Saturday, 31 August 2013

Double Life: A Love Story From Broadway To Hollywood By Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine
Foreword By Mike Nichols

Published By Open Road Media

Genre
Memoir

Synopsis

Gay marriage is at the forefront of America’s political battles.

The human story at the center of this debate is told in Double Life, a dual memoir by a gay male couple in a fifty-plus year relationship. With high profiles in the entertainment, advertising, and art communities, the authors offer a virtual timeline of how gay relationships have gained acceptance in the last half-century.

At the same time, they share inside stories from film, television, and media featuring the likes of Marlon Brando, Katharine Hepburn, Rock Hudson, Barbra Streisand, Laurence Olivier, Truman Capote, Bette Davis, Robert Redford, Lee Radziwill, and Frances Lear.

Double Life
is a trip through the entertainment world and a gay partnership in the latter half of the twentieth century. As more and more same sex couples find it possible to say “I do,” the book serves as an important document of how far we’ve come. 

Review

I absolutely love reading memoirs of all kinds.  Doesn't matter if the person writing it is in films, music, an author or anything else.  I just love to read why people live the way they do or why they do the things they do.

This one by Alan Shayne and Norman Sunshine and chronicles their long life together and really tells a great story of just how far the world has come with accepting gay marriage and to be honest,  it's about time.  I'm of the firm belief that a person should be able to love who they want regardless sexual orientation or race.  Love is love and that's exactly the point that this memoir is trying to make.

One of the best lines in this memoir is when they say that they were "gay before it was fashionable" and it's that gentle humor that makes this book so endearing.  The best parts of the memoir was when they were just talking about themselves and the story of their love affair.

When the book veers in to celebrity gossip, it just doesn't grip nearly as much as it does when it's just talking about Norman and Alan.  Don't get me wrong, those little stories are interesting, it's just that their story is much more interesting.

One of the things that you end up taking from this book is that no matter what they had to go through in their lives, this is a story of two people that love each other.  What more could you want from a love story?

Presentation 3.5/5
Informative 4/5
Recommended 3.5/5
Overall 11/15

Friday, 30 August 2013

An Interview With Jaz Martin, Sam from 'I Will Follow You into the Dark'


We here at Curiosity of a Social Misfit are proud to welcome Jaz Martin, who plays Sam in the new movie ‘I Will Follow You into the Dark’ to have a chat about the movie.

PC:  ‘I Will Follow You into the Darkness’ has a bit of a ‘Sixth Sense’ meets ‘Ghost’ feel to it but how did the project come about?

JM:  For me it was like any other project. Manager/Agent sends me the audition and I go to it in the hope I can book it and perhaps pay rent and put some food on the table. I wish I could be more exclusive in what roles I would like to play and what projects I care to be a part of but for most actors getting paid is a bloody luxury. Hunger has always been a good motivation for me. I told the director I would eat him if he didn’t give me the role.

PC:  How would you describe your character, Sam, to our readers?

JM:  Sam is a nice guy, a good friend to have around. Obviously it was a massive stretch for me being a serial killer in real life. I enjoyed playing Sam a lot in all seriousness. It’s nice when you get to play someone who is happy and has good values and beliefs.

PC:  The movie deals with depression in a really clever way, teaming it with the supernatural.  Has anything supernatural or paranormal ever happened to you at all?

JM:  Well the closest thing that’s ever happened to me that was a little supernatural was when I was on a soccer pitch. Im a twin, and in this game my twin brother had to go off injured because he had recived a rather unpleasant kick to the crown jewels. 5 mins I also had to leave the pitch with the same injury. Only thing was no one had touched mine!!!! Weird right?

PC:  After now appearing in a horror movie, would you do another one if the right role came along?

JM:  Of course! I have to eat! Also if there is the chance to give mouth to mouth to extremely attractive Hollywood actresses I’m there. ;-)

PC:  Do you have a favorite horror movie at all?

JM:  Gremlins

PC:  You’re originally from England but now live in the States.  What made you decide to make such a leap?

JM:  It was Love. In the words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that”

PC:  Have you got a favorite role at all that you think has been your best to date?

JM:  No brainer, Sam in ‘I will Follow You Into The Dark’.

PC:  What projects do you have lined up next?

JM:  I plan on playing James Bond in the future.

PC:  Many thanks for taking the time out to do this interview.

JM:  My pleasure. All the best.

The Living Corpse: Haunted Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Haunted
Written By Ken Haeser
Art By Ken Haeser, Buz Hasson and Blair Smith

Edgar Allan: The King and I
Written By Keith Thomas
Art By Blair Smith

Tears of a Clown
Written By Ken Haeser
Art By Buz Hasson, Ken Haeser and Blair Smith
Creative Consultation By Rob Dimension

All Lettering By Ken Haeser

Cover By Ken Haeser, Buz Hasson and Blair Smith

Published By Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
Horror, Comedy, Anthology

Synopsis

A one shot comic inspired by animated movie 'Amazing Adventures of the Living Corpse' that was brought to us by Shoreline Entertainment and Anchor Bay.

In this release The Living Corpse has to fight through an abandoned mental hospital, pitting his fists and his wits against some feeble minded ghosts while he tries to unlock the secrets behind a Doctor haunting  the place.

Then we have a certain author named Edgar Allan meeting the legendary Stephen King.

Then finally but not least, The Living Corpse meets a suicidal Mumbles the Clown in a graveyard!

Review

I'm going to be completely honest with you guys here.  Before I read this one shot comic book by Dynamite Entertainment, I hadn't actually heard of the character of The Living Corpse.  However, after reading this, I most definitely want to see more.

The three stories here are superb.  If you like the short of sarcastic and cynical humor that Mike Mignola puts in the 'Hellboy' comics then you will absolutely love this one.  But let's talk about them one by one.

'Haunted' reads a little bit like a 'Hellboy' story but with a zombie instead of Hellboy.  Obviously.  Hell, the character even comments on the fact that while he is known as The Living Corpse, he is actually a zombie.  I loved the bitter, cynical humor that ran through this tale.  While at times it was similar in style and tone to how Mignola writes, the story itself more than stands up on it's own two feet.  As my introduction to the character itself, it worked superbly well, especially when coupled with the fantastic art.

'Edgar Allan: The King and I' sees Edgar Allan Poe meeting Stephen King, who has come to a motel style building to write his new book.  After accidentally killing a cat by throwing one of his books at it, King is haunted by Edgar Allan playing  all sorts of messed up tricks on him with the dead cats corpse.  I don't know if it means I'm wrong in the head or not but this one had me in tears of laughter.  The simpler style of art here when timed with the hilarious visuals and writing definitely made this my favorite of the three tales.

Finally in 'Tears of a Clown' we see The Living Corpse returning to talk to a suicidal Mumbles the Clown.  Once again, Mumbles the Clown is a character that I wasn't all that familiar with so this tale served as a really good and interesting introduction to the character in much the same way as 'Haunted' was a good introduction to the Living Corpse character.  The way the tale ends has left me wanting to know more about the character so I will definitely be doing an Internet search or two to find out what happens next to the suicidal Mumbles the Clown.

All in all this is an insanely funny and well written one shot release from Dynamite Entertainment that has not only whetted my appetite for one new character but two.  Well played Dynamite, well played.

Story 4/5
Art 4/5
Overall 8/10

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Exodus Towers By Jason M. Hough Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jason M. Hough

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Action, Thriller

Synopsis

The sudden appearance of a second space elevator in Brazil only deepens the mystery about the aliens who provided it: the Builders. 

Scavenger crew captain Skyler Luiken and brilliant scientist Dr. Tania Sharma have formed a colony around the new Elevator’s base, utilizing mobile towers to protect humans from the Builders’ plague. But they are soon under attack from a roving band of plague-immune soldiers. 

Cut off from the colony, Skyler must wage a one-man war against the new threat as well as murderous subhumans and thugs from Darwin—all while trying to solve the puzzle of the Builders’ master plan . . . before it’s too late for the last vestiges of humanity.

Review

While I was a fan of the first book in this series, named the 'The Darwin Elevator', I felt that it wasn't as good as it could have been.  A bit like the author had missed an opportunity to make a good book great.

This, the second book in the series, is much better.  The characters are fully rounded out in this installment and some new ones are added.  One of the complaints I had about the main villain, a man named Russell Blackfield, was that he just came across as someone with a bad attitude instead of feeling like a threat despite all the things he did in the story.  That changes here.  He's full on bad ass and that really makes the story crack along at a much better rate.  However, Blackfield meets his match in the form of a character named Gabriel and that gives the story a great and evil feel to it.

The story itself is a bit confusing if you haven't read the first book as it takes over from where the first one left off.  The settlers have made their camp and are just trying to survive despite the interference from Blackfield yet they are suddenly attack by an army of 'immunes' and all Hell literally breaks loose.

In this book, the pacing is much better, albeit with a slight flaw.  In a  trilogy you always seem to  find that there are a couple of points in the second book that drag slightly and that's the case here.  Despite that, the momentum more than picks up in the final third of the book leading to a massively exciting cliffhanger that has me eager to get my hands on the third and final book.

The one problem I had with the story is that too many bad things happened to the 'good guys' in the story.  I get where Hough was going with that train of thought, he wanted to make it seem massively hard for them to survive but with so many bad and evil things happening to them, you kind of got a bit numb or it by the end of the novel.  It just kind of bugged me that it was bad thing after bad thing constantly without room to breathe.

All in all, this is a much better paced and well rounded addition to the series with a superb ending so I do recommend it higher than the first book in the series.  However, I would suggest reading the first book before this one because there will be quite a few places that you will be lost in if you don't.

Well worth picking up, especially for the ending.

Story 4/5
Characters 3.5/5
Recommended 3.5/5
Overall 11/15

Mr Moon: Anyold and the Ice Asteroid and Other Stories / Dancing With Stars and Other Stories / Wishing Star and Other Stories DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Titles Reviewed

Anyold and the Ice Asteroid and Other Stories
Dancing With Stars and Other Stories
Wishing Star and Other Stories


Based on the Books By Kate Veale

Genre
Animated, Family

Synopsis

Look out of your window at night - there he is! Mr Moon!

Climbing up his ladder and taking his place in the star-studded indigo sky.

But have you ever wondered what Mr Moon does when he's NOT shining down on us?

That is where our story begins.

A brand new CGI animation series, Mr Moon®, ventures into a never-ending source of mystery, wonder, adventure and fun. Mr Moon's playground is the sky above us all. With his Supafast Moon Rocket and his best friends, Silva and Gold Star, Mr Moon zips around exploring planets, stars, constellations, black holes, nebulae and galaxies.

These animated adventures are based on the best selling children's books by Kate Veale.

Review

The Mr Moon books have always been a favorite of my sons so when I was offered the chance to review a new release of the character, I jumped at the chance.

The series is a really well made show about the many and varied things that a child can learn during life.  Manners, looking after your friend and many other things.

Normally with a Disney show like this, it would come across as massively over sweet and to be honest, boring.  This stories really gripped my sons attention for the entire run time and he loved every minute of it.

The characters are cute yet not annoying, the stories really help to push forward how important it is to be kind and loads more things like that.  There are some great moments where the characters teach them some great skills after the story itself such as counting, colors much more.

All in all, this is a great set of stories for toddlers from the ages of 2 to maybe 5 or 6 but maybe older children may find this a bit boring.  If however, you have a children in that age group of 2 to 5 they will probably love this.

Story 4/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features N/A
Overall 12/15


"I Likes Mr Moon.  Sunny My Favorite.  I Likes His Pajamas"

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth: Volume One Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Ken Kristensen
Art, Cover and Lettering By M.K. Perker

Published By Image Comics

Genre
Comedy

Synopsis

This critically acclaimed hit series (now ongoing!) brings its first story arc to the tradepaperback format.

Follow the misadventures of the Belluomo family and their infectiouslyoptimistic, paper-bag-wearing son.

Irreverent and politically incorrect,Toddtickles every taboo in one wild ride filled with ax murderers, cults, celebrity stalkers, and a neo-Nazi prison gang.

Collects Todd, The Ugliest Kid on Earth #1-4.

Review

The word dysfunctional is banded around a hell of a lot in the comic book world but for once, that term completely fits this collection of the first four issues of the critically acclaimed title from Image Comics.

This title is one of those weird ones that you can't really describe to  someone who hasn't read it yet it's definitely a title you should check out.

Basically Todd is a lad with a bag on his head, who no matter what sees the good in absolutely everything.  During the story Todd gets sent to prison for a crime he didn't commit and even there he sees the happiness and the beauty in everything.

To some that may sound like a really weird and silly idea but in the hands of Kristensen and Perker, it's made to be something that is not only hilariously funny but incredibly heartfelt as well.  You just can't help but get behind the sheer enthusiasm that the Todd character shows.  That's where the art and the writing really work together brilliantly well.  Because you obviously can't see Todd's facial expressions because of the bag on his head, the writing is what the story would hinge on but because of  the intelligent work there and the superb art showing the mannerisms of Todd as well the reactions of the characters around him, the whole release just works.

The best way to describe the title would be that it has a bit of a less flighty Tim Burton feel while maintaining it's rather unique personality.  There really isn't anything like this out there and because of that, I really can't recommend it higher.

Even if you've not heard of this title, I urge you to go out and get it.  It's well worth a read thanks to the fantastic art and writing that not only will have you howling with laughter but will also smiling at the sheer heartfelt enthusiasm of the main character.  Believe me on this one, give this collection a read and you may just find your new favorite comic book character!

Story 5/5
Art 5/5
Overall 10/10

Sherlock Holmes: The Stuff of Nightmares By James Lovegrove Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By James Lovegrove

Published By Titan Books

Genre
Crime, Steampunk, Thriller

Synopsis

It's the autumn of 1890, and a spate of bombings has hit London. 

The newspapers are full of fevered speculation about anarchists, anti-monarchists and Fenians. But one man suspects an even more sinister hand behind the violence.  Sherlock Holmes believes Professor Moriarty is orchestrating a nationwide campaign of terror, but to what end? 

At the same time, a bizarrely garbed figure has been spotted on the rooftops and in the grimy back alleys of the capital.  He moves with the extraordinary agility of a latter-day Spring-heeled Jack.  He possesses weaponry and armour of unprecedented sophistication.  He is known only by the name Baron Cauchemar, and he appears to be a scourge of crime and villainy. But is this masked man truly the force for good that he seems?  Is he connected somehow to the bombings?  

Holmes and his faithful companion Dr. Watson are about to embark on one of their strangest and most exhilarating adventures yet.

Review

As a massive Sherlock Holmes fan, I will pretty much pick up any story featuring the famous detective and his equally as famous companion.  Titan Books have done a great job of creating new and exciting books and still managing to keep the charm of the originals so when I heard James Lovegrove had done one for them, I was hooked in.

But let's get one thing clear that bugs me straight from the outset about this book.  It's the cover.  It looks so badly and sloppily done that it comes across as an amateur illustration that someone has knocked up over their lunch break.  Oh well, let's not judge a book by it's cover however.

Here, Lovegrove has crafted a cracking story that really keeps the charm of the Doyle stories but with one glaring flaw.  The momentum will just be picking up and then all of a sudden it will stop for Watson to explain things.  Sometimes that works and other times it left me wanting to scream because I just wanted to see what was going to happen next to the characters.

However, when the action does get going it really explodes off of the page if you can excuse the really bad pun.  The sharp and fast pace of those moments really show what Lovegrove can do but the character of Watson and the character of the Baron seem to paint him in to the corner.  I do appreciate that he was trying to make each voice completely separate yet when a character deems it appropriate to give an elaborate back story or an explanation, it just feels like he's trying too hard to cram everything in and  that's a shame.

Doyle, when he does the same, manages to do it with a bit of flair and manages to hook it in to the story so that proceedings don't come to a grinding halt.

That said, I did enjoy the fact that, at times, it was hard to known whether or not the Baron was a good character or a villain.  In fact, the twists that came with this character made me want to turn page after page despite the flaw that I mentioned earlier.

All in all, while not as good as the other Sherlock Holmes books that Titan Books have put out recently, it's still head and shoulders over the two Guy Ritchie movies and well worth a look.  Just a pity about the awful cover.

Story 3.5/5
Characters 4/5
Recommended 3.5/5
Overall 11/15
 

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Shadow 1941: Hitler's Astrologer Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Denny O'Neil and Michael Kaluta
Art By Michael Kaluta, Russ Heath, Mark Chiarello, Nick Jainschigg and John Wellington
Letters By Phil Felix

Published By Dynamite Entertainment

Genre
War, Thriller, Adventure

Synopsis

On Easter Sunday of April 1941, a young woman pushes through the holiday crowds, racing for her life through the streets of Manhattan.

It's a chase that leads from the bustling American metropolis all the way to Berlin, the dark heart of the Nazi regime... a chase of screeching taxis and motorcycle escapes, of a fantastic battle between a German U-boat and an autogyro over Coney Island!

Like marionettes dangling from invisible hands, neither Allies nor Axis agents can tell if they are the puppeteers... or the dolls whose strings get cut!  Behind it all, The Shadow looms, a master of men with cold, hollow laughter and blazing .45 pistols!  

The acclaimed, complete Shadow 1941: Hitler's Astrologer collaboration of Batman scribe Denny O'Neil and artist Mike Kaluta, available for the first time in over two decades,  completely remastered!

Review

This collaboration between Danny O'Neil and Mike Kaluta has long been discussed as one of the best 'The Shadow'  stories written in the characters long history but does it still hold up today?

 Well, yes and no.

While I can see why people liked it so much, for me it just didn't grip me as much as I was thinking that it would do.  I suppose I was just expecting a little bit more from the story.  That said, the story does have some great twists and turns and also does a great job of recreating the era of the 2nd World War.  I liked the little bits of attention to detail in the story and the art work because that really made the story grip for the most part.

The one part I didn't like is that every now and then people would be mentioned then not mentioned again for a while.  I found that a little bit annoying in places and that  took me out of the story a little.

Art wise, this release is really well done.  If you think back to the 'Batman' comics of the late 80's and early 90's then you'll know what kind of art to expect here.  The story itself looks really good and like I mentioned earlier, the sharp eye for detail really does raise the level of the story up higher than it would otherwise have been.

Overall, this is a good release from Dynamite Entertainment.  Originally released in the 80's, it's great to see this story back in print but for some reason, it just didn't grip me as much as I was expecting it to.  However, if  you are a fan of 'The Shadow' then it's definitely worth at least having a peek at.

Story 3.5/5
Art 4/5
Overall 7.5/10

'The Shadow 1941: Hitler's Astrologer' is available to buy from September 17th


Frankenweenie (2012) DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By John August
Based on the 1984 Screenplay By Leonard Ripps and Idea By Tim Burton
Directed By Tim Burton

A Walt Disney Pictures Film

Genre
Animated, Family, Comedy

Cast

Catherine O'Hara as Mrs. Frankenstein, Weird Girl, Gym Teacher
Martin Short as Mr Frankenstein, Mr. Burgermeister, Nassor
Martin Landau as Mr. Rzykruski
Charlie Tahan as Victor Frankenstein
Atticus Shaffer as Edgar 'E' Gore
Winona Ryder as Elsa Van Helsing

Certificate PG

Synopsis

From Disney and creative genius Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, The Nightmare Before Christmas) comes the hilarious and offbeat Frankenweenie, a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog.

After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor hanesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life - with just a few minor adjustments.

He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor's fellow students, teachers and the entire town learn that getting a new "leash on life" can be monstrous.

Complete with electrifying bonus features, Frankenweenie is alive with enchanting fun for the whole family

Special Features
  • Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit
  • Plain White T's 'Pet Semetary' Music Video

Review

As a massive Tim Burton fan, even I have to admit that I wasn't all that impressed with his last couple of movies.  Don't get me wrong, they weren't awful it's just that they didn't feel up to his normal high standards yet with this one, that completely changed.

Based on the short movie from 1984, which can be found on the special edition version of 'The Nightmare Before Christmas', this remake not only does the original justice, it surpasses it big time.

Burton always has been a master of making the weirdest things just seem incredibly normal and beautiful despite the happenings on the screen being completely off kilter and sometimes even skewed.  It's exactly the same here.  The idea of bringing a dead family pet would be a completely rediculous idea in other hands but when it comes from the mind of Tim Burton, it's beautiful, touching and hilarious in equal parts.  One of the fun parts of the movie is trying to find all the classic horror movie references that the guys have managed to sneak in to the movie.

Cast wise, we're absolutely spoiled for choice with the performances here.  I've never been that big a fan of Martin Short but here he pulls triple duty as three separate characters and performs them so well I didn't realise it was him doing all three.  He's not the only one that gives the movie it's heart either.  That goes to Charlie Tahan as Victor.  Tahan really makes the character of Victor the emotional core of the movie without letting the character be too sentimental or cloying.

The only part of this release that disappointed  me at all were the special features.  What we have are good for what they are but I suppose I was just expecting a little bit more from the release itself but to me, that's a minor flaw when the movie really is this good.

If you are a Tim Burton fan then you will absolutely fall in love with this movie like I have.  If you're not a Burton fan, don't let that put you off.  This is a superbly animated movie with some real and intelligent emotional depth that is written in such a way that not only will the little ones like it but so will the parents.  Well worth picking up.

Movie 4.5/5
Picture 5/5
Sound 5/5
Special Features 3/5
Overall 17.5/20

Frankenweenie (2012) on IMDb

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Doctor Who: The King's Dragon By Una McCormack Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Una McCormack

Published By BBC Books

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure, Television Tie In

Synopsis

In the city-state of Geath, the king lives in a golder hall, and the people want for nothing.  Everyone is happy and everyone is rich.  Or do it seems.

When the Doctor, Amy and Rory look beneath the surface, they discover a city of secrets.  In dark corners, strange creatures are stirring.  At the heart of the hall, a great metal dragon oozes gold.  Then the Herald appears, demanding the return of her treasure...And next come the gunships.

The battle for possession of the treasure has begun, and only the Doctor and his friends can save the people of the city from being destroyed in the crossfire of an ancient civil war.  But will the King surrender his new-found wealth?  Or will he fight to keep it...?

Review

When I read the synopsis for this story, I have to admit that I was really looking forward to reading it.  I've read quite a few 'Doctor Who' novels in my time, some great and some awful yet never read any of the ones featuring the Matt Smith version of the Doctor.

While the story did move along at  a cracking pace and I even felt hooked in to the story itself more than once.  There just seemed to be something missing.

One of the things I noticed were the characters seemed a little bit off and slightly unfamiliar from their television counterparts.  That was especially true of the Amy and Rory characters.  They seemed a little too childish and in all honesty, a bit too bitchy at times.  It was the same with The Doctor.  There were a couple of moments for the iconic BBC character that just didn't seem in character for him.

Another thing that bugged me a bit was the fact there seemed to be quite a few scenes of them just staring at the gold.  It seemed like they were there merely to pad out the book a bit.

Other than that, the story really did run really well.  The ending was pure Doctor Who goodness and wouldn't seem out of place in an episode of the show itself.  It's just that the couple of minor flaws took me out of the story a couple of times and that's a shame because McCormack is a very good writer.

If you are a diehard Doctor Who fan then this is definitely a book worth picking up.

Story 3.5/5
Characters 3.5/5
Recommended 3/5
Overall 11/10

The Crow: Curare Issue 1 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By James O'Barr
Art By Antoine Dode
Letters By Shawn Lee
Cover By James O'Barr

Published By IDW Publishing

Genre
Supernatural, Crime, Thriller

Synopsis

Homicide Detective Francis Joseph Salk has long put his job first costing him his wife and family.  After failing to solve the murder of a small girl, Salk beats himself up daily and it's driven him to the edge of his very sanity.

That's when the girl appears accompanied by a crow and everything changes.

Review

James O'Barr's original 'The Crow' story is a unique breed of graphic novel / comic book series in that despite the subject matter and the violence that it breeds, it still manages to to be a thing of beauty.

There have been many different versions of 'The Crow' and many different comic book series featuring the same sort of outline.  Some of these have been written by O'Barr himself, like 'Skinning the Wolves' and others  haven't but all have been met with varying degrees of success.

As a big O'Barr fan, I was eagerly awaiting the next story by the creator himself and it didn't disappoint.  In much the same way as the earlier 'Skinning the Wolves' series, O'Barr doesn't shy away from anything and most definitely doesn't pull any punches with his subject matter.  In 'Skinning the Wolves' the subject matter was the Holocaust during World War 2 and here it's the murder of a little girl.

Is the story of a Homicide Detective haunted by his lack of success in solving a crime a new and original idea?  Not in the slightest.  Yet in O'Barr's more than capable hands, the story practically takes on a life of it's own.  It's got a dark, grimy feel to the dialogue and even though it sometimes reads as a supernatural version of 'Law and Order: SUV' at times, O'Barr's knack for making even the most supernatural events seem completely plausible.

It's the same with the positively superb artwork by Antoine Dode.  Dode gives the story a really grimy and slightly off kilter feel to it and that helps to keep the reader feeling hooked in to the story yet at the same time, continues to make them slightly uneasy.

'The Crow: Curare' issue one is best seen as a set up issue and it sets the characters and the storyline up in a superb way.  O'Barr makes the characters seem so destitute and despairing that the sadness literally oozes from the pages.  That's brilliantly accompanied by Dode's art.  A few reviews have said that his style isn't right for the series but I highly disagree.  I think his work is superb and really makes the story look like a grainy movie and I liked that about this issue.

If you are a fan of 'The Crow' or of James O'Barr then I highly urge you to get this title, if you haven't already got it.  If you're not then it's still definitely worth a look because despite it's dark subject matter, it's written very well and has some fantastic art work.

Story 4/5
Art 4/5
Overall 8/10

DMC: Devil May Cry - The Chronicles of Vergil Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Izu
Translation By Mark McKenzie-Ray
Art By Patrick Pion and Digikore Studio
Cover By Jean Bastide and Pion

Published By Titan Comics

Genre
Horror, Action, Supernatural, Video Game Tie-In

Synopsis

In a world controlled by demons, Dante is humanity's last remaining hope.

But Dante is lost, imprisoned far from the human world.  Accompanied by Kat, a human psychic, and nearly driven insane by his inner demon, Dante's twin brother Vergil must now attempt a rescue!

Discover the shocking secrets behind the stunning new Capcom videogame, DMC: Devil May Cry!

Review

As a big fan of the 'Devil May Cry' series of games, I was really excited for the new game.  Then I found out there would be a prequel graphic novel released as well, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and see where they were going to take the characters next.

I have to be honest, as good as the story was there just seemed to be something missing.  I don't know if that was because of the editing or the translation but there were a few moments where the story seemed to jump forward as if we missed a panel or some dialogue.

The flaw took me out of the story a couple of times and that's a real shame because the story that we have here is a superb link in to the new game.  There is some great back story for the characters and the art really brings the characters to life in a great way, especially the demons.  The art looks like it wouldn't be out of place in an animated horror movie in all honesty.

If you are a fan of the 'Devil May Cry' games then you will most definitely get a kick out of this story and there are plenty of nods and tips of the hat to the other games.  However, if you aren't a fan then you may find yourself a little lost in a couple of places.  Also, the quite abrupt nature of the book may be a bit of a turn off for people who aren't going to get the game because it does link directly to the beginning of that.

Story 3/5
Art 4.5/5
Overall 7.5/10

Friday, 23 August 2013

Outer Space Food Club Issue 1 Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Noel ILL
Art and Cover By Noel ILL

Genre
Science Fiction, Comedy

Synopsis

Two aliens work at a thrift store in space and belong to a food coupon club called, The Outer Space Food club.

Review

I wasn't really all that sure about what to expect from this title when I was very kindly sent it to review but I have to admit that I absolutely fell in love with it after reading it myself and reading it to my little lad.

The story of this mini comic is a relatively simple one in that two aliens belong to a coupon club and they basically get to try new types of food and find things to try out.  It's not normally the sort of thing that I read but there was a real charm to the title.

The best way to describe both the art and the writing is that there is a very sweet childlike innocence to it all.  The best proof of this is the fact that  I was able to read the issue to my little four year old and he absolutely adored it, which lead to me reading it to him four times in a row!  I really like the pop art style drawings that help to bring the story to life.  The aliens look like they wouldn't be out of place in a children's television show and that's part of the charm of the issue.

As a mini comic, this idea definitely works and like I said before, my little lad absolutely loved it.  The innocent charm of the writing and art really made a change from the horror and action comics I seem to get sent all the time to review.  Comic book fans will most definitely get a kick out of sharing this one with their kids so if you can get a copy then go check it out with your little ones.

Story 3.5/5
Art 3.5/5
Overall 7/10

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Bleeding House Pre-Release Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written and Directed By Philip Gelatt

A Reno Productions, Safehouse Pictures, Cinergy Pictures Film

Genre
Horror, Psychological, Thriller

Cast

Alexandra Chando as Gloria
Nina Lisandrello as Lynne
Patrick Breen as Nick
Charlie Hewson as Quentin
Richard Bekins as Matt
Betsy Aidem as Marilyn

Certificate 18

Synopsis

A stranger with mysterious intentions comes to stay the night at a secluded country home, but what he finds inside is a family torn apart by a violent past and a secret more deadly than he expected.

Review

I have to admit that when I saw some of the brutal reviews of this movie, I wasn't really all that sure what to expect from this.  You know what I ended up with?  A movie that a lot of critics appear to have misses the point of.

The slow and subtle pacing of the movie does a hell of a lot to add to the general feeling of uneasiness that permeates throughout the whole movie.  In fact, the subject matter of the movie teamed with the subtle pace really does a great job of making the viewer uneasy.

At the beginning of the movie you are basically watching a family that appears to be a bit strange but you're not really sure why.  That's when Nick turns up to stay at the house and things become clearer, back stories are revealed but then we are treated to some superb twists and turns.

Performance wise, there are some great moments here because of how the cast portray their characters.  The best of these is Patrick Breen as Nick.  Even when things start to kick off, his Southern gentleman stick makes him sound completely normal but then you listen to what he is actually saying and you realise that he is absolutely bat sh*t crazy.

The filming style, along with the make up effects, give this movie a dark, grimy look alongside a 70's / 80's feel and that adds to the atmosphere full of dread that is already prevalent through out the movie.  This is the most evident on the murder scenes.  The flashes of violence look more shocking because of the filming style and make you feel like you are involved in the lives of these people.

In my opinion, this is definitely a horror / psychological thriller that is well worth picking up.  The dark and dirty filming style, teamed with some off kilter writing and performances make this one of the best of the recent spate of 'home invasion' movies by far, just ignore the low score on IMDB because it really is so much better than the score makes you think it will be.

Movie 4/5

The Bleeding House (2011) on IMDb

'The Bleeding House' is available to buy from 26th August 2013

An Interview With Tea Krulos, Author of 'Heroes in the Night'


Today we have been joined by the author of the informative and funny book 'Heroes in the Night', Tea Krulos, to have a chat with Patrick Challis about the book and what inspired him to write about the Real Life Super Hero Movement.

PC:  The Real Life Super Hero Movement is one that both amuses and interests people. What drew you in writing about the people involved?

TK:  I’ve always been really interested in unique sub-cultures, movements, lifestyles. I’ve also been a comic book fan for most of my life. When I read a short blurb about the RLSH in 2009, I was instantly hooked on the story. After some preliminary research and a meeting one of my local RLSH (The Watchman) I decided it was a story I really wanted to immerse myself into and write a book about.

PC:  Out of all the people you met, did you have a favorite of the 'super heroes'?

TK:  I met so many interesting superheroes all over the country, but the guys I got to know best are my local team here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin—The Challengers. I think they are a good group and I still plan on hanging out with them long after this book is on the shelf. I still talk with other RLSH I’ve met along the way, too—my phone contacts list reads like the shelf of a comic book store!

PC:  There are both funny moments and scary moments in 'Heroes in the Night' but what would you say was the most memorable for you?

TK:  Definitely the “pepper spray incident” in Seattle. It was the craziest night of my life. To give a short version for readers here—Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones saw a group of people fighting in the street, ran into the middle of the fight and pepper sprayed some of the combatants. All hell broke loose after that. I got punched in the face and almost arrested...hey, sometimes you got to suffer for your art, right?

Tea Krulos with a group of Real Life Superheroes at Wizard World, Chicago Comic Con

PC:  Were there any stories that didn't make into the book?

TK:  Yes, a few. I interviewed around 200 RLSH and a lot of these people got cut from the final draft. I just didn’t have the space to write about them and didn’t want to confuse readers by having hundreds of subjects introduced. There were also a few stories that got cut because they were like a puzzle piece that just didn’t fit anywhere.

PC:  How did your background in journalism prepare you for writing this, your first book and how did it differ from your normal work?

TK:  Well, I’ve interviewed a lot of people who don’t live normal lives, so I think I’m comfortable talking to people who are outsiders. I’m respectful and view myself as somewhat of an oddball so I think people who are unusual are comfortable talking to me. Usually I’ve done shorter takes on subjects for newspaper and magazine articles, this was really my first effort to write a big picture piece. I’m glad it was on such a unique subject.

PC:  What's next for Tea Krulos?

TK:  I’m happy to say that my publisher liked the work I did with Heroes in the Night enough that they bought my second book. This one involves me traveling around to meet up with various paranormal investigators, cryptozoologists, ufologists, and demonologists. I’ve already got a good start on it and it’ll be out in 2015.

'Heroes in the Night' is available to buy from  October 1st

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Freddie & Me: A Coming of Age (Bohemian) Rhapsody Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Mike Dawson
Art and Cover By Mike Dawson

Published By Jonathan Cape

Genre
Memoir, Comedy

Synopsis

Freddie and Me is a wonderfully funny and moving graphic memoir of Mike Dawson’s lifelong obsession with Freddie Mercury and Queen.

Told alternately from Mike’s childhood, teenage and adult perspectives, Freddie and Me explores the way in which music changes and shapes our lives, and the way in which random memories can both prop up and undermine the stories we tell ourselves.

The counterpoint toMike’s obsession is his younger sister’s love of George Michael and Wham –including several deliciously funny imagined scenes featuring a post-break-up Andrew Ridgeley – which, like the book as a whole, is written and drawn with a brilliant combination of exuberance and subtlety.

Review

Here Mike Dawson has crafted a graphic novel about his life, his childhood and his obsession with the legendary rock band Queen.

Told in black and white and in short bursts, this graphic novel is strangely enjoyable. As well as the scenes of his life, he has also included imagined scenes involving some of the bands of the time such as Wham. This scenes are a bit hit and miss humor wise but mostly work.

The short story like moments of his life here are told in a competent manner but there are flashes of beauty and some absolutely hysterical scenes that had me nearly crying with laughter.

The scenes between Dawson and his sister show so many moments of sibling relationship and infighting that it really reflects the real life moments with brothers and sisters.

The artwork itself is stark in it's black and white nature but it works with this story, especially the scenes involving his hero worship of Queen and in particular Freddie Mercury. I absolutely loved these scenes and for me, they made it worth the cheap price of the book on it's own.

While a bit hit and miss, it's still a good and humorous look at a life full of love and loss as well as the writers obsession with his favorite band.

Recommended although probably more for Queen fans more than others but give it a go. Considering the cheapness of the price of the book, it could be worth giving it a go.

Story 3.5/5
Art 4/5
Overall 7.5/10

Win 'The Bleeding House' on DVD! (UK Entries Only)


"Buckets of Blood" Screen International

"Powerful, riveting, dark and brutal...a nasty indie gem" Planetofterror.com 

"If you are a horror fan you need to see this" UnseenFilms

Maxim Magazine named "The Bleeding House" one of the 66 Best Horror Flicks you've never seen.

Unlock your doors... You may need to get out

In this taut horror / thriller an isolated family home is invaded by a sweet talking Texan psychopath who is intent on draining the family's blood. What he doesn't expect to encounter is an occupant even crazier than he is.

Now thanks to those lovely folks at Safecracker Films we have not one, not two but FIVE copies of this taut and dark movie to give away!

Simply send the answer to this simple to patrickstevenchallis@gmail.com with your details to be in with a chance of winning!

The psychopath has invaded the house to take something from the family who live there but what does he want to take?

Good luck to everyone that enters!

'The Bleeding House' is released on 26th August and is available from here!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Into The Dark (2013) Pre-Release Review

Review By Patrick Challis

(AKA 'I Will Follow You into the Dark')

Written And Directed By Mark Edwin Robinson

A Castlight  Pictures, Zero Gravity Management Film

Genre
Supernatural, Thriller, Romance

Cast

Mischa Barton as Sophia Monet
Ryan Eggold as Adam Hunt
Leah Pipes as Astrid Daniels
Jaz Martin as Sam
Melinda Y. Cohen as Penny
Richard Johnson as Peter Monet

Certificate 15

Synopsis

A woman reeling from the death of her parents becomes attached to an alluring man whose sudden disappearance sends her and her friends into a haunted high-rise to find him.

Review

When I received this movie, I have to admit that I went in to it thinking it was going to be a bog standard horror movie with a few ghosts thrown in but is that the movie that we ended up getting?

Well, no.

Instead we got a movie that I really wouldn't say is a horror.  I would say it's more of a supernatural thriller, a bit like 'The Sixth Sense' in a way.

The slow moving and subtle nature of the movie was the first thing that drew me in to the movie itself.  You're given time to get to know the characters and even care about what happens to them during the course of the movie.  That sort of approach is one that isn't used all that often in the horror genre or even in the supernatural genre.  Normally it's just a chance to go for cheap shock tactics and scares but that's really not the case here.

Instead the atmosphere is left to build alongside the characters themselves.  When Sophia, played by Mischa Barton, meets Adam, played by Ryan Eggold, you really get involved in their relationship and pulled in to the emotions as they get closer.

The final third of the movie is where most of the supernatural shenanigans occur and yet it doesn't make the movie feel disjointed at all.  It feels like two movies in places and yet the way it's been edited and directed really makes the movie flow fantastically well.  The effects of the ghosts and the feeling of dread that runs through the last part of the movie is so well handled that it absolutely gripped me right up to the tear inducing ending.

All in all, this is a fantastic movie and one that hooked me in from the first minute right up to the final scene and you can't say that about a lot of movies these days.  If you are looking for a gore filled scare fest then you will be a little disappointed.  However if you are looking for a movie that is equal parts 'haunted house' movie and 'Sixth Sense' style thriller via a bit of 'Ghost' like romance then you will be positively gripped by this movie.  Absolutely superb!

Movie 4.5/5

I Will Follow You Into the Dark (2012) on IMDb

Fury (Conception) Graphic Novel Review

Review By Patrick Challlis

Written By Nicole Bresner
Art and Cover By Nicole Bresner

Genre
Thriller, Action

Synopsis

It’s 2034 and America is run by the church, at the hands of Father Augustine, a malevolent preacher intent on eradicating sin and punishing the non-believers.  Those who do not follow the strict moral code of the Return to Zion Act of 2024 are marginalized, oppressed and relegated to the ghettos of America.

Marceline Jones, an unwed mother, suffers an unbearable loss as a result of the stigma of having an illegitimate child, and is imprisoned after committing a brutal, yet ultimately unsuccessful, crime of revenge.

But the universe opens a door for her, and she escapes with two members of the resistance movement, Erebos.  They recruit her and she is offered a deal:  the chance to finish the job she started and avenge her loss, in return for her services as an assassin for the underground.

The story chronicles her descent into a world of violence, political intrigue and spiraling madness, as she works to exact her revenge.

Review

Billed as a graphic novel, this actually reads more as an illustrated novella than a graphic novel but that's a minor nitpick when you consider just how good this novella is.

'Fury (Conception)' is a rare story in that it can be read in many different ways no matter how many times you have sat down and read it.  That's one of it's main strengths.  The story itself can be read as a thriller with religious overtones because of how it centers around a world run by religion.  It also reads as a revenge story complete with well written characters and motives.  At the same time, it can read as an action story with one  foot in the here and now and the other in the near future.  It's the sort of story that each person that reads it will take a way a different interpretation from it.

The action and the story on the pages here absolutely come to life thanks to Bresner's easy going style.  She has an uncanny knack for pulling the reader in to a scene and then without warning something happens and it really hooks you in to seeing just what is going to happen next.  I have to admit that I couldn't honestly put this novella down and that's quite rare for me.  Normally with a story I will read a bit then come  back to it but with this one that didn't happen.  I wanted and needed to see just what was going to happen to Marceline.

Talking of Marceline, I loved how Bresner didn't just make her stereotypical action girl.  Instead she's deeply flawed yet with a sympathetic edge to her no matter what dark and sometimes twisted things are happening to her, are being done by her and much more.  That said, this isn't one of those stories that just lives and dies by the main character, it's a densely populated world with some absolutely brilliant characters that really make the story come to life.

The art and layout used in the novella are honestly, beautiful.  They're stark, fantastical and yet they fit the story like a glove.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I really wouldn't be able to imagine one without  the other.  If the art in this release is anything  to go by then Bresner is definitely a name to keep an eye out for.

I really can't recommend this release from Nicole Bresner higher.  I would even go so far as to call it an essential purchase and I don't say that about many things on this site.

Story 4.5/5
Art 5/5
Overall 9.5/10

You can purchase 'Fury (Conception)' from here!

Monday, 19 August 2013

House of Fears (2007) DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Steven A. Lee and John Lyde
Directed By Ryan Little

A Lonesome Highways Productions, Black Orchid Entertainment Film

Genre
Horror

Cast

K. Danor Gerald as Elias (African Guide)
Cydney Neil as Herself
Kelvin Clayton as Hamadi
Corri English as Samantha
Sandra McCoy as Hailey
Brian Wimmer as Mark
Shannon Engemann as Lynn

Certificate 18

Synopsis

Haunted house horror. The night before a Halloween party is scheduled to be held at a a notorious local haunted house, six teenage friends break in for a few hours of spooky escapades.

But their evening of fun quickly turns into a realisation of all their worst nightmares as they find themselves trapped inside a world of terror and carnage.

Special Features
  • Trailer

Review

I have to admit one thing here.  I didn't really have all that many high hopes for this movie after reading some of the reviews and therefore wasn't all that eager to watch it.  When a night came around that I couldn't decide what I fancied watching, I figured I'd stick this one on.

Was it worth the time?

Well yes and no.

It's pretty much your standard 'been there, seen that' teen horror movie.  A group of teens go somewhere and get picked off one by one.  That's pretty much what you have here.  However the filmmakers here have given it at least a little twist by trying to make it stand out a little bit by making it about the teens tackling their biggest fears.  While that isn't the most original idea for a movie I've ever seen, at least they tried to put a bit of a different spin on it.

One of the things that I didn't like about the movie was actually the cast.  I was expecting a cookie cutter style cast that would tick all the boxes in the cliched column and that is exactly what we got here yet to me, none of them were really that likeable.  I didn't really care all that much about which of them, if any, would survive to the end of the movie.  That said however, I have seen a hell of a lot of horror movies and this isn't the worst set of performances I've seen.

One of the things that I did actually like were the deaths.  It's true that some of them are kind of hokey but they're a lot better than some others I have seen while doing this blog.  We have killer clowns (I bloody hate clowns), a scarecrow (yes really) and much more.  I actually quite liked the scarecrow in that the costume made the scarecrow look a bit messed up and I quite liked that.

Another thing I liked was how the movie itself was filmed.  There were quite a few scenes where it has quite a dark atmosphere because it genuinely looks grimy and dirty.  There were also a few little touches here and there that added to that.

All in all, while this isn't a terrible horror movie by far, it does suffer from a problem a lot of other low to mid budget horror movies have and that's the simple fact that there isn't enough money to really make it stand out from the crowd.  There are a few inventive moments here and there but not enough to grip me as a viewer.  That said, it's still worth picking up for those moments.

Movie 3/5
Picture 4/5
Sound 3/5
Special  Features 2.5/5
Overall 12.5/20


House of Fears (2007) on IMDb


An Interview With Nicole Bresner, Author of 'Fury (Conception)'


Nicole Bresner, author of the superb book 'Fury (Conception)' has popped in to speak to Patrick Challis at Curiosity of a Social Misfit to talk about her new book, her art and more!

PC:   How would you describe your book to someone not familiar with your writing?

NB:  Fury (conception) is a revenge story above all else.  The idea of vengeance as one of the most primal motivations for a character's actions has always intrigued me, specifically the premise that the need to avenge a loss can be powerful enough to skew the moral compass of an otherwise ordinary person, to alter the core of their belief system so deeply as to change them into a different person altogether.  That is the story of Marceline.  A mother's grief and despair are ultimately transformed into violence and questionable sanity.
My writing style, I think, vascililates between intensely emotional and descriptive passages, and very concise scenes of dialogue and action.

PC:  Your book ‘Fury (Conception)’ has a very dark feel to it.  What inspired you to create the story?

NB:  I started writing Fury (conception) when I was a single mother for several years.  I had two young girls and has to fight very hard to support them, to keep them with me, and to raise them in a safe environment.  I had very few resources and it was a constant and terrifying struggle. I think my maternal and survival instincts were in overdrive and I just started drawing and writing (to no end in particular at the time) what was eventually to become Fury (conception).  It was an outlet and a reflection of my life as it was.

PC:  Do you have a favorite character in the book at all? 

NB:  My favorite character is PepperPink.  I love that she's a woman in what is typically a male-centered field and that she's the best computer hacker the in the underground.  Aside from her being a fugitive, I'd love for my girls to be like her when they're older.  She has a spunky, confident attitude, and you know nobody will ever get the better of her.  She rocks and she knows it.

PC:  When you were writing ‘Fury’ did you have any quirks or traditions that you followed?

NB:  The only tradition I had was that on the rare occasions when my husband and I could get a sitter, we would go to our favorite pub, have drinks at the bar, and bounce ideas for the story off each other.  He was very helpful to me in the brainstorming process and we had a lot of fun as well.  Other than that, no superstitions or unusual creative rituals- except maybe a HUGE obsession with backing up my work every time I even changed a punctuation mark.

PC:  Are there any authors out there today that you feel have inspired your writing?

NB:  Neil Gaiman is a huge inspiration.  I don't think my writing style mirrors his directly in any way, but The Sandman is a perfect and classic example of a comic also being intellectual and extremely dark.  There are so many different genres within comics and graphic novels and I wanted to do something with a little meat behind it.  Also, David Mack's The Alchemy inspired me in a similar way.  The artistic layout is atypical and the writing is very intense and thought provoking.  It showed me there is no one formula to creating an artistic story.

PC:  I really liked the art used in the book.  What inspired you to illustrate the book instead of having a straight up novella?

NB:  There was no conscious decision to write a novella and add artwork.  Everything happened simultaneously.  I just drew and wrote and drew and wrote and one day started mixing it all together.  At first there wasn't even the intention to ever let anyone else see it.  That happened much later as the story starting actually becoming something.

PC:  Your art style is very stylized and unique, which really fits in with the dark feel of the story.  How would you describe your style to a newcomer to your work?

NB:  My art style is stark and simple.   I love lines.  I love black and white.  I love using as little detail as possible to convey the most emotion, hinting at the bigger picture without trying to be photo-realistic.  Most of my art, even pieces that aren't in Fury, tend to have a darker theme to them.  It's just what I gravitate towards.

PC:  What’s next for Nicole Bresner?

NB:  I would love to do a traditional sequential comic and have a few projects I'm working on.  I also would like to find the time to do more fan art and commissions. I love collaborating with clients on commissions to make something special for them.  It's a fun process. 
My daughters (there are 3 now) are also getting into art and comics and I want to encourage that as much as I can, by teaching them and through example.

PC:  'Fury (Conception)' is available to buy from here!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Doctor Who: The Three Doctors DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Bob Baker and Dave Martin
Directed By Lennie  Mayne

Genre
Science Fiction, Adventure

Cast

William Hartnell as The First Doctor
Patrick Troughton as The Second Doctor
Jon Pertwee as The Third Doctor
Katy Manning as Jo Grant
Nicholas Courtney as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart
Stephen Thorne as Omega

Certificate PG

Synopsis

A gel-like plasma creature arrives on earth and hunts down the Doctor, who calls on the Time Lords for help.

The Time Lords themselves are in crisis as their energy is being drawn off into a black hole. They send the Doctor's earlier selves to join him.

The first Doctor, caught in a time eddy and able only to advise, deduces that the creature is a time bridge. The third Doctor and Jo then give themselves up to it and are transported to a world of antimatter beyond the black hole.

On Earth, the second Doctor is forced to take refuge in the TARDIS along with the Brigadier and Sergeant Benton. He switches off the ship's force field, and the whole UNIT building is transported through the black hole.

Behind these events is Omega, a figure from the Time Lord history whose solar engineering provided the power for time travel. He has been trapped in the black hole ever since and now wants the Doctor to swap places with him, but it transpires that the corrosive properties of his domain have already destroyed his physical form, leaving only his will. He threatens to destroy the universe.

Special Features
  • Commentary by Katy Manning, Barry Letts and Nick Courtney
  • A Rare Interview With Patrick Troughton From Pebble Mill at One
  • A Celebration of Doctor Who's Tenth Anniversary From A November 1973 Blue Peter Episode
  • BSB Highlights of Terrance Dicks, Nicholas Courtney, Bob Baker and Dave Martin Discussing The Three Doctors From BSB's 1990 Doctor Who Weekend
  • Five Faces of Doctor Who' Trailer For The 1981 Repeat Season Which Included The Three Doctors
  • BBC1 Trailer For The 1972 BBC1 Transmission of the First Episode
  • Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning Take The Stage At PanoptiCon '93 Convention
  • Photo Gallery

Review

Jon Pertwee has always been my favorite version of The Doctor and this tale is no different.

This four part story pits three incarnations of The Doctor against a omnipotent being named Omega. After sending a series of gel like creatures after The Doctor, the Timelords are summoned for help. Their race is unable to help as they are dealing with a black hole but they send the other two doctors to help.

This is an absolute classic from the series and the three Doctors work really well together. William Hartnell's Doctor doesn't really interact with the other two due to his incarnation being stuck in a time bubble but Pertwee and Troughton work really well together. I would have loved to see more stories of them working together but alas it was not to be.

Also the chemistry between Troughton and Pertwee is fantastic and really shines off of the screen. The only weak point of the tale is Jo as she doesn't really seem to do much but other than that she gave a relatively good performance.

The story itself is one of the best of the classic series and the writing really lends an air of grandeur and menace. It's the same with the direction. The use of shadows and darkness is masterful as is the inventive use of echoes.

As always the special features here are the cream of the crop and really complete the collection in a great way. My favorite being the interview with Patrick Troughton as I've never actually seen one with him before so that was a nice treat for a Doctor Who fan like myself.

While Genesis of the Daleks is the best known of the classic serials, this is definitely up there in the top five at least.

Highly recommended.
Story 4.5/5
Picture 3.5/5
Sound 4/5
Special Features 4/5
Overall 16/20

Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan Pre-Release Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Jeffrey Miller, Gary Jones and Jason Ancona
Directed By Gary Jones

Watched On Netflix

A Kinetic Filmworks, P13 Entertainment Film

Genre
Horror

Cast

Joe Estevez as Meeks
Dan Haggerty as Foreman Bill
Thomas Downey as Sgt. Hoke
Amber Connor as CB
Tim Lovelace as Tanner
Jesse Kove as Zack
Kristina Kopf as Ms. K

Certificate 15

Synopsis

Young adults at a first-time offenders' boot camp discover the legend of the giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan is real, but is much more horrifying than they could have imagined.

Review

A 'slasher' style movie made for the SyFy channel.  I really should have known better right?  Yet for some reason, I went in to this movie actually with some high hopes for it.  While the synopsis doesn't exciting sound exciting, I'd heard some really interesting things about the movie itself.

However, I have to admit that this is one of those movies that is so bad that it is a hell of a lot of fun to watch, even if it is just to point out the myriad of bad editing errors, people who are dead in the movie coming back as other people and so on.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is the definition of 'B movie' horror.  The cast are all pretty interchangeable and to be honest, there wasn't a stand out amongst any of them.  That said however, there was a hell of a lot of (unintentional) laughs at some of their performances.  My favorite being Sgt Hoke played by Thomas Downey.  He goes for every military cliche that he possibly can and does it in such a hokey, funny way that even Bruce Campbell himself would have watched and asked him to tone it down a bit.

The killer lumberjack, yes I can't believe I had to write that either, is actually a relatively sympathetic character.  Some of that is down to the facial make up that makes the character look so sad and pathetic that you can help but at least feel some sympathy for him.

Special effects wise, while there are some interesting gore effects in places of the movie, the CGI effects are awful for the most part.  They just look so out of place with the rest of the movie.  It almost looked like someone had placed them over the top of another movie to save money.  On the plus side, the scenery looked beautiful though  so there was at least that.

All in all, I can't honestly give this a good rating because it's an awful movie for the most part yet because of that, it's a lot of fun to watch in a 'so bad it's good' way.  Then again, it was a slasher movie made for the SyFy channel so what else should I have expected?

Movie 2/5

Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan (2013) on IMDb

'Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan' is available to buy from 9th September 2013

Let The Right One In By John Ajvide Lindqvist Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By John Ajvide Lindqvist

Published By Quercus

Genre
Horror

Synopsis

12 year old Oskar is bullied, tormented and ignored at every turn by everybody in his life.  Although he thinks about his absent father constantly, his life just feels so void that he begins an obsession with murders, even keeping a scrapbook of the crimes.

That’s when he meets Eli, a centuries old vampire girl.  Together they form a bond that is unbreakable and go to extreme lengths to protect each other from the dark world around them.

Review

Set in the 1980’s in a suburb of Stockholm, this book is a very dark and very bleak novel indeed. Reminiscent of early Stephen King with flashes of Dean Koontz, Lindqvist has written a very gripping and disturbing book, offering glimpses in to the darker underbelly of human life. Nothing is glossed over here as the tale involves extreme violence, bullying, existential angst, pedophilia and even murder.

The idea of a vampire novel isn’t a new one at all. In fact the glut of novels such as ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and the ‘Twilight’ series have filled the literary world full to bursting with their cookie cutter accounts of vampirism. Yet this novel offers a completely new perspective.

The life that Eli leads isn’t one of fancy parties or beauty or anything like that. It’s one of brutality and blood drinking just to survive. The fact that she’s so childlike yet at the same time so world weary adds a new layer to the character. In fact, in parts you can’t help but feel sorry for her.

The same goes for Oskar. Even though the character is quite a messed up young boy because of his circumstances, you can’t help but root for him to be happy and gain revenge on all those people who have wronged or hurt him.

All in all a brilliant novel. If you want a vampire novel that manages to be original while keeping the dark beauty of such writers as Stephen King and Dean Koontz then this is the book for you.

Story 4.5/5
Characters 4.5/5
Recommended 5/5
Overall 14/15

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Battle: Los Angeles DVD Review

Review By Patrick Challis

Written By Christopher Bertolini With Uncredited Rewrites By Shane Black
Directed By Jonathan Liebesman

A Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media, Original Film Production

Genre
Science Fiction, Action

Cast

Aaron Eckhart as Ssgt. Michael Nantz
Ramon Rodriguez as 2nd Lt. William Martinez
Will Rothaar as Cpl. Lee Imlay
Cory Hardict as Cpl. Jason Lockett
Jim Parrack as LCpl. Peter Kerns
Ne-Yo as Cpl. Kevin Harris
Bridget Moynahan as Michele
Michelle Rodriguez as TSgt. Elena Santos

Certificate 12

Synopsis

Witness the end of civilization unfold as hostile alien invaders attack the planet. As people everywhere watch the world's great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected.

Now it's up to a Marine staff sergeant (Aaron Eckhart) and his platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they've ever encountered in this epic sci-fi action film. 

Special Features
  • Behind the Battle
  • Aliens in L.A.
  • Preparing For Battle
  • Creating L.A.


Review

I'd heard a lot about this movie, some good and some bad.  A few reviews said it was a less polished version of the Will Smith movie 'Independence Day' and others said that it was a fun and well paced action movie.  As a massive 'Independence Day' fan, I've always been fond of watching alien invasion films in general too so I was quite eager to  get this one home to watch.

While I can understand some of the criticism leveled at the movie itself, I found it to be an interesting, exciting and gripping action movie with some really good set pieces that came alive.

Some of the criticism aimed at the movie seemed to concern how cliched the characters were and to that extent, I do agree with that.  Some of the characters appeared to have come out of the 'action movies for dummies' handbook.   You had the grizzled veteran on the verge of retirement.  The soldier that  has mental problems because of past missions.  The young soldier about to get married.  The female soldier wanting to prove herself as equal to the male marines.  The soldier about to be a father and so on.

While the characters aren't original in the slightest, it's the performances that raise them above the normal level of quality that these kinds of movies have.  A lot of that is down to Aaron Eckhart's performance as the grizzled veteran.  He brings such a subtle, sympathetic portrayal of the character that I was absolutely hooked in to wanting to see what was going to happen next to him.  I especially liked how they showed the scene where he told the other marines about a past mission was very well done and emotional without being melodramatic.  Eckhart really is an under rated actor that always manages to bring a level of quality to a movie that wouldn't be there without his subtle portrayals of the characters.

Another performance that surprised me the most was that of the rapper Ne-Yo.  I'm always dubious when a rapper or singer etc appears in a movie because a lot of the time they don't really act anything to the movie and  sometimes even take away from the movie with their bad performances.  Here, that's completely different.  He gives such an assured performance that I would actually quite like to see him in another movie.

I liked the special features to some extent but I really feel they missed an opportunity to really do in depth about the special effects that they used here.  The devastation of the cities is massively impressive on a visual level and really looked downright scary in places because of just how much damage these beings could do with their weapons.  They do touch on that in the special features but I would have liked to have seen a little bit more in the way of information but that's more of a personal taste for me really than a flaw.

While this wasn't an original movie in the slightest, I actually really enjoyed it and like the large scale of devastation showed on the screen.  I was expecting just explosion after explosion but they really did a good job of showing the aftermath of the attacks and the effect that they had on the people involved.

Well worth picking up considering how cheap it is and in my opinion, it's worth every penny for Eckhart's performance alone.

Movie 3.5/5
Picture 4.5/5
Sound 5/5
Special Features 3.5/5
Overall 16.5/20

Battle Los Angeles (2011) on IMDb