Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Evidence (2013) DVD Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
John Swetnam

Directed By
Olatunde Osunsanmi

A Bold Films, FilmEngine, Marc Platt Productions Film

Genre
Horror, Found Footage

Cast

Caitlin Stasey as Rachel
Radha Mitchell as Detective Burquez
Stephen Moyer as Detective Reese
Nolan Gerald Funk as Tyler Morris
Harry Lennix as Ben
Torrey DeVitto as Leann
Dale Dickey as Katrina Fleishman

Certificate
15

Synopsis

A team of homicide detectives attempt to piece together what happened at the scene of a brutal massacre using a number of recording devices found at the crime scene.  The footage reveals a group of passengers stranded in the desert when their bus is derailed while on their way to Las Vegas.

With no signal or water they make their way to a nearby abandoned warehouse to find help.  However, things soon go from bad to deadly when a mysterious masked killed, equipped with a blowtorch, turns on the group and they are ruthlessly murdered one by one.

Special Features
  • None

Review

As frequent visitors to this site know, I'm not that big a fan of the found footage genre in itself.  Yes there are some good to great ones in the genre but for the most part, they all seem to follow near identical plot lines and points, coming across as copies of one another.

Yet when I saw that this one would both combine the normal style of horror movie with the found footage style, I was intrigued to see if they would make the two mesh without it becoming too disjointed and confusing.

After watching this, I must admit that while it didn't exactly break new ground for me, it was still a hell of a lot better than some of the other additions to the genre that I have seen.

For a start, the movie itself has a pretty good cast with Radha Mitchell, Stephen Moyer and Henry Lennix involved.  I'm a big Lennix fan after seeing him in the '24' series so it was a bit of a blast seeing him in this too but the three of them weren't really in it for that long, leaving the rest of the movie to be carried by a group of people I hadn't really heard of that well.

There were a couple of times where the cast members kind of merged in to one another and it became a little tricky to follow who was playing whom but unlike most found footage movies, there were some great moments of clarity from a few of them.

However, that said, one thing did bother me a little.  Stephen Moyer's portrayal of Detective Reese was good, making him haunted and I wanted to see more of him yet other than a couple of moments where his dialogue moved the plot along, he wasn't really used that effectively.

That said,  the cast do a pretty good job with the movie itself.  You can't really help but get pulled along with their fear and their panic in places.  It's true that the dialogue is a little stilted in places but it's a lot better than a lot of other horror movies I've seen recently.

Another thing that I liked about the movie was the blending of the two styles.  You would get sucked in to the found footage parts but before it could start to grate on the viewers nerves, it would cut to the normal part of the movie and show the detectives trying to make sense of the footage.  It was a brave move by the movie makers to go that route but it works pretty well for the most part.

However, there were a couple of moments that took me out of the movie slightly.  One thing that has always bugged me about the found footage genre is that people in the movie film while scared for their lives or they film while their friends are getting brutally murdered.  That's always bugged me but with a genre like this, it's kind of the nature of the beast really.  If you didn't see the murders or them running away then you wouldn't have a movie.

I would have loved to have seen a couple of special features or even just a commentary to see and hear just why they attempted to go this route with 'Evidence' because while it's not the most original movie I've ever seen, it is a brave attempt at making a movie that would stand out from an already over saturated genre.  I still would have loved to have seen a little bit more of Moyer's character though.

All in all, it's true that not all the movie is 100% successful, there is still a lot to recommend it to horror fans despite it's relatively disappointing score on IMDB.  Well worth renting at the very least.

Movie 7/10
Picture 7/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features N/A
Overall 22/30


The Dark Blood of Poppies Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Freda Warrington

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Horror, Romance

Synopsis

A tale of seduction, power...and blood

The ballerina Violette Lenoir has fallen victim to the bite of the vampire Charlotte.  Her fire and energy have fuelled a terrifying change and dreadful realisations; that Violette has become Lilith, the demon mother of all vampire.

Haunted both by what she has done and by Violette's dark sensuality, Charlotte and her immortal lover Karl are drawn towards the dancer and the terrible destiny that has fallen on her shoulders.

But other, far more dangerous shadows are gathering around Violette.  She poses a threat to the vampire Sebastian and the heirs of Kristian, and their plans to bring all of mankind under their dark wings...

Review

There have been so many vampire novels that mix both horror and romance that it's sometimes hard to find ones that stand out from the crowd.  There are some amazing authors in the genre such as Anne Rice and Tanya Huff but there have also been some that are, well, not so amazing.

Freda Warrington is one of those writers in the vampire sub genre that manages to merge romance, sexuality, horror and action all without falling prey to most of the cliches that befall a lot of writers in that world.  Her characters always seem to be clearly written, with multiple layers and motivations as well as having a touch of Anne Rice about her stories.  She does all of that while maintaining her unique and lyrical style of writing.

In this novel, she has crafted a dark world with a feeling of Gothic grandeur yet with an air of realism to the story as well.  I loved the lyrical nature of her prose because it flows in such a way that it turns in to one of those 'just one more page' novels and before you know it, you're halfway through the story itself.  That's not to say that the pacing is too fast, far from it.  It's near enough pitch perfect in it's execution.

The characters are given time to grow and develop as the action flows from the page.  In fact, it's almost as if you are watching a long running television series.  You grow to feel like you are involved in their lives and emotions.  That really works on some of the scenes where they interact with one another.  You can almost envision them and really can't help but want to find out what happens next.

Another strength of Warrington's writing is that she can really make the surroundings and the settings seem just as important a part of the story as the characters themselves.  In fact, I would even say that the writing has a real cinematic flair to it.  I love books that can really make you feel like you are there and Warrington has really done a superb job of that here.

Normally, I do find that these sorts of books can sometimes meander and there are times when loose ends don't really get tied up.  Yet here that's not the case and the ending has really made me want to grab yet more of her books.

All in all, considering I'm not the biggest fan of this genre in the world, this book did an amazing job of not only gripping me in but making me want to not put the book down at all.  Considering the fact that the book has a length of over 500 pages, the pacing made it seem like half that length but without sacrificing any character or plot development.  Definitely one to pick up if you're a vampire fan.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40

Monday, 28 April 2014

'Dignity in Hope' Press Announcement


Article By
Patrick Scattergood

Hello readers, first time visitors and long time fans.

As you know, I'm a fledgling comic book writer as well as a reviewer but there are somethings in life that are more important than that.

One of those things is helping and giving to people that need it and this announcement is one of the few ways that I know how to do that.

It is with great pleasure that I announce that coming soon will be a comic book anthology.  Nothing unusual there you may say and that's a fair comment but bare with me.

The collection will be called 'Dignity in Hope' and will be raising much needed funds for the Marie Curie charity.  The aim is, other than the obvious of raising money that will hopefully help a lot of people and their families coping with such a horrible condition, but to also create something that is just as varied as the marvelous care that these amazing people provide.

Be prepared for a collection with horror stories, funny stories, great artwork, superhero stories, even a couple of pages of photography and insight from some truly amazing photographers that I know.

With that, I am pleased to announce some of the members of the creative team, albeit not all as I want there to obviously be some surprises right?

  • Myself
  • David McCluskey
  • Andrew Morrice
  • James Mulholland
  • Paul Barnes
  • Lydia Evans

There are more names to be announced along with a series of chats and interviews over the coming weeks to delve you deeper in to the project.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Arrow Films Present Bunker 6 & Day of the Dead Event Announcement

 DARE YOU BRAVE THE THE BUNKER OF THE DEAD?

Arrow Video has a very special treat in store for lovers of the macabre this FRIDAY, 25th April

We’re very pleased to be teaming up with SCI-FI-LONDON festival to present an evening of ghoulish delight, featuring the UK premiere of Canadian chiller BUNKER 6 alongside a screening of the underground-set zombie classic DAY OF THE DEAD! But that’s not the really scary part – in keeping with the bunker theme, the entire evening will unfold within the creepy confines of a genuine World War II bunker in Dalston, North East London. Have you got the guts to descend into the dark, dank recesses below the streets of the capital and face your gravest fears? And, assuming you make it that far, will you be able to hold onto those guts of yours when you encounter the flesh-hungry living dead which lurk deep in the bunker’s bowels???

DATE: FRIDAY 25th APRIL

TIME: 6:30PM PLACE: ABBOT ST, LONDON E8 3DP (nearest tube Dalston Kingsland, Overground)


More info here:

Facebook event:

Tickets here:
http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bunker-6-day-of-the-dead-tickets-11297006651

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Shadowman: End Times Issue 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Peter Milligan

Art By
Valentine De Landro
Livesay
David Baron

Lettering By
Dave Lanphear

Cover By
Giuseppe Camuncoli
Jeff Dekal
David Mack

Published By
Valiant

Genre
Horror, Action

Synopsis

Jack never knew his father.  But the orphan was possessed by the same wicked loa - an exile from the voodoo pantheon - that has bonded with generations of his ancestors.  Jack inherited his father's legacy of the night...and became the Shadowman.

Although the loa grants its hosts tremendous power for good, it charges an evil price, and corrupts a mans soul.

Virtually no one could help Jack control the loa.  Not the Abettors, a magical order sworn to train and aid the Shadowman, who tried to kill Jack for being dangerously unfit for the job.  And not Punk Mambo, a charismatic voodoo priestess raised in posh UK boarding schools on a steady diet of Sid Vicious.  But Alyssa could.  The junior Abettor who helped train Jack fell in love with him, and together their love calmed Jack's inner turmoil, and allowed him to tame the loa's struggle to break him.

For now...

Review

The 'Shadowman' stories that Valiant have been putting out recently have had a steady flow of quality twists and turns throughout the series.

This three part mini series focuses in on another part of that work with Jack as the Shadowman.  I must admit that when I read that there would be a three issue story, I wasn't sure how it would match up to the actual series itself.  

Knowing that this is Valiant, I need not have worried in the slightest.  The methodical pacing of this, the first issue of the three, really works to it's advantage.  You get the back story, you get to know the characters and it does a brilliant job of building the tension up to the revelation at the end of the issue.  With the flow here so spot on, Peter Milligan has done a fantastic job of making a first issue that not only grabs you in from the very beginning but also makes you want to grab issue two as soon as you possibly can.

Art wise, what we have here really helps to accentuate the feeling of dread and general creepiness that the writing creates.  It made me think of the old horror movies that I grew up watching in the evenings.  The panel work really flows to such a degree that you really can't take your eyes off the art.  The gothic nature of the art really does a stand up job of giving the characters multiple layers that the writing had set in motion.  If the art is going to stay at this level then I will definitely be picking up the other issues of this story.

If you have been reading the 'Shadowman' series thus far, then you are going to be very impressed with this spin off.  They keep the atmosphere and the creepiness of the series as well as giving the readers some new information about the popular title as well as being easy for the new fans to get in to.  The best thing about this release is that even if you haven't read any of the other series, you will still be instantly gripped in.

Well worth picking up.

Story 8/10
Art 8/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 8/10

Blind Woman's Curse Dual Format Review


AKA
The Tattooed Swordswoman
Black Cat's Revenge

Japanese with English Subtitles

Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Teruo Ishii
Chusei Sone

Directed By
Teruo Ishii

A Nikkatsu Film

Genre
Action, Fantasy

Cast

Meiko Kaji as Akemi Tachibana
Hoki Tokuda as Aiko Gouda
Makoto Sato as Tani Shouichi
Hideo Sunazuka as Kantaro
Shiro Otsuji as Senba-tatsu
Toru Abe as Dobashi
Yoshi Kato as Jutaro Mitsui

Certificate
15

Synopsis

From “The King of Cult” Teruo Ishii, Blind Woman’s Curse (also known as Black Cat’s Revenge) is a thrilling yakuza film featuring eye-popping visuals, sensational fight sequences and the gorgeous Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood, Stray Cat Rock) in her first major role.

Akemi (Kaji) is a dragon-tattooed leader of the Tachibana yakuza clan. In a duel with a rival gang Akemi slashes the eyes of an opponent and a black cat appears, to lap the blood from the gushing wound. The cat along with the eye-victim go on to pursue Akemi’s gang in revenge, leaving a trail of dead yakuza girls, their dragon-tattoos skinned from their bodies.

A bizarre blend of the female yakuza film and traditional Japanese ghost story, with a strong dash of grotesque-erotica (the same movement was a sensibility of Edogawa Rampo whose works were adapted by Ishii in Horrors of Malformed Men), Blind Woman’s Curse is a delirious mash-up of classic genre tropes, of which Ishii was no stranger, having directed everything from Super Giant films to biker movies!

Special Features
  •  Newly translated English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp
  • Original Trailer
  • Trailers for four of the films in the Meiko Kaji-starring Stray Cat Rock series, made at the same studio as Blind Woman’s Curse
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes, illustrated with original archive stills.

Review

I love my Japanese movies of all shapes and sizes.  They can be horror, fantasy and pretty much anything in between.  There have been some classics from the land of the Rising Sun, some not so classic but they've always managed to be different from the movies that you will see coming from the Hollywood studios.

This one is most definitely one that is firmly in the different category.

If you are at all familiar with Teruo Ishii, then you know he was no stranger to both gore and the macabre.  This is a man that was at home making biker movies as he was making movies about super giants destroying everything in sight.  That said, Ishii's movies do tend to be the sort that divide critics straight down the middle.  They either see them as masterpieces of the movie world or as movies so messy and messed up that they make little to no sense.

This one falls a little bit in the middle of those ideas.  What we have here really is a movie that doesn't really know what it wants to be so it tries to be a bit of everything.  For most of the movie, that works pretty well but there are certain parts that will definitely leave you scratching your head and wondering what is actually going on.

You can definitely tell from watching this movie where some of Quentin Tarantino's influences have come from because he has adopted and adapted the style shown by Ishii here.  There are moments that are pure lurid colorful scenes that keep your eyes firmly glued to the screen itself.  For all the bizarre moments in the movie there is a real sense of the macabre that runs throughout the movie.

The two parts that stood out the most to me while watching this rather strange movie were the scenes in the grotesque night carnival as well as the flesh carrying, blood drinking cat.

All in all, this most definitely won't be to everyone's tastes.  It's almost as if someone put lots of different Japanese movies in a blender and this was the gory result.  It does work for the most part and I personally enjoyed it.  I was a little bit disappointed with the lack of special features but the booklet that comes with this set is very well set out and has a fair bit of information for Ishii's fans out there.

Movie 7.5/10
Picture 7.5/10
Sound 7/10
Special Features 7/10
Overall 29/40


Tuesday, 22 April 2014

White of the Eye Dual Format Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Based On
'Mrs. White' By Andrew Klavan and Laurence Klavan

Written By
China Kong
Donald Cammell

Directed By
Donald Cammell

A Mrs. White's Productions

Genre
Thriller

Cast

David Keith as Paul White
Cathy Moriarty as Joan White
Alan Rosenberg as Mike Desantos
Art Evans as Detective Charles Mendoza
Michael Greene as Phil Ross
Danielle Smith as Danielle White
Alberta Watson as Ann Mason
William G. Schilling as Harold Gideon

Certificate
18

Synopsis

A serial killer is on the loose in and around the small community of Globe, Arizona, and housewife Joan White (Cathy Moriarty) gradually comes to suspect that her opera-loving hi-fi engineer husband Paul (David Keith) might know more than he’s letting on… 

So far so familiar, but in the hands of British visionary Donald Cammell (who wrote and co-directed Performance with Nicolas Roeg), the film becomes a dazzling kaleidoscope of images and ideas, spanning everything from Apache folklore, desert landscapes and stylish murder set-pieces that recall Dario Argento to a painfully vivid dissection of the emotional fissures undermining a modern marriage. It’s all set to an equally eclectic score co-written by Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason.

Special Features
  • Feature-length (73-minute) documentary, 'Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance' (1998)
  • Commentary by Donald Cammell's biographer Sam Umland
  • Donald Cammell's short The Argument (1972) with an optional commentary by Sam Umland
  • Into the White - an interview with co-cinematographer and Steadicam wizard Larry McConkey
  • Deleted scenes, with an optional commentary by Sam Umland
  • Flashback scenes before the bleach bypass process was applied
  • Original opening credits featuring John Diehl, an actor cut from the final film
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh 
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Brad Stevens and Sam Umland

Review

'White of the Eye' is one of those unsung movies that while utterly brilliant, it's been largely ignored by movie watchers.  The sort of movie where once you've watched it, it's completely unforgettable.

When a movie has such a reputation, it can sometimes not live up to that lofty expectation and therefore can be disappointing.  'White of the Eye' isn't one of those movies.  I can honestly say that this movie more than matches the reputation that it has amassed over the years.

The director Donald Cammell has made a name for himself for being a director that can craft movies that not only drag the viewer in and not let go but can also use the settings as if they were another character in his movies.  That is definitely true in this movie.  'White of the Eye' is the sort of movie that you can't take your eyes off of when you're watching it.

Story wise, the movie is perfectly paced and really turns the tension up.  In fact, throughout the movie, it really fells you with dread as you watch the crimes unfold.  I could sit here and analyze the whole movie but it's near impossible to do so.  This movie is unique, suspenseful and incredibly haunting.  How it's not a full blown classic is beyond me.  It definitely deserves to be.

A lot of that is down to absolutely brilliant cast here.  Cathy Moriarty is an absolute shining light as the heroine of the movie and really gives a strong performance that gives the movie it's heart that makes you feel involved with all of the characters.  The same could be said about David Keith, who I feel, gives his greatest performance by far here.  He comes across as incredibly charming in his role and has some great chemistry with Moriarty.

Once again, Arrow Films, has gone above and beyond with their special features.  The crowning glory of this release is by far the feature length documentary called 'Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance'.

The rest of the special features are brilliant.  I've always thought having covers that you can change with both classic and new artwork is a great touch and it's the same here with some great cover work.

All in all, like I said before, how this movie isn't a full on classic and on the best movies lists that we get so often is amazing.  It's full of suspense, twists and turns and is incredibly haunting and affecting.  Add that to the absolutely brilliant special features then I would honestly say that this is an essential purchase for all thriller fans.

Movie 9/10
Picture 8.5/10
Sound 8.5/10
Special Features 9/10
Overall 35/40


The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Gerard Way
Shaun Simon

Art By
Becky Cloonan
Dan Jackson

Cover By
Becky Cloonan
Dan Jackson

Published By
Dark Horse Comics

Genre
Action, Adventure

Synopsis

Years ago, the Killjoys fought against the tyrannical megacorporation Better Living Industries, costing them their lives, save for one — the mysterious Girl.
 
Today, the followers of the original Killjoys languish in the Desert while BLI systematically strips citizens of their individuality.
 
As the fight for freedom fades, it's left to the Girl to take up the mantle and bring down the fearsome BLI or else join the mindless ranks of Battery City!
 
Join Gerard Way and Shaun Simon as they sing the stories of the fabulous Killjoys, the final chapter of the Danger Days saga by My Chemical Romance.

Review

The story of the 'Killjoys' was started back when the back My Chemical Romance, fronted by Gerard Way, released the album 'Danger Days'.  As an album, the story the songs told were quite interesting and had a nice flow to them.   When it was announced that Way would be doing a comic book series based on the album, I must admit that I was very unsure where the story would go and if it would hold up in a new medium.  I've read comic books by musicians before and they tend to be quite hit and miss so where would this one end up?

Well, as much of a cop out as the answer is, it's definitely in the middle.

The art by Becky Cloonan is the highlight for me by far.  I wasn't all that familiar with her work before reading this but now I'll definitely be sure to check some more out.  Her style really made the story jump off the page and hook me in, especially with some of the great panel work on show here.

Story wise, while the story itself was really good, something just felt a little off.  It almost felt as if something was missing and I can't put my finger on why.  Gerard Way and Shaun Simon really do work well as a writing duo and the story they have crafted here is interesting, exciting and really did hook me in for the most part.  It's a little annoying that something just felt missing because that would have raised the quality of this from being really good to being brilliant.

One of the things that I liked the most about the release was that it felt really cinematic in it's scope.  Thanks to the team up of the writing, which had great pacing, and the art by Cloonan, I really could imagine it being a big budget movie up on the cinema screen.  Hell, I'd go watch it.

As a fan of the band themselves, you can definitely see the influences in Way's stories that were so present in the songs that they put out.  The characters are there, the twists and turns are there so their fans are definitely going to be lapping this release up in spades.

All in all, this is a good release from Dark Horse Comics and one that I did really enjoy reading, it just felt like something was missing.  That said, don't let that put you off of picking this graphic novel up because it really is a good story and the art by Cloonan is superb.  Plus if you are already a fan of Gerard Way and / or his band then no doubt you'll be picking this up anyway and so you should.

Story 7.5/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 31/40

The Art of Plants vs. Zombies Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Edited By
Philip Simon

Published By
Dark Horse Comics

Genre
Comedy, Game Tie In, Art

Synopsis

Get the story of the mulchifying super hit Plants vs. Zombies from the zombies' point of view! 

The Art of Plants vs. Zombies is part zombie memoir, part celebration of zombie triumphs, and part anti-plant screed, as well as a treasure trove of rare concept art, sketches, and more covering Plants vs. Zombies, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Plants vs. Zombies Adventures, and Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare. 

It's a must-have for any fan and an insider's view of zombies with some Wall-nutty surprises and never-before-seen awesome art. Even Crazy Dave wants a copy - if only to learn more about his fun-dead foes!

Review

I must admit that I wasn't all that sure what to make of this book before I started reading it.  I hadn't read any of the tie in stuff that Dark Horse had done for the game itself not had I played the games either.  I saw the book however and figured it looked interesting enough to get at least a read and so the rest is history.

This book is part concept art book and part zombie memoir as the synopsis says so I thought that might make it a little different compared to the other 'the art of...' books that I have reviewed recently.  I have to admit that I came away from this one a little disappointed.

The writers really have tried hard to make an interesting and quite frankly different take on the normal concept art books that I read and for that I commend them but it kind of came across as feeling a little bit thin on the ground so to speak.  There are some great moments and I have to admit that the art here is fantastic.  Hell, it's made me want to check out the game itself but for the most part, it feels a little bit like a joke told at the wrong time and for too long.

I know that seems a little harsh but, despite the book being relatively short, it felt overlong for what there is inside.  That's a real shame because on paper, this one sounds really interesting and different.

On the plus side, I did like the fact that you could read the book as if the zombies themselves had written it.  This raised some really funny moments and I liked the fact that because of the zombies not being smart, they kept some of the spelling errors in.  I also liked how they kept celebrating the grand total of one victory that they have had.

The rejected titles were interesting and so was the art.  As readers of this site know, I love a bit of a concept art and there are loads of great pictures here.  I would have liked to see a little bit more of 'Crazy Dave' but seeing as this was written by the zombies, that may not have made a lot of sense.

All in all, this is a fun book but for me the joke overstayed it's welcome a little bit.  That said, the art is brilliant so that and the fact it's told from the zombies point of view despite being an art book make it worth picking up for the fans of the game out there.

Presentation 7/10
Informative 6/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 20/30

Monday, 21 April 2014

Random Thoughts on My Writing


An Article By
Patrick Scattergood

I was asked today about my dreams for my comic book writing career that I am trying to embark on.  For some that would be a relatively tricky question but for me it's not.  In fact, it's rather simple so I figured I would sit here in front of my lap top and have a bit of a write about my hopes and what makes me tick.

Don't worry if you don't want to pay attention, there won't be a test.  Or will there?

Well, writing wise, my hope is relatively simple.  I want to write stories and I want to have people read them.  If I get just one person message me here, on Facebook or Twitter or even talk to me in the street just to say they liked one of my stories or have even read one then I would consider that a success.

Career wise, that's a simple one too.  Would I want to get so known that I could write for one of the big two?  To be honest, no I wouldn't.  I know most of you would laugh at that but I just want to write the stories that I want to with the characters that I create.  I love the freedom of that.

As for the being known bit, well, my hope there is a bit of a cheesy one to say the least.  I love going to comic book conventions whenever I get the chance to but it is always as a fan.  Even if I only manage it once, I would love to go there as one of the folks behind the table selling his wares.  If I manage that, then I'd class that as a success.

Along the way, I've been so lucky to get time with people that I hugely admire that have not only taken the time to give me advice but to also help me learn my craft in what is essentially a cut throat industry.  Yet I have only ever stumbled on one bad apple so to speak.  That person wasn't dismissive of my writing, he just refused to draw one of my characters because the character is gay.  Don't get me wrong, it's never full on pushed out there that he is, merely implied but it's something that makes that character who he is.  Yet that one bloke wanted to change the character in to a woman or he wasn't going to draw the series.

Well, that's guys loss and out dated mindset is my gain because I have been lucky enough to not only find an artist that is fantastically talented but one that truly gets where I am trying to do with my 'Morbid Detection' series.

To end things on a rather cheesy note, I look at myself now and when I compare that me to the one from a mere couple of years ago, I realise one simple thing.  I really am one lucky S.O.B.

A Child is Torn: Innocence Lost Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Dawn Kopman Whidden

Published By
Brighton Publishing

Genre
Thriller

Synopsis

When dependable Evan Madison fails to show up for work, police are dispatched to his home. His ten-year-old son, Brad, is discovered inside, unharmed and seemingly alone. He is stoic, sitting in front of the television playing his favorite video game, Super Mario—and he’s covered in blood.

Veteran Police Officer Marty Keal is the first on the scene. With his many years of experience, he thinks he’s seen it all. That is, until he discovers Brad’s not really alone after all. Upstairs in their bedroom lies the brutally bludgeoned and deceased bodies of both his mother and his father. When questioned, Brad confesses to the horrific murders.

When Brad is transferred to a local mental health institution for children, Dr. Hope Rubin is brought in to evaluate and treat the child. A preliminary investigation shows no evidence of any kind of mistreatment in his past. She must determine the disturbing truth: Is Brad telling the truth? Or is he covering for someone else?

Detective Jean Whitely rounds out the investigative team; and she suspects there is much more to the case than what meets the eye. The happily married mother of two in unwavering in her determination to uncover the real truth about Brad. Was he abused? Or is he the product of an evil seed born to kill?

As the layers of truth about Brad are systematically peeled away, you will be compelled to ask yourself, Which is the more dominate factor in contributing to who we are—NATURE or NURTURE?

Review

As a father myself, I am also worried about the effects of both the things my son sees and the things my son gets involved in and how they will affect him growing up.

When Dawn Kopman Whidden said that I could have a chance to read  this one, I jumped at the chance but then real life intervened as it normally does, and I didn't get a chance to read it.

Recently I revisited the book with great gusto and absolutely devoured it in two sittings.  The story and the pacing is utterly brilliant and Whidden has a great knack of creating well thought out characters that seem to be so realistic that you can honestly imagine them either being real or at the very least on a television series.  Saying that, this is one of those stories that wouldn't be out of place on a series such as 'Bones' or 'C.S.I.'.  

The twists and turns here are placed in such a way that the reader feels the full effect of them.  That has always been the main strength of Whidden's writing.  She knows when to hold back and when to reveal things, which seems to be a dying art in this day and age.

One of the things that worried me was that with a storyline such as this, I was a little worried that it would turn in to a 'computer games are bad' style witch hunt like you see on the television so often when a tragedy happens.  It's natural because when that does happen, the people involved would feel like they would need to blame someone or something.  That's not the case here at all.  It's a well thought out case and really sees the facts and revelations from all points of view.

Character wise, Whidden has once again given us a cast of multifaceted characters that really push the heart of the story alone.  The idea of the tragedy in this book being down to nature or nurture is an interesting one made realistic by how well the characters are written.  Their lives really feel like they could be happening in front of you and the happenings honestly could be on today's news.

Looking at the cover, you kind of expect that the book would be a violent, gore filled police thriller but the only part of that description that would fit this story would be the police thriller part.  The story doesn't rely on cheap shock tactics or gore to freak out the reader, instead concentrating on good ol' fashioned story telling and twists that really keep the reader on their toes.

I've review Dawn Kopman Whidden's work before and compared her to the likes of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs.  Here, with this novel, I really feel that not only is this her best book but it would more than stand it's ground when next to Reich's and Cornwell.

Story 8.5/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 7.5/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Art of Rio: Featuring a Carnival of Art from Rio and Rio 2 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Foreword By
Carlos Saldanha

Written By
Tara Bennett

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Art, Move Tie In

Synopsis

Rio and Rio 2, from 20th Century Fox Animation and Blue Sky Studios, directed by Carlos Saldanha, are 3D computer-animated musical-adventure comedy movies about rare Blue Spix Macaws Blu and Jewel, revealing how they meet, fall in love, and raise their three chicks.

Traveling from the Amazon, to snowy Minnesota, to the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro, and back to the jungle, the movies are full of life, color, and laughs, and populated by a huge diversity of birds, animals and people.

The Art of Rio features a carnival of art from both movies, with over 500 pieces of stunning concept art, character sketches and illustrations, storyboards and digital imagery, along with commentary from the key talent whose creativity is celebrated in these pages.

Review

With Tara Bennett having been one of the writers of the 'Fringe' companion book that Titan put out last year, I had very high hopes for this art book.  Having reviewed quite a few of these recently, I have grown to really love seeing just how creative and imaginative the people behind these projects are.

I have to admit that I have only seen the first movie but while it wasn't the most imaginative movie in the world, it was very well made and looked absolutely stunning.  Here we get to see some great art and behind the scenes information about that movie as well as it's new sequel.

The art here is positively gorgeous.  The fact that they go all out here to show just how the movie teams creative process works really is a testament to both Titan Books, who have put out a gorgeous looking book, and Tara Bennett's interesting writing.  It really comes across as a project that she was really interested in.

All the concept art and storyboards amongst all the other goodies in this massive book, are so well written about and shown here that I really couldn't put it down.  I'd even say that it's one of those art books that I would want to revisit more than once.

I loved the little comments from the creative team.  They really seemed to be passionate about their work on the movies and that always creates a book that is both interesting and well worth buying.

One of the things that has happened since I read this art book is that it's made me want to revisit the first movie and then want to see the second.  The concept art is so beautiful that I want to see it up on the big screen to see the finished product.

Presentation 8/10
Informative 8.5/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 25/30

The Revenant of Thraxton Hall Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Vaughn Entwistle

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Supernatural, Thriller

Synopsis

It is 1894, and Arthur Conan Doyle has just killed off Sherlock Holmes, making him the most hated man in London.  So when he is contacted by a respected medium and asked to investigate a murder, he jumps at the chance to leave the city.

But the murder has not yet occurred - the medium, Hope Thraxton, has foreseen that she will die at a seance of the Society for Psychical Research, to be held at her manor house in the Lancashire countryside.

Along for the ride is Conan Doyle's good friend Oscar Wilde, and together they work to narrow down the list of suspects, which includes a mysterious foreign Count, a levitating magician, and an irritable old woman with a monkey familiar.

Meanwhile, Conan Doyle is enchanted by the plight of the capricious Hope Thraxton, who may not be quite what she seems.

A curse hangs over the Thraxton family, and the two friends are running out of time, as the clock ticks ever closer to Hope's murder.

Review

As a major league fan of both Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I love reading pretty much anything to do with the characters that Doyle created or with the background of the novels as well.

When I read that Titan Books were going to put out a book about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle solving crimes of a paranormal nature himself, I was excited as a fan of the man himself.  How would they fit in the things that we love about his writing, his life and other such things, in to a fictional world?

Well, it looks like the question was answered with ease.  They kept all the things we love about that legendary figure and crafted a fantastic and interesting novel full of twists and turns that the man himself would have been proud of.

I wasn't familiar with Vaughn Entwistle's work before I read this book so I went in to it with a completely open mind.  With a subtitle like 'The Paranormal Casebooks of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle', you expect some spooky and creepy going on's and you are not disappointed in the slightest.  There are so many moments in this novel that both read like a paranormal and also as a classic detective story in the Holmes style.  Normally I would have thought that those two things wouldn't have gelled but they do here thanks to the intelligent writing by Entwistle.

Another thing I liked was the bold and wonderful decision to team with Doyle with the equally as legendary Oscar Wilde.  On paper that may seem like a strange pairing for a story but it works superbly well here and the interplay between the two comes across as realistic and well thought out.  The way they work together to try and solve the case really feels like it would be a great episode of a television series or even as a movie.  Hell, I'd watch it if that ever happened.

If you are looking for an interesting, well paced and well thought out detective story with a paranormal edge to it then you could do a hell of a lot worse than this one.  If you are a Doyle fan or just a fan of the Sherlock stories then you should pick this rather interesting book up.

Story 8/10
Characters 9/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8/10
Overall 33/40

William Shatner Presents Quest For Tomorrow Issue 2 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
David A. McIntee

Art By
Amer Moghrabi
Leif Giese
Rob Burns

Lettering By
Gary Scott Beatty

Cover By
Joey Mason

Published By
Bluewater Comics

Genre
Science Fiction, Action

Synopsis

Those hunting him, who seem to know more about him than he does. When he is brought down to Earth, will friends or enemies he doesn't know he has, find him first.

Review

William Shatner is obviously best known for his iconic role as James T. Kirk in the original series of 'Star Trek' and their many movies but he is also an accomplished science fiction writer too.  He has written the 'Tek War' series as well as many books set in the 'Star Trek' world so lovingly crafted by Gene Roddenberry.

I must admit that I hadn't realised that he had done some comic work here too so when I found out about this series, I was intrigued enough to want to have a read and see where Shatner would take us with a new non 'Star Trek' science fiction story.

 I must admit that while not a perfect story by any stretch of the imagination, this is still a good rollicking tale that has a little bit of an old fashioned science fiction feel to it.  In fact, it reminded me a little of classic science fiction movies that I am so fond of.

The pacing is definitely one of the strengths here.  The quick telling of the story doesn't let up or let the reader catch his or her breath.  Instead it feels like it truly has a sense of urgency to the story telling and that really helps to hook you in.  One of the other things I really liked about the story was the simple fact that the creators didn't feel the need to tell the readers absolutely everything.  I like stories where you get to fill in some of the blanks yourself while also waiting for the twists and turns that will no doubt come in future issues.

However, the one bit that the issue fell down on was the art work.  It seemed incredibly hit and miss because in places the art was utterly superb and in others it seemed a little rushed and even unfinished.  That's a bit of a shame because it took me out of the world that they had created a little bit.  I'm not the biggest fan of the sort of art work in the 'big two' that feels so polished that it could shine in the dark but at the same time, I think that the art could have been brilliant if they had taken a tiny little bit more care of it.  The pages that were good really stood out and made me think of those science fiction cartoons that we all grew up watching in the 80's and 90's and I loved that about the issue.

All in all, while a bit hit and miss in the art department, this is still a series that I am going to keep up with.  The story itself really hooked me in and has made me want to see just what is going to happen next so bring on issue 3!

Story 7.5/10
Art 6/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 29/40

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Fang Graphic Novel Review


Review
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Kostas Zachopoulos

Art and Cover By
Christos Martinis

Published By
AAM / Markosia

Genre
Horror, Adventure

Synopsis

Dracula never died in Europe.

His remains lie deep in the belly of Erebus, a ship ready to depart an English port. No one can explain the disappearance of sailors as they arrive in New York, a brave new world governed by anonymity. Soon word of the Vampire legend spreads and reaches England, where the fellowship of hunters gets to hear of it.

And the hunt resumes.

Review

I've read a hell of a lot of vampire stories and especially Dracula related stories.  Some have been absolutely fantastic and others, well, others not so much.

I'd heard quite a few things about this title.  Lots of reviews noted how amazing the art was and some reviews talked about the writing giving a new spin on the legend but would it hook me in?

Well, that's a definite yes from this vampire fan right here.  The story itself really did give the often told tale of Dracula a new leash of life.  I absolutely loved the fact that this graphic novel continues the Dracula story and asks loads of questions.  What if the vampire legend hadn't died in Europe?  What if he was running rampant in New York?

All these questions are answered and more.  The intelligent writing and pacing really makes the story leap off of the page in all it's bloody glory.  There are twists and turns galore that really hooked me in.  The part that shines the most for me writing wise is the dialogue.  The realistic tone of the dialogue, in particular Dracula himself, really did succeed in giving me the chills and did a fantastic job in creating an air of horror and dread that ran through the entire graphic novel.  Zachopoulos has really crafted a brilliant addition to the vampire genre without falling in to the cliched traps that a lot of other releases fall prey to.

The art here is truly brilliant.  In fact, the rather unique, almost painting like quality to the art really pushes forward the action and the characters in this story.  When the stuff hits the fan to coin a phrase, the art positively explodes off of the page.  I would normally skip through a book with loads of blood and gore yet this one manages to not go over the top yet does so while looking like a series of illustrations that wouldn't look out of place in an exhibit.  Martinis is a truly brilliant talent and definitely one to keep an eye on.

If I hadn't have been offered the chance to review this, I'm not sure I would have picked it up.  That's not because of the writing or the art, it was just because I've felt a bit burnt out on the vampire genre.  Yet here, Zachopoulos and Martinis have crafted such an interesting and strangely beautiful take on the genre that I would be very surprised if this didn't end on some end of the year best of lists.

Story 8.5/10
Art 9/10
Cover 9/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 35/40

Life's Lottery Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Kim Newman

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Role Playing, Thriller

Synopsis

A role-playing novel that reveals how small decisions can have monumental consequences. If you choose the right possibilities you may live a long happy life, or be immensely rich, or powerful, or win the lottery. 

If you make other choices you may become a murderer, die young, make every mistake possible, or make no impression on life at all. 

The choice is yours.

Review

I have to admit that I do find Kim Newman's books a little hit and miss to my personal tastes but when he brings his 'a' game to his writing, he is a wonderful writer.

With this novel he has definitely brought his 'a' game with this rather ingenious take on the old choose your own adventure stories that we used to do as kids where the decisions you made determined exactly what happened to your character.  Here, Newman has crafted a superb adult take on those books.

With a wonderfully creepy and sense of dread that runs throughout the entire book, every decision you make during the book can change your characters destiny either in a big way or a small way.  I loved that about the book because, just like in real life, each decision no matter how big or how small affects your life.  Some things could change the entire course that your life was going to take and others may only change something miniscule.  This managed to make me take the time after reading this to reflect on my own life and the decisions that I've made.

The cleverness of the novel really helped to raise it above much of Newman's other work.  I would even go so far to say that this is one of his best novels by far.  There were so many moments in the book that I actually felt creeped out by some of the end results that could happen to the character depending on what choices you made.  It really raised the point of just how fickle life can be.  Something that you think may not be important at all could end up changing absolutely everything about you and your life.  That idea has always interested me and has always made me wonder just how life would be different if I'd made different choices.

Character wise, it's great to see how they change throughout the book.  In fact, Newman has crafted something that you don't see a lot in the world of writing.  A book that you can easily read a lot of times and manage to find something new each and every time.

If you are a fan of Kim Newman's books then this should definitely be in your collection.  It's an ingenious, well written and has great pacing along with the twists and turns that will really hook the reader in.  Well worth picking up.

Story 8/10
Characters 8.5/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 8.5/10
Overall 33/40

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Aquabats! Super Show!: Complete Season 1 Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Created By
Christian Jacobs
Jason deVilliers

Cast

Christian Jacobs as The MC Bat Commander
James Briggs as Jimmy the Robot
Richard Falomir as Ricky Fitness
Ian Fowles as Eagle Bones Falconhawk
Chad Larson as Crash McLarson
Mark S. Fordham as Kitty Litter

Genre
Adventure, Comedy

Certificate
PG

Synopsis

From the creators of Yo Gabba Gabba! and frontman Christian Jacobs comes the perfect blend of live-action and animation!

Follow the amazingly wild comic antics of The Aquabats the galaxy's first group of musical crime-fighting superheroes! MC Bat Commander, Crash McLarson, Ricky Fitness, Eagle Bones Falconhawk and Jimmy the Robot will take you along on their most outrageous adventures to protect space from the creatures and super villains out to destroy it!

All 13 Season One episodes can now be found in one deluxe collection sure to banish boredom and make anyone an instant fan of the world's most inept superheroes! 

Special Features
  • None

Review

While I am a big fan of the bands music itself, I hadn't realised that there was a television series until I stumbled upon it while looking for something different for myself and my son to watch.

The first thing I thought while watching it was the simple fact that the show is so completely bonkers, much like the band itself, that I wondered how on Earth they had manage to convince the television executives to green light such a series.

However, the sheer bonkers nature of the show and the hilarious insanity that comes with it is one of the main strengths of it.  You will honestly just sit back and wonder how they can come up with such crazy and funny stories.  The great thing is that one of the creators of the show itself is the guy who created the equally as weird children's show 'Yo Gabba Gabba', which is another of my sons favorite shows.  You can really see the sense of fun in that series running through this one.  The fact that the lead singer of the band is involved as a creator too really lends itself to the humor as they take their stage persona's to a whole different level here and really ramp them up.

I've seen a few sites describe this as a bright, colorful and very fun mess and I suppose that's a good way to look at it.  It's not serious in the slightest and is so fast paced that there really is no chance for the children to get bored while watching it.  There are also some great moments with fake adverts and some fun little animated moments during the shows too.

The only disappointing thing about this release is that I feel the European fans have been a bit short changed with the set.  The region one release had an absolute plethora of special features, little mini episodes and so much more yet here, the region 2 release just has the episodes and that's it.  Bit of a shame really but it's no more difficult to get the region 1 release so maybe just pick that one up instead.

All in all, and I know I keep saying it, but this show is so insane that it really has to be seen to be believed.  The best way to describe the series is that it's almost as if the 1960's Batman series had a baby with the original Power Rangers series and you're nearly there.  Grab yourself a copy and see what I mean.

Show 8/10
Picture 7.5/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features N/A
Overall 23.5/30

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Princeless: Tales of Girls Who Rock! Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Jeremy Whitley

Art By
Tara Abbamondi
Jen Jaughn
Angi Shearstone

Lettering By
Jules Rivera

Cover By
Tara Abbamondi

Published By
Action Labs

Genre
Fantasy, Adventure, Comedy

Synopsis

Princess Adrienne is on the loose again, and this time she brought some friends! While Adrienne may be the first runaway princess, she's certainly not the only girl who rocks! 

Come join Adrienne, Bedelia, Sparky, Tempest, and some brand new friends in Princeless: Tales of Girls Who Rock, a one-shot sure to introduce you to your next comics obsession!

Review

I must admit that when I stumbled upon this title in a bargain bin at my local comic book store, I figured I would grab it for my wife as she also has had a soft spot for these sorts of stories.  That's when I figured I would give it a look after looking up some information about the series itself.

This installment is a one shot that has a couple of stories involving those characters and considering that I hadn't heard of them before, I was a little lost as to who was who and what their stories were connected to.  That said, I actually quite enjoyed this one and would definitely check out the series itself to see just where their tales fit with the overall world that this creative team has created.

The stories were all pretty interesting although to a newbie such as myself, maybe a little confusing in places.  That's not a knock on the quality however.  Far from it.  The writing has a great pace, some seemingly interesting characters and has made me want to pick up the rest of the series so you can't really complain about that.

Art wise, there is a very mixed bag of styles here yet they managed to make each story their own all while managing to make it all seem like they're all set in the same universe.  While I wouldn't say that there was any bad art here, I would definitely say that there was one that really stood out for me and that was Angi Shearstone, which was also the strongest story by far in the collection.

All in all, while it's not the best title to pick up if you haven't read the series itself, it still serves as a pretty good introduction to the series and as such, I would say that this one shot was a definite success.

Story 7.5/10
Art 8/10
Cover 8/10
Recommended 7.5/10
Overall 31/40