Monthly Archives: February 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #50 – The Craft

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 The Craft

After her father and stepmother move the family to San Francisco, Sarah (Robin Tunney) finds herself enrolled in a Catholic prep school where she knows no one. At first feeling like a fish out of water, she’s attracted to fellow student Chris (Skeet Ulrich). When Sarah asks him about three girls who are staring their way, he warns her against them, saying they are considered to be witches. Sarah doesn’t believe him, and when she is approached by group leader Nancy (Fairuza Balk), she is introduced to the others – Bonnie (Neve Campbell) and Rochelle (Rachel True). Nancy witness something during class which makes her believe that Sarah can be the fourth they have been looking for.

Joining them on a little shopping trip, they end up at an occult bookstore, where Sarah reveals her interest 

in witchcraft, an interest which they all share. Nancy warns Sarah about Chris, but she goes out with him anyway, and the next day he spreads untrue rumors about her. It’s time to get even.

Believing in themselves and the power within, the four girls feel they can do no wrong. They start by fixing things about themselves, such as Nancy’s scars, and Rochelle’s problems with a racist student. But the power goes to their heads, and people are getting hurt. Sarah begins to realize this is wrong, and it’s not something she ever wanted. But they don’t want to let her out of the circle… at least not without consequences.


More than a story of teenage girls and witchcraft, The Craft can be taken as a cautionary tale about letting power get to your head, and thinking you can do what you want and never be harmed in the process. The girls cast a spell on Chris so that he is obsessed with Sarah, to get even for the lies he told about her. But that brings out problems of its own. And as the girls began to turn on one another, it’s hard to tell what is real and what is a glamour.


The acting in this is good. Fairuza Balk plays a bitch pretty well. I’ve always liked Neve Campbell and find her to be underrated. There is a sequel, which was made over twenty years after the first, which I also intend to watch. I’ll give this a solid 4 Stars.

Book Review: The Way of the Househusband, Vol 7 by Kousuke Oono

The Way of the Househusband, Vol 7     

Author: Kousuke Oono

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 18, 2022

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Comedy/168 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Ms. Torii is trying to keep a low profile as she indulges in a guilty pleasure, but she has the misfortune to run into Tatsu at his part-time gig. He shows her the ropes, and helps her to enjoy the experience.

A typhoon is rolling into the area, and this means war! Tatsu is up to the challenge, determined to defend his turf from the invader, no matter the cost! But when he learns that Masa is out and about at this perilous time, he is determined to save him!

Tatsu, Miku, and Masa go camping. When Masa accidentally knocks over the rice, he approaches the other campers in hopes of finding someone with extra and runs into Tora, who is also camping. When Tatsu finds out, the one-upmanship begins!

Tatsu and Masa are taking collections… for the neighborhood association. But oddly, the people they approach seem to take Tatsu’s requests as some kind of threat. When he approaches one particularly difficult group of men, Tatsu has to make them understand what the money is actually going to be used for.

Miku absolutely loves watching Policure, and Tatsu enjoys it along with her. But she has a favor to ask of him. Her friend has a very ill child in the hospital who also loves Policure, so can Tatsu visit her… but dressed as a character from the show?

Tatsu and two of his associates are called upon for a delicate job involving a man’s beloved daughter named Pinky’s birthday.  Of course they’ll do it, and each plans the perfect gift according to their own talents. Which will the beloved canine prefer?

Tatsu shows Masa how to make malt amazake, a non-alcoholic sake. Tatsu has to keep reminding Masa to have patience or he’ll ruin the product! The next day, Miku is subjected to the amazake everywhere she turns, to her dismay. Is there no limit to the stuff?

Miku’s father invites Tatsu to go with him to a meeting of his haiku club, and is gratified to find Tatsu admires his haiku. When Tatsu tries his hand at some haiku of his own, there seems to be an oddly familiar theme in what he writes. When the club runs into a rival group, a friendly haiku slam is proposed.  Can these two groups discover any common ground?

After meticulously ironing everything, Tatsu overdoes it and  has thrown out his back! Miku discovers him lying face down on the floor. But he refuses to take it easy, and she ends up having to carry him to a doctor… for the second time in their relationship.

I never get tired of these stories. I could read them forever! Each volume is so good! I love everything about them, the art, the stories, the characters. I think they are perfect. My favorite story in this volume was the one with the child in the hospital, made me cry (good cry, not bad). Also, another glimpse into how Tatsu and Miku met. I hope we get to see more of that, cause I am dying to know how the demure Miku met and fell in love with a Yazuka! Look for the bonus stories involving Tora going camping and Gin’s encounter with an otaku.

Can’t wait to read more!

Wednesday Briefs: February 23, 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 #12 (3.2) by Julie Lynn Hayes

Beautiful blue eyes certainly ran in this family. As did good looks. And killer smiles. Okay, not Joe Junior, but all the rest were good-looking people. At least from the outside.

I hung back as uncle and nephew hugged it out. Deciding I should make myself at least somewhat useful, I retrieved our suitcase and set it on the floor.

“It’s so good to see you, Ethan,” his uncle was saying. “You’ve become quite the looker, you have. Breaking all the hearts?”

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Book Review: Bleach, Vol 51 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 51       

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


Riruka sends Ichigo into her doll house in order to train and then takes off, as if she is indifferent to what happens. But we know that’s not true. Ichigo is facing Jackie Tristan. When he doesn’t attack first, she does, as she proceeds to demonstrate what her dirty boots means. It’s not exactly what he expects.

Orihime confides to Chad about her interaction with the strange man who she is positive cut her, and how suddenly she felt as though he was her friend, although how is that possible? Meanwhile that same man, Tsukishima, speculates as to how Ginjo would feel if he were to attack Ichigo directly.

Chad goes to Ginjo to tell him what Orihime said and to question him about Tsukishima’s ability. But Ginjo is cagy and reluctant to speak openly. Even as he tells Chad that it couldn’t have been Tsukishima who stabbed Orihime, the man in question bursts into the room and then inserts himself into the doll house. When the doll house explodes, forcibly ejecting everyone inside, Ichigo finds himself facing Tsukishima, while the others wonder how they are going to explain the damage to the neighbors. Time to move?

Uryu calls Orihime to come to the hospital where he is recuperating. Previously, he rejected her offer to heal him, but he has come to the realization that he should avail himself of her ability, as the situation has changed. Now he detects spirit energy that is Ichigo’s! Is that even possible? Leaving the hospital, Orihime runs into Chad, who tells her about Ichigo’s training, and how he will need her to play a part in it. He brings her to the new headquarters where she is instantly beset upon by Rurika. The jealous Rurika tries to warn Orihime off by telling her that healing Ichigo will lead to greater suffering on his part, but Orihime has an answer for that. Rurika ends up spending time with Orihime while Ichigo trains, and Orihime sees through her tough as nails exterior.

I find it interesting how even in the midst of battle, whether a training battle or a real one, Ichigo finds time to have a discussion with his opponent. This volume is mostly about Ichigo’s Fullbring training, but we are also learning a few things, such  as Tsukishima has an agenda, Orihime isn’t as naïve as she once was, and Rurika isn’t as hard as she appears. It’s also becoming clear that maybe Ichigo can regain his Soul Reaper powers. Huzzah for that, if true! Looking forward to the next volume.

Saturday is Horror Day #49 – The Unholy (2021), V/H/S 94

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Unholy (2021)

Gerry Feen (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a journalist who’s lucky to receive any assignments at all, considering the colossal blunder which basically destroyed his career. He’s in no position to argue when he’s sent to cover a story about a cow in rural Massachusetts. The story proves to be bogus, to Feen’s dismay. But he’s determined to write something, so when he discovers a strange doll buried in the hollow at the base of a tree, he smashes it and then photographs it in an attempt to make something out of nothing. Little does he realize what he has done.

While standing near the tree, Fenn encounters a strange young woman who appears to be in a trance. She 

kneels before the tree, as if mesmerized by it, and speaks strange words he doesn’t understand. When he tries to help her, she faints and he carries her to the church, to seek the aid of the priest, Father Hagan (William Sadler). It turns out the girl is his niece Alice (Cricket Brown). But Hagan tells Fenn he couldn’t have heard her speak, as she is deaf and mute. But something strange happens when she comes to – she can hear and speak! And she says it’s because she saw the Virgin Mary!


Realizing this is a much better story, Fenn persuades his editor that he needs to stay on it as he grows close to the young woman. Strange things begin to happen, including Alice curing a young boy who couldn’t walk previously. People are drawn to the church, seeking out the young miracle worker, and a media frenzy ensues. But she trusts Fenn, who gains sole access to her. Of course the church steps in in the form of Bishop Gyles (Cary Elwes) as well as Monsignor Delgarde (Diogo Morgado), who is playing devil’s advocate before the church will declare Banfield, Massachusetts to be a shrine.


But all is not as it appears to be, as Fenn delves into the story more deeply, and he begins to realize that appearances can be deceiving. But can he save the people who are so willing to believe that they can’t recognize evil when it’s staring them in the face?

This isn’t necessarily a new trope, a demonic entity posing as a holy one. I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan in everything he does and he does well here as the disgraced journalist who sees what needs to be done and is willing to do what is right, no matter the cost. Cricket Brown is sufficiently naive and compelling as Alice, who means well but doesn’t realize she is being used. This is a Sam Raimi film, so of course production values are high. But even so, I’ve seen this played out better. I wouldn’t say don’t watch it, Morgan is worth the price of admission alone. Just don’t look for The Exorcist. I’ll give this film 3 Stars.

V/H/S 94

A SWAT team searches a warehouse in what they think is a drug bust, but nothing makes sense… from the various corpses with gouged-out eyes to the static-filled television sets.

A news reporter and her cameraman are sent on location to cover a story concerning a local cryptid 

known as the Rat Man, who supposedly lives in the storm drains. Holly, the reporter, interviews a local man just outside the storm drain, just before her boss tells her to take the story into the drain. Holly is reluctant before she agrees in order to stay out of the creepy man’s line of sight. She and Jeff, the cameraman, make their way inside as they begin to discover strange things, including a man who must be the Rat Man they’re looking for. But then they discover more than they bargained for.

A funeral home is requested to video record the wake of a loved one throughout the night. A young woman named Hailey is assigned the task of keeping vigil while the wake takes place. She chooses to read in order to pass the time. However, she begins to hear strange noises and calls her boss to suggest maybe the deceased isn’t quite deceased, but her boss assures her that is not the case, and the condition of the body precludes any chance of his being alive. A storm rages outside, with occasional power outages, which unnerve Hailey. A man shows up for the wake, stands before the casket and speaks in Hungarian before making his departure. During the next power outage, Hailey is dismayed to find the coffin not only has been knocked down, but it is now open and empty.


A mad scientist is performing experiments on test subjects – willing or unwilling – intent on fusing flesh and metal. The SWAT team arrives and mayhem ensues as they shoot what they perceive as monsters. One soldier recognizes a young woman as a girl reported missing who is being sought and he urges leniency. But his commanding officer is adamant that she not live either. 


An extremist military group with sedition on its mind have a compound somewhere in Detroit, Michigan. They intend to purge evil from America. But these men are not the simple garden variety of crazy. They are holding a vampire prisoner, and they keep siphoning his blood  which becomes explosive when exposed to sunlight. Oh the plans that they make!

Once again we have a collection of found VHS footage, seemingly separate stories, but are they? The tale which binds these together is that of the SWAT team, but watch carefully as the others have their ties.

These stories are definitely original and very creative, and most decidedly gory. This series is not for the faint at heart. I think my favorite two stories were Storm Drain, about the lady reporter and the Rat Man, which has an unexpected twist and ending, and The Subject, with the crazy mad scientist who loves his metal prosthetics. I have enjoyed this whole series, and this latest entry is no exception. I hope they continue to make these, but I couldn’t find any information either way. Well worth the watch, I give this one 4 Stars.

Wednesday Briefs: February 16,2022

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.

Garret Farm: Part 23 by J Ray Lamb

Colin sat down to eat with the rest of the crew. Everyone was in a good mood which clashed with his own bitchy mood and frustration with Murphy.

After the past few months of wild and crazy sex, his being given the commissary managers position, and sleeping with Murphy, he felt settled in to the farm and had a incipient relationship with Murphy.

Now, everyone was sitting here around the table as if nothing had changed on the farm. Perhaps nothing had changed, but to Colin everything had changed. Did he want to keep the commissary manager position?

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Saturday is Horror Day #48 – I Saw the Devil

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


 I Saw the Devil

A young woman with a flat tire is approached by a stranger who offers to help her, but she tells him she has already called a tow truck and that won’t be necessary. But some people can’t take no for an answer. The man breaks into the car and takes her against her will.




The woman’s fiance, Kim Soo-hyeon (Lee Byung-hun) and her policeman father Chief Jang (Jeon Good-Hwan) search frantically for her, to no avail. Her dismembered body is discovered, and no clue as to the killer. Soo-hyeon takes two weeks’ leave from his job, determined to find the killer. The police have a short list of potential suspects, and Jang procures the police files for Kim (whose actual job is secret agent). Kim is determined to find the killer, and starts to go through the list.


Jang Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sik) is a serial killer, and this is far from his first victim. He enjoys 

inflicting pain in whatever way he can, and has a guillotine set up in his torture chamber at home. He has a job driving young women in a school van. Kim is just one step behind him at the school, after he has gone to take a group of girls home. Realizing he’s been fired, Kyung-chul takes one of the girls hostage in a greenhouse, but Soo-hyeon catches him in time, and inflicts a great deal of pain on him… before letting him go. But not until he forces him to swallow a transmitter/homing device he procured from a sympathetic friend on the police force.

Now begins the cat and mouse game. Soo-heyon tracks the psycho killer, catches him in the act, inflicts more pain and lets him go. How long can he keep this up before something goes horribly wrong?


I Saw the Devil is a Korean film by director Jee-woon Kim. While it is certainly a horror film, there is a lot more going on here than that. Questions are raised regarding justice and revenge. Where does one end and the other begin? Are they the same or are they diametrically opposed? Right and wrong, good and evil. The serial killer is well played and well written. He is undoubtedly sick (and so is his cannibal friend he hides out with for a short while), but he isn’t necessarily your stereotypical villain. The hero has undoubtedly good motives for what he does, but is he allowing himself to become the monster he seeks? You might remember Lee Byung-hun as the Front Man in The Squid Game.

I enjoyed everything about this film, from the writing to the acting to the direction and the cinematography. Warning – this is not for the squeamish. The pacing was just right too, and all in all a very satisfactory movie. I highly recommend it, and I give it 5 Stars.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 7 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 7   

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 3, 2007

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


It’s not easy to be a substitute manager, a budding actress, and a wannabe high school student all at the same time, but Kyoko never backs down from a challenge! Even when she and Ren are caught in a serious traffic jam, and she is worried that he will be late to work, thus tarnishing his perfect image, she makes sure he gets there on time, even if she has to appropriate someone’s bike to do it!

At school, she finds herself being picked on by one girl in particular, Mimori Nanokura, although Kyoko doesn’t understand why that is. When Kyoko runs across the commercial she and Moko did together, while walking on the street, she is taken by surprise, although she isn’t exactly flattered by some of the comments she overhears from passersby. Even more surprising is the call she receives from Ren. Is he watching her or something? How? He hasn’t had time to give her marks for being his manager, but somehow that doesn’t work out as well as either one planned.

Kyoko’s manager receives a call from someone who was impressed with the Curara commercial and wants to use the two girls – aka Moko and Kyoko –  in a music video – featuring Sho Fuwa? Can it be? Kyoko is furious at first at the idea of being used by Sho, until she begins to see this in another light, namely as an opportunity to use Sho as a stepping stone for her own career. But Moko has already made another commitment to a 2-hour drama, so Kyoko will be on her own, if they will accept her.

At the audition, Sho keeps staring at Kyoko. She realizes she has to make him believe it’s not her, so she begins to act completely not like herself. But then Moko’s role is re-cast – and given to Mimori? Will she reveal who Kyoko really is? How can she get the girl to stay quiet, at least long enough to get through this music video? Or maybe it’s time to let him see who she really is, so he can worry?

This was a fabulous volume, especially the back and forth between Kyoko and Sho. How like a man, to want her now that he sees what he couldn’t see in her before. The music video they are shooting concerns a devil (Sho) and two angels, and Kyoko plays the angel who wants to kill him. How appropriate is that? Also, Ren still seems to be struggling against his feelings for Kyoko, but even his manager can see he cares.  Kyoko continues to grow, both as a person and as an actress. Loved this, looking forward to more!

Wednesday Briefs: February 9, 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.

Garret Farm: Part 22 by J Ray Lamb

Jason stormed back to the garage and glared at Sandy’s car. The glare was a combination of disgust, jealousy, and pity.

Disgusted that some young kid who hadn’t worked a day in his life was driving a seventy-five thousand dollar sports car, jealous of the car itself but also that Sandy has the means to be able to afford one, and finally, pity that Sandy was driving a vehicle that was so obviously unsuited for life out here on the farm.

Nevertheless, Jason had been asked to take a look at Sandy’s car and he would do his best.

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Saturday is Horror Day #47 – Escape Room: Tournament of Champions, Candyman: Say It

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Escape Room: Tournament of Champions

Zoey (Taylor Russell) and Ben (Logan Miller) barely made it out of the escape room alive. Ben is more than willing to just move on, but Zoey is determined to make the Minos Corporation pay for what they did. She wants to go to NYC to confront them but is still fearful of flying. So Ben reluctantly agrees to drive her there. But when they arrive, the place is deserted, no sign of anyone.

Feeling somewhat defeated, they get on the subway, and that’s when things begin to happen. They quickly discover that the other people on the train have been through their own brand of hell in the form of escape rooms, and it seems that now Minos has assembled a Tournament of Champions to play their next hellish game.

I can’t go into much of the plot as that would involve too many spoilers. The action begins on the subway as they have to figure out how to escape – naturally.  Besides Ben and Zoey, we pick up some players who are new to us – Nathan (Thomas Cocquerel), Rachel (Holland Roden), Theo (Carlito Olivero) and Brianna (Indya Moore). If you’ve ever seen Pose, you’ll recognize Indya from there, as she plays Angel (I do love that show!)

Of course the whole plot hinges around escaping each room which are each beset with deadly traps,

figuring out the puzzles and getting the heck out of Dodge. While I did enjoy this film, it isn’t quite as good as the first one, the puzzles not as complex, at least not in my opinion or that of the friend I watched it with. The twist wasn’t entirely satisfactory either, and on the whole I found myself left with many unanswered questions. But if I’m not mistaken, there will be a third film, as was made abundantly clear by the ending of this one.

Altogether, it was a fun watch, and I would recommend it. I’ll give it 4 Stars.

Candyman: Say It

Up-and-coming artist Anthony McCoy (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is concerned that critics believe his career is the result of his relationship with his agent/girlfriend Brianna Cartwright (Teyonah Parris). They live together in a gentrified area that was once the projects known as Cabrini Green. Anthony learns an urban legend that took place there back in the day – the legend of Candyman – and becomes obsessed with the tale.

Legend says that if you say Candyman’s name five times while looking in the mirror, he will appear. The more Anthony learns about the legend, the darker his art becomes. But what is even scarier is that people are dying in the same manner as Candyman was said to kill. Is art imitating life or what? Anthony is in for a bumpy ride and some difficult truths. Can he handle the truth? And what exactly is it?

This is a sequel to the 1992 film starring Tony Todd and Virginia Madsen.  Vanessa Williams briefly reprises her role as Anne-Marie McCoy, Anthony’s mother. I was excited to see this film and looked forward to it greatly, especially since Jordan Peele was involved with it. However I have to say I was disappointed with the outcome. What was originally a horror story has morphed into some kind of political statement having to do with the erroneous deaths of black men at the hands of white men in a position of authority (I read that theory, I didn’t originate it, but I can see where someone could get that out of it).

Anthony’s reveal comes late in the film (although I already knew it, having read about it before the film

ever came out). The pacing of the film is a bit slow, taking forever to get to the point regarding Anthony and the Candyman. But most disappointing of all is the almost non-existent presence of Tony Todd. Seriously? The premise was so completely changed that he was almost not in it, and he makes the first film. They squandered their greatest asset, and for what? I don’t really know, to be honest.

Abdul-Mateen wasn’t bad as Anthony, but I felt his performance was slightly lacking. I would have loved to see  him and Todd interact, but alas that didn’t happen. As a horror film, I found it unsatisfactory and rather disappointing. I wanted my Candyman and I didn’t get him. I’ll give this film a shaky 2.5 Stars.