In which I am pleasantly surprised

Back in December, I mentioned that I’d picked up a collection of eight horror movies for five bucks. The recognizable one[1] is the original Night of the Living Dead, so I’m not going to be putting that on. However! There is also Colour from the Dark, a movie which instantly raises the burning question “Did the writers read “Colour out of Space”, or is this a direct rip-off tribute derivative of the very-understandably-forgotten The Curse[2]?”

A family accidentally frees something from the Earth’s womb while drawing water from their well and now a sinister glow is seeping into their lives.

Really, it could be either.

Continue reading “In which I am pleasantly surprised”

First book finished of 2013

Johnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark SeasonJohnny Halloween: Tales of the Dark Season by Norman Partridge

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perhaps oddly, I liked the one of the two straight-up non-supernatural stories in this collection the best. The titular “Johnny Halloween” is something I’d expect to run across in a decent noir anthology.

“The Man Who Killed Halloween” was well-done; it didn’t fit with what I was expecting from the book (non-fiction!), but it’s a decent and evocative piece. Together with Partridge’s introduction, it provides a thoughtful basis for the contrast between Ricks and the October Boy.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, this may be why “Three Doors” and “Treats” (which I’ve read before, along with “Black Leather Kites”) didn’t stand out for me quite as much, although they’re both good stories and would normally be the kind of thing I’d expect to be my favourites. The trio of Hallowe’en/Jack o’Lantern-titled pieces echo each other on the question of masks, and real monsters, and the deceit that lets the latter go unpunished, and their supporting each other makes them stand out above the rest.

(Please pardon the fact that this is both terse and a bit shaky; I’m trying to practice writing reviews, and I clearly need to practice writing reviews.)

/The Bleeding Edge/

The Bleeding Edge is a 2009 limited-run (500 copies) horror anthology published by Cycatrix Press. Since I’m having trouble writing, and managing to read, I thought I could at least use my reading as grist for some writing:

A solid collection with one weak point and a few very good ones. There was a distinct disunity of style and format (teleplays and scripts) that was actually rather appealing.

Continue reading “/The Bleeding Edge/”

/After Midnight/

The box store near our place is being bought out, so everything is on sale. This means it is possible to do things like buy horror DVDs for somewhat less than $2. Or, perhaps, an eight-movie collection for less than $5.

These are going to be terrible.

I have started with After Midnight, the standalone DVD. The frame story is about a certain Professor Derek teaching a course in the psychology of fear, and I am bravely resisting comparisons to Clive Barker’s “Dread”. We start with Allison (our protagonist) and her friend (you know, the protagonist’s friend… it’s an 80s movie, you can fill her in) going to class, with Allison explaining that she didn’t sleep well, and she has a bad feeling about the class they’re going to take…

Plot summary, spoilers, and brief rating follows the cut.

Continue reading “/After Midnight/”

Ignorance and mass media.

My ignorance, to be clear. That title sounded a lot less snippy in my head.

Rather quick, rather flip notes, as I down coffee before work…

First; There are movies I haven’t seen. Quite a lot of them. Two that came up this morning were Scarface and Johnny Got His Gun (because the morning drive music included “Jack Sparrow” and “One”).

What else am I missing? What movies are really worth seeing (and trust me, the expectation that I’ve already seen it is not to be trusted)?

Second; So I’m on goodreads (as that widget in the lower right-hand corner may have indicated). It allows for a five-star rating system, and for me that basically seems to boil down to (1) I’m rating this because I want to establish I thought it was terrible, not that I just didn’t bother to rate it; (2) pretty bad to not-great, but with redeeming moments; (3) decent way to spend some time; (4) everyone interested in the genre or subject matter should try reading this; (5) everyone should try reading this.

There’s a whole lot of things falling into the three-star category, including some things that I’m feeling a little bad about, because they’d be four-star books if five-star ratings weren’t reserved for truly amazing things. And I’m wondering if I should reorganize, give everyone-should-try-this books their own shelf and stretch my ratings out so that there was a middle ground between “decent” and “everyone interested in the genre or subject matter should try reading this”.

I may be putting a bit too much thought into this, but I wondered.

It’s much blacker than they smear it… (My name!)

Got to see Oliver today at the NAC. 🙂 It’s a preview show, which means they let the audience in, but the director and people are sitting in front taking notes on what needs changing, and the real real show isn’t on until Friday. Dress rehearsal writ large.

Pros: Nancy. Also Fagin and Charley, but Nancy was amazing. She was less starry-eyed than I’ve seen her played before[1], and it made “As Long As He Needs Me” a lot more touching; I hadn’t noticed the line When someone needs you,/You love them so quite so clearly before, or started to unpack it. It was much more a portrayal of a codependant adult than an ingenue.

Also, they had a magician consultant listed in the program (I will check the exact title shortly); I had no idea why, until “You’ve Got To Pick a Pocket or Two”, when there were silk scarves appearing and disappearing all over the stage, plus Dodger flicking a silk scarf up and suddenly holding a cane in “I’d Do Anything”, as if the fabric had unfolded into one. Seriously impressive, especially sitting in the fourth row from the stage. (Charley was doing most of it, I think; I actually went looking at the program expecting to find that he`d been the magician consultant.)

Cons: Casting an adult as Oliver made it a bit harder to swallow some of the lines, particularly the ones that refer to how small he is, and it was weird to see Dodger as smaller and slighter than Oliver, although the actress handled it really well. And I found that the mob scene and Bill’s death were rather quick and flat.

(A note: the last performance of Oliver that I saw involved Bill Sykes running from the maddened mob, a light-and-shadow show, and him eventually falling from a rookery, getting tangled in some lines hanging therefrom, and strangling. Yes, onstage. It’s hard to top that.)

Flipside, the lingering on Charley and Bet picking up Nancy’s body to take it away was well-done. The program included a rather grim photo of group of children (identified only as “from the period”), and the tone of the picture–which I can, at the moment, only describe as being worn and possibly foredoomed–was notably not absent from the play. I mean, it didn’t overwhelm it–I can’t actually imagine a grim and foredoomed rendition of “You’ve Got to Pick a Pocket or Two”[2]–but it was there. Clearly not a setting where the greatest complaint children have is that the gruel is bland and a bit sparse, you know?

I was also rather surprised the Bill Sykes didn’t show up until the second act. Apparently that’s not unusual, so I suppose that’s more a reflection of how much the relationship between Bill and Nancy impressed me–has always impressed me about the story–than anything unusual about the staging.

[1] …and it’s beginning to occur to me that I’ve seen two performances of Oliver, but never the movie. May look into that, since the person I was with was observing that he thought the choreography was very like the movie.
[2] Okay, now I can. But I couldn’t before, and it’s still jarring.

The week too young, the day too old.

This Saturday, in Toronto, there is going to be a release party for Future Lovecraft. I was really hoping to go–I like Innsmouth Free Press, I like trips, I like anthologies and the Mythos, I highly approve of the Merril Collection, and three of the book authors were going to be there.

Sadly, between the cost of travel and the small fact that I’ve spent the last two mornings coughing up muck, I don’t think I’m gonna make it. 🙁

That said, since I do have one more book that I am letting myself buy this year, I think it will be Future Lovecraft. It’s still on pre-sale, and hey, it’ll be here in time for Christmas. It’s got a Nick Mamatas story, and one by Molly Tanzer–she wrote the Ivybridge Twins story from Historical Lovecraft, which is quite seriously awesome–and between the table of contents and the sample story I am quite looking forward to it.

Meantime… well. It’s almost December, and I’m tired. I think it’s about time to turn in.