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LukeW (England)

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We Can't All Be Astronauts: Your Friends Are Successes. You're a Failure. One Last Chance to Reach for the Stars...: Your Friends Are Successes. ... One Last Chance to Follow Your Dreams...
We Can't All Be Astronauts: Your Friends Are Successes. You're a Failure. One Last Chance to Reach for the Stars...: Your Friends Are Successes. ... One Last Chance to Follow Your Dreams...
by Tim Clare
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book about how not to write, 29 Mar 2010
Two stars might seem a little harsh but it's the best I can offer this book. It's the tale of a writer who wants what just about all unpublished writers want: to get published. His friends are all wildly successful (and suspiciously so. I can't believe any publisher would offer a deal to a writer with no history based on a page that writer apparently knocked out the night before) while Tim Clare is still living with his parents, being nerdy and talking about writing while not actually doing much, if any, writing. And that's the problem for me. A writer, whether published or not, writes. Sounds simple, doesn't it? That because it is. A writer spends his time writing, editing, re-writing and writing again. If they spend their time talking about writing without doing any, they're not a writer. Tim Clare spends most of the book moaning about the publishing world, then moans about his moaning which gets very dull very quickly. In all honesty, this book didn't need to be written. He's produced a book and got an agent so he's halfway there. That isn't enough, apparently. The best thing to do in that situation isn't to edit the hell out of your book and get it as close to perfect as you can. What you should do is compare yourself to your smug mates, whine and beat yourself up because you're not a best selling author by the time you're 26 and then write a self-obsessed book about that.

Recommended for people who either don't know or don't care about writing fiction. Everyone else, read On Writing by Stephen King.

Paranormal Activity [DVD]
Paranormal Activity [DVD]
Dvd ~ Katie Featherston
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £2.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Do we like to be scared or do we like hype?, 29 Mar 2010
This review is from: Paranormal Activity [DVD] (DVD)
Remember the hype that surrounded Blair Witch? Remember the backlash that came at least partly from that hype? Here we are more than ten years later and nothing's changed.

Anyway, Paranormal Activity is an oddity these days: a horror film that doesn't reply on violence or pretty teenagers. Instead, we have a mid-twenties couple who have been experiencing noises and disturbances at night. To find out what's going on, they set up a camera in their bedroom to record while they sleep. Over the course of a couple of weeks, the disturbances grow from occasional bangs to objects moving of their own accord to...well, that would be spoiling it.

The two characters portray their growing fear and confusion well; the scares are done subtly enough to begin with and their development also works well and yet I'm not in love with this film. To be honest, I don't know whether that's because Asian horror does a great big wee on anything Hollywood has made in a long time or because the film was so hyped that I'm left a bit nonplussed by all the over the top reviews. In any case, it's worth watching as it's an effective shocker with enough jumpy moments to pass the hour and a half, but I am left wondering if it was received so well because viewers are used to horror films from Hollywood that haven't been scary in years and therefore anything slightly better is seen as genius - or because Paranormal Activity is the sort of old fashioned ghost story we'd like to see more of.


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great start to a great career, 26 Mar 2010
This review is from: Babyteeth (Audio CD)
Everybody knows Troublegum. It was Therapy?s `classic album', and `their finest hour' and so on. Pick your lazy cliché. As great as Troublgum was (and still is), it's definitely worth going back to the start of the band's career with Babyteeth. Although it's a short album, not a moment is wasted. Each track is a superb slice of anger and power. The production is a little raw in places but that only adds to the album's feel. It sounds like they got stuck in with no messing about. In short, Babyteeth is a stunning reminder of what a band can do when they've got nothing to prove and nothing to lose.

Standout tracks - Punishment Kiss, Innocent X and Dancin' With Manson.

The Scarlet Plague (Modern Voices)
The Scarlet Plague (Modern Voices)
by Jack London
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An old tale of a modern apocalypse, 22 Mar 2010
Despite the last few decades of zombies, manmade viruses and environmental disasters on film and in print, the apocalypse in fiction isn't a modern idea as shown in Jack London's The Scarlet Plague. Published in 1912 and set in 2012, the story details a disease which more or less wipes out the entire human race. The narrator, Granser, tells the story of the plague and the world as it was to a small group of children who think him a deluded old man with made up stories of a global population in billions and aircraft travelling at 300 mph.

The horror of the story is more in the reaction from the children to Granser's story. They're almost completely unable to conceive of a world so alien to their own. That's not to say the images of our world undone in a matter of days isn't horrifying, but I found Granser's attempts to bring his past back to life and how the children are so quick to dismiss it to be much more frightening.

It's a slight story in terms of length but not scope, and while it probably doesn't qualify as a novella (maybe a novelette?), it's a good read and an interesting ancestor of 28 Days Later, The Stand and Day of the Triffids to name just a few. If you want to see how the end of the world was presented to the early 20th century, The Scarlet Plague is a fine place to start.

The World House
The World House
by Guy Adams
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.78

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best debuts I've ever read, 16 Mar 2010
This review is from: The World House (Paperback)
A nineteenth century explorer; a 70s drunk; a 1930's socialite from Harlem; a fisherman living through the Spanish Civil War; a teenage girl suffering from Asperger's, and a modern day guy who owes a lot of money to London gangsters...what do they have in common?

They're all taken from their worlds and times to come to the World House - a building that isn't a building, a place that doesn't so much not obey the laws of physics and reality as stick two fingers up at them and go off to feature living paintings, a library bigger than the world, a room which contains mountains and another room which holds an extremely dangerous prisoner. Once the characters arrive, the question is how the hell do they get out?

The World House is a brilliant debut novel from Guy Adams, and is easily one of the best I've ever read. Think Clive Barker without the pretensions or occasional purple prose.

I can't recommend this book enough.

Survival Of The Dead [DVD]
Survival Of The Dead [DVD]
Dvd ~ Alan Van Sprang
Price: £3.45

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Born down in a dead man's town, 15 Mar 2010
This review is from: Survival Of The Dead [DVD] (DVD)
Taking place soon after the events of Night and Diary (and therefore putting it at roughly the same time as Dawn), Survival of the Dead is the latest entry in Romero's Dead universe and there will doubtless be those calling it the weakest. As much as it pains me to say so, I might have to agree with this. It's not bad by any means; it just doesn't feel like a proper Dead film. It's more of an offshoot from the world Romero created.

Anyway, the plot. Sarge (seen in a brief role in Diary as the leader of a small military group who nab all the college kids' stuff) is travelling with a very small group of his soldiers when he hooks up with a young kid who tells them of `Captain Courageous' - an old guy on a website who's inviting one and all to a small island off the coast of Delaware where life is apparently safe from the walking dead. Captain Courageous is actually an exiled resident of the island, banished by another old guy who has appointed himself ruler of the island. The two old men have conflicting ideas on how to deal with the zombies. Cue a trip to Plum Island and human conflict and some zombie munching.

Petty arguments and conflicts have always been a staple of the Dead series and in Survival, they're very much in the foreground. That isn't a bad thing. The problem is it comes at the expense of any of Romero's social commentary and as we know so little about the two warring men (or much of the background to their war), it edges towards dull. Couple that with some dodgy CG effects and Survival falls a bit flat.

The dvd release is just the film with no extras which is a shame given the amount of extras on Land and Diary. Ultimately it's definitely worth watching and I'm hoping it may grow on me, but at the moment I prefer to see Survival as a side street in the Dead world and look forward to Romero getting back into town with whatever comes next.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 13, 2010 10:20 AM BST

Day Of The Dead [1985] [DVD]
Day Of The Dead [1985] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Joseph Pilato

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fighting the good fight against dry rot and rust, 10 Mar 2010
This review is from: Day Of The Dead [1985] [DVD] (DVD)
As is often the case, the film which is seen as the weakest in a series upon first release often becomes much more popular and appreciated over time (Alien 3, anyone?) and this is definitely true with Day of the Dead - the third in Romero's ever growing zombie series.

At the start of Day, humanity is up the creek without so much as a teaspoon let alone a paddle. What may be the last few soldiers, scientists and one handy helicopter pilot are underground working to survive and find a way of dealing with the zombies. Of course, this is a very much a Romero film and so nobody is working together. Tensions are extremely high, supplies are low and the dead are eager to snack. Conflict between the survivors is inevitable and when it comes, it's bloody.

Some will be put off by the film's bleak tone. There's none of the black comedy from Dawn to lessen the mood or give you a break. This is all about humanity's struggle to survive which would be so much less effective if the film had been anything other than the horror it is.

In summary, it's a bleak but oddly hopeful film which gave us the almost unthinkable character of a sympathetic zombie which, in my mind, makes it a classic. So all hail Bub. And all hail Romero - King of the zombies.

Dead Snow [DVD]
Dead Snow [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jeppe Beck Laursen
Price: £3.00

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Zombie Nazis Go Skiing, 5 Mar 2010
This review is from: Dead Snow [DVD] (DVD)
I didn't expect much from this Norwegian horror and that's pretty much what I got. Despite positive reviews, I figured it would be an hour and a half of fairly mindless entertainment with some laughs. Mindless is close to the resulting film in that it has almost no original moments and very few laughs.

The plot is one we've seen many times before. Instead of the kids off to a cabin in the woods of Evil Dead, we have teens off to a cabin in the mountains. And snow. Lots of snow. It all looks extremely scenic and more than once, I found myself more interested in the background than the film itself. As for the rest of the plot, again we've seen it before. Turn the deadites from Evil Dead into Nazi zombies and you're there. Saying that, such a derivative idea didn't have to be so weak. Pile on the laughs in the black comedy way of The Cottage or Dog Soldiers, for example, and Dead Snow could have been a success. As it is, the laughs are weak and sporadic. The Molotov cocktail moment and the subsequent phone call were worthy of a giggle but not much else was.

So, the gore. There's a lot of it and those looking for OTT violence will be happy. Sadly, it fills in the moments between plot holes and repetitive attacks from dead Nazis. If you are looking for zombie violence, then you've come to the right place. If, on the other hand, you're after more than average entertainment, look elsewhere.

Dead Snow has a lot of gore but sadly doesn't have an original idea to offer the zombie genre.

Wind Chill [DVD]
Wind Chill [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emily Blunt
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £3.54

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excuse the cliche, but this is a hidden gem., 3 Mar 2010
This review is from: Wind Chill [DVD] (DVD)
I'd heard of Wind Chill before watching it recently and I have to say I wished I'd watched it well before now. For some reason, I expected it to be a stupid teen horror full of stupid teens acting stupidly. It's anything but and while the two main cast members are college kids, this is way beyond Final Destination Part 985.

In short, a nameless college girl accepts a lift with a nameless college guy to get home for Christmas. It's a several hour drive; she's not too friendly and he varies from geeky to creepy. After half an hour of conversation and gradual build up, they get to an attempted shortcut in the snow and things change. They're stuck in the snow, leaking petrol, it's cold and dark...and they're on a `bad road'.

The leads play their parts well and quickly grow to become likeable (once we're given their motivation for being as they are to begin with), and the scenery and setting add hugely to the film's mood. And it's definitely refreshing to see a film that understands the atmospherics of horror.

If you like your horror with a gradual sense of dread rather than the gore for gore's sake of the yawnsome Saw etc, Wind Chill is for you.

Garbage Man
Garbage Man
by Joseph D'Lacey
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great (and grubby) work of modern horror, 3 Mar 2010
This review is from: Garbage Man (Paperback)
There's something distinctly British about this book and it took me a few chapters to pin it down. I think it's in the mood of the story: browned off but not too blatant with it. In any case, Garbage Man is a great piece of British horror fiction that details the connected story between a number of characters living in Shreve - an Anywhere, UK town complete with bored teens, nosy neighbours...and a very large landfill site. At first, this connection is disparate and the number of characters introduced within the first section might be off putting. Stick with it and you're in for a treat of adult horror. D'Lacey doesn't shy away from the seedy side of life or the things people do when they think nobody's looking. Nor does he shy away from violence. I won't go into too much detail at the risk of spoiling the story. It's enough to say I found it refreshing that not all of those you'd expect to automatically survive a horror story do so.

It's also worth mentioning the gradual build to the main bulk of the story. Again, this could be off putting to readers wanting a quick fix of action, gore and general unpleasantness. You don't have to look too deep to see the real unpleasantness comes from the inhabitants of the town and from their secrets, not from physical horror straight from the first page.

The only downsides were few. I would have liked more exploration of a character who has interests which would stop him taking his computer to PC World (as it is, this aspect is practically forgotten once past an early point), and a part of the end felt rushed to me, but otherwise, this is a fine book.

In short: original and creepy. Just don't be surprised if you want to have a wash after you've finished it.

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