Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 16-03-2013
You have to see the movie – if only to prove to yourself that a movie CAN actually be made from that surreal, trippy tangle of a book (by Jason Pargin under the pseudonym of David Wong). They couldn’t tackle all of it, and that’s okay; what you’re left with is the world’s craziest romp with only enough linear thinking to keep it from being Dadaesque. A Reaper Rating of 4 (“Thrill Kill”) on this one, simply because I didn’t think it could be done … and I was wrong. Oh, so very wrong.
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 03-11-2012
I have described Ania Ahlborn’s”Seed” to friends as a cross between “The Exorcist” and “Donnie Darko”; although some of the characters and situations seem familiar, the writing is spare and fresh and extra “in your face” because of the casual style. Do not read if you are looking for smatterings of “Poltergeist” humor; these are people in a decidedly Not Funny situation and the pressure and horror only increase throughout the book. I personally love how the main characters seem to waste a lot of valuable time in denial, doing nothing; this is a good countermeasure to other books that seem to have a superhero (just add water) in the wings. Some of the scenes are still with me – which is rare. I can see why the story was optioned for film development. Am I brave enough to see the movie if it’s made? Perhaps … “Seed” gets a Reaper Rating of 4 (“Thrill Kill”) for its verve, tenacity, and ability to inspire night light use.
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 12-08-2012
WARNING: IMAGES ARE UNSETTLING AND MAY CONTAIN VIOLENCE AND GORE
Joshua Hoffine’s photography is visual microfiction of the grimmest kind. Working with a dazzling array of themes and classic tales (e.g., Persephone, H.P. Lovecraft’s “Pickman’s Model”), Hoffine approaches the photo shoot similar to a movie set designer, with tremendous care going in to all of the grisly details. I am thrilled to see him moving into serial photography – using slideshows to tell an entire story (be sure to click on “Pickman’s Masterpiece” from the main menu). Once you’ve treated yourself to the actual work, get a behind-the-scenes look at the setting up in his blog; truly fascinating. Joshua Hoffine’s work gets a Reaper Rating of 4 (“Thrill Kill”) for its total execution of idea and art.
Joshua Hoffine’s “Persephone”:
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 29-07-2012
I am not a fan of the slasher film for several reasons – the main issue being that they’re insanely bad movies with ridiculous plots and the worst dialogue around. I had to admit that a slasher in the hands of Joss Whedon was too tempting to miss, however, so I caught “Cabin in the Woods” in the theater. At home, I had “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” and “Evil Dead” was available through Netflix for playing instantly. We done had us a slasher marathon! “Cabin” is clever and horrible and funny – and the cabin in question looks exactly like the setting for “Evil Dead”; “Tucker and Dale” is also clever and horrible and funny – and the cabin in question looks exactly like the setting for “Evil Dead”; “Evil Dead” … well, there’s a reason it’s a classic … and it has that cabin. Nice to sit through three films that redeem a very unfortunate genre (even though they failed to convert me). Best of the bunch is “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil”, which was a surprise. The total package gets a Reaper Rating of 3 (“Timely Departure”) for an uncanny ability to blend humor and mass murder.
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 22-07-2012
Formed in 2006 by Thomas Bergersen and Nick Phoenix, Two Steps From Hell sounds more like a band that would open for Marilyn Manson than a studio effort dedicated to making amped up background tunes for movie trailers. Thing is, when you’re good, you’re good. Two Steps has enjoyed incredible success in their chosen field, but the music was so thoroughly amazing that public demand for their CDs began to mount. In 201o, they released “Invincible” and, recently, its sequel “Archangel”. Far from the lead-guitar-and-chainsaw melodies you might expect, this is electronic operatic classical music – this is Cirque du Soleil gone to the dark side for the cookies they’ve been promised. For its unexpected magnificence, Two Steps From Hell’s “Archangel” gets a Reaper Rating of 4 (“Thrill Kill”).
Two Steps’ bi-line says it best: “Music makes you braver.”
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 15-07-2012
That’s right, RAY. As the summer progresses, and the heat drives us into fantasies about fall and winter, get your chills early at the hands of a legend. Although known for his breathtaking science fiction, Ray Bradbury had a healthy dollop of dark fiction mojo which he sparingly released. “The October Country” (a collection of short stories) and “From the Dust Returned” (short stories woven into a larger book) are brilliant, dazzling reads; “Dark Carnival” (another collection) will prime the pump for another dive into “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. Remember the man with some older work that lies off of the beaten path. Bradbury’s collections cannot be rated; they are priceless.
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 08-07-2012
I am always delighted when the year’s fresh crop of horror films contains one or two supernatural stories – my personal favorite over slashers and mutations of nature (frequently the same thing). “The Woman in Black” is a lush, Victorian fright fest with a deserted house on the moors, a vengeful ghost, a young lawyer sensitive to matters of life and death, and townspeople one tragedy away from pitchforks and torches. Daniel Radcliffe is tremendous in the lead role – not so nervous he acts unintelligent, and not so intelligent he fails to realize he has reason to be nervous. Ciaran Hinds is also wonderful as a man who’d like to move on with his life (if only the spirits would let him). I give “The Woman in Black” a Reaper Rating of 4 (“Thrill Kill”) for its simplicity, clean twists and turns (it’s “PG-13″), and its potential to release a shriek or two.
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 24-06-2012
If you’re a fan of the short story, as I am, collections and anthologies are the reading equivalent of Disneyland – unforgettable when they’re good, barely a head shake before you move on when they’re not. Here are two of the best I’ve recently come across:
William Malmborg’s “Scraping the Bone” is one of the best dark fiction collections I’ve read so far; tight, grisly little gems that stay clear of being too complicated but do not lack style. The author gives just as much time to each story as it needs; there’s no droning on here. “Scraping” gets a Reaper Rating of 4 (“Thrill Kill”) for delivering an old school creepfest in a modern setting.
Dan DeWitt’s “Underneath: Short Stories of Horror and the Supernatural” also loves its genre and stays true to it. The stories provide a host of great characterizations in creative predicaments that compel you to stay in the tale to learn what ultimately happened. DeWitt uses the collection as marketing for his upcoming book “Orpheus”, however, so a goodly chunk of it is the first few chapters of something else. “Underneath” gets a Reaper Rating of 3 (“Timely Departure”) for undeniable magic while it holds.
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 17-06-2012
Ridley Scott’s prequel to the “Alien” franchise comes off as a standalone project with potential to be its own thing entirely. Panned hard since its release, I believe that viewers expecting more about the xenomorphs themselves could be disappointed (although a possible explanation and, indeed, beginning is presented). This is really a tale of biological engineering and how that can have both tremendous and terrifying consequences, starting with who gets the glory and the blame for humankind. The strengths of the film include: those amazing and chill-inducing Giger sets, the strong performances of Noomi Rapace (Elizabeth Shaw) and Michael Fassbender (David), an almost Lovecraftian evolutionary spin, and – if you like that kind of thing – a mirroring of “Alien” in characterizations, scenes, and plot details. The weaknesses of the film include: some predictability (easy to play Who’s Going to Die First, while not so easy to say how), an unnecessary subplot or two, and delivering a complete summary of what’s going on and what has to happen through the mouth of the captain (having a Quint in “Jaws” moment) rather than let the resolution take 20 more minutes of film time. Overall, things are familiar enough to give you a solid sense of dread going in, while things are new enough to give you more food for thought than cheaply being “Alien 5″. I give “Prometheus” a Reaper Rating of 3 (Timely Departure) for its courage at re-entering such a bleak world working the reboot/non-reboot angle, and for its clear command of the blockbuster space thriller genre.
Filed Under (Reaper Ratings) by Tansy on 10-06-2012
When I was invited to contribute as a voice actor to Keith Spears’ “49N 15E”, I had no idea what a “numbers station” was. The answer is truly disconcerting: across the globe, shortwave frequencies play a repetitive message or tone or static pattern for their intended listener 24 hours per day – and they’ve been doing this since WWII. The idea that, in a remote Russian village, a lone microphone has sat in a room for over 70 years, picking up clicks and tones with a voice reading codes aloud is creepy enough; when you consider that there’s been one or more human handoffs in those duties since the Cold War, it’s even more foreboding. Spears has used these stations as a basis for an ambient soundtrack that is one part science and one part fiction. Creating an atmosphere of mystery with a healthy dollop of dread, “49N 15E” is unique, intelligent music that puts a chill groove or a back beat on your apocalyptic nightmares. I give this recording a Reaper Rating of 4 (Thrill Kill) for creating its own little bubble of fantasy and fear. Perfect for night driving, if you don’t mind your arm hairs standing up. “There was no one at the coordinates, only a lawn chair by the side of the road …”