US (2019) Jordan Peele

Here’s a nice after Christmas treat.

The trailer for Jordan Peele’s new movie just dropped. What a beautiful Christmas present this was!

I watched this trailer, and I am shooketh! This looks genuinely terrifying!

Seriously, Peele’s been a comedian for years, and he’s been holding out on us. I love the cast for this movie, Lupita Nyongo, and Winston Duke, both fresh off of Black Panther. I expect this to be scary, and I expect it to have as much depth as his first movie, Get Out.

https://ew.com/trailers/2018/12/25/us-movie-trailer-jordan-peele/

Jordan says this is not a home invasion movie, it’s not about race, and it involves a new mythology that he’s invented about “The Tethered”. As you can see a lot of it takes place well into the next day, and once again, we get to see Lupita kicking some ass.

Things To Notice:

* That opening song. I Got 5 On It by Luniz was the song from my youth, too. It came out during my college years. I didn’t know I knew the lyrics to this song, and quite frankly the backbeat was always creepy to me, but that’s not something you say to your friends when they jammin’. (And Yes, it is about drugs.)

*The entire family is dark skinned, especially the mother and daughter. The usual dynamic, especially for mainstream movies, is to cast the father as dark skinned, and all the women in the family as several shades lighter, but here, the entire family has the same skin tone, which is something refreshing that people are noticing. It may seem an insignificant detail but those of us who are darker than than a paper bag tend to notice things like that.

*The shoutout to Howard University

*It appears as if the little boy may be on the spectrum. He is wearing a little red devil mask on his head when we first see him, and his mom talks him through the song in the car. Those are the kinds of little things one does when a family member has sensory issues.

*Bunnies!

*People have noticed at least one parallel scene between Lupita’s character, and the main character’s single tear scene from Get Out.

Jordan says having a Black family was incidental, because it’s not something that’s really been done before, and I’d have to agree, because a lot of family style horror movies involve White suburban families dealing with some disruption to their lifestyle, with the status quo being restored by the end of the movie, through their efforts. That’s not a hard and fast rule, but it’s a pretty common one.

Honestly, there really aren’t enough PoC in the horror genre, this is refreshing for that reason alone, and this kind of thing is honestly why we need them, to inject some fresh ideas into a genre that’s been coasting for too long on the kinds of things, made primarily by white men, that only seem to scare teenagers – torture porn, jump scares, ghost stories, and possession plots. (Having a Black cast isn’t unheard of, it’s just not especially common.)

Not that the men who almost entirely run this genre don’t have some good ideas from time to time, (It Follows, Poltergeist, two of the films cited by Peele as being significant enough that they was required viewing for the adult cast), but so much of this genre is not anything to get really excited about, beyond the occasional tentpole film like Halloween. The same way the J-Horror craze injected some new material into the genre, Black and Brown people will too, so hopefully this is the beginning of a trend that will see more women and PoC filmmakers in this genre.

I want to get back to a time when Horror had something interesting to say about the world, it’s people, anything really. Far too much of the genre has nothing to say from either a political or social standpoint, that isn’t abjectly negative about humanity, or just nihilistic. It will be interesting to see where Jordan Peele takes this story, and what meaning it will have on a wider scale, if any.

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Halloween Horrors Directed By Women

XX (2017) Anthology

I recently watched this anthology of horror shorts, directed by women, on Netflix and found it very effective. Not particularly frightening, but moving nonetheless. I not only enjoyed the stories themselves, but there were some interstitial moments between the episodes that I found pretty creepy, and which also tell a kind of story. Of the four stories, three of them deal with the idea of motherhood as a harrowing and anxious experience.

One of the middle stories, and the most frightening, is The Box,  about a woman whose family slowly starves themselves to death after the son peeks into the box of a stranger on a bus ride. I think I read this as a short story somewhere because it felt familiar. Its a very effective and emotional scare, as the mother is helpless to save her family, who are determined to destroy themselves. One of the other stories chronicles the adventures of a mother whose husband dies in a giant panda suit just before his daughter’s birthday party called, appropriately enough, The Birthday Party. It’s the funniest of the stories, but I was exasperated by it because it didn’t fit the gray mood of the rest of the anthology.

Dont’ Fall is the most straightforward horror story with no message to it. A group of people go camping and run afoul of an ancient cannibalistic evil. Her Only Living Son is a favorite of mine. Its like a sequel to Rosemary’s Baby, if she had run away from  all the people trying to manipulate her, and tried to  raise her son not to be the AntiChrist. It’s interesting that the two most effective stories are about mothers trying to save their children from the aftermath of bad choices.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and was a little dubious about watching it, at first. Women directors in the Horror genre are very rare, but this turned out to be pretty good. The types of stories  were  female-centric in a way that men’s stories just aren’t, and that was refreshing.

This movie is available on Netflix.

Ravenous (1999) Antonia Bird

I reviewed this movie some time back, and advised people to listen to the DVD commentary, because it’s very informative. I’ve since learned that Antonia Bird died from cancer in 2013. Her films include a few others I’ve watched: Priest, Safe, and Mad Love.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/07/15/geeking-out-about-ravenous-1999/

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) Ana Lily Amirpour

This is a nice little nugget of a film available on Netflix, which I have not finished watching yet, because I was interrupted. (I was about thirty minutes away from the end, which is probably when all the best stuff happens.) This is a remarkable story about an unnamed and  beautiful Iranian vampire, who spends her nights trying to resist her hunger, in the presence of an innocent young man named Arash. The movie isn’t frightening, so much as it is melancholy, although The Woman, as I call her, does manage to cause plenty of death.

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Jennifer’s Body (2009) Karyn Kusama

Despite people hating this movie, I actually enjoyed it , and thought it was pretty funny. This was my first introduction to Megan Fox ,and based on her performance here, I wish her career had continued. I wasn’t sure what to expect actually. I think I expected the director (who, at the time,  I did not know was a woman) to simply use the plot as an excuse to have Megan Fox be naked and/or sexy. I thought the trailer a little misleading. But the movie turned out to be a lot deeper, as it was about the friendship between these two very different characters, and how people change and grow apart as they get older. The movie was also written by a woman, Diablo Cody, which explains some of its humor.

Anita, played by Amanda Seyfried is friends with a bitchy cheerleader named Jennifer. Now I should have paid closer attention because I was unclear if Jennifer had been turned into a vampire, or if Jennifer actually died and was replaced by some creature. At any rate, its up to Anita to try to stop her, because, obviously, Jennifer is evil. It was hard not to like Jennifer though, because she’s actually funny, and some of the best dialogue in the movie is between her and Anita during their knockdown fight at the end.

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Raw (2016) Julia Decournau

I have yet to watch this film, but I really  liked the trailer, and so its on my Halloween list. It heavily reminds me of a cross between the movies  Thelma and Jennifer’s Body.

Its interesting to me that so many horror films directed by women seem to involve the concept of eating and the  forbidden and blood.   The anthology XX had an episode about people denying food, A Girl Walks Home Alone is about a vampire, and this one is about a young vegetarian developing a taste for raw meat after a horrible campus initiation. Ravenous and Jennifer’s Body are about cannibalism. At some point someone is going to have to analyse why that is.

Pet Semetary (1989) Mary Lambert

This is the one movie on this list I’m not a big fan of, but a heckuva lot of people really really love it, so I’m recommending it for viewing. I thought the movie was kind of ridiculous, and some of the acting was simply terrible. On the other hand, Fred Gwynne, who played Herman Munster on the sitcom, was great, and I liked Denise Crosby, who was really likable here. I was creeped out by the family cat, but I  laughed at part of the ending, when this tiny munchkin went on a murder spree. I don’t hate this movie ,but I don’t have happy thoughts about it either, although I did enjoy the Stephen King book it was based on.

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Near Dark (1987) Kathryn Bigelow

I gave a review of this movie earlier in my blogging career. This was directed by the great Kathryn Bigelow, who won an Oscar for her movie The  Hurt Locker, and gave us such great characters as the Aliens version of Ellen Ripley, and the Terminator 2 version of Sarah Connor.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/near-dark-1987/

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Carrie (2013) Kimberly Peirce

I did a review of this one where I compared Kimberly’s version to the one directed by DePalma, charting the difference between when a man makes a female- centered film vs. when a woman does it. Basically, there seems lot more meaningful interaction between the women in a female directed movie. At some point I’m going to revise this review to add some new thoughts.

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/carrie-vs-carrie/

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Honorable Mentions (Not Directed By Women)

These five movies were not directed by women, but the women characters are not just in the center of the plot, they are the plot. Any one of these movies would be great for a female themed marathon on Halloween night, along with longstanding favorites, like Alien, and Halloween.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

This is one of my favorite werewolf movies, right up there with the newer movie, Wer. Here, two teen Goth sisters, Bridgette, and Ginger, the local high school weirdos of a small suburban town,  discover that Ginger has developed lycanthropy, after being bitten by a wild animal, while on their way to play a prank on another girl. There is a parallel here between the disease and sexual maturity, as Ginger has just had her first period, which is why the animal attacked her. Ginger Snaps considerably deepened the discourse around the subject of feminine transformation, rage, and sisterly love,  and upped the werewolf game.

Thelma

This is a repost of a mini-review I did  in May of this year.

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I’d been looking forward to seeing this for some time, and it did not disappoint. Now, when I first heard the description of it, I had not yet seen the trailer, and I was expecting something like Carrie, but quieter. Then I saw the trailer, and found that it’s something wholly different from Carrie. This movie isn’t about vengeance, it’s about desire, and what happens to a person when that desire is repressed.

For one thing, this is a much quieter, and more subtle movie than Carrie. It’s so low-key, that the supernatural aspects of the story kind of sneak up on you. They sneak up on you because they’re  loosely covered by several other issues that you will find compelling enough to be distracting.

The film is based in Norway, and the lead character, Thelma, starts to experience epileptic seizures, except it’s not seizures. Her doctor says they are psychosomatic, and stem from emotional suppression. At the same time, she meets a young woman who comes to her rescue, after she has a seizure in the college’s public reading room, while that room’s giant picture window is battered by a flock of birds. Every time she resists her feelings for Anja, or tries to suppress her powers, she has a seizure.

Thelma and the young woman, Anja, start to get closer, but Thelma comes from a quietly strict Christian background, and she becomes very conflicted about her relationship with Anja, which starts to take a romantic turn. It turns out that Thelma isn’t necessarily conflicted because of the Christianity, but because she has the power to make things happen to people, when she strongly wants it. The Christian beliefs her parents espouse are what was used to keep her powers in check.

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When Thelma was a child, she became jealous of her baby brother, and wished him away several times. The last time she does it is emotionally devastating to her mother and father, but this isn’t something you find out until the middle of the film, and only in flashbacks, and explains why her parents treat her in the quietly aloof manner that they do.

As Thelma becomes overwhelmed about her relationship with Anja, (she keeps having sexual nightmares involving snakes, and dreams about drowning, which is classic symbolism of someone being overwhelmed by a subject), she wishes Anja away too, and it’s a testament to the low-key horror of the movie, that even at the end, you’re not entirely certain that what is happening is real. Did she bring Anja back? Is Anja even real? And then there’s the further question, brought up by her father, about whether or not Anja truly loves Thelma, or did she make Anja love her because she wants her to love her.

It’s not a straight horror movie, with jump scares, and frightening moments. The most frightening moment in the movie is when Anja disappears, and Thelma kills her father. But mostly it’s those nagging questions,that stay with you, as you start to realize Thelma is far more dangerous than you may at first have believed. Her mother and father were in a car accident a few years before she went to college, and though it’s not explicitly stated, you wonder if it was Thelma who caused it.

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After Anja disappears, Thelma leaves college to go back home, where her family welcomes her, but her father decides that she can’t leave. She takes control of her abilities, takes a horrific revenge on her father, and walks out of the house. She goes back to school, where she is greeted by a newly returned Anja, who passionately kisses her.  Her mother is disabled, and uses a wheelchair after the accident, but by the end of the film, Thelma has given her the ability to walk again.

Like several other movies I’ve seen in the past few years (It Follows, Annihilation, A Quiet Place), the horror comes not so much from what happens in the movie, but from its mood. The wintry landscape of Norway, and the remote location of Thelma’s home, is very effective. On the other hand, I can’t say that the movie was enjoyable, either. It’s too haunting for that, and I am still disturbed by the questions that arose, and the answers I came up with.

For those of you on the LGBTQ spectrum this movie is safe enough to watch There is a brief moment when you think there’s a Kill Your Gays Trope, but by the end of the movie, that has passed. Its a movie about overcoming repression, and acceptance of the self.

Thelma is available on Hulu.

It Follows

I’ve done two reviews for this movie. One is an examination of the meaning of the monster, and the other focusing on the female -centric symbolism embedded in the film.

https://wordpress.com/posts/my/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com?s=it+follows

https://tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/it-follows-2014-more-thought

Added Bonus:

28 BLACK WOMEN HORROR FILMMAKERS:

http://www.graveyardshiftsisters.com/2018/02/28-black-women-horror-filmmakers-meosha.html

A Quiet Place Review

Mom managed to talk me into going to see this movie, which I had no plans to see, at the theater. I didn’t want to see it, not because I thought it was going to be bad, (I was really intrigued by it), but because sometimes my anxiety likes to ramp itself up, and I can’t leave the theater. When you’re at home you can turn off the TV, or pause a disc, but its a lot harder to call time out in public. I told her this, but she really wanted to see it, and it really did look good, so we agreed that I could hold her hand if I got too scared.

I loved it, actually. I love scary movies, but usually only only watch them when I can control my reaction to them. I didn’t get too scared, though. There were a couple of moments where I was white knuckling it a bit, because I really did like the characters, and empathized with them. One of the ways of controlling my anxiety is telling myself is that its okay, I’m not actually in any danger, and this is what I’m supposed to be feeling during such scenes. This is a process that may, or may not, work for you in public, but I have many, many years of practice at managing such this.

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Also, one of the reasons I didn’t get too worked up is because the movie isn’t exactly what I expected. It has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Normally, I don’t give a fly what a movie’s rating is on that site, but in this case, I understand why it’s rated so high, and I see why people are crazy about it. It really is very good, just not what I was expecting. I was expecting more bombast, more jump scares, lots of monsters, but the writers did more interesting things.

If you’re going to see this for the monster, or for gore, you’re going to be disappointed. There’s not much of either, beyond the occasional blink and you’ll miss it shot. You do get a good look at the monster eventually, but  the monsters are not the focus of the movie. Like the movie Alien, the focus is the relationships between the characters, and how they’re dealing with a horrific situation.

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The Earth has experienced some kind of alien invasion, most of humanity has been killed, and the ones left alive mostly live underground, and can’t make any noise, or the aliens, which operate solely on sound waves, (they don’t have eyes) will attack them. The aliens are extremely fast and brutal, with long legs, and giant claws. They don’t eat their victims it seems. They just kill them. I think they just dislike noise. I had the impression that they view loud noises as some sort of attack, rather than as a source of food.

The movie follows a family with a deaf daughter, and a hearing son, who are navigating this world with its new set of rules. They go barefoot, along sand trails that have been set down by the father, to the places they most often frequent. They use American Sign Language to communicate. They wear headphones to listen to anything. They live above ground during the day because the father has been working to perfect a radio system to communicate with any other people.

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Most of this information you can get from paying close attention to what’s happening on the screen. There’s no sound for most of the movies running time, so there’s plenty of time to concentrate, and if you don’t like to read movies…too bad.. you’re to see this movie anyway, and like it!

The terror comes from the logistics of living in a world in which the slightest sound you make could get you killed. When you think about it, human beings are made up of nothing but noise. It seems to be our primary superpower, and kids and babies are noise personified. Getting above a certain decibel level attracts the monsters, and just because you hunker down and get quiet doesn’t mean necessarily mean they go away. There are work-arounds to be had, though. For example, natural sounds like running water, wind, storms, etc.do not attract them, and if you’re near something that’s a natural sound, that’s louder than whatever noise you’re making, you’re mostly safe. I enjoyed watching some of the father’s clever ideas of living within the rules.

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The movie is mostly about this family, their relationships, how they feel about what’s happening and how they navigate this world. The parents are genuinely in love, they love their kids deeply, and most of the film’s tension arises from their need to keep their children safe, and past guilts. At the beginning of the movie something horrible happens that the daughter spends the rest of the movie blaming herself for, and believing her father blames her and hates her for, too. Meanwhile, the mother also blames herself for it, and the son is just terrified of living in this world, in general.

I loved Emily Blunt here. I’ve been a fan of hers for a while now, and she really carries the emotionalism in this movie. The rest of the cast is good too, especially the little actress who plays the daughter. I really enjoyed her performance, although I could’ve done without the “kids wander off on their own” plot points. A lot of the plot points are predictable too, but the acting is so well done, you’re not particularly bothered by that. And the movie is just beautiful to look at. The country landscape is lush and green and…quiet.

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There were a few things I noticed that I had questions about, and a lot of things you can infer from the information onscreen. I understand why cities would have been abandoned. And we witness that any animal that makes noise will be attacked, not just human beings, which implies that most of Earth’s ground animals were probably killed. We can still see that there are some birds left, and that would make some sense.

My biggest problem was the ending, which was only disappointing in the sense that I wanted more of it. I wanted to see a big boss battle at the end. I wanted a little bit more closure. But I get why the movie ended the way it did. You get to tell your own ending and the one I made up was a happy one, that fits the last image we see.

I’m Looking Forward To Watching…TV

Ooh! There’s some great stuff coming to television this spring. Also, some not so great stuff, but we won’t know that until we look at it, soo…

Now:

Altered Carbon (Netflix): I have not yet watched this. I will get around to it and let you know what I think at some point.

 

 

Ash Vs The Evil Dead Season 3 (Starz): I’ve watched a couple of episodes of this season. Lucy Lawless has returned, and Ash finds out he has a daughter. I don’t think I’ll watch the entire season, but as far as I can tell, the show is even gorier, and zanier, than that first season. Next to Happy, and Legion, its one of the most batshit shows on TV.

 

 

Mute (Netflix): I started watching this but checkedout because I got bored. Since then I’ve read a number of great reviews comparing it to Balderunner and Altered Carbon. I also happen to like the lead actor who  played Eric from the show True Blood. There’s lot so secretive conversations, half naked dancing, and neon, so my tolerance may be a bit low, but I’ll try to watch it again.

March:

(1) Atlanta:Robbin Season (FX): I missed a lot of episodes of the first season, so I had to go back and catch up. I’ve watched the first episode of this new season, and really enjoyed it. You have to see it to believe it. The special guest star for this episode is Katt Williams, playing a man who owns an alligator, and has kidnapped his girlfriend until she pays him back the money she stole.

 

(2) Ravenous (Netflix): I think this show is Swedish, or Danish, or French or something. Its not in English anyway. It’s about a small town beset by zombies, and looks intriguing. I’m taking some vacation next week, so I’ll check it out then, and let you know if the subtitles are worth it.

 

(7) Hard Sun (Hulu): I have no idea what this is aobut, but the description sounded kinda like a British version of The X-Files. I like the X-Files, and I like British shows, but I don’t know that I’ll like this. It just sounds interesting.

 

(7) Hap and Leonard Season 2 (Sundance): I’ve read a couple of the books, and the show looks like fun. The books are definitely an acquired taste, and have a kind Pulp Fiction meets Justified feel to them. I’m interested to see if the show captures the same flavor. I’m not going to bingewatch it though, just check out a couple of episodes. The trailers look like fun, but I don’t know that I’d enjoy a steady diet of this.

 

(8) Jessica Jones Season 2 (Netflix): I couldn’t make it through the first season of the show for…reasons. Maybe I’ll have better luck this weekend. I want to like Jessica, but she is such a downer type person, that its hard to watch her series. She was cool in The Defenders, and the trailers look a bit more appetizing though, so I’m going to try again. Maybe I’ll see more WoC in this season, yeah?

 

(9) The Outsider (Netflix): Despite my judgmental nature, I’m not actually  willing to completely condemn a show before I watch it. I’m also one of five people who does not simply hate Jared Leto, although I probably should. I’m not a fan, but I’m not averse to watching (or liking) any vehicle he happens to be in.I also happen to like movies about The Yakuza and will pretty much watch anything with them in it, probably because I get a kick out of watching Japanese men behaving badly.

 

(9) A.I.C.O. Incarnation (Netflix): I rarely watch anime series, but this looks interesting and scary, so I’m going to try it.

 

(11) Timeless Season 2 (NBC): I have never watched this, but I’m sure some of you may be interested in it. Its my understanding that the show did some interesting things with the Black character last season, and have not neglected to take into account that he is a Black man, who travels into time periods that are probably not too good for his health.

 

 

(21) Krypton (Syfy): I would not normally have included this, because I have no interest in watching a show that doesn’t actually feature Superman, and the trailers look a little too soap opera-adjacent for my tastes. But hey! I’m sure someone, somewhere is very excited about this, and it might turn out to be a good show.

 

(26) The Terror (AMC): You already heard me gushing about this one. Still gushing!

 

(29) Siren (Freeform): This is like a horror movie version of The Little Mermaid. The acting looks really dodgy, but I’m going to try it, because i’m always here for evil sea-creatures, pretending to be beautiful, but talent-less actresses.

 

(30) The Titan (Netflix): I’m not a huge fan of the lead actor here, but I like the idea of hideous transformations and planetary travel.

 

(30) A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 (Netflix): I missed the entire first season, but hey! it’s still on Netflix, so theoretically I can catch up anytime, right? Well, maybe someone besides me can catch up. I liked the movie okay, but I got bored in the first episode. Not that its a bad, or even a boring show. I’m just much more likely to fall asleep while lying in bed with the Netflix on.

 

 

April:

(2) The Crossing (ABC): I like the premise of this show which reminds me of The 4400, which was canceled right when I was starting to get into it. Hopefully this has shown up at a good time, and will do well. Sometimes half the success of a show is the timing of its release.

 

(3) Legion (FX): I think the first season hurt my brain.This is unlike any other superhero show on television. If you like wild situations, that may or may not be tangentially related to the plot, or even real, occasionally linear dialogue, and zany imagery, then go for it.  I think this show broke my head, but I’m gonna watch it again anyway.

 

 

(8) Killing Eve (BBC): People are always clamoring for female lead shows that are dark and thrilling. Well here you go! I hate the lead character, just from the trailer alone, but I know there’s an audience out there for a female psychopath. I do happen to like and respect Sandra Oh, and she looks wonderful in this.

 

 

(13) Lost in Space (netflix): I don’t know why they’re making a remake of this, but I’ll watch it, since I watched and sorta liked the original. Of course I was a kid when I saw the original so that may have been a factor in my enjoyment, and also I wanted a Robbie the Robot just like in the show.

 

(13) The Expanse Season 3 (Syfy): One of these days I’m going to watch one of the seasons The Expanse, all the way through to the end, after which there shall  commence a day of celebration. There shall be much rejoicing, (and possibly some wailing and gnashing of teeth, too.)

 

(22) Westworld (HBO): AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Allow me to repeat that, in case you didn’t get that…uh’hem! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

 

(22) Into the Badlands Season 3 (AMC):  Well naturally, to punish me for my enthusiasm, my two favorite shows will air on the same night. Fortunately HBO likes to show multiple repeats all week long, so I can watch this, and record the other. And of course you know, this means reviews, reviews, and more reviews.

 

 

 

May:

Apparently, there’s nothing coming on TV in May. All the stations will just be blank, which will be the signal for the Apocalypse to begin, because What the Fuck!!!

Oh yeah right!  Bear Grylls is gonna be doing some shit, on the last day of the month, if you’re into that sort of thing!

SAVED!!!!

 

June

(7) Cloak and Dagger (Freeform): I read this comic book as a teen, but I don’t think this show is gonna be a whole lot like the comic, which is a really good thing, because that book was hella racist. I mean half the stuff they did with those two characters, would not fly on TV today, without a major backlash. Cloak’s superpower is that he absorbs light, and Dagger’s power is that she emits it.

 

(22) Luke Cage Season 2:

Write your own, highly  enthusiastic, response here!

TBD:

Castle Rock (Hulu): We still have received no date for this show. All I know is that its coming to Hulu this year, but I can wait. It looks interesting.

 

Racism in SciFi

*I just wanted to elaborate on this article, that I posted earlier in the year, on the topic of how race is depicted in SFF genre films and shows. No matter how well meaning the filmmakers may be, their blind spot is almost always racial in nature, and it is impossible to completely and fully tell certain narratives, if the creators refuse to even look in the direction of race. I don’t know if it’s intentional, or deliberate, but one of the failures of modern SFF cinema is an inability to approach the subject of racism  from an honest perspective, when these creators are White.   This is why creators like Jordan Peele, Ava Duverney, John Cho, and even Rod Serling are so important. They did not (do not) ignore race as a factor in the stories they are (were) trying to tell.

Why Don’t Dystopias Know How to Talk About Race?

————Fantasy novelist Daniel José Older sees the problem as a failure of imagination and craft. “I find it very telling how little these worlds that are so much about power and oppression and ways of resistance also magically somehow have solved race,” he said. “On the one hand it’s a truth failure in the sense of it doesn’t feel real to anyone who knows about the lasting power of racism and to anyone who is paying attention to the world today. And it’s a craft failure in that it is a tremendous missed opportunity to develop the world more deeply.”

http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/why-dont-dystopias-know-how-to-talk-about-race.html

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* I’ve been seeing an increasing number of SciFi shows where Blacks, and other minorities, are being cast as the oppressors of White protagonists. We’re not arguing that PoC can’t work for oppressive systems, because plenty of them do. And we’re not arguing that PoC cannot discriminate against White people.Yes, we know PoC can be bigots (towards other PoC, mostly) but that’s not what is being discussed here.

We’re talking about the casting of Black people, particularly, dark skinned, Black women, as virulently racist bigots, which  is starting to become a trope. From Teen Wolf, to The Gifted, to Heroes Reborn, I think the White male writers who create these shows are starting to get a little too comfortable with this idea.

They don’t seem comfortable with depicting actual racism towards PoC by White people, and they continue to cast White actors as the oppressed minorities in these racial allegories (like The Handmaid’s Tale). It’s especially galling in a racism/slavery allegory, to not only erase the existence of  PoC, who are actually experiencing what is being depicted onscreen, in the real world, but to cast them in the roles of the oppressors, and I’m not here for it. I’m also not here for White Writers stealing the narratives of oppressed people of color, but then NOT including any of those oppressed people in the story. (I touched on this briefly in my review of The Gifted.)

One of the major reasons I stopped watching Heroes Reborn wasn’t just because of its lackluster, badly written plot, but because  a Black woman was cast as a virulently nasty, hardline racist, who was willing to kill children, and the children they showed her killing, were White. This is the same plotline used in the final season of Teen Wolf, where a Black woman is seen killing and sometimes torturing White teens, and again, in the show The Gifted, you have a brown-skin man, of indeterminate race, spouting racist jargon against the White protagonists of the show, and hunting and arresting White kids. All of these shows steal the narrative of Black and Brown people being killed (shot, tortured, and abused) by people in positions of authority, but does not include any of these Brown people in the story that’s being told. Instead, casting White actors in roles that real PoC actually live out.

The Gifted is even more annoying because there are PoC on the show who are members of the oppressed minority, but we don’t get to see their stories, sympathize with them, or understand what their lives were like. We do get to see them be bravely tortured by the government, which sends the message that not only are our stories available for consumption, but the pain and degradation of PoC is as well.

Just Like A Caucasian

How Sci-Fi and Fantasy Television Shows Always Get Racism Wrong.

                                                     ————Shabazz Malikali
On Medium.com

 

 

**Reprinting my review of The Gifted, (which I wrote before I saw this article)

I’m simply not in the mood for this show, and I’m fed up with this type of plot, now. It’s loosely based on some of the X-Men and New Mutants comic books, in that it has some Sentinel plotline, and some of the characters from those groups. Stephen Moyer stars as a lawyer who used to prosecute mutant criminals, and  the father of two young mutants, now on the run from the government, which is rounding up mutants and imprisoning them in scientific camps.

I tried watching the first episodes, and while I like a couple of the characters, the show is simply not compelling enough to keep me watching it every week. The characters have the usual teenage angst, with superpowers, that made me dislike the First X-Men movie. Blink is a teenager who can teleport by creating portals, and Thunderbird, who is Native American, is a kind of tracker of people and things. I’m dismayed that the show used the Native American tracker stereotype, as that’s nothing like Thunderbird’s actual powers in the books, which consists of speed and strength.

And I’m just not here for yet another plotline of people with superpowers being rounded up and used by the government. This seems to be the only plotline they can come up with for superpowered characters, especially on TV, and once again, there is only the focus on how this affects White, suburban, middle-class families.

Just like with the show Heroes, there is no focus on how the discovery of superpowers would affect any marginalized communities, something I would consider much more entertaining, and which the show Cleverman handled with a certain amount of depth. As I complained about before, we keep getting stories about middle-class White characters being subjected to the same oppressions that have been visited on marginalized communities. This show would have had far more depth and been much more interesting if it had been set in the G/L community,  or the Black and Latinx communities, in which this type of interment is already occurring.

In the forties, the Japanese were rounded up in internment camps because they were considered a danger to the US, and later, authorities used to raid the gay and lesbian communities and lock them in jails with the full force of legal authority behind them. Today, its immigration officials grabbing random Brown people out of their homes, and locking them up on suspicion of being illegal immigrants. What do you want to bet that none of these things will be addressed in yet another show where we see average White people being treated in the same manner?

 

*For further reading check out Malikali’s article on The Ellison Test. It’s great reading, and available on Medium.com, (which I can’t link to here.)

 

The Ellison Test: The litmus test for diversity.

 

 

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Another way that TV and movies get racism wrong is the constant message, and I’m not certain this is intentional, is the idea that the people being oppressed actually are powerful and dangerous and need to be controlled. So, while Hollywood steals the narratives of PoC to sell their oppression stories of White people, they paradoxically send the message that the oppression is also deserved. This is what went wrong with the movie Zootopia. Zootopia made some excellent points about discrimination, but the animals being discriminated against are all powerful animals that traditionally eat other animals. There’s also the setup that in the past these animals did indeed eat the lesser animals, and so deserve persecution and fear. So Zootopia is trying to tell a story condemning the discrimination and persecution of others is wrong, it reinforces the idea that the ones being persecuted deserved to be feared and hated.

This is also the same problem I ran into with the X-Men and Mutant hysteria plotlines of The Gifted.  The persecuted minority are actually exceptionally powerful beings, and actually can destroy human life, and even the entire world, which goes against the racism metaphor the stories are trying to establish, and defeats the anti-discrimination message that’s being touted.

One story that does get the themes mostly correct is the graphic novel called Maus by Art Spiegelman, in which the Jewish people are represented as helpless prey animals being harmed by cats. The cats are depicted as Nazis.

How Zootopia Gets Its Own Point Exactly Backwards

———–The movie starts with a history of the world, explaining that while predators used to be uncontrollably violent, they have since been civilized and can now live among prey animals, which also means behaving like prey animals (prey animals aren’t asked to accommodate their behavior for predators at all). Because in Zootopia there’s a right way to live and a wrong way to live, and some animals are — in the context of this movie — biologically programmed to live wrong. They have to be corrected in order to fit in with proper, civilized society.

http://www.cracked.com/blog/why-talking-animals-are-bad-way-to-talk-about-racism/

 

Zootopia wants to teach kids about prejudice. Is it accidentally sending the wrong message?

————–The most natural line to draw between the two is that Zootopia‘s predators stand in for black men in our world, and one needs only look at the resurfacing of Hillary Clinton’s “superpredators” clip from the ’90s to know why that’s potentially inflammatory territory.

But all of this pales in comparison to the fact that when you scrutinize Zootopia‘s core metaphor for even a second, it struggles to make sense on a literal level. Yes, the film’s message is that Judy learns to trust Nick, even though he’s predator and she’s prey. But on some other level, we all know that an actual rabbit is right to be afraid of an actual fox — and that muddies the movie’s message considerably.

https://www.vox.com/2016/3/7/11173620/zootopia-review-racism

 

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Yes, even Bladerunner manages to fall into this same trap of presenting a persecuted minority as being incredibly physically powerful and smarter than the humans hunting them.

Blade Runner’s source material says more about modern politics than the movie does

It was written for an age of overreaching policing and sociopathic lack of empathy

———-The police in Do Androids Dream…? are merciless, unstoppable android killers. Their victims, in contrast, are remarkably vulnerable and weak. In the film, the replicants have enhanced reflexes, super-strength, and tremendous intelligence. Part of the reason Deckard evokes sympathy is that he’s clearly overmatched. Replicants may not deserve to be murdered, but they are terrifyingly powerful and dangerous. Roy, howling his shirtless way through an abandoned building at the end of the film, is an atavistic, gothic terror. The androids in Blade Runner are dangerous and threatening when provoked — which is how Darren Wilson saw Michael Brown, and the excuse most often given by police who kill unarmed black civilians.

————–https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/5/16428544/blade-runner-philip-k-dick-do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-analysis-adaptation

 

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*The next  3 articles are essays on how the new Bladerunner movie tackles the narratives of racism, assimilation, inclusion, and persecution. Or  how they actually don’t.

‘Blade Runner 2049’: The Deckard Question Matters More Than You Think

Whether Harison Ford’s character is a replicant has far-reaching implications for the film series — and for what it says about our own society.

———-http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/blade-runner-2049-why-it-matters-deckard-is-a-replicant-1046963

 

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Race and Blade Runner 2049

The only black people in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are extras. The replicants are all white, and the city of Los Angeles is basically an unmixed population of whites and Asians. The Asians live on the streets or work in small shops. Whites rule the LAPD (all that’s left of the city’s government) and biotech corporations. Whites are also the slaves manufactured by Tyrell Corporation. There are no black, Mexican, or Asian replicants. And the leader of the rebel replicants is a very Aryan Roy Batty. Replicants, however, are, according to Rick Deckard’s voiceover, called “skin jobs,” which is equivalent to calling black people “niggers.” So, Blade Runner is about a slave revolt. And what do the slaves want? Freedom? No. They want more life, which, to be fair, is another kind of freedom. As the 20th century British philosopher Alfred Whitehead put it: “Life is a bid for freedom.”

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/10/06/25457531/race-and-blade-runner-2049

 

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This Future Looks Familiar: WatchingBlade Runner in 2017

————-I watched Blade Runner for the first time this week. Since I have apparently been living in a cave for the past few decades, I thought that Blade Runner was kind of like Tron but with more Harrison Ford, and less neon, and maybe a few more tricky questions about What Is The Nature Of Man.

That is the movie I was expecting.

That is not the movie I saw.

 

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*It is far easier for White audiences to watch allegories about racism, than it is for them to actually tackle the subject head-on in their daily lives. Just as it seems easier for White filmmakers to propose the idea that persecution of minorities is wrong, while engaging in erasure and whitewashing in their films on the subject.

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*There has been some discussion on Tumblr of The Empathy Gap, to explain the woobification of White villains in fandom, vs the vilification of Black and Brown villains, and even characters of color that are the stars and protagonists in the narrative. Want to know more, then read on:

Why White People Don’t Like Black Movies

Why White People Don’t Like Black Movies

http://www.indiewire.com/2014/01/why-white-people-dont-like-black-movies-162548

 

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*This is a perfect example of what we mean by implicit bias in filmmaking. I know the director of this movie, James Mangold, is not some die-hard ,card carrying, member of the alt-right, or KKK. Nevertheless a critical look at his films reveals his own blindspot when it comes to the subject of race.  Because the directors are White males, living in America, they have a tendency to reproduce narratives of race that have always prevailed in films, without much examination. I’m sure it never occurred to Mangold that it would be difficult for PoC to watch a movie in which am entire Black family is brutally murdered by vigilante members of the state. It certainly did not occur to him how such images would impact our watching of the film, given the status of American race relations today. (The same blindspot is evident in the Netflix show, Daredevil, and Mangold’s last Wolverine film, which was set in Japan.)

The Thoughtless Diversity of Logan

————–   Let’s linger on that last point for a second. In Logan, an entire black family gets slaughtered onscreen. This is a black family who we already see terrorized by racist hicks for refusing to move off their farmland. We are shown that they are at the mercy of these white folks to maintain basic amenities like running water. We also see that they are often terrorized by these men WITH GUNS on what seems to be a daily basis.

——https://fishnetcinema.com/2017/03/07/the-thoughtless-diversity-in-logan/

 

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*I liked this rather tongue-in-cheek essay on why Black people don’t attract ghosts or hauntings.

White Fright; Or, Why Are There No Black People in Haunted House Movies?


http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/white-fright-no-black-people-haunted-house-movies/

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*And another tongue in cheek piece on the expectations that Black people should  die in Horror movies, because that’s the tradition, and how hard it can be getting used to watching them survive these movies sometimes.

The Black Die Young: The Internal Struggle of a Black Horror Movie Fan

——–I have a secret passion; the less addicted of you might call it an addiction. I like to watch. I rent base, filthy movies and slip them into brown paper bags so no one can tell. I sit alone in seedy, near-empty theaters, pleasuring myself with this trash. I’m too embarrassed to tell anyone about my weakness, although my wife has caught me watching a time or two (“It’s a documentary!” is my standard excuse; she’s since cancelled the Discovery Channel.). But now I’m ready to step out of the shadows and proclaim loudly, I am a black man… and I love horror movies.

http://www.blackhorrormovies.com/black-die-young/

 

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*Yeah, we’re looking at you Star Wars! 

Every Galaxy Needs More Than Three People of Color

———When people of color do appear in science fiction, it’s often as sidekicks or advisers. Black characters are likely to die quickly and are unlikely to ever interact with any other black characters, since many galaxies seem to contain only about three black people. That lack of representation makes it hard for people of color to imagine that their writing will ever find a home in the genre.

https://www.wired.com/2016/02/geeks-guide-diversity-destroy-scifi/

 

 

*I was going to finish up my review of Bladerunner 2049 with a critique of the films technical and philosophical aspects, but I think I’ll post a list of other critical apporaches to the movie, and post my viewpoint as a followup. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Scary Short Horror Movies

Well, it’s almost Halloween and so naturally, as it does every other day of the year, my mind turns toward scary movies. I can’t out a whole movie on here but I can share with you some of my favorite short films. I like monsters, so most of these have monsters. I like comedies, so some of them are funny and there’s a couple of these that scared the living shit outta m
This movie infuriated me, especially after I realized what was actually happening:

Don’t Move

 

 

You guys know I’m not a  fan of spiders, so I was reluctant to watch this one, but it just so happens it has a surprisingly funny ending:

Itsy Bitsy Spiders

 

 

I saw this one last year, and it stuck in my mind for a whole year, but I’d forgotten where I’d seen it, and the title. It took me some time to find it again, and it’s still scary:

Ghost Story

 

 

Yeah, this one is very, very, creepy:

Mimic

 

 

Yeah, this one is creepy but hilarious, and I think I remember this song from my childhood.

The Cat Came Back

 

 

This is a little longer than the others but it’s worth the wait and it’s  funny.

Waiting

 

 

This one isn’t particularly scary but it has zombies in it and I thought it was deeply cute:

Less Than Human

 

 

Here’s a slightly different haunted house story:

Vienna Waits For You

 

 

This isn’t what it seems:

Midnight Snack

 

 

Okay, this is the one that made me actually scream  out loud:

The Thing In The Apartment

 

Hope you enjoyed these. I’ll have some more on Halloween!

 

 

 

 

Summer of 2017 TBR Pile

Currently Reading

This basically means I am well into the book (at least 20%) and dedicated to finishing it. I often have multiple books going at once, and switch out according to mood and whether or not the book needs to be returned to the library soon.

Kill Society – Richard Kadrey

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I love this entire series, which really needs to be made into a movie starring Vin Diesel, because that’s who I picture, and whose voice I hear, as Sandman Slim. The plot, for this newest book, is a total ripoff of Fury Road, but I’m here for it.

 

Rupert Wong: Cannibal Chef – Kassandra Khaw

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These books are really gory, but also unexpectedly funny. I wasn’t sure what I expected when I picked these up, but the title is basically what the book is about. Rupert Wong is paying off some kind of debt  by acting as a chef in demonic restaurants. Yes, they eat people. This is a distinctly Asian setting, and it’s also funny as, well..Hell. It’s on sale at Amazon for less than four bucks.

 

Phantom Pains – Mishell Baker

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The first book in this series titled Borderline, is very probably the best fantasy novel written last year. That book made my top ten list, and this sequel is looking to make it on there for this year. Its also on sale at Amazon for 2 bucks. Grab it!

 

Aliens: Bug Hunt Anthology

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I haven’t got very far into this book beyond the first story, which was all kinds of fun, so  I’m looking forward to reading the other stories. This book is on sale at Amazon for 2 dollars, but I don’t know how long that’s going to last, so  grab it up,now.

 

To Be Read

Which basically means I’ve gotten about 10% of the way into these books before continuing with the books I’m already in the middle of reading. I often read multiple books at once, switching to a different book according to my mood, or  whatever is near to hand. This means that finishing a book can take a while, as I make incremental progress across several books.

The Change (1-3) Guy Adams

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I’ve read the first book in this short series, and its genuinely scary. Its about an alien invasion of Earth that killed off most of the human race outright when it occurred, but for the survivors, the world has gone hideously, horribly, wrong. I think these are based on his first book, The Change Orbital, which is also pretty terrifying.

 

The Witch Who Came in From the Cold – Malcolm Gladstone

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I like the ideas of spies who do magic, and I like some of Gladstone’s writing, so I wanted to try this one. The opening chapter is very exciting. The book consists of a bunch of nested, shared-world stories, by different authors, sort of like G.R.R.M.’s Wild Cards Series.

 

Strange Practice – Vivian Shaw

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I haven’t read much of this one but the description is adorable. A woman physician in Victorian London, who is related to Van Helsing,  gets caught up in taking care of the illnesses of various supernatural creatures like werewolves, vampires, and mummies, and has to save their existences from some murderous monks.

 

Urban Enemies Anthology

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Famous Urban Fantasy authors put the spotlight on some of their more villainous characters from their popular series.

 

Magicians Impossible – Brad Abraham

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I have no idea what this is about as I’ve only read the first chapter. What I did read was very exciting , and I’m eager to keep going.

 

Graveyard Shift – Michael Haspil

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I was really looking forward to this book, the moment I read the first blurb. This is an interesting story, that’s not unlike the Rivers of London series by Aaronovitch. The lead character is an ancient Egyptian demi-god, working as a kind of supernatural cop, in a world of vampires, and werewolves, who have just come out of the closet. I’m working on it.

 

Books To Recommend 

I have so many recommendations to give you, but I’m going to stop at these few.Most of these are Dark Fantasy and Horror. There are no monster romances in any of these books, nobody talking about their favorite pair of boots, or what clothes the hot guy is wearing, because that kind of stuff just puts me right to sleep. The darker and more unusual the Fantasy, the more I’ll like it, especially if it takes place in the modern world.

The  Barker & Lewelyn Series by Will Thomas

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This is the only mystery on the list. I’ve become obsessed with Hard Victorian mysteries, and Will Thomas has one of the best. The lead character is totally a Sherlock Holmes clone, but I don’t care. I will read about Holme’s clones, all day, every day. There’s a difference between a hard mystery, vs a soft mystery. A hard mystery is more a police procedural. Its darker and grittier,  and I especially like mysteries that take place before modern forensics.

 

The Rivers of London Series

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I’ve written about this series before. Its hella fun. I like to think of it as a calmer, British version of the Harry Dresden series. Peter grant is a Black cop who gets involved in magical events in London.

 

King Rat – China Mieville

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This was the very first book I ever read by this author. I didn’t know what to expect but the description sounded vaguely intriguing. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was unlike any Fantasy I’d eve read. I’ve read nearly every one of Mieville’s books since then, and have never been disappointed.

 

The Iskryne Series – Elizabeth Bear

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I love it when writers take fantasy tropes and  turn them upside down. Bear takes the concept of bonded animal companions all the way to its limit, and that includes how sexuality is handled. Bear’s writing partner for the series is Sarah Monette. There’s not a lot of human women in the books but it more than makes up for that with the ideas that are introduced, and the setting.

 

Wormwood: Gentlemen Corpse Series – Ben Templesmith

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This is the funniest comic book zombie series ever written. At least part of the reason for that are Ben Templesmith’s ridiculous illustrations. Wormwood is not the name of the zombie, mind you, but the name of the tiny, snarky, worm that’s possessing the corpse, who fights various lovecraftian horrors from outer space.

 

The Works of Brom

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Just about any one of Brom’s books is a gem. They’re not comic books but they do contain some beautifully dark illustrations, and cover such topics as: damnation, Peter Pan, toys, and a motorcycling demon. His latest book is called Lost Gods and is about a young man trying to find his way through Hell, to save his endangered wife back on Earth. If you have a taste for weird, then Brom is the writer for you.

 

God’s Demon – Wayne Barlowe

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This is the only prose book written by Barlowe although he has written/illustrated other boos about fantasy figures, science fiction, and aliens. In this story, the war in Heaven continues into Hell, as one of the Fallen, Sargatanas, tries to redeem himself, and win back God’s favor. The novel is based on a series of illustrations Barlowe did for his book, Barlowe’s Inferno, which is a guided tour through Hell.

 

The Skyscraper Throne Series – Tom Pollock

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I love fantasies based on cities, especially when the city is a real character in the book. Such s the case with The City’s Son series. If you liked China Mieville’s Un Lun Dun, then you’ll love this YA series.

 

The Matthew Swift Series – Kate Griffin aka Catherine Webb

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Once again you have a fantasy series where the city is a separate character in the book. The city of London  holds all the magic, and people who are attuned  can access it. This series has a number of Asian and Black characters that I thought were interesting, including a Black female sorceress, who is an apprentice to the lead character, who isn’t, quite, human.

 

Bone Street Rumba Series – Daniel Jose Older

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Daniel Older does for diversity in New York what Ben Aaronovitch does for the city of London. The main character is Carlos Delacruz, a half-ghost,dealing with supernatural events in his working class, Latinx/Hispanic, neighborhood. If you’re looking for diversity, and strong women characters, check it out.

The Eric Carter Series – Stephen Blackmoore

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Much of this series is based on South American mythology. Eric Carter is a modern day necromancer, who gets involved with an Aztec goddess, after the death of his sister. Lots of action, but still less bombast, and more diversity than the Harry Dresden books.

 

The SNAFU Series

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This is an entire series of military horror books, where human beings fight aliens, werewolves, vampires, and various monsters that defy description. If you like military horror then check these out, along with books like:

World War Cthulhu

 

Operation Arcana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuff I’m Watching

Okay, I though I posted this already, but apparently not, since I can’t find it in my published file. So here we go again, maybe!

The Ghost Brothers (TV)

 

Its a TV show about three guys who all had paranormal experiences as children, and decided as adults that they would like to investigate the existence of ghosts. The second season of this show airs April 15th. In the meantime the first season is available for streaming on TLC. I’m already addicted.

Its  a pretty good show. One of the reasons I’ve always hated ghost hunting shows is I get  exasperated with  White guys running around in the dark, shaking their cameras, and yelling at the ghosts. There’s none of that here. The feel of this show is very different. One of my biggest issues was the attitudes of the ghost hunters in these shows, challenging the ghosts, making demands, and the general disrespect. That’s not here, either. For the record, I don’t believe in ghosts, but I do believe in the inexplicable, and this show has that too, which occasionally makes it actually scary. But it’s not just that. It’s the humor and camaraderie between these three friends, that I enjoyed the most. They genuinely like each other,  and are not above ranking on each other, but don’t do it in a mean spirited way. You can tell they’re really old friends, and this is one of the most authentic depictions of black male friendship, you’ll ever see in a TV show.

The guys make a point of visiting sites that are known spots of racial trauma, so they’re not in the business of retraumatizing any presences that might be there. After all, these are their ancestors. They try to approach their job from a place of respect, with minimal equipment. They ask questions and  try to reach out and emotionally connect with a presence. In one episode, they visit a hotel where a sex worker was killed maybe a hundred years ago. They visit her rooms and attempt to find out if she’s still present. They ask her about her life, implore her to answer, and when they leave, they respectfully leave payment for her time, which I found both sad and hilarious.

In another episode, they visit a place where some children were known to have died. To get the children  to respond, they bring toys and dolls, ask the children if they would like to play, and assure them that it’s safe to come out and do that. All very respectful. Nothing happens of course, but there’s a great deal of tension as you suspect something might.They bring the absolute minimum in equipment, they don’t have scanners, and meters and various devices. They really just have their smartphones and a camera.

Also, these guys are surprisingly brave, in situations that would frankly give me the screaming heebie jeebies, sitting alone in a dark room waiting for some presence to reveal itself. Yes they do get scared, and are willing to acknowledge that, but there’s no exaggerated terror, with a lot of running and screaming. This isn’t a comedy, although the guys are occasionally funny. They take their self appointed task pretty seriously.

One of the reasons I like for white people to watch shows like Atlanta, Luke Cage, and Ghost Borthers is if they’re interested in more authentic depictions of what black people are actually like when white people arent around, and contrast these images with depictions crafted and written by white men, who can only guess at how we relate to each other, or just make shit up. One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed about media depictions of marginalized people by white male writers, is often the relationships are depicted as contentious ones. The white men, who write almost all of the media we see, have no idea what women talk about when men aren’t present, what gay people do when straight people aren’t around beyond having sex, or what black people do when white people arent present. Shows written, by marginalized people themselves, tend to have fewer token characters,  and more genuine conversations, and activities. We actually do get along with each other when white people arent around. We laugh, joke, and tease each other. We have deep conversations that aren’t about race, and trivial conversations that are. And just like with the Bechdel Test, almost none of our conversations center white  straight men.

Ghost Brothers joins those lists of shows that depicts black people’s authentic reactions to the world around us.

ETA:  I added a much more detailed description for this show, and the second season has already started. I’m currently watching episode two, where the Brothers visit the Winchester Ghost Trap House.
Ghostbusters (2016)

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I told myself I wasn’t going to watch this, but it aired on Starz, earlier this month, and that’s why I pay for cable. So yeah, I’m one of five people on Earth who actually love this movie. It was entertaining and I found a lot of positive  things outside of the one negative thing that made me want not watch it.

The one negative thing was me being mad about Patty, played by Leslie Jones, not being a scientist. I still don’t like that, but I also don’t feel she was ill treated by the creators of the movie. Although Leslie’s personal humor doesn’t match mine, I still really liked her character. She was one of the funniest people in the movie and gets some of the best lines. This one negative thing was outweighed by all the positive things I enjoyed.

One of my biggest takeaways was the depiction of friendship between women, which is almost never authentically shown in genre films, in favor of having a lonely badass. These characters are friendly and supportive of each other. To use Erin and Abby, for example, the subplot of how they met is Abby believing Erin when she claimed she saw a ghost when she was a child, and no one else believed her.That no one else believed her is something  that affects her for the rest of her life, prompting her to abandon Abby, and never have anything else to do with the paranormal. Later, she and Abby reaffirm their bonds of friendship when Erin risks her life to save Abby at the end of the movie. When Erin has a very obvious crush on their dimbulb male secretary, played by Chris Hemsworth, the other women never make fun of her, or make her feel ashamed of it. They just accept that she likes him, while gently cautioning her to be careful of sexually harassing him.

I liked Patty, and felt she was given ample screen time. The other characters make no big deal about her not being a scientist. She’s an expert in other things. She talks her way onto the team by offering them something they don’t have. Historical context and knowledge of the city, allows Patty to provide a lot of the movie’s exposition. This is not exactly her being “street -smart” (I suppose technically she is “street-smart,  but only because she is her own kind of nerd, who reads History books for fun. So yeah, all the ladies are in fact, nerds! Patty just is not a Science nerd.)

The other women never act as if they know better than her, or try to lord it over her that they have credentials, and even defer to her expertise on matters they know she has studied. They accept her, like Holtzman,  as one of the contributing members of the team. Yes, she gets them a car, but that’s not why she was allowed to join them. It’s something she offers, along with their ghostbusting suits. She also gets some of the funniest lines in the movie, most of which are quiet personal asides  that if you blink, you’ll miss them.

I especially enjoyed the beginning of a friendship between her and Holtzman. Abby and Erin were already friends, and Holtzman must have occasionally felt like a third wheel, but she and Patty seem to hit it off pretty well, hanging out together whenever they’re not working. Patty  saves Holtzman’s life at one point, and nicknames her Holtzy.

Speaking of Holtzman, she is my favorite character in the entire movie. She’s just plain nuts and really, really,  loves her job. The trailers don’t really do this character justice, just like they didn’t make Patty very likable. She’s impossible to describe. She just has to be seen. She loves destruction, dances around with blowtorches, and is utterly fearless when it comes to her various science toys.

ETA:

So, my niece finally watched this movie, and she had a great time. She couldn’t wait for me to get home from work, and she watched it without me, for which she was mildly chastised. And guess who her favorite character is! Guess! Patty, of course, who she thought was hilarious. I don’t know that my niece wants to grow up to be a Ghostbuster, but she really enjoyed herself, and the movie, and that’s enough for me.

 

 

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Once again, I’m in the minority when it comes to liking a movie. I actually had a good time watching this. I really liked the visuals, and performances, even if the story was full of massive holes, and largely incoherent . I really enjoyed the characters though. I watched this with my niece and she seemed to have a good time, too. I think she wants to be Harley Quinn when she grows up, but I told her no, because that’s not a good look for a Black woman, unless she’s gettin’ paid a lot of money, like Margot Robbie. It would also require she be tortured by Jared Leto, after which I’d have to beat Leto’s ass. (He should probably have his ass kicked just on general principles, anyway, because my niece has decided she has a crush on his version of the Joker. What? She’s like ten years old!)

I’m one of five people on Earth who think that Suicide Squad winning an Oscar for Best Makeup is both hilarious and outrageous. Really!? Over Star Trek? Yeah, right!

It really shouldn’t be that shocking that I liked this. It stars Will Smith and I’ll basically watch anything he ‘s in. Margot Robbie wasn’t too bad in this. I thought her version of Harley was pretty entertaining and not too unlike the comic book version of the character. And then there’s  Queen Viola. I just love the idea of Viola Davis and Will Smith starring in a superhero movie together. Although, the next time we see them together, I hope its something a little more serious.

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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Unfortunately I did not get to see this in the theater.  I did rent this for me and my Mom to watch for a couple of days. She is a die-hard Denzel fan, and she had expressed an interest in going to the movies to see this. Now this is pretty remarkable for two reasons. She’s not a huge Western movie fan, (even though she was the one who introduced me to Bonanza), and its really hard to get her to go to the movies with me, as she’s  picky. In the past few years, I managed to get her to see Jurassic World, World War Z, and that Halloween Madea movie.

We watched this movie over a weekend and she really enjoyed it. She was deeply happy that Denzel survived to the end of the movie. I enjoyed all the characters but I was kind of bummed out because the one Asian guy got killed. It doesn’t really compare overmuch to the original. It has a very different feel, although the plot is exactly the same. The action sequences were very exciting, and I enjoyed the banter between the various characters. It suffers from lone woman syndrome, and a bad guy who is evil just because he’s evil. (Not that every villain needs a backstory. Its just something I noticed.)

It has a Benetton ad cast, and although the one Mexican guy, Vasquez, is annoying, the stereotypes are mostly kept to a minimum. The men of color in the cast all get to have their action moments. Despite the presence of Vincent D’onofrio as Jack Horne, my favorite character was  Billy Rocks, the group’s blades-man. The most intriguing relationship was between Billy Rocks, and  Ethan Hawke’s character, Goodnight Robichaux. I kept wondering about the nature of their friendship, and afterwards I wrote my own headcanon, where Billy saved Goodnight from suicide, and Goodnight felt indebted to him. It was very clear that one of Billy’s purposes was helping  Goodnight hold his shit together.

My Mom liked the Jack Horne character a lot. He was  melancholy and  gruff, with a penchant for making profound philosophical statements, that mostly puzzled the other characters. Denzel, as Chisholm, was his usual mildly snarky, pragmatic self. He wasn’t really stretching it in this role, but Denzel sparkles on even his worst days, so its all cool.

No, this movie isn’t as good or influential as the original, but its worth watching some cold Saturday night, with a bowl of popcorn, and some good friends.

Legend of Tarzan (2016)

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Let’s just state, for the record, that I’m a little bit older than some of the more hysterical members of Tumblr. As a result, I grew up with the idea of Tarzan, and am well used to the tired trope of Tarzan the White Savior. I grew up reading the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and watching some of the movies with my Mom, whose favorite Tarzan was Johnny Weismuller. Yes, we did see the problematic aspects of having some White guy being a better African, than actual African people, in Africa, but since almost all of TV, and movies, consisted of this trope, it was easy to overlook it, yet impossible not to see it.

That said, I did watch this movie when it came on cable, which only proves that I will watch any damn thing when it comes on TV, where Alexander Skarsgard takes his shirt off, and growls like a lion. It does not mean I’m not “woke” or “aware”. It just means I occasionally have low standards for what I find entertaining, especially if I can knit to it.

Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this movie for the sheer silliness that it is. Yes, the premise is just as stupid as the original films, and one still wonders what the hell White people,  (and lets face it, there were no PoC clamoring for this movie to be made) were thinking when this movie got made. If you haven’t seen this movie, it’s okay, as your life will not have been upheaved.

For what its worth, the creators did keep the White Savior stuff to a minimum by adding Samuel L. Jackson, who does the saving of various Black people, and some of the actual Congolese people get lines and screen time. Skarsgard is ridiculous in this role,  and spends most of his time trying to look dramatically serious, while trying to save his girlfriend, Margot Robbie, from Waltz’ slimy Englishman. I still don’t know why Waltz kidnaps her but its got something to do with diamonds. It doesn’t matter anyway because the plot is really not that important. What’s important is that Skarsgard is bare chested for most of the movie’s running time.

There is indeed some tree swinging, and some gorilla punching, and for some strange reason, Djimon Honsou is in this movie as an antagonist. He only gets about five minutes of screen time, and maybe six lines. Samuel L. Jackson is in this movie too, and pretty much just acts like Samuel L Jackson, despite the fact that everyone else is acting like they are in a period movie, which is very jarring. I wanted to turn off the sound, so I didn’t have to listen to him speak, but then I wouldn’t have been able to hear Alexander Skarsgard talking to various animals, and yodeling. Yes, there is a classic Tarzan yodel. When I was a kid, this didn’t particularly bother me, but every time I heard it in this movie, I laughed my ass off.

But really, I think the biggest question you have to ask yourself, if you ever watch this movie: Why is Samuel L. Jackson in this movie, when they have Djimon Honsou?

American Horror Story Chapter Six

So yeah, the twist is indeed in, as well as the shift in focus of the show. Everything has been shifted about. In the interests of openness I have to admit it o a hatred of most of reality TV. I’ll watch travel and eatery shows, or shows about wilderness survival, with experts in them, and  I’ve even seen a couple of episodes of Naked and Afraid, but that got boring pretty fast. I am however really liking this season of AHS, mostly because it’s not focused so much  on the inane dramas between the characters, but on the actual horror of the situation they’re all in.

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The idea that we, and the cast, would be revisiting the Roanoke Nightmare House isn’t the twist though. Sydney, played by my precious cinnamon roll, Cheyenne Jackson, is the creator of the show we just watched in the first five episodes, and his proposal to his television backers is that he should gather together the entire cast, go back to the house, and film the results during the Blood Moon. It turns out that what we were watching for five episodes was a huge hit for Sydney and he wants  to cash in on that, despite what has happened to the cast since then. So ,in chapter six, the show goes completely, full-on meta, and I don’t think what we saw tonight is the last of this season’s surprises.

Now, the show has a tendency to go off focus during the season, as the writers get carried away with their storytelling ideas, and start throwing everything into the plot, just to see if it will stick,or just because they like it. This season, with the exception of a few scenes thrown in just to have some action, or a jump scare, has been kept pretty tightly reined in, so I’ve enjoyed it a lot more than previous ones. Tonight’s episode was kept ion point, as well, making it easy to understand, despite how complicated the plot has actually become.

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Since their time at Roanoke, Matt and Shelby have divorced. Matt didn’t care for the fame that came to him because of what happened there, that Shelby called the police on his sister, and accused her of killing her husband, Mason. Yes indeed. That was a dick move on Shelby’s part. Yeah, I don’t like Shelby either. The final straw was when Shelby had an affair with the man who played her husband in the reenactments. His name is Dominic. The actress who played Shelby on the show is actually British, and we get to hear Paulson’s accent, as Audrey, which sounds a bit dodgy. She got married to the actor who played Mott in the last episode, and his name is Monohan. And since he’s so much younger than her ,she’s really super-sensitive about that. I thought it was a scam, on his part, but he seems to genuinely be in love with her.

The actress who played Lee became an alcoholic,  just like the original Lee because she was having trouble dealing with being the public face of the real Lee, who has been accused of killing her husband for the insurance money, and custody of her daughter.  (Angela Bassett’s character is named Monet.) Fans of the show started a petition to have Lee charged with murder, her mother in law is suing for custody of Flora, and everyone treats her with nothing but contempt, including Monet.

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But the worst result of the show is Kathy Bates character, Agnes, who played Thomasina The Butcher, in the reenactments. That actress had a complete mental breakdown and started believed herself  to actually be The Butcher, running through  he streets of downtown Hollywood with an ax, before she was captured and hospitalized. Sydney serves her with a restraining order after a ring of animal organs are found on the new set of the show. He is hoping she will show up on set anyway becasue that will make for great drama. My precious baby is a complete asshole in this role.

When one of the crew gets killed on set with a chainsaw, Sydney’s assistant quits and drives off in an angry huff. She encounters what appears to be a The Butcher by the side of  the road, but is attacked by someone in her car, too, and she crashes. The notecard for her states that she was missing for six months before they found her car, and her body was never found.

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The sixth episode is mostly about the setup, as Sydney lies, cajoles, and coerces all the actual people, and the actors who played ,them into staying at the Roanoke house for several weeks, while they film the entire thing with hidden cameras. And you know it’s going to be explosive because while all the characters have their reason for joining the new cast, they all hate each other.

Matt wants nothing to do with Shelby, who thinks that they might be able to reconcile, during the show. He would love nothing more than to beat the snot out ofDominic, because he slept with his wife. The Shelby actress,Audrey,  is deeply insecure about her marriage, and has nothing but contempt for the real Shelby, as being weak and pathetic. The real Lee  hates the real Shelby. The actress who played Lee, Monet,  hates the actual Lee, and the all actors  have contempt for the actual people they portrayed on the show, laughing and joking about them, whenever they leave the room. Also none of the actors believe in any of the stuff that they say happened to them.

I don’t think this bodes well for non-believers because non-belief won’t save them from what’s happening at Roanoke House.  Like Stephen King’s 1408, what’s happening there isn’t dependent on whether you believe it or not. One of the reasons Shelby, Matt, and Lee survived is because they  simply believed what was happening to them.

Things get off to a rousing start when Lee attacks Shelby, calling her weak and pathetic, just as Audrey does later. Here’s where I have to admit to a certain amount of prejudice towards Shelby myself. As soon as I heard what she did for a living my first thought was that she was a  useless woman, and not someone you want to have in a crisis, but she proved to be okay in that regard. I still don’t like her though.

Later, Matt attacks Dominic and they have a knockdown, drag-out fight, as soon as Dominic steps through the front door. This certainly makes for exciting television for the viewers, but that’s not the point of this episode, because this  isn’t the twist.

It turns out we’re all looking at whatever footage was leftover from a show which never got a chance to air because ,with exception of only one person, the entire cast died.

So we’re really watching final days of everyone involved with the making of My Roanoke Nightmare. And they’re might even be additional twists as the season moves forward.

So yeah,I’m really getting into this. When that note-card appeared onscreen, I got chills. This is awesome!

Lkeke’s Fall Lineup (TV)

Television

I will review the first episode of season three of The Strain this weekend. Hopefully it won’t turn into a hate-review and this season will be better put together than last season. There’s still going to be plenty of snarking on it though. I have never in my life hate-watched a show, but I really believed in the show, because its such a great idea and  the books were pretty good, and I kept hoping the show would get better.

It didn’t.

Last season had some truly awful plot points, characters, and whole episodes. I always go into these endeavors with a sense of optimism, though. I’ll try to do the same for this show as I do for all the other shows.

I will be reviewing as many of the new pilots as I can, and based on my reactions to those, I will add or subtract them to the list of weekly reviews, but my time is limited. I may not review one of your favorites. There are some shows that I’m definitely waiting to review, on a regular basis as soon as they return, like Into the Badlands (TBD/2017), and Shadowhunters, which looks silly and fun,  and The Magicians. I don’t think these will be released until next year. In the meantime, here is the list of shows I will definitely give weekly reviews for.

American Horror Story(9/14) – I have no idea what this season is about. Nobody does. The creators are keeping it a secret which is very frustrating to a lot of people who are used to knowing the entire plots of movies before they’re even released. I don’t mind the surprise, though. I do know that whatever the creators give us will be batshit crazy, so I’m expectant.

Luke Cage (9/30) – I’m so looking forward to this. it looks like its going to be fun. I will be watching for how the characters are treated, especially, the WoC, as Marvel doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to such things.I wonder if Iron Fist will get a mention, and if we’ll get to hear Luke’s catchphrase from the comic books.

Supernatural (10/13) – The show that never ends will be in its twelfth season.  Like I told you guys, I’m gonna be here to the end of the line.  I always go into every  new season with a positive outlook, and I’ll decide how I feel about a season when its over. As usual, my reviews will first be posted on https://samanddeanbrothersinarms.wordpress.com/      and then reblogged here.

The Walking Dead (10/23) – I’ve mostly avoided talking about this show all Summer. I feel really good about this season despite the presence of Negan and the absence of his victim, which I know is really gonna hurt, no matter who it is. I refuse to speculate as to who it will be.

I may or may not review From Dusk Til Dawn (9/6) and Aftermath (9/27) on the Syfy channel. Also coming up is the second season of Ash vs. The Evil Dead (10/2), which I may not review because I didn’t like how the one black woman in the entire show got treated in the narrative. I’m still pissed off about the writers fridging her  (in the   most horrible manner they could think of), just to provide some minor manpain for Ash.

There’s some intriguing new shows coming to the Syfy network , that I have no idea what to think about them, like Falling Water (10/13), and Channel Zero (9/27), which looks pretty scary and weird. I’ll review the pilots if I remember to program them into the DVR.

I still have not watched The Get Down on Netflix, and had no plans to watch Mr. Robot or Gomorrah.

 The pilots I’ll be reviewing are:

Atlanta (9/6) – this looks like a lot of fun. It has an all Black cast, and I’m casting around for a new comedy that’s as good as Black-ish and Brooklyn 99, and I like Donald Glover.

Pitch (/22) – I don’t normally watch anything that’s sports related outside of The Olympics. I definitely do not watch anything involving Baseball, but this looks so good, I’m getting kinda excited for it. I may never watch beyond the pilot but I hope it does well. Its about the first female pitcher in major league baseball, and she’s a black woman, so I hope the writers get the subjects of racism, misogyny, and feminism right.

Versailles (10/1) – I love historical shows about 17th and 18th century France. (Mostly because I love the clothes.) I’m going to check it out because its different from anything else I’m watching and will tide me over til Vikings (TBD/2017) is back on. I always have to watch at least one or two shows that totally don’t fit the aesthetic of anything else I’m watching. I like a little variety, sometimes.

Still Star Crossed (TBD/2017) – This is another historically themed show based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and starring a large Black cast. It looks gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see it.  I just came off  of Coriolanus,  and Macbeth, on Amazon. I’m no expert, and generally not into romances, though. I don’t study the hell out of his plays, or recite them line by line, but I know enough to get by.

Aftermath (9/27) – SyFy needs to hype its new shows more. I barely paid attention to this one but from the trailer it looks interesting. I don’t know if I’m going to tune in on a week by week basis, because The Walking Dead is enough apocalyptic TV for anyone. But this looks like one of those End of the World Christian millenialist type deals and I’m not gonna get all het up about this if I’m also watching the Exorcist.

Channel Zero (9/27) – There’s a horrible looking tooth-monster in the trailer. That’s all I got because Syfy is trying real hard to be mysterious about the creepy shows its going to be airing this Fall. I’m okay with that approach. It just means I’ll tune in to find out what the hell was going on in the trailer.

Midnight Texas (TBD/2017) – From the writer of True Blood (Charlaine Harris) and it may even star a few characters who made cameos on there. This is on NBC, which brought us Hannibal, but I’m not getting my hopes up ,that the show is going to be too wild. I think Hannibal was maybe a fluke or something.

Westworld (10/2) – I generally try to avoid HBO’s shows as they tend to rely a great deal on female violation to titillate male viewers. I’ve already read a bad review of the pilot for Westworld. On the other hand, I enjoyed Deadwood,  Carnivale, and Oz, and  I have memories of the original movie. I want to know how it stacks up.

Mascots (Netflix 10/13) – This is a comedy from the creator of Best in Show,  which is one of my favorite mockumentary films. Its about the world of sports team mascots. I expect it to be as lowkey hilarious as the movies Christopher Guest writes.

Falling Water (10/13) – I got nothing! Looks intriguing. I know nothing about it. I’m not especially impressed by the trailer and that doesn’t bode well.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (10/22) – I remember reading this book in High School. The trailer looks suitably zany and Frodo is starring in it, and I like him, so I’m going to check it out and see what’s up. There’s also a BBC version of this series, which I have not seen but the trailer looks as zany as this one.

The Crown (Netflix/TBD) – Another historical series on Netflix. I’m not especially impressed with this but I may watch it.

The Exorcist (9/23) – There’s no way this is as good as the original movie but I have to watch it to find out if that’s true.

There’s a bunch of returning shows that I will probably watch but only give a barebones review for. I prefer to leave such reviews up to those who’ve been more devoted to those shows than I have been. Nevertheless I am giddy about a few of the returning shows, like:

Teen Wolf (Season 6 -11/16)

Brooklyn 99 (Season 4 – 9/20)

Agents of Shield (9/20) 

Okay, lets try this again. I haven’t been watching this show because I dislike Chloe Bennett. She’s just highly annoying to me, for some reason, although I like everybody else, with my fave being Melinda, naturally. This season is helped by having one of my all-time favorite characters joining the show Ghostrider. I read these comics as a teen, and even watched those shitty movies, starring a totally miscast Nicholas Cage, for the special effects.

Legends of Tomorrow (Season 2 – 10/13)

I kinda like this show. I cant stand to watch most of the other superhero shows on the Cw but I get through this one just fine. I’m not devoted, but I am intrigued, mostly by Firestorm, whose comic I used to read the hell out of.

From Dusk Til Dawn (Season 3)

I missed some parts of season tweo but i watched enough to know what’s going on and to look forward to season three. This show still looks great but some of the acting is a little cheesy, and the plot is all over the place, by the middle of the season. Nevertheless, where else am I going to see lots of bad-ass, Mexican vampires.

Yeah…NO!

I have no intention of looking at these shows although some of you guys might get a kick out of them.

Conviction starring Hayley Atwell –  She’s a great actress but she’s made  the horrible choice of picking a bland lawyer show to star in next and I don’t watch those.

Lethal Weapon – I refuse to relive mediocre eighties action movies, in the form of mediocre television shows.

Sleepy Hollow – C’mon! You know why!

The DC superhero shows on the CW, I don’t dislike these shows exactly, but I’m never gonna be a Supergirl fan, I don’t care who is on that show. Arrow simply wasn’t compelling enough for me and The Flash felt like it was aimed at kids, although I really like the characters.

I like the look of Gotham and I hope its improved since the second season, when I last watched it, but it wasn’t compelling enough for me, even with the addition of Jada Smith.The show looks gorgeous but its stil la show with cops in it and I’m avoiding those right now.

Lucifer has some interesting looking characters, but I’m waiting for an especially compelling trailer or something becasue so far its just not capturing me, even though it stars DB Woodside, on of my fave Black actors.

Training Day seems like a grittier version of Lethal Weapon. I’m not watching any cop shows, so this one is out.

Van Helsing – I watched the pilot. I was thoroughly unimpressed. No.

Wolf Creek – I’m not sure how I feel about this one yet. Its one of those serial killer movies, so maybe no.

Next up Movies and Books to look forward to.

Review: Red Right Hand – Levi Black

Charlie is set upon by three large skinless dogs in her house, but is saved by a man in a living black coat, who calls himself The Crawling Chaos. He also claims that Charlie is a descendant of Lovecraft, that her boyfriend is a descendant of cultists who worship the Old Gods, which makes him  susceptible to being mentally enslaved by the bad guy.  Mr. Chaos mentally takes Charlie’s boyfriend, Daniel, hostage and tasks her to complete one job for him, after which he’ll set her, and Daniel, free.

I’d like to tell you how this book ended but I didn’t finish it. I simply couldn’t read any further. This book contains every annoying trope that made me stop reading Paranormal YA novels, which featured snarky young,  White women,  who reluctantly become heroes.

 

Who this book is aimed at:

Young women aged 16- 30

Who love lots of gore and horror movies, or just think that kind of stuff is edgy

Who are independent living with possible boyfriends

Women who consider Twilight to be a little light reading

Who love Anne Rice but wishes there was more blood in it

Who are new fans of H.P. Lovecraft

Who have taken up Martial Arts as a hobby

Women who consider themselves spunky and/or snarky

 

Why I didn’t care for this book:

I am none of the above.

I hated Twilight. For me those books weren’t worth reading. I mostly tried to pretend they didn’t exist.

I liked Anne Rice, when I was a teenager. I’m pretty much over her now.

I’m not actually a Lovecraft fan, although I have read a Helluva lot of Lovecraftian type fiction. I am not new at it.

I’m considerably older than thirty and hence had no patience for the voice of the primary character in this book. It was just annoying to me.

I feel like this books was heavily over-written. Its’ certainly over-descriptive. I like description. Its not a bad thing. It is a bad thing when there is waaay too much of it. It reads like that friend who is deeply enthusiastic about some subject, about which you don’t care, but they refuse to shut up.

There was a moment of tension when Charlie was first attacked by the dogs mentioned on the book flap, but I’m an old hand at horror novels, and this wasn’t particularly scary for me. If you’re an experienced Horror reader, this may not be the book for you.

 

This book is great for younger readers who are much less jaded than me. It gets 3/5 stars because a good effort was made to be scary. I’m just not the audience for it.

 

He Never Died (2015)

He Never Died (2015)

Oh, did I mention I was a Henry Rollins fan, and that I liked him long before he starting showing up in some very interesting (and  occasionally pretty bad) films.  I’ve  been a fan since he was the lead singer in, naturally, The Rollins Band, and then he had a show called, naturally, the Henry Rollins show. He would say things I thought were pretty subversive for TV. Things that appealed to the…

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Dead of Summer Episode One :Patience

Dead of Summer Episode One :Patience

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I know what I was expecting when I heard about Dead of Summer, so I wasn’t going to watch this show. But now I’m intrigued. I don’t, as a rule, watch movies, or shows, involving serial killers, unless there’s a very unique take on the subject. It turns out that Dead of Summer, no matter how much it may look like a retread of Friday the 13th, may not actually be about serial killing, which is what…

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He Never Died (2015)

Oh, did I mention I was a Henry Rollins fan, and that I liked him long before he starting showing up in some very interesting (and  occasionally pretty bad) films.  I’ve  been a fan since he was the lead singer in, naturally, The Rollins Band, and then he had a show called, naturally, the Henry Rollins show. He would say things I thought were pretty subversive for TV. Things that appealed to the young radical in me and I liked him for that.

You may remember him from bad movies like Jack Frost or Johnny Mnemonic. Some of his better roles were in movies like Bad Boys II, Feast, Lost Highway, and a minor role in Heat (with Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.)

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But now he’s doing  slightly subversive movies like He Never Died (and Gotterdamerung with, of all people, Grace Jones and Iggy Pop). Some of you Hannibal fans will like this movie.  Its about a cannibal  whose been trying to suppress the impulse to feed on people, unlike Hannibal, Rollin’s character is the total opposite of Lecter. He’s not upper-crust at all. He’s not refined,  rich, or looking for love.

Actually, he’s a pretty unhappy, mopey person. I guess you would be too if you lived forever, and had a craving for human flesh. He plays a man named Jack who has a very regular routine of visiting the local diner, and playing Bingo, at the local church. Jack doesn’t wander too far from his lane. If he sticks to this rigid routine he can avoid giving in to his craving for people. But its not to last because Jack’s life is about to be up-heaved, in the form of his daughter, Andrea, and some amateur mobsters named Steve and Short, who are looking for his “blood-dealer”,  Jerry, a nurse who owes the mob some money. There’s also  a waitress named Cara, who has a crush on him, but so far he’s been able  to ignore her.

He finds Andrea at the behest of one of his ex-girlfriends, and the two of them do some light bonding. Jack is still a gloomy-gus, but starts to come out of his shell a bit more after interacting with her. She’s no Manic Pixie Girl, though, and I like her for that. She’s snarky and pragmatic, and just her presence alone makes Jack start deviating from his set routines. They both start seeing an old man in a hat, hanging around near Jack’s routine places, though, where previously only Jack could see this person.

Thanks to Jerry though, Steve and Short are now on his trail and  trying to kill him. During one attack, Andrea witnesses him kill Short and eat his flesh. They’re both horrified but for different reasons. He’s scared he will hurt her, because the craving is back full force, and she’s just squicked out by what he’s done. Jack kicks Andrea out of his apartment, but when her mother is killed, and she gets kidnapped by the neighborhood mob boss, named Alex, Jack has to go rescue her.

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After a series of adventures where he keeps trying to start fights  with people who turn out to be good guys, he stumbles across a small gang and kills and eats them when they attack. He also manages to enlist the aid of Cara, the waitress, to find Andrea, by offering her a million dollars. He and Cara manage to find and save Andrea. Alex confesses to having kidnapped her because he remembers that Jack is the same man who killed his father many years ago. Jack is about to kill Alex and eat him too, when he is interrupted by the old man in the hat, who reveals that Jack is actually the Biblical Cain, and that he’s been cursed to walk the world as a man-eating monster for having killed Abel.

 

Jack curses the old man out but ultimately decides not to kill Alex. Jack doesn’t tell Alex who the old man is ( or even that he’s there) but when he leaves with Cara and Andrea, the man in the hat approaches Alex with an offer, revealing himself to be Satan.(A good sequel would be if Alex made a deal with the devil to get revenge on Cain.)

I had some clear expectations when I saw the trailer for this movie. It looked fun and funny and I enjoy watching Rollins’ nonchalant style of acting, which goes a long way towards making the movie as funny as it is. The actors are pretty good at matching his style, especially  the two amateur gangsters, who act like they’re extras from Boyz in Tha Hood, and Alex, who thinks he’s in The Godfather.I knew going in that the movie would be about Cain because I’d heard the phrase  “he never died”, in reference to to his name before, and Rollins just looks like I picture Cain might actually appear, if he were a real person. I also thought it was going to be about vampires. It’s not, but I was close enough.

The plot is not excessively complicated, and most of the humor, like the movie “What We Do In The Shadows”, comes from the characters attitudes towards what’s happening, and not the actual plot. One of my favorite moments is when Andrea asks Jack what he does for fun and he takes her to Bingo session, and she seems to find it a pleasant activity. Another is when Steve and Short try to pick one of several fights with him, and he keeps warning them not to do that.

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I liked the depiction of the two women, who are at first incredulous, but then very matter-of- fact about Jack’s invulnerability, as they start to take it in stride. There’s a kidnapping, but no beatings or rapes. Yeah, sure the daughter is the damsel in distress, but she’s atypical just in general. In fact, the women are never treated as sexy floor lamps, even thought the movie isn’t about them. They’re just regular women caught up in something very, very weird. Henry Rollins is the star of the movie and he fills most of its screentime.

 

The movie is not especially gory or even very talky, as Jack has almost nothing to say to anyone and is out of practice at being sociable. There are lots of action scenes, which the creators managed to  make pretty funny, as Jack shrugs off various attacks on his person. What I especially liked is that the Biblical storyline wasn’t offensive to me. If you’re not a believer, you won’t be offended by the plot, as you are not asked to believe anything in it, and if you are, the plot isn’t asking you to believe anything that goes against your Christian tenets, which is a thin tightrope to walk.

On the other hand if you are offended by light gore and cussing, its best to miss this one.

 

ETA:

Correction, Andrea does get hurt pretty badly in the film. I remember she’s mostly unable to walk, by the end of it, as Cara helps her to their car. I can’t exactly remember how she gets hurt though, only that it happens after her kidnapping, so if watching characters hurt women is of especial concern for you, please exercise caution at that point in the movie. I know watching women get beaten can be triggering, or bothersome, for some people, so I wanted to give fair warning that the film may have such scenes.

He Never Died is now available on Netflix.

Dead of Summer Episode One :Patience

I know what I was expecting when I heard about Dead of Summer, so I wasn’t going to watch this show. But now I’m intrigued. I don’t, as a rule, watch movies, or shows, involving serial killers, unless there’s a very unique take on the subject. It turns out that Dead of Summer, no matter how much it may look like a retread of Friday the 13th, may not actually be about serial killing, which is what I  found so refreshing.

In the first episode, we get our usual cast of characters, who show up at a re-opened summer camp, that had been closed after a horrible tragedy. Actually that’s not our opening scene. The opening scene involves Tony Todd, as the last surviving member of a suicide cult, of some kind, who drowned themselves in the nearby river.He is subsequently killed by some angry townspeople.

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So whatever tragedy befell the camp, before our new crop of teenagers showed up, is not the only tragedy in that area. Our  second clue, that this show might not be what it seems, is the teens who are there for the summer are reunited from one of the years before the camp closed, and they all know each other, except for the virginal looking new girl, who turns out to be not quite as innocent as she seems either.

There are the usual cliches like the shady locals warning people to stay away, the nosy sheriff, who looks like he may be hiding something too, the cranky groundskeeper, and the camp director, who seems oblivious, but is more than a little sketchy herself.

The cast is the usual grab bag of cliches as well, or so it seems. There’s the hot, sexy skank, the pre-occupied, brainy black guy, the rebel who barely speaks, and the usual J.Crew catalog models, along with the gay best friend, but these people aren’t exactly as they seem either.

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Everyone has secrets and some of them are both literally, and figuratively, haunted by their pasts. The new girl has been seeing the ghost of a little girl at the camp, while suffering from some dark regrets, from her own past, involving a former friend.

The black guy starts seeing images of Tony Todd in his videos (he’s the group’s video chronicler), which is pretty frightening, if you’ve ever seen Tony Todd. He has also been getting some significant eyeballing from the camp director. I don’t yet know what any of her eyeballing means but she’s either totally cougaring him or hates his guts. I’m not sure.

So far, no one has been serial killed yet, and this may or may not occur, what with ghosts running all over the place, the groundskeeper knocking off deer and leaving them laying around to fertilize the lawn, and the sheriff investigating the groundskeeper, for being an ass, as far as I can tell.

 

I found the show really interesting. It started off doing some expected things but then introduced a few ideas I wasn’t looking for, like ghosts, so now I’m asking questions, and that’s always a good first step to loving a show.

Its not a particularly heavy show, but its definitely not a comedy either. Everything is played for straight and the actors are acceptable. Actually, what surprised me was that the characters were likable. I usually end up hating the characters so much that I root for the killer to get them. But I genuinely like these people. There are a couple of bland ones, and they all do the usual cliched activities, like telling scary stories to each other around the campfire, but they’re not ugly to each other just for fun, or obnoxious, or anything. They’re not mean to the new girl for funsies, and they take the gay character in stride without a blink, and don’t try to haze, or shame, the truculent, quiet, rebel. Even the ones you think are just there to be pretty act relatively intelligent.

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The show’s atmosphere is just a tiny bit of camp (no pun meant). Just enough to let you know its okay to laugh at some things but mostly its a drama.

So, I will be checking out a few more episodes, although most of my reviewing for the Summer is done. (I will continue with my regularly scheduled programming in the Fall, though.) This looks much more interesting than Outcast, which is totally not capturing me.

For those of you who are still not sure, Dead of Summer is from the creators of Once Upon a Time and airs on The Family Channel, which is now called Freeform