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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Entity (Frank De Felitta)


One of the things that horror stories are supposed to do is take the things we take for granted, and use them to make us wonder about how secure our lives really are...

Carlotta Moran is a simple mother trying to raise her two children, and make ends meet.  A single, night of violence by an unseen assailant changes everything in Carlotta's life.  Soon, she won't know what's real, what's imaginary- where it's safe, or where it's dangerous.  Is the terror stalking her every night spawned by demonic forces... or is it something much closer to home?

I'd seen the cover for this book many years ago, and was interested in that fact that it was supposed to have been based on a real case of sexual spectral assault.  At the time I first saw it, I wasn't sure how explicit it was, since I was only about thirteen or so.  Well, after years of being curious about it, I finally got the chance to buy and read it a few months ago.

While, I have some quibbles with one scene in general, I felt the book was quite good.  The story is tightly written, tense without being overpowering, and flows nicely.  I really liked how it flowed from one character to another for parts of the story.  The writing style was also very easy to read, and created well crafted images in my mind.  The only scene I had a problem with was near the end whey they attempt to "capture" the titular Entity.  From my own research into the paranormal, the method they proposed seemed rather far fetched.  Interesting, but farfetched.  I just had problems suspending my disbelief during that scene.

The characters were interesting, if not fully realized.  Carlotta and her psychiatrist are the two most fleshed out characters, while her kids, the neighbours and the parapsychologists are almost window dressing at times.  Even Jerry, Carlotta's boyfriend seemed only be introduced into the story just so he can be removed again.  I still found the parapsychologist interesting though, and likeable.  Dr. Sneidermann, the psychiatrist is both likeable and not likeable.  You can relate to his frustration, and his feelings for Carlotta, but at the same time, you just want to smack him at times.

I would recommend this book to fans of horror novels- though it may make some people a little uncomfortable since the subject matter does deal with rape- even if it's done by a ghost.  I'm putting "The Entity" on the shelf marked, "The Good"

Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy


I enjoy spooky stories, and spooky games in addition to spooky movies.  I was pleasantly surprised while perusing the list of Hidden Object games at Wild Tangent Games, to find a game that consisted of a spooky story about a spooky author... one of the most famous spooky authors ever- Edgar Allan Poe...

You're a mystery writer looking for an book idea when the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe appears in your study.  It seems he's unable to rest in peace due to the strange circumstances behind his death... and a secret he took with him to his grave.  It's up to you to find how the truth behind the Edgar Allan Poe conspiracy...

I have to say that I really enjoyed this game.  It's simple to play, but engaging enough to keep a person interested until the end.  The graphics are nice and atmospheric.  It's a challenge to find the objects, but not so hard that you get frustrated from having to use the hints all the time.  The puzzles and mini-games are also challenging, but not frustratingly so.  I liked how it was meshed nicely with the story progression throughout.  I wanted to solve the puzzles, etc so that I found find out what was going to happen next in the story.  The hint system is well thought out too.  If you click on an item in the hidden object list, a shaded shape of it will appear in the lantern to the side.  If that doesn't help, you can always click on the lantern to be shown where the object is.  That two tiered system was a nice way to cut down on the frustration I've had with other hidden object games due to not know what the object was supposed to look like.

When it comes to hidden object games with a supernatural theme, I would definately recommend this game to casual players.  I'm placing "Midnight Mysteries: The Edgar Allan Poe Conspiracy" in "The Good".

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)


As I watch more and more horror films spanning the ages, I've come to realize that many horror films reflect the worries and fears of the time period they're from.  Some, like "The Stepford Wives" (1975) did a great job of it... while others throughout cinema history have not...

People have started to disappear in the swamps of the Florida Everglades.  While investigating, Steve Benton refuses to believe reports that the disappearances are caused by a monster dragging victims into the deep waters.  When bodies turn up drained of blood, Benton and his girlfriend become determined to end the monster's rampage...

This 1959 B-movie that was chosen as the "What Movie Wednesday" feature for the 27th of June was born from the early Cold War fears of radiation, and how it would affect the environment... but only touched briefly on the topic as part of the explanation for the monster... near the end of the film.

More than anything, I think this movie was pretty much just a cheap reason to show off the legs and figure of Yvette Vickers, who was the July 1959 Playboy centerfold.  The rest of the film makes you rather glad it was only an hour long.

The story is typical for B-movies of that time... so typical, in fact that I found it hard to keep my mind from straying a few times while watching.

I also had a hard time getting into the characters too, though this could be because of the acting.  The only character I liked was that of Dave Walker- the store owner who's wife winds up as leech food with her lover.  I was actually kinda hoping that the leeches would attack the hero, Steve Benton.  They were just blah and lifeless.

Yvette Vickers was certainly nice to look at, and did a decent enough job as the cheating wife, Liz Walker.  Since you're not really supposed to like his character, I'd have to say that Michael Emmet did a good job as Cal Moulton- the slightly sleazy lover of Liz.  I really liked Bruno VeSota's portrayal of Dave Walker.  The scene of him with his shotgun chasing Liz and Cal through the swamp was good.  I have to say that Jan Shepard was also nice to look at as Nan Greyson- Steve Benton's girlfriend.  Doc Greyson was played fairly decently by Tyler McVey- though both him and Shepard really didn't get much to work with to be honest.  I really couldn't stand Ken Clark as Steve Benton.  His look was too stereotypical of the heroic male, as was his voice.  I just wanted to see him get mauled by the giant leeches and have them mess up his oh so perfect hair and chin.

There really isn't much to say about the camera work in "Attack of the Giant Leeches"- it's pretty plain.  The best sequence I felt was once again when Walker is chasing Liz and Cal through the swam with his shotgun.  I quite enjoyed it.

And what to say about the Giant Leeches themselves?  Ummm...  The first time I saw them, I thought they were either guys in sleeping bags, or garbage bags with suckers glued on.

Yeah... just bad.

Other than the fairly copious amounts of flesh flashed by Vickers, and the great chase through the swamp sequence, there really isn't much to say about this film.  I'm giving it a solid spot in "The Ugly"... though I might make a Giant Leech costume for Halloween.  I have a sleeping bag laying around somewhere...

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again on 18 July 2012.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Attack of the Giant Leeches":

Demonic Toys (1992)


A couple of weeks ago, I had a "What Movie Wednesday" double feature, with "The Witches Mountain" being one of the movies, watched... and "Demonic Toys" the other...

After her partner and boyfriend is killed in a bust gone wrong, police officer Judith Gray chases the killers into a warehouse where toys are stored.  When one of the criminals is killed, it awakens a slumbering evil that'll use anything it can to get what it wants... including your sweet adorable teddy bear...

"Demonic Toys" is brought to us by Charles Band- who also made "Evil Bong".  Knowing that, I wasn't really expecting much from this movie.  I have to say though, that I certainly found this one more entertaining that the previous one I'd seen from him.

The story is simple, but fitting for a B-movie like this one.  It certainly provided a decent enough skeleton for the demon possessed toys to go on the rampage they do.  This movie was meant to be cheesy and fun- and it was.  There's no attempts at depth, or even a serious contemplation on the nature of good and evil.  Despite that, I found myself actually engaged by this silly piece of fluff.

The characters are typical late 80's to early 90's cheesy horror movie characters.  They do provide enough depth for Judith Gray and her partner for you to want her to survive the assault by the toys.  While lacking any real depth, the character of "The Kid" was still interesting as a villian.  The remaining characters- even the secondary lead, Mark Wayne are basically just fodder for the grue.

The acting is pretty laughable.  Now, I don't know if that was the intention or not, but I was shaking my head at the actors.  The only two that seemed to actually put any real effort into their roles were Tracy Scoggins as  the female cop Judith, and Daniel Cerny as The Kid.  Cerny especially was fun to watch.  The remaining cast were pretty over the top and ridiculous- which isn't necessarily a bad thing in a horror comedy... but they came close to crossing the line into just plain bad acting at times.

As with "Evil Bong," the camera work is pretty simple and plain, though there are some decent moments and shots.

The toys?  While actually rather silly, they were quite enjoyable entertainment.  Grizzly Teddy and Baby Oopsy Daisy are the main ones that create most of the grue that occurs.  Not even the rather poor manipulation of the dolls took away from the fun of watching Grizzly Teddy gnaw on someone's face, or Baby Oopsy Daisy's horrid puns when killing an unfortunate victim.

The grue was pretty good too.  I was surprised at how well they made it look when a person was getting chunks ripped off their cheeks, etc.  If you like grue, you'll probably enjoy what's on offer in this movie.

In the final analysis, I'm going to have to say that I would recommend "Demonic Toys" as part of a cheesy B-movie night with plenty of beer, pizza and friends.  I would probably even re-watch it if I was in the right mood.  Because of that, I'm going to declare it a bit of a guilty pleasure, and place it in "The Good"


Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again on 18 July 2012.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Demonic Toys":