Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Movie Review: Stripped (2012)


STRIPPED - Organ Harvesting Horror - Poster Image

Written by Andrew Caldwell
Directed by J.M.R. Luna

Luke...Josh Cole
Cameron...Carson Aune
Tommy K...Alvaro Orlando
Capri...Nicole Sienna

STRIPPED - Organ Harvesting Horror - Viva Las Vegas

Four friends head to Las Vegas for a balls-out birthday weekend, which includes booze, drugs, gambling, and of course a prerequisite visit to a whore house. For a hefty price, they can not only get their rocks off but also their organs out--ripped out of their bodies, that is. Ye Olde Cat House is actually a front for a black market organ harvesting ring, and these partygoers are next on the operating table.

The characters here are your usual assortment of annoying stock douchebags, who only get more annoying the drunker they get. Birthday boy Graham (I swear his name is Graham, though there is no character named Graham listed at the IMDB page) is the burned out stoner; his brother Luke is the sensitive, lovelorn type (who looks a lot like Adam Levine, in my opinion); Tommy K. is the pretty boy player who refers to himself almost solely as Tommy K; and Cameron is the spoiled rich kid who records all of the debauchery on tape.

Yep, this is a found footage film--at least, mostly. The first two-thirds of the film is comprised solely of Cameron's camera, but the final third of the movie introduces quick shots of grainy surveillance footage before taking a sudden left-turn into conventional cinema. This shift in cinematography was an odd choice, but at least it spared us from having to ask "Why are they still filming everything!?" Then it shifts again to show alternate footage of scenes we've already been through as well as new ones, taken from another camera. Stripped deviates from the norm in this respect, and even when it doesn't work, at least it's offering up something different.

STRIPPED - Organ Harvesting Horror - Don't Call This Number

As with most films of this ilk, there's a lot of on-camera bickering and episodic acts of randomness before the story gets moving--what passes as character development. This would be fine if the characters weren't so annoying, but in this instance, the less time I spend with them the better.

Basically this felt as if one of the Hostel flicks had been a segment in V/H/S, so how you feel about those films will probably determine how you feel about this one. I was entertained even when annoyed, but not to the point where I will probably watch it again.

Special thanks to Inception Media Group for the screener!

2012
Rated R
80 Minutes
Color
English
United States

--J/Metro

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Review: Firebug by Robert Bloch

Firebug
FIREBUG by Robert Bloch - Cover Image
By Robert Bloch

"My name is Philip Dempster; I'm sleeping."

The journalist in American genre fiction is a convenient substitute for the police officer. As a protagonist, he can find himself investigating crimes and being put in dangerous situations, and as it is his job to do so, the reader finds it believable. In many ways, the fictional journalist is something akin to a more-modern private eye: he's involved in the case for his job, he operates more on instinct than training, and he doesn't go to the authorities at the first sign of trouble because he wants to wrap things up for himself.

So it's not surprising that Robert Bloch's novel Firebug reads so much like pulpy detective fiction. Blocked writer Philip Dempster accepts a job with the local paper to make ends meet, investigating a number of cults that have begun to pop up in recent years. However, while on the story, seemingly every cult-related locale he visits is burned to the ground shortly afterwards.

Dempster is, understandably, the prime suspect in the arson investigation, but he couldn't have done it. Or could he? He does drink too much to escape a past that he can't bear to face, and blacks out on occasion...

Dempster is surrounded by a colorful supporting cast of fanatics, charlatans and true believers, and it seems that Bloch had done his homework in regards to both cults and pyromania. The psychology behind both subjects is brushed upon in his usual clipped, purple prose, and although he is obviously only an armchair psychologist, there does seem to be some truth behind what he says.

It's not a horror story by any means, and it's not the least bit terrifying no matter what the cover blurbs will have you believe, but it was, for the most part, an enjoyable little crime thriller. It did run out of steam towards the end, but it wrapped up rather nicely despite it all. It's probably not one I will ever revisit, but it's worth the day or two investment that it would take to make your way through.

"My name is Philip Dempster; my dreams are horrible."

--J/Metro

Friday, April 26, 2013

Graphic Novel Review: The Trip (Action Lab: Danger Zone Comics)

The Trip
THE TRIP - cover image - From Action Lab: Danger Zone Comics

Written by Jesse Grillo
Illustrated by David Brame
Colors by Heather Breckel

A group of college students looking for a good time while on a getaway dose themselves with demon weed, a bitter root ingested by Native Americans in coming-of-age ceremonies. The hallucinations they each experience are based on their deepest fears, and if they can't bring themselves to face them, they die a violent and real-life death. Kind of like A Nightmare on Psilocybin Street.

Most of the characters are stock horror tropes--jocks, sluts, burnouts and assholes--and serve mostly as slaughter fodder. Our heroine here is Karen, a cute goth chick with a dark past whose hallucinatory nightmare is her abusive father...who just so happens to also be coming for her in real life. Facing her fear is going to be a lesson with definite real-life applications.

THE TRIP - Daddy's home - From Action Lab: Danger Zone Comics

This could easily be turned into a low-budget indie horror flick, which would be passable but easily forgotten. Truth be told, the graphic novel might suffer the same fate. The characters and situations are all fairly standard, and the plotting feels rushed. The real star of the show here, though, is the artwork.

The art is cartoonish, sketchy, and slightly exaggerated. It works decently enough for the scenes that are actually happening, but truly excels when depicting the hallucinations. These scenes are all impossible angles, vibrant colors and twisted depictions that are simultaneously frightening and gorgeous--what I imagine dating a stripper would be like.

THE TRIP - Tripping balls - From Action Lab: Danger Zone Comics

So The Trip is like a stripper. Fun to look at, but you don't really care about her story.

Special thanks to ACTION LAB COMICS for the review copy!

--J/Metro

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Etsy Alert: Original Horror Posters by Trevor Dunt

Some of you have probably seen these fantastic original movie posters by artist Trevor Dunt, but did you know that you can purchase them to decorate your spooky abode with?  He's got a number of different ones available on his Etsy store, all of them very affordable at $25 each or two for $40.  Check them all out, but below are five of my favorites.

The House of the Devil Poster by Trevor Dunt
This House of the Devil poster looks genuine vintage, much like the film it represents.  Complete with folds, tears and masking tape.  Click HERE to purchase.

A Nightmare on Elm Street poster by Trevor Dunt
This poster for A Nightmare on Elm Street seems to simultaneously represent the hand of the victim (scraping down the wall during the throws of death) and the victor (the claws of Freddy Kruger).  Click HERE to purchase.

Hellraiser poster by Trevor Dunt
This Hellraiser poster "unfolds" the infamous puzzle box as if it were made of paper, turning it into an inverted cross against a pitch black background.  It totally suits the series.  Click HERE to purchase.

Nosferatu poster by Trevor Dunt
This startling Nosferatu poster is comprised solely of black and white (much like the film), and the vampire's shadow stretches out to epic proportions, hearkening back to the movie's expressionistic roots.  The white shape also suggests a pair of fangs.  Fan-freakin'-tastic.  Click HERE to purchase.

Lords of Salem poster by Trevor Dunt
I haven't seen Lords of Satan, so I can't say anything about the film itself, but the image above is an awesome representation of the dichotomy between angelic and satanic.  Click HERE to purchase.

Visit Trevor's WEBSITE and his ESTY STORE for more fantastic images!

--J/Metro

Monday, April 22, 2013

Movie Review: Mama (2013)

Mama
MAMA - Movie Poster

Written by Neil Cross, Andrés Muschietti, & Barbara Muschietti
Directed by Andrés Muschietti
Produced by Guillermo del Toro

Lucas...Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Annabel...Jessica Chastain
Victoria...Megan Charpentier
Lily..Isabelle Nélisse

Five years after the disappearance of young Victoria and Lily Desange, the persistence of their uncle Lucas pays off. The girls are found alive, living in a cabin in the wilderness. After so long without human contact, they have reverted to an almost feral state. Filthy, frightened and animalistic, they are remanded into the custody of Lucas and his girlfriend Annabel, so long as the girls remain in the care of psychologist Dr. Dreyfuss.

MAMA - Mama's Family

How do two children survive alone in the woods for half a decade? They don't. They had been adopted by a ghostly woman known as Mama, and although they are back in the hands of their real family, Mama doesn't want to give them up so easily.

Before this film came out, it already had its fair share of supporters and detractors. It was only rated PG-13, so it wasn't going to be a balls-to-the-wall frightfest, but it did have a certain pedigree with Guillermo del Toro's name attached. Still, PG-13 ghost stories can be occasionally effective (i.e., Poltergeist), and del Toro can be occasionally ineffective (i.e., Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, which I actually enjoyed more than a lot of people did), even though his work is visually striking. So what is the final verdict?

I found it to be a pretty damn solid ghost story, even if it doesn't bring much of anything new to the table. Its strength is owed mostly to the creepy performances of young stars Megan Charpentier (Victoria) and Isabelle Nélisse (Lily). Whereas Victoria was old enough to remember her former life, and thus was able to regain some civility, Lily had nothing but wilderness in her memory, and retained her animal nature throughout. Seeing her prowl around on all fours with the speed of a wildcat, eating moths and hair and whatever gets too close to her mouth, was unnerving to say the least.

MAMA - Creepy Lily and her moth mouth

Mama herself was spooky, too...when she remained mostly offstage, offering up only glimmers and glances. But her spook quotient took a real downturn when she took center stage as a heavily-rendered CGI creation, broken and mangled with her hair fanning out around her like a Japanese ghost girl in zero gravity. She may have been good for a quick jump scare, but the only long lasting impression she offered was one of disappointment. This desire to show us too much of the monster is the weakest aspect of the film.  Mama the movie looks fantastic, even though Mama the character leaves something to be desired.

MAMA - Cartoon ghost

Final verdict:  Definitely watchable and easily palatable.  I just hope you don't mind the haunting being done by what basically amounts to a silly cartoon.

Special thanks to Universal for the screener!

2013
Rated PG-13
100 Minutes
Color
English
Spain/Canada

"Victoria!  Come!  Mama!"
--J/Metro

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Movie Review: John Dies At The End (2012)

John Dies At The End

Written & Directed by Don Coscarelli
Based on the novel by David Wong

David Wong...Chase Williamson
John Diesattheend...Rob Mayes
Arnie...Paul Giamatti


When David Wong gets a panicked phone call from his buddy John in the middle of the night, he goes to investigate. He finds John tripping balls on some hallucinatory black goo, and accidentally gets a dose of that shit, too. Suddenly the unreal becomes quite real, space and time can be bent in unimaginable ways, and unspeakable creatures from beyond the veil are creeping into our world and looking to take over. Only David, John and a ragtag group of associates can possibly put a stop to it, because you don't choose the soy sauce...the soy sauce chooses you.


It's a fun and exciting movie, with a nearly endless supply of trippy visuals. The budget was small, but put to fantastic use.  There's always something mind-blowing to be found onscreen.  If you crossed a random episode of TV's Supernatural with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then John Dies at the End very well could be the result.

I haven't read the book, but after seeing the movie, I definitely plan to. The plot here moved along at almost too-brisk of a pace, especially at the end, and it seemed a little rushed at times.  There were also a lot of loose ends and things left unexplained--though maybe that was by design, I can't say for sure.  Regardless, I'm hoping that the book manages to slow things down a bit and flesh things out. There's a lot more to this world than we were given the opportunity to see.


Despite the shortcomings, John Dies at the End was a blast to watch, and I have feeling that I'll be returning to it time and time again.  Well worth a purchase, hipsters. But if you view it under the influence of shrooms, I can not be held liable for the damage done to your mind.

But I sure as hell want to hear about it later.

Special thanks to Magnolia Home Entertainment for the screener!

2012
Rated R
99 Minutes
Color
English
United States

"I believe in demons and worms, and vile shit in the grease trap of the universe."
--J/Metro

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Goodies in the Mail!

Goodies in the Mail: Mama Blu-Ray/Dvd Combo
M A M A
Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet

Thanks, Universal!

...Review coming soon...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hemlock Grove Premieres Today!

HEMLOCK GROVE - Official Poster - Netflix Exclusive

The Netflix-only horror series Hemlock Grove premieres today.  Much to the delight of binge-viewers everywhere, all 13 episodes will be available simultaneously.
In the shadows of a rusted Pennsylvania steel town, the mangled body of a teenage girl is discovered. As they hunt for a monster among them, rumors mount and many of the eccentric residents become suspects, from the newly arrived gypsy family to the wealthy Godfrey clan. In the twisted world of Hemlock Grove, everyone hides a dark secret. From director Eli Roth (“Hostel”) comes a chilling supernatural series based on Brian McGreevy’s novel.
I'm planning on sitting down for a good chunk of these episodes on my next day off.  I'm looking forward to plopping ass on the couch and getting lost for the day.


--J/Metro

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cult: Another One Bites the Dust

The CW series Cult has been canceled after the first seven episodes received dismal ratings.  If you're not familiar with the plotline, I can't say that I blame you.  I've seen all seven episodes, and I'm still a little unclear.

The series followed Jeff, a reporter, whose younger troubled brother Nate goes missing after developing an obsession with the CW television series Cult.  Jeff and Skye, a research assistant on the show-within-a-show, investigate Nate's disappearance together, learning along the way that the cult-like following that Cult has is actually a genuine cult...or something like that.

I have a tendency to enjoy things that swing toward the meta, and this series had that in spades.  I also enjoy the work of Robert Knepper, who portrays menacing much more convincingly than he really should be able to.  I'm not quite sure what I thought of Cult, though.  It was one of those series that thrived on unanswered questions, and after investing seven hours into the show, things were just beginning to make some semblance of sense.  And just as a few questions were being answered, the network pulled the plug.

I can't fault the CW for canceling the show.  They gave it a much longer go than nearly any other network would.  However I do find it disappointing that they won't be airing the final six episodes, which would give viewers some amount of closure.  The fact that they will be replacing it with reruns of The Carrie Diaries and Oh, Sit (the extreme musical chairs game show) is sad.  Just sad.

Hopefully the unaired episodes will still make their way onto Hulu+, which is where I do most of my TV watching, since I'm always working during prime time.

Maybe that's why the show got cancelled...
--J/Metro

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Book Review: Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris

Hannibal Rising
HANNIBAL RISING by Thomas Harris - Book Cover
By Thomas Harris

*SPOILER ALERT*

Author Thomas Harris ends his Hannibal Lecter series by taking us back to the beginning. The results are perhaps less than stellar, but not terrible by any means.

Lecter is a young man for the vast majority of this novel, studying medicine by day and seeking revenge against the war criminals that murdered and ate his baby sister when he was just a young buck. Through it all, he attempts to stay ahead of an intrepid police investigator and stay in the good graces of his Japanese aunt/adoptive stepmother/love interest.

The novel starts off very rough, with sketchy and fragmented scenes that are over before you realize they've even begun. It is later discovered that this is because Hannibal's memories of these events are fragmented, and they are fleshed out in more satisfying detail a bit later. Getting through the opening chapters was difficult, though, and took more than one sitting.

Were this a standalone novel of Post-WWII revenge, it would have been a much better work, but as an entry in the Hannibal Lecter series, it just seems rushed and inconsistent. Of course, if it wasn't an entry in the Hannibal Lecter series, most people wouldn't have read it.

We witness Hannibal's introduction to his "memory palace", which is supposed to be a big deal, I guess, but I find the whole concept to be nonsense, anyway. We witness the full events hinted at in Hannibal, where baby Mischa is hauled away by hungry soldiers. We witness Hannibal's first murder, and his first consumption of human flesh.

We witness a lot of things here, but the pieces still don't add up to a conclusive whole. Vengeance is a credible motivation for itself, but I find it difficult to believe that it would be a terrifying serial killer and cannibal's origin--I mean, killing the men who ate your sister is one thing, but that still doesn't explain how that evolves into killing an orchestra musician because he simply wasn't good at his job. It's not as if his reign of vengeance simply drove him mad--despite his being institutionalized, Lecter never came across as insane. That's what makes him such a frightening character. He is in full control of himself and his faculties in any given situation.

I found it odd that never once was Hannibal's extra finger mentioned here, just as it was never mentioned in Red Dragon. It's almost as if it spontaneously sprouted at some point between Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. It also seemed strange that Lecter's first love, the beautiful and ageless Lady Murasaki, had never been mentioned in any of the other books. She was responsible for much of his development, and his appreciation of the finer things, but she was never even hinted at before.

It's an unsatisfying beginning to a saga, and an unsatisfying ending to a series. My advice is to cross out every mention of Hannibal Lecter, replace it with another name--say, Portnoy Goldberg--and judge it by its own merits...whatever they may be.

--J/Metro

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Book Review: Dresden Files #2 - Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

The Dresden Files #2: Fool Moon
DRESDEN FILES #2: Fool Moon by Jim Butcher - Book Cover
By Jim Butcher

Professional wizard Harry Dresden steps in it again, as he is called in by his old pal Detective Murphy to assist in her investigation of a string of brutal murders. This time around, it's not a rogue warlock behind the slayings, but rather a werewolf of some sort--and over the course of the book, we realize that there is definitely more than one sort to speak of.

All the while, his life is in danger. Werewolf bikers, feral lycanthropes, gentlemen gangsters, the FBI and Chicago PD...Dresden finds himself hunted and pursued by all of them and then some, and even his trusty magic has limits to what it can do.

This second entry in the series had some positives, but it had twice as many negatives for me. The werewolf angle was a good one, and Dresden's interactions with the different factions of them was pretty interesting. Many of the best characters returned, including Bob the Skull, and many more were introduced. Most of these newbies don't seem all that well fleshed-out, though, and only Tera the ladywolf really stands out at all.

What was most disappointing for me was the sheer repetitiveness, which is a rather sad thing for a series that is only two books in. At the beginning of the story, there were a number of informative callbacks that rehashed elements of this world that we already knew from Storm Front, but those I could tolerate. Not everybody would be reading these books rapid fire, and they might require refresher course between installments.

What was more difficult to stomach, though, were the plot elements that were recycled from the previous entry. Once again, Dresden is called in by Murphy to investigate a murder. Once again, Murphy begins to suspect Dresden is guilty of the very crime they are investigating. Once again, Dresden is wrongfully pursued by the law. And Once again, gangster Marcone is wrapped up in the whole mess. It was as if Butcher took the plot outline for Storm Front, and just crossed out every instance of "evil wizard" and replaced it with "werewolf".

It was a decent enough page-turner, and I probably would have enjoyed it much more if I hadn't seemingly read it already.

--J/Metro

Monday, April 8, 2013

Movie Review: Crush (2013)

Crush
CRUSH - 2013 - Poster Image

Written by Sonny Mallhi
Directed by Malik Bader

Scott...Lucas Till
Bess...Crystal Reed
Jules...Sarah Bolger

Occasionally I enjoy a good teen scream film, if only to see what they're doing these days within the confines of a PG-13 fright flick. Well, as it turns out, they're doing the exact same things they were doing 20 years ago, only with Facebook updates and iPhones.

CRUSH - 2013 - Soccer Scott

Bland high school soccer star Scott blows out his knee, putting his future in jeopardy. There doesn't seem to be any shortage of beautiful women willing to play nursemaid to him, though, as every time he turns a corner, some new babe is throwing herself at his feet. The latest among them is shy and awkward Bess, a pretty-but-pretty-weird oddball.

In short order, all of Scott's friends, rivals and romantic interests meet dark and deadly ends. Blah, blah, blah.

CRUSH - 2013 - Bizarre Bess

It's a very by-the-numbers thriller whose only saving grace may be the twist ending--though even if you don't see it coming, you probably won't find it all that shocking, either. Everything is pretty tame, being as this is PG-13, and the stalker moves with a preternatural, ninja-like stealth, making the whole affair seem like a slasherless slasher film.

No bite and no fright, but the same can probably be said for a lot of the movies that I watched as a youngster, too. Like Alicia Silverstone's The Crush, which has more in common with this film than just the title.

Not worth the effort, hipsters.

Special thanks to Millennium Entertainment for supplying the screener!

2013
PG-13
95 minutes
Color
English
United States

"Penny for your thoughts?"
--J/Metro

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Movie Review: Die Screaming, Marianne (1971)

Die Screaming, Marianne
DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - DVD Cover Image

Written by Murray Smith
Directed by Pete Walker

Marianne "Hips" McDonald...Susan George
Eli...Barry Evans
Sebastian...Christopher Sandford

Young busty and lusty gogo dancer Marianne is poised to inherit a large sum of scratch on her 21st birthday...which is why her (incestful) family members are trying to kill her. She flees from her pursuers, hitches a ride with modish fop Sebastian, goes to marry him two weeks later, and, due to some clerical "error", winds up married to his best friend Eli instead. Whoops! She breaks up with Sebastian, beds down with Eli, and tries to live a peaceful life...until her money-grubbing family members come looking for her.

DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - Marianne & her two suitors

This is an odd little thriller in that it is very scarcely thrilling. There's a lot of jibber-jabber, and a lot of pretty things to look at, but not much in the way of action, excitement or suspense. It's a big old case of style over substance, and how you feel about that will greatly affect how you feel about this film.

The score is a groovy blend of synth, sitar, chanteuse and 'seventies funk, and the camera work varies between standard and art house. There is a lot of soft focus, wonky angles, split-screen, and some crazy dissolves between scenes. The opening credit sequence, the only time we get to see Marianna gogo'ing, was one of the greatest things I have ever seen, sexy and sensual enough to rival anything with the name James Bond attached to it.

DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - Opening gogo dance 1
DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - Opening gogo dance 2
 DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - Opening gogo dance 3
 DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - Opening gogo dance 4

Unfortunately, the rest of the film just couldn't live up to the hype. I was bored and uncaring most of the time, but continued watching if for no other reason than the fact that Susan George--the immodest goddess of mod--continued to prance around in various stages of undress. If you've seen her in Straw Dogs or The House Where Evil Dwells, you know that's nothing to sneeze at.

Behold:

DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - The beautiful Susan George 1
 DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - The beautiful Susan George 2
 DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - The beautiful Susan George 3
 DIE SCREAMING, MARIANNE - The beautiful Susan George 4

It's not going to knock your socks off, but if you're a fan of George, it could get your rocks off. All others need not apply.

1971
Rated R
99 minutes
Color
English
UK

--J/Metro

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: Hannibal by Thomas Harris

Hannibal
Hannibal by Thomas Harris - Book Cover
By Thomas Harris

The last time we saw Clarice Starling, she was a naïve but promising rising star in the FBI. But now, seven years later, she is stalled in her career path as controversy and Bureau politics have seen her passed over for promotion and proper assignment time and time again.

The last time we saw Hannibal Lecter, he had escaped from imprisonment and was on the lam. On that front, not much has changed except that he traded the landscape of America for that of historic Italy.

The FBI continues their pursuit of Lecter, but they are not the only one. The partially-paralyzed, fully-disfigured Mason Verger--one of Lecter's early victims, and the only one to survive his attack--is funding a massive, global manhunt for the gentleman cannibal, seeking not justice but revenge.

Verger's bounty is large enough that there are plenty of people willing to give into the temptation of breaking the law to collect it, including disgraced Italian detective Rinaldo Pazzi. It briefly seems as if Pazzi (a character torn straight from the script of some forgotten giallo) will be the primary protagonist this time around, just as the focus shifted from Will Graham to Clarice Starling in the last novel, but this is not the case. He is just another member of a large cast whose influence is instrumental in landing Lecter in Verger's hands.

Starling, treated like a sacrificial lamb by the Feds, still has an innate sense of justice and honor, and she's not going to let a simple thing like being taken off the case prevent her from tracking Lecter down.

I have conflicted feelings about this novel when viewed in relation to its two predecessors. Taken on its own, it is a glorious and entertaining exercise in excess--an excess of the tasteful (much time is spent discussing fine music, art, and cuisine) and the distasteful (man-eating pigs, disembowelings, a twisted dinner scene that crosses Leatherface with...some fancy French restaurant that I'm not even capable of referencing) alike. It seemed as if Harris was throwing everything that he could think of into the mix, not caring what sunk and what rose to the top, a not-so-delicate blending of oil and water. That's something I can get behind.

But when taken as a part of the series, that's when things get a bit murky. The characters here have seemingly little connection to the people they were before. Jack Crawford, once a fatherly hero to Starling, is now ineffectual and defeated. Starling herself seems like a shell of the person she once was, acting in ways that I can't imagine she actually would--especially in the finale, which is so outlandish that it was drastically altered for the film adaptation.

Lecter had always been a bit of an enigma, with only minor glimpses into his character. Here, though, he steps out from the sidelines and takes center stage. What backstory we do get is heinous and tragic, but understanding the monster doesn't serve to make him more frightening. This is the novel that turned Lecter into less of a villain and more of an anti-hero, which is something that doesn't bother me but is not everyone's cup of tea.

Hannibal is a story that didn't have to be written, that much is certain. It was probably more of a cash grab than an attempt at any sort of art, but you give the masses what they want and they come hungrily to the slaughter just like Mason Verger's piggies.

One more visit to the trough for Hannibal Rising, and then this franchise is finis.

--J/Metro

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