Friday, March 24, 2006

The Wolf-Man of Isle Royale!

He is Rolf Peterson, and he researches the interaction of moose and wolf on Isle Royale (I know, it's not as exciting as a werewolf story, but it's still cool). Here's a story about his work on the island where I will be in less than two months.

One interesting note: the wolf population is either on the upswing or at its peak, which increases my chances of hearing them howling. I'm really looking forward to that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Unidentified Fun

Here's an entertaining site about UFO's in ancient art. Sure to be worrisome for the Fox Mulderites among you out there.

A History of Violence

Saw this little gem over the weekend. I wasn't sure about it, because movies that the critics think are "deep" are usually more like kiddie pools. I don't know if Violence was necessarily deep, but it was pretty entertaining. Viggo (he seems like a one name kind of guy) and William Hurt were excellent and easily parried Maria Bello's attempts to ruin the movie. Ed Harris was pretty cool too, but he basically was playing Ed Harris with a funny eye. Not a big stretch.

The story was enjoyable, the violence graphic but justified. Especially satisfying was the bully's comeuppance scene. The characters weren't always entirely convincing, but I like stories where a character taps previously undiscovered powers and basically lays waste around him. It reminds me of Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant Trilogy or Raymond Feist's Magician series. Braveheart would fall in the same category to a certain extent. You could even make the case for The Passion.

Anyway, good movie, not one that's going to teach you life's little lessons, but well done and enjoyable.

Friday, March 17, 2006

New Linkage

Not to be confused with shrinkage, there are some new links on the sidebar here, including one to This is a site where you can do all your horror shopping as well as participate in some very active forums, in which you may even be able to interact with some published horror writers. It's a valuable resource.

Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf

Yes, this is the title of an actual movie. Yes, it is very bad. In a strange way I appreciated the honesty of the title, though. It lets you know right up front that the movie is going to stink. That way, there's really no chance of a letdown.

It starts off with a hilarious segment of Christopher Lee (who has a great voice, even if it is used for a cheesy purpose here) narrating I think a passage from Revelations against a terribly done background of stars. Why? Who knows. The people who made this movie clearly were mixed up. For instance, they apparently had no concept of the difference between werewolf and vampire legends. This movie has silver bullets, but it also has stakes, Transylvania, and I think even garlic. The only thing missing was bats and guys with pronounced widow's peaks.

Almost impossibly, the movie went downhill from the opening -- although I do give it credit for using the line "your sister is a werewolf" within the first five minutes. Way to make sure we didn't get confused. This movie would have been frustrating, because I think werewolves can be kind of scary if done right, but it was just too inept to believe that it ever had a chance of being good. They even mess up the nudity by having the sex scenes be between these sort of half-formed werewolf/human mixtures. They were far more gross than erotic.

There's really very little else to say about the movie. It's funny in a MST3k kind of way, but it's only marginally worth watching even for those purposes. Watch at your own peril.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Cell Review

I finished Cellat the end of last week, but I have been too busy to post a review. Until now! I think how you feel about this book is going to be a question of expectations. Are you hoping for something as classic as Salem's Lot, It, or The Shining? If so, you will be disappointed. I think that Stephen King is just not ever going to write on that level again. But if you approach Cell as a horror book you're just hoping is good, it's a hell of a read.

The story is simple: a pulse transmits over cell phones, turning everyone who hears it into the equivalent of a living zombie. You can imagine the possibilities. The book starts fast, with only a page or two of build up, and right there you can see the difference from Mr. King's saggy middle period, where pages would be spent detailing such irrelevancies as the history of a toaster or the variations on a dog's middle name. So that's good.

The apocalyptic scenes recall The Stand's epic beginning, but fortunately the rest of the book does not mirror The Stand's degradation into crap. Part of that is the dramatic difference in length between the two books. This one did get a little slow once the initial tidal wave of violence began to recede, but just when things are getting a little repetitive, Mr. King spiced things up with some pretty dramatic changes.

If the characters are a strength of this book, and they are, the plausibility of the premise is a major weakness. I could imagine reviewers carping about the lack of an explanation of exactly what happened, but my reaction is "who cares?" Mr. King dealt with the question in sufficient detail to allow the reader, or this reader at least, to suspend disbelief.

Frankly, I think he didn't go into any further detail because there really wasn't a good explanation for what needed to happen to make the story go. And, I really don't care. It's hard enough to find horror books with good characters, a fresh feeling story, and some nice scary parts without carping about "realism." I mean, if you're willing to read a story about ghosts or vampires, is a deranging cell phone signal really that much of a stretch? And if you don't like these kinds of stories, you shouldn't be reviewing horror anyway.

I strongly recommend Cell for fans of the genre and/or Stephen King.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

More on The Hills Have Eyes

Saw the trailer for this one last night, and it looked promising. Lots of cuts in the trailer, but the images I could make out looked pretty scary. One motif was a fireman's axe. There was also a scary, mutated-looking kid. Scary children can be very disturbing. There were some good ones in In the Mouth of Madness, and who could forget the twins from The Shining?

Hills also has the best tagline ever conceived for a horror movie:

"The lucky ones die first."

How awesome is that? Such simplicity and savagery tucked neatly away in a tidy package (unlike this sentence). I'd almost see the movie exclusively because of that.