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Monday, January 26, 2015

From Hell (Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell)

In my spare time, I enjoy collecting comics.  Fortunately, for you- there are quite a few horror comics out there...

During the late 19th century, a vicious killer by the name of Jack the Ripper stalked the alleys of Whitechaple- bringing death, fear, and an undying legend to the annals of history.

This is his story...

Alan Moore is known in the comic world for amazing stories:  "Watchmen", "V for Vendetta", and "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen".  He continues that trend with "From Hell".  The story is interesting, engaging, and flows smoothly, while presenting us with a unique look at the legend of Jack the Ripper.  The characters are well crafted, and fascinating.  There are numerous historical references made that add depth and texture to the plot.

The art is great.  It plays nicely with shadows and textures to create a very suspenseful mood.  The sketchy nature of the drawings reflects the dirty, dingy atmosphere of the period.

The arrangement of panels is fairly uniform through the book, with just enough variation to engage the eye, and draw it from one frame to the next.  This is helped by just how much visual detail can be found in many of the panels.

I also liked the way text was shown in the speech balloons.  It added a final piece of texture to the artwork.

If there was one flaw to be found with "From Hell," I would have to say that it's the amount of exposition, and the style of speech used.  If you're going to read this book, you're going to have to slog through ALOT of dialogue spoken in Victorian era English.  Casual graphic novel readers will more likely than not get bored with how much dialogue there is.

As a person who has an interest in Jack the Ripper, I found this book to be quite interesting.  It presented a great story via wonderful artwork.  But due to the rather dialogue heavy nature of it, I wouldn't recommend it to everyone.  Because of that, I'm going to have to put "From Hell" into The Bad.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thinner (Stephen King)

One of the things that horror does, is take something we often WISH for- and make us rethink that wish...

After Bill Halleck accidentally runs over an old gypsy woman, a simple word is whispered to him- and his life becomes a living hell.

The word is, "Thinner"...

This book is one of Stephen King's earlier books, written under the name "Richard Bachman", but isn't what I would consider one of his better novels.

The premise is interesting.  The old gypsy guy and the "fixer" friend of Halleck's are interesting.  The writing style isn't bad, and there's a decent flow to the words.

The fault isn't with those things.  Rather, the problem for me lies in the character of Halleck, and the pace of the story.  I had zero sympathy for Halleck, so felt no real tension on his behalf.  Maybe if he had some redeeming qualities, and felt real remorse for what he did, then I might not have minded the slow pacing of the story.  As it was, I wanted it to end.

Somehow, it's appropriate that I've written a "thin" review of Stephen King's "Thinner".  I'm going to put this book in The Ugly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Birth of the Living Dead (2013)

As a fan of horror movies, I enjoy seeing how the genre has evolved over the years, and learning a bit about how some of the most influential movies came to be made, and the role they played in making horror what it is today.

In the final years of the turbulent 1960's, when race riots, decreasing support of the Vietnam War, and growing social unrest were spreading like a virus across the United States, a small, low-budget horror film was made.  Despite uncertainty about it's reception and ultimate Fate, this little film made by some guys from Pittsburgh, went on to change the world of horror forever.

This film was, "Night of the Living Dead"... and this is its story...

If you've read my review of  "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), you'll know that it's one of my favorite horror movies of all time.  Well, let me tell this:  "Birth of the Living Dead" is a great little companion piece to that movie.

One of the things I really liked about this documentary is that it wasn't as stuffy as many movie documentaries.  It doesn't set out to wax poetic about the importance of the film, and the skill and expertise that went into making it.  It's a very informal sort of presentation.  This is accentuated by the scenes where they interview the Director George A. Romero.  The tone of the whole film is very relaxed.  I found it easy to sit down with a cup of coffee and watch.

The overall feel of the film is assisted by the editing.  It has a great pacing due to the mixture of historical film footage, still shots, animation, footage from the subject movie, and interview pieces.  I especially liked the style of the animated sequences.  They were artistic, creative, and suited the atmosphere of the original movie.

The narration flowed well with the editing.  The narrator had an engaging voice, without sounding like they were giving a lecture.  His invited you to listen. The smooth visual ride and audio made the documentary feel less than the one hour it was.

"Birth of the Living Dead" also presented it's information in a fair, unbiased manner.  It was insightful about how and why the film managed to overcome initial bad reviews and difficulties getting shown in order to become a genre changing movie.  Romero really seemed to enjoy recounting the things had to be done to make the film, and the people involved.

Overall, I'm going to have to say that I would definitely recommend this film to fans of "Night of the Living Dead", though I probably wouldn't watch it more than once or twice a year.  "Birth of the Living Dead" gets a Good from me.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Strange Cases: The Tarot Card Mystery (2009)

While horror/thriller/suspense themed Hidden Object games may not lend themselves to the sort of scares that you'd get from a motion picture, some of them can have still provide engaging atmosphere and characters...

FBI Agent Claire Ellery is assigned to investigate a simple open and shut kidnapping case... but her tendency to attract strange cases soon causes events that propel her down a much more sinister path.  Her only lead are a series of tarot cards left by a silent and anonymous "friend"...

When it comes to casual game play- where there's no real pressure to hurry though the game, Hidden Object games are great.  You can work at them at your own pace.  You can either use the hint button provided to find something, or you can put your eyesight to the test and find the objects unaided.  The level of difficulty is really up to you.

That lack of stress is one of the things I liked about this game.  The scenes where the objects are hidden, and the various little mini-games are challenging- but not insurmountable.  There's no pressure to get onto the next scene.  The game- and the story, happen at your leisure.  This means you can just chill out and do a bit of the game here, and a bit there.

It helps that the game mechanics are easy to understand and use: find an object on the list, click the object, and move onto the next one.  The simplicity allowed me to not worry about strategy, and remembering what key or button does what.  I could simply sit there, sip my coffee and click click click away- sometimes even getting into a relaxing rhythm for each scene.

I also liked the story.  Each new development in the plot kept me interested, and enticed me into the temptation to keep going.  I gave into that temptation and just kept playing.

Agent Ellery is also a good character.  While there isn't a whole lot of character development for her in this game, there was enough to make me want to play others in the series in order to learn more about her and her adventures.

Since games like this don't have a lot of the action that most games have, the story and characters have to be well done in order to keep the player interested.  This game succeeded on both those counts in my opinion.

While the graphics may not be on par with your average X-Box 360 First Person Shooter, the illustrations used to tell the story, and for the hidden object scenes were impressive.  They helped to bring a nice tone and feel to the story.  The art style was quite pleasing to the eye, and enabled me to imagine I was essentially reading and interactive book.

Over all, I was quite pleased with "Strange Cases: The Tarot Card Mystery".  I would have very little problem waiting a few moths, then replaying it.  Because of that, I'm going to put it in The Good.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Scary New Years! 2015

Happy New Year's everyone!

The last time we posted on the blog was waaaaay back in April 2014- for which I apologize.  My job has a pretty irregular schedule, and my hours are odd to boot.

But rejoice!  We're back from the dead again, with a plan to bring you the same great content we did before the break... as well as some ideas on how to bring you some other cool stuff over the course of the next year.

And beyond.

For starters, I'd like to welcome three new contributors to "The Corner of Terror"!  If you've ever read reviews on "We Came From the Basement", you'll know them:  Jason H, Matt B, and Suzanne WC.  Starting in February, you can expect to see a couple of reviews each month from them!  Yay!

I've placed over on the right a schedule of when reviews, features, etc will be posted each month.  This will hopefully make it easier for readers to know when to visit the site for new reading material.

"What Movie Wednesday" is still on hold, due to my work schedule.  However, I am setting in motion a plan that hopefully will place in in a situation where I can bring it back and provide you with live Twittertainment.  I'll keep everyone updated on that as it develops.

Last year, I hinted that I would be opening an online store to sell t-shirts, etc for the blog.  Well... it's happening.  I'm in the process of finishing up the store, and it will officially open in February.  I have plans for expanding our list of products in the future.  I'm looking forward to it!

Over the course of the new year, I will be teaching myself a bit about working with some sound editing software.  This is because I'd like to begin posting a podcast in 2016- marking our 5th anniversary!  You can certainly expect some teasing and trailering here as the months progress in order to promote it. LOL

Well, I think that pretty much covers things for this update.  Our first official review of 2015 will be on the 5th of January- "Strange Cases: The Tarot Card Mystery".

Happy New Year from us here in "The Corner of Terror"!