Monday, March 28, 2022

William Pattison’s Top Ten Horror Movies from 2021


By William Pattison

for Horror Bob's Blog

 

Gore and Scares everyone! 2021 was a really good year for horror. I watched a lot of good horror films, so many it was really hard to choose just ten, but I prefer doing a top ten rather than a top twenty. So, after a lot of deliberation, here is my top ten horror movies for 2021…

 

10. Censor




Director

Prano Bailey-Bond

Writers

Prano Bailey-Bond

Anthony Fletcher

Stars

Niamh Algar

Michael Smiley

Nicholas Burns

In 1985, Enid Baines works for the British Board of Film Classification during the height of the Video Nasty controversy. Enid's co-workers call her "Little Miss Perfect" due to her strictness in recommending that violent content be cut or banned. While Enid is having dinner with her parents, they discuss the disappearance of Enid's sister Nina when the two were little. Enid's parents have since declared Nina legally dead, but Enid is convinced that her sister is still missing and is the star of the film she is currently censoring.

This was a very interesting psychological film. this film strongly echoes the works of Argento, Fulci, and Cronenberg with its splendid use of color, style, and mood. Those films within the film pay homage to the low-budget horror and exploitation films of the 1980s while its own plot is missing chunks of flesh. It also gives away the ending rather early with hints of a dark past concerning our protagonist but remains gripping.

 

9. Halloween Kills




Director

David Gordon Green

Writers

John Carpenter (based on characters created by)

Debra Hill (based on characters created by)

Scott Teems

Stars

Jamie Lee Curtis

Judy Greer

Andi Matichak

The Halloween night when Michael Myers returned isn't over yet. Minutes after Laurie Strode (Curtis), her daughter Karen (Judy Greer), and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) left masked monster Michael Myers caged and burning in Laurie's basement, Laurie is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, believing she finally killed her lifelong tormentor. But when Michael manages to free himself from Laurie's trap, his ritual bloodbath resumes. As Laurie fights her pain and prepares to defend herself against him, she inspires all of Haddonfield to rise up against their unstoppable monster. The Strode women join a group of other survivors of Michael's first rampage who decide to take matters into their own hands, forming a vigilante mob that sets out to hunt Michael down, once and for all.

This installment in the rebooted Halloween franchise was quite effective. The entire audience was screaming and shouting and just, in general, having a spooktacular time. The storyline was modern but yet paid homage to the original. The scares, the gore, the stupid decisions, it all came together to make one killer movie.

 

8. Antlers




Director

Scott Cooper

Writers

Henry Chaisson (screenplay by)

Nick Antosca (screenplay by)

Scott Cooper (screenplay by)

Stars

Keri Russell

Jesse Plemons

Jeremy T. Thomas

In a small town in central Oregon, Frank Weaver runs a meth lab out of an abandoned mine. While his young son Aiden waits outside the mine in his truck, Frank and an accomplice are attacked by an unseen creature. Investigating strange noises, Aiden is also attacked by the creature. Frank and Aiden survive their encounter with the creature and return home, where their condition quickly worsens. Frank sets up a locked room and demands that no matter what, Aiden's older brother Lucas keeps them locked inside.

This movie was quite surprising to be fair, I was expecting a typical horror with the basic format of a scare here and there with a cliche ending, but no this creature feature is actually quite unique with very interesting themes about trauma and abuse and has great parallels between the two main characters. The effects were pretty good and the creature looked really good when it was finally revealed. The acting was solid even the kid actors weren't bad at all. The score was pretty cool and fit the creepy vibe of the film. Not too long and not too short of a film, perfect length for these sorts of films as they drag on if they're too long and feel bogged down with exposition. Not much to say really about this one. Just a solid horror.


7. Blood Red Sky




Director

Peter Thorwarth

Writers

Stefan Holtz (scenario)

Peter Thorwarth (scenario)

Stars

Peri Baumeister

Carl Anton Koch

Alexander Scheer

A woman with a mysterious illness, who is with her young son, is forced into action when a group of terrorists attempt to hijack a transatlantic overnight flight. The result is a bloodbath.

This film is an original twist on the vampire saga. Don't take it all that seriously and you are going to see a rather good movie. It's all there that you want from a vampire flick and somehow it did remind me a lot of the series The Strain. You know, the airplane were things go wrong.

 

6. Wrong Turn




Director

Mike P. Nelson

Writer

Alan B. McElroy

Stars

Charlotte Vega

Adain Bradley

Bill Sage

Friends hiking the Appalachian Trail are confronted by 'The Foundation', a community of separatist people who have lived in the mountains since the Civil War.

I must say that I only saw the original Wrong Turn film so I went into this with no real expectations about what should happen. It turns out it was one of those few reboots that outdid the original horror film. There are plenty of scary moments as well as quite a few unpleasant deaths. The protagonists aren't particularly likable; they may be diverse and politically liberal but they have their own prejudices. Without going into retails I thought the way friends crossed paths with The Foundation; the various traps were fun and the Foundation appeared scary. On the downside one really does have to suspend one's disbelief; The Foundation might be a danger to hikers but one can't imagine the authorities would be ignorant and tolerant of people disappearing on a particular mountain for a hundred and seventy years! The setting looks great even though it was filmed in Ohio rather than Virginia. Overall I'd say this is worth watching but not a must-watch for horror fans; just don't take it too seriously.

 

5. Malignant




Director

James Wan

Writers

James Wan (story by)

Ingrid Bisu (story by)

Akela Cooper (story by)

Stars

Annabelle Wallis

Maddie Hasson

George Young

Twenty-seven long years after the brutal Simion Research Hospital incident, abused Madison wakes up in a hospital in present-day Seattle. But with numbing visions of murder getting in the way of a normal life, more and more, Madison's obscure past emerges, baffling both herself and the local detectives. Are these explicitly violent killings figments of Madison's troubled imagination? Either way, someone, or better yet, something, links the past to the present, demanding closure and blood. Is the bogeyman real?

Horror movies are tough to make. Especially when you are trying to please the general crowd and the hardened horror aficionados. Especially the latter might depict your movie and quite a few things you chose. Now James Wan seems to love a moving camera ... and I think that works nicely. But he also seems to like action ... which is apparent towards the almost insane action set-piece almost at the end of the movie. It is so over the top, that one might feel it doesn't belong in there.

It still sort of works if you suspend your disbelief. Other points you can criticize are things that are being built up without a payoff. While it may not be too bad when it comes to the (comedic) romance subplot, it is more than weird with a location towards the end. It gets such an epic ... introduction and yet it deflates into almost nothing.

Maybe there is more (deleted scenes I'm quite sure), some scenes obviously have been cut, one, in particular, comes to mind with more romantic stuff, that didn't make it into the movie. Dialog wise that is, just in case you are wondering.

But if you only see the negative, you will miss out on the fun and the horror the movie dishes out. The story/plot does check out and while you'll be trying to figure out what is what (and again hardcore horror fans will probably be onto Wan early on), it does not take anything away from the journey.

There are some horror clichés too (the very last frame may annoy you), but overall the movie is a nice mixture between horror, comedy, and action. If you can dig that, you are on a good way to really liking this.

 

 

4. The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It




Director

Michael Chaves

Writers

David Leslie Johnson-McGoldrick (screenplay by)

James Wan (story by)

Chad Hayes (based on characters created by)

Stars

Patrick Wilson

Vera Farmiga

Ruairi O'Connor

Based on the infamous demon murder case. A chilling story of terror, murder, and unknown evil that shocked even experienced real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. One of the most sensational cases from their files, it starts with a fight for the soul of a young boy, then takes them beyond anything they'd ever seen before, to mark the first time in U.S. history that a murder suspect would claim demonic possession as a defense.

Everyone who's complaining that they're too much story and not enough scares, are you kidding? Story and character is the reason why we care about the stakes that's where drama, tension, and horror comes from. If it was all jump scares and lacking in the story (the movie Winchester comes to mind), I guarantee y'all would've been even more disappointed. But if that's your thing, you'll probably be just as entertained by a jack in the box. While remaining faithful to the Conjuring universe, I appreciated that this third movie explored new territory so it wasn't just a repeat. It is a quality addition to the series with good production value and much more thoughtfully written than the spin-offs. It's a win for what it is considering the impossible task the writer and the director had of pleasing all these harsh fans who couldn't even tell you what they liked about the first two conjuring movies other than "it was scary."

 

3. Army of the Dead




Director

Zack Snyder

Writers

Zack Snyder (story by)

Shay Hatten (screenplay by)

Joby Harold (screenplay by)

Stars

Dave Bautista

Ella Purnell

Ana de la Reguera

With the abandoned, walled city of Las Vegas overrun with zombies, after a disastrous government fault, billionaire casino magnate Bly Tanaka realizes he has left something behind in Sin City: $200 million to be more precise. But for the time being, his mountains of cash are safe behind an impenetrable casino vault. Now, Tanaka is willing to pay $50 million to decorated former mercenary Scott Ward and his hand-picked team to retrieve the money before the US President nukes the entire city. Indeed, this is a life-changing offer Scott cannot refuse; nevertheless, the rules have changed, and this time, the horde of the walking undead seems to be more organized than they might have expected. And, above all, time is running out. Will Ward's crew return from Vegas in one piece and rich?

Oozing with a gung-ho attitude, smeared with a brawny touch, and brimming with an unabashed brainlessness, Army of the Dead has all the hallmarks of a silly, idiotic & extravagantly dumb yet fun blockbuster with a bonkers premise & stupid characters to steer the adventure and not only does it deliver what it set out to do but also does so with panache & near-fatal overdose of style.

 

2. Last Night in Soho




Director

Edgar Wright

Writers

Edgar Wright (story by)

Krysty Wilson-Cairns (screenplay by)

Stars

Thomasin McKenzie

Anya Taylor-Joy

Matt Smith

In acclaimed director, Edgar Wright's psychological thriller, Eloise, an aspiring fashion designer, is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters a dazzling wannabe singer, Sandie. But the glamour is not all it appears to be and the dreams of the past start to crack and splinter into something far darker.

Edgar Wright seems to polarize with this movie. Although generally speaking the majority seem to love this as much as I did. Or in similar fashion - no pun intended. And for a genre movie it starts off ... well off (weird). You don't get a shocker, quite the opposite it starts off with a music number/dancing. This makes sense when you think about it in hindsight and still sets a tone for the viewer - even if not one that is as menacing as the movie becomes later on.

Technically speaking the movie is impeccable. Anyone arguing differently surely has not seen far lesser movies produced than this and is probably blinded by the fact they don't like the movie. This is more than fine, just don't let your dislike turn into a general bashing. One does not have to like a movie that is well made. We have different tastes and that is a good thing.

There are things that depending on how you view things, may feel like flaws or things the movie did not get right. Like the moral ambiguity or the love interest. The latter may feel a bit one-dimensional, but ask yourself this: how many female love interests have been played or rather written the exact same way? So this is nothing unusual - unless you count the gender swap for who is playing the gullible and way too nice person to be real ... having said that, again that may not be enough to sway you to like the movie or the characters.

And the moral issues the movie displays include an ending that some may not be entirely left satisfied with (character choices and so much more) - with many unanswered questions ... on the other hand, some things are better left without an answer, so we as viewers can fill in the blanks.

Stylish and probably with quite a few in-camera effects (I imagine certain tricks were used to avoid a higher special effects cost, but I may be wrong), this movie has a few exquisite jump scares and a really good story as a backbone. Oh and before I forget, a great cast. It has been ages since I last saw Terence Stamp on the big screen.

Anyway, really good genre movie by a director who knows what he wants - for an audience who mostly seems to appreciate it.

 

1. Willy’s Wonderland




Director

Kevin Lewis

Writer

G.O. Parsons  (screenplay by)

Stars

Nicolas Cage

Emily Tostaa

Beth Grantt

A quiet loner (Nic Cage) finds himself stranded in a remote town when his car breaks down. Unable to pay for the repairs he needs, he agrees to spend the night cleaning Willy's Wonderland, an abandoned family fun center. But this wonderland has a dark secret that the "The Janitor" is about to discover. He soon finds himself trapped inside Willy's and locked in an epic battle with the possessed animatronic mascots that roam the halls. To survive, he must fight his way through each of them.

I like the general premise and the place. I love Cage's obsessive cleaning although his character should start differently. Instead of a bad mother driving a muscle car, he should be a simple workman driving a beat-up truck. He should be poor which would explain him working as a janitor more easily. I like the teen group for the most part and they are good cannon fodder anyways. I like the animatronic killers although the killings get a bit repetitive.

 

So, there you go my top ten for 2021. Hope you found them interesting. I’ll see you next year around this time for the top ten of 2022. Keep America Strong, Watch Horror Films…


Keep on Creepin', Horror Bob's Blog...

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Review: Halloween Kills



Review: Halloween Kills

By William Pattison

For Horror Bob’s Blog

 

Gore and Scares and happy Halloween. I just finished watching Halloween Kills, the sequel to the reboot/sequel to the original Halloween that rejects all previous sequels and creates a new narrative for the terror that is Michael Myers.

This film starts off where the reboot sequel, which was amusingly and simply titled Halloween ends. The injured Laurie Strode and her family are in the back of a truck escaping. Laurie freaks out when she sees a fire truck heading to her burning house where she had fought Michael Myers and had thought she’s burned him up with her home. Unfortunately, this is Michael Myers we are talking about and he inadvertently escapes the flames with the help of The Haddenfield Fire Department. He also kills the firemen as a warm thank you.

Of course, then he goes on a killing sprees on his way back to his house, which is the love den for a gay couple.  Meanwhile some of the survivors of Michael’s 1978 murder rampage come out of the shadows and go on a search for the guy in the white face Kirk mask, including the two kids, now grown up, who Laurie had been babysitting all those years ago as well as the nurse whom Michael stole the care from who he escaped the mental home originally. Also add to our cast of characters a deputy who accidentally shot his partner when trying to shoot Michael. Stupid fool. Shit, doesn’t he know bullets don’t have any real affect on Michael? Hell, by now you would think Michael would be clicking as he marches around with all that metal in his carcass.

All this leads to another killfest hosted by the grandmaster of slaughter. Shit, we even get to see some mob mentality fun as all the people in Haddenfield General Hospital go nuts and chase an innocent nut ball who got away from a bus crash from the nut house and stumbles into the hospital at the moment when the crowd is craving blood.

So, on with the review…

I have to say that I royally enjoyed Halloween Kills. Unlike a lot of reviewers, I liked the pace of the film and found the tension level very satisfying. I realize a lot of millennials, who had been weaned on slasher films during the years of hell that The Horror Social held horror in a strangled hold and only allowed slasher films cast with The Breakfast Club clones, weak or no storylines, and the ideology that good horror films only needed killers in masks and gory kills to be good. Don’t get me wrong, Halloween Kills has horribly brutal kills, but it also has full on character arcs along with plot, story, and lots of Easter eggs. I love the homage to Halloween III and of course the appearance of….Oh, spoilers. You’ll have to see for yourself.

All in all I found Halloween Kills an excellent middle film in a trilogy. It is not perfect, but it is enjoyable and I figure any plot holes in this film will be addressed in the final chapter, Halloween Ends, which should come out in the next two years. But, as for this film I can highly recommend this film for those looking for a little Michael fix…

Keep on Creepin’, Horror Bob’s Blog…


 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Review: Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead

 



Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

By William Pattison

For Horror Bob’s Blog

 

What do you get when you team up Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, and John Carpenter to make a zombie movie? Well, the closest thing you will ever get is Zack Snyder’s truly epic zombiefest Army of The Dead.

               Army of the Dead tells the story of a group of mercenaries who are sent into Las Vegas, which has been turned into a zombie containment zone after a zombie outbreak. The reason these eight people are sent into zombie central is that a billionaire Japanese businessman named Bly Tanaka, played by Hiroyuki Sanada (Mortal Combat).

               Tanaka wants the group to travel through the zombie-infested waste of Las Vegas to get into a vault in one of the casinos that holds pallets of stacked hundred dollar bills. The only problem, besides the city full of man-eating zombies was that the government was going to blow the city up with a tactical nuclear missile in three days.

               With the help of a blond-haired female coyote named Lilly the crew which features Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers Infinity War, Avengers Endgame) as Scott Ward, Ella Purnell as Scott’s daughter Kate Ward, Omari Hardwick as Vanderohe, Theo Rossi as Burt Cummings, Matthias Schweighöfer as safecracker Dieter, Garret Dillahunt as Martin, and of course Tig Notaro (Star Trek Discovery) as the snarky ace chopper pilot Marianne Peters take on this near-impossible heist.

               All I can say is this film is mind-blowing, but what can you expect from the brilliant director that brought us such mind-blowing films as Watchmen, Sin City, 300, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel, Superman Versus Batman: Dawn of Justice, and of course Justice League The Snyder Cut. I’ve seen so many incredible classic zombie films over the years, like Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and Zombieland just to name a few and I see this film joining the list of classics.

               Snyder is a master of shooting gory violence and turning it into art. The film is full of incredible shots of zombies doing what zombies do and badass characters doing what they do. On top of that this film has a music track that will be a pleasure to get a copy of when or if it comes out. This film was a joy for me to watch, much like the Korean zombie film Peninsula was.

               I know a lot of people on social media have been whining about how long this film was, it was two and a half hours long. For me, that is a treat because it means the filmmaker is giving your money’s worth. Shit people, he gives us five different types of zombies including the intelligent overlord zombies. He also gives us a zombie tiger named Valentine and a zombie horse. Frankly, stop bitching bitches! You should be thanking Zack Snyder and praising him. If you haven’t seen this film yet I only got this to say… Either got to NetFlix or go to your local theatre and SEE THE FUCKING FILM. It is awesome! I can not recommend it more…

Keep on Creepin’, Horror Bob’s Blog…


Sunday, December 6, 2020

Review: Castle Freak 2020



Review: Castle Freak 2020

By William Pattison

For Horror Bob’s Blog

 

Ok, people, this time I’m going to be reviewing the “reimagining” of the Stuart Gordon classic horror film, Castle Freak by filmmaker Tate Steinsiek and screenwriter Kathy Charles through Fangoria Films. You’ll see the significance of this later in the review…

    This reimagined version of Castle Freak tells the story of Rebecca Whateley and her dysfunctional boyfriend John. At the beginning of the film, we see how John because he is a nasty male cause an accident that takes Rebecca’s vision. Then the story jumps to a time later and we see Rebecca and John in a car driving in the Albanian countryside. It seems that Rebecca’s absentee mother has died and left Rebecca a castle. Of course, she also left her a little bonus that is creeping around in the walls, the Castle Freak. Now, Rebecca, John, and a bunch of her friends that we meet at the beginning of the film must solve Rebecca’s family mystery before her hidden guest rips its way through her friends to get to her.

    Now, people, I have to say I have a love/hate relationship with remakes / “reimaginings”. Some have surprised me, some have made me want to punch the wall and scream with rage. Guess which this is?

     Seriously, other than for a chance for Charles Band to sell off the right to his fan favorites to get financing to make a few more Full Moon films, much like Lloyd Kauffman did with Toxic Avenger, there is no reason to remake Castle Freak. Stuart Gordon’s original still stands the test of time and is still one of the three films he has done I consider a classic.

     But, of course, in this world of SJWs and toxic feminism, no classic is safe, especially if it has anything to do with H.P. Lovecraft. If you don’t know, reader, the original Castle Freak was inspired by the H.P. Lovecraft short story The Outsider (not to be mistaken for the Stephen King novel of the same name.) Though in fact Stuart Gordon didn’t really add any Lovecraftian references in his film. Unfortunately, in this “reimagined” version Kathy Charles has jammed this film with references to Lovecraft that the main storyline is drowned and neutered. This film is so badly written that suddenly cultists who worship The Elder Gods show up out of the ether. And of course, they had to change the sex of the Castle Freak and change it’s back story completely because a tortured Frankenstein-like character that the audience can pity is just stupid. Right Kathy Charles? Nope, let it be the vanguard of the coming of The Ancient Ones. Shit, why not even bring in a cameo of Herbert West (spoiler) to make this turd complete.

     Honestly, people, Stuart Gordon is rolling in his grave and it is thanks to that hive of SJW and feminist bias Fangoria. These assholes greenlit this crapfest. I could see Rebekah McKendry pushing the heads of Fangoria to back this. It has the McKendry shit stain on it. I still can’t believe they rehired her after she and Christopher Alexander killed Fangoria before. Are these idiots or not!

     Anyway, in conclusion, don’t waste your time with this filth. Grab your copy of Castle Freak or find it streaming and watch the Stuart Gordon masterpiece, the one, and only Castle Freak.

Keep on Creepin’, Horror Bob’s Blog


 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Review: Detective K: The Secret of the Living Dead




Review: Detective K: The Secret of the Living Dead

By William Pattison

For Horror Bob’s Blog

 

Detective K is back, not to be mistaken for the big budgeted blockbuster Korean detective Detective D. Detective K is a far lower budget version of D and a lot more comical. Along with his loyal associate, Seo pil, K goes on adventures and solves mysteries in ancient Korea. In this installment in the series K must solve a mystery involving vampires. People are dying. They are being turned into vampires and immediately destroyed. While investigating K and his associate meet a mysterious woman who can’t remember her past and is more than she seems. Soon K finds himself in the middle of a situation dealing with treason against the crown and revenge from beyond the grave.

I have to say I loved this film. Yes, it’s not a huge budget spectacular like the films of my favorite Korean detective Detective D. But this film had a really well done storyline and interesting characters. It also had a lot of slapstick comedy which made up for the epic feel of the Detective D films.

Actor Myung-Min Kim is excellent as K. I can present himself as intelligent in one scene then go completely tongue in cheek in another without batting an eye. Also, Dal-su Oh, who everyone remembers from the film Old Boy is comedic genius as K’s loyal associate Seo pil. And, of course, Ji-Won Kim is wonderful as the mystery lady.

One thing I really enjoyed was that this film didn’t over do the vampires. The vampires rarely show their teeth and there is next to no neck biting. There is a lot of vampire destruction and that is handled very well. The FX in this film look top notch but don’t take over the show. The fighting is done very well, so for those looking for that will not be disappointed. Unfortunately, this film does not come in an American dub so you will have to deal with subtitles.

All in all, I have to say that this film was really enjoyable. If you are looking for scare you will be disappointed, but for action, comedy, and just plain thrills this film delivers. I can highly recommend Detective K: The Sectert of the Living Dead. Enjoy….

Keep on Creepin’, Horror Bob’s Blog


 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Book Review: The Witch and the Prince By Christopher Highland



Book Review: The Witch and the Prince By Christopher Highland

Reviewed by William Pattison

For Horror Bob’s Blog

 

Ok. So, this review is actually meaningless as a review for the simple fact that I’m the publisher of said book and thus cannot actually review it. But the author, Christopher Highland, who is also my apprentice, insisted I review it and threatened to hold his breath until I agreed…and I don’t want to see a red-faced Harry Potter look-a-like pass out. That is the thing of nightmares. Thus, onward I go…I’ve only done one other book review, The Scarlet Gospels, so hopefully this turns out ok. Damnit, Christopher, I’m a movie reviewer, not a literary expert!!! Wish me luck...

The Witch and the Prince tells the story of Michael. Michael is one of those young people who is horribly ignored by those around him. Don’t get me wrong he does have friends, but they are more just people he hangs with who constantly forget to make him aware when they are heading out of the school during lunch hour. At home Michael has to pretty much take care of himself, which usually means making a meal out of the scraps in the refrigerator. His parents are almost never home and when they are there they are always fighting. As for his sister, she is usually gone as well and when she is at home she is in her own shallow world…

But then something happens to change Michael’s world, he knocks a baseball through the window of the one house people avoid in his neighborhood. It is an old supposedly deserted house. Yet, Michael fights off his fear and goes in to get his baseball. Once inside he finds that it is far from empty as he had assumed. Down the main staircase strides an old and regal woman who introduces herself as Rose. Rose decides that Michael must do a bunch of chores for her in trade for the broken window. After that, she will return his ball to him. Michael agrees, but he doesn’t realize all that he’s about to experience because Rose is in fact an ancient witch from the Fay realm and she has much more in store for Michael than mere helping her to cook and clean…Nope, Michael is about to take a journey between realms that will change the path of his life.

Ok, so there is a short synopsis with as few spoilers as I can give. Now onto the review…

This is definitely a Cinderella story right down to the Ball, but in this case, it is the Prom. Michael’s story and his world is the center of this story. In fact, there are only a few scenes that actually take place in the Fay realm, so don’t expect this to be a Narnia, NeverEnding Story, or even Pan’s Labyrinth, though that story is very main character-centered. If I was to compare this story to another I would say more Radio Flyer or more so would be Isabelle Holland’s The Man Without a Face. Why I say more The Man Without a Face is because in that book the disfigured ex-teacher becomes the main character’s mentor and changes the kid’s life, like what happens with Michael and Rose. With Radio Flyer there are a lot of fantasy elements but the main story is told with brutal honesty, which is something I do see in Mr. Highland’s story. Still, the fantasy aspects are there but Mr. Highland uses them as a counterpoint to events that happen in Michael’s world. For instance, there is a scene where Michael goes to Thanksgiving dinner at his grandparent’s house. Mr. Highland shows how this family event comes off forced and full of false fellowship. Whereas, he counters this with Michael going to a celebration dinner with Rose in a cabin in the Fay realm with elves, goblins, fairies, and a giant. In this scene, the fellowship is honest and real and Michael is treated with much more regard and respect. Rose even asks him to make a toast, something that would never happen with his family.

This book definitely feels like a book from another age, a simpler more human age. This is mostly due to the fact that Christopher Highland is in love with the English language. This book is full of flowing visuals and poetic flare that you don’t see in this time of rapid pacing, melodrama, and music video clip visuals. This book was written by a person who cultured himself in classic literature rather than modern media with its TV and video style of storytelling. Also, Mr. Highland decided to write this story in present tense rather than past tense. For myself, I am more used to present tense being used for scripts, which I consider blueprints of films and plays rather than books. It took me a few chapters to get past this but I figured I should mention this for those who might be tense sensitive.

So, in the end, if you are a person who loves books with a literary flair, strong characterization, that uses both fantasy and the real world elements to deal with real-life issues. If this sounds good to you then The Witch and the Prince is the book for you…

Keep on Creepin’, Horror Bob’s Blog


 

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Review




Penny Dreadful: City of Angels Review

By William Pattison

For Horror Bob’s Blog

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels takes place in 1938 Los Angeles. It is a time and place deeply infused with social and political tension. When a grisly murder shocks the city, Detective Tiago Vega, the first Mexican police detective in the LA police force, and his partner Lewis Michener become embroiled in an epic story that reflects the rich history of Los Angeles: from the building of the city's first freeways and its deep traditions of Mexican-American folklore, to the dangerous espionage actions of the Third Reich and the rise of radio evangelism. Before long, Tiago and his family are grappling with powerful forces that threaten to tear them apart. Meanwhile, a supernatural force who can shapeshift and break into separate pieces manipulate events around the city and push things into conflict and death, while its opposite looks on and refuses to take action to stop it.
 I thought this series was ok, only ok. They kind of went the way of the film China Town this time but missing the aspects that made that film so stunning. I would have enjoyed it more if they had handled the show like the first Penny Dreadful. You know, maybe have Sam Spade as a detective in it and a secret organization that is trying to stop the supernatural evil that is manipulating events. The series does have secret organizations in it but these are Jewish people trying to stop the secret Nazi organization that is trying to take over the government of LA. Still, It has been an interesting story about 1930s Los Angeles and the political and racial tensions of those times reflecting on current issues we are dealing with today. But, that is its biggest issue with me. I thought it was way too on the nose. People want their horror series to be entertaining and a way to get away from the real world. They don't want a dab of supernatural with a face load of politics and WOKE overtones.
I'll wait and see what season 2 brings. It had better not be more of the same. If they up the horror elements more I'll be happy. If not I'll have to consider if this series is worth my time. It really hasn't grabbed me like the earlier one did. I, and I expect most of the audience, wanted a pulp fiction story with a lot of horror in it. John Logan is a great writer but he needs to know his audience better. I still will recommend this series with the caveat that this is no Penny Dreadful.

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