Who — Or What — Will You Find Inside “The Palace Of Champions”?

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’m trying, I really am, but Henriette Valium’s 2016 Conundrum Press-published, oversized (9 x 14, to be specific), hardback collection, The Palace Of Champions, confounds me at every turn. And yes, I do mean that as a compliment.

For one thing, it’s essentially impossible to discern where one strip “ends” in this book and another “begins,” but maybe that doesn’t really matter, because it’s not exactly easy to puzzle out what’s even happening in any given panel, let alone on an entire page. Valium’s illustrations are loaded with information — hell, worlds of it — and seem to operate outside the realms of time, space, and logic, to the point where they may even render such concepts outmoded at best, if not downright meaningless. Assaulting your eyeballs and sense of reason with equal gusto, Valium takes elements of old-school underground comix “ugly art,” occult and Kabbalistic diagrams, and…

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Cleaning Out The DVR: The Watcher In The Woods (dir by Melissa Joan Hart)

(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 163 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded The Watcher In The Woods off of Lifetime on October 21st, 2017!)

There’s something watching in the woods.

At the very least, that’s what Jan (Tallulah Evans) believes.  Jan and her family are spending the summer in Wales, at the Aylwood Manor.  From the minute that they move in, Jan starts to suspect that something is strange about the place.  Sometimes, she thinks that she can hear whispers coming from the nearby woods.  Her younger sister starts to act strangely.  Their parents are convinced that Jan is just playing tricks and trying to frighten them.  When Jan tries to find out more information about both the woods and her new home, she discovers that most of the people in the village don’t want to talk about it.  Those that do speak to her tend to say things like, “Soon, you’ll be gone too.”

(Other than some shots of the beautiful countryside, I doubt this film will do much for Welsh tourism.)

And then there’s Mrs. Aylwood (Anjelica Huston), the mysterious and stand-offish owner of Aylwood Manor.  Thirty years ago, her daughter disappeared in the woods.  Most people in the village believe that Mrs. Aylwood murdered her own daughter.  At first, Jan suspects that she’s a witch and that she not only sacrificed her daughter but now wants to sacrifice Jan’s sister as well!

Of course, the truth might be something altogether different.  It’s not always so easy to tell who is a witch and who is just a grieving mother.  The only thing that Jan knows for sure is that there’s something in the woods and it’s watching…

I have to admit that the main reason I wanted to see The Watcher In The Woods was because it was directed by Melissa Joan Hart and she’ll always be Sabrina, the Teenage Witch to me.  (Don’t start yelling at me about God’s Not Dead 2.  Actors have bills to pay and Melissa gave about as good a performance as anyone could with that script.)  Hart does a pretty good job directing The Watcher In The Woods.  It’s not particularly scary but, for all the talk of witches and demons, it’s not really meant to be a horror film.  Instead, it’s a coming-of-age story with paranormal elements.  Jan not only learns about what’s watching in the woods but she also learns an important lesson about assuming that people are witches.  And, even if it’s not really a scary movie, it does have some appropriately creepy scenes.  The woods are a great location and there’s a scene where Jan nearly downs that’s especially well-handled.  The film is also well-acted, with a natural and believable performance from Tallulah Evans and an enjoyably stylized one from Anjelica Huston.

All in all, The Watcher in The Woods was an enjoyable October treat.

Cleaning Out the DVR #16: Keep Calm and Watch Movies!

cracked rear viewer

All last week, I was laid up with sciatic nerve pain, which begins in the back and shoots down my left leg. Anyone who has suffered from this knows how  excruciating it can be! Thanks to inversion therapy, where I hang upside down three times a day on a table like one of Bela Lugosi’s pets in THE DEVIL BAT , I’m feeling much better, though not yet 100%.

Fortunately, I had a ton of movies to watch. My DVR was getting pretty full anyway, so I figured since I could barely move, I’d try to make a dent in the plethora of films I’ve recorded.., going all the way back to last April! However, since I decided to go back to work today, I realize I won’t have time to give them all the full review treatment… and so it’s time for the first Cleaning Out the DVR post…

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