Category Archives: Reviews

Reviews of various things

Book Review – Ex-Purgatory

Ex-Purgatory (Ex-Heroes, #4)Ex-Purgatory by Peter Clines

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I am not a big fan of alternate realities in comic books. Often they are a cop out because they allow the creators to twist characters around in all sorts of directions before resetting the world back to the norm, and undo everything in the story.

That being said, I really like Ex-Purgatory, probably because of the good use of an alternate reality.

As with the other books in Clines Ex series, We follow the adventures of superheroes St. George, Stealth, ZZZap, Cerberus, and others as they deal with a post zombie apocalypse Los Angeles.

Well, sort of. This book begins with our heroes in a world pretty much like our own, not even realizing who they are. Throughout the book, clues are dropped. Moments of superhuman ability, flashes of a nightmarish world, and one hero, Corpse Girl (introduced in Ex-Communication) who seems to remember the world that was. Can our heroes return to their own world? More importantly, why would they want to return to a world that is overrun with the undead?

Clines once again manages to evade the obvious pitfall that can come with zombie series. It is far too easy to put the main characters through the same heroes fight zombies pattern. But Clines doesn’t. In fact, the zombies are almost tertiary to the main plot in this book, acting only to remind the heroes of the world they should remember.

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Day of the Doctor

It took two days of avoiding anything about it, but I managed to finally see Doctor Who: Day of the Doctor, in a theater, in 3D.

And it was freaking awesome!

It seems only fitting that if I’m going to talk about the 50th anniversary episode, I should precede it with the appropriate warning.


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Review – Halloween (2007)

Cover of "Halloween (2-Disc Unrated Colle...

With Halloween nearly upon us, it seemed a bit fitting that I should catch up on some of the horror DVDs that I have piled up and haven’t watched yet.  It seemed fitting I should do that, except that I went with the Rob Zombie remake of Halloween that I picked up on sale.

I do have to say that I didn’t think it was bad.  I didn’t think it was to the level of the original, but it wasn’t bad.

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Review – In The Flesh

This weekend’s Halloween fare seems to have turned out to be a BBC weekend.  Last night I watched The Secret of Crickley Hall, and tonight, In The Flesh.

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Review – The Secret of Crickley Hall

With Halloween coming up, I thought I would indulge in a ghost story.  And with The Secret of Crickley Hall, I picked a good one.

The Secret of Crickley Hall is the story of the Caleigh family, Gabe and Eve, along with their daughters Loren and Callie.  The family is haunted by the disappearance of their only son, Cam, abducted in an instant when Eve drops her guard.  Gabe, in an effort to help his wife cope with the loss, takes a job in the country which brings the family to Crickley Hall.  Soon, the family realizes that there is more to Crickley Hall than they ever could have imagined.

The story, based on a novel my James Herbert, is a story about haunted people as well as the haunted Crickley Hall.  Eve and Gabe are haunted by their son, who Eve insists is still alive.  Arriving at Crickley Hall, this belief seems to grow only stronger as the ghosts of the past start to show themselves.  As Eve’s journey to learn about the house and, hopefully, where her son is, we also flashback to 1943 where Crickley Hall is an orphanage run by Augustus Cribben.

Told in three episodes, the story skillfully plays out with only the subtlest hint of the paranormal, enough to pull you in.  Even in switching back and forth between the present and 1943, it is subtle, but it is still apparent when you are.  A brighter look in one scene, more overgrowth in another.  Even in bouncing back and forth, viewers are given enough to piece together the story without giving everything away as it builds greater and greater to the third episode climax.

The acting, like so many BBC productions, is excellent.  Many genre veterans appear in the cast, from the great David Warner, to alumni from British shows like Doctor Who, Primeval, The Fades, even HBO’s Game of Thrones.  While it is tempting to play “What Did I See Them In?” the story will take precedence as you watch it unfold in two generations.

Book Review – Ex-Communication

Ex-Communication (Ex-Heroes, #3)Ex-Communication by Peter Clines

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book, the third in the Ex-Heroes series, kicks off with our heroes back in Los Angeles and under siege. However, the ex-humand outside the gates of The Mount are not the only thing they have to contend with. They must also deal with ghosts from their past as well.

This book does not fall into the usual pitfalls that many zombie oriented series fall into. The author remembers that the humans reacting to their situation should be the focus and not the zombies. He also manages to kick up the zombie threat in this book as he had done with previous books in the series, thanks to the character Legion.

The author also keeps things interesting within the walls of the Mount as well with good use of both new characters and returning characters as well.

As you might expect from the title, there is some exploration of religion in this post-zombie apocalypse world, exploring moral decisions of the heroes, but also new beliefs that arise among the people of the Mount.

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Phantom of the Opera (1925)

Cover of "The Phantom of the Opera - The ...

As regular readers know, I am a big Phantom of the Opera fan, having read the book at least four times.  So, with October upon us, it seemed only fitting that I should take a moment to discuss one of my all time top five movies, the 1925 silent version of The Phantom of the Opera.

The Phantom of the Opera is, at its core, a story of a love triangle.  In the middle is Christine Daae, budding young star of the Paris opera.  On one side of this triangle is Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny.  On the other, Erik, who has mentored Miss Daae to stardom on the Paris stage.

It just so happens that Erik is also a hideously disfigured man who has been “haunting” the Paris opera house as the mysterious Opera Ghost.

First thing you should know about this movie is that there are a lot of different versions out there, as is often the case with many silent movies.  If you can find it, there is a special collector’s edition of the film that was released in 1997.  This version remasters the film from a 1929 reissue, but at the original 20 frames per second run speed rather trying to run it at 24 frames per second.  To most people, this probably does not mean anything when watching it.  Most important with this version is that the film is tinted according to original specifications.  Where some prints are strictly black and white, this version is color tinted according to the scene, and the masquerade scene is in two color Technicolor, making the Phantom’s red death costume really pop.

English: Lon Chaney Sr. and Mary Philbin in &q...

As for the actual film, it is probably the closest version to the actual book I have seen (and I have seen a few of them).  Granted, some liberties have been taken with it (the back story of Raoul and Christine is largely missing).  Lon Chaney’s Phantom of the Opera is undoubtedly the closest to the description in the book, as well as one of the most terrifying ever brought to screen.  Christine’s shocking revelation of Erik’s ghoulish face is one of cinema’s greatest scenes.  And while Carlotta does not croak like a frog on stage (forgivable in a silent film), she certainly sings to bring down the chandelier.

Even if you have trouble with silent films, fans of horror, movies, and even movie make up should definitely try and see this truly classic film.

Book Review – Beyond Dinocalypse

Beyond Dinocalypse (Dinocalypse Trilogy, #2)Beyond Dinocalypse by Chuck Wendig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When last we left our intrepid adventurers the Centurions, they were tumbling through time. Beyond Dinocalypse picks up the story shortly after the first book of the series Dinocalypse Now. Our heroes, Jet, Amelia, Benjamin, Atok and Khan find themselves some years in the future, one dominated by dinosaurs.

This book picks up the adventure at the same pace at the first book. The time lost heroes are reunited with old allies, long since changed by the nightmare world they live in. The book leaves our heroes struggling with helping the people now, or trying to find a way of going back and fixing the world before it goes to Hell.

Like the first book, this one is a fast read that any fan of the classic pulp heroes will love. The story twists and turns as the heroes struggle to find their place in the new world.

Also featured in this book is the short story Truth and Illusion, which focuses on another Centurion and his role in things, both in the past and in the nightmare of a future.

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World War Z – the Movie

Some of my regular readers may remember that I created two lists at the beginning of the summer.  The first list was the list of the movies that I really wanted to see.  The other was the list of the movies that I really did not care if I saw.

World War Z was on the second list, though it was there with some misgivings.  Now that I have seen it, I can say that it did indeed belong on that second list.

My biggest problem with the movie is that it does not follow the book at all.  I am a fan of Max Brooks’ novel, so much so that I have read it twice.  What I watched when I saw World War Z the movie was nothing like the book.  While the book is a terrifying look at the lives of many people who have lived through a global zombie epidemic, This movie comes off like most zombie movies.  There really is little focus on the characters beyond Brad Pitt’s Gerry Lane, and even his character feels a bit flat.

The sad part about this is that there is a lot of potential for a great movie if only they had tried to include some of what made the book so chilling.  Instead, we only get hints of what could have been, or scenes are altered to work for the more spectacular (but less fulfilling) action sequences.

Fans of the book will want to avoid this movie, especially since the only thing these two works have in common is the title.

Book Review – Dinocalypse Now

Dinocalypse Now (Dinocalypse Trilogy, #1)Dinocalypse Now by Chuck Wendig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is perfect for fans of the pulp heroes like Doc Savage, The Shadow, and the Green Hornet, along with contemporary heroes like Indiana Jones and the Rocketeer.

The world of the 1930s is being invaded by dinosaurs, and the only ones who can defend it are the Century Club, a global group of stalwart adventurers. The action is fast paced as we travel of the globe with our heroes as they face everything from dinosaurs to talking apes to unscrupulous treasure seekers. It is a fun read that pulls you in from page one and does not let up.

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