Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Absence Graphic Novel Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Martin Stiff

Art and Cover By
Martin Stiff

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Thriller

Synopsis

Nominated for BEST COMIC at the 2013 British Comic Awards, The Absence rips apart a small village on the coastal edge of Southern England as it struggles to recover from the tragic losses of the Second World War.  Yet any hope of healing it's wounds is suddenly rocked by the return of a man long presumed - and hoped - dead.

In a place where everybody is hiding a guilty past, what terrible secrets does his hideously disfigured exile bring back with him?  And what exactly happened to him during his absence?

A masterpiece in jagged, haunting storytelling tinged with horror and pathos, this acclaimed series is collected here for the first time and is for anyone who loves their tales loaded with menace and shadows!

Review

When a title has been nominated for the best comic award at the British Comic Awards, you know it has to be something special indeed considering how few titles get that honor.  I have to admit that I missed this title on it's first release so managing to get hold of a copy of the graphic novel collection as well as hearing about it having been nominated for the award all added up to making me an excited little comic book nerd.

Was there any way that it could possibly live up to the pressure of having been nominated for such an important award?  Is there any way that it would live up to the hype and promise and surrounded it?

Oh my dear readers, it does much more than live up to them.  It smashes them apart and then asks for more.

I'm not really one for hyperbole and for falling for a title that has more hype than substance but for once, a title really is as good as the critics have been saying.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that it's even better than I was thinking that it would be.

One of the things that struck me the most was how the atmosphere reminded me of the old black and white movies that I like so much.  You know the ones, the movies with the feeling dread and panic that run through them.  The sorts of movies where you know something horrifying is going to be revealed but you're not really sure what that thing will be.

Martin Stiff has written such an affecting and gripping story here that will most definitely hook you in and you really won't be able to put it down.  That intelligent and twist filled writing really came up against the art superbly well.  Stiff's artistry is both beautiful and affecting at the same time and really gives the story a classic movie feel.  I would even go so far as to say that this wouldn't look out of place on a big screen.

All in all, it's very easy to see just why this got nominated for Best Comic at the British Comic Awards.  It reads as a great classic thriller, looks like a chiller from the golden age of Hollywood and has twists and turns galore.  What more could you want from a graphic novel collection?

Story 9/10
Art 10/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 10/10
Overall 38/40

Monday, 24 February 2014

Guardians Issue 0 Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Todd Black

Art By
Chua Eng Lee
Alex Garcia

Cover By
Alex Garcia

Published By
Black Magic Wolf Productions

Genre
Superhero, Science Fiction, Action

Synopsis

Who are the Guardians?

Where did they come from?

Why are they here?

This 20 page prologue issue welcomes you to the world of Guardians and lets you know about them, about the city and about what's to come.

Review

Both the big publishing world and the indie comic book world are absolutely jam packed full of superhero stories so when ever a new one pops up, I'm always a little dubious about getting excited.  A lot of them come across as massively cliched and uninspired.  Even boring.  Sometimes, just sometimes you get a title that gives you just enough to hook you in and get you excited about the rest of the series.

The question is however, where does issue 0 of 'Guardians' fit in?

After reading this prologue issue, I have to admit that 'Guardians' definitely falls in to the second category.

This release, written by Todd Black, is written in two parts.  The first tells some of the story of their arrival in the city and reveals some of their mission to protect the inhabitants.  You're told just enough to get you interested enough to want to see more of their story and to see who the mysterious man that appears at the end of the issue is and how he will come in to play.

The second part is told from the point of view of the Guardians themselves.  You get to see their insight in to their arrival, their emotions about how they'll made to feel by the inhabitants of the city and more.  I really liked that approach and it made a nice change to see a writer go for that path in a superhero story.  It's one of the things about this issue that really made it stand out for me as a reader.

Another part of the issue I liked were the science fiction undertones that ran through the story itself.  It blended perfectly with the superhero side of things and gave it a nice style of it's own.

Art wise, the work here is superb.  I really liked the detailing in the panels and how the characters, especially  that of the Guardians themselves, flew off the page.  I also liked the use of the bright colors to distinguish them against their surroundings.  It's the little touches such as that which really hooked me in.

All in all, this is a superb and well written introduction to the characters that will no doubt be main players in the 'Guardians' world.  You're told just enough to get hooked in to the story and their world.  I also really thought that telling the prologue in two parts was a brilliant writing decision and helped to raise the quality above the other indie superhero titles out there.

The team behind this title are definitely one to keep an eye on and I for one, will be getting the next issue to see just where the 'Guardians' are going to take us next.

Story 7.5/10
Art 8.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

To try 'Guardians'  Issue 0 for free here!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hatchet 3 Pre-Release Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Adam Green

Directed By
BJ McDonnell

A Dark Sky Films, ArieScope Pictures Film

Genre
Horror, Comedy

Cast

Danielle Harris as Marybeth
Kane Hodder as Victor Crowley
Zach Galligan as  Sheriff Fowler
Caroline Williams as Amanda
Parry Shen as Andrew
Robert Diago DoQui as Deputy Winslow
Sean Whalen as Randy
Sid Haig as Abbott McMullen

Certificate 18

Synopsis

A search and recovery team heads into the haunted swamp to pick up the pieces and Marybeth learns the secret to ending the voodoo curse that has left Victor Crowley haunting and terrorizing Honey Island Swamp for decades.

Review

As a big fan of the first two 'Hatchet' movies, I couldn't wait to get my nerdy little hands on the third, and some say final, installment in the series.  The one worry I had was would it match up to the superb first two movies considering the director wasn't returning for part three?

Well, it lived up to the first two and then some.  By the looks of it, if the series does continue, Adam Green left it in some very safe directorial hands in the shape of BJ McDonnell.

One of the things that I liked was that while Adam Green handed over the directorial reins to McDonnell, he chose someone that had been been with  the series from the start and I liked that.  It meant that we didn't lose the things that made the first two movies so popular amongst us gorehounds out there and if there's one thing that this movie has in spades, it's gore by the bucketful.

If you have seen the first two movies at all then you most definitely know what to expect because this third installment has all of those things and more.  Dark comedic moments, gore, inventive deaths, some great and practical special effects and a great cast featuring a couple of horror legends.  What more could you want from a movie?

The story itself follows on directly from the second so if you haven't seen that one then you may be slightly lost at first.  However, don't worry too much about that as you will  get caught up pretty quickly.  One of the things about these movies that I like is that while they're not going to exactly tax your brain, you will most definitely be entertained.

One of the strengths of this movie is that the links to the first two in the series are really well explored and come in to play nicely throughout the movie itself.  Some more of the killers back story was revealed, there were some absolutely hilarious moments and, lets be honest here, there are tons of lines that you will be quoting long after the movie has ended.

The main thing that sets this movie apart from the massive surge of slasher movies out there is that through all the blood, guts and gore that fill up the movie, there's an underlying sense of fun to proceedings and I really like that.  Maybe it's my own twisted sense of humor but I was howling with laughter at some of the dialogue and scenes dotted throughout the movie.

Cast wise, there are some really fun performances here.  You have the massively intimidating Kane Hodder here as, yep you guessed it, the brutal killer that rips people apart.  You have Sean Whalen, yes Roach from 'People Under the Stairs', as a forensic officer and you always have Captain Spaulding, Sid Haig, himself as a racist hobo who bangs heads with one of the members of the police force in really un-PC way.

All in all, this is a superb movie.  You have a great cast, blood and gore to satisfy the gorehounds and some darkly comedic laughs to be had along the way.  If this is the movie that the series ends on then it's ended on a high and you can't say that about most horror trilogies can you?

Movie 8/10


The Godfather Treasures Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Peter Cowie

Published By
Sevenoaks

Genre
Movie Making, Memorabilia

Synopsis

The Godfather is one of the most famous films ever made, thrilling successive generations since it was first released in 1972.  Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel of the Italian-American family embroiled in Mafia affairs achieved new levels of excellence in the history of film production and many snippets of dialogue have become iconic sayings.

The Godfather Treasures tells the story of how the film was made - how Coppola and Puzo set about turning the book in to a script; how the cast of actors headed by Marlon Brando, who would forever be associated with his role as Don Corleone, was assembled and how the vivid locations in New York and Sicily provided the most authentic backdrops to Coppola's inspired direction.

Celebrating the many aspects of the original creation - from the music to the costumes and cinematography - this highly illustrated book, which includes many rare behind-the-scenes photographs, explains how Coppola and his team brought the story to the screen and how the family's history continued in The Godfather Part II and Part III. 

It provides the ultimate memento for any movie buff's collection with the inclusion of 15 facsimile documents selected from the Archives of Paramount Pictures, such as:
  • Original Posters of all three films
  • Sound cue sheets
  • A brochure detailing the work involved in creating Marlon Brando's prosthetic teeth
  • A letter assessing the likely rating to be given to the film
  • Notes on the final title billing
  • Pages of a dialogue script
Review

I absolutely love the 'Godfather' trilogy.  In fact, I can honestly say that it's one of the few trilogies that I can watch again and again without getting bored of it.

One of the beautiful things about the three movies is that no matter how many times you have sat and watched them from beginning to end, you still wind up seeing something you didn't notice any of the other times.  You can't really say that about a lot of movies can you?

When I saw this book in a shop and saw just what kind of goodies would be included in the set, I knew right there and then that I had to buy it  so I did.  Much to my wife's chagrin, considering just how many books I have already.  You know what?  It was worth every single penny.

This book, written by Peter Cowie, is a veritable treasure trove of goodies and behind the scenes gems that will hook in fans of the movie and movie buffs in general.  Not a single piece of information is left untouched and that gives us a truly informative experience.  I can't tell you enough of just how much you will find to read and look at in this book.  The way it's written leaves no doubt that this was 100% a labor of love for Peter Cowie.  He gives the trilogy the level of respect that it deserves and when you add that to the memorabilia that comes with the book then you are seriously in for a treat.

All in all, this is one of the best movie making books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  Looking through all of the bits and pieces here was a bit like unwrapping birthday presents.  Maybe that's just the massive movie nerd in me talking but I would definitely class this as an essential purchase, especially if you love the movies.

Presentation 10/10
Informative 10/10
Recommended 10/10
Overall 30/30 

The Werewolf Speaks: An Interview with Butch Patrick from 'The Munsters'


COASM is proud to welcome none other than Butch Patrick, Eddie from The Munsters, in to our little part of the Internet to talk to Patrick Scattergood about his career, his inspirations and much more.

PS: Firstly, welcome to our little geeky part of the Internet Mr Patrick.

PS: You began your acting career in 1961 in the fantasy movie ‘The Two Little Bears’. What made you want to get in to the acting world?

BP: I went with my sister to a photo shoot.

PS: In 1964, you gained your best known role as Eddie in ‘The Munsters’. How did that legendary role come about and what drew you to the show?

BP:  I was living in Illinois at the time and was flown out for a screen test after Hollywood had looked everywhere. 

PS: I’m sure that there are many but what would you say is your favorite memory of your time on the show?

BP:  Riding in the 'Munster Koach'.

PS: 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the show. Do you have any plans to mark the occasion at all?

BP:  A 'Munster Memories' book.

PS: There are always rumors of ‘The Munsters’ being turned in to a movie or a new television series. What would you think of a new version of the show?

BP:  They did 'Mockingbird Lane' two years ago and I like it.

PS: You’re known for doing a lot of conventions and being very personable with your fans. Has this lead to any funny moments?

BP:  Meeting people who were called Eddie because of their hairline or looking at tattoos of myself.


PS: One of the best things I’ve read about you recently is that you’ve become ordained as a minister for people who want to be married by a ‘Munster’. How did they come about?

BP:  My sister again had a dream.

PS: Congratulations on your third year of sobriety. What prompted you to make such a live changing choice?

BP:  I was tired of being tired and friends of mine found the Oasis Treatment center.

PS: If anyone is suffering from addiction, what advice would you give them?

BP:  Seek help wherever you can.  GET ON IT!!  Take action!!

PS: Where can your fans see you next?

BP:  Various personal appearances and upcoming roles in TV and movies.  They can also check out my Facebook, Twitter and Tumbler.  Also come and check out www.munsters.com as well.

PS: Many thanks for taking the time to talk to us here today. It’s been an absolute honor.

Fantastic Four: Lost Adventures Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Stan Lee

Art By
Jack Kirby
Ron Fenz
Joe Sinnott
Chris Sotomayor
John Buscema
John Romita Sr.
John Romita Jr.
Scott Hanna
Morry Hollowell
Jim Shooter
Barry Windsor-Smith
Kerry Gammill
Al Milgrom
Marc Silvestri
Jerry Ordway
Vince Colletta
Bob Wiacek
Klaus Janson
Steve Leialoha
Joe Rubenstein
Nick Dragotta
Mike Allred
Laura Allred

Lettering By
Artmonkey's Dave Lanphear
Sam Rosen
Virtual Calligraphy's Joe Caramagna
John Workman
Rus Wooton

Cover By
John Romita Jr.

Published By
Marvel

Genre
Science Fiction, Superhero, Action

Synopsis

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made pop-culture history during the 1960's with their landmark run on Fantastic Four.

Unabridged for 102 consecutive issues, the legacy of their work together has influenced the imaginations of comic-book creators and pop-art innovators.
And guess what?  It's time to make room for a 103rd issue!

Newly unearthed by comics archaeologists, a lost classic by Stan and Jack has made it into the hands of astonished FF fans everywhere.  Featuring art by Kirby, much of which has never been seen by the public, this restoration project was finished off with scripting by Stan and inked by legendary FF delineator Joe Sinnott - making a reunion of the dynamic combo that made the Marvel Age of Comics so scintillatingly super and undeniably influential!

Rounding out the contents of this collection are three other classic stories by Stan Lee that explore many different facets of Marvel's First Family and the universe they helped found.

All have one thing in common: the heart, soul, wit and charm of Stan 'The Man' Lee.

Collecting Fantastic Four: The Lost Adventure, The Fantastic Four Story, "If This Be...Anniversary!" from Fantastic Four #543 and Fantastic Four #296

Review

With a new 'Fantastic Four' movie on the horizion, I figured I would take a look at a collection of stories that not all FF fans might have seen.
When it was announced that a missing 'Fantastic Four' story that had art by Jack Kirby, arguably one of the greatest comic book artists in the comic book world, and written by the legendary Stan Lee, I was massively excited to see where the masters of the comic book medium were going to take one of their most famous creations.

I have to admit that a collection with three different versions of the same seemed a little over kill, even to a massive FF fan such as myself.

You have a version of the story at the beginning called 'The Menace of the Mega-Men', then you have the original pencil drawings by Jack Kirby along with notes by Stan Lee and then you have a version of that story called 'The Monstrous Mystery of the Nega-Man' as well.  And yes, he was called 'Nega-Man' in that one because he went in to the Negative Zone.  All of  these were very similar but with different panel placing and dialogue.  One also had a different ending entirely.  While it was good to see the differences between the three, it just felt a little like over kill having one after another but that said, there really wasn't any other way they could have done it without it still feeling like repeating themselves.

Another story here called 'World's End' was a cracker of a story.  I really liked that one and the art from Romita Jr., really brought the story to life in a really big way.  However, while I did like the story, some of Stan Lee's writing seemed a little hit and miss during a couple of small parts during the story.

We also had a story called 'Homecoming' that had a myriad of some of the biggest Marvel names take part in creating a story and we had a funny one to close out the collection that featured Stan Lee himself as a hero in a tale called 'If This Be...Anniversary!'.

All in all, there were some great moments both art wise and story wise in this collection but also some rather hit and miss moments as well so in all honesty, I felt a little disappointed with this release.  It was the sort of release that held the promise of so much and sounded like it would be amazing on paper yet in reality just seemed like a normal issue.  That's a bit of a shame because the collection should have felt like it was a special, once in a life time experience for the readers but sadly it didn't have that.

That said, this is still a good collection and is a really interesting addition to the collections of the fans out there because you get to see how a story can evolve depending on who is working on it.  As a writer myself, I found that interesting to see different takes on a story.  Maybe one for the more hardcore fans out there.

Story 6/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 6/10
Overall 28/40

Saturday, 22 February 2014

WesterNoir: Book 4 Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Dave West

Art By
Gary Crutchley

Cover By
Gary Crutchley
Matt Soffe

Published By
Accent UK

Genre
Action, Western, Supernatural

Synopsis

Murder,  betrayal, guns, death and revelations.

Which of these will Josiah Black, legendary hunter of the supernatural be deeply involved in?

Review

As readers to this site will know, I am a massive fan of the first three WesterNoir books.  The way that West and Crutchley combine the supernatural with the classic western genre earned them a place in the first ever year end awards on this site and deservedly so.

After the absolutely gripping first three books, the third in particular being a great look at the different layers of the Josiah Black character, I was wondering just how they were going to keep the momentum of each issue being better  than the last going.

In all honesty, not only did they did the momentum going, this issue eclipsed the absolutely superb third issue and created such a  gripping story that I couldn't put the book down.  One of the things that I liked was the fact that the emotion of the third issue was carried on here without missing a single beat.  In fact, there were a couple of moments that expanded on that in such a way that when the twist in the end came, it felt like a full on sledgehammer hit.  After reading that ending I seriously can't wait to see where the character is going to be taken now he has some extra knowledge as to what is actually happening around him.

As always the art by Gary Crutchley is positively superb and really helps to bring out the drama and the dread running through the issue.  That's especially true for the massive twist in the final third of the book and very much so on the tragically gorgeous last page as well.  Crutchley also has a supreme knack of being able to bring out just the right details in each panel to have the right impact and once again he puts that strength to great use here.

Together Crutchley and West have crafted, by far, one of the best releases by Accent UK.  It's also by far, the best of the WesterNoir books as well.  With the ending that's here as well as the fantastic twists, turns and revelations that they impart on the readers, this is definitely one of the best British comic books that I have read in a very long time.  If you haven't gotten this one already than I can't urge you enough to get this in your collection.

Story 9/10
Art 9/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 36/40

Kensington Gore's Twisted Tails Announcement


Hello guys and girls,

As you dear readers of this blog know, one of the first stories I ever had published appeared in a charity collection entitled 'Kensington Gore's Twisted Tails', that was released to raise much needed funds for the charity RSPCA.

Previously it was only available in an E-Book format but now, it's available in paperback!  Yes that's right people, you too can have this brilliant  collection of short stories on your book shelves but who is in the book?  Well, get your eyes around this list!

Kensington Gore
Graeme Parker
Maria Olsen (yes, the hardest working woman in horror also writes!)
Leesa Wallace
K.A. Hambly
Terry Tyler
Will Chandler
L.A. Ferris
Payton Autumn
Patrick Challis
Hache L. Jones
Gerry Guarino

I wrote my story, 'The Scared Crow', under my original surname of Challis, after reading a story about a parent that had gone to majorly extreme lengths to protect their child and it started to make me think.  What exactly would a parent do to protect someone?  And more so, what would they do if their mind was completely fractured?

While my writing has improved since then, as my confidence has grown, this is still one of my favorite stories out of all the ones I have written.

There's some amazing stories in this collection too.  You even get one from the amazing authors Leesa Wallace, Hache Jones and Kensington Gore!  Not only that but you get a story from the horror legend herself, the hardest working woman in horror Maria Olsen!  Plus the proceeds from the book go to a well deserving charity so what's stopping you?

If you are still undecided, read this review from the amazing author Sharon Stevenson.

'Kensington Gore's Twisted Tails' is a collection of twisted short stories, each featuring an animal in some very different ways. I would say most of these stories could be classed in the horror genre but there's some sci-fi and humour thrown into the mix also.

Normally I find collections from a variety of authors like this to be a bit of a mixed bag but I'm glad to say that wasn't the case with this well compiled collection. Each story was satisfying in it's own way and all of them were of a well written standard. I enjoyed My Wife Bob, The Scared Crow, The Lucky Rabbit's Foot and Kensington Gore's own short stories the most. My Wife Bob was twisted in a clever and amusing way. The Scared Crow was atmospheric and spooky with a very unexpected twist. The Lucky Rabbit's Foot read a bit like a fable and it both horrified and amused me. Kensington Gore's stories were immensely entertaining.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading these fantastic stories and was entertained from start to finish. I would recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys a good short story. The collection has been put together very well and not only that, the profits also go to charity. What more can you really ask for?

Well for those of you that want to get a copy and help the charity then here are the links.

For UK Amazon customers click here! 

For USA Amazon customers click here!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Vincent Graphic Novel Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Barbara Stok

Translated By
Laura Watkinson

Art and Cover By
Barbara Stok

Published By
Self Made Hero

Genre
Biographical

Synopsis

The turbulent life of Vincent van Gogh continues to serve as a source of inspiration for many people.

In this graphic novel, artist and writer Barbara Stok takes the reader on a journey to the brief and intense period of time that the painter spent  in the south of France.

Vincent dreams of setting up an artists' house in Arles for himself and his friends.  However, his attacks of mental illness confuse and disorient him, culminating in the notorious incident with his ear and leaving his dreams shattered.

Throughout all of this, Vincent's brother Theo stands by him, offering constant and unconditional support.

Van Gogh was passionate about his art.  His ideas about success, setbacks and how to create a meaningful life provide an interesting counterpoint to our age of individualism and commercialism.

Stok has succeeded in turning the experiences of this 19th-century artist into a story that is relevant to our own times.

Review

I've always been interested in both the life of Van Gogh and his supremely beautiful art as well as how it came from such a pained soul as his.  I've read biographies, critical essays and even watched movies and documentaries about the great man so when I was given the chance to read this graphic novel, I was incredibly excited to see just how Barbara Stok would tell his tragic story.

The first thing that struck me about this graphic novel is just how beautiful it looks.  The style of art reminded me a little bit of the art in the 'Tin Tin' books by Herge.  It's colorful and sometimes cartoon nature really brought the story to life in such a vivid way that I spent ages just looking at the panels on the page.

Using such a bright and colorful motif in the graphic novel was an incredibly brave and unique move by Stok, who also illustrated this look at the legendary artists life as well as writing it.  Her obvious skill and eye for color really bring the story to life and when Van Gogh inevitably falls in to his great moods of depression and self harm, the bright colors are such a contrast to the darkness of what is happening in his mind that each and every scene are memorable.  When he succumbs to his infamous moment involving his ear, the beauty of the art makes it even more heartbreaking than it already was.

Talking of beautiful, the writing here more than does the life story of Van Gogh justice.  In fact, the tragic story becomes even more heartbreaking and I found myself tearing up many times and just wanting someone to hug the man himself and tell him it will be OK.  The way Stok includes the letters to and from Van Gogh's brother Theo is a master stroke of brilliance.  Sometimes they're in stark contrast to what is happening in the art set during the panels and other times they do a superb job of underscoring the pain and suffering.

After reading the book of Van Gogh's letters, which I also reviewed on this site, I was wondering how they could come in to play within the format of a graphic novel but like I said, they are used in such a breath taking way that I couldn't help but well up when I was reading them.

It was obvious that this graphic novel was an intense labor of love for Barbara Stok.  Van Gogh is such a tragic yet brilliant figure that sometimes people fall in to the trap of creating him in to some sort of saintly figure but that's not true here.  He is soon for all his flaws yet also still as an intensely sympathetic and sensitive soul.

I honestly can't recommend this look at the life of the legendary Vincent van Gogh high enough.  Not only is one of the best biographies of one of the best artists that the world has ever had the pleasure of seeing but it is also one of the best graphic novels that I have read not only recently but since I became a fan of the comic book genre itself.  I'm not normally one for hyperbole but this release by the superb Self Made Hero is well deserving of every mark that I have given it.

Story 10/10
Art 10/10
Cover 10/10
Recommended 10/10
Overall 40/40

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Darkest Night Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Mike Ramon

Published By
Self Published

Genre
Ghost, Horror

Synopsis

On the first day of summer a young girl disappears after climbing through a broken window into an abandoned building that was once an orphanage. 

Now Frankie, her brother and only witness to her disappearance, Tom, a newspaper reporter and recent widower, and Patricia, a woman with her own connection to the old orphanage, along with three paranormal researchers, will try to untangle the secrets and mysteries of the place they call the Home. 

Review

I love to read haunted house stories, ghost stories and pretty much every in between so when I had a chance to sit down and read another one in the shape of 'The Darkest Night' by Mike Ramon, I was quite excited.

The premise of this book really hooked me in and I honestly couldn't wait to see just where Ramon was going to take the idea.

While for the most part, the story worked really well but there were a couple of things that hurt the over all quality a little bit.  There were a couple of mistakes that a bit of last minute editing could have fixed but they weren't so bad as to distract the reader.  Just made them seem a little bit out of place.  The other thing that I feel hurt the story was Ramon's over reliance on describing everything too much.  There were times where the old term less is more would have definitely worked very well here.  If Ramon could have refrained from over explaining a few bits here and there and maybe not explain a couple of things that had only just happened then this story would have flowed brilliantly well.

The only other thing that kind of bugged me was the cover.  The picture used was brilliant but then the cover and author name was plastered over the top of it in what looked like a haphazard way.  I think the main annoyance of that was the font used.  For a subtle story such as this one, a little less in your face font would have gone a long way.

That said, there are a hell of a lot of good moments in this story.  The haunting / ghost part of the story works really well and had a genuinely spooky feel to it.  Some of the scenes reminded me a little bit of the movie called 'The Others' in that it had a subtle feeling of dread running through the story but just under the surface.  I've always liked it when horror and supernatural authors can get the line of dread running through a story like that and Ramon has done that very well here.

I know it may seem like I was quite down on this book but I don't mean it to sound so negative.  'The Darkest Night' is a good story with some really well done twists and turns throughout the book.  It's just the fact that Ramon seemed to feel the need to over explain a lot of things in the book and I found that really distracting in places.  Maybe if it had been streamlined a little more then the story would have reached the level of quality that it promised at the beginning.

Story 7/10
Characters 7/10
Cover 5/10
Recommended 6/10
Overall 25/40

Curse Issue 1 Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Michael Moreci
Tim Daniel

Art By
Riley Rossmo
Colin Lorimer

Lettering By
Jim Campbell

Cover By
Riley Rossmo (and 'Phantom' Variant Cover)
Colin Lorimer (Variant Cover and ECCC Exclusive Cover)

Published By
Boom! Studios

Genre
Horror

Synopsis

Laney Griffin is a man who will do anything to save his son from leukemia, but the cost of treatment has broken him financially. When he pursues an elusive murderer in the wilderness of his small, rural community, in the hopes of securing a substantial bounty, Laney is confronted with something he never could have expected: a werewolf. 

The captive lycan, in human form, turns Laney’s life upside-down, forcing him to confront his haunted past and race against the clock—because the wolf will return, and Laney’s son’s condition continues to worsen. 

CURSE is a story of a family’s survival at all costs.

Review

The good ol' werewolf has gotten a bit of a bad reputation recently.  Thanks to some really sub par movies, novels and comics, the once legendary Lycan has began to be seen as old fashioned and cliched.  That's a real shame as it has a good layer to make it in to a really sympathetic monster instead of just being evil for evil's sake.

When I read that Boom! Studios were going to be doing a werewolf story, I was actually a bit worried that it would end up being yet another story that would just get lost in the crowd.

I was very, very wrong.

Here Boom! Studios have put out an absolute cracker of a werewolf story that, at last, has bite.

Miichael Moreci and Tim Daniel have written both an exciting story yet one with a beautifully beating heart at the middle of it all.  Deep down this is a story of a father who will do absolutely anything to ensure that he can help his son get the leukemia treatment that he needs to survive.  I really was impressed with just how much of an emotional slant it put on what could have been just a normal 'man hunts lycan' story.

Another thing I noticed was the intelligence of the writing.  It's not just a bog standard good vs evil story.  There are multiple layers, multiple parts of the story that all merge together to create this dark, gritty tale yet it still manages to hook you in and immerse you in to the lives of the characters themselves.

All that said, there was one thing that struck me the most about this first issue and that's the absolutely stunning art by Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer.  I loved how they used really well placed splashes of colour to put a punch on to certain panels.  It really drags the eyes to the art work and really created a memorable looking issue for me.  I also liked the detailing and the dark, gritty feel of the art as well.  I wasn't all that familiar with Rossmo's and Lorimer's work but on the strength of what I have seen here, I will be checking them out a lot in the future.

If you are put off by this being a werewolf tale then don't be.  This debut issue of the new series from Boom! Studios is utterly brilliant and completely won me over 100% in to wanting to read the next ones.  There's the intelligent writing, some great pacing and all of that alongside some absolutely stunning art make this a must have debut issue.  For once there's a werewolf tale that not only has an emotional heart beating through it but also really hooks the readers in without falling in to the usual cliched traps.  Utterly brilliant.

Story 8/10
Art 9/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 9/10
Overall 35/40

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Dead Pulse Rising Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
K. Michael Gibson

Published By
Xlibris Corporation

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

Bioweapon or plague of Mother Nature, Kyle Walker Holds the Key. He just doesn't know it yet. 

Hunted by his own government, stalked by the people he once protected Kyle is faced with an impossible choice: Save all of humanity or rescue the family that he loves. 

What would you do?

Review

As a reviewer and blogger, I've read a lot of zombie stories and watched a lot of zombie movies as well to the point where it was started to feel a bit like overkill.  Then came the superb books by Joseph Souza and they reinvigorated my love for the genre.  Since then, I come in to reading a new one with renewed hope that I will get an exciting and action packed story.

The one question that I had before reading this book was would this debut novel by K. Michael Gibson match those heavy heights?

Well, the answer to that my zombie loving friends is a resounding yes.

Let's get one thing straight.  This is not like the brilliant Joseph Souza books.  They both have massively distinctive voices and that really hooked me in.  Gibson has a fast paced and action packed style that really grabs the reader and holds them in a death grip until the end of the book itself.

You could literally hear the flesh being torn off of the bodies of the victims, feel the pain of the afflicted.  Gibson's writing had a way of really getting you involved in the story and in the world that he has created for the characters to live and die in.  One of the weird things about this book is that while there are a few parts that seemed a little far fetched, Gibson's writing made them feel utterly plausible and like they really could happen.  That helped to get the story under my skin and made me want to read page after page to see what was going to happen next.

In the zombie genre, writers tend to gloss over their characters and that makes them all seemingly merge in to one.  That's a real shame because then the reader has no emotional link to the people involved and that hurts the story.  Here, that's not the case at all.  It's obviously the first book in a series so therefore you don't get to find out absolutely everything about the characters here.  For some readers, that might be a problem but I have personally always wondered why some readers seem to want everything spelled out for them but then complain that there is no new revelations in the next book.  Here, after that ending, I can't wait to see where the characters are going to go next, to see what new twists and turns Gibson is going to revel to his readers next.

If you want your zombie novels fast paced, balls to the wall and full of action then this is most definitely a book well worth picking up.  You can really tell that Gibson himself has an easy going relationship with nature and that he has a link to law enforcement with the little nods and links added in his story and with his characters.

I, for one, can't wait for get my hands on the next book in the series, especially after this superb debut.

Story 8/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

The Killers (1964) Pre-Release Blu-Ray Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Ernest Hemingway
Gene L. Coon

Directed By
Don Siegel (Billed as Donald Siegel)

A Revue Studios Film

Genre
Thriller, Crime

Cast

Lee Marvin as Charlie Storm
Angie Dickinson as Sheila Farr
John Cassavetes as Johnny North
Clu Gulager as Lee
Claude Akins as Earl Sylvester
Norman Fell as Mickey Farmer
Ronald Reagan as Jack Browning

Certificate 18

Synopsis

There is more than one way to kill a man...

"I gotta find out what makes a man decide not to run.  Why all of a sudden he'd rather die."

So muses hitman Charlie (Lee Marvin) after his high-priced victim Johnny North (John Cassavetes) gives in without a fight.  Obsessed with the answer, Charlie and his hot-headed associate Lee (Clu Gulager) track down Johnny's associates, and uncover a complex web of crime and deceit involving his femme fatale girlfriend Sheila (Angie Dickinson) and ruthless mob boss Jack Browning (Ronald Reagan in his last screen role).

Loosely inspired by the Ernest Hemingway story, and directed by Don Siegel (whose many other taut, efficient thrillers include Dirty Harry and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers), The Killers was commissioned as the very first 'TV movie', but was given a cinema release because of its violence - although a cast like that really belonged on the big screen in the first place. 

Special Features
  • Reagan Kills: interview with New York Times bestselling writer Marc Eliot, author of 'Ronald Reagan: The Hollywood Years'
  • Screen Killer: interview with Dwayne Epstein, author of 'Lee Marvin: Point Blank'
  • Archive interview with Don Siegel (1984) from the French television series 'Cinéma Cinémas'.
  • Gallery of rare behind-the-scenes images
  • Reversible sleeve featuring the original poster and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh 
  • Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mike Sutton, extracts from Don Siegel’s autobiography and contemporary reviews, illustrated with original lobby cards
Review

Give me a film noir or a movie about hitmen and I am a very happy movie nerd.  When you couple that with this, a movie that was intended to be the first ever television movie, a cast of some of the best actors and actresses of the era and directed by one of the best directors of the decade and you have one fantastic and classic movie.

'The Killers' ended up being released in cinemas instead of being shown on television because of it's high level of violence.  That said, a movie with a cast this good deserves to be on nothing other than the big screen.  A lot of the scenes here come across as a pure masterclass of acting and how to be subtle all while there is mountains of action around them.

Here Don Siegel has directed  a pure and utter classic movie of the 1960's that signaled the end of the Bogart / film noir era.  It not only signaled it with a massive increase of violence but also with harder hitting stories and grittier writing.  That's definitely evident here.  The movie comes across as both a full blown hitman movie, which should please the classic action movie fans out there, but also as a pure character driven movie showing that not even people paid to commit murder are completely immoral.  You really see the many layers of the characters here, especially that of Lee Marvin's character named Charlie Strom, who as the movie progresses, begins to not only doubt himself but also starts to drive himself crazy trying to get to the bottom of the mystery surrounding his 'target'.

Talking of Lee Marvin, this movie really sets him apart from the rest of the cast because of the sheer strength of his performance.  While the rest of the cast are really good, Marvin just stands head and shoulders above them all.  I strongly believe that this is the movie that really set his journey in to becoming one of the coolest character actors of the 60's and 70's.  The seeds for his transformation in to one of the best actors of his generation most definitely started here.

Viewers will also get a bit of a kick out of seeing the future American President Ronald Reagan in his last movie role as well.  

Once again, Arrow Films have crafted a fantastic release of a classic movie and filled the Blu-ray with some superb special features.  One of the massive strengths of Arrow Films is that they always manage to find things that even long time fans of the films they release may not have seen before.  That's the case here as well.  There were loads of behind the scenes bits and pieces that were so interesting to a movie nerd such as myself, especially the interviews.  I'm a sucker for a good interview and the ones here are fantastic.

Here, Arrow Films have released, yet again, an absolute classic movie and then give us fans some brilliant special features that will interest everyone from the hardcore fans to people that just want to see what the much lauded movie is about.

Definitely a movie well worth getting.

Movie 9/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 9/10
Special Features 8/10
Overall 34/40

'The Killers (1964)' is released on Blu-ray on February 24th.

Midsummer Nightmares Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Christina Alcorn
Ryan Stacy

Directed By
Ryan Stacy

A Concept Media Film

Genre
Horror

Cast

Julie Sherwood as Audrey Small
Chad Collard as Reese Nicols
Amanda Collins as Michele
Lisa Davis-Freeders as Tina Cross
Garrett Freeders as Gavin Cross
Stacy Freeders as Danielle Waters
Patricia Garner as Chrissy
Scott Gillespie as Rob Matthews




Certificate Unrated 

Synopsis

It's always just a party- until somebody gets killed! Audrey Small (Julie Sherwood) and three of her closest friends are preparing to throw a costume party, Midsummer Nightmares, which everyone calls 'the social event of the season. 

But there is someone in their midsts who would prefer to make this faux-bloodbath a real one. 

Can Audrey and her friends survive this mad individual's evil plan? Or will they all, one by one, be picked off...? 

Review

As a fan of indie horror movies and slasher movies, I was really eager to kick back and watch this one armed only with a drink and a big bugger of a bowl of popcorn but would it live up to the hope that I set for the movie?

Well, yes and no.

I'm not sure if it was intentional but with the glut of slasher movies coming out recently that hark back to the 1980's, the glory days of the slasher movie, 'Midsummer Nightmares' really has a feeling of being a low to mid budget 80's slasher.  I don't mean that in a bad way, far from it.  Slasher movies from the 80's always seemed to have a grimy charm to them.  That's quite evident here as well.

While the deaths aren't majorly inventive, they are quite well done.  It might not be a gore fest like the slashers of today but some of the deaths really looked good on the screen.  They had a bit of a weird mix of a nod to the 80's slasher death scenes and a knowing nod that comes from the post 'Scream' generation.

One of the things that did disappoint me was the dialogue in the movie.  The performances weren't awful by any stretch of the imagination but some of the dialogue felt quite stilted in places and there were also a few scenes where the lines just seemed really unneeded if I'm honest.  That was especially true with some of the scenes where two female characters were talking to one another.  It felt almost as if they were shouting instead of just talking and even when it did come across as a conversation, you didn't really learn anything about them or the story itself.

That said, that's the only thing that bugged me about the movie.  The performances aren't the best that Concept Media have had in a movie but at the same time, I've seen much worse in horror movies.  For the most part the characters were interesting but there were a couple that came across as quite unlikeable but the killer soon fixed that problem.

Other than the problem with there being some scenes with unneeded dialogue, the writing is actually well done and really shows a flair for choosing the right time for the reveals and the twists.  That alone raised the quality of  this above other indie horror movies that I have had the pleasure of seeing recently.

If you are an indie horror fan then you could definitely do a lot worse than getting to see this movie.  There are a few good death scenes here as well as some well done twists.  It's not the most original slasher movie I've ever seen but at the same time, there are some really awful ones out there so it was a nice change to get to see one that was put together well.

Movie 6/10

Monday, 17 February 2014

It Came! Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Dan Boultwood

Art, Lettering and Cover By
Dan Boultwood

Published By
Titan Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Comedy

Synopsis

A robot monster from Mars (possibly) has arrived in England's pleasant pastures, bringing giant knuckle sandwiches of exotic metal to the land of crumpets and bunting.

Doctor Boy Brett - pipe smoking astroboffin - and his skirt-wearing sidekick, Doris Night, are all that stands in the way of this cosmic colossus - two mortals trapped in a war of the worlds, challenging the unearthly fury of cosmic entities gone mad!

Prepare to have your stockings laddered by a terrifying battle of wits, shock full of thrills, from B-movie maestro and professional cad, Dan Boultwood!

Review

I've always had a major soft spot for the cheap and low to no budget B-movies that I grew up watching and still watch now.  The sheer level of cheese and fun in these movies never fail to cheer me up and make me smile no matter how bad the movie is.  The sets that look like they're going to fall over, the costumes that look like they're made of rubber and tin foil, the monsters that look like they've been made out of cardboard.  That all adds up to being a lot of fun to watch.  At least for me anyway.

Here in 'It Came', Dan Boultwood has captured that sense of fun, of cliches that make us laugh and the low budget humor that makes those sorts of movies so beloved.  He manages all of this while creating an undeniably affectionate pastiche of all things dorky.

One of the things that these sorts of titles normally fall down on is that instead of being an affectionate look at the things that make the B-movie popular, they can sometimes become a heavy handed spoof with none of the charm.  Boultwood doesn't fall in to that trap at all.

His writing here is fast paced, witty, fun and positively gripping right up to the final page.  'It Came' is one of those titles that once you pick up and begin reading, you just can't put it down again.  The sheer level of fun in this title made me actually think  I was reading a graphic novel based on an old movie or something.  It really wouldn't have been out of place as a black and white movie starring some of that eras biggest stars as well.  A lot of that is also down to Boultwood's art that goes hand in hand with his writing.  Just on the strength of the writing and art, you can really see that Boultwood has gone in to making this title with such affection for the kind of movies that have inspired this story so much.

I have to admit that 'It Came' is one of the funniest graphic novels that I have read in a very long time.  The wise cracks, the action, the quick pacing all add up to making this a hell of a fun ride for the rider and Boultwood's love for all things B-movie related really crank up the humor too.  Definitely one well worth picking up for both the science fiction fans but also the cheap low budget movie fans out there too.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Kensington Gore's Love Trilogy Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Contaiins
Grooms
Luna
Robot Love

Written By
Kensington Gore
Graeme Parker
Leesa Wallace

Published By
Kensington Gore Publishing

Genre
Comedy, Horror

Synopsis

In Kensington Gore's Love Trilogy the novella length stories are:

GROOMS - is a gay love story with a dark, comedic twist. It's a funny parody of those dark, satanic, "Wicker Man" country villages that we all fear being stuck in.

Bob & Terry, a recently married couple, go on their honeymoon to the seemingly quiet, quaint seaside village of Much-Humping-On-Sea.

However, it turns out to be the honeymoon from hell that goes from bad to worse. Eventually, it turns into what could be a deadly witch hunt!

As usual with Kensington Gore's Twisted Tales, there is a twist in the tale that shows even in this homophobic world, things might not be as straight as they first seem.

This novella length story by Kensington Gore is controversial and not PC.

ROBOT LOVE - Is set in the year 3000, men are obsolete and women are in full control.

Women are now waited on hand and foot, day and night, by fully functional robot men. That must serve their woman, please them and pleasure them.

But then something changes, love comes off the production line.

Will love conquer all? Will man survive?

This dark, romantic, trip into science fiction is a classic Kensington Gore twisted tale. An Orwellian style story of horror, love, desire and Robot Love.

"This is not a feminist story. This is a love story about the death of men, real men."
Kensington Gore
 
LUNA - Is a love story of epic proportions, that brings the moon and sun into focus and releases the animal desire and lust within us all.

Luna, is a young, beautiful but mysterious woman, who is being held captive and tortured with scientific tests to reveal her powers and secrets.

She finds love in this most unlikely of places with Sol, the son of her captor. Sol is the only light of her life.

This story, with its perfect blend of fantasy and horror, proves to be a very dark love story that shows Kensington Gore's twisted tales are going from strength to strength.

WARNING CONTAINS ADULT THEMES AND SEXUAL REFERENCES. 

Review

As everyone who visits this site knows, we're big fans of the series of stories called 'Kensington Gore's Twisted Tales' here.  Then his stories did their best impression of a bus.  We're waiting for another story and three come along at once in the shape of 'Kensington Gore's Love Trilogy'.

Well, with Valentine's Day out of the way for another year, there's still love in the air so I picked up this site and was wondering just what kind of love Mr Gore himself would be writing about.

We have 'Robot Love', which is a great satire set in a world where men are obsolete and women are in charge.  Men are just there to make up the numbers and in a story like this, it's so well written that on one page you will be howling with laughter and then on the very next page you'll be sat there shocked and waiting to see what will happen next.

We also have 'Grooms', which in this day and age of apparent tolerance and homophobia, 'Grooms' is by far the best title in this set.  That's not to say that the rest are poorer stories because that's massively far from the truth.  'Robot Love' and 'Luna' are utterly superb stories, it's just that this one is one of the funniest, most touching and kind of freaky tale that I've read in a long time.  It's definitely one of the best of Gore's stories by far, if not the best.  This is a tale of love, of wicker men and much more in this multi layered and well paced story.

Also in the trilogy we have 'Luna', a love story revolving around a werewolf.  Another one of Gore's stories written with Leesa Wallace along with 'Robot Love', shows just how great a partnership they are when it comes to writing these stories.  Once again, they've knocked one out of the park and show that you can mix horror, romance and humor without resorting to having sparkly vampires and werewolves that have to take their tops off for no reason.

All in all, this is an absolutely brilliant set.  It's at an incredibly low price and you are getting three positively brilliant stories that have great pacing, memorable characters and are delightfully un-PC.  Equal parts horrifying, touching and heartfelt, these are stories that are definitely worth picking up.

Story 8/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 7/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 31/40

Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman Issue 1 Review


Review By Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Tom Ward

Art and Cover By
Luke Parker

Lettering By
Nic J. Shaw

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

Merrick: The Sensational Elephantman is a Victorian adventure/horror/cape gaslamp comic set in 1880s' London. Based on a fictional version of the life of Joseph Merrick, it steps between historical facts and turn of the century folklore juxtaposed with the American superhero comic conventions of super powers, masks, secret identities and fantastic adventures.

Recommended for mature readers.

Review

I have to admit that when I saw the cover for this I thought that Mike Mignola had come out with another comic book but I was wrong.  The art styles are similar on the surface but there are many little differences to tell the two apart but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

I've always been interested in seeing and reading stories about Joseph Merrick, better known as The Elephantman.  The tragic and short life that this man lived has gone down in the stuff of legend and therefore has been the inspiration for many movies, books and even comic books.

Here, the character makes an appearance in a new comic book series written by Tom Ward.  I must admit that I was a little hesitant at first with this one purely because of the fact that there have been  so many stories featuring the character that I really wasn't sure what they could do with him that hadn't already been done a hundred times before.

Well, I have to admit when I'm wrong and I was very wrong with this one.  I loved this first issue and it really does a good job of setting up the rest of the series.  In a couple of reviews that I've read about this first issue, they've picked out that the relationship between Treves and Merrick isn't fully explored and that you only see the villain of this story told in Merrick's flashback.  I think that's a bit of a pointless complaint if I'm honest because this is only the first issue so obviously they're not going to throw every single bit of revelation in to the story straight away.  That would be silly in that it would leave nothing else for future issues.

In my opinion, I really enjoyed the story for this debut issue.  It moved along at a cracking pace and has made me massively eager to read the next part of the story.  The fast paced writing of Ward really throws you in to the story and leaves you wondering just where the story is going to be taken next and you can't ask for more than that can you?  I'm looking forward to the second issue so I can see just what exactly left Merrick hurt to that degree, to see more of the villain revealed and to explore more of the relationship between Merrick and Treves.  If this issue is anything to go by then there are going to be some great twists and turns in store for the readers in future issues.

Art wise, there is a most definite Mike Mignola inspiration in Luke Parker's work and that is both a massive strong point but also a bit of a weakness too.  It's a strength because the art really stands out and really makes the Victorian setting come to life.  They also really make the look of the characters memorable.  However it's a weakness because if you aren't a fan of the Mignola style of artwork then you may be a little put off by the art here and that would be a real shame because you would be missing out on a quality comic book.

As a debut issue, this one has definitely grabbed my interest enough to want to get my hands on the next issue and that's pretty much the job a first issue needs to do isn't it?  The story is fast paced, you learn enough of the characters to want to see more of them explored in the future and you can't ask for more than that from a debut can you?

Story 8.5/10
Art 7.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 32/40

You can download the first issue for free from here!

You can also pledge to their Kickstarter campaign here!