Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Truly Deeply Disturbed by Andrew Nienaber


Truly Deeply Disturbed
By Andrew Nienaber

The narrator of this novella is, as the title suggests, truly and deeply disturbed. He is not, however, crazy. He possesses the ability of rational thought, even though he acts in ways that may sometimes seem to us, the reader, as greatly irrational. Although he occasionally goes by the name of Terry, he is reluctant to tell us his real name, but for our purposes, Terry is as good a name as any.

Terry is a serial killer. He's quick to point out that, although he may employ a knife, he is no brutal and disorganized slasher.

"I use a Lynne Sting when I kill with a knife. It's a beautiful piece of work: four-inch damask blade, perfectly balanced, giraffe bone handle. It's slim and sharp. I'm not Jason Voorhees; I do my work with finesse."

He also doesn't kill just anyone, though. His code of ethics allows him to murder only those who offend his sensibilities. In 1974, comic book writer Steve Gerber introduced the character of the Foolkiller to the world. To put it bluntly, Terry is the Douchebag Killer.

Do these people deserve to die for their douchebaggery? Probably not, no matter how often we wish it so. But Terry has no qualms with such actions, and when we first see him working, he's butchering some jackass for going through the express lane at the grocery store with too many items. We've all done it. And we've all been pissed off when somebody else does it.

On one of Terry's usual expeditions, he accidentally murders a man in front of a witness--a seven year old girl named Samantha, who is none too upset that the man in question is dead. In fact, she's THRILLED about it and immediately takes to the stranger in her house that she now considers her hero. Terry, a complex man, takes her in and instantly begins to think of her as his own daughter.

But with Samantha being listed as a missing person, raising her could prove a dangerous proposition. As if this wasn't plot enough, Terry (literally) runs into Julia Azuza, a reality show starlet who has made a lifestyle out of being hated, and she is drawn into his dark little world.

This is a very well-written book, and all of the characters are fairly well fleshed out and believable. Terry could very easily be turned into a franchise character, with at least a trilogy of books used to tell his story. Although I'm fairly sure that this isn't the author's intent with the character, I think it would have actually worked to his benefit if the Samantha storyline and the Azuza storyline had each been expanded, and told separately. It's just a lot going on in a mere 147 pages.

The similarities between Terry and Dexter Morgan (from the Showtime series and Jeff Lindsay novels) are unmistakable. Both are serial killers with a moral compass whose hobbies lead them into all sorts of wonky adventures. Could the literary landscape really support two such characters? I think so, especially if Nienaber did a little more to set his creation apart.

My only major qualm with the story is that never once did Terry ever seem in any danger. Sure, he had a problem that needed solved, but there was no doubt that he would solve it, and his personal future and well-being was never in question.  He was never pursued, never hunted, never had to run and hide. Just a little more drama would have gone a long, long way.

Overall, a quick and enjoyable read. I would definitely check out more by the author, whether it was a continuation of this story or not.

Buy Truly Deeply Disturbed in paperback or for the Kindle today!

--J/Metro

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Tortured (2010)

The Tortured

Written by Marek Posival
Directed by Robert Lieberman

Elise Landry...Erika Christensen
Craig Landry...Jesse Metcalf
John Kozlowski...Billl Mosley


Elise and Craig Landry are the loving parents of a six-year-old boy.  On one horrible day, Craig, a doctor, takes his eyes off of his son for just a moment; but it only takes a moment for lunatic John Kozlowski to swoop in and kidnap him.  Craig gives pursuit, but it is no use.

Flash forward a bit, and a telephone tip has brought Kozlowski to police attention.  The body of their son is found, as well as the bodies of numerous others.  He is brought to trial, but when Kozlowski is given a reduced sentence in exchange for the location of more victims remains, Elise and Craig decide that simply isn't good enough.


Deciding to pull an Otis, they arrange to kidnap Kozlowski from police custody.  Taking him to a remote cabin, they proceed to torture him in unimaginable ways, using Craig's medical knowhow to keep him alive, and keep his conscious for the entirety.

True enough, this is another entry in the perhaps-waning Torture Porn genre, so if you are decidedly against these types of films, don't even bother giving this one a watch.  It's not going to change your mind.  However, if you enjoyed Hostel and Saw on at least a primal level, The Tortured might be right up your alley.  The torture scenes are well produced and incredibly hard to watch, and seeing Kozlowski in action--dressed in drag, wearing a tiara, and screaming in falsetto while a lullaby plays scratchily on a record player--is admittedly over-the-top, but incredibly disturbing.


It's not all gore and grue here, though.  There are solid performances all around, and painfully haunting moments of loss.  You feel for the parents, and can almost get behind their actions...even if you can barely stand to watch.

The Tortured is produced by Twisted Pictures, who brought us the aforementioned Saw franchise.  And, taking a note from the Saw playbook, there is a Grand Revelation set to that familar Saw-type music, that brings everything full circle and puts everything you thought you knew about the movie on end.  Or, at least, that's the idea.

I'm not going to give any more spoilers here, but this twist has confused some viewers and annoyed others.  I was somewhere in the middle, honestly, or maybe a little of both.  It made sense...kind of.  And yet it was still a little difficult to swallow.  And it hurt a bit going down.

The Tortured is currently available on VOD and from digital distributors, and will be in select theaters on June 15th.  Special thanks to IFC for supplying me with the screener.

2010
Not Rated
79 Minutes
Color
English
USA/Canada

"Killing him is not punishment enough."
--J/Metro

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Frankenstein Papers by Fred Saberhagen


The Frankenstein Papers
By Fred Saberhagen

Presenting itself simultaneously as a sequel to and an alternate version of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Frankenstein Papers by Fred Saberhagen is a fairly impressive work. It picks up shortly after the original tale, however both Frankenstein and his creation have survived. These aren't the only details that are different in this version, though, as in this story Frankenstein is still a very real book, however it is a bastardized fictionalization of true events.

The nameless creature is our primary narrator here, as the majority of this book purports to be selections from the journal in which he sets down his version of the events depicted in Shelley's novel and chronicles his further adventures as he attempts to discover the truth of his creation, identity, and nature.

Scattered throughout the novel are letters written by a few other characters, giving us a more dynamic glimpse into this world. The writing style is done old-fashioned enough for it to be believable, but not so much that it becomes off-putting to the modern eye. As a reader, you can lose yourself in this universe without needing to pull out a copy of the 1812 dictionary for reference.

The monster is at once familiar and alien to us, as he is not the soulless creature in which we are accustom to seeing him depicted. He is philosophical by nature, all but human, and lost in a world he is unfamiliar with. He desperately wants answers that are always just out of his grasp, and is willing to circumnavigate the globe if that is what it takes to find them. And it practically does.

It's not quite horror, since the Monster is not really much of a monster at all--though there are plenty of dark undertones. It's not quite science fiction, though there is plenty of talk about questionable science. It's something of an alternative history book, complete with genuine historic figures (Benjamin Franklin, Franz Mesmer, etc.) mingling with wholly fictional ones--well, as far as we know, anyway.

I found the book to be thoroughly captivating and enjoyable--until reaching the final chapter. The grand reveal, where the creature discovers the truth of his past, is so sudden and completely out of left field that it seems almost as if the final chapter of the manuscript was accidentally swapped out with that of another book. It's a revelation that is jarringly out of touch with the rest of the story, and comes close to ruining the whole experience. I'm sure that Saberhagen was trying to give us an unexpected twist, but sometimes the expected is better.

Worth dropping a few bucks to have in your collection, but you might want to pretend the story ends a few pages early.

--J/Metro

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Dead Want Women (2012)


The Dead Want Women

Written by Kurt Roudebush
Directed by Charles Band

Rose Pettigrew...Jean Louise O'Sullivan
Sonny Barnes...Eric Roberts
Reese...Jessica Morris
Dani...Ariana Madix


Hollywood, 1927. Rose Pettigrew is the darling of the silver screen, but behind the scenes she and her cohorts live a secret life of violent sexual debauchery. With the advent of the talkies, her starshine is waning, and when, during a party, she is informed that her studio contract has been cancelled, something in her snaps. She murders the other members of her kinky clique and then takes her own life.


Talk about overreacting.

Flash to the present, and self-proclaimed "two hottest realtors in the world" Reese and Dani have finally snagged an offer on the long-vacant Pettigrew house. They're straightening up the property in anticipation of the new buyer's arrival, but when the sun sets, the buyer doesn't show. But a few others do.


Comedian Tubby Fitzgerald, horror star Erik Burke and movie cowboy Sonny Barnes, all dead since that fateful night in 1927, pay the girls a little visit, looking for fresh meat for their sexual games.


This is, apparently, Full Moon's version of a slow-burning haunted house flick. After the opening scenes, not much happens for a while, and then when the ghosts do appear, there's very few surprises in store, as the ghosts spend their time pretty much doing the same thing as they did when they were alive--fucking and acting creepy. Is there anything here we haven't seen before? Depends on whether or not you've ever seen a woman raped by a ghost, I suppose.

It's not Full Moon's strongest feature, but it's not their weakest attempt either. There are plenty of beautiful women to ogle, more often than not stark raving naked. This movie is definitely aimed toward the male audience, and as males, we're easy. Throw some T&A on a screen, and unless the rest of the flick is a vile abomination, we'll watch with baited breath.

I don't understand why Full Moon can't capture the same quality of their Puppet Master or Subspecies series stronger efforts with any of their later standalone films, but it always seems just out of reach. If a little more time was spent in the scriptwriting stage, all the other weaknesses would easily be overlooked.


I believe in you Full Moon. But sometimes you make it so difficult.

2012
Not Rated
73 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"Girl, bling is my thing. And this is the real thing."
--J/Metro

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fever Night Gets Official Release!

Heya Hipsters,

I received an e-mail from my pal Andrew Schrader, one half of Bad People Motion Pictures, alerting me to the fact that their supremely surreal, bizarrely beautiful horror flick Fever Night AKA Band of Satanic Outsiders is finally getting an official release, which means all of you can see it too!

I'm a fan of this film, and of Bad People in general, so I'm extremely psyched to see this bad boy finally hitting stores.  Keep an eye out for it, and pick up a copy for your collection.  Support indie film, people--good indie film, anyway.

Fever Night will be available at "all the usual devilish corporate places" come May 15th, including Amazon, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, iTunes, Netflix and more.

Click HERE to read my original review of the film, and HERE to visit the official Bad People homepage.

--J/Metro

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Area 407 (2012)


Area 407

Written by Robert Shepyer, Dale Fabrigar, & Everette Wallin
Directed by Dale Fabrigar & Everette Wallin

Have you ever wondered what it would have been like if Lost was shot on the cheap as a found footage film instead of a TV series, and instead of crashing on some mysterious god island, it landed in a Michael Crichton novel? Of course you haven't. But regardless, this is the answer to the question nobody ever bothered to ask. Which is rather fitting, as by the end of this movie, there are more than a few questions that remain unanswered.

A plane traveling from New York to Los Angeles on New Years Eve hits some unexpected turbulence. And then it hits some unexpected ground, leaving only a small handful of survivors. These survivors, after much panic and bickering, find that their night has gone from bad to worse as some wild animal is hunting them down and picking them off, one by one.


The entire ordeal is documented by a barely-pubescent girl with no camera training and her older sister, whose increased age doesn't translate into camera skill. But if shaky camera work bothers you, you would have given up on the sub-genre shortly after The Blair Witch Project.

I have gone on record time and again stating that I'm a fan of found footage films, so I was thrilled when IFC sent me a screener (Thanks, guys!). However, Area 407 was so overloaded with problems, that my giddiness quickly faded after I hit 'PLAY'.

For starters, the characters were shrill, one-dimensional and annoying. There was so much screaming and shrieking, I had to hold my finger poised over the volume control lest I blow out my TV's speakers and my ear drums simultaneously. The fact that these paper-thin characters continued to film everything was even harder to swallow here than in most movies of the same ilk. You know when most people stop recording? When they're climbing over severed, flaming appendages to get themselves to (relative) safety.


The animal that is stalking the survivors could have been any number of things that would have made sense, but the filmmakers went with something so out of left field that it doesn't just border on ridiculous, it knocked down those borders and welcomed refugees with open arms. Throughout the running time, we're shown only glimpses of this creature--teeth here, a tail there--because the grand reveal of what this animal really is is part of the shock ending.

Unfortunately--and maybe this had something to do with my lack of appreciation for the film--Area 407 has pulled the Great Blunder that has plagued these films for far too long--it ruins the ending by putting it in the trailer! I suppose it's in good company, though. Other movies that have used the final shot in the trailer, or poster image--sometimes both!--include Quarantine, Evil Things, and Paranormal Activity. Before long, publishers will be printing the final sentences of books on the front cover.

If you're going to see this movie, I urge you NOT to view the trailer before hand, as it will surely taint the experience.

Hell, you probably shouldn't have even read my review.

Whoops!
--J/Metro

2012
PG-13
90 Minutes
Color
English
United States

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