Wednesday, December 21, 2016

PET: The Murder/Torture/Romance/Shocker of the Year

    
Pet is a movie where a creepy stalker man kidnaps a girl and keeps her in a cage.
    
If I had read that sentence earlier, I probably wouldn’t have watched this movie. This kind of torture-heavy, woman-in-danger stuff isn’t my horror subgenre of choice. I prefer scary movies that are funny (Return of the Living Dead), meta (Scream 4), and over-the-top (Leprechaun 3). Movies with super-realistic gore and Hostel-levels of torture just really don’t appeal to me.
  
    
So if you’re like me—if you were immediately turned off by that first sentence—then forget it. Go into Pet without any knowledge of what to expect. Trust me. It will surprise you with its weird plot twists and reversals. To say that the movie veers off into uncharted terrain is an understatement. Pet starts as one movie, blows your mind at the half-way point, and then spends the last twenty minutes freaking you out. At different times, this movie is a stalker drama, a jet black comedy, a slasher, and a profoundly twisted love story. To say anything more would ruin the fun.
  
Such a Frankensteinian lump of genres could easily go off the rails, and it’s only thanks to our two leads that the movie is as cohesive as it is. Dominic Monaghan is the sad sack stalker, and he’s the saddest, sackiest stalker in cinema. Depending on your genre interests, you might know Monaghan as Charlie from Lost, or perhaps as your third favorite hobbit from the Lord of the Rings movies. He’s tiny and unassuming and his facial expressions bounce between creepy and sad with regularity.
  
Hmm?
   
Ksenia Solo stars as the girl in the cage, and she is an actress to look out for. She’s mostly known for TV stuff that I’ve never seen (Lost Girl, Orphan Black), but hopefully she’ll try a few more horror films in the future. She’s got the scream queen chops, for sure.
  
Aside from the acting, the make-up effects are top-notch, the music is wall-to-wall tense, and director Carles Torrens (this is his first full-length English movie) somehow manages to film this tiny cage from all the most interesting angles. If I had one complaint, it would be that the first third of the movie doesn’t quite play fair. Once the mid-movie twist happens, a few earlier moments seem like cheats. The broad strokes make sense, but a few acting choices felt off. Perhaps a rewatch would make me change my mind, but I don’t think I have the stomach to watch this movie again. At least not for the next few days.
  
  
Despite all its twists, Pet is at its core a two-person drama. It may splatter you with blood, but there’s a surprising amount of empathy beating under the surface. If you are at all a horror fan, you should give this one a watch. It’s captivating.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Straight from the Toybox

https://www.amazon.com/Toybox-Edward-Kenyon/dp/1326341499/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1481810191&sr=1-1&keywords=9781326341497

Listen to our fearless editor Dorothy Davies give an introduction to Toybox:

The toybox awaits... full of delights, a variety of toys which, in reality, are killing machines...

Indulge in a gory read as Thirteen Press authors each choose one individual toy with which to cause mayhem and sometimes murder.
 


You won't look at toys the same way again...

I feel quite lucky to have my short featured among the other blasts of creepiness in this anthology. And ten points if anyone can guess which toy I chose for my story...

I'll wait.

.
.
.

Okay. I give up. It's a rubber snake!

Check it out on Amazon

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Remembering the Forgotten (and Insane): A Bone Chillers Retrospective

Did you read Goosebumps as a child? There are three possible answers to that question.

ONE) No. I’m older than thirty-five.
TWO) No. My family was really religious.
THREE) Yes. Of course.

Aside from Harry Potter, no children’s book series has captured the public’s imagination like Goosebumps. And like Harry Potter, there were plenty of imitators along the way:
Spinetinglers (by M. T. Coffin).
Graveyard School (by Tom B. Stone).
Deadtime Stories (also a TV series).
Spooksville (also a TV series).
And, of course, Bone Chillers.

Bone Chillers was hands-down my favorite off-brand Goosebumps series. Their covers were trashy perfection…
 
(and weirdly 80s)
  
Their plots were goofy, cliffhanger-heavy nonsense…


And some of their premises were so freaking strange that they almost felt like spoofs of other children’s books.

 
I tell people that Goosebumps was my favorite childhood series (and it is), but I think Bone Chillers hewed closer to my own personal quirks. In this series, there was an evil lunchlady who force-feeds people bugs so that she can turn them into bugs (or something).


There was a girl who loves horses and finds out that she has some connection to the queen of gargoyles. (There's also an evil painting of a horse, just because.)


There was a zombie turkey, for crying out loud.


Listen, these books are not good. They don’t follow the same (deeply satisfying) format of Goosebumps, or offer the immersive world of Spooksville, or key in to the real sense of danger in Strange Matter. (All three of those series are probably better written than Bone Chillers, which often felt like the first drafts of a crazy person.)

But God, you have to give series creator Betsy Haynes points for weirdness. And even better, the series was adapted into a short-lived Saturday morning show on ABC, one of the most gloriously inappropriate children’s shows in history. (More on that in a later post.)

http://sciwiki.scifiontv.com/index.php?title=Bone_Chillers

It saddens me to think that the world has completely forgotten about Bone Chillers. Goosebumps has managed its own nostalgia-based Renaissance recently, but the same can’t be true for its less popular imitators. Some of the titles have been rereleased in ebook form, but they don't have the classic covers, and I doubt that new readers will stumble onto them without some sort of marketing push from the publishers. But you never know. Stranger things have come back from the dead.

(much better than the first one, honestly)
For now, all I’m left with are the fading memories of toilet monsters, magic pet shops, and doomed babysitters. Rest in Peace, Bone Chillers. I pray for your resurrection.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Ready. Set. Love.

https://www.amazon.com/Live-Laugh-Love-Romantic-Comedies-ebook/dp/B01J2J5AJU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479023438&sr=8-1&keywords=evan+purcell
 
Love not only captures your heart but tickles your funny bone in these five fabulous romantic comedies. My story Waking Up to Love leads off the set, but there are four more novels that are just as funny and just as romantic. Check 'em out.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy, happy Turkey Day! Hunger pains will go away!

Well, ladies and gentlemen… Today is American Thanksgiving Day… or as I like to call it: “National Re-Watch Addams Family Values Day.” Now for most people, it’s a day of food, family, and football. (I’d add a fourth F-word, but most couples are back at some family member’s house, which usually means that the mood isn’t right.)
  
Anyway, as far as holidays go, this one is kind of all-over-the-place. I personally have very little emotional attachment to pilgrims, and turkey is probably my fifth favorite variety of poultry. Growing up in a non-religious household, there wasn’t a lot of praying going on at the dinner table (aside from the few mumbled times I whispered, “Please, please, don’t let anyone mention politics”). I have vague memories of everyone taking turns announcing what they’re thankful for, though I think everyone except for grandparents was being sarcastic. But yeah, I still did all the traditional stuff. Leftover sandwiches. Parade-watching. I’m sure I made a whole flock of paper turkeys with my handprints.
  
(Fun Fact: a group of turkeys is not called a flock. It’s called a rafter. Because bird enthusiasts have way too much time on their hands.)
 
All of this is a long of saying: Happy Thanksgiving, world. While this holiday isn’t a particularly important one, at least not for me, it does occupy a very special place in my heart.
   
Because of the stuffing.
  
Also, a group of bluejays is called a party. Why can’t we just eat them instead?

Monday, November 14, 2016

ZANZIBAR UPDATE

So this is me at the day job.
I feel so lucky to be working at
the British School of Zanzibar.
It is such a happy and creative place.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

MERLIN and the WAR of the DRAGONS: A True Story

I’ve never seen the British TV program Merlin. That type of fantasy just isn’t my thing. And even if it were, I would probably go with something a little more well-regarded. Game of Thrones, perhaps. That’s the show that everyone and his mother recommends to me. And I have to tell everyone and his mother that fantasy just isn’t my thing.
  
Anyway, Merlin is a TV show. And it’s also a mockbuster of the TV show. This Merlin, like the show’s main character, is a young and inexperienced wizard. This time, though, there’s no King Arthur. Not yet, anyway. Instead, we have a half-brother who has a dragon army. It’s pretty legit for a mockbuster, and much less of a time commitment than, say, a certain HBO show that has about forty lead characters.
   
I know it’s been a while since I’ve had a mockbuster come out, but this one should hit the spot. It’s about dragons!

 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Best Halloween Wishes... all the way from a pineapple under the sea!


Happy Halloween!


A quick note on my Halloween movie marathon:

This year, I invited a few friends over to bask in the neon orange glow of a communal Halloween fright fest. We gathered in my tiny living room in my tiny house on this tiny island, switched on my laptop computer, and started watching Hocus Pocus.

As someone who has lived in foreign countries for the last five years, someone who has no patience for things like “nostalgia” or “home sickness,” I definitely felt a twinge of both every time the Sanderson sisters were on screen. It was a wonderful way to start the marathon, and while I was definitely more involved in the emotional ups and downs of Max and his talking cat, I think my party guests were at least slightly amused by the whole thing. (Only one other person had actually seen this movie before. Charlatans.)

Our second film, Leprechaun 3 (the one in Las Vegas) was a much rowdier experience for all. Dirty limericks, sex-robots, and wild bursts of violence make this movie my hands-down favorite in the Leprechaun franchise, and I’m pleased to announce that my party guests seemed to like it, too. At least, that’s what they said.

The final movie in our trilogy was Teen Witch, which deflated the group’s enthusiasm just a tad. I mean, we all had fun (particularly during the musical numbers, or any scene with the little brother), but sleepiness was starting to seep into things, and we all had work or school in the morning.

That said, I don’t regret my choices in film. These three movies represent everything I want from a Halloween experience: violence, gore, hijinks, music, costumes, witchcraft, and a group of friends to share everything with.

Also sex-robots.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Sea Life

This little guy washed up
on the shore next to my house.
It made me pretty sad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Just keep spinning. Just keep spinning.

Click HERE for my latest review.

Hansel vs. Gretel: Grudge Match of the Stars


So The Asylum doesn't usually do sequels unless it's to one of their shark movies (the Sharknado franchise will outlive us all). No Snakes on a Train 2. No Age of the Hobbits 2. No freaking Avengers Grimm 2. But for some reason, they decided to sequelize Hansel and Gretel. No idea why. The first one had ET's mother as the human-eating witch. This one does not. Neither are masterpieces. Both are really fun.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Age of Tomorrow: the lumpiest little movie in town

So these mockbuster reviews are aging me horribly. The newest one: Age of Tomorrow. Check out the article now!
   
(Spoiler: This character is not in the movie.)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

I Am Omega. You Are Omega. We All Are Omega.


I am Omega. I am an ultra-cheap ripoff of a Will Smith movie. I am full of grainy visuals and awkward silences. I have a dull thud of an ending. I was reviewed by Evan on Slickster.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back in the Hobbit


Age of the Hobbits
Clash of the Empires
Lord of the Elves

Whatever the name, this film is... something. Check out my delightful mockbuster review.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

Meat Pies and All That

         
Out of all the really famous fairy tales out there, Hansel and Gretel is perhaps the most morbid. Little Mermaid (at least in its original form) is probably the saddest (give or take a Little Match Girl). Sleeping Beauty has some of the creepiest undertones. Beauty and the Beast does, too. But all those stories (again, give or take a Match Girl) could be Disney-fied pretty easily. Take out some of the murder and self-mutilation and eye-gouging, and you have a perfectly nice, family friendly story about princesses being dainty.

Hansel and Gretel, on the other hand, has darkness woven into its very fibers. Try to sanitize it all you want, but the entire story is built around cannibalism, child abandonment, kidnapping, forced labor, and murder. Take out any of those elements and the story doesn't make any sense.
   
      
Not surprisingly, the good folks at Asylum have seen the potential for horror and made Hansel and Gretel, a modern-day horror film starring Dee Wallace from E.T. It's grisly and sick, just like the source material. Of course, this being an Asylum film, the movie is actually a rip-off of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a minor hit that may (but most probably may not) get a sequel.

If you're a horror fan, check out my Slickster Magazine review of the film to see just how many body parts fly toward the camera. Spoiler alert: there's a lot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (part 4)

And here it is, ladies and gentlemen... The end of my film festival experience. I'd like to say things ended on a high note, because I did have a lot of fun with these last two days of films. The most depressing stuff is behind me, and all that's left are heartwarming documentaries, Beyoncé, and some drugs.
    
             
Honestly, film festivals are always so much fun. I consider myself a big film buff, but sometimes I take cinema for granted. With YouTube and streaming services and all sorts of websites, so many movies are at my fingertips that I forget to pay attention sometimes. Being at a film festival (sometimes sitting right next to a director or producer) forced me to pay attention, even if the movie in question had a rough patch or two.
  
Go to Slickster Magazine to see how it all ends. I'll give you a hint: there were riots.
  

Monday, August 8, 2016

Four Score and Seven Beheadings Ago

         
The 4th of July is about a month in the past, and Labor Day is about a month ahead. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are in the holiday dead zone of August (not counting my birthday and, more importantly, Shark Week). I think it's about time we get a nice boost of patriotism to keep us going through the long, celebration-less summer.
   
That's right, guys. Now is the perfect time to check out Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies. This historical documentary tells us all about the real secrets behind Lincoln's historic presidency and tragic death. You may have though you already learned the truth when Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer came to theaters, but you were wrong. This mockbuster is 100% truthier.
   
                 
Of course, just in case the film isn't your cup of tea, head on over to Slickster Magazine to check out my rock-solid review. It's particularly spoilerific (Lincoln gets shot), but hopefully that won't stop you from watching this important historical document on your all-American laptops.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (part 3)

     
First of all, today is my birthday, so I'm in a particularly cheerful mood. Turning 30 does not, as some have said, make you start feeling like the Crypt Keeper. I think I have a good five years or so before that happens.

Yeah, I'm stoked about being a 30something. It's going to be my decade. I can feel it.

Anyway, here's part three of my ZIFF experience. Please note that at this point in the experience, my snark is really starting to come out. But I still had a blast.

And check back in sometime this week for the final wrap-up. In the meantime, I'm going to check my eyebrows for gray hairs.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (part 2)



ZIFF continued to offer a bunch of wildly depressing movies. One in particular stood out for having incest, infidelity, attempted suicide, and abandonment all in the same steaming hot pile of soap opera nonsense. It was amazing.

Anyway, here are my continuing adventures with the biggest cultural event in all of East Africa.

Monday, August 1, 2016

I feel the earth move under my feet.

    
Earthquakes are the closest thing to a phobia that I have. The idea that your house--what should be your safe space--could crush you to death on some random Tuesday really freaks me out. I'm not the biggest fan of disaster movies in general (they tend to make mass casualties seem unimportant). I find them particularly numbing.

So... I don't like earthquakes and I don't like disaster movies. Then why, for the love of God, did I see San Andreas Quake?

Well...

It's part of my job. As a weekly columnist for Slickster Magazine, I have to write snarky little reviews about mockbusters, and guess what A-list Dwayne Johnson action film just got mockbusted? That's right: San Andreas. I did not see that movie, but I saw the cheaper equivalent.

No comment.

(To the YouTuber who uploaded this scene: THANK YOU!)


Sunday, July 31, 2016

ZANZIBAR INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL (part 1)

       
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, so my complete film festival experience. For those of you who don't know, I spent nine days watching literally dozens of films Clockwork Orange-style. My eyes are killing me, but I can't wait to share my experiences with all of you.
      
Here's a basically meanless teaser to tie you over:
        
I saw some good films and some bad films. I saw at least three films that desperately wanted me to cry. I saw a movie about Beyoncé that didn't include Beyoncé in it. I saw a cartoon about World War I and short films about clothes, salt, rock music, and brothers punching each other for the greater good. I saw lots of movies about race, and even more about women's right. I saw a movie with a magic doll in it, and another movie about lady soccer players.
      
Nine days, hundreds of hours, thirty films. It was an experience.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Giant Robots. Shrug.

     
So The Atlantic Rim doesn't really exist. The Pacific Rim is a real thing. It's part of geography. But the Atlantic Rim... nope.

When Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim came out, the marketing madmen at Asylum decided to release their similar-in-every-way-except-quality mockbuster Atlantic Rim. The movie makes as much sense as its title, which is one way of saying YEEESH. Don't see this movie.

But you can always read my lovely review of it. I try not to hold anything back. Barring vomit. I held back a bit of vomit as I was writing the review. Acid reflux, you understand.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Once upon a nightmare.

Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite Disney films. I think it's hands-down the prettiest movie in their vault. I could get lot in the twisting, angular backgrounds. And the Tchaikovsky music... dang. It's an all-around masterpiece.

The Asylum version, released the same month as Disney's Maleficent, is... let's say... worse. It's fun and campy, but I couldn't see myself getting lost in the awkward CGI. Is it a train wreck? No. But it is a very strange passion project from a B-list action star whom I will not mention in this post. Check out the review. I promise you won't fall asleep.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Keggers for Kiddies

          
Alpha House is a low budget frat comedy from The Asylum. It is also reprehensible, a hollow nothing of a movie that smears poop on everyone involved. Check it out.

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.


FOURTH OF JULY FIRE SALE! EVERYTHING MUST GO!

Happy 4th of July, everybody! I am currently in a country that has a completely different independence day, so this isn't a particularly exciting time for me. That said, I have very exciting news for all my American readers. My horror anthology Halloween Night is now FREE, so download the ebook before the day is up! Offer ends at midnight, Cinderella-style.



This photo is horrifying.


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.