This Way Darkness (anthology review)

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Supernatural creeps and bizarre creatures lurk behind the pages in “This Way Darkness” written by indie horror author, Latashia Figueroa. I was hunting for a well-rounded horror anthology to read this summer–y’know something spooky, well-written but short. Like waiting-for-your-pedicure-to-dry short. (Doesn’t everybody read axe murderer stories at the salon? No? Just me? ‘Kay) These three spine-tingling stories were just the little perk I needed.

Wrapped in Small Flesh and Bone | Figueroa opens the anthology with a tale reminiscent of The Omen; a familiar and predictable storyline, however entertaining. Unable to conceive, a desperate husband and his wife visit a mysterious witch. The husband realizes their mistake when the witch refuses to touch his crucifix necklace. Predictably, the wife becomes pregnant a short time after meeting the witch and then their child, Jenny, is born. Jenny is a lot like Damien. She talks to “imaginary friends” and always seems to be near or at the scene of a crime. I won’t spoil the ending. Ha, if you’re familiar with The Omen I don’t have to. Although I knew how the story would end, it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the story. I think creepy kids are adorable.

The Alternative | The second story has more gore and violence. I thought the rape scene was the predominant horror element…but no. Hell no. This story took a direction I didn’t expect at all! If there’s such a thing as a fate worse than rape, Figueroa presents it here. There’s a religious thread throughout all of her stories, but this one was the most interesting and dare I say philosophical? “The Alternative” explores the Christian perspective of death and the afterlife. Traumatized by the death of her mother, the main character develops an intense fear of old age and dying. She does not think death is her ticket to salvation and so she turns her back on God. Literally. The plot rambles in places. Not my favorite in the collection but I’d say it was worth the read.

The Retreat | Everyone is familiar with the secret cult trope, right? Well here it is again. Like all of the stories in this anthology, the plot is very straightforward. A dude goes off on a religious retreat for self-empowerment only to be tortured and terrorized by his fellow campers. Their camp leader convinces his flock that everyone is their own god and therefore are above human laws. First the campers kill a deer. Then a priest. There’s even a homicidal vegetarian who goes apeshit. What an entertaining romp! I knew where the story would go, but I enjoyed the author’s route.

All in all I’d give this anthology a solid 4/5 stars. No, the book wasn’t inventive…and yes, it relied heavily on well-worn horror tropes. But still I found the anthology to be funny in some places and easy to read. I would recommend this delightful anthology for horror lovers who are looking for a light summer snack. It’ll fly by quickly–but you won’t be bored while reading it!

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Fantasy vs Reality: When Children Make a Sacrifice to Slenderman

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This has to be one of the strangest things I’ve ever heard on the news!

I recently saw on the news that a couple of girls stabbed their friend 19 times and left her for dead. Their reason…..They believed that if they murdered their friend, Slenderman would reveal himself to them and they could prove that he was real. They planned this crime for months! Their victim manged to crawl out of the woods and was found by a passing cyclist. They say she’ll make a recovery and her would-be-killers are facing charges now. For more info check out this article.

This is ridiculous. This is like sacrificing your friend to the Hook-man or Bloody Mary. How much to you want to bet that these kids didn’t believe in Santa Claus but they wanted to prove Slenderman when real? Even though you can google Slenderman and it tells you its origins. I remember when Urban Legends were just scary stories you told your friends at a sleepover. When I was a kid we had Bloody Mary and it did not require a human sacrifice.

This is what happens when you don’t monitor your kids. I can just hear activist come out of every nook and cranny with their signs damning violent video games. It’s so easy to blame an inanimate object because it really absolves anybody of responsibility.

Not to stand on my soapbox and preach but parents really need to get their heads out of their asses and start parenting. I’m positive that at least one of the defendants has a psychological problem. Normal kids don’t wake up one morning and say, “Hmm…I think I’ll kill my best friend today”. If parents were more vigilant with monitoring what their children do, I’m sure they would have noticed something was off. But then again, parents don’t want to admit that their is something wrong with their child.

In any case, I’m glad that the victim will recover and I hope that this proves as a warning to parents or future parents about their child’s psychological health.

Christianity Takes a Stab at Horror with “The Lock In”

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Just take a moment to process this sentence……you ready? Teens terrorized by porno magazine.

Yes…you read that correctly. This is an attempt from a christian church to discourage people, particularly our youth, from dipping into ever sinful pornography.

Now for the Not-So-Surprising Plot: A group of kids attend their church “lock in”, which is basically a church retreat where you hang out for the weekend and don’t leave the church. One of these kids decides to bring a porno magazine as a joke, but then the rest of the lock in is filled with Satan’s minions terrorizing the innocent. All because of a stupid porn magazine.

My questions: 1) Who reads porn mags anyway when you have the internet? 2) You’re in a church so why didn’t the campy kids hold hands and pray? That get’s rid of the Devi, right? 3) Does Holy Moly Pictures really think that kids are going to watch this and say, “Boobs are bad! Where’s my Purity ring?!”

Just watch the trailer. You’ll see what I mean….

Watch the Trailer:

Danger World (zombie short)

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This little zombie flick won “Best Narrative Short” at both Pan African Film Festival and Bronzelens Film Festival. For a running time just under 20min, the movie packs quite a punch and features a both a diverse cast and a female director! *happy dance* I never know what to expect when I watch a short indie film (Damsel Bruja and I suffered through some terrible ones at Austin Comic Con last year) and so I’m happy to say I really enjoyed this one.

Directed by Luchina Fisher (female horror director, hurray!) 

Starring: Frankie Faison and Saorise Scott

Written by  Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due, based on their novel “Devil’s Wake.”

Little Soldier and Grandpa survive the zombie-infested woods by sticking close (they drive past a pregnant woman and her wailing children) and fleeing for cover when the going gets tough. However Little Soldier still doesn’t see the zombies as “monsters” and has a hard time shooting her rifle. Her childlike naivety exasperates Grandpa. He snaps at Little Soldier to pick up her gun after she throws a tantrum and flings it to the grass. The tension between the characters came through right away. Little Soldier does not agree with Grandpa’s ruthless decision to leave the pregnant woman by the side of the road. She doesn’t want to face reality and kill to survive. However Grandpa remains firm and warns her that he won’t always be there to protect her. She’ll have to “learn not to be small.” And predictably just that happens. I’m not going to spoil the story for you, minions, but the ending is well-handled. There’s a few “gotcha” moments, as far as horror is concerned. This movie relies more on story and voice than special effects, makeup, or gore. Don’t go into it expecting to see buckets of blood.

Overall I recommend you check it out. It’s a simple story, but well-told. Worth the 20 minutes.

 

Fast Zombies VS Slow Zombies Debate

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Recently I watched a fun documentary about Zombies and Pop Culture and one of the topics discussed is the Slow Zombies vs Fast Zombies debate.

 

Let’s talk about the Slow Zombies for a minute. They are these reanimated corpses that shuffle around and if they catch you, they eat you. I think what makes these zombies scary is that they were the first type of zombie to enter pop culture. Imagine seeing your loved one as this decaying thing shuffling toward you. You know that you should run but there’s something stopping you. Something that wants to believe that you can snap them out of whatever murderous spell they’re under.

Now with the Fast Zombies we have these decaying humanoid things that can outrun you and tear you pieces in minutes. Imagine that you’re out and about when you see five of these creatures. They see you and the chase begins. You know that if you can’t outrun them, your new name is going to be Dinner. You don’t have time to see who it is that’s chasing you, all you care about is staying alive.

For me, I think that Fast Zombies are scarier. Just for the simple fact that I’m out of shape, I know that I’d probably be the first to go. What also makes them terrifying is that they won’t stop at nothing to get you. For example, the World War Z zombies didn’t stop for anything. They smashed through windows and doors to get to their victims. Also they made a giant zombie pyramid just to get over a giant wall to get their next meal. Slow zombies would probably shuffle around in circles.

Hell, even The Walking Dead zombies move faster than the slow zombies. I think the Walking Dead Zombies are the best combination of slow and fast zombie. When they’re inactive they just shuffle around, but when they find something to eat they pick up speed.

Which Zombies do you prefer? Fast or Slow?

RIP H.R. Giger :(

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For those who don’t already know, H.R. Giger died last month after an unfortunate accident in his home. Giger created the character designs and landscapes in Ridley Scott’s blockbuster Alien movie franchise. His famous biomechanical art in Necronomicon, is said to be the inspiration behind the Alien films. This New York Times article explains all the details about his death HERE. However I don’t want to talk about H. R. Giger’s death. I want to take a moment to celebrate the amazing work and life of this artist.

H. R. Giger did so much more than just work on the Alien movies. In addition to being an artist, he was also a sculptor and furniture designer, whose works can be seen in his museum. Despite gaining success, Giger is still a misunderstood figure. The art community never gave him his due, demeaning his work by shelving it under “pornographic kitsch.” If all you can see when you look at H. R. Giger’s art are penises, I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Look at his writhing landscapes more closely. Observe how he weaves intricate detailing with phantasmal surrealism. Heavy, dark colors play up his muted highlights, which gives his work an almost metallic appearance. He combines metal with flesh with alien and yet familiar forms. The fact many of his creatures are in the act of foreplay or copulation only adds to the phantasmagoria.

How H.R. Giger’s Brilliant Madness Helped Make Alien So Erotic.

His imagery speaks to me on a deeper, psychological level. When I look at his work, I am reminded how frightening sex is. Sexuality  can be predatory…gritty…even violent. Erotic horror isn’t new, and yet many are quick to write it off as “porn” just because there’s a breast or penis on the canvas. But what of the “alien” that lurks in all of us? What of the bizarre contortions we all make during lovemaking? Is “lovemaking” too cutesy a word when what we truly desire is more honest and dark? H. R. Giger pushed boundaries. He frightened us by flicking the light on and exposing our “nakedness.” He created one of the most popular and iconic monster in cinematic history! And for that, he has my utmost respect. May he rest in peace.

The Quiet: a short film review

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Lock up your children because this will make you paranoid for your child’s safety.

This is a short film I found based off of a true story. It’s about a deaf girl on her way home from school. While walking home she discovers that she’s being followed so a game of cat and mouse begins. According to the actual incident, a girl was walking home after hanging out with her friends and she was stalked by a molester/killer. Two weeks after that, a girl was found decapitated in the area close by. Whether this was the same girl, I’m not sure. But I thought this short film was pretty cool.

Some thought it didn’t fit in the horror category but I thought that the fact this girl was deaf made it scary. You were afraid of how she was going to survive without hearing where this predator was hiding. He could be standing right behind her and she wouldn’t notice. Yikes!

Video:

50yr feud: Gamera Vs Godzilla

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Oh, so you’re a fan of the Godzilla franchise, are you? Then you have no right to ask: “Who the fuck is Gamera?” without receiving the back of my hand across your face. If the only Godzilla movies you can name involve either Bryan Cranston or Matthew Broderick I get to slap you again.

Who is Gamera? Why, he’s the flying, atomic tortoise who can kick Godzilla’s ass. No, there was never a movie proving Gamera’s supremacy, but that’s only because the film companies were bitter rivals! Ultimately the fanbase followed the money, thus knocking Gamera out of the race, but in the process we lost Godzilla’s most promising adversary. Mothra doesn’t even come to a close second.  Gamera can also fly and he breathes fire. His impenetrable shell can resist most of Godzilla’s attacks and because he adores children (he always rescues the children after his rampages), humanity might aid Gamera in battle and tag-team Godzilla.

Godzilla and Gamera have been competing for ratings ever since the 60s. The first Gamera movie, Gamera (1965) was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, which kicked off the Gamera vs. Godzilla feud in the west. The most recent movie, Gamera the Brave was released in Japan in 2006. And yet there has never been an American remake of any of the Gamera movies! Imagine what an American remake could do for the Gamera franchise? It would certainly get us closer to a possible Godzilla-Gamera showdown! With all the attention surrounding the newest Godzilla movie, I vote for the next one to feature Gamera. The fans have waited patiently on the sidelines for nearly 50 years. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind Godzilla vs. Mothra and Mothra’s Wife, but Gamera really needs his moment in the sun, too. I’m #TeamGamera on this. Let’s do this!