Sunday, 28 September 2014

Anno Dracula: Johnny Alucard Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
Kim Newman

Published By
Titan Books

Genre
Horror

Synopsis

DRACULA COMES TO NEW YORK: Kim Newman returns to one of the great bestselling vampire tales of the modern era. Considered alongside I Am Legend and Interview with theVampire as one of the stand-out vampire stories of the last century – this brand-new novel is the first in over a decade from the remarkable and influential Anno Dracula series.

Newman’s dark and impish tale begins with a single question: What if Dracula had survived his encounters with Bram Stoker’s Dr. John Seward and enslaved Victorian England?

Fallen from grace and driven from the British Empire in previous installments, Dracula seems long gone. A relic of the past. Yet, when vampire boy Johnny Alucard descends upon America, stalking the streets of New York and Hollywood,haunting the lives of the rich and famous, from Sid and Nancy to Andy Warhol, Orson Welles and Francis Ford Coppola, sinking his fangs ever deeper into the zeitgeist of 1980's America, it seems the past might not be dead after all.

Review

While I am a fan of Kim Newman and find him to have been quite an influence on both my fiction writing and my review work, I have to admit that while it is for the most part entertaining, the Anno Dracula series has a habit of feeling a little disjointed and even hit and miss at times.

When I was given the chance to take a gander at this new installment of the series, I was quite excited to see where Newman was going to take the characters again but at the same time, a bit hesitant in case some of the numerous references that he gets in to the stories would overshadow the action.

After having sat down to read Johnny Alucard, this is definitely one of the installments that border on the brilliant.  Not only do we get a look at the vampiric life in the harsh eyes of the 1980's time period that Newman has set it in but we also get a well written satire of the 80's itself.

That said, throughout the book, I couldn't help but wonder just where the story was going to be taken next.  The book itself seemed to just start get going but would then fall to some references that took me out of the story a little bit but then Newman would throw you back in to the thick of it all again.  While that made the story a little disjointed at times, the parts of the book that did work ended up working so well because of the lyrical skill of Newman's writing that it more than made up for it.

However, the one main problem I had with the book was simply the ending or rather lack of a coherent ending.  I can't give much away but it just felt like Newman had gotten to the end of the book and realised he needed to stick an ending on it and that's what he went with.  The various parts of the book all linked up well, despite some of the parts being better than others, but the ending just didn't feel as interesting as the rest of the book and if I'm completely honest, felt a little disappointing.

Story 7.5/10
Characters 7/10
Cover 7.5/10
Recommended 7/10
Overall 29/40

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Muppets Most Wanted DVD Review


Review By
Patrick Scattergood

Written By
James Bobin
Nicholas Stoller

Based On Characters Created By
Jim Henson

Directed By
James Bobin

A Walt Disney Pictures, Mandeville Films, Babieka, Cinema Vehicle Services Film

Genre
Comedy, Adventure, Crime, Musical

Cast

Ricky Gervais as Dominic Badguy
Ty Burrell as Jean Pierre Napoleon
Tina Fey as Nadya
Steve Whitmire as Kermit the Frog, Foo Foo, Statler, Beaker, Lips, Rizzo the Rat, Link Hogthrob
Steve Jacobson as Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam Eagle, Animal
Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Zoot, Beauregard, Waldorf
Peter Linz as Walter, Manolo Flamingo

Cameos Include

Tony Bennett
Lady Gaga
Hugh Bonneville
Sean Combs
Ray Liotta
And More!

Year Released
2014

Certificate
U

Synopsis

Two Frogs! One Pig! Intrigue! Music! Mayhem! Muppets!

There's plenty of fun for the whole family as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Animal and the entire Muppets gang head out on a world tour. But mayhem follows the Muppets, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper. Now Kermit is behind bars at the mercy of prison warden Nadya (Tina Fey), and the World's Number One Criminal, Constantine-a dead ringer for Kermit-has taken his place. 

As Constantine and his dastardly sidekick Dominic (Ricky Gervais) plot the robbery of the century, they are pursued by Sam Eagle and Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell). Will Constantine get away with his nefarious scheme? Will Kermit escape in time to save the day? 

Disney's Muppets Most Wanted is the most hilarious, most wanted Muppet movie ever!

Special Features
  • Mickey Short - "No Service"

Review

When Jason Segel tried his hand at bringing The Muppets back to their former glory, the result was a largely successful and incredibly popular movie that pleased the old time fans but also brought loads more fans in to their midst.

However, when they revealed that the sequel would have none of the original cast returning, I was worried that the charm and fun of the movie would be lost.

That's when I sat down to watch this one with my Muppet mad son.

Instead of watching a charming, funny and high spirited movie, we got a rather mean spirited movie that not only didn't have the sense of enjoyment that the Segel movie had but also didn't feel at all like a Muppet movie.

For the most part, the movie just wasn't funny or even fun.  The scenes really began to grate on my nerves and even bore me throughout the movie.  Even my five year old son had trouble finding something funny in the movie itself and he still laughs at his own farts.

Some of the blame has definitely got to be down to the writing and the direction of the movie itself.  The jokes seemed to be grasping at pretty much anything to get a laugh from the audience.  I'm not one of those fans that want all of the Muppets movies to be the same, old fashioned style that the originals were.  Those were definitely a product of their time but that's kind of what makes them endearing.  The same could be said for the Segel movie.  That had an old fashioned charm to it but still felt modern and fresh.  Muppets Most Wanted completely missed the mark.

Cast wise, the movie is mostly miss rather than hit.  For me, the other part that really stuck with me was the massively stereotypical character of Jean Pierre Napoleon played by Ty Burrell.  While the character seemed to be too old fashioned with it's humour in the movie, Burrell really made the character his own and looked to be having a hell of a lot of fun with it.  Some of the other cast just seemed to be bored or even just going through the motions.  That's a real shame because when cast correctly, a Muppet movie can be a ot of madcap fun and the cameo's are part of that.  Don't get me wrong, some of the cameo appearances did make me laugh, especially with the running Celine Dion joke that went throughout the movie, but for the most part, they just didn't hit the same mark as other Muppets movies.

All in all, this was a very disappointing movie and one that I feel is a big misstep for the newly resurrected Muppets and that's a real shame, especially after the Segel led movie.

Movie 5/10
Picture 8/10
Sound 8/10
Special Features 4/10
Overall 25/40

Friday, 26 September 2014

Patrick Scattergood / Dan Charnley talk to Sam Johnson About Creating Flesh Tones!


At the end of August, Dan Charnley and myself were very honored to be invited to be a part of the first event held by the Comicbook Facebook Group that was helmed by Sam Johnson, author of such comic books as The Almighties, Cabra Cini and Geek Girl.  So here we are talking about our first release Flesh Tones.

SJ: Hi guys; so is Flesh Tones the first comic for the both of you, or the first you've worked on together?

PS: It's the first comic for me to be put out there but I've been writing stories here and there for a few years but it was only after meeting my now wife that I had enough confidence to approach people about drawing my stuff. But this is our first title together, hopefully the first of many.

I actually approached Dan Charnley here through a different project that fell through as I wanted a little more control over the story and the art itself so we got to chatting and decided screw it, we'll do it ourselves.

DC: I've illustrated some self published work before, but this is the first time i have worked with someone else. I could not be more happier.

SJ: And your wife helped design the book's striking cover, right?

PS: Dan Charnley was in charge of the art itself and my wife Ashley Scattergood played around with the fonts and the placing of the logos and that kind of thing to really bring Dan's superb art to the forefront where it belongs, because let's face it, his art really is striking and eye catching.

DC: Pat, stop, your making me cry!:)

SJ: Indeed, your art has a photo-like quality to it that brings a strong feel to your story. What can you tell us about the story itself?



PS: That's a prime example of his work in the comic itself. That simple picture manages to be haunting, eye catching and full of details that you can't look away

DC: When Pat approached me to do some single illustrations, we just seemed to connect over art and ideas, certainly the horror stuff.

PS: Well there are two stories in the first issue. One is The Mansion illustrated by Lee Taylor, which takes a completely different route. That was the first comic book story I had ever written and purely for selfish reasons I jazzed it up and put it in my first release. That one was just pure zombie story because I loved the idea of just writing a zombie story due to being a zombie movie and story fan myself.  I did also manage to sneak a couple Dr Who references in there too.

However with 'Real Horror' the story Dan did, I got the idea simply from hearing someone saying that the world was going to Hell and that set me thinking. What if it really was? What would happen? Would there be some sort of diety involved and what would that diety think? then I thought who better to draw something demonic and bring out the horror in real life than Dan Charnley?

DC: I'm a massive fan of the horror genre. That's why we hit it off so well. the story gave me a chance to try every technique i could think of. It was a great opportunity. I'm not 100% confident about my comic work, I'm about as opposite as can possibly be for a comic book style.

SJ: 'I'm about as opposite as can possibly be for a comic book style.' D'you mean in comparison to super-hero books, Dan?   

DC: Yep. Pretty much. They do nothing for me now. They have brilliant writers and art, don't get me wrong, but they just leave me cold. I cant even think of the last time I bought a Marvel title. I first saw what the potential for comics could be when I picked up Black Orchid, illustrated by Dave McKean. 

PS: I think Dan's art is utterly unique to the comics out there regardless of genre. It's all good grabbing a Mignola title or a Oeming title but you know what you'll get. With Dan here, he knows so many techniques and styles that he can mould that to anything you want.

 

SJ: What books d'you like at the moment? 

DC: I still pick up any of the Mike Mignola books and I love the Goon. My fave at the moment ,though , is And then Emily was Gone. It ticks all the boxes for me.

PS: I'm a massive Whovian so I'm really impressed with the tie in's that Titan Comics are putting out there at the moment but I recently picked up Battlestar Galactica 1880 as they'd retold the classic story in a steam punk style. Like Dan here, I love my Mignola stuff but I'm reading a hell of a lot of indie stuff at the moment like the Merrick title by Tom Ward and some of the work put out by a Polish artist/writer called Lukasz Kowalczuk too.

SJ: And Then Emily Was Gone is a special book that seems to have come from nowhere; we've got its writer John Lees on later.

DC: It's just amazing. The art, the story, everything. It reminds me of some of the early work from Heavy Metal magazine( or Metal Hurlant ). That introduced me to some great European art.  It's great to see a title like that really take off.

PS: I agree with Dan that when a title like Emily hits and people take notice of something new that it gives titles like Flesh Tones more chance to get out there and seen.



SJ: We'll come back to that later, though, let's get back to Flesh Tones...Is it a one-shot? Where can people get it? 

DC: Over to you Pat.

PS: One of the things I think of while working on my titles such as Flesh Tones, which is available now from Sellfy (here) and Drive Thru Comics (here) hint hint, but I'm also working on a zombie series called The Meek with Carlos Moreno as well as a graphic novel that the horror actor called Bill Oberst Jr. is involved with called Freak Show: The Ballad of Cassandra, also with Carlos Moreno. However I feel I've been able to have the most freedom writing wise with Flesh Tones as I can give even the slightest instruction to Dan and his mind is even more screwed horror wise than mine and he can normally nail what I'm trying to explain. 

DC: Italian Horror movies and Hammer studios. Best Education.

PS: A man after my own heart. Those as well as the 80's 'video nasties' helped me.

DC: Charles Band. Awesome.

PS: I'm hoping that some of those influences are going to be seen in both this issue of Flesh Tones and future ones too.

SJ: Will there be more Flesh Tones?     

PS: Oh most definitely.  It's going to be a varied title in that one issue may have a couple of shorter stories, one might have a longer one. I want it to be as varied and creepy as possible and that's where Mr Charnley over there comes in.

DC: I'm peeling my skin as we speak. Slice by slice.

Pat just keeps rolling the ideas out that just click for me. They give me the chance to try some really great artistic experiments.

PS: I'm also hoping that for issue two, the hardest working lady in horror, Maria Olsen, will let us use her likeness like we have with Bill, in a story I have lined up for issue two for Flesh Tones. 

SJ: There's a book trailed at the end of it, as well?    

PS: There is yes. One of the promo bits at the end of Flesh Tones Issue One is for the zombie series The Meek, drawn by Carlos Moreno and coming out soon. Another is a project that myself and Moreno are working on with the horror legend that is Bill Oberst Jr.



SJ: And Flesh Tones is currently only available digitally, will it be out in print?

DC: That's the plan.

PS: Most definitely. It will be getting sent to the printers in the next week or so, and we'll be debuting it at the Nottingham Convention as well as Dan here taking some to the Preston Con.

SJ: Well we're gonna wrap up shortly so anything else you wanna mention before we call time?  

PS: Definitely. It's been an honor to be able to talk about Flesh Tones here which is available from the Dark Pond Creations Store and over at Drive Thru Comics too. But also keep an eye on the Dark Pond Creations Facebook Page for news of more of our titles as well as checking out Dan's work over at his Monster Bomb: The Art of Dan Charnley that is well worth a visit.

SJ: Almost out of time, anything to add, Dan?

DC: Thanks for the opportunity Sam, watch out for more, we have such horrors to show you!! 

PS: Thank you very much. See you guys at the con and buy our books because let's face it, who doesn't love a good scare?

SJ: Cheers guys, all the best with your books.  



Flesh Tones Issue 1 (with art by Dan Charnley and Lee Taylor) and The Meek Issue 1 (with art by Carlos Moreno) are both available from

The Dark Pond Creations Store - here! 
and
Drive Thru Comics - here!

Dan Charnley and Patrick Scattergood are also making an appearance at the Nottingham Comic Convention on October 4th, debuting print versions of The Meek Issue 1 and Flesh Tones Issue 1 so come over and say hi! 

Join the Comicbook Facebook group for all your comic book needs!



To contact Pat or Dan please by all means follow them on Twitter.

Patrick Scattergood - @PatChallis82
Dan Charnley - @dansmonsters

Special Thanks to 

Sam Johnson for hosting the interview in his group.

Ashley Scattergood for her design work not only on the Flesh Tones cover but also for designing the Dark Pond Creations logo.  She can be contacted on @BabyBearRoar for graphic design work / commissions.