Darkened Hills (Review)

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Darkened Hills (Darkened - The West Virginia Vampire Series, Book #1)Darkened Hills by Gary Lee Vincent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first glance ‘Darkened Hills’ looks like any other run-of-the-mill vampire book. With its unsubtle references to Bram Stoker’s, ‘Dracula’ and Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot,’ one might dismiss the novel for being yet another uninspired regurgitation. Horror readers are all too familiar with vampire lore and its tropes; therefore it takes an exceptional vampire story to stand tall above the rest. Gary Vincent not only succeeds in doing that, but does so while providing buckets of laughs and snorts.

‘Darkened Hills’ is an eccentric mishmash of gothic horror, pop culture, and black, tongue-in-cheek comedy. I appreciated the author’s nod to my favorite show, ‘Breaking Bad’ with the character, Walt Pinkman. I also loved how Vincent opened each chapter with a quote from one of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. Each quote foreshadowed the events of the chapter—a strange, but dexterous touch on the author’s part. But no, this is not a literary horror novel. Nor does it try to be. There is gore and splatter for comedic effect. Most memorable is the scene when that man runs over a herd of cats with his lawnmower. Do feline guts and “girlie cams” add much suspense? No. Was it funny? Hell yes. And that sums up much of what ‘Darkened Hills’ accomplishes here.

This book is an ode to popular vampire novels before it. Vincent does not attempt to supersede the legacy of Stoker and King, but rather poke fun at it and revel in their entertainment value. The campiness is a refreshing approach and reminded me of Robert Rodriquez’s movie, ‘Planet Terror.’ Even as I write this sentence, I am replaying the ridiculous “Cat Herding” scene in my mind and am grinning again.

I wouldn’t say ‘Darkened Hills’ is frightening, but it is funny and there’s plenty of cheese, sex, and violence to love.

View all my reviews

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Repo! The Genetic Opera: A Review

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Cast: Anthony Head, Sarah Brightman, Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Paris Hilton, Ogre

Director: Darren Lynn Bousman

Oh how I LOVE this movie! The music, the gore, the horror, it’s amazing. Anyway, this film is about a futuristic society where this company, GeneCo, gives out organs for people who need it. But if you can’t make the payments, the Repoman comes and removes your organs. Nathan(Anthony Head) is the Repoman who is haunted by the death of his wife and desperately tries to keep his secret from his daughter, Shilo(Alexa Vega).

Here’s a fun fact about: Michael Rooker actually played The Repoman a 10 minute short for the movie. Also this was originally a stage play.

Anyway, the thing I love the most about this movie is the music. It just catches your attention, it’s fun, and it’s disturbing. I thought the story was great about this tortured man who blames himself for his wife’s death and desperately clings to his only child. He holds on to her so much that she never goes outside and didn’t even know that she had a godmother. I think he took overprotective parent to the next level. You’ll understand the extent of his madness by the end of the film.

The part of Shilo was also pretty cool because she is this sick seventeen-year-old who just wants to be like every other kid. Even if it means disobeying her father and hanging out with the low-lives of the city. Which is where The Graverobber comes in. He is the fun scoundrel who knows everybody worth knowing, hears every bit of gossip and news, and is the main supplier for Zydrate. Now Zydrate is a drug extracted from dead bodies and is mainly used as a painkiller for surgery, however it’s always being abused by drug addicts.

One of the things that I really hate about this movie, it that Paris Hilton is in it. Paris Hilton…really? I’m just thankful she didn’t have that big of a part. But whatever, the story, the music, and all the other actors make up for Hilton’s presence. Now that I think about it, she was really playing herself. Her character, Amber Sweet, felt like Paris Hilton when she spends money.

I’d give this movie and “A”!

The Woman (Review/Rant)

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OK, minions. So I almost didn’t post this review because the movie pissed me off so much. A little background before we jump into it, shall we?

The Woman (2011) is based off of Jack Ketchum’s novel and is directed by Lucky McKee. It stars Sean Bridgers and Pollyanna McIntosh. Basic premise of the movie is about a family man who captures a feral woman he finds in the woods, locks her up in his garage, and attempts to “civilize” her. By “civilize,” of course I mean RAPE, TORTURE, and CANNIBALISM. I was so close to stopping the movie and chucking my remote control at my TV. Like seriously. How does shit like this get produced?

In the first five minutes The Woman (who is never named) kills a puppy, births a baby, and skips in the wilderness with a wolf—all accompanied by rock music and weird montages. Suburban Dad finds The Woman frolicking in the woods, shoots her, and chains her up in his garage. She bites his wedding finger off when he tries to touch her, which he then shouts: “That is not civilized behavior!” before knocking her out.

The family decides to keep The Woman in the garage. Because, you know, she’s so much better than a mountain lion and everything. (Yes, this is a direct quote)

We’re introduced to Suburban Dad’s ridiculous family. There’s Peg, the jailbait daughter who is pregnant (spoiler: Suburban Dad is the father!), Belle, the battered wife who is slapped, punched, and berated throughout the film, and finally Bryan, the 12-yr-old psychopath son who rapes The Woman just before tearing her nipples off with pliers. Dear God. I actually sat through the whole thing!

This film unsuccessfully tries to disguise rape/torture porn as some sort of morality lesson. It FAILED because I was offended and put-off. This is as anti-feminist and misogynistic as a movie could be. The constant torture is disgusting and has the potential to trigger. Unlike most horror films that allude to rape, this movie goes ahead and shows every glorifying detail. Power-hosing a woman who is chained to a wall and using pliers, nail guns, and other torture devices on her sexual organs is NOT cool. It’s not even horror at that point; it’s just gratuitous violence and rape.

This movie gets an “F.” I won’t be watching anything else this director puts out either.

Fever: A Review

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I think I might be a vain writer. I was lucky enough to have one of my stories selected to be the anthology “Under the Stairs” edited by Jessica A. Weiss, but I never took the time to see what other lucky ones are in this book. So, while I was getting a pedicure, I flipped through and picked one that I would review.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Here is “Fever” by Christine Rains. The story centers around a kind-hearted nurse who is thrown into a possible epidemic scenario. What makes matters worse is that the disease itself is a mystery and not only does she have to worry about her ailing patients, but she has to worry about her own life.

Wow! One of the things I look for in a story is how believable that world is. This short gem is centered in a hospital so medical terminology is important. I was impressed because it wasn’t complicated terminology, but it wasn’t random gibberish either. I was also to follow along quite well. It was also an intense ride because diseases are scary. To me anyway. Especially when the news always features a news catastrophic illness (bird flu and swine flu).

So it played with a realistic fear and was able to make you believe in the world of that story. I’d suggest looking into anything else that Ms. Rains has to offer. Check out her website at http://christinerains.net/index.html

New Orleans Ghost Tour

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So I went to New Orleans for New Years Eve. It was a magical trip, with gothic cemeteries and cathedrals, public intoxication on Bourbon Street, and eccentric Voodoo shops and boutiques. I had a blast and visited many tourist attractions, which included the New Orleans Ghost Tour. Spoiler alert: I did not see any ghosts. But I did see the infamous Lalaurie Manson where Delphine LaLaurie slaughtered and tortured dozens of African slaves.

Those who watch American Horror Story are well-familiar with the Delphine’s historical bloodlust. When I stood outside that house I felt a terrible shiver. I wanted to get away from it as fast as I could. I didn’t feel an evil presence or anything like that, but as our tour guide spouted off all the gruesome events that happened there, I got more and more creeped out! The Lalaurie Mansion was the scariest part of the tour. I also visited the oldest and most haunted bar in America, Lafitte’s Bar. I heartily recommend the Hurricane: a pleasant cocktail made with fruit juice and rum. Very tasty! I got to sip on that while I walked through the French Quarter.

New Orleans is supposed to be a hot spot for vampires, ghosts, Voodoo, and other paranormal activity. I didn’t see any of that–but I think I did meet a white man who wanted to mug me! I knew he meant me harm, and yet I was very much attracted to his lazy, Louisiana drawl and the predatory glint in his eye. He said as we walked by, “Hey, can I have that bag?” But I knew he meant it, and had I  been alone, he would have tried to take it. He might’ve been a vampire, I don’t know, haha! Anyway, I was disappointed by the weak selection of “magical items” in the Voodoo shops. Most of it just looked like fare for tourists, however I did buy a figure of St. Teresa de Avila. Mostly because she’s an important element in my novel. At any rate, the ghost tour was fun and I would recommend everyone try it at least once. Who knows…you might just snap a photo of a ghost!

Gory Diseases in “Helix”

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Although I worked in a lab for only a semester I understand the tedious work that goes into these studies. So I think that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to this show. That and the idea of an apocalyptic disease spreading in a super secret base where everyone has secrets. Here. We. Go!

Helix is about a group of from the CDC and the military who travel to a research facility in the Arctic called Arctic Biosystems to help contain a deadly virus. Dr. Alan Farragut (Billy Campbell) is the head of the CDC team while Dr. Hiroshi Hatake (Hiroyuki Sanada) is the head of the Arctic Biosystems facility. Dr. Farragut’s main interest in the case is his brother, Peter (Neil Napier), is the main “Vector” spreading the disease throughout the facility through an insanely black goopy mouth-to-mouth regurgitation.

So far I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen. The first reason: I love the characters! Everyone of them has a secret, but you don’t know what it is. So far Sanada’s character is my favorite, he’s a little creepy and very mysterious. During the scenes with Dr. Julia Walker(Kyra Zagorsky), I wasn’t sure if he was going to kill her or kiss her! Dr. Farragut is really annoying. He’s more of the do-gooder who wouldn’t kill a patient even if said patient trying to kill them. I kinda foresee a “Team Rick” vs “Team Shane” scenario in upcoming episodes.

The second thing I really enjoy is the virus. It’s not a zombie virus, where you die then come back as a feeding machine. It’s something else that mutates you into this violent super-intelligent disease spreading monster. For those who aren’t on of the “Vectors” (the disease spreaders) you get the disease and die….then your body decays into a pool of black goop. Bring on the gore!!!

The third thing that I’m really going to enjoy is the talk about ethics. Remember when a said there will be a “Team Rick” vs “Team Shane” scenario? It’s going to be “Team Farragut” vs “Team Hatake” fighting over how to save lives. For example, in one scene an infected person was making their way toward a non-infected group. She was warned not to come closer and when she ignored them the security officer shot her, but didn’t kill her. Farragut was already preaching about not shooting sick people. Save one or save the whole base…I choose save the whole base.

There are so many things going on and questions that need answers. For example, who does Dr. Hatake and Major Balleseros(Mark Ghanimé) really work for? Why does Hatake have a photo album of Dr. Julia Walker? Why are Hatake’s eyes a weird glimmering silver? And what is up with the happy Sims music in the background? Seriously, to me that adds to the horror.

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