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Quackser (Ireland)

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Grave Encounters [DVD]
Grave Encounters [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sean Rogerson
Price: £4.34

3.0 out of 5 stars Better than most "found footage" movies, 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: Grave Encounters [DVD] (DVD)
One of those "Most Haunted" -type TV shows sets out to record an episode in an old abandoned psychiatric hospital. Well, of course they do. But the film has fun with the fact that the TV people are cynical and in the business of pedalling fake hauntings to their gullible public. The underplayed humour in the introductory part of the film is a real asset and the characterisations are well sketched-in. The gradual cross-fade from humour to scary is also well handled. Yes, we know these non-believers are in for a rude awakening and the story slow-burns nicely to the point at which nobody can doubt anymore that Something Is In Here With Us. But once the It shows its (CGI) face the tension unravels quickly. What's left is still exciting and pretty well done, but we see far too much of the ghosts as the last act propels us into serious borrowings from both the movie "Rec" and the book "House of Leaves". Not a bad movie by any means. But not a keeper.


Voices of the Dead
Voices of the Dead
by Peter Leonard
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.58

2.0 out of 5 stars Unconvincing, 20 Feb 2014
This review is from: Voices of the Dead (Paperback)
Detroit scrap metal dealer and Holocaust survivor Harry Levin becomes involved in a violent collision with his own past when his daughter is killed in a traffic accident by a German industrialist who escapes responsibility due to his diplomatic immunity. To be fair, the book starts well and the "hook" is a good one. But at around the hundred page mark it starts to become clear that this is a far slighter book than it's pretending to be.

The 1970s setting fails to convince with any reality and was obviously chosen so that the antagonists would be old enough to have experienced the Holocaust but not TOO old to be action men. The notion that a Nazi war criminal has found a comfy niche in the "new" Germany as a respected industrialist and diplomat is a very interesting one, but the book doesn't even begin to explore the greater resonances of the idea.

Characterisation is generic and thin. Harry Levin himself initially promises to be a very interesting, haunted character, but soon devolves into a gun-totin' avenger leaping with a single bound from one episode to another. And, of course, every woman he meets falls for him. Neither is dialogue Leonard's strong point. But some of the action scenes are well-done and the whole thing reads quickly and easily, even if the entire plot is hinged on a spectacular conincidence that the book hasn't got the verve to bring off convincingly. Finally, and most annoyingly, there's a set-up for a sequel at the end that feels like a cynical cheat but leaves one amazed at the writer's determination to spin such thin material into a series.


The Unholy
The Unholy
by John Halkin
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Prime Drip, 11 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Unholy (Paperback)
Like a lost, x-rated episode of Hammer House of Horror written by Brian Clemens on acid, "The Unholy" is a lurching, oozing reminder of the time when the short, sharp "Nasty" briefly became a publishing category. An evil hand...Sorry, an Evil Hand is on the loose, pulling the hands off its victims and attaching itself to the resultant stumps, possessing and controlling them towards its own nefarious ends. Although published in the early eighties, this is very much a seventies book. The plot carries us from the Ardennes to Paris (with plenty of incidental travelogue malarkey along the way) in the company of exactly the sort of stock characters you're imagining. But the story never gives us a moment to detach and consider its sheer silliness. it just keeps coming. Logic is not a commodity here. Frenzy is all.


The Green Slime [DVD] [1968] [1969] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
The Green Slime [DVD] [1968] [1969] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Richard Jaeckel
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £9.40

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe best viewed after a couple of beers, 11 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The very title of this film has haunted my imagination for years. Stills glimpsed in books about science fiction movies borrowed from the local library burned themselves into my imagination. And then I saw it. In a way, I suppose the film had little chance to live up to my expectations. That said, there's clearly something amiss in this Japanese/American co-production; some missing "click" that might have bound the whole enterprise together and raised it to the gonzo heights it clearly aspires to scale.

It looks good, in that bright, colourful sixties Japanese science-fiction style familiar from "Destroy All Monsters" and all its cousins. Luciana Paluzzi (from "Thunderball") is in it, as is Richard Jaeckel (from everything). Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman and his mythos) contributed to the story. Kinji Fukasaku directed it. These are all pluses. And yet...

It's slow. There's an excess of talk and a totally unnecessary love triangle (of the sort that has sunk many a better film than this). The monsters are even more out-runnable than a pre stair-climbing Dalek and the energy necessary to prevent the eye lingering on the wires from which the model space ships are suspended is sadly and deadeningly lacking. But if you're like me and this movie has lurked in wait in a far corner of the brain for more years than you're comfortable acknowledging, then you'll want to see it anyway.


Judas Battalion (A Star book)
Judas Battalion (A Star book)
by Peter MacAlan
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars If you pine for the "Victor" annuals of yesteryear..., 11 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
When he wasn't bashing out an avalanche of horror novels under the name Peter Tremayne, Peter Beresford Ellis found time to knock out eight or so thrillers under the name Peter MacAlan. Of the three or four I've read, this is the best, a "school of" Jack Higgins tall story about a plot to infiltrate a British agent into the Legion of Saint George, the "Judas Battalion" of the title. The story ricochets from wartime London to neutral Ireland and all over occupied Europe; it doesn't hold still for a second and never flags. Ellis/Tremayne/MacAlan's is an old-fashioned style, redolent of the boys' story papers of the thirties and forties. Frequently (in books like "The Confession") this leaves him completely adrift when attempting to set a story in the sexed-up, jet-setting seventies. His other besetting sin as a writer is that often (as in "Kitchener's Gold") he very obviously loses interest well before the end of a book and rattles off an almost insultingly perfunctory conclusion.

Here, though, everything hangs together. Plot, character and incident bounce along mightily together and the overall effect is pleasingly akin to that of a (slightly) grown-up "Commando" or "War Picture Library" yarn. There's a typically excellent Richard Clifton-Day cover on the Star Books paperback edition too.


The Shore (Leisure Fiction)
The Shore (Leisure Fiction)
by Robert Dunbar
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Purple Haze, 10 Dec 2011
The first thing that strikes the reader about this novel is the gradual realisation that it's a sequel- something the publishers signally fail to mention in the packaging. Not only that, but waiting at the end is the implication that this story is the second in a series (or at least a trilogy). That said, Dunbar manages his material well for the most part, creating quite a mood and drawing a terrific location in the declining east coast American town of Edgeharbor. Something nasty is at large here. As a ferocious storm closes in on the town, the players in the story hunt each other through abandoned holiday homes, dead-end bars and along the titular shore. The (permanently) off season feel of the town is the best thing about the novel.

Dunbar's self-consciously "literate" purple prose style takes a little getting used to, but it's worth the effort. He writes as if he's on his second glass of wine and has decided not to put the stopper back on the bottle. The middle section of the book, tracking the characters and gradually revealing the connections that exist between them, is the most purely enjoyable stretch of the story. But the ending reads thin, as if the writer is aiming for a word-count his material can't quite sustain, and the "trilogy" aspect of his overall game plan further undermines the impact of the climax, turning it ultimately into just a set-up for the next book. But there's a lot to enjoy here.


Your Heart Belongs to Me
Your Heart Belongs to Me
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tell-Tale Heart, 17 Jun 2011
It's been some years since I've read anything by Dean Koontz, and I found those few books contrived, mechanical and unrewarding. But something in the first few pages of this one made me keep reading, and I'm glad I did.

This is a brave book, an attempt to transcend the clichés of blockbuster paperback horror, and that worthwhile intention seems to have driven a lot of Koontz fans to denounce him. The horror here is internal, that of the disconnected citizen of the super-connected 21st century. Ryan Perry is an internet entrepreneur whose social networking site has made him a zillionaire. He lives alone in a super-secure home, from where he runs his business and feels free to hire private detectives to investigate any suspicious or "dishonest" activity among his staff. He even feels justified in ordering his detectives to break into the homes of those he has decided have failed to meet his standards of "honest" behaviour, his hired operatives standing point outside while he is spirited inside to go through their personal effects for "proof", while fast cars and private jets wait to whisk him back to his fortress of solitude. But something has got inside the fortress.

Others have criticised the "reveal" that finally arrives in the last chapters of the book, calling it a cheat and generally Not Getting It. But the wonderfully achieved conceit of the novel is that it places us so successfully inside the head of a man who thinks he sees everything but really sees nothing that, yes, when the Truth comes, it strikes- as it must- like a bolt from the blue.

It's heartening to see a writer so far along in his career still stretching himself, reaching into new territory and finding fresh paradigms for the horror of the 21st century.


Nemesis
Nemesis
by Shaun Hutson
Edition: Paperback

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Benchmark sleaze-horror, 17 Jun 2011
This review is from: Nemesis (Paperback)
Anybody with any curiosity about low-end British paperback horror is going to linger over the H for Hutson section once in a while, even if only to find out if he's really the real Garth Marenghi. This is the first time I've succumbed and, while I've been compulsively washing my hands since I turned the last page, I have to admit that the man is onto something. Or on something.

That something is very dark indeed. Murderous child-rapists stalk the streets. Hopes and dreams lead to nothing. Doctors inject pregnant women with experimental drugs. Relationships are nothing but open wounds. Schoolchildren torture each other. Sex is never unaccompanied by pain, whether physical, emotional, psychological...or all three. But the unremitting bleakness of Planet Hutson is not affected. It's a pulp-honest evocation of the British psyche in the seventies and eighties, a time when post-war optimism finally came crashing down and it started to rain forever.

The plot of "Nemesis" springboards from a wartime experiment to create British supersoldiers to counter the expected Nazi invasion in 1940. But here any resemblance to the origin of Captain America goes out the window. The insane patriotism that gave rise to the nightmarish spawn of those experiments is still the mask worn by the present-day inheritors of the secret formula. And their work requires a never-ending supply of fresh pituitary glands. The fresher the better.

Hutson's writing style is concise, visual and not a little monotonous. Four times in the course of this book, characters wake up only to realise that the nastiness they thought was upon them was only a dream. But this very dogged, first-draft quality lends the work a hallucinatory power, something like a paperback equivalent of the films of Lucio Fulci. And like Fulci, the set-pieces pile up and outdo each other with a clumsy but primally affecting gross-out horror that culminates with a swan-dive into a very convincing final insanity. I don't know who I'd recommend this book to. And I certainly wouldn't leave it lying around where anyone might find it. But it's the real thing.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 11, 2012 10:02 AM BST


Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street [DVD] [2007]
Zombie Virus On Mulberry Street [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Nick Damici
Offered by FUNTIME MEDIA
Price: £2.75

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superior indie horror, 15 Jun 2011
The words "Zombie Virus on" have been added to the title of the indie horror movie "Mulberry Street" and the DVD box has been given one of those by-now standardly dishonest zombie movie covers depicting the massed bands of the undead surging forth from the backdrop of a burning city as helicopters fly overhead (for other examples of this, see the covers of "The Zombie Diaries" and "Apocalypse of the Dead"). But above and beyond trying to sell the film as a large scale apoca-romp, it must be pointed out that it isn't even a zombie movie.

Yes, there are no zombies here. There ARE swarms of infected rat mutants, achieved with varying degrees of success by the makeup department, but kept mostly to the shadows where they're most effective. however, what really rises this one up a notch or two is its attention to its characters, and the understated atmosphere of melancholy that clings to the lives of the residents of a decaying New York apartment block even BEFORE the ratpocalypse kicks off. As Manhattan is quarantined and the rat people run amok, only the thinly stretched social fabric of neighbourliness and mutual-dependency offers any chance of surviving even the first circle of this particular hell. There's a slightly clumsy attempt to rhyme the outbreak with the imminent redevelopment of the area into a big shiny gated community of the future, but the point is better made in the smaller details of the film. The neighbours are well-evoked characters and the film doesn't play favourites when it comes to who gets consumed by the horror. Also strong is the journey across the city of Casey, a soldier coming home to the apartment block, with a vivid scar on her face to attest to her previous brush with death. Starting her journey by train, she continues on foot as the world begins to end around her, then happens upon a kids' bicycle in an eerily deserted Central Park. This gets her a little closer to what she imagines will be the safety of Home, a trip she completes in an abandoned car, arriving just in time to see whatever dreams of Journey's End sustained her through wartime cruelly evaporate.

A fine movie that bravely sidesteps many of the generic conventions and doesn't chicken out at the end.


The Vale of Sad Banana (Linford Mystery)
The Vale of Sad Banana (Linford Mystery)
by John Lymington
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem, 15 Jun 2011
The final novel by the author of "The Night of the Big Heat" is a uniquely British take on the end of the world. Summer comes to the country village of Rustum Magna. The days are glaringly bright and the animals look in vain for a bit of shade to nap in. The Men from the Ministry have lost contact with a secret new space weapon, a project upon which one of the residents of Rustum Magna works, aided in his mathematical calculations by a bright local boy who can do complex equations in his head and may not be completely human. Lazy threads of incident and connection bind the story to the village, and place the village at the very centre of the (perhaps) soon to end world. The dreamy atmosphere of high summer is superbly caught. As noted, this was the author's final work and this may go some way towards explaining the beautiful falling note of melancholy that sustains this wonderful book.


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