Tuesday, July 30, 2013

X Files Season 10 Issue #2

This issue starts very promising, and very strong.  The art is great, and the characters are instantly recognizable.  And in this a single panel ended my enjoyment of this new series.  The Lone Gunmen are resurrected, in a total fuck you to the series.  Jump the Shark is one of my favorite episodes, and their deaths are a noble sacrifice and a great moment in the series.  And they died on screen as well...

Bringing them back, and making Mulder aware of their Witness relocation sucks, oh and on the last page they bring back The Cigarette Smoking man.  This series had so much promise before going to utter shit.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

American Mary

Jen and Sylvia Soska are fucking brilliant, and American Mary is an intriguingly original genre entry that is more art flick than many people are probably willing to give it credit for.  I went into this film knowing almost nothing about it and rented it because it was there, and couldn't find anything else at the time that was screaming out to me. 
Katharine Isabelle (from Freddy vs Jason and the criminally under seen Ginger Snaps) gives an amazing performance as Mary Mason, a medical student who after having her entire world view perverted tries to find a place for herself in the world, with the skills she has. 
She becomes involved in the world of modification after a chance meeting with Beatress Johnson as played by with gentle nuance by Tristan Risk. This represents one of American Mary’s greatest strengths, the developed supporting cast around Mary.   

If you are a can of Croenberg’s classic body horror flicks, this is a natural successor.  Why not try a little art flick in your horror?  You might be glad you did.  

Antoine Dode, interviewed by me at Ravenous Monster


This one is pretty cool in my mind, as I have been a huge Crow fan since my Dad told me I couldn't see the movie. (In his defense I was in 5th grade)  Click either image to read the full interview.
Were you a fan of The Crow franchise before your work on The Crow Curare?  If so which incarnation or elements struck you the most?

I think I was 16 when I saw The Crow. I loved the Alex Proyas movie with Brandon Lee straight away. I went to see it twice at the theatre. The comic was released in France after the huge success of the film.
Working as an artist on a Crow story written by James O’Barr is a dream come true. Actually, the first comic I did, Armelle et l'Oiseau (Armelle and the Bird), which was inspired a lot by The Crow. That’s not the same kind of story. It’s more like a kind of fairytale; it’s about a little girl who loses her mom, and ends up befriending a strange bird.

How did you come to work on The Crow Curare?

What happened is I met the artist Miran Kim in Anougleme a few years ago (during the biggest comic convention in France). She used to do some Crow covers in the late 90s (she also painted that amazing variant cover for the first issue of Curare). I told her I was planning to do some Crow fan art, and she suggested that I send some to James O'Barr. I was crazy lucky because...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Messenger Edward Lee

A demon takes over a post office, leaving unsuspecting victims with a surprise when they open their packages.
A little bit of Hell has just come to earth.
Would you like to become someone else? Well, someone else is about to become you. He will share your heart and your mind, he will seep into your body, he will feel all your ecstacy...
And then he will take you on a slaughterfest.
Occult rites. Ritualistic murder.
You have become possessed.
But not by a ghost.
Not by a demon.
It's something much worse.
Just as God has a messenger, so does the devil, and that messenger is here, now, in your town. He has a message to send...
The Messenger.
A diabolical novel of ultimate erotic horror...
Edward Lee’s Messenger combines the classic gory excesses that Lee is known for, a small town murder mystery and the investigation of cult activity.  Overall this is a solid horror novel.  The mystery elements are well developed, leading logically from one clue to the next.  The cast populating the small town  of Danelleton, Florida is overall well drawn, but the few characters that are not are the novel’s major weakness. 
While Lee never gets as much credit as he should for character development, this novel has far too many fodder characters who are introduced and slaughtered within a single chapter.  While the intent seems to be the ratcheting of tension for our main players, knowing what they are being threatened with, Lee shows his monsters too much and they lose some of their bite. (Think Freddy in his first flick to the campy figure he became.)  These chapters seem like filler, and I feel this would have been a much stronger work at a shorter length.  The narrative centers around widow Jane Ryan, as she works through the evil around her, and Lee even manages to create a nice romantic subplot for her, she was strong enough to carry the book without fodder victims. 
The supernatural and mystery elements were well conceived and introduced.  The book’s climax was solid and fulfilling as well, with a nice series of well-earned reveals.
In the End;

Messenger has all the elements I like in my horror fiction; A cult, a supernatural entity, brutal splatter, a strong well drawn lead, and Lee’s signature bravado.  However the fodder chapters/characters really killed the momentum.  This is a strong novel,  that feels like it could have been more.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Crow: Curare #2 Review

The Crow: Curare #2
Written by James O’Barr
Illustrated by Antoine Dodé
Colored by Antoine Dodé
Lettered by Shawn Lee
IDW Publishing
Release Date: July 24, 2013

I was pleasantly surprised at how strong an issue The Crow Curare #1 was, and was pretty eager to pick up the second issue in this three book arc.

The second book gives readers an extensive background on Detective Salk and shows us exactly how the man broke down, both professionally and personally.  The scenes with his family are particularly strong.  They perfectly contrast where he is both physically and emotionally compared to his wife and children.

We also see Carrie's abduction, though not the man who took her.  The initial kidnapping from a playground is a haunting work of minimalism.  Dode's art images capture this perfectly.  They are the type of pages that make me want to buy a second copy to get them framed.  

While it was nice to get a fully fleshed out background on Salk, the book leaves off at nearly the same point as the first.  One month later I still don't know whats going to happen next.  Readers are treated to the emergence of the Crow though..

Overall this is a strong book, that feels like a bit of a let down because it doesn't advance the plot very much, and because the first issue was nearly flawless.  Dode's mesmerizing images though make this book a must buy, as it works almost like a tone poem.  I am very curious to see how this is all wrapped up in the last issue.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #1

Army of Darkness vs Hack/Slash #1 written by Time Seeley and drawn by Daniel Leister begins a six issue arc that picks up directly Hack/Slash's end (spoilers are present) and references the current Army of Darkness run at Dynamite.

Putting Ash and Cassie Hack together is going to seem like a gimmick, and it is.  But that doesn't mean its still not fun.  Much like Tim Seeley's Hack/Slash Re-Animator or Chuckey cross over his talent is impossible to miss.  Seeley crafts a solid premise and writes Ash as well as he did Herbert West, capturing the rhythm of Campbell's performance.

Daniel Leister's art captures the actions heavy movement well, allowing the reader to easily follow blow as it transpires, and has two very fun splash pages.

In the end this isn't the greatest horror comic (though much more violent than the teen rating would suggest) but for fans of these characters its a solid read, and I'll be looking forward to the next issue.

Solomon Kane Movie Review

Completed in 2009 Michael J Bassett's Solomon Kane sat on a shelf and was recently dumped on to Blu Ray and DVD, as a long time Robert E Howard fan I was pretty curious about this R rated and decently budget flick.

I enjoy Robert E Howard's writing, his characters, and most importantly, his stories.  And this is the movie's greatest weakness.  It is an origin story, based on the hints of Kane's background that Howard wrote.  I just don't care for origin tales all that much, especially when I know the outcome.  Solomon Kane will become the noble puritan avenger.

Writer/Director Michael J Bassett's screenplay and direction are strong and his affection for this material is clear.  He plays it straight without a wink at the audience creating an impressively dark and foreboding tone.  The fight sequences are extremely well choreographed, with much more brutal blade violence than most will be used to.  You don't take a man's head off with a single blow, it takes some hacking.  Blades are also stuck in dying bodies and difficult to pull out after a person is stabbed.

James Purefoy does well as Kane, but just doesn't have the charisma to compensate for some of the slower and weaker story elements.  Like every Conan adaption Bassett (and or the studio and producers) miss the key element that defined Robert E Howard's tales.  Howard was an incredibly depressed man who killed himself.  In nearly everything he wrote you could feel the contempt he had for society's corruption and inability to live up to its ideals.  Howard wrote of wandering noble savages, searching for a society that would meet its promise.  Their noble savagery was contrasted against the "civilized."  While Bassett nails most of the dark fantasy elements the story of an evil wizard misses this crucial element that was the reason Howard is still timeless.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shark Night (3D)

I had a thought that made me feel uncomfortable so I decided to punish my brain by watching Shark Night(theatrically released as Shark Night 3D)

The movie feels like a decent enough shark flick that was edited for television because of the PG-13 rating.  One of the most interesting elements is the justification for the sharks being loose where there are people.  While far fetched it was an idea I haven't seen played out before.

At a brisk 90 minutes the film is neither good or bad enough to be terribly memorable.  Ultimately it seems like a wasted opportunity.  You come up with a fairly decent premise, and its the shark action that is bland and sub par...but never bad enough to turn the flick off.

The cast is decent enough, while being utterly forgettable.  My favorite bit of casting though is Joel David Moore (who was 34 when this was shot) playing a college kid.
So if neither good or bad, but simply blandly forgettable is your bag I recommend Shark Night, which doesn't really take place much at night but sounds better than Shark Day and a Half.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Fall

I don't normally post reviews for TV shows, but I had to make an exception for The Fall.  The five episode first season is currently available on Netflix instant watch, an import from BBC2, and it is simply amazing.

The show centers around Gillian Anderson, Stella Gibson in an incredibly reserved and nuanced performance hunting down a serial killer played with great intricacies by Jamie Dornan.  One of the Fall's greatest strengths is the fleshed out portrayal of the serial killer, while making no effort for the audience to sympathize with him.  I grow tired of shows and books like Dexter and Hanibal where the serial killer is somehow noble.  The Fall proves the depths of character you can have, without trying to manipulate the audience to find something to admire.
One of the creepiest elements of the show, are the home invasion stalk and kill sequences.  They are expertly choreographed, and realistically portrayed.  If someone broke into your house to kill you, this is probably how it would play out.  

The season ends on a satisfying climax, and an incredible cliffhanger.  I am glad season two is a definite now.  I could go on and on about all the amazing elements of this show, from its acknowledgment of sexism, to well drawn office politics, but I'll stop myself.  If you have instant watch from Netflix watch this now.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Crow: Curare #1 Review

The Crow: Curare #1
Written by James O’Barr
Illustrated by Antoine Dodé
Colored by Antoine Dodé
Lettered by Shawn Lee
IDW Publishing
Release Date: June 12, 2013

After Skinning The Wolves ended James O’Barr’s long absence from the franchise he is back with a new Crow tale entitled Curare.  And the high standard he set with Skinning of the Wolves is easily met in this tale of anguish and pain.
The narrative centers around Detective Salk, a retired police detective whose inability to solve a sexual assault and murder of a small child haunts him, making him unable to live his life in anyway.  This book is just eerie, the artwork by Antoine Dodé is surreal, pulling the reader into the mind of a haunted man.  The coloring is amazing, and defies nearly every comic book trope. 
The story is brutal and jarring, without ever being overly graphic.  This is by far one of the creepiest comics I have ever read.  The illustrations by Antoine Dodé are not very explicit in the harrowing violence, yet he conveys such malice and violence this will be a hard book to stomach for most people. 

James O’ Barr is brilliant in crafting this tale of the rape and murder of a child, without ever delving into exploitive territory.  The anguish that Salk feels is front and center, a man destroyed because he cares.  Fans of the original will find much to like here, but should be forewarned there is no physical spirit of vengeance taking out bad guys in this book.  Yet the tone and feel is still deeply entrenched in the original. 

This a must read for fans of dark comics.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Horror Authors’ Bookshelves: Mark Allan Gunnells

From the darkness has curiosity ever reached out and struck you?  Has it caused you to wonder about favorite genre writers and what’s on their book shelves?  Itreached out and struck me.  Do they have some classic pulp detective novels?  What about graphic novel collections?  Maybe the severed head of the poor unfortunate soul who sent them their first rejection…  
Like the person in a horror story who hears the strange noise, I ventured alone into the darkness to investigate.  And here at Ravenous Monster I will share with youhorror authors’ bookshelves and their personal thoughts on their collections, until the thing in the shadows finally reaches out claims me.     

Click below to visit Horror Author Mark Allan Gunnells...

The Real Ghostbusters 3…shit I want to see.

Dan Ackroyd has been kicking around a Ghostbusters 3 script for at least 10 years, and at this point it’s just too late.  While the cast minus Murray is game, it’s just too late.  I’m sorry Dan.  Time took you guys out and I don’t want to see you in the GhostBusters Uniform right now. 

That being said I really want to know what the movie would have been like, I am just curious.  What would Ackroyd’s project have looked like?  Then the answer hit me.  Turn it into The Real Ghostbusters movie.  Ackroyd in the late 90’s said he needed more money than he could secure, with animation that is a non-issue.  If the animators used the same models from the Real Ghostbusters (but obviously improved the animation)  it would still have that late 80’s early 90’s feel.  Make it a period piece so to speak.  Have a soundtrack similar to the Muppet Movie that was just released with Hipster bands covering the old songs and then keep the score the same.

Ackroyd got Murray to record voice over work for the very cool GhostBusters video game, I would bet he could secure Murray for a day or two of voice work.  Remember when he showed up at the Spike TV Scream Awards in 2010 wearing his old greys?  Murray is still down to feed a level of nostalgia, and my generation is most certainly prematurely nostalgic.
Release the Real Ghostbusters movie on VOD through services like Amazon and Vudu charge 10 bucks a pop like most pre-dvd releases and I would bet you could turn a profit before DVD Blu Ray sales even hit.

The best part of this is that if it sucks, it is easily dismissed.  But if it kicks ass, it kicks ass and we get a new Ghost Busters.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Castaways by Brian Keene

They came to the deserted island to compete on a popular reality television show. Each one hoped to be the last to leave. Now they're just hoping to stay alive, because the island isn't deserted after all. 

Contestants are disappearing, but they aren't being eliminated by the game. They're being taken by the monstrous, half-human creatures that live deep in the jungle. The men will be slaughtered. The women will be kept alive as captives. Night is falling, the creatures are coming, and rescue is so far away . . . 

Brian Keene’s Castaways is more shallow in character development and plot intricacies than his other books.  It is also shorter coming in at a tad under 300 pages.  That being said this is a fun rapidly paced little yarn, that is never dull.  The show Castaways is a clear Survivor rip off (and Keene admits to enjoying the show) yet he still manages to draw a few interesting plot twists from this incredibly straightforward premise.
The character roster is pretty large for a work this small and as such some of the characters are little more than horror clichés and die way too quickly for the reader to establish any attachment to them.   Those who survive longer however are well developed and I was rooting for them to live and escape the island by the end.  A few of these characters began as stock characters that Keene managed to squeeze real life into. 
The creatures that come for the cast of Castaways are well realized and fit into the mold set forward by Urban Gothic, Offseason and are directly inspired by the Beast House series by Richard Laymon.  They are effective, but not revolutionary in any way. 


If you want a fast well-constructed creature feature Castaways by Brian Keene is the book for.  While not as challenging as some of his other works, he never insults the reader and tells a story that genre fans will appreciate from the first page to the last.  

A Comic adaptation of Castaways is Available in Brian Keene's Fear, while out of print is easy to find.

Monday, July 1, 2013

X Files Season 10 Issue #1

X Files season 10 is a new ongoing comic series meant to pick up after season 9, while ignoring but never in conflict with the X Files I Want to believe movie.  Chris Carter shares a writing credit with Joe Harris and Michael Walsh provides the art, but after nearly a decade since the show went off the air is there anything still left?

Yes there is still story to be told and issue #1 establishes where Mulder, Scully and  Skinner are now very effectively.  A new threat that is literally lurking in the shadows is introduced that drags Mulder and Scully back into their work with the X Files after leaving the FBI.  The simple art by Walsh works well, it has more of an old pulp edge than typical comic book fare that works well within the world of the X Files.  The story and writing are intriguing, and sets up this new plotline well, however issue #2 will be the true determiner of this series.  If the cool set ups yield some pay off this 5 issue arc will have me hooked.  If not it will probably be a decent but ultimately forgettable series like the the tops comics from the 90’s.