it but I am getting close to 50 and teen witch stories don’t do it for me.

I will definitely follow up with Season 4 “Freakshow”.

 

SEASON 2

Worth it? Yes, if for nothing else but to keep you caught up for later seasons.

Not as good as season 1, but worth it if you can power through the first couple of episodes.

I don’t want to have anything too spoilerific, but the thing that hurts this season is the alien abduction subplot (and it is only a subplot and it isn’t too spoilery to mention it I promise). That is why I originally started watching this when Season 2 started years ago, but stopped after an episode. I don’t like to mix aliens and horror myself.

Instead of modern day setting with flashbacks, this season is set in the 1960s in an insane asylum (hence why they involved alien abduction at some point) with flash forwards to modern day. The timing is well paced and there are some very interesting leads. However, it was way too distracting for me with the insanity plot that I mostly endured this season.

The actors are great, almost everyone makes a comeback as a different character this season and they swapped up their roles of what they are doing. I really do like the anthology setup. There is less “horror” on a supernatural level here then cruelty and spite by those in charge (don’t worry though, it still exists) so this was a less scary story and more of a dark drama.

By the end I didn’t regret watching it. The cast acted well, the set was nice, but overall I am glad season 3 should go back to the normal “horror” story mode that this series should stick with.

Pros: The acting was great, and the storytelling in an anthology setting where each season is a different story is outstanding.

Cons: Whether or not there were alien abductions, I don’t like mixing that possibility with my horror.

 

SEASON 1

Worth it? Yes

I have to admit it was better than I expected from an American television series.

Originally the show didn’t have a name for each season, and was known only as “American Horror Story” however the name has been updated to “Murder House” to distinguish it from the seasons that follow (each named differently).

I watched this show originally when it came out for several episodes. I remembered liking it, but I don’t remember why I stopped watching.

The story itself was pretty good, they layered on many stories in the house and intertwined them. Most of the story is in current day, with flashbacks, so in that sense it is a traditional horror story. The didn’t shrink back from the season finale like I was worried.

However, the best part I think is the way the series itself is set up. Each season is a different story, but uses a lot of the same actors in different roles. I am currently finishing season 2, a fully different story, most of the same actors and the whole idea of doing the show like this actually exceeds the content of the season itself.

Pros: There are enough different substories combined with enough good actors you should be able to find something interesting.

Cons: The Murder House story itself isn’t the most unique storyline, enjoyable but not unique.

It has me bought into the show enough I will continue with the next season.

The Babysitter (2017)

Worth it? Yes. A fantastic comedic horror movie, once again showing how Netflix handily beats out the bigger movie companies.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS

The story is pretty straight forward, a boy just entering teen years who is picked on by bullies and who is afraid of everything.

Cole is surrounded by a lot of people including his parents who love him, but are distant. A close female friend that encourages and supports him. Then there is Bee, the babysitter who is attractive, smart and loves spending time with him. It is unfortunate that he is then surrounded by a satanic cult, and large tarantulas.

The movie is fast paced. Shortly after you learn to like Bee, you learn to hate her about as much as Cole accidentally learns that Bee leads a Satanic cult, intent on drinking blood, praying to Satan and killing Cole.

The Satanic Cult is priceless. I loved Max, the bad guy quarterback (played by Robbie Amell, first cousin of Stephen Amell who plays Arrow). John was also a great character, wanting sex, but screaming a lot when trouble happens. Unfortunately I wasn’t as impressed with the two other women in the cult, not because they were bad actresses but because of their roles.

I cannot express how much I loved Max being a murdering satanic cultist chasing Cole, who stops and shows Cole how to defend himself against bullies. I won’t say anymore, but that scene is the high point of the movie for me.

The movie is directed by McG, the same person that brought us Supernatural, and you can see his influence. The movie feels like something that could happen in the Supernatural world.

The good: Everything about this was good. I especially enjoyed the back and forth between Cole and Max.

The bad: That it was over in less than 90 minutes (actually that is probably good, they didn’t let it drag).

This just shows why I will almost always watch anything done by Netflix. Even with a few stinkers, Netflix usually supplies what I look for.

It (2017)

Worth it? Yes. Absolutely worth seeing.

I am a bit biased, I have always liked Stephen King’s books, and his movies. Yes, even the horrible ones. I do love the original tv series with Tim Curry, but Bill Skarsgard is just as good, but in a more horrific way.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS!

 

The first thing you have to know, this is only half the book. This is the kid portion of the story. They have already hired the writer and are starting the sequel which is supposed to be the adult story. They even ended the movie with a “chapter one” meaning they knew they were going to do it.

So let’s focus on the kids. They are all great, including the mouthy Finn from Stranger Things. The acting was great, the stories for each kid were interesting, and horrifying in their own ways (especially Henry and Beverly’s, yes even the bad kid Henry had an interesting and almost heart breaking childhood).

The effects were great, but they didn’t lean on them too much, a lot of darkness, a lot of charging attacks, but nothing so horribly CGI that it would jar. Although the greatest effect was Bill Skarsgard himself. The voices he could make, the looks he gave, especially the intensity, were the most horrifying thing in the movie.

The directing was great too. They cut the story down, made it lean by doing something I wasn’t sure about, only covering half the book. They also got rid of the group sex scene from the book, definitely made it less skeevy that way. All the decisions I saw made the movie better.

I rank it up there with Kubrick’s the Shining as one of my favorite King movies.

The good: Everything. The acting, directing and of course the source material.

The bad: I did feel like I was missing something, but that is because I have read the book and watched the mini-series and it felt strange to not have the adult half of the story. It was a good choice, and that bad is on me, but it was the one thing that made me hesitate.

GO SEE IT!

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Youtube LP Playlist: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard Let’s Play Series
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

This is by far the best Resident Evil incarnation I have seen in over a decade.

I was doubtful about the game at first. The last two or three have been failures, and even before that they were disappointing except for the first one. However, the fact that it was first person intrigued me. That was the one thing about Resident Evil I didn’t like was that it was third person.The story itself seemed interesting as well. In the swamps, in a family farm and no Umbrella representation that was evident in the trailer. All of these were true. It is a fresher take on things, a very enjoyable one at that.

The game itself is fun, the controls work well and the story is the bestI have seen. I think the story itself is better than even the original. It is creepy with lots of jump scares and slow build tensions. The use of the VHS player is also unexpected and a cool way to tell a larger version of the story.

I think my only issue in the game was by the end it had done what many games have (such as Outlast) it was less terrifying and more action based (still a bit scary). However, even with that I completely recommend this game.

Pros: Scary, a great story and the controls are pretty good.
Cons: The end of the game loses some of the horror aspect. Not too badly, but enough to be a little disappointing.

I will definitely be getting the next installment of the RE series.

Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin #8)

Fallow (Whyborne & Griffin, #8)Fallow by Jordan L. Hawk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book Type: Audible Book
Length: 6h 56m

This book is on the top of my list for this series (and once again this is an audible book).

I very much enjoyed the crew going back to Fallow, the place where Griffin was raised. You get to meet his mother again, other family members, townsfolk and an evil that seems to have befallen it.

I suspect part of the reason I loved this book is that all the characters have developed in each book. While sometimes Whyborne’s tendancy to whine does grate, even that changes in each book. I love a world that evolves.

I also love that the main couple has stayed a couple and have developed the relationship more fully. This is probably because I am also in a M/M couple, but you don’t get to see that very often and when it happens it is wonderful.

Now, I also want to address the narrator Julian Simmons. In the beginning I wasn’t too sure about him, but I found out recently that Whyborne & Griffin Book 1 was his first narration for an audible book. With that being the case I have to say he has done pretty good and he is only getting better.

Overall, I can’t recommend enough that everyone read this. I love the romance, horror, urban fantasy and lovecraftian feel of it!

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