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Resident Evil (2002): The Dead and the Furious

Resident Evil (Paul W. S. Anderson, 2002)

[originally posted 28Mar2002]

Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez are armed to the teeth and ready to kick zombie ass on the move poster.

My mama said, don’t go messin’ with a girl with guns.
photo credit: Wikipedia

No, Paul W. S. Anderson is no relation to Paul Thomas Anderson (of Magnolia fame). Anyone who’s seen Resident Evil probably knows that without having to be told. But I get the feeling that even Paul Thomas Anderson fans will get at least a guilty kick out of this movie. Hey, you’ve got beautiful women, hard-case police officers, loud music, a psychotic computer, and a bunch of zombies. What more could you possibly ask?

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Among the Missing (1999): Follow Me or Die

Richard Laymon, Among the Missing (Leisure, 1999)

[originally posted 28Mar2002]

A shadow looms over the woods on the book's cover.

And miles to go before I sleep.
photo credit: Fantastic Fiction

Richard Laymon has been churning out suspense and horror novels since what seems like the dawn of history now, and yet is just this side of unknown in his native land. Across the pond, they can’t get enough of him; few Laymon novels don’t get a first press in England that outstrips his total American sales. (This, thankfully, may be changing; his 1998 novel Bite hovered around the edges of a few bestseller lists before fading into American obscurity, at least.) Once again, the Americans are missing out. I’ve never read a Laymon novel that hasn’t at least been a kick in the pants. The best of them are a right cross to the jaw (Tread Softly, the Beast House novels, etc.). Among the Missing, on the physicality scale, is probably an uppercut to the ribcage; it’s pretty durned good, but straight suspense just isn’t what I expect from a guy whose books tend to be populated with mutants, inbreds, vengeful ghosts, etc. Call it my unpreparedness rather than any defect on Laymon’s part that this book didn’t get a higher rating.

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Waiting (1999): An Accurate Description of the Book’s Pace

Ha Jin, Waiting (Pantheon, 1999)

[originally posted 7Mar2002]

A braid of hair hangs halfway down a woman's naked back on the book's cover.

Much more exciting than watching hair grow.
photo credit: theknockingshop.blogspot.com

Waiting, the 1999 National Book Award winner, is something special. It is one of the first few books of what will hopefully become a renaissance in minimalist writing.

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Bad Desire (1990): Well, She Was Just Seventen, You Know What I Mean

Gary Devon, Bad Desire (Signet, 1990)

[originally posted 8Mar2002]

A black, bleeding rose adorns the cover of the book.

Would it, indeed, smell as sweet?
photo credit: Amazon

Just over halfway through Gary Devon’s second novel, Bad Desire, there is a scene so seductive, so descriptive and well-paced, that despite my reading this in a year that’s only two months old and already notable for the number of strong novels I’ve read, that this particular scene will likely stand out in my mind at the end of the year as the best single piece of writing I’ve come across.

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Instar (1977): Outplot

Ryder Brady, Instar (Ballantine, 1977)

[originally posted 26Feb2002]

A man's portrait progresses from laughter to madness and death on the book's cover.

“Don’t you laugh, damn you, don’t you laugh!”
photo credit: risingshadow.net

The first question you’ll likely ask yourself after picking up Instar is, “what kind of a name is Ryder Brady?” It pretty much screams New England blueblood at you. And, true to the name, the book takes place in the heart of New England blueblood congregation spots in (presumably, given an offhand Falmouth reference) Massachusetts. And while the text generally reads as if William Makepeace Thackeray were trying his hand at a horror novel, the book does work on some levels as a sort of odd mix of drawing-room satire and existentialist suspense work.

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Night of the Demon (1981): Big Love

Demon, Night of the Demon (Clay Records, 1981)

[originally posted 14Feb2002]

Two hands claw at a tombstone made of flesh on the album cover.

Get out of the grave, Alan.
photo credit: metallibrary.ru

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away there lived a biker-rock-cum-metal band called Demon. Demon were part of what came to be known as NWOBHM (the New Wave of British Heavy Metal), but were overshadowed, as so many early-eighties British metal bands were, by renewed interest on this side of the pond in the bands that had come before—Judas priest, Slade, et al. And so, despite the best efforts of a young, barely-known American band called Metallica (through numerous covers and the NWOBHM compilation album in the mid-eighties) to bring American attention to these acts, many of them faded into obscurity quickly.

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Abandoned Mine (2013): October Fools’ Day

Abandoned Mine (Jeff Chamberlain, 2013)

The mouth of the abandoned mine is made to look demonic through creative lighting on the movie poster.

Come in here dear boy, have a cigar. You’re gonna go far.
photo credit: shocktillyoudrop.com

Abandoned Mine started off with a bang—there are some nifty filmmaking techniques that make it seem like you’re going to get something much more than you are from this low-budget horrorfest. For some reason, however, Chamberlain abandons the pretense to the avant-garde once things get rolling, and we end up with a straightforward haunted-mine tale, mediocre but watchable.

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