Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day Everyone

This Fourth of July, why don't you curl up and watch a really crappy movie? Or at least read about it.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mockbusters Go Greek!

Here we are. Another week, another mockbuster. This one is a real doozy. Check out my review. I think you can probably tell that this ongoing watch-crap-and-then-write-about-it weekly column is starting to get to me. I'm running out of things to say, honestly. I can barely finish my

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Classic Literature = Crappy Horror Movies

           
The folks over at Taste of Cinema invited me back for another guest column. This one is all about horror films based on (non-horror) classic fiction. Think Rudyard Kipling or Jane Austen.

If you want to see the full, trashy list, go on over and check it out. Before you do, however, here are a few hints at what to expect:

1. We have one fairy tale on the list.
2. We have a horror movie set almost entirely in a museum.
3. We have a little bit of Shakespeare.
4. We have the very first detective story ever written.
5. We have the absolute closest thing to a Freddy Krueger movie without Freddy Krueger.

Perhaps you can make a few educated guesses before you click the link. If not, be warned: these movies are much spookier than their literary versions. Also, there's more body fluids.


Saturday, June 4, 2016

We Didn't Quite Find Nemo


My latest film review describes one of the worst cartoons I've ever seen: an ultra-low budget riff on Finding Nemo. If you ever wanted to see boy band member Joey Fatone "poop out [his] intestines" multiple times, then you should watch this film. (He plays a sea cucumber, FYI.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gretchen the Mouse Girl


So I'm working on a top secret young adult project. This is a little teaser. Try to guess what the book will be about...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Guess the Mockbuster...

What does Kid n Play, the 80s blackface comedy Soul Man, wormholes, Jesus, and giant glowing balls have in common?

To find the answer, you have to click on my latest mockbuster article for Slickster Magazine. Like the movie itself, it's a real mishmash of random weirdness. Don't say I didn't warn you...

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Say "Bye Bye Bye" to Zombie Scum!

           
Dead 7 is a strange beast. It's a zombie Western for the Syfy Channel (enough said, right?) that stars a bunch of former boy band members from the late 90s/early 00s, back when the world was a simpler time. Apparently, this is the passion project of writer/producer/star Nick Carter (Backstreet Boys), and he recruited all his past-their-prime peers to join in. Some are zombies. Some are cowboys. Most are... not quite actors. It's all a very strange viewing experience. Check out my review for more details.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

2012: Doomsday (A Mockbuster Exclusive)

(A Mockbuster Exclusive)

                  
There’s something endearingly blasphemous about a Christian movie whose main characters must follow an ancient Mayan prophecy to prevent Armageddon. The ancient Mayans, of course, had no concept of Jesus. In this film’s reality, however, an archaeologist must return a golden crucifix to a Mayan temple so that he can stop the End of Days. The plot is like a Mad Libs mash-up of The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. Thankfully, it’s way less bloody and unpleasant than those Mel Gibson gore-fests.
               
             
Our main characters are: a missionary, an archaeologist, a pregnant woman, a scientist, and a paramedic. The world is coming to an end, and they are each drawn to a Mayan temple, where they may or may not be able to save humanity. (Honestly, after watching the whole movie, I’m still not sure if they succeeded. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
                   
The film starts 36 hours before doomsday, when a scientist explains why the world is ending: “The Earth’s rotation is slowing because of a black hole at the center of the solar system.” Like most Christian films, 2012 has the utmost respect for the scientific community, and its screenwriter must’ve taken great pains to research this astronomical disaster.
               
Right away, freak weather events strike down in unlikely places, killing untold millions. Of course, the audience is meant to infer this information. We see a few events, but not enough to really show that the world is ending. At one point, a character announces, “The president just evacuated the entire West Coast.” In a bigger budget movie, that would be shown. Instead, we have a single line of dialogue.
            
                
Because this is one of The Asylum’s Christian films, we lose some of the action set pieces in favor of long conversations about God. One of the film’s main messages—not surprisingly—is the importance of believing in God. During the climactic birth scene (more on that later), a character says, “No matter what happens, we have faith.” It’s kind of a weird message for this movie to make, because the characters are faced with all sorts of proof that God exists. If the world is ending in a wild flurry of disasters, if people disappear in front of your eyes (more on that later), then isn’t it easier to believe in God? I mean, it’s one thing to believe in God without any proof whatsoever, but this movie (and a lot of Christian movies with the exact same message) are full of proof. And that sort of contradicts what they’re going for.
                
Anyway, we do get a Cliff Notes version of the Rapture in one inexplicable scene where exactly two (2!) characters magically disappear. One is a random pilot with about two minutes of screen time, and the other is an old lady. Are these the only two people in the world worthy of teleporting up to Heaven? According to the movie, it looks like it. It’s bizarre how the film treats the Rapture like an afterthought. Perhaps the director was halfway through shooting his Christian disaster movie and said, “You know what? People are expecting the Rapture. Let’s give it to them. I’m sure there are a couple side characters we can get rid of in the second act!”
            
What the quickie Rapture scene does, unfortunately, is drive home the film’s unintentional thesis statement: Just give up. For a movie about people struggling to survive, most of the characters are weirdly resigned to their fate. The missionary wants to investigate a village full of sick people, but her friend tells her to give up. A man gets shot, and he bleeds to death because he’s too busy praying to get medical attention. A paramedic wants to help her mom evacuate her home before a flood hits, and the mom basically shrugs it off. And finally, when the Rapture comes, both of the magically disappearing people make speeches that boil down to: “Eh. It is what it is.” Then they disappear. It’s profoundly creepy. There’s a difference between accepting the will of God and sitting around as the world crashes and burns around you.
              
                
That said, the acting isn’t bad (preachy speeches go down a lot better when the actors can trick you into making them sound like real conversations), and the special effects are as good as you can hope for in a movie by The Asylum. I’d like to give a special shout-out to Tiny Juggernaut, the movie’s effects house, for making a scene of killer hail seem believable. That must’ve been a tough day at work.
           
Aside from the lecturing parts, most of the movie plays like a gleeful mash-up of natural disasters. People get crushed by rocks, they fall down cracks in the Earth, they bleed to death in the snow, and (of course) they get jabbed in the heart by that pesky falling hail. There’s always something happening, and it’s never quite what you expect.
            
Much like the rest of the film, the climax zigs when you expect it to zag. We get a very fast (less than fifteen seconds) montage of global destruction. (We see the West Coast flooding, Jerusalem in rubble, and London on fire. No people. Just quick snapshots of big picture devastation.) And let me repeat, this lasts less than fifteen seconds. This is a movie with the word “doomsday” in its title, and the actual destruction of the Earth gets less screen time than a burp.
               
               
Instead, the real climax takes places inside the ruins of a Mayan temple. The archaeologist uses his golden crucifix to open an Indiana Jones-style secret chamber—a birthing chamber, actually—where a pregnant Mexican woman will give birth to… Jesus, perhaps? I was confused. The rest of the main characters show up to fulfill their God-given assignments. The pregnant lady is there to give birth, the missionary is there to say a prayer, the paramedic is there is help with the delivery, and the scientist father is there for… well, it seems like he’s there for moral support. But good for him.
                   
In the end, most of the world is destroyed (well, the West Coast, London, and Jerusalem are destroyed, but we’re going to assume that other places are affected, too), and the Mexican girl gives birth to a glowing baby that the audience never fully sees. In that way, the Jesus baby is like the briefcase from Pulp Fiction. In one last monologue from the missionary girl, we learn that “It’s just the beginning.”
             
           
And surprisingly, it was. 2012: Doomsday is the beginning of a three-part franchise for The Asylum. In the following year, we got 2012: Supernova and 2012: Ice Age. Neither of them have anything to do with the Rapture, glowing babies, or Mayans at all. One is a jokey riff on The Day After Tomorrow and one is Armageddon for Dummies. While both those movies have their charms, neither rises to the glorious ridiculousness of this entry. Then again, if your disaster film has killer hail AND a glowing baby, that’s a pretty tough act to follow.

***
NOTE: I wrote this article as part of my ongoing mockbusters series for Slickster. Turns out, the topic was a little too religious for their publication. I'm posting it here as a blog exclusive instead.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Avengers Grimm

                 
Welcome to another snippet from my weekly mockbuster articles over at Slickster Magazine. This week, I'm discussing Avengers Grimm, the fairy tale rip-off of Avengers: Age of Ultron. You can check out the full article at Slickster Magazine. In the meantime, here's a little taste, just in case:
                   
Now, this (admittedly stupid) premise could absolutely deliver an entertaining, brainless bit of fluff. All the filmmakers had to do was pick a few recognizable characters, give them powers based on their personae, make them squabble in character-based ways, and have them reluctantly cooperate to take down a villain. You know what? Let’s brainstorm this movie together, shall we? Let’s say we have Snow White, whose special power is… I don’t know, throwing apples at people. She has to work with Cinderella, who can kick ass in those glass shoes. They’re constantly arguing, because… Snow White thinks Cinderella exploits the little mice and vermin that come and help her. They both team up with the Frog Prince, who can now change into a bunch of different animals. He’s the third link in our love triangle, but he’s sarcastic and super-rich, much like a certain man made of iron. We can go on from there, but you get the point. The stuff writes itself.

To see the rest of the article (and learn all about Lou Ferrigno's single greatest acting achievement), go to Slickster.



Monday, May 2, 2016

TOP TEN MOCKBUSTERS

              
Many of you guys have been following my weekly MOCKBUSTER articles at Slickster Magazine. I'm five weeks in, and I'm already half-mad from bad CGI overload. It's been a blast.

Anyway, I just published a TOP TEN mockbusters list at Taste of Cinema. This one covers a few movies I already discussed, a few I've yet to tell you about, and some that are so bad I am physically unable to describe them for an entire article.

If you read this list, you'll find out everything you need to know about:
robot apocalypses
demon babies
unsinkable ships that inevitably sink
and snakes on trains.

What more is there to look for in an internet article? Seriously?


Friday, April 29, 2016

Pirate Evan and the Ghosts of Terror Town

Last Halloween, I was a pirate (again). We had urban legend time at school, and it was a blast. There's an amazing urban legend called "Sam's New Pet." Please check it out.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weird Cartoons


For the last eighty years, Walt Disney Studios has been the dominant force in animated musicals. Since 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney has churned out cartoons about singing flowers, singing rats, singing fish, singing frogs, and all sorts of other lovable vermin who can’t stop themselves from bursting into song.

Sure, there have been other studios who’ve tried to break into Disney’s cartoon musical monopoly, but they typically came off as slightly off-brand variations on the Disney standard—1997’s Anastasia, for example, or 1998’s Quest for Camelot. Both exemplify the uncanny valley of movie musicals that are almost-but-not-quite Disney. These films typically fade from memory in a few years, like the last few notes of a Russian music box from an amnesiac princess.

These copycat cartoons aren't particularly interesting, though. The interesting movies are the ones that actively reject the Disney model,  the musicals that decide to get a little weirder, a little creepier. These are the movies about plant-magic trolls and mute swans and the distant relatives of Marco Polo. If you want to read my TOP TEN list of weird cartoons, go to Taste of Cinema. This is my first listicle with them, but there will be many more to come!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Wedding Bells

This is me at my very first traditional Zanzibari wedding. I'm the one in blue.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Handcuffs and Martians

"I hate my agent."
               
Did you watch Fifty Shades of Grey and wish it had more long, boring scenes about real estate? Yeah? Well, then you'll love BOUND, the S&M mockbuster that the world absolutely needed. Watch it! Or better yet, check out my article about the film.

R.I.P. Daft Punk
       
And if that's a little too high-brow for you, then there's always MARTIAN LAND, the mockbuster of Ridley Scott's The Martian. While it may not be as well-received as its Oscar-nominated sister film, it does have a Martian super-storm, so that's that.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Is there a doctor in the school?


In my work as headmaster of a small school in Zanzibar, I see some pretty adorable things every day. However, this week was the cutest one on record. It was the end of the term, so we had special dress-up days. This is from "Future Day," when students dressed like what they want to be when they grow up. This is our smallest doctor, complete with her Princess Sophia medicine bag.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Almighty Thor

Have you seen Thor, the action film about a Marvel superhero who gets stranded in New Mexico and falls in love with Natalie Portman?

Yeah. Probably.

Well, have you seen Almighty Thor, the action film that came out three days earlier, and ends with the titular hero punching lava into the shape of a hammer so that he can protect a magic tree from Richard Grieco?

No?

Well, you need to.


With the latest entry in my Mockbusters series of articles, I'm discussing Almighty Thor, one of the strangest movies I've seen in a long time. Go read my article. Then watch the movie. Then rinse your eyes out with soap. It'll be fun.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Australian Shadows Awards



Do you remember Midnight Echo, the awesome Australian magazine I was in last year? It was such a cool issue, and I was flattered to have my story "Uninvited Guest" featured alongside some of the creepiest, spookiest stories I've ever read. (My story was about a child's birthday party that gets crashed by a mysterious clown that only our narrator can see.)

Anyway, I woke up this morning to some great news! Our issue was just nominated for the Australian Shadows Awards, which is the big horror fiction award from Down Under. On April 22, we'll find out if we win anything, but in the meantime... fingers crossed! I hope our stories scared the pants off the judges!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Introducing: Mockbusters!

 
I'm very excited to announce that I have a new weekly feature in Slickster Magazine. Every Tuesday, I'll post another article about The Asylum, the movie studio that invented the modern "mockbuster." They're the guys behind Transmorphers, Alien vs. Hunter, The Day the Earth Stopped, and plenty more. They release bargain bin versions of Hollywood blockbusters on the same week as the real thing. The movies are hilarious and weird, but also a little charming. Take a look at my premiere article, a goofy, little run-down of 2006's Snakes on a Train.

And in the meantime, let me leave you with my favorite quote from the film:

“She must have all her snakes back, but you can keep the ones that belong... to you!”

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Midnight Special

Okay, everybody! There is an awesome new movie that just came out called Midnight Special. Now, I've been out of the country, so I'm not sure how well-known this movie is stateside (I just sort of came across it), but you have to see it. It is such a cool conversation-starter of a movie.


I have problems with it (as you can see from my review), but I'm also happy that the movie is flawed, because the weird parts give you a lot to talk about. I won't give anything away, but I'm dying to talk to people about this one, so if you get a chance, watch Midnight Special and then tell me what you think.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Tim Burton


As some of you may know, I'm a huge Tim Burton fan.

And as a self-respecting (more-or-less) Tim Burton fan, I've been a little conflicted when it comes to his more recent films. I will defend Big Fish to my death, and I think Big Eyes was a pretty awesome return-to-form for the director, but the other movies he's made in the last decade-plus have been a little hit-and-miss for me.

Which is why I'm a little excited and a little scared about his latest movie, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. If you head over to Slickster Magazine, you can check out an article I wrote that helped me process my feelings about this new movie. It could be great. Or it could be very, very bad. We won't find out until September.

But in the meantime, check out the trailer and let me know what you think...

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Young Messiah


The Young Messiah is exactly what its title implies: it’s a Muppet Babies-version of the New Testament. Specifically, it follows a seven-year-old Jesus who learns about his powers, his responsibilities, and all the crap he’s going to have to go through in the future. People tell him he’s special a lot, and he has to come to terms with that. It’s a lot like the first Spider-Man movie, actually, except really boring.

If you want to read the rest of my (pretty blasphemous) movie review, head on over to Slickster Magazine. I'll tell you right now: reading this article will probably get you struck by lightning. You've been warned.

Oh, and HAPPY EASTER, EVERYBODY!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of everybody's fourth favorite holiday, I wanted to talk a little bit about everyone's seventh favorite horror movie franchise. That's right! Leprechaun! A name so scary that I constantly have to check the spelling every time I type it.

Now, Leprechaun lives in a very special place in my heart. This was the first horror movie I ever saw (I was seven, and my cool aunt was babysitting me). I loved the horror. I loved the humor. I loved seeing Jennifer Aniston embarrass herself. It was a blast from start to finish.

Because today is St. Patrick's Day, here's a very special look back at the Leprechaun franchise.
  
  
The first Leprechaun is very low budget. The whole thing takes place in a farmhouse in the one area of "North Dakota" that looks exactly like Southern California. It's probably most famous for having Jennifer Aniston in it, but Warwick Davis is really the star here. It's a neat little roller coaster of a movie, with one of the all time best moster-kill catchphrases of all time... AND there's murder-by-pogo-stick!
  
 
Leprechaun 2 takes our titular monster to Hollywood, where he uses a cappuccino machine to murder that guy from MadTV that reminded everybody of Will Ferrell. I think you know who I'm talking about. Whatever happened to that guy? He probably still works. Anyway, the movie is the most forgettable entry in the franchise, but it's fun. And there's a kiss scene with a giant fake tongue that is truly horrifying.
  




  
Leprechaun 3 (the one in Vegas) is pretty much the consensus pick for the best in the franchise. It's funny, there's some gnarly special effects (a magic trick gone wrong, an inexplicable robot lady, the umbrella scene...), and the script is chock-full of dirty limericks. It's my personal favorite.
  
       
Leprechaun 4: In Space is the wackiest of the bunch. It's almost as fun as part 3, but it also tries a little too hard. The movie starts with a really gross shout-out to the chest-burster scene from Alien, and it never lets up from there. There's a giant spider mutant, a space princess with magical healing powers, and some pretty great death scenes. No limericks, though.
    
    
People like the idea of Leprechaun: In the Hood more than the actual film. It's a great premise, and Ice-T is having a blast, but it's just not that fun. There are moments, though. Coolio has the most random cameo in the history of cinema, and the whole thing ends with a glorious rap song that Warwick Davis can barely get through.
   

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood is cheaper, dumber, and a whole lot more fun than his first trip to the hood. This is the first time the franchise has repeated itself, though. I would've much preferred its original concept (Leprechaun Does Spring Break), but the execution isn't bad, and its climactic scenes are some of the best in the series. There's a lot of dumb drug humor, so that's always fun.

   
And now we come to the nadir of the series: the sullen, dull "re-imagining" known as Leprechaun Origins. Instead of a horror comedy starring a little person actor who is clearly having the time of his life, we get a straight-up horror survival story starring a WWE wrestler who has zero lines and about ten seconds of screen time in the whole movie. Wikipedia says that WWE is currently working on a sequel, which I will watch because I'm a movie masochist, but eek. This is bad.
   
   
Rather than ending on such a down note, I wanted to share a little factoid that I just found out. Apparently in Irish mythology, there are leprechauns and clurichauns. Clurichauns are basically the same thing as leprechauns, but they only come out at night, they're constantly drunk, and they enjoy riding sheep. If you treat them well, they'll protect your wine cellars.

God, I love the Irish.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everybody!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

WitchWorks Magazine

Hello! Hello! I know it's been a while, but I FINALLY have a new horror story out, and this one is a doozy! It's called Beach Boy, it takes place in beautiful, downtown Zanzibar, and it. Is. Messed. Up. Seriously. You'll love it.

WitchWorks Magazine is a gnarly little periodical that pays homage to EC Comics (specifically Tales from the Crypt). It's fully illustrated with comics and stories that all have nasty twist endings.  Basically, this is right up my alley. Yours too, I hope! Check it out!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Vroom... Vroom...

Hello, friends and Romans. Just a friendly reminder that my romance novel Rev Your Engines has driven into Amazon and is waiting for more readers to hop on and cruise into the sunset.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscar Night

 
So the Oscars are today! There's been a lot of (totally justified) complaints about the lack of diversity in this year's nominees, with movies like Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Tangerine, and Carol getting some major snubs because of a voting block that always prefers to err on the side of Driving Miss Daisy.

But what this narrative completely overlooks is that the 2016 list of nominees is perhaps the strongest group of Oscar movies since the best picture list was expanded in 2010. In other words, there's absolutely no Blind Side, no Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in the bunch! And that, my friends, is definite room for celebration. All of these movies are good, and some of them are great.


This is honestly the first year in my memory where I won't be disappointed if any of the nominated films wins Best Picture. Of course, in a perfect world, Mad Max would win everything it's nominated for, or (barring that) at least Spotlight (the second best movie of the bunch).

I have a creeping suspicion that The Revenant will have a very good run tonight, which is only disappointing in comparison to all the other, slightly worthier movies in the running. Either way, I'd be perfectly happy to live in a world where the Oscar for best picture goes to a movie about a guy who crawls inside a dead horse so he won't freeze to death. Why not?

So I'll be satisfied with whatever happens tonight... Unless, of course, Inside Out loses the best cartoon award, in which case I'll never forgive myself for this blind optimism. But that won't happen.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the awards, too. And in the meantime, you can check out some of my latest movie reviews over at Slickster Magazine. We have:

Kung Fu Panda 3: The Repetition
"if you're a fan of the first film, just watch that instead"

The Visit
"at least as good as Signs or The Village"

Hail, Caesar!
"a disappointing Coen Brothers movie that happens to have some of the best scenes they've ever done"

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
"the idea is better than the execution"

None of these movies are horrible, so check them out if you're at all interested. But whatever you do, don't watch this movie:


Ugh.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Night Walkers Be Walkin' the Night

http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/thirteen-o-clock-press/night-walkers/paperback/product-22010171.html

So apparently I'm a "new master of the dark," whatever that means. Aside from the slight hyperbole of the cover, this anthology is pretty cool. My short story is called "Fat Guy on the Bus" and it is probably the most experimental thing I've ever written. Despite the cover image, it does not involve wolves. Or coyotes.

But you should check it out anyway. Trust me. I'm a New Master of the Dark (tm).

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Evan's Adventures in an African Literary Journal

   
So I've been published in a lot of random places (Australian horror magazines, H.P. Lovecraft collections, red hot romance publications...), but now I can check off an item on my bucket list that I didn't even know was there:

Publication in a Nigerian literary magazine.

You read that right. My slightly tragic, slightly political, slightly bugnuts short story "Green and Yellow, Red and Blue" is now a featured story in Sub-Saharan Magazine, The Nigerian Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. My story is more fantasy than sci-fi, and actually more horror than fantasy, but it's very much written from the perspective of someone who's living and working in Africa.
  
  
For those of you who don't know, I've been in Zanzibar, Tanzania, for half a year now, and it is the coolest, craziest, most exciting experience of my life. (And I've been to Dracula's Castle!) Hopefully, just a little of that cool, crazy excitement comes across in my story (which is free to the public, soooo... No excuses.)

Check it out. And feel free to comment. I know this is a boring, ol' website, but I would like to hear from some of you reading this.