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Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 4 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 4     

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

As a reward for earning her first Stella star, Anya requests the Forger family get a dog. Loid, wishing to keep her motivated to earn more stars and become an Imperial Scholar, acquiesces. He takes Anya and Yor to a pet shop which is associated with his agency and deals with military dogs, but none of them is to Anya’s liking. Loid receives an emergency summons and has to leave them to their own devices due to a threat against the Foreign Minister. He excuses himself by saying he needs to use the bathroom.

Yor and Anya wind up at the Adoption Fair being held at the Animal Shelter. It’s a huge place, filled with many kinds of pets, and Anya can’t make up her mind. But then a huge dog attracts her attention, even though he is standing on the street, looking in. Can she really be reading his mind? And what does she see there? An image of her family? She slips away from Yor so she can find the big doggy and see what’s going on, but ends up in a place filled with bad guys! The leader of this gang, Keith, wants to hurt Anya, even though the others protest she’s just a little kid, but it’s doggy to the rescue! In the meantime, Yor is going crazy, trying to find Anya and wishing Loid would hurry back from the pet shop’s bathroom!

Now it’s up to Loid… and Yor… and Anya to save the day!

Now that Anya has scored a dog, she thinks the path to friendship with Damian Desmond will be an easy one, but when she tells him about her new dog, he is less than impressed. However, when he seems a little interested and asks the dog’s name, she makes what he considers terrible suggestions. Oh dear, she can’t even name a dog properly? What use is she? When the Forgers take an outing in the park, something happens that reveals the perfect name for the new member of the family!

Most of this volume is certainly a comedy of errors, from start to finish, but every blunder works out right for this family. Each one shines in their own way, according to their secret ability, not knowing that the others are working on the same problem. The ongoing joke that Loid is spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom is hilarious (how else can he explain being absent without revealing himself as a spy?), with Yor going full-on protective mother mode in defense of Anya. Anya is determined to help Loid’s mission succeed so she won’t be sent back to the orphanage. And now we have the newest member of the team, Bond, who has his own secret ability. (Not a spoiler if you’ve seen the cover). Bond is so adorable, and his name is perfect.

There is a short mission at the end which involves Anya using her stuffed animals to play secret agency. But when she attempts to go into the one place in their apartment where she isn’t allowed, an explosion is imminent which could jeopardize Operation Strix! Oh no, how to placate the upset child?

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 3 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 3           

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Since the cat is out of the bag, and Yor’s brother knows of his sister’s marriage, what else can they do but invite Yuri to dinner? He brings flowers for his sister but lets Loid know this doesn’t mean he approves of their marriage. Prior to Yuri’s arrival, Loid and Yor discuss what reason they are going to give for not mentioning their marriage for an entire year. Loid thinks honesty (or a close facsimile thereof) is the best policy, but Yor says she knows how to handle this and she tells Yuri that she forgot. Really?

Yuri seems to accept Yor’s explanation, but he continues to grill the couple regarding their relationship, and he’s also drinking waaaay too much.  When he and Loid compare notes on a restaurant they’ve both been to, his loose tongue alerts Loid that his new brother-in-law is a member of the State Security Service! This could be awkward, especially at family gatherings!

Not totally convinced they are a legit couple, Yuri demands the ultimate test and insists that they kiss right in front of him! Can they even do this?

The next morning, Loid is conflicted, wondering if Yor really has no idea what her brother does for a living. Anya wants to reassure him but can’t without revealing that she is a telepath. She’s convinced that once he knows that, he will send her back to the orphanage, and she doesn’t want to leave her new family. Loid finally decides to plant a bug on Yor, so he can be sure of her loyalty. When he learns nothing, he decides to set up a scenario, in which he involves Scruffy, as they pose (disguised of course) as members of the Secret Police! If she is in cahoots with her brother, surely she’ll invoke his name as protection!

Anya’s friend Becky tells her that they have a chance to earn a Stella star in PE, so Anya is determined to do so at any cost. But she’s not sure volleyball is her game, and things don’t look good since Damian Desmond has brought in a ringer for his team. Studying isn’t going well for Anya, and neither is test taking (she read the minds of the wrong students and got the wrong answers).  Maybe she’ll do better with community service! Loid takes her to a local hospital, but that doesn’t seem to be her forte either.

Meanwhile a group of wannabe revolutionaries have been training what they refer to as bomb dogs…

This volume of Spy X Family is so good, and Yor’s brother Yuri is sooo…  Well, words fail me about him. He is something else, least of which is a major control freak where his sister is concerned.  He’s got secrets, the same as they do, but Loid has figured Yuri’s out. However, what he doesn’t realize is that Yuri, in his capacity as a member of the Secret Service, wants to capture the spy named Twilight!

Damn, I thought for sure Loid and Yor were going to kiss, and I was ready for it! Damn her brother anyway lol  I think it’s just a matter of time until they do find they have actual feelings for one another, and become an actual family. Insta family does not equate to insta love, and watching their feelings develop is such sweet agony! Crossing my fingers for them!

There is a bonus mission in this volume in which Yor is accidentally injured while on an assassin mission. She can’t very well tell Loid that, though, and so she can’t explain why it’s suddenly too painful for her to sit down, even as he tries to show her a good time on their “date” night.

Love this volume, can’t wait for the next one!

                                                                                                                                                                       

Saturday is Horror Day #3 – The Hamiltons, Bad Match, and Dog Soldiers (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Reviewed by: Julie Lynn Hayes

The Hamiltons is a 2006 horror film written and directed by the Butcher Brothers, aka Mitchell Altieri and


Phil Flores. Following the unexpected death of their parents, four siblings are left to fend for themselves the best way they can. As a result, they constantly move from place to place, never staying too long in any one location. That’s for the best, for they can’t afford to let anyone discover their family secret.

David is the oldest. He works outside the home. After him are the twins, Wendell and Darlene, who give new meaning to the idea of twinship. Francis is the youngest, a teenager still in school. He hates the constant moving, and he hates what they are. He doesn’t want to be like them, not for anything.

 

Wendell meets two young women who are traveling across the country for fun. Which, of course, makes them perfect targets as no one will realize they’re missing for a long time. Wendell brings them home for a little taste of Hamilton hospitality. A terrified Dani can’t help but wonder what is hidden behind that locked door. The sounds that come from there are horrific…


The Hamiltons is a slightly different twist on a familiar theme. The sensitive Francis videos every chance he gets. One wonders what he intends to do with all this footage, if anything.  I didn’t guess the Hamiltons’ secret until close to the end. It’s not what I would call a great film, but I’ve seen worse. The acting is half-way decent, if not exactly stellar. The writing holds its own. All in all it’s an interesting hour and a half. I might give it 2 1/2 or 3 stars, somewhere in there. I have to admit I did focus on the scenes with the twins, which were a little intense.

The Hamiltons gives family dining a whole new meaning…

Just found out there’s a sequel, The Thompsons. Will Review that once I get it and watch it.

Bad Match (2017)

Harris (Jack Cutmore-Scott) is a real love-em-and-leave-em kind of guy. As he explains his philosophy


to his friend Chuck, the more he swipes right on the dating app (which I assume is meant to be Tinder), the greater likelihood he’ll end up with a date. Good ol’ Harris stands for one and done. Beyond a lot of sex, he has no use for his conquests, and invariably sneaks out in the middle of the night. What he really enjoys is playing online games and making fun of the teenager he plays with.

Enter Riley. Riley is one of Harris’ conquests. The difference is she wants more than he is willing to give. And she doesn’t seem to understand that he is rejecting her. It’s not that he deliberately tries to hurt the women he sleeps with, but Harris just doesn’t care enough to get involved.

 

When Riley won’t leave him alone, he doesn’t know what to do to get her out of his life, so resorts to cruelty. But when she mentions suicide, he reluctantly steps in. And finally she gets the picture.


Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

And now bad things are happening to Harris. This isn’t funny any more. How the hell is he going to get out of this mess?

This is basically a one-note film about a guy who is a player and the girl he hurt who wants him to feel her pain. Yeah, we get it. Harris is a bad boy and he shouldn’t use women like that. But how far should someone who’s been hurt be willing to go to make her point? The film is just under an hour and a half and builds up to an unexpected twist. Even so, the reveal isn’t enough to save this film from being less than stellar. I’ll give it 2.5 stars and call it a day.

My final review for today is for a 2002 film called Dog Soldiers

Private Cooper (Kevin McKidd, Rome) is a soldier trying to get on with an elite group of soldiers led


by Captain Ryan (Liam Cunningham, Davos of Game of Thrones). But when he refuses to shoot a dog on command, he finds himself assigned to Sergeant Wells (Sean Pertwood, Alfred Pennyworth of Gotham) instead. Wells and his men are assigned to participate in war games in a remote wooded area, far from anywhere. The soldiers swap stories, such as the one about the couple who were killed in this area, and the condition in which they were found. 

The men begin to hear unnerving noises in the middle of the night, something that sounds inhuman or otherworldly. When they come across the slaughtered remains of another troop, they realize something is not right here. In the midst of the dead, they find Captain Ryan, who is injured and not quite right

 

Something is in the woods, and it’s preying on the soldiers. Momentarily rescued by a young woman, they hole up in a nearby farmhouse. If they can stay alive until dawn, they might have a chance of coming out of this alive.


I’d heard about this film a long time ago, just didn’t get around to watching it until now. I liked it, even if I was spoiled for it long ago. The story is different, and well-written, the acting good. I especially like the main characters, Pertwee, McKidd, and Cunningham. Be aware that there is a lot of blood and gore, so this might not be for the faint-hearted. It’s a unique take on an old monster story, and it’s not without its twists and turns. (Of course, if you study the posters for this film, you can get an idea of what you’re in for).

I would give this a solid four stars. It’s well worth the watch.

Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol 2 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol 2     

Author: Tatsuya Endo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 1, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Action & Adventure/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

 

Operation Strix is master spy Twilight’s covert operation to keep the peace between Westalis and Ostania by spying on the warmongering chairman of Ostania’s  National Unity Party, Donovan Desmond. In order to do this, Twilight has been ordered to have a wife and family, so his “child” can attend the same prestigious school as Desmond’s. Twilight—now going by the name Loid Forger—has actually acquired a wife and child and the three of them have had their interview at the school. Now they are waiting the results of the interview…

… only to find their daughter’s name missing from the list of those who have been accepted! Is the mission doomed already? But one of the housemasters takes the family aside and shows them a second list, a waiting list which has Anya’s name at the top. But Loid knows the chances of someone dropping out is slim to none, so he decides to help things along.

Anya finds herself accepted, time for celebration! Loid’s co-worker, Scruffy, gives Anya the idea that her dad will probably get her anything she wants as a reward for getting in. But what she wants is something she’s seen on her favorite cartoon, Bondman. She wants to be rescued from a castle! Is that even possible?

Anya is fitted for her school uniform, and Loid is covertly given the time of his next briefing, during which phase two is explained. Apparently the school has a program for outstanding students, who are known as Imperial Scholars. Donovan’s son Desmond is among this group. To become an Imperial Scholar, one must earn eight merits, or Stella Stars, through academic excellence or contributions to society. Eight Stella are required to do this. On the other hand, eight demerits, known as Tonitrus, will earn expulsion. Loid wonders if Anya can possibly become an Imperial Scholar.

Anya’s first meeting with Desmond doesn’t go particularly well, even though she tries to become his friend. But he looks down on her because he considers her beneath him. On the plus side, she makes a friend of a little girl named Becky. But when Desmond is mean to Becky, Anya automatically responds. Is the mission doomed from the start? Can Loid improve her academic skills enough for her to earn the required Stella?

Yor’s brother, Yuri, accidentally learns that his sister has gotten married, a fact she forgot to mention to him. But unbeknownst to her, York has his own secrets.

Thanks to a shortage of personnel, Loid is given side jobs to do, which is why the family ends up at the aquarium.

I have to admit I fell in love with this series from the beginning, from the moment I saw the cover of the first volume. Reading that and then the second book has only reinforced my love of Spy x Family. The situations are hilarious, with each member of the family unaware of the secrets of the others (except for Anya, who reads minds). Scruffy is a great comedic foil. Watching the Forger family interact, I just know they will end up as a real family by the end of the series. They are a perfect fit for one another. Anya knows she can read minds and get the answers to anything, but the trick is to read the right mind, and sometimes she doesn’t succeed in that. Yor is a very protective mama, and she is hard-core tough. No damsel in distress here. Loid may appear cold on the outside, and he is very methodical in everything he does, but inside lies a heart of pure gold, as well as a true master of disguise.

I can’t say enough good things about this series. The artwork is awesome, Loid is handsome, it’s filled with fun, action, and humor. What more could you ask for? Looking forward to the next book.

 

Wednesday Briefs: March 17, 2021

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.

Super Trooper #60 (14.3) by Julie Lynn Hayes

True to his word, Kamal was waiting in the front yard when Chan pulled his car up beside Evan’s cruiser. Whooping with excitement, he rushed his brother the moment he stepped out of his car and refused to allow Chan even a minute to take his briefcase inside the house. His Texas Rangers cap on his head, he was armed with his favorite Frisbee, with a ball and glove as back-up. Chan couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiastic little brother.

“Here, set this on the porch for me,” Chan said, taking the Frisbee.

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Saturday is Horror Day #2 – Before I Wake (cross-posted at Full Moon Dreaming by Julie Lynn Hayes)

Yesterday I watched Before I Wake, a 2016 film by Mike Flanagan, who was a writer or director for such films/series as The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Gerald’s Game, Ouija:Origin of Evil and more.

 

Cody (Jacob Tremblay) is a young boy who has had a rough start in life. He lost his mother at an early age and has been moved from foster home to foster home. There’s always something, isn’t there? 

Jessie and Mark (Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane) lost their only son, Sean, in an accident, and are 


 working to deal with the grief of his death, each in their own way.  Together they decide to foster a child, a with the help of a social worker named Natalie (Annabeth Gish). Enter Cody into their lives. Cody is very sweet and shy and well-mannered. He has a sharp, inquisitive mind and wants to fit in with them.

 

They quickly realize there is something special about Cody when butterflies materialize out of nowhere… the same day he was learning about them.

One photo of Jessie and Mark and Sean remains on the wall, and naturally Cody wants to know who the kid is. And now not just butterflies are appearing. There is Sean, seemingly in the flesh. But like the butterflies, he disappears as soon as Cody wakes. Jessie is beginning to understand what is going on. In order to test her theory, she has Cody watch a video of Sean, so he can hear his voice. And now when Sean appears to them, he actually speaks…

 


Trouble begins to brew at Cody’s school in the form of a mean boy who has the misfortune to accost Cody after he’s fallen asleep and can’t control the creature he refers to as the Canker Man. When the boy disappears, Cody is questioned. Now he’s afraid to fall asleep, and devises various methods to stay awake. Alarmed, Jessie gets a prescription for children’s Ambien and doses his snack. So now, when the horrors appear, they can’t wake Cody up…

 

I would give this movie a solid 3 stars out of 5. It’s more psychological horror than anything, although the Canker Man is rather freaky and scary. We never do learn exactly how and why Cody is what he is, how he can manifest dreams into reality (as long as he’s sleeping). This movie is about loss and survival, and becoming a family. It’s a worthwhile watch, and I would recommend it.

 

Book Review: A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin     

Author: Roseanne A. Brown

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

American release date: June 2, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Teen & YA Epic Fantasy/480 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

The line of people waiting to enter the city-state of Ziran is long, and there is no guarantee that all who wish to enter will be allowed to do so. Malik is there with his two sisters, Leila and Nadia. They hope to be admitted so they can join the celebration known as Solstasia. Bahia’s Comet is due to make an appearance, and they don’t want to miss a thing. The problem is that they have to pretend to be people they aren’t, for if they are recognized as being Eshran, they will never get in. Ziran is harsh on those it considers inferiors, such as those from Eshran. Life is hard, and the three siblings are all they have.

Malik is not like other boys. Since he was little, he’s seen things other people cannot see. Grim folk, he calls them. Dark spirits. He’s learned not to tell anyone about them, lest they think him crazy.  He is furious when little sister Nadia runs off. When he locates her, she excitedly tells him about the griot, who has promised a wish to the person who solves her riddle. Of course Malik and Leila don’t believe in wishes, and it’s hard for them to dash the little girl’s hopes. But they agree to listen to the griot’s story…

Karina and Aminata are hanging out at The Dancing Seal, a questionable establishment at best. Karina has her beloved oud with her. They want to enjoy Solstasia while they can, for life is not all fun and games, as Karina well knows. When the bard who has been playing mistakes her for a woman of easy virtue, Karina sets him straight and challenges him to a musical contest. If she wins, she gets all the money he has made that day. If he wins… well, you can imagine what he wants. She wins handily and takes his money, but he isn’t finished with the princess yet. And yes, she is a princess, albeit in disguise. One who runs away from the palace every chance she gets.

Malik finds himself in a bind when his sister Nadia is kidnapped by an dark spirit calling himself Idir. The only way he can get his sister back is to do as the spirit wishes. He must kill Princess Karina. And the only way he can think to do that, since most people have little or no chance of getting close enough to the princess to talk to her much less kill her, is to become one of the seven Champions of the tournament that is being held for Solstasia. But each champion is picked by the group he or she is meant to represent, according to their affiliation. How is Malik going to maneuver that into happening?

Karina’s life is turned upside down by an unthinkable event, when her mother, the sultana, is murdered before her eyes. Worse, it came on the heels of an argument with harsh words exchanged. Karina just wants her back. She learns of a magic that will resurrect her mother, but the ingredients she needs seem impossible to get. Especially the heart of a king. Ziran has no king, not since the death of her father, along with her older sister, in a fire some years before. But Karina has a plan… and if it works, she’ll have to kill the winner of the Tournament of Champions in order to have her mother back again.

Roseanne A. Brown creates a rich fantasy world in Ziran and the people who inhabit it, drawing on Arabic and Egyptian inspirations. Magic is in the air and in the people. I could see the whole story unfold in my mind as I read, as if I were really there, which is the mark of a great storyteller. Her characters are not all good or all bad, and even good people face difficult situations and make questionable choices. I was kept constantly guessing how everything would turn out, hoping that love would conquer all and Malik would save his sister, and that he and Karina would be together. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but a very wonderful journey. And the good news is that the journey is not over. There will be another book.

It’s hard to believe this is her first book. I just love the way she writes. I believe there is a movie deal in the works. I will definitely look for that to happen. I can’t say enough good things about this book. I highly recommend A Song of Wraiths and Ruin if you like epic fantasies and fantasy romances and good adventures. Can’t wait for the next book!

Wednesday Briefs: March 10, 2021

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.

 

Phases of Moon: Part 78 by J. Alan Veerkamp

Panes of glass exploded, slicing Jimmy’s skin as he and Fergus burst through the window, unhindered, into the December night sky. Catching the light from behind, the crystal-like shards pirouetted, weightless and sparkling. Time slowed mid-air. Unhappy of their attempt to evade its grasp, gravity cancelled their freefall and dragged them to the earth below. Sharing his wolf’s consuming rage, Jimmy failed to manage the impact, crash landing with equal force as Fergus. Clods of soil mixed in the dirty whirlwind as they bounced and skidded with awful grunts. Deadly slivers of window rained around them.

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Saturday is Horror Day – the reviews (x-posted at Full Moon Dreaming)

Good morning everyone and Happy Sunday!  Julie here. Hope you’re having a great week and staying safe!

 I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I am very fond of horror films, and I’m always looking for more to watch. I keep a list of movies that I’ve picked up from various sources. Some are movies they say are too hard to finish, some are unknown gems. And there are some that turn out to be not worth watching. But I like to make Saturday my day of horror when I can. Last night I was watching one movie for the second time, thinking what a little known film it is and underappreciated. So I decided to review the movies I watch, to let my readers know what’s out there, in case you’re looking for something to watch.  I’ll start with yesterday. I watched three films – Black Christmas (1974), The Axe Murders of Villisca, and The Final Girls.

 

BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974) – From what I was reading, this film became the start of the slasher genre. Considering that back then, you could barely swear in movies, this one breaks that barrier for sure. It takes place in a college sorority where someone is hiding in the attic and killing co-eds. Other than being the first of the genre, there are some surprising people you would not expect to find in a horror movie. Olivia Hussey is best known for her portrayal of Juliet against Leonard Whiting’s Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. At least that’s all I know her from. Keir Dullea was in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And most surprising is Andrea Martin, whom I primarily know from SCTV. She’s a great comedian, who knew she did horror too? I guess a lot of actors start out in different genres than they end up in.

Oh, did I forget Margot Kidder? She’s there too, mostly known for having played Lois Lane to Christopher Reeve’s Superman, and for her later mental and emotional difficulties. Kidder is one of the sorority sisters who seems to be going for the record for drinking the most. She is a drunken mess most of the time. In fact, there seems to be a lot of drinking going on here. The sorority sisters are being harassed by a series of disturbing phone calls that no one else takes seriously. More than heavy breathing, there are assorted voices and strange sounds which are unnerving the girls. But the police don’t seem to take the calls seriously. Besides, they have a missing child case on their hands.

 

One of the girls is pregnant and planning to have an abortion, but her boyfriend is adamantly against the idea. The story starts as Christmas break is about to begin. One of the girls’ fathers was supposed to meet his daughter but she never showed up. And the fun has just begun…

Although a little dated now, this is worth a watch, although the genre has come a long way since then. The alcoholic house mother is so ridiculous she’s hilarious, with stashes of booze hidden in the strangest places. One of the policemen’s prank on one of his fellow officers is hilarious, if a little dated (you have to realize that at one time the first two digits of a phone number actually stood for something). All I’ll say about the joke is that you have to know what fellatio is (which the cop didn’t, obviously) in order to fully appreciate the humor.

I guess I rate this at three out of five stars. I did notice there is another Black Christmas, done in 2006, which also takes place in a sorority house. Not sure if it’s intended as a reboot or remake or what, but this one has a few people you might know too, such as Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Lacey Chabert. Also, Andrea Martin is in this too, which lends credence to the reboot theory. Also look for Oliver Hudson, son of Goldie Hawn and brother to Kate Hudson.

THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA – 


This film is based on a true story. In 1912, someone broke into a house in Villisca, Iowa and killed the eight people sleeping there. I did some digging. While they call the case unsolved, there was a confession, although the man wasn’t convicted because of a mistrial. To me, that’s just a technicality.

Now it’s years later, as we meet the protagonists of our film. Caleb, Denny, and Jess. Jess is the new girl at the high school, who has a “reputation” due to an unfortunate video of her. Caleb and Denny are best friends, each with his own troubled past. They have a video blog that deals with the supernatural and paranormal. They are going to take a tour of the house in Villisca for their blog, and Jess ends up going along, to Denny’s annoyance. 

At the murder house, mannikins take the place of the murder victims, killed in bed by the axe-wielding fiend. The owner of the house takes the three on the tour, only to cut it short when Jess goes where she shouldn’t. Denny is pissed until Jess suggests they come back later, since obviously the man and his wife don’t sleep there as the beds are all taken with mannikins.

Back inside the house, trouble begins when they discover they are far from alone, and the spirits of the deceased are very much with them. Add to that two other students who like to make life hell, and you have a recipe for disaster.

This film was made in 2016 and has much greater production values than our first film. But in all fairness, it’s forty years later and technology has greatly advanced since the first one was made. The acting is decent for the genre. I didn’t recognize any of the cast other than Conchata Ferrell, who plays the principal of the high school. Everyone has a troubled back story, and these all come out as the movie progresses. Sometimes a little hokey, with the spirit possession and all, but nonetheless entertaining enough for a view. I’ve seen a lot worse.  I think it’s a worthwhile watch, and I’ll give it 3.5 stars.

 

THE FINAL GIRLS – This is the film that got me thinking it deserves more attention than I think it has received. This was actually my second time watching this one.

Max’s mother is a a struggling actress, who is only remembered by her peers and her adoring fans for a teen slasher pic she made twenty years before, Camp Bloodbath. In a tragic accident at the start of the film, she is killed and Max goes to live with her aunt. Three years later, Max is still grieving her mother’s loss when she is approached by her best friend Gertie’s stepbrother, Duncan, to appear at a film festival that night to mark the anniversary of the Camp Bloodbath films. Max is reluctant but agrees to show up when he promises to do her homework for the rest of the year. It doesn’t hurt that the guy she likes, Chris, offers to go. He’s the ex of a former friend of Max (I know, complicated teen lives).

At the film showing, an accidental fire erupts, and Max and her friends are trapped by the screen, the only way out being to cut through it, which they do, and step into… the movie? Suddenly they find themselves inside the film Camp Bloodbath, along with all the cast from the movie. Despite their best efforts, they can’t get away from the place. It’s like a living nightmare. The only way out is to survive the killer, and the only way to do that, from a logical standpoint, is to stick with the final girl. (For those who don’t know, the final girl is the one who survives the killer and ends up killing him in order to do so).

But how well is this plan going to work?


This film is so good, I just loved it. The premise is unique among horror films, and it’s actually very funny, but also has its touching moments, primarily with Max and her mother, who is part of the cast and very much alive within the context of the film. Max gets to experience her again, even if her mother doesn’t realize who she is. But they bond nonetheless. Taissa Farmiga plays Max, and Alexander Ludwig is Chris. If you have seen Vikings, you’ll recognize him as Bjorn Ironside, son of Ragnar Lothbrok. And appearing as Max’s one time friend, Chris’ ex, is Nina Dobrev of Vampire Diaries fame. While I don’t like her in that, she acquits herself well in this film.

The characters in Camp Bloodbath are definite stereotypes, such as the overly horny busty female, and her male counterpart, the quiet brilliant student, and the shy quiet girl. But that’s what also makes it hilarious too. I guess that makes it a horror comedy. Kind of like the Geico commercial that’s a spoof on horror films that shows the teens making all bad choices and the chainsaw-wielding killer shaking his head at their stupidity. This is my favorite of the three I watched yesterday.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews, I hope to do more of these, maybe go back and cover ones I watched before, such as The Autopsy of Jane Done (another little known gem which has Brian Cox in it!).

Enjoy your day and be safe!

Book Review: Bleach, Vol 33 by Tite Kubo

Bleach, Vol 33                   

Author: Tite Kubo

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: December 7, 2010

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

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

 

Ichigo has defeated Grimmjow, but another Espada is waiting to take him on, Nnitoira.  Contemptuous of Grimmjow, and baffled as to why Ichigo would defend his fallen foe, Nnitoira orders his second-in-command Tesla to keep Orihime close to him. (Will these people never learn? Nothing makes Ichigo fight hard than when one of his friends is in trouble, particularly Orihime).

Meanwhile, Uryu and Renji, having thought they’d escaped the cluthes of Szayelaporro, find themselves back where they started, to their frustration. Besides his disturbing habit of eating his minions in order to regain health, apparently he has the ability to manipulate the inside of his palace to his satisfaction, thus sending the boys on a loop right back to him. “Shall we begin the Second Act?” he queries.

And oh, he has other tricks up his sleeves. Even nastier ones.

Orihime is powerless to do anything to help Ichigo. Although Aizen has made it clear she is not to be harmed, all bets are off if she has her Rikka attack.  Tesla wonders where the small Arrancar has gone. When she is found cowering on the ground, Nnitoira recognizes her, to his surprise. Ichigo wonders how an Espada knows a simple Arrancar, and a child at that.  Nel recognizes Nnitoira… and still doesn’t like him. But what is Nel’s secret?  And for how much longer can she hide it?

Renji, Uryu, Pesche, and Dondochakka have their own problems. With multiple versions of each of them running around, it’s difficult to know who is real and who is an imposter. But again, things can get worse… and they do.

This volume of Bleach is divided between two battles—that of Ichigo and Nnitoira and that of Uryu and Renji vs Szayelaporro. Not sure where Rukia is at this point, but Orihime is being held hostage, a witness to Ichigo’s battle. The surprise here is not Ichigo, but Nel, as we learn her back story, and as she transforms into what she once was. Who saw this coming? Certainly not Ichigo, who never expected to encounter a fully grown former Espada once named Nelliel. Her story is very touching, as is the story of her friends, Pesche and Dondochakka, who prove themselves to be much more than comic relief. They are true subordinates and faithful friends. As for Uryu and Renji, they are being tortured by the devious Szayaleporro. Getting out of this sticky wicket will be a problem. If I had to guess, it will be Uryu’s quick thinking and calm demeanor that will get them through this but we won’t know until the next volume. Likewise, how will the encounter with Nel and Nnitoira end? Gotta wait and see.

Another good volume of Bleach, looking forward to the next one!