Monthly Archives: January 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #44 – 1408, Honeymoon

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

1408

 

Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a writer who makes a living visiting and visiting/staying at haunted locations and writing about them, usually debunking them in the process. Once upon a time, he had greater literary ambitions, but this is what currently pays the bills. To finish his latest book, he travels, albeit reluctantly, to New York City to the Dolphin Hotel, where Room 1408 is said to be a place of great evil. Mike hasn’t been back to NYC since… well, just since. But one night can’t hurt, right?

 

 

When he calls to make the reservation, he is outright refused. But after threatening legal action, and finding a law that actually requires them to rent him the room if it’s unoccupied, he shows up, only to be greeted by the manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson). Olin tries to dissuade Mike, attempts to bribe him, but nothing works. Enslin insists on the room and nothing else. So that’s what he gets.

 

Olin gives him a dossier on the deaths that have occurred in that room, and quite a collection that is, including a number of suicides and many unknown deaths. Mike is undeterred and pries into every nook and cranny. But then things begin to happen, and he has to wonder if there isn’t some truth in the stories. The question is will he be able to make it out of this hotel alive?

1408 is based on a short story by the master of horror, Stephen King. If I read the story, it’s been too 

long ago to remember, so I can’t exactly compare the film to the story. However, thinking about this movie reminds me of something I saw in the Witcher TV series. Geralt makes a passing detrimental comment regarding Jaskier’s vocal abilities, and Jaskier insists that Geralt tell him how he really feels. Geralt says it’s like ordering a pie and finding no filling. That’s the feeling I get with 1408. Cusack and Jackson look good, and the special effects are slick and sufficiently spooky, but when you get insist, there is not substance.

 

There are actually a couple of endings. I only watched one. From what I read, the other is even more depressing. Honestly, there was never an explanation given for anything that happened, as if you’re meant to take it at face value and not question anything. But in my mind that is leaving out the best part of the story – the resolution. Were we meant to come away with the idea that Mike Enslin has evolved as a person since his arrival in this haunted room? That bearing witness to the suffering of others, and the knowledge of his own, has made him less smarmy and more understanding?

Do we sympathize with him because of the tragedy in his own life? And disregard the fact that nothing he goes through is explainable? Or is this just an excuse to let the special effects crew have a field day? I didn’t find the movie particularly scary, more weird. I’m sure the story is much better. I would suggest reading that instead. I’ll give this film a somewhat shaky 3.5 Stars.

Honeymoon

Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) are a young couple in love and on their honeymoon. They go to a remote cabin owned by Bea’s family. It’s the off season and no one else will be around. Ain’t love grand? While walking the area, they come across a restaurant. They enter the restaurant to see if it’s open, and a surly young man tells them to leave before recognizing Bea as an old friend of his. His wife appears and tries to warn them to leave but her warning is cut short by her husband in a rather forceful manner, leaving Paul more than a little confused.

Paul wakes in the middle of the night only to find Bea missing. Frantic, he searches the woods and finds her standing there. She startles at his touch, but then laughs it off as sleepwalking. Paul isn’t so sure, however. Suddenly he begins to mistrust her. It seems like she is lying about something… or everything. Wakened by a strange light in the middle of the night, he suspects Bea knows more than she is letting on. But he can’t put his finger on what that is.

 

Bea becomes more and more secretive… and Paul begins to wonder who she really is. At first, he thinks it’s her old friend Ben, but when he tries to confront him, Ben isn’t there and his wife Annie is also acting strangely. Can the two women’s actions be connected?

 

This was an interesting mix of horror and sci-fi. The best things about the film are the performances of the lead actors. I liked Harry Treadaway in Mr. Mercedes and Penny Dreadful. Rose Leslie is best known for playing Jon Snow’s Wildling girlfriend Ygritte in Game of Thrones. The atmosphere is chilling and suspenseful as two people who love each other dearly find themselves being torn apart by forces they can’t comprehend. The ending is unexpected and eerie. Definitely worth watching, I give this film 4 Stars.

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 11 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 11   

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 3, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Daki’s brother Gyutaro is fast, like a mantis. He’s proving to be difficult to kill, even with the combined efforts of Tengen, Tanjiro and the others. Thinking quickly, Tanjiro slices off his feet and keeps them from regenerating with the use of wisteria extract. But how long can such tactics work on this demon?

Tanjiro’s quick thinking and fast actions save the life of one of Tengen’s wives. The Hashira is grateful to him, and says he owes him one. Everyone tries to cut off Gyutaro’s head, but that proves to be trickier than they thought. And now Daki is back in action?  Perhaps they should cut off her head first… assuming they can.

Tanjiro refuses to give up, no matter how bleak things look. And they are looking pretty bleak. How many more will they have to lose?

In this volume, we get to see Daki and Gyutaro’s back story. No one is born evil, and neither were they. Sometimes people are born into difficult situations and they do the best they can.  Also, we get a glimpse into the relationship between Tengen and his three wives. This was a pretty good battle, and it was hard to know what the outcome was going to be. But since this isn’t the last volume of the series, it should be apparent that good must prevail.

Good volume, looking forward to seeing more of the mystery guest introduced on the last page!

Wednesday Briefs: January 12, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Rose and Thorne 6 #6 (2.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

“God, you’re the best Vinny.” His words reverberated warmly against my neck. “I just don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d survive,” I assured him, even after he turned a skeptical eye toward me before straightening up. I was just being honest. Ethan was a strong man. His continued survival didn’t depend upon me. Me, on the other hand…

“But you don’t have to worry about it,” I hastily

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Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 10 by Koyoharu Gotouge

Demon Slayer, Vol 10   

Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 7,  2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

The battle against Daki continues with the addition of Tengen. The demon is pleased at the presence of a Hashira, knowing that Muzan Kibutsuji will be pleased. Tanjiro is determined to take her down, unable and unwilling to tolerate the presence of soulless monsters in this world. He is attempting to slice off her head, but the many strands of her obi are preventing him from doing so. Just when things look pretty bleak, it’s Nezuko to the rescue! Daki realizes she is the demon Lord Muzan told her of, and is determined to end Nezuko’s life for her lord’s sake.

Nezuko’s strength seems to have grown, as she fights against Daki. But she seems to be losing control of herself in the process, and Tanjiro fears for her. Tengen’s arrival is fortuitous. Hopefully Tanjiro can persuade his sister to go to sleep and heal. Tengen succeeds in slicing off Daki’s head… but it’s not going to be that simple. A second demon has arisen from Daki’s back. Turns out she has a brother, Gyutaro, and he’s worse than his sister. Oh dear! And just as determined to protect Daki as Tanjiro is to protect Nezuko.

And now the arrival of the cavalry in the form of Inosuke and Zenitsu, and thank goodness Zenitsu is asleep!

I love to watch Tanjiro develop as a fighter, the way he learns from his mistakes, as well as his determination to succeed. Not for himself, but for his loved ones as well as all people. He is such a good character, and so is Nezuko. In this volume, we meet another brother and sister who are just as devoted to one another. A good study in the definitions of love and good versus evil. It’s not all black and white, and no one is entirely bad, not even demons. I enjoyed seeing a little bit of Inosuke’s backstory in a bonus chapter. My kid loves him, and I still haven’t spotted his redeeming values, more how irritating he is, but I haven’t given up on him. He’ll probably grow on me lol  Still prefer Zenitsu asleep.

Good volume, looking forward to the next one!

Saturday is Horror Day #43 – V/H/S Viral

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

V/H/S Viral

As s police chase, in hot pursuit of an ice cream truck, shatters the night, the lives of various people become entwined in different ways.

 

 

 

 

A young man whose girlfriend has been abducted by this strange pursuit cycles furiously after her, determined to save her no matter what.

 

A magician known as the Great Dante rises to prominence after his purchase of a cloak once owned – and feared – by Harry Houdini himself. To what lengths will the magician go to satisfy the needs of the cloak in order to keep his strange new powers?

 

An inventor has spent months on a secret project, and to his wonderment he succeeds in discovering a parallel world, which includes a carbon copy of himself. The “two” men talk, and as each is curious about the other, they decide to trade lives for fifteen minutes.

Young skateboarders who are filming themselves need a better place to film, so they talk an acquaintance into funding a trip to Tijuana and get more than they bargained for.

 

This film, like the others in the series, involves found camera footage taken by the protagonists in the various stories. The thread that holds these stories together is the police chase of the ice cream truck, and the pursuit by the young man determined to save his girlfriend. But the other stories matter too. 

The story with the parallel world was particularly interesting/disturbing. The skateboarder story was slow at first, but once it picked up, it was buckwild. There is actually a story after the credits, not sure why this was done this way, called Gorgeous Vortex. Honestly, I didn’t care for it, and couldn’t really tell you what happened. That being said, I did like the rest of the movie and thought it was well-done for this genre and it certainly held my interest. I’ll give this film a solid 4 Stars.

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 50 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 50     

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 6, 2012

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Supernatural/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

A curious Ichigo has accepted Ginjo’s invitation and gone to see what he has to say. He is more than surprised when Chad shows up, having not seen him at school for a while. Ginjo goes on to explain that everyone there has something in common—parents who were attacked by Hollows before each of them was born. This left them with residual powers that are closer to that of a Hollow than a Soul Reaper. The problem is they are disgusted by this power and want to get rid of it. Through trial and error, they learn that this can be done by transferring the powers to someone who is both soul reaper and human. Ichigo certainly fills that bill! Therefore, if they give their powers to Ichigo, he can be a soul reaper again and they will have gotten rid of them. Win-win, right?

Ichigo agrees to be trained by them for the purpose of taking their powers. But he’s confused when Ruriko brings out a doll house and looks at him expectantly. Seriously? She wants him to train inside that? But she does, and she demonstrates her Fullbring power of doll house, placing him inside the house. Fullbring is the power these people have, one she says Ichigo has too. But he isn’t alone in this place. There is a huge pig there. Ruriko tells him to use his Fullbring power to beat the pig so he can get out of the house. Is that even possible?

Meanwhile, a concerned Orihime goes to Chad’s apartment. But as she stands there, she is addressed by a young man who asks if she would mind dying? But once Orihime turns toward him, the young thug is so stunned by her beauty that he loses focus on why he is there and finds it impossible to attack her. Orihime is polite… until she thinks he attacked Uryu. But another man appears and claims responsibility for the attack.

As Chad and Ichigo walk home together, Chad suddenly realizes there is a problem with Orihime’s spiritual pressure, so the two hurry to her apartment. But when they arrive, Orihime says she’s fine, and a friend had been with her. Ichigo and Chad are confused but can prove nothing. Ichigo calls Ginjo to see if he has any idea what is going on… and he does.

Back to training for Ichigo… this time with Jackie Tristan!

I have to admit this is one of my least favorite Bleach arcs, and I find the Fullbringers annoying. But it’s for a good cause, to help Ichigo regain his soul reaper powers. He has obviously been lost without them, and I know he misses Rukia and Renji and the others. Ruriko is very annoying but I find it amusing that despite her nasty words toward Ichigo she obviously has a huge crush on him. So let’s move through this arc quickly and get on to other things.

Still well worth reading!

Wednesday Briefs: January 5, 2022

Here is a list of all the authors flashing this week, along with a brief snippet from their latest free work. Click the link after the snippet to be taken to the complete story on the author’s home page.

Ancalagon: Chapter Seventy-two by Cia Nordwell
 

The dark green markings on his body framed his face and graced his neck and shoulders. Some curved down across his chest and others curled over his belly and hips. I reached up and touched the edge of one over his hip where it pointed straight toward his straining shaft.  

That bobbed, the gravity pulling it down after the muscles in Garjah’s abdomen rippled at my touch. He pulled in a quick breath and shuffled closer. I closed my hand around his shaft, feeling the supple softeness around the rock hard core.  

Garjah growled and froze.  

“Is the door sealed?”  

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Saturday is Horror Day #42 – Freaky, Trick ‘r Treat

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Freaky

 

A serial killer whose nickname is The Butcher (Vince Vaughn) is loose in the peaceful town of Blissfield, and the body count is rising! But Millie (Kathryn Newton) is a teen with problems of her own. Her beloved father died the year before and her mother ( Katie Finneran) hasn’t come to terms with his death yet, seeking solace in a bottle. Millie’s sister Charlene (Dana Drori) is a cop who buries herself in her work. Millie is sweet, but timid, and there are kids at her school who bully her. She has two best friends, Nyla (Celeste O’Connor) and Josh (Misha Osherovich), but even they cannot fill her with the confidence in herself that she lacks.

 

When Millie’s mother fails to pick her up from a school event on time, Millie finds herself face to face with The Butcher. He is armed with a strange knife he stole at the scene of his latest murder. But something strange happens when he strikes at her with the knife, and he ends up bloody instead. If that isn’t odd enough, the next morning Millie and The Butcher awaken to find out they have swapped bodies!

 

The Butcher finds himself in Millie’s house, with her family, and it’s blowing his mind. He comes close 

to killing her mother, but ends up going to school instead. Millie is shocked, to say the least, at her voice and her appearance. She frantically heads toward the school, but the fact that she resembles a wanted serial killer is not a plus! She runs into Nyla and Josh and they are scared of her, even when she tells them who she is. It takes some doing, but she convinces them of her identity, regardless of who she looks like, using information known only to Millie. Josh does some research on the knife in question and learns about the curse. Further, he discovers that they have a small window in which to reverse what has happened or Millie will be stuck in this killer’s body forever!

 

This movie is like the demented version of Freaky Friday. Although it’s funny, there are definite horror elements here as well. Vince Vaughn is great, both as The Butcher and Millie in The Butcher’s body. He plays the terrified Millie well, adopting all the mannerisms of a teen-aged girl. The cast is great, no complaints there. Maybe the situations and characters are somewhat predictable and formulaic, such as the school bullies who get their comeuppance, the minority best friends, family distanced by tragedy,  The way everything done is just fun and satisfying. I enjoyed watching it and would recommend it. I am giving this a solid 4 Stars.

Trick ‘r Treat

On Halloween, all things are possible, and people aren’t always what they appear to be…

 

 

 

 

Laurie (Anna Paquin) is out with her girlfriends for some fun. Realizing Laurie is a virgin, they are determined to find just the right guy for her, someone who will make her first time memorable. Steven Wilkins (Dylan Baker) is a school principal who has a secret hobby… he’s a serial killer.

 

 

A group of teenagers are on a scavenger hunt. They invite the shy weird girl Macy (Britt McKillip). The 

group ends up at the site of an infamous local school bus massacre, where things begin to go wrong.  Danielle (Lauren Lee Smith)is not as filled with the Halloween spirit as her husband Henry (Tahmoh Penikett). She can’t wait for the night to be over. But perhaps she should be careful what she wishes for. Mr.Kreeg (Brian Cox) is a crotchety old man who lives next door to Principal Wilkins. Very reclusive, he has no use for other people or for celebrating Halloween. He may change his mind before the night is done.

Trick ‘r Treat consists of five intertwined tales that take place on Halloween night, all with the common theme of expect the unexpected. Nothing is what is appears to be, and you can assume nothing. The way that the timeline intersects and how it relates to each story is brilliant. The stories all fit together perfectly. I like Anna Paquin in everything she does, and this is no exception. Also, Brian Cox does cantankerous well.

 

The stories are both humorous and scary and contain great twists. The cast is good, the writing is solid, and the direction and cinematography are quality, not something you always get in horror films. Definitely well worth watching, I give this film a solid 4 Stars.