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Quetzalcoatl78 (Durham, England)

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Creepshow 2 [DVD] [1987]
Creepshow 2 [DVD] [1987]
Dvd ~ Domenick John
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Floating tarpaulin monster!!, 5 July 2012
This review is from: Creepshow 2 [DVD] [1987] (DVD)
This is a fun anthology sequel, again written by Stephen King who pops up in a small goofy role.

Old Chief Wood'nhead stars George Kennedy as a store owner who is brutally robbed by thugs. A life-size wooden statue of an Indian Chief, on the storefront, goes about doing some avenging...

The Raft is silly but fun, and much better than the awfully-written story on which it's based in Kings book, "Skeleton Crew". A bunch of teens head out to a remote lake to swim, camp and sunbathe on a wooden raft that floats on the lake. They get trapped on the raft, when an oil-slick/giant tarpaulin monster starts to absorb and eat them. This is the best of the three stories.

The Hitchhiker stars Lois Chiles as a love cheat who knocks over a hitch-hiker and quickly drives away. Trouble is, the dead hiker has hitched a lift...

All three stories are fun, with good eighties effects and their run-time is about right. Framing the stories is some animated comic-book stuff and a short tale about giant venus fly traps.

NOTE 1;- My copy, and another I tried, had a glitch on the disc where the first animated scene just kept repeating. You have to use the scene select feature to get past that scene.

NOTE 2;- This edition has subtitles, filmographies, trailers and an interesting documentary about the effects. The "Special DVD Edition" appears to have only a trailer.

The Dead Zone
The Dead Zone
by Stephen King
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent character work in a rewarding novel., 5 July 2012
This review is from: The Dead Zone (Paperback)

As yet another American election season steams through the States, I imagine quite surely that their `literary boogeyman' Stephen King is keeping well up on the affairs of his beloved country, and perhaps on occasion his thoughts might turn to his most overtly political novel, THE DEAD ZONE. Here, we have a dark candidate for presidency, one Greg Stillson, former bible-salesman who kicks dogs to death in isolated farmhouses. Behind a veneer of comararderie and ordinariness, and honest-to-goodness honesty and common sense, Stillson becomes first a respectable citizen, then reknowned for his political aspirations, then a mayor, crooked behind the scenes, who gains his popularity and success from intimidation, threat, blackmail and violence. But Stillsons everyman success is growing, and, with his ex-motorcycle-gangers as his goons, the man is grasping out towards the top job.

So where Stillson is hungry for fame and fortune, teacher Jonny Smith [whose name is as everyman as possible] from Maine is having notoriety and the spotlight thrust upon him. At an early age, Smith takes a bad fall on an iced-over lake and bangs his head. Afterwards he receives feelings, dim visions of the immediate future; `feelings' like having a winning streak on a roulette wheel, for instance. Then, in his early twenties, and after a successful date with his girl Sarah, Jonny is involved in a horrific car smash and ends up in a coma. Weeks turn into months turn into years, and the wheel of fortune passes. His mother gets zealous religion, fundamentalist crazy religion. His father quickly ages, loses weight, his hair, his faith. Jonny's girl, Sarah, with whom the dating game had barely started, waits and waits and waits, and finally moves on, finds another man and marries him. Four and a half years later, Jonny wakes up to find a different world, and that his powers of prediction have now magnified into a tremendously over-powering curse. He has only to touch people to gain an insight into their lives, their past, their present, and, crucially, their future. He tells his Jewish doctor that his mother escaped the Holocaust and still lives in California. He senses that his mother is not taking her medication for hypertension, and that it will kill her. While exercising after operations to fix his wasted-away muscles, he warns his physiotherapist that her house is on fire. The news of his psychic talents soon become public, and, hounded by the press and individuals desperate for his services, it isn't long before seeing the future, is costing him his own. It is only after a period of convalescence out of the spotlight that Jonny's doctor gets him involved in a spate of terrible rape-murders in Castle Rock, and after initial reluctance, Jonny looks into the case, and quite quickly discovers the culprit. All this time, Jonny has been catching up with the fast-moving politics of the coming elections, and something about Stillsons campaign has him snookered. Visiting one of Stillsons rallies, Jonny gets a hand-shake from the man, and instantly senses the terror of the mans future; in the not too distant years-to-come Stillson will make President and will have a pivotal hand in some kind of global nuclear conflict, decimating humanity and ending millions of lives. With vision after vision proving true, will everyman Jonny Smith, the cursed psychic, have to embody the ultimate American nightmare and assassinate a presidential candidate in cold blood?

I didn't know much about this book, or its subsequent film, prior to reading it, which is highly unusual for a Stephen King yarn. Nor had TDZ been high on my priorities of King's books to read, much like CUJO and DOLORES CLAIBORNE before it. So what I found was a refreshing and surprising, narrative, and a book, again, coloured by its well-drawn characters. The chief players, Smith and Stillson are necessarily well created, but the background characters too have fully-formed histories and motives. From the steadfast Sherriff Bannerman and the dichotomous Frank Dodd, through to Jonny's mother Vera, spiralling downwards into a religious fanaticism, these characters have real depth. Indeed it is pure character developments between Jonny and the newly married Sarah that is perhaps the most memorable and well-written part of the book. The pair contemplate fate, and despite Sarah being married, they make love, just once, as they would have years ago, had fate not intervened, making up for time lost, its only fair. King writes this passage beautifully, the anticipation and the unspoken inevitability of their meeting, the true characters shining out through the prose. In the compelling segment hunting for Castle Rock's murderer, I found the true horror was not of Frank Dodd,s actions or his macabre suicide, but the fact that his doting mother KNEW all about it; all excellent character work. King's writing here is easy to read and fluid

(the beer-joint was filled with the ghosts of dead hamburgers)

but occasionally interspersed with these little distractions in his style, which I am still, fifteen years after first encountering them, not very keen on. One other tiny little niggle is that some of the in depth politics and the complex American electoral system might be difficult for non-American readers.

THE DEAD ZONE is a really good novel, engaging to read, thoughtful and rewarding. It is not as overtly horror as his earlier THE SHINING and SALEMS LOT and is an early example of his excellent work with character. It is perhaps not the ideal place to begin reading King due to the heavy politics, but a regular King reader will find much to like. Being written not too long after JFK, this is a brave and rewarding novel.

Grim [DVD]
Grim [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emmanuel Xuereb
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £2.82

3.0 out of 5 stars Big bitey smelly ogre, with a smashing fur coat!, 3 July 2012
This review is from: Grim [DVD] (DVD)
GRIM comes in a cool black little sleeve, well-designed, with good stills on the back. It`s just a shame that the sleeve is better than the film.

At a(nother) black magic ceremony, a group of friends use a ouija board and release Grim from his ancient rock prison. Grim is a troll or maybe an ogre, or just a big-toothed ugly misunderstood creature who breaks into peoples houses and eats them. Or takes them back (if they`re women in their nightdresses) to his cave lair and cages or chains them up. Oh, and he wears a smashing fur coat and big leather boots too.

Anyway, after being released from his rock he, er, eats his saviours and proceeds to go on a killing [and eating and chaining] spree. Also, in a handy plot device, the houses of the local town are slowly subsiding into the old cave system, which gives local spelologist and friends ample reason to pop down into the cave to check things out. Cue mayhem.

Although this all sounds jolly good it actually moves quite slowly and a fair deal of it doesn`t make a lot of sense. The creature is a man in a suit jobbie but a good one and reminds me a little of the monster in RAWHEAD REX. There are also quite a few gougings, beheadings, face squashings and such to keep the avid gorehound happy. This isn`t really too bad of a little film; I think I was just disapointed with it. It's not quite good enough to be good, and it's not quite bad enough to be good, either. Fans of giant ogre films will enjoy it.

If you`re interested, although this is an American movie, it was filmed entirely in Gloustershire, England, in the Clearwood cave system, where I'm fairly sure, a big smelly ogre doesn't live.

The Mask
The Mask
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sickly sweet characters, abrupt ending, but pretty good anyway., 3 July 2012
This review is from: The Mask (Paperback)
I haven't read a Dean Koontz book since I failed to finish LIFE EXPECTANCY a few years ago. Before that I'd read THE TAKING which was very good with a plain crap ending. I'd never even fancied reading THE MASK, but I found it in a charity shop recently, and read it pretty much straight away.

Carol and Paul Tracy are a high-achieving goody-two-shoes couple trying to go through the adoption process. When a freak lightning storm delays a crucial adoption meeting, and their applications are lost, it seems that something is against the whole idea of them adopting a child. Then, a young girl with amnesia walks in front of Carols car and ends up in hospital, when, after no family emerge to claim her, she is put into Carols care. Carol is a psychologist and, while providing a temporary home for the girl, whom they call Jane, also tries to hypnotically regress her to get past her amnesia and discover who she really is.

The hypnosis sessions are strange; Jane seems to have macabre memories, as well as multiple personalities, and attempts to follow up on the information received in hypnosis lead nowhere. Meanwhile, Carol and Paul's house begins to tremble with a strange thudding noise, and strange apparitions and disturbances - poltergeist activity - appear around the house. Grace, a now-elderly psychiatrist who took in and nurtured Carol as a teenager and looks upon her as her own daughter, also begins to have strange experiences. She has terrible portentous dreams, receives phone calls from her long-dead husband, and has an eerie sense of imminent disaster. Her beloved cat, Aristophanes, behaves strangely, bizzarely, and then menacingly, and after a long-dead reporter visits her, she learns that her cat has been possessed by some evil (and under-explained) intent. What are the strange prescences plaguing the Tracys and Grace, and what do they have to do with Jane, the young girl with the mysterious past?

THE MASK is quite a good read and rattles along at a good pace. It's exciting in places, and is well written, with only a small cast of characters you can easily get to know. The initial mystery about what is going on is intriguing, but as soon as you think you've guessed what's going on, then that's it, you're probably right. For the most part then, this is a solid and enjoyable example of what publishers used to call "psychic suspense" fiction.

Unfortunately, it has flaws, and flaws that seem to be common in Koontz' vast amount of work. His characters, while well described and motivated, are simply too perfect. They have few, if any bad qualities, they are extremely kind, thoughtful, successful, fantastic people, too extremely positive and good to be believable. Fair enough his villains are normally the polar opposite and extremely evil, but Koontz often seems to go to that polemic extreme with his characters. The fact that THE MASK doesn't really have a villain, as such, apart from the under-explained business with the possessed cat, doesn't help matters. Finally, the ending of this novel is very abrupt, among the most abrupt I have ever read. Any reader will expect a further chapter or two, or even just an epilogue; there is nothing, in fact it could be said that the novel barely ends. Another of Koontzs' novels, THE VOICE OF THE NIGHT, which was published around the same time as THE MASK, has a similar problem of an abrupt ending, and checking my copy of VOICE, I note that the page count is exactly the same; in those days did Mr Koontz' have a strict word-count to stick to, sometimes a little too strict for the story he had to tell. If so, it is a shame, because THE MASK would have benefitted greatly from another 10 or 20 pages.

In general then, this is an entertaining quick read, but beware of the sickly-sweet characters and the bare ending.

The Cats
The Cats
by Nick Sharman
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars My kitten is more scary, when he's asleep!, 3 July 2012
This review is from: The Cats (Paperback)
This is an unashamed rip-off of James Herberts seminal 1974 debut novel THE RATS. Cats eat rats but THE CATS here have nothing on their rodental ancestor. Herberts classic story began the creature-feature trend that proliferated, and overdrenched, the horror genre in the late 70's and early 80's, and the mother novel did well to survive the devaluing of the horror novel that resulted. THE RATS, 38 years after its first publication, is still in print, and is currently selling well to a new generation of readers as an ebook. THE CATS, meanwhile, has rightfully disappeared, and only pulp/crap horror fans like me are remotely interested.

The plot, perfectly encapsulated into 160 pages, has an MOD-backed experiment into a new bacterial weapon go awry. The bacteria is injected into test-subjects, a laboratory full of cats, which, when the temperature rises, begin to turn into mad, crazy, but highly intelligent carnivorous pussies. Before you can say "Whiskas", those couple of dozen animals have somehow turned into thousands and have also mysteriously kind of linked up with a teenager who was feeding them, who joins their murderous cause. Cue vignettes of caricatured characters who get killed by the cats, then larger scenes of full-on action where vast oceans of cats gain ground against helicopter bombings and flame throwers (!), climaxed by a quick but drawn-out ending that equally makes little sense. Sharman appears to know or care little for cats as they are entirely lacking in any character or feline traits. Indeed, the vast hordes of creatures he writes about are entirely interchangeable; he could have written of dogs, foxes, frogs, or rabbits with very minimal changes. I got the impression that Sharman didn't actually like or respect cats much, and chose his "creatures" simply because they sounded so similar to RATS, which indeed they could very easily have been.

Sharman's human characters also are stereotypes, with questionable motives, and even more questionable dialogue, and I found it difficult to differentiate between them. In fact, I just generally found this book difficult; it is full of action, yet boring, and at a slim 160 pages, seemed to take ages to read.

I have read a large handful of "creature-feature" novels, I collect and enjoy them, but found this one difficult to like and badly thought-out and clunkily written, with little skill, from the beginning. THE CATS will mildly please fans of the genre, but remains one of the weakest books of its (weak) type.

Moonfleet (Puffin Classics)
Moonfleet (Puffin Classics)
by John Meade Falkner
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put those X-Boxes away and read this exciting book!, 3 July 2012
MOONFLEET is a treasure of a book. It is an exciting and fast-moving adventure story. From the beginning, with the mystery of moving coffins under the church, through adventures of smuggling and brushes with the law, to a thrilling and satisfying ending on savage seas at Moonfleet beach. The characters are highly memorable and Elzevir Block in particular is a stout but fair leader of the smugglers, and the other characters, and the little village itself are all well-drawn. The atmosphere and descriptions of the village and surrounding locales make you want to jump up and go there, with this book in your back pocket as a guide.

Research tells me that MOONFLEET was once a very popular childrens adventure story, comparable to TREASURE ISLAND, but seems to have now fallen out of favour a little, which is a shame. Perhaps it is something to do with the language of the book which can be a little old-fashioned, but which I think helps to create the feel of time and place. I also learnt that Falkner ended his days in Durham, just down the road from me, and has a memorial in the Cathedral cloisters.

I really wish I'd read MOONFLEET, properly and in full, when I was 15, when I was supposed to read it in English class. I would heartily recommend it to children of about ten upwards or adults of any age. In fact, if you take your kids to the British coast this summer, leave the iPods and X-boxes at home and give them a copy of this to read when it rains. Then steal it and read it yourself.

Lake Placid 3 [DVD] [2010]
Lake Placid 3 [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Yancy Butler

3.0 out of 5 stars Quite good croc shock!, 1 July 2012
This review is from: Lake Placid 3 [DVD] [2010] (DVD)
It's always very surprising to enjoy a film so much when it has a number higher than 2 in its title.

Lake Placid 2 was a bit long in the tooth, but number three is much better.

A detailed plot is elsewhere on these reviews but essentially its this; giant crocodiles live around a lake, eating elks, annoying dogs and teenage campers.

The film has humour, the film has interesting characters, a good pace, and is generally a good reptile egg. Yancy Butler hams it wildly as a tough-as-nails white hunter, but the character works, as its all a bit tongue in cheek. It's also good to see Michael Ironside get another genre credit. There are plenty of crocodiles of all sizes here, and plenty of action, but sadly the CGI isn't great. It's not terrible, I've seen much worse [mentioning no names MONSTERWOLF] but is not up to the standard of the first film.

I was surprised when ex-Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallet popped up in the first scene, then was even more surprised when she took all her clothes off and jumped in the lake. I even checked the credits for her name, so surprised was I seeing her do this. Was she that desperate to break into Hollywood? [A little research tells me that prior to starring in this film her best friend had died tragically and she'd had some kind of breakdown.]

Lake Placid 3 is a fun film, and will please people who know what to expect of it.

I wonder if you can get pyschosis from watching too many giant crocodile films?

Doomed to Die [DVD]
Doomed to Die [DVD]
Offered by GiftsGifted
Price: £0.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun Charlie-chan-alike mystery., 1 July 2012
This review is from: Doomed to Die [DVD] (DVD)
Another Cayman classic available for a while in Pound shops across the land, now available for not much more at Amazon.

I think DOOMED TO DIE [1940] is the fifth in the series starring Boris Karloff in a non-horror role as Mr Wong, the oriental detective. Karloff is very good in this role, and its amazing how he can look chinese simply by wearing a large moustache.

The film concerns the murder of a shipping magnate, and Wong must prove that it wasn't the person the police think it is. Karloff is perhaps underused in this film, and I think there's some footasge spliced in from earlier entries in the series too.

It's a fun film, if nothing original, and will fill a slow hour. For fans of early cinema, Karloff or mystery stories it is certainly worth a pound or two.

If you've read any of my other reviews you'll note I often have a gripe about sound quality on DVD's. This DVD, from a cheap company, cheap marketing, cheap everything, has very good sound. Why can't recent, more expensively produced films on DVD be like this?

The Exorcism Of Emily Rose [DVD] [2006]
The Exorcism Of Emily Rose [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Laura Linney
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £1.36

4.0 out of 5 stars Top-notch supernatural courtroom thriller!, 30 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I needn't recap the story in detail here; its basically a courtroom drama of Science Vs Faith in trying to determine the cause of death of a young girl. The priest on trial and the family of Emily Rose believe she was posessed by demons, while the prosecution maintains that Emily died of neglect, with regards to her pyschosis and epilepsy.

The court case is very intriguing, and deals with the scientific explanations of "posession", while trying to set a precedent of proving that the supernatural is real. The horror aspect comes in flashbacks to the exorcism and posession; all very well done, superbly acted, and quite eerie. Also, the main players in the trial begin to experience supernatural events of their own, with sudden unexpected deaths in witnesses and strange co-incidences and 3AM hauntings.

THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE is a top-notch horror thriller, a clever mix of the courtroom and supernatural drama genres.

A few interesting featurettes, about the casting, story and visuals are also on the DVD [about 45 minutes], a directors commentary, and a deleted scene.

Torture Garden [DVD] [2005]
Torture Garden [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Jack Palance

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Minor anthology film from Amicus, 30 Jun. 2012
This review is from: Torture Garden [DVD] [2005] (DVD)
This is a below par portmantaeu [anthology] film from Amicus, although again with a decent cast.

Burgess Meredith has and is fun as Dr Diabolo, who invites customers at his horror show to experience the great terrors inside themselves. Four twenty-ish minute stories follow;

Michael Bryant is trying to get his dying uncles money but ends up tangling with a murderous cat.

Then, Beverley Adams discovers how the top actors in the business manage to keep at their best for decades in the movies. This is ok but overlong.

In a silly and slow third part,Barbara Ewing plays second fiddle to a posessed piano.

Finally, Jack Palance is obsessed with collecting Edgar Allan Poe material, and goes to visit Peter Cushings extensive collection.

The first and last stories are the best, making the 45 minutes in the middle a bit slow. Meredith, Palance and Cushing [playing drunk, some of the time] are all good to watch, and its nice to see Hammer stalwart Michael Ripper in a small role.

Generally though, this is a minor entry in Amicus' list, but is under-seen as it has never popped up on TV as much as others like FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE or VAULT OF HORROR.

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