Weekly Reading Round-Up : 10/14/2018 – 10/20/2018


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

As per the norm, we’ve got four new books to take a look at in this week’s Round-Up column, with something of a common theme in that they all come our way courtesy  of those unafraid to put their money where their mouths are, the noble ranks of self-publishing cartoonists —

Or, in the case of So Buttons #9, a self-publishing writer, specifically Jonathan Baylis, who makes a welcome return after a couple of years spent raising his infant son, who features prominently in a heartwarming little “who do ya love?” anecdote illustrated with stripped-down poignancy by T.J. Kirsch and an equally “awwwww — fer cute”-inducing yarn about introducing the lovable tyke to music drawn with gorgeously wistful aplomb by Summer Pierre. For the anti-natalists out there, though, fear not : we have a quartet of stories that re-visit tried and true Baylis themes, with the great James Romberger…

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4 Shots From 4 Beach Horror Films: The Horror of Party Beach, The Beach Girls and the Monster, Blood Beach, Sand Sharks


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we celebrate horror on the beach with….

4 Shots From 4 Beach Horror Films

The Horror of Party Beach (1964, dir by Del Tenney)

The Beach Girls and the Monster (1966, dir by Jon Hall)

Blood Beach (1981, dir by Jeffrey Bloom)

Sand Sharks (2011, dir by Mark Atkins)

 

The Revenant (The Waaaaay Better One) Review by Case Wright


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The Revenant …. nooooo not the one where Leonardo Di Caprio gets Bear Married (Bearried?)…this is the one where David Anders (iZombie- Blane) and Chris Wylde become crime fighting zombies in Los Angeles!!!! There are certain films that are just fun.  So, pop open a PBR, hang with your buds or your SO, and enjoy a truly great Vampire/Zombie film.

The film was directed, written, edited, and special-effected by D. Kerry Prior.  This film is totally in the same vein as Evil Dead.  Many people making the film knew one another, D Kerry Prior wore many hats, and they managed to show it at many festivals and did well.  This is a great example of how fun horror can be without a lot of money….IF you have a good script and dedicated people working with you.  This is so amazingly over the top; there is even a scene where a disembodied head speaks with the assistance of a sex toy on his vocal cords.  You just don’t see that everyday!

The film takes the idea that Vampires are basically zombies, but still sapient after their reawakening; therefore, they call them Revenants as in returning.  Yes, they still drink blood, but they look like zombies with the rotting and the yellow eyes and such.  D. Kerry Prior took the idea that if they are still sentient post-return maybe they’d use their invincibility for good.  And what is best thing a person can be you ask?????  A Zombie/Vampire/Crimefighter.  Yes, they fight crime!

The film begins in Iraq with Sergeant Bart Gregory (David Anders) who gets shot and turned into a a Revenant (zombie/vampire) by a baby zombie/vampire who is pretty gross.  Bart’s body is shipped home and reanimates.  The only knock I give the film is that Bart goes from SGT to Lieutenant from one scene to the next, but you just have to let it go.  Bart relies on his friend Joey to adjust to his new Revenant undead lifestyle.  They learn that not only does Bart survive on blood, but there are a panoply of criminals in Los Angeles waiting to be tapped for Bart’s plasma needs.

Eventually, Joey gets shot during one their criminal harvests and Bart turns him into a Revenant to save him. Then, they have an awesome montage of killing and blood eating.  It’s just great! All the while, there is a subplot of his relationship between Bart and his girlfriend Janet who eventually get turns as well.  This creates a Yoko situation and Joey and Bart try to kill each other.  Joey flees and tries to harvest on his own and ends up getting decapitated …. and the head lives!  Bart has to put Joey down, leaving Bart with no reason to unlive.  Bart tries to commit suicide in a number of interesting ways and it just doesn’t work.  I won’t give away the ending, but it’s pretty interesting.

I’ve seen this film about five times and I’ve been entertained every…single…time.  After I first saw it, iZombie premiered shortly after with David Anders as the main villain, making this movie doubly awesome because we got to see David Anders pre-stardom.  There are a number of low-budget TERRIBLE horror movies and I’ve watched MANY of them.  This film is testament to how far you can push this genre creatively and still do it on low-budget.  I highly recommend it as a must see!

Eurocomics Spotlight : Samplerman’s “Fearless Colors”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

French cartoonist Yvan Guillo, better known under his nom de plume of Samplerman, has a technique like no other — and it’s one that leaves me in a real quandary. Digitally manipulating pre-existing (primarily Golden Age, and most likely all public domain) comic book illustrations into hitherto-unforeseen, and uniformly bizarre, new shapes and formations and probably even realities is the part I “get,” but what sort of artist does that make Mr. Samplerman? Or, perhaps more specifically, what sort of art is it that he’s making? Is it “found” art? Is it “Pop Art”? Is it collage? Is it Lichtenstein- or Warhol-esque  appropriation/theft?

Eventually, I settled on — re-mixing. What do we all think of that?

If his recently-issued collection,  Fearless Colors (co-published by Kus!, Ediciones Valientes, and MMMNNNRRRG) proves one thing, it’s that some sort of musical comparison is in order, because while the “strips” in this book are a…

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The Babysitter, Review by Case Wright


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The Babysitter, directed by McG- Lethal Weapon, Supernatural, Aim High, and Citizen Cane.  Ok fine, the last one was a bit of a fib, but he’s had an amazing career known for shows that are action heavy, pop, and have a lot of humor.  I did watch this one on the elliptical as a to refresh my memory, but I first watched it on a date night for a Netflix and Chill session.  The Babysitter was so fun; it doesn’t take itself seriously, until it has to.  Like Supernatural, the movie balances the horror with the character arcs to pull you into the story.  By the end, you genuinely care about how these characters end up.

Horror is often treated as the stepchild of film because people are attracted by the low budget/high profit payoff potential and think anyone can do it: so wrong.  In fact, there are times you have an immensely talented director, but he or she is not meant for this genre – see- https://unobtainium13.com/2018/10/01/all-the-boys-love-mandy-lane-aka-all-the-bland-love-blandy-lane-review-by-case-wright/

Also, writing horror can create masterpieces like 28 Days Later- https://unobtainium13.com/2016/10/24/28-days-later/ .  Horror screenwriters can also create misery-inducing steaming piles of terribleness for me or for whomever will have the excruciating experience of having to review it- see- https://unobtainium13.com/2016/11/20/channel-zero-welcome-home-season-1-ep-6-alt-title-so-very-boring/ In The Babysitter, Brian Duffield (Quarantine and soon to be released Vivian Hasn’t Been Herself Lately) delivers a fun popping script with fast moving acts, clear arcs, humor, gore, and clever buildups and payoffs.  I am looking forward to seeing the rest of his art and you should too!  The Babysitter is not in the Oscar worthy category of The Shining, but it is still brilliant because it succeeds in doing what is most important – it entertains.  You care about the protagonist and where he’s going and amazingly sometimes root a little for the villain because she is acted by the uber-talented Samara Weaving.

The film is basically Satanic Home Alone; in fact, they reference Home Alone in the film.  Cole, the protagonist, is a bullied awkward 12 year old with a heart of gold and no self-confidence.  Yes, I know that reads like a fairly common protagonist, but his nerdiness is so authentic and the dialogue is so real that you buy it.  Trust me, I’ve never led you wrong before.  Cole has a quasi-friend in the Girl Next Door- Melanie, but Cole’s true friend (seemingly) is Bee (Samara Weaving) his babysitter.  She genuinely likes movies and nerdy things just like Cole and we learn she was also an awkward teen herself prior to meeting Cole.

Bee seems to be perfect, but she is a satanic worshipper who wants to sacrifice one nerd, harvest some of Cole’s blood, and read from I guess the Necronomicon to be granted a wish of her choosing from Satan.  Then again, we all have our faults.  We get to see and not be told how close Bee and Cole have become over the years.  They love film and goofy dancing.  Cole stays up past his bedtime to spy on his beloved Bee to see what she is up to after he purportedly asleep.  Sadly, he watches Bee commit an over the top murder of a seduced nerd.  The deaths in this film are Final Destination awesomepants!  Watch The Babysitter just for the deaths alone! Bee has cohorts: Robbie Amell who is very good in this.  He plays the murderous jock expertly and if you’re so inclined he’s shirtless A LOT with aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabs.  There’s also a lot of great humor with the somewhat bumbling satanic worshippers that are also out to get Cole and his sweet sweet AB Negative.

They need to harvest Cole’s blood to finish the evil wishing spell because he’s an obvious virgin, but he fights back.  It’s not corny like Home Alone; he mostly gets lucky or barely survives by finding weapons along the way- No booby traps.  The lack of traps and gags during the fight scenes keeps the story in the horror realm with the comedy sprinkled like a Mrs. Dash that doesn’t make you want to vomit.

There is a eventually a final battle between Bee and Cole.  She offers to make him part of the wish and live with him forever.  Now, I’m not saying he should’ve immediately taken her up on this offer. Maybe some negotiating would’ve been worthwhile, but really Cole…not even taking one beat to consider this pretty awesome offer.  I think that would’ve been fun as an alternate ending, but without fighting the final battle, Cole would not have realized his story arc as a true hero.  I have to admit if I were the 12 year old nerdy boy and Bee had made the same offer to me, I would have just been trying to figure out how many sock pairs I needed for our evil journey!

I want to make a special note here for the amazing performance of Samara Weaving.  She played the heck out of this role.  She could believably turn from evil to seductress to friend to good on a dime.  With the right opportunities, Samara Weaving will be the next Nicole Kidman!  Really!

Happy Horrorthon! Please check out my other stuff and tell your friends to read it as well!

Fair Warning : I’m About To Give You A “Lotta Lipp”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

At first glance, it seems crazy — why would any critic, in good conscience, recommend that you spend five bucks on a mini-comic that’s primarily taken up by a story concerning the cartoonist who drew it just walking around his neighborhood? “Join me as I take an aimless stroll” is an old autobio trope, to be sure, but by and large these types of exercises about — uhhhmmm — getting a little exercise are relegated to “backup feature” status, as well they probably ought to be. If you’re gonna make this type of yarn the backbone of your book, shit — it just stands to reason that you must not have too many actual ideas, right?

Conventional wisdom, however, quite often lives up to only the first part of its name, and this is another of those occasions, because August Lipp’s Lotta Lipp Comics #1 is probably the most…

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Night Surf, Review By Case Wright


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Where do stories come from? Not important or interesting.  Why are some stories shot out like a cannonball from an artist’s brain in a matter of days like Kerouac’s “On The Road” and even written on a scroll; whereas, some stories take a decade or more of developing until they are born like Stephen King’s The Stand?  Very Important and Very Interesting!  I will not be discussing King’s opus The Stand, but rather how it evolved from Night Surf.

Night Surf was written for the University of Maine literary magazine in 1969 when King was twenty-two.   Night Surf introduces us to the plague that kills off mankind and how people can be pulled to darkness when no one is looking. The disease is even called “A6” just as it was called in The Stand, but The Stand didn’t get published until 1978.  Why did it take so long for The Stand to incubate and his other stories seem to shoot from him like they are on a sluice?

I see this dichotomy in my own writing.  For some stories, I’ll get pieces of dialogue and scenes in my head that kick around for years, but I don’t know how they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle with too many smooth edges.  I can’t speak for Stephen King, but for me the longer developing stories occur when I’m picking at something personal like an emotional wound that’s been puffed out by pus, but not yet ready to drain.  I guess I just want to hold onto the pain; maybe, King does too?

Night Surf takes place on the New England coastline when summer’s ending, but it’s not just the leaves dying on the trees; humanity is blowing out from a massive viral extinction event.  The disease is called A6- a superflu.  In The Stand, he refers to the virus also as Tube Neck and Captain Trips.  The world is not quite dead yet, but it’s getting there.  The story is narrated by Bernie who is spending humanity’s last days at a beach town.  At first, the group believes that they are immune from the disease and demonstrate their superior immunity with the most primitive act of all: Human Sacrifice.  A man who’s dying from the flu comes to their town and, instead of caring for him and helping him die, they burn him to death in a bonfire.

Why burn him?  They describe it almost like a sacrifice to the beach itself.  The act seemed to me to be more like a line in the stand between the dying world and themselves.  The mere mortals are simply cord wood and can be used for fuel.  Their perception as the kings of humanity is vindicated by their health because they are immune and the rest of humanity perished.  It harkens to the idea of the Puritans where the Select were touched by God and were guaranteed success in life and VIP treatment on the ethereal plane.  Of course, the Puritans would balk at using lesser people as a duraflame.

Soon after burning the flu victim alive, Bernie realizes that one of his comrades has A6 symptoms and will soon die, indicating all of them might expire soon.  The story forces us to look at what allows us to be moral.  Are we only good because society will punish us if we are bad?  It could be argued that they looked at the immolation as a last hurrah, but I think that is wrong because at the time in the story, they believed they were immune.  If their friend had developed symptoms before the unlucky traveler arrived, would they see him as their brother or would they have burned them both to adamantly declare their superiority?

The theme of people being seduced to darkness is throughout The Stand, but in this story, they don’t get the devil made me do it excuse; the group murdered because they could and felt like doing it.  After the immolation, we return to Bernie’s backstory, humanizing him even more.  It seems King is saying that this horrendous act was just another act in a number of countless acts that Bernie did from birth to his upcoming demise.  Maybe doing evil is just as common as getting the paper? I hope not, but as the great philosopher Bobby Dylan said, It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

This story is more relevant to me today than when I first read it years ago.  What makes it more difficult for me is that the people in the story are just so normal.  I hope none of my readers will ever have to do this, but I’ve looked right into the face of evil once and the man looked like he could have been a cousin.  When I remember the encounter, it still chills me to the bone.  I met a Bernie once; maybe, you have too, but you didn’t know it?