RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: August 2016

Plagued (2013): At Last, Someone Found a Reason to Visit Missouri

Better Hero Army, Plagued: The Midamerica Zombie Half-Breed Experiment (Storyteller Press, 2013)

Plagued

If every zombie looked like that, would anyone actually MIND the apocalypse? photo credit: Amazon

First off: if you’re going to use a pseudonym, at least make it sound like a human being’s name. Otherwise, you might find yourself releasing books under a name like Bolaji Worldstar77. Or Sunshine 44. Or Better Hero Army.

Read the rest of this entry

The 30-Minute Blowjob (XXXX): After Reading This, You Still Have 28 Minutes to Practice

The 30-Minute Blowjob (XXXX): After Reading This, You Still Have 28 Minutes to Practice

photo credit: Oregon State University

Eva Arlington, The 30 Minute Blowjob: How to Give Him the Best BJ Ever in 30 Minutes or Less (no publisher listed, no date listed)

bj

I’m always impressed when a cover design uses a fresh, exciting metaphor. photo credit: my copy

In the bedroom, tramp, bitch, slut, and whore are all interchangeable and synonymous with babycakes, honey, and ‘I Love You’.”

Even if the rest of the slim, common-sense volume were packed to the brim with the Secrets of the Ancient Mayan Temple Prostitutes or something, that sentence on its own would drop my rating here three stars or more. And since it’s not, well, there’s not too far to go before hitting zero.

Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (2016): Sigourney Weaver, Savior of the Universe

Finding Dory (Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane, 2016)

New-Offiicial-Finding-Dory-Movie-Trailer-and-Movie-Poster-

It’s a big ocean. photo credit: classymommy.com

To me, and I know I am in the minority on this, Finding Nemo (2003) has always been one of Pixar’s minor successes; it’s nowhere near as awful as their worst output, like Cars 2 or Wall-E, but it’s nowhere near as good as their classics (Toy Story, Monsters Inc.). And since Pixar’s track record with post-TS2 sequels has been, to put it kindly, abysmal, I wouldn’t have even gone to see Finding Dory if my four-year-old hadn’t begged. And I wasn’t exactly predisposed to liking it today; the mall had a Pokémon Go event going on, so it took half an hour to find a parking spot, and of course at a Saturday matinee, the theater was full of loud toddlers. (I’m not going to say mine is a model, but his mother and I have taught him that quiet is necessary in a cinema, and he mostly gets it.) And yet, I walked out of that theater amazed. Finding Dory is a far, far superior film to its predecessor, and continues the jaw-dropping revitalization of Pixar that started with Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur last year.

Read the rest of this entry

Sarah Swallows (2012): …But You Don’t Have To

photo credit: Oregon State University

Francine Forthright, Sarah Swallows (Mmmmmore, 2012)

swallows

This might have been less offensive had she swallowed lye. photo credit: my copy

SPOILER ALERT

Spoiler Alert!

There is one way to get an instant and automatic zero-star rating from me: include a scene that starts out as rape and ends as conventional sex. It’s even worse when that scene is the entire book. (zero)

The Conjuring 2 (2016): If You Don’t Shift This Crate of Brillo Pads by Friday, Vengeance Will Be Mine

The Conjuring 2 (James Wan, 2016)

conjuring2

They’re baaaaaaaaaaack… photo credit: movie-list.com

There’s a scene in The Conjuring 2—very early on in the movie, so this isn’t a spoiler of any sort—that really drives home how important cinematography is to an effective horror film. It starts with Billy Hodgson (Benjamin Haigh in his feature debut) has just gone downstairs to get a glass of water, and is sleepily on his way back up to bed. When he gets to the second floor, he stubs his toe on one of his toy fire trucks. After turning off the annoying light and sound features, he nudges it with his foot so it rolls into the tent he has erected in an alcove just at the top of the stairs. He stumbles back to his room. The camera moves with him, and the tent is always in the background. He almost gets there when there’s a sound of grinding metal, which we know is the sound the fire truck makes when it rolls across the floor, and the sirens go off very briefly—less than a second. He pauses for a moment, decides he must have been hearing things, and keeps on back to bed. As he’s getting ready, we can see a small portion of the tent through the doorway. The bottom of what we can see is about waist-high, so if you know anything at all about horror films, you’re expecting something to come bursting out of that tent. Instead, we hear the lights and sirens again, and cinematographer Don Burgess cuts to the bottom of the doorframe just as the fire truck comes rolling slowly up to the doorjamb. It’s just a beautifully shot scene, playing with the audience’s expectations and demolishing them at every turn, and it sets up the viewer to expect that this is not going to be your average horror film, at least not from the DP’s perspective. (If you search “conjuring 2 fire engine” on YouTube, you’ll find the sequence that happens just after this.)

Read the rest of this entry

Four of Hearts (2013): Deuce of Spades

Four of Hearts (Eric Haywood, 2013)

Four-of-Hearts-DVD-cover

Revised tagline: some legs can’t be uncrossed. photo credit: galleryhip.com

First off: while I don’t necessarily consider talking about the content of a character’s character to be a spoiler for a movie, there are those who might. As such, this review can be considered to have spoilers. Proceed with caution.

Read the rest of this entry

Book of Poetry: Romantic Poems (XXXX): Least Accurate Title of the Year

James K. Moore, Book of Poetry: Romantic Poems (MooreSuccess, no date listed)

romantic

The cover is the most romantic thing about it. photo credit: pinterest

I have to admit that I’m impressed, in a grudging sort of way, by the poem “You and I” in this collection. It is possible to advance the hypothesis that every major error it is possible to make in the crafting of poetry exists in this single piece.

Read the rest of this entry

Read and Masturbate vol. 3 (2012): Not a Chance

photo credit: Oregon State University

Anonymous (ed.), Read and Masturbate, vol. 3 (No publisher listed, 2012)

ram

Bleed and obfuscate. photo credit: my copy

This is another of those pieces of cheap Kindle porn that seems as if the compiler simply harvested pieces from one of the alt.sex.stories.* newsgroups and cut/pasted to form this. Thievery issues aside, conceptually, such things would be good if the compiler has a little taste. Practically, however, I’m waiting to read my first one that’s actually worth reading. The two stories presented here, both of which have Indian narrators, are just as amateurish as in any other thing like this I’ve reviewed, but there’s a much uglier, darker, and more offensive tone here than usual: both of these stories revolve around rape. (No, there’s no difference between “non-consensual sex” and rape, and if you think there is, you’re part of the problem.) As a result, I did indeed complete the first half of the title’s directive, but the second couldn’t have been farther from my mind. (zero)

Hunting Season (2011): Tease Me, Freeze Me

Selena Kitt and Blake Crouch, Hunting Season (Excessica, 2011)

huntingseason.jpg

This will not be a truly free country until we have the unfettered right to arm bears. photo credit: goodreads

Erotica author Selena Kitt and thriller author Blake Crouch might seem an odd pairing for a collaboration. But hey, look at how many non-noise acts Merzbow’s done collaborations with. (If you haven’t heard his new one with Boris, Gensho, it’s even better than Rock Dream, the collaboration that introduced Boris to millions of noise kids and Merzbow to the wider world.) Sometimes you put two things that don’t seem like they’d go together well in the same dish, and magic happens. “Hunting Season” is quite a nice goat’s head stew, especially given that both authors rein in their normal genre tendencies and write what is, essentially, a contemporary romance novel that happens to be boiled down into eight thousand words, give or take. One of the things that does, where romance novel conventions are concerned, is dispense with the “you thought…” “wait, you thought…” silliness in the space of about a paragraph, when I’ve read books where it can go up to fifty pages. That alone is a refreshing enough shot of adrenalin for romance readers to pick this one up. Crouch does slip in a thriller angle, as ridiculous as it is, and Kitt seals the deal on it with the story’s Big Twist(TM), but in general, I only got impressions of which author was writing which bit, and that is a solid complement to both.

I enjoy both Crouch and Kitt as solo authors, so I went into this one pretty much knowing I was going to enjoy it. If you’re not familiar with one or both, you may want to check out their solo works first (my recommended starting points are Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed for Kitt and Desert Places for Crouch), but if you like those, you’ll want to pick this one up. *** ½

Inner Demons (2014): I’m Gonna Try for the Kingdom if I Can

Inner Demons (2014): I’m Gonna Try for the Kingdom if I Can

Inner Demons (Seth Grossman, 2014)

large_inner_demons

Group Scare-apy. photo credit: roger-ebert.com (anyone surprised they hated it?)

I will start off with the film’s two biggest flaws, for those of you who want an excuse to get out of this review early. First, yes, the mockumentary/found-footage horror movie is as played-out as calling pocket aces with deuce-seven offsuit because you have a 32% chance of cracking them. And, perhaps even more appalling, yes, this movie’s scares depend on a plot hole big enough that you can drive a semi through it. So those of you who can’t get past those things, I will let you leave class early.

[pause]

…and now the rest of you are going to hear about the first movie that has actually scared me enough to sleep with a light on since Paranormal Activity 2 (and, for the record, the fifth movie to ever do so; the other three, and take all the time you like to wonder about me, but remember how old I was when the first one came out, were Beware! The Blob, Pet Sematary, and Candyman). Like I said, they rely on a massive plot hole, which I will get to in a second. But when you are confronted with “scrap this footage because of a plothole” vs. “scare the shit out of your audience”, a lot of directors since Alexandre Aja are going to do the latter. And I am here to tell you, when it comes to the scare factor, Inner Demons blows Haute Tension so far out of the water it might be an extra in Sharknado 3.

Read the rest of this entry