April 30, 2016
It's already the end of April - and not too early to bring up events I'm looking forward to this fall. Join me this October 7 - 9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel here in Louisville for a new favorite, local convention: Imaginarium 2016, a midwestern/midsouth conference for writers, readers and fans (media, news, publishing, gaming).
Check here for more details.
The Imadjinn Awards (includes an awards banquet) will be handed out on Saturday, October 8 to winners in the categories of Small Press nominees and independently published authors.
Also on Saturday evening, October 8, make plans to attend the third annual Imaginarium Masquerade Ball. There will, of course, be a costume contest.
Don't forget that the Film Festival will include an awards show as well. Many things to keep track of over the course of three days!
Some special guests of the convention this year:
Brian Keene (author and Guest of Honor)
Elizabeth Bevarly (author)
Jason Sizemore (author/editor/publisher)
Lynn Tincher (author/filmmaker)
Michael Knost (author/editor)
Lana Read (screenwriter/film director)
Tim Waggoner (author)
Dan Jolley (author/game designer)
Maurice Broaddus (author/editor)
And many more....
I hope to see you there!
March 29, 2016
I've wanted to be in the same room with Stephen King since I was 13 years old. Finally, it seems I'll have my chance. Louisville is one of the stops on his 2016 book tour this summer - probably the first time he's been to the Derby City, so I was quite excited by the news.
Tickets went on sale here on March 26, and I'm happy to say I nabbed one early that morning. Even though the event is sponsored by Carmichael's Bookstore, the actual venue for his appearance will be Iroquois Amphitheater.
From King's official website:
"To celebrate the release of End of Watch, Stephen King will embark on a twelve city book tour kicking off on June 7 in New Jersey. The tour will include an evening with Stephen discussing End of Watch (the final book in the Bill Hodges Trilogy) and much more. At each event, 400 pre-signed books will be given out at random. There will not be book signings during the appearances."
For more details, click the link below. (It's been reported that the events in Iowa and New Jersey have already sold out.)
I also wanted to remind people that ConGlomeration 2016 (Louisville's grassroots interactive sci-fi and fantasy convention) will take place April 8 - 10 here at the Ramada Plaza Hotel. Click here for more info.
February 29, 2016
I don't think anyone could have been more excited about the return of The X Files than this redheaded gal right here. It was my favorite show from the 90s - probably my favorite series of all time. And three years ago I finally got to (briefly) meet Gillian Anderson - Agent Dana Scully - at a local convention.
"I can't remember how many times I pretended I was Scully for Halloween." The cheapest costume ever, even with my fake F.B.I. badge.
But duh - that's what I chose to say to an icon? Gillian just smiled. "You fooled your friends. I know you did."
During her Q&A, she mentioned how she'd love it if Chris Carter brought back the series. No one I know believed it would happen, but here we are in 2016 and wishes do come true.
Was Season 10 perfect? No, far from it, but you won't hear me complaining. The old show had its flaws, too. Unlike a lot of fans, I didn't expect these newest six episodes to have the same quality of writing and chemistry that the early seasons had. Many years have passed since the end of the original series, so of course the actors, characters and writers had all aged. And the world had changed. A complete reboot/reset button had to be pushed, and I expected some glitches along the way.
Minor spoilers ahead.
I consider the first episode - "My Struggle" - an attempt to set up the new season for old viewers and new viewers alike, with a government conspiracy (and alien abductee) plot-line. We were subjected to lots of background info and exposition, and it's clear that David Duchovny (Mulder) and Anderson had to rediscover - and then redefine - their characters and their relationship. To me, it all felt familiar and different at the same time. Scully seemed the most changed. Even her voice sounded husky and strange. (Perhaps she simply had a cold?) I heard many of my friends moan and sigh over the Season 10 premiere, saying they were disappointed. But I was unperturbed.
The second episode ("Founder's Mutation") was better received by all - a definite improvement over the first. Extreme genetic experimentation at a lab had resulted in subjects developing dangerous powers. More like the old show for sure. Mulder and Scully seem more comfortable with each other, too. But Scully's voice still isn't normal.
"Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster" is my favorite of the six episodes. This third installment is nothing but fun, and made me feel nostalgic. It reminded me of how I felt watching the original series - witnessing the same old chemistry between Mulder and Scully (whose voice sounded unstrained, finally). The two investigate a dead body that was found in the woods, trying to determine if a serial killer, an animal, or a weird creature rumored to have been on the scene is responsible. Written by Darin Morgan, who wrote four of my favorite episodes during the original run, it involves nihilistic humor, left-field plot twists, and a few Easter eggs to be discovered and enjoyed by us X Files fanatics (who know more about the show than your average fan).
"Home Again" also managed to capture the feel of the original series. Mulder and Scully investigate the odd, gory murder of a city official who was considered an enemy of the city's homeless population. At the same time, Scully struggles with feelings of guilt and remorse regarding the son she gave up for adoption fifteen years before.
The "Babylon" episode reflects the world we live in today - terrorism on the rise due to religious extremism. An art museum is targeted by suicide bombers, one of whom survives the blast, and Mulder and Scully try to find a way to communicate with the comatose young man to prevent another attack. I found this episode to be a bizarre mixture of tragedy and comedy - the humor coming into play during Mulder's wild "trip" after supposedly using mushrooms in an attempt to reach another plane of existence. The "Achy Breaky" dance sequence amused me greatly, and we even got to see The Lone Gunmen again. We are also introduced two new likeable characters, young F.B.I. agents who are nearly carbon copies of Mulder and Scully: Agents Miller and Einstein. The scenes between the four of them were quite humorous.
The season finale, "My Struggle II," had me thinking "too much, too soon." I feel it would have been much better to spread (and expand) the events out over two or three episodes instead, building up to the cataclysmic ending. We see the return of an old nemesis, and the controversial web-TV host from the first episode is back as well, along with Agents Miller and Einstein. People are becoming seriously ill all over the world, apparently relating to the events of 2012 that were predicted by the Cigarette Smoking Man (aka Cancer Man) near the end of the original series. Mulder is in danger but Scully is immune. All along I wanted them to have a reason to find their son, William, and now they have no choice but to locate him. Will he be a typical angry teen, or a human-alien hybrid with his own agenda? The events at the end of this episode mean the world will never be the same again, so a future season - probably the final one - would have to pull out all the stops. The X Files would become a different kind of series altogether.
So come on, Chris Carter, give it one more try. As the late director/producer Kim Manners used to say, "Let's kick it in the ass."
January 31, 2016
Late one night, a couple of months ago, I received a text from a friend of mine.
"You've got to watch this movie I just saw. It's...it's...I'm not sure how to describe it exactly, but you need to see it."
He wasn't the only one who thought so, and I finally got around to viewing it recently.
"Bone Tomahawk" is hard to describe because it's a mix of different genres. A horror-comedy-western? The off-beat entertaining dialogue had me thinking I was watching a film influenced by the Coen Brothers. (And also, two of the actors had appeared in Season Two of "Fargo.")
I'm not a big fan of westerns. But the very first scene let me know this movie wasn't going to be typical of the genre. Get ready for some gore. (However, a viewer tuning in after the opening scene could be fooled into thinking they were about to watch a gentle western with amusing characters.)
The main premise is a familiar one: Against great odds, a noble, weary sheriff (Kurt Russell) leads a small posse into the desert to search for a few townsfolk who have been kidnapped by Indians.
Except the natives are cave-dwelling, cannabilistic savages who frighten even the most war-like tribes. And the posse consists of a "back-up" deputy who's an old-timer with a gift for gab (Richard Jenkins), a cowpoke with a broken leg (Patrick Wilson), and a charming gunslinger with a superiority complex (Matthew Fox).
The screenplay by novelist S. Craig Zahler (also the director) is unique and not half bad for a debut. I think ten minutes could have been shaved off the final product and it would have had better pacing, but the superb dialogue and stellar cast make up for that particular flaw, in my opinion. (Even Sid Haig has a memorable cameo.)
A couple of scenes in the first half hour hint at the extreme violence to come in the last half hour. I'll never forget the "wishbone scene" near the end. Normally, I'm not that faint-hearted, but I was tempted to skip over it.
So, I'd recommend "Bone Tomahawk" to hardcore horror fans everywhere. It gets three out of five goblins.
December 31, 2015
In interviews, Guillermo del Toro insisted that he did not consider his latest film Crimson Peak to be a gothic horror story, but a gothic romance. After seeing it last fall, I have to agree. I've been a fan of del Toro for several years now, and I typically enjoy his subtitled foreign films better (The Orphanage, The Devil's Backbone). I can never resist a ghost story.
While I was watching Crimson Peak, I couldn't help being reminded of a film I'd seen back in 1995: Haunted, based on the novel by James Herbert. Both films involve romance, incest and murder. I was able to guess the major twist in Crimson Peak partly because I recollected the story by Herbert. Both are set close to the turn of the century and both use decaying English mansions as a major character. Haunted actually has two major twists, and though the first is fairly easy to see coming at a certain point, the second was not (for me, at least). I think Herbert's story comes closer to being a gothic horror tale than Crimson Peak.
Guillermo's film is beautiful to look at and the actors are all superb - especially Jessica Chastain. I love Tom Hiddleston, and I especially love to see his characters suffer, since he does it so admirably.
Haunted is stark and dreary in comparison. Aidan Quinn is excellent in the leading role of David Ash - a skeptical parapsychologist who is asked to investigate a supposedly haunted mansion belonging to the Mariell family. (Ash was drawn into the field at an early age due to the untimely death of his twin sister, Juliet, for which he blames himself.) The three Mariell children, along with Nanny Tess, believe the late Mrs. Mariell has returned to walk the halls of Edbrook. David is seduced by Christina Mariell (Kate Beckinsale), much to her eldest brother Robert's dismay. While investigating the eerie happenings at Edbrook, David keeps seeing his dead sister, who appears to be trying to warn him away from the Mariells. Nanny Tess also seems to be afraid of something other than Mrs. Mariell's ghost, but she is intimidated into silence.
In del Toro's film, the lead character, Edith Cushing, also receives ghostly warnings from a late relative, her mother: "Beware of Crimson Peak." She does not understand these warnings until it is too late. Edith is a budding novelist of the supernatural and until she meets the mysterious, handsome Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), she has no interest in men or marriage. Her father, wealthy American businessman Carter Cushing, is completely against the romance, for he is not fooled by Sir Thomas' charm. Sir Thomas has come to America with his sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain), to get funding for his clay-mining invention. Carter is not about to help Sir Thomas or approve his proposal of marriage. Shortly after Sir Thomas breaks off the romance, Carter is murdered - although it is ruled an accident.
A grieving Edith is free to marry Sir Thomas and move to England into Allerdale Hall, the Sharpes' dilapidated mansion. But the sister and brother are not who they seem. My favorite quote from the movie is by Chastain's character, Lucille: "This love burns you and maims you, and twists you inside out. It is a monstrous love, and it makes monsters of us all."
Guillermo's ghosts are always creepy, but I didn't find too many genuine scares in Crimson Peak. Sometimes it moved along too slowly and predictably for my taste. Especially since I guessed the major twist early on. However, although it had minor flaws, I was never bored with Haunted.
If you had decided last fall to wait for the DVD release of Crimson Peak instead of seeing it at a cinema, I think you made a wise choice.