This week we read Snow by Ronald Malfi. It was a nice change of pace from what we had been reading so far. There was a flow the story had that just seemed to pull you in. Malfi had a fascinating way of weaving his story through his prose to keep you intrigued.
Let’s start with what I did not like about this story. The beginning was slow for me. I felt that it took too long to get things going. I love a story that hits the ground running and takes me along for a ride. This one did not do that for me. If the opening scene at the airport would have been shorter, I think that I would have liked it better. The cause for my dislike of the opening was due to the salesman. He was so annoying that he drove me insane just reading his words. While I did not like the salesman, I do see his purpose. He was meant to push Todd Curry away so he would go and run into Kate Jansen.
Now, on to what I liked about this story. The characters were intriguing and seemed real. I could see them as though they were right in front of me. Malfi has a great way with his prose that makes your heart race with things are tense and slow when things have settled down. The control he had over the written word made me forgive him for the slow beginning to the story.
My favorite character was Kate Jansen. She was tough and hard as nails with a soft, caring side at her core. This is the type of female character I love to read. Kate didn’t sit on the sidelines or hide behind Todd. She was there every step of the way and was a great compliment to Todd. Todd was an okay character, but Kate took the cake. She took no prisoners and spoke what was on her mind. In my opinion, Kate would have made a better main character than Todd except for the fact that we have no idea what would have been her goal or motivation. She did not have any children that we know of. All she had was her fiancé whom she wondered if they were ever going get married. To me, that doesn’t seem like a high motivation.
Let’s take a look at the monster. How scary would it be to have something so mundane as snow turn or used against you? It makes me shudder a little to even think about this. It would be a world of constant danger, and no one would be safe.
I enjoyed the fresh idea of an alien race being able to use something we see every day against us. It gave them the perfect camouflage to fool us and attack when we least expected it. The ability to hide in the snow almost made the entity un-killable but then where would the fun have been with that. Thankfully Malfi gave them a weakness so we could fight back. The story would have been no fun if we knew there was no hope.
Overall, I enjoyed this book once I got past the beginning with the annoying salesman. He served his purpose to push the story forward. The rest was done by Todd and Kate. They complimented each other in a way that made them flow together.
Today I watched The Thing. I realized it had been some time since I saw it the first time. I was a teenager when I first saw it so about 15-20 years ago give or take. I didn’t remember much of the movie, so it felt like I was watching it again for the first time.
I will say I liked this one. Yes, there were parts I found cheesy. For example the way the monster looked as it would burst out of its victims, but of course, that was what special effects were when the movie was produced. I think what made me like the film was the conflict between the humans and the monster and humans amongst themselves. Of course, the monster came off as unrealistic, but the key to this movie was the way everyone responded.
We have a group of men all the way out in the artic or somewhere cold. They are exposed to some organism that can invade the body and mutate it from the inside out. How creepy is that? It makes you wonder what you would do if this happened to you? I feel that this is what makes the story a little more relatable. The fact that these men all knew each other and were somewhat friends helped to make this story plausible. Their paranoia kept them alive but also drove a wedge through their comradery.
The idea of human versus human is an old trope, but I don’t know if it get’s old. There are so many different types of personalities that this can create the right amount of conflict and not seem like the same old story over and over.
At the basic level of this movie, it is the fear of the unknown. This organism can survive frigid temperatures and can reanimate itself once it warms up. There are actual organisms in nature that are like this, so I feel this adaptation for the monster made it easier to believe. Who wouldn’t be scared of this and everyone around them?
They did a good job creating that tension between the characters. MacReady was always trying to be on step ahead of the monster. He kept tensions high with his I’m taking control of the situation attitude. He was also the one who survived the longest. He came across and as the reluctant hero of the story. MacReady was perfectly happy sitting there drinking his alcohol and fighting with the computer.
Even though I had seen this movie a few times when I was younger, parts still made me jump. One part was when they were using the paddles to bring back one of the men who died. The belly crashing in on itself and his hands falling inside while sharp jagged teeth bit both arms off grossed me out. I knew in the back of my head that something was going to happen, but I couldn’t remember.
Another thing I found good about this movie was the way the monster tried to adapt itself. It wasn’t a mindless thing that just killed. It wanted to trick us and make use believe it was one of us until it could strike. Its whole goal was to get away from that cold, isolated place so it could multiply and take over. I wonder what would have happened if it had and then ran out of a food source. Would it have adapted and make sure that it only killed so many living things or would they have turned on each other till there was only one left?
For me, if I jump in a movie the director and writers did a good job. Most of the time I sit and laugh at horror movies. I don’t find most of them scary. This one wasn’t scary, but the idea of the unknown is what will get you in the end. So, if you are ever somewhere secluded and come across some weird piece of alien tech and it looks abandon I would suggest turning the other way and forget you ever saw it or you could wind up like the men in the movie The Thing.
This week we watched An America Werewolf in London. I honestly do not know what to think about this movie. I wasn’t scared or horrified as I sat and watched it. I felt it was more a blend of horror and comedy than anything else.
It starts out with David and his friend Jack hitching hiking across the countryside. The director tries to build some mystery and suspense to the story by having a kind farmer tell them to stay on the road and head straight to town. Okay, so nothing fascinating about this. They arrive at a pub named the “Slaughtered Lamb.” I felt this was way too obvious of a name for the pub. Let’s just call it bloodbath and be done. The cheesiness goes further with the pentacle on the wall. Most of the time they try to hide it or obscure it in some way. They went for the gusto and had it right in plain sight. I wonder if there was indeed a point to have it out in the open. I think it would have been better to have it hidden somewhere and then it’s discovered, but that’s just me.
I don’t feel that the werewolf attacks were realistic because as Jack is attacked he just lays there and does nothing but scream for help. It honestly looked like it was a mechanical werewolf they had made for this scene. I would have liked to have seen more here. Why didn’t David try to hit the werewolf? He had his large backpack he could have used. I know that may not seem like a smart move, but something else would have been nice.
Something else that bothered me about this movie was the dreams that David had after his attack. I will say the first one he had where he is running through the forest was a good illustration as to what was happening with him. It made him seem more like an animal than a human. The rest of the dreams were just him not being in control of himself; which for a werewolf can happen. There were points that you couldn’t tell if he was dreaming or actually committing the act. I know they did this to cause conflict within David. I don’t know if it worked for me. I felt it was more confusing than if they had just shown in committing the acts.
I did find parts of this movie entertaining. I loved how Jack followed David around like his own little Jimmy Cricket. Now, Jimmy Cricket wasn’t trying to get Pinocchio to kill himself, but he did remind Pinocchio of what he was doing. Jack was a darker version of Jimmy Cricket in the sense that he kept telling David that the only way to end this was to kill himself. He had to end the bloodline of the werewolf to end the curse. I thought it was funny that the more we saw Jack, the more his body decayed. I don’t think that was effective. It made it more comical than serious.
They tried to add a darker element to the movie with all the victims haunting David. I don’t know if all of them needed to do this. I felt like it was trying to force the sympathy card and lay a massive guilt trip on David. I think Jack and maybe one other would have been effective enough to push that in. The director could have pitted his victims against each other, and it would have made David seem crazier.
Something I haven’t touch on yet was the transformation. I found this to be annoying and over the top. All he did was scream as he changed. I guess I wanted to be more believable. I don’t see someone transforming and still retaining that human sound to their voice. I felt the screams should have been more like howls than anything. Oh, and on this idea of the transformation and screaming why didn’t any of the neighbors come running to see what was going on. The door was even open.
Overall the movie isn’t bad. I just don’t feel it was a really good werewolf movie. It came across as comical to me. They tried to set it up as something scary and wound up blending horror and comedy. I feel this made it fall flat.
This week we watched Alien with Sigourney Weaver. I remember seeing this moving when I was a kid, and I enjoyed it. There are still parts that make me jump even today. I have always been fascinated by the idea of a species that had perfected a way to survive and dominate anything that got in its way. I think what made this movie so good wasn’t the gore, but the way in which the crew responded and how the alien was able to hide in plain sight.
The movie sets us up to see that the crew is kind of like a tightknit family. Everyone has their role and interacts with each other as best they can. In a movie like this, I think it’s imperative that there is some comradery with the characters. It helps to draw you and make you feel like; yeah I could be part of the crew too. I could do what Sirgnoey Weaver’s character does any day and so on.
One of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when the alien baby rips open the man’s abdomen. It’s a great example of the director blending horror and humor. You might be asking how that scene is funny? The reason it’s comical is in the way the alien makes her escape. I know special effects were still coming along but the way it moved reminded me my son’s windup cars. You pull it back, and it shoots straight forward. You can’t help but laugh at this. That is why I think it was funny. I don’t know if that was the intention the director had, but it was effective.
I think the way they designed the alien was rather effective. They made it so that it could blend in with the machinery and other types of equipment inside the ship. If you weren’t paying attention, it got the drop on you. There were two beneficial uses of this ability. One is when they decide to go hunt the alien down and find the cat instead. They send one from their group after the cat, which I think was pretty dumb. He’s so focused on the cat that he missed the alien hanging right there in the chains. It helped to build the suspense in that scene.
At the end the movie where Sigourney Weaver’s character thinks everything is safe and she defeated the alien do we find out how wrong she was. That creature was smart and if she hadn’t of stumbled upon it hiding in the hoses she would have been it’s next victim. What a great use of the setting to trick the viewer. This I think could work well in a book if written correctly.
One thing that did not work for me was how fast the alien went from this little thing about a foot or so tall to something the size of a grown man. I know we are supposed to suspend belief that since they are in space and dealing with an unknown species it’s growth rate is accelerated. If they had had a scene where they tracked it, then it would be more believable to me. That part just didn’t work.
Overall I enjoyed the movie then and still to this day. It was a great example of horror in that it doesn’t go overboard with the gore but pulls you into the story. I think that’s why all the subsequent alien movies did so well. They kept upping the creep factor but kept the gore realist.
This week we read World War Z by Max Brooks, and I enjoyed it. Now I have seen the movie, and I thought the movie was okay. It was interesting, but of course, it had the Hollywood flare. The book, on the other hand, was set up as a series of interviews and was much more interesting to me.
I switched between the audio and the actual novel just due to limited time to sit and read. I have to say listening to this on audio, was for lack of a better word, awesome and I highly recommend “reading” it this way. It reminded me, in a way, of Interview with the Vampire, where one person was asking all the questions and recording the responses. With the audio, you got a feel for each of the other characters being interviewed. It wasn’t just one person reading the story and changing their voice. Each character questioned had their distinct sound.
I loved the uniqueness of each character as the voice actors read their lines. They did more than just read it but brought life to these words and you were able to get a sense of how these people felt reliving the nightmare they went through. It made me feel like I was in an old war movie where the main character had experienced so much horror that reliving those memories re-opened old wounds.
Now I liked how the novel was set up. The book had a flow that was easy to get swept up in. There was a natural back and forth between the characters that sometimes you don’t see much in a story written like an interview. The characters seemed to almost dance as they spoke to each other. While listening to the story, I found myself able to see what they saw all those years ago for them. I felt like I was there.
One group of accounts that made me feel like I was in the thick of it with them was the military personnel who were in the hot zones. I don’t know if it is because of my military background in weapons. I was taught to line up my sights and aim for the center of mass because I did security detail. Our reactions to situations were more rushed, not the way the soldiers talked in the book and it made me wonder how they would have instructed us if something like this happened. Our goal was always to respond quickly and secure the area. When the guy started to talk about how they were taught to take their time killing each zombie because those things weren’t in any hurry. He described in vivid detail how he lined up his sights and nailed them right between the eyes. You could tell from the way he spoke that this excited him and frightened him.
Even though the book was a collection of eyewitness accounts, it still gave the feel of a story to me. Each person was strategically placed in an order that leads you from the beginning to the middle to the very end of the story. I felt as though there was more to the story than what had been told and I wanted to read more of it.
Overall, whether you read the novel or listen to the audio, I think you will enjoy this story more than the movie. The details these characters give is so much better than anything they did in the movie.
I just finished watching the 1968 version of Night of the Living Dead, and I am not sure how I feel about this movie. I understand it is a classic in horror films, but for me, it didn’t appeal at all. I sat there watching the video and thinking is this supposed to be scary, horrify, or make me wonder, what if. The movie did none of those things for me.
The movie starts with Barbra and her brother Jonny going to the cemetery to place flowers on a relatives grave for their Mom. When the movie first started I felt like they were more husband and wife than brother and sister. They just argued like a married couple. It wasn’t until Jonny started teasing Barbra telling her “they are coming to get you Barbra” over and over that I caught on that they were brother and sister. Most husbands wouldn’t be dumb enough to do that to their wives unless they planned to sleep on the couch.
The chase scenes were comical. These living dead or zombies were shambling along, and no matter how fast the victim ran it was right behind them. That didn’t make much sense to me. Also, how did they know where to look to find them? They are dead and operating on basic instincts. So maybe they had a heightened sense of smell. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that they all had this six sense of knowing when there were humans around. It made me think back to Sarah Pinborough book Breeding Ground where the spiders have this type hive mind, and I wondered if that was the same thing for the living dead.
One part I did like was the conflict inside the farmhouse. I think they did a good job of creating the tension between Ben and Harry Cooper. They both wanted to be in control and felt that they were right. People behave like this all the time. It’s evident in the workplace. Ben is sure that is safer to be upstairs because his logic dictates that they can run off they need too. While I agree with this in some aspects, it also leaves them vulnerable to attack of the living dead breaking through his little defense of boarding up the windows and door. In that same vein, why would you use just a hodgepodge of boards? If they can get their hands inside, then they can start to rip it apart.
On the other hand, Harry Cooper argued that it was safer in the cellar. I can see the logic with one exit and entrance to defend but let’s get real for a moment. If you barricade yourself in a place like a cellar, you better have enough food and water to last a few months and something to do so you don’t go insane. Plus if those things get in there, you have no way you and you might as well shoot yourself. I did not think his idea of staying down there was a good idea.
One thing that drove me insane was Barbra’s character. I understand that she lost her brother and was scared of those things chasing her but did she have to be so weak and feeble minded? At one point they make you think she is one of the living dead but that was just a bit of foreshadowing. They do this by having her sit there staring at the pattern on a piece of lace and gets scared when the other women light a cigarette. Barbra barely says anything that is useful. I just couldn’t relate to her. I would have much preferred a character who took charged and help and then once it was over break down. That would be more understandable.
Overall, I was not impressed with Night of the Living Dead. It left me wanting more from the movie. I did try to think of it in the context of when it was made, but that didn’t help. If they had made it more realistic, I could have gotten into the movie. I just don’t think the dead coming back to life are going to be that smart.
This week we read another short story by Clive Baker, The Yattering and Jack. I was a little apprehensive after reading Rawhead Rex. That story, while well written, grossed me out. I still want to throw that story across the room but I don’t want to break my computer. I cannot deal with things done to children. It hits to close to home.
I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up The Yattering and Jack, and I enjoyed reading this one. In the beginning, I was a little worried the story would be stale and stall out. The Yattering is a minor demon whose sole purpose is to push people over the edge so Hell can collect their souls. He is assigned to Jack who is as bland as eating a plain rice cake. Nothing gets under Jack’s skin. Not even his wife cheating on him in their house.
As the story progresses, the Yattering tries everything he can to make Jack flinch. I have to give the little guy credit he was persistent. Due to his persistence, we get to know more about him than we do if Jack was the narrator. Everything we learn in the beginning is through the Yattering eyes. From how boring the house is after the wife is dead to how unresponsive Jack is. In doing this Clive kept us in the dark about what was going on. I was worried for a minute that this was going to be a dull story if something didn’t start happening soon.
It was interesting near the end to see that Jack was trying to hide his anger and annoyance. I give him credit he had high self-control. We finally get to hear Jack’s thoughts and see how he perceived the world he was stuck in. I liked how we slowly learn that he knows what the Yattering is doing because of some deal his mother made he has to keep everything under wraps.
I laughed when the Yattering decided to make the Christmas turkey start to dance in the oven. It was gross to hear about it spilling it’s stuffing all over the floor, but all of that was made up by the turkey trying to get out. All I could do was shake my head when Jack played it off as though nothing happened. I think that scene was a great blending of gross and humor with this story. It wasn’t horrific like Rawhead Rex.
The ending was even more comical as we have Jack pitted against the Yattering trying to escape the flying Christmas decoration. The image of Christmas decoration being thrown around like projectiles were funny. It was a well-choreographed dance between good and evil. I felt terrible for his daughter Amanda because she was about to lose her mind. Even though she was strong, the events rattled her. I wasn’t too happy with Jack using his daughters likes this, but it was a great tactic to distract The Yattering and think he was winning. The Yattering overconfidence was finally his undoing. I thought the scene with the two of them locking and unlocking the doors was priceless. The whole time Jack maintains his cool and I sat there and wondered how long with this go on. At the end with the help of his other daughter, Jack was able to make The Yattering so angry that he forgot all the rules they beat into him.
Overall I enjoyed this story. It made me laugh from the beginning to the end. I felt this was a much better story over Rawhead Rex. It was easier to understand everyone’s motivation even if some of it wasn’t revealed to the very end.
I usually know what I want to say about a book but Cycle of the Werewolf has left me at a lost for words. I don’t know how I feel about this book. Let me state that I am not a fan of Stephen King. I don’t find any of his books page turners for me. For me, his horror books do not do it. The only horror book I enjoyed was The Tommy Knockers. Now let me read The Green Mile or The Shawshank Redemption, and they were good stories. The characters were interesting and the story that he told had a meaning. It drew you in, and you wanted to know more. While this book did not bore me it did not wow me. I sat here waiting for the story to pick up to get more from the characters and possibly even more from the werewolf. What I got instead was glimpses like snapshots into lives of these townspeople right before they died.
The story starts out with a series of four murders over the course of four months each occurring on the full moon. With each of these horrible crimes, we get glimpses into the lives of the people in the small town of Tanker’s Mills. With each month that passes we get a little more information about life in the town and the werewolf. There is no guessing who the werewolf could because we are never given any clues until later in the book.
I will say that each of the characters covered are different in lifestyle and persona. You can distinctly tell their voice by the narrator’s words and their own. There was no confusion about who was talking. I think that was possible because most of the characters were the only covered in that “chapter.” If there were multiple characters, they were limited, but each word about them or spoken by them was picked carefully so the reader could tell who the main focus was.
As the story progress, we learn who the two main characters of this book are Marty Coslow and Reverend Lowe. Marty is a ten-year-old boy who hopes are dashed when the 4th of July fireworks are canceled due to a full moon. He is upset, and his Uncle who is a bit of an enabler gives him a package of fireworks and tells him to wait till after the full moon. First of all how many of us remember being ten years old or have a ten-year-old. We all know no one is going to wait. Marty decides that this is a good time to go out on the night of the full moon. In doing this, he encounters the werewolf and thank goodness for the irresponsible uncle because if Marty had not had the fireworks, he would have been the werewolf’s next victim.
Marty uses the fireworks against the werewolf and survives. His parents send him away, and for now, the boy is safe. It isn’t until he goes trick-or-treating with his father that Marty discovers who the werewolf is. Instead of trying to get others to listen to him he taunts the werewolf with letters. Asking him why he does it and why doesn’t he kill himself. I’m sorry, but this kid is not too bright because before the book ends, he signs his name to the letter. All I wanted to do was reach through the book and smack him upside his head. Let’s lead the suspected killer right to you then panic and beg your uncle for a gun.
The story ends with the werewolf coming to Marty’s house to silence him. The uncle sits on the couch with a gun in his lap and does nothing. Marty miraculously is a good shot and his second shot lands right in the werewolf’s other eye blinding him completely and killing him the process.
The ending felt anti-climatic, and nothing seemed satisfying. I think this book was a good example of tone and voice. You could feel that throughout the pages but anything short of that I was not enthralled by this story or left wanting another book to be written. I was left with wanting more to the characters in the town and more story to go along with these short pages.
I found this story to be interesting but I really did not like this one. The entire story was gross to me. It starts out with Rawhide Rex being freed from his prison and murdering the man who set him free. We discover that the people who originally imprisoned him buried him alive with a stone heavy enough to hold him down. It’s never explained why everyone really forgets the story about Rawhead Rex, but it assumed that time is the culprit. Eventually, people stop believing in things when the even is no longer fresh in their mind, and there is no written proof of the story.
The story starts when Rawhead Rex gets released from his prison buried deep in the ground, and he goes on a killing rampage. Rawhead Rex kills anyone and everyone in his path. He goes onto leave the remains of his victims where he finds them. Sometimes only leaving a random foot and shredded clothing.
The worst part for me was the way Rawhead Rex desired to eat babies and children. I wanted to throw up at the descriptions and I almost could not finish this story. I don’t like stories with children and babies being murdered in such a way. I think that’s because being a mom I want to protect my children from anything that will harm them. Then you have Rawhead Rex describing how delicious they are and how much he prefers them over grown adults.
I will say this about the story. The details were rather vivid, and I think that’s what evoked such emotion out of me. Clive Barker carefully chose his words for this story, and he did a good job with it. He really brought to life the horror that this creature could wreck upon the world. The author focused more on what Rawhead Rex was doing rather than the setting around him. We are given enough information as to the setting to be able to fill the missing details that most authors give you in a story. This story could take place in any town almost anywhere in the world, and it would fit.
What I would have liked to have seen was more about what scared Rawhead Rex. He mentioned that he could smell the blood on the woman and that was poison to him. Well why was it? I didn’t really understand that part. What made a woman’s time of the month so deadly to him? Rawhead Rex is even repulsed by it and is ready to leave but instead eats the pony and thinks about what he is going to do. He never really has a plan on how he is going to get his revenge and become the King. All he does is succeed in getting himself brought down and killed by the people of this town.
Another thing I would have liked more explanation of was this stone was that they found inside the altar. What was it’s significance? What power did it hold over him? Was it because it was a holy relic or the idea that it was something from God.
As much as I did not like this story I would have like a few things answered. I think this is why I don’t read shorter stories. While the story leaves you with a sense of dread and turns your stomach, I think it could have given us a little more to go on.
This week we had to read Breeding Ground by Sarah Pingborough. The title alone caught my attention and the description hooked me into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept me turning the pages and forgetting about the time when I should have been getting to bed to sleep. This story pushes a person to think about what they would do in some of the situations the characters faced.
It follows the story of Matthew Edge who loses his wife Chloe and their unborn child to this new species of spiders that use humans as host for their young and food. Matt narrowly escapes by the sheer willpower of Chloe using the last ounce of her strength to break the connection to the hive mind long enough for her to tell Matthew to get out and don’t come back for her.
Matt runs and bumbles around along the way at first. Instead of being quiet he makes lots of noise breaking into places for the basics like food and clothing. Luckily for him, nothing comes out into the streets to attack him. His luck doesn’t change till he meets an old man named George. George becomes a surrogate father to the survivors, and they flee their homes in search of some places safer.
Sarah Pingborough plays with your emotions in this story. Every character has a secret they are running from. For Matt, he was running from what happened to Chloe and the man he found wrapped up in a cocoon begging for help. He never opens up about the man asking for help till he faces a spider or a widow as they call him and it repeats the word “help me.” That is just creepy right there. Others lost their loved ones, and some didn’t know what had happened to them.
The one character who hit a nerve for me most was Nigel Phelps. He was arrogant and pompous about everything. He sticks to the conventions of his normal routine from searching for expensive clothes to personal hygiene. Nigel never speaks about what happened to his family like everyone else. It isn’t until the very end that we discover he and his daughter were pinned for hours unable to move. Their bodies muscle were numb, and as the widow came from inside his wife instead of protecting his little girl, he throws her at the widow and crawls away while she screams for help. What makes this part the worse is he does the same thing to another little girl who knew his daughter all because the little girl’s big sister was infected somehow with a widow growing inside of her. His fear turned him into a monster more so than the widows at that moment. As a mother, I was enraged and sickened. There have been very few characters I had wanted to end myself, but Nigel was at the top of my list.
Sarah plays with emotions in this novel. She did an excellent job of pulling our heartstrings throughout the story. I know there were a few points in the story where my heart was racing and praying that everyone made it out alright. Other times I was ready to strangle the idiocy of some of the characters. Even though only one narrator was telling the story, Sarah wrote the story well enough that we could connect with the other characters involved in the story even the ones we didn’t.
Overall this a very well written, gripping book. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. Sarah Pingborough evokes all your emotions and leaves you sitting there wondering what you would do in a situation like this. I highly recommend this book.