The Possession of Michael King (2014) – Movie review

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The Possession of Michael King (2014)

This is a film that uses found footage elements along with some traditional film scenes. It tells the story of a young family who suffers a tragedy. The father, Michael King, a devout atheist, sets out to prove there is no afterlife or spiritual world and to document it (or rather the lack of it). He and his camera-man go through some rituals, the blackest of black rituals, to summon bad spirits, angels, demons, anything to disprove Michael’s the possession-of-michael-king - posterproject statement. Nothing seems to garner any results, to Michael’s smug delight, until he visits a demonologist and performs a invocation. That’s when all hell breaks loose.

Though I found the film interesting and appreciate what the filmmakers were trying to do here, the film never fulfills its potential to be scary. It’s a bit creepy at points but it doesn’t build enough tension. The modern style of filmmaking with fast cuts and all action – all the time, never gives the viewer time to let the events emotionally unnerved them. If the film had two or three long scenes that built atmosphere, suspense, and psychological tension, it would have served the story better. This is a case where the found footage style hindered the intentions of the film. This is in sharp contrast to a film like, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which was a modern possession film, but had a slow atmospheric style that gets under your skin. For another example, what made The Conjuring so effective were the lulls in between the horror-action.

With that said, I still did enjoy the film. It had some unique ideas and visuals for a possession movie. I’d say watch this at your own risk because I can’t wholly recommend it. Some may enjoy certain aspects of the film, but as a whole, it fails to fully deliver the goods. However it was more enjoyable to watch than many of the recent possession films like, The Possession and The Devil Inside.

I give it 2.5 harbingers of hell out of 5 on the nasty demon scale.

The Top 5 Women in Dinosaur and Fantasy films from Yesteryear

My Top 5 Women in Dinosaur and Fantasy films from Yesteryear

(films 25 years and older)

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5) Jane Seymour – Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger – as Farah
If playing chess with an intelligent Mandrill isn’t enough, she comes face to face with a troglodyte, a giant walrus, and a saber tooth tiger.

4) Victoria Vetri – When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth – as Sanna
She escapes being sacrificed to the sun god, clashes with the dark-haired tribe, and eventually makes friends with a dinosaur, all while just barely keeping her tighter-than-a-glove bikini top on. (note: in the uncut version, the bikini top does come off.)

3) Caroline Munroe – The Golden Voyage of Sinbad – as Margiana
The tattooed eye on her hand calls forth the great Cyclops centaur for a battle of good vs. evil. A handful of 1970’s Hammer horror films playing alongside Lee and Cushing and even bigger roles in At the Earth’s Core (Amicus) and Star Crash clinch the spot for her.

2) Fay Wray – King Kong – as Anne Darrow
She is the ultimate damsel in distress, taken by force, but enduring and surviving a savage world.

1) Raquel Welch – One Million Years BC – as Loana
It was the fur bikini that entranced the world. A young Raquel Welch becomes a star despite not a single word of dialogue in the film.

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Honorable mentions:

Jessica Lange – King Kong (1976) – as Dwan

King Kong 76

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Barbara Bach – Caveman (1981) – Lana

caveman promo cropped

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Tanya Roberts – Sheena, Queen of the Jungle (1984) – as Sheena

Sheena-Queen of the Jungle-1984

recommended by Bubbawheat, http://flightstightsandmovienights.com/

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Martine Beswick, also from One Million Years BC (1966)

martin beswick

suggested by Alharron

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Your suggestions for honorable mentions are welcome.

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Also check out:
My Top 5 Women in Sci-Fi flicks of yesteryear

I will be doing a Top Five Women in Horror flicks of Yesteryear soon…

The Beast Must Die (1974) – Amicus Films – movie review

The Beast Must Die - pic 5

The Beast Must Die (1974) – Amicus Films – movie review

Directed by Paul Annett.
Screenplay by Michael Winder
Based on the short story “There Shall Be No Darkness” by James Blish

Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing, Marlene Clark, Michael Gambon, Charles Gray, Anton Diffring, Ciaran Madden, Tom Chadbon

This had quite a different feel for an Amicus film. The film is part who-dun-it mystery, part action-film and seems far removed from Modern Gothic influence. It also has a simple gimmick that makes it worthy of a William Castle film. This is a werewolf film, but unlike any werewolf film you have seen.

beast_must_die

First, I absolutely love the main theme for this film. It’s a sharp hard hitting funk tune driven by a percussive guitar bed and a bold horn section delivering the melody. It is music you’d expect to find in early 70’s films like, Superfly and Shaft, but here it is, in a modern werewolf flick.

A wealthy investor, Tom Newcliffe, invites a handful of guests to his home for a long weekend. Each guest has hidden secrets and a shady past that entails a trail of death left behind them. The weekend corresponds to a full moon, a harvest moon, that will be present for three days. Tom informs his guests that one of them is a werewolf, that none can leave the estate, and that by the end of the visit, they will know the identity of the creature. Fences are electrified, vehicles are disabled and the whereabouts of the guests are monitored by a state-of-the-art surveillance system. Tom is an avid hunter, made apparent by the mounted trophy heads upon the walls, and he will hunt down this devilish miscreant.

In the very beginning of the film you are asked to watch the clues and see if you can guess which guest is the werewolf. Several attempts at murder are made upon Tom, deepening the mystery. Each character has their own The Beast Must Die - pic 1eccentricities which arouse suspicion, but one by one, they begin to die.

As the tension mounts and the hunt progresses to a climax, the film suddenly stops. The narrator says you have 30 seconds to guess, who is the werewolf? A clock comes on the screen, ticking off the seconds as the film shows stills of each house guest. Place your guess. When the film restarts, all is revealed.

The film is less than perfect; day-for-night shots just look like daytime, Cushing’s Norwegian accent is less than perfect, and a few of the characters are not explored enough. It is clear that the werewolf is a dog, perhaps a black German Shepherd. However, the gimmick makes it a flick worth seeing, even just for film culture historical reasons. It’s a novelty, but it adds an element of fun to an otherwise average film by today’s standards.

Check out more Amicus film reviews at my master page: Amicus Overview

(note: don’t know why all the trailers have an orange tint. My dvd movie is sharp with naturally vivid colors)

Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Part VII

Editing, rewrites, and drafts

It took me many years to really learn how to edit and rewrite my own fiction – and I’m still learning. A great story idea, great plot and original characters don’t always lead to great reading for another person. The first draft of a story is like picking out the right ingredients to make clay and mixing it together. Even though it is now a well kneaded, smooth ‘clay’ it is still just a lump. It needs many layers of refinement to become an interesting work of art.

Editing and rewriting is not only grammar. In fact, grammar issues should be your last refinement in the editing process. Provided you have a good plot, conflict, and story structure, the bigger concern is making your writing lean.

I had often heard tips on editing like:

Trim the fat
scissors 1

Make every word count

I had no idea what these tips meant. I thought I did, but I didn’t.

Here are three rules that took me quite a while to grasp:

1) Don’t dilute the power of a word by using other words with it.

Ex. John ran quickly to the phone.

Do you think if John was running, it was because he wanted to get the phone immediately? There is no reason for the adverb, quickly. In fact, most writing advice will tell you to drop all of your adverbs – because, most of the time, the verb conveys what you need without them.

In Stephen King’s “On Writing’ he says, get rid of most ‘-ly’ words – quickly, exactly, fairly, hungrily, simply.

Here’s another example:

Ex. Henry stamped up the stairs angrily.

I think readers can deduce that, if Henry is stamping, he must be mad. Aside from that, in the context of a story, we would already know that something had happened to make Henry angry.

Don’t use an adverb or ‘modifying word’ when the simple verb will state what you need.

 

scissors 2**Get rid of precursor add-ons like: I feel, I felt, I felt that, I thought, he thinks, he started, he began to, etc.

Ex. I thought he was going to meet me at six, but he was not here.

 Better: He was going to meet me at six, but he was not here.

 

Ex. I feel that it will run better without his constant interruptions.

  Better: It will run better without his constant interruptions.

 If we know the point-of-view and the character who is talking, the words, ‘I feel that’ are not necessary. These are just a couple of words in each sentence, but in the course of a story, they add up to hundreds of words.

More examples:

Ex. Slowly, I drift back into sleep… The word ‘drift’ implies slow movement.

   Better: I drift back into sleep…

Ex. She started to crawl toward me once again. … ‘started to’ and ‘once’ are completely unnecessary words.

Better: She crawled toward me again.

Ex. Finally, I broke free, spilling to the ground… ‘ly’ words are mostly unneeded. (see what I did there?)

Better: I broke free, spilling to the ground

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2) Don’t state the obvious.

If the writing is really tight and lean, a reader will not miss anything. Its only when they are disengaged with the writing and they start feeling bored with the words that they begin to skim and could miss something important. By restating the obvious you are putting a reader though unneeded work and losing their concentration. The first time a reader has to skim or skip over a group of words because they already ‘get it‘, you’ve lost them.

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3) Don’t repeat yourself.

I have a bad habit of this. It’s a bad habit that I’ve always had…see what I mean? I hope you can see what I mean.

Many writers are guilty of this and don’t realize it until someone points it out.

Items to look for and delete:

**Location - some writers keep repeating what room the scene is happening in, as if the reader will forget. If it is stated at the beginning of the scene that the characters are in the kitchen, you don’t need to mention it again unless they leave the kitchen.

Ex. Harry turned on the kitchen faucet.straight-razor

   If they are in the kitchen what other faucet would it be?

Better: Harry turned on the faucet.

Ex. She looked out the kitchen window.

   Same scenario, if the scene is in the kitchen, she wouldn’t be looking out the bedroom window, would she?

Better: She looked out the window.

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**Two sentences that should be one – In the first draft, I’ll have many sentences that can be combined because some or all of the aspects have been stated already.

Ex. Jimmy started to climb the tree. While climbing the tree he tried to avoid carpenter ants that had made a home there.

   Better: Jimmy climbed the tree, avoiding carpenter ants along the way.

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Here is a great exercise to see the importance of trimming these words. Take a story you have already written. ’Cut’ all of these needless words from your story and ‘paste’ them into another file. Now read the story. Does it still make sense? Does it still convey the plot and characters?

In a 10- page story, you might find you have several pages of words cut out of the text, without effecting the story at all. Look how hard you were making a reader work to achieve the same results. All of these extra words dispersed throughout the story make reading a chore.

I recently edited my story, Steel Deliverance, before submitting it to a publication. The word count started at 3875 words. When I was done (approximately 3 days of revisions) it was 3575 words. That’s 300 words less. I don’t believe it has lost any of its impact. It will be a tighter read for a reader and move along at a much better pace. And this story is far from succinct; I wrote it in my ‘Poe’ style voice using lavish description and poetic words.  This story was done and self-edited three years ago, but when I went back and took another eagle-eyed look at it, there was more work to be done. It’s the leanest its ever been and more focused because of it. It was quickly accepted into the anthology, Terror Train (JWK Fiction).

Quotes:

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
― Mark Twain

“The first draft of anything is shit.”  - Ernest Hemingway

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
― Thomas Jefferson

hedge clippers

Throttle – Stephen King/Joe Hill – Kindle Single/Book review

throttle knidle book coverThrottle
Joe Hill/Stephen King

I don’t know if any of you reading this have ever owned a motorcycle, but this story brought back some memories. I haven’t rode a bike in many years but parts of this tale really captured the feeling of an open throttle on an open road. Sons of Anarchy is starting it’s final season in a few days, so I figured this would be a good time to review Throttle.

This is a Kindle single, a novelette of approximately 50 pages, by a father and son team about, among other things, a relationship between father and son. The very first page of the story makes an interesting acknowledgement; A story inspired by Duel by Richard Matheson. The difference here is, it’s a gang of bikers on the run that are being chased and crushed by a crazy trucker.

If anyone has not read any of Joe Hill’s fiction, I would strongly recommend it. He captures some of the best qualities of his father without going off on a tangent in the middle like so many of King’s stories. Hill also has the advantage of a younger person’s views and tapping into the mindset of younger generations. Possibly even better than the two authors separate stories is when they work together. Throttle is a fast and tense story that will get road rage characteryour heart racing. It’s the kind of story that is hard to put down once you’ve started and you may find yourself finishing it in one sitting. You’ll be thrilled by every point of action and every reveal of secrets held by this band of bikers known as, The Tribe.

If you are into bikes, the open desert road, and maniacal truckers hell-bent on murder, this story will hit all the entertaining sweet spots. It’s a short but engaging read.

This was first released in a commemorative anthology honoring Richard Matheson in 2009 along with a dozen A-list authors such as Ramsey Campbell, F. Paul Wilson, William F. Nolan and Joe R Lansdale. The book was titled, He is Legend and each story in the book is based on a Matheson original. Then it was in the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, edited by Stephen Jones. Then in 2012, it was adapted into a Comic Book by IDW Publishing as Road Rage and seems to have at least 4 issues.

I definitely intend to purchase and review He is Legend in the near future.

Throttle Kindle Single – http://www.amazon.com/Throttle-Kindle-Single-Joe-Hill-ebook/dp/B007QXV9S6

throttle comic throttle adaptation cover 2 RoadRage2 cover

road rage - throttle comic adaptation

The Philadelphia Experiment – movie review – 1984 Blog-a-thon

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This review is part of Forgotten Films Blog, 1984 Blog-A-Thon which is covering just about every film released in 1984. When deciding to participate, I looked over the list and chose to review, The Philadelphia Experiment. I hadn’t seen the movie in many years, but I remember liking it. This would give me the perfect opportunity to revisit this film.

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The Philadelphia Experiment (1984)

Directed by Stewart Raffill
produced by John Carpenter

Michael Paré
Bobby Di Cicco
Nancy Allen
This sci-fi film concerns an urban legend about the US Navy experimenting with a cloaking device in 1943, and the mishap that arises from the ill-fated experiment. When the naval vessel, The USS Eldridge, goes completely invisible it actually travels in time. When it returned several minutes later, it is said that some of the crew members were fused into the bulkhead and deck of the ship itself. Some crew members came back inside-out and others experienced long term mental problems. It is also said, with a flash of light, the Eldridge was sighted in Northport Virginia, over 200 miles away from Philadelphia for those few minutes.

In the film, we follow two sailors, Dave and Jim, crew members on the Eldridge at the time of the experiment. They travel with the ship from 1943 and jump off in 1984, in a Nevada desert. They discover that the experiment was being revisited in 1984 and the new experiment interacted with philadelphia experiment -movie-posterthe original creating a vortex or wormhole between the two time periods.

The sailors are immediately being chased by the modern military. They hide out in a dinner where they meet Allison (Dave’s love interest for the film). Not able to drive a modern car, they get Allison to drive and flee the scene with them. The military attempts to end the experiment but the vortex keeps getting bigger, threatening to suck towns and whole cities into the space hole. Eventually, the military needs David’s help in closing the vortex and he is sent into the maelstrom where he will shut down the generator on the Eldridge, therefore severing the link.

I must say, I liked this film better when I first saw it in the 1984 than I like it now. The problem is that this film is book ended with two interesting and gratifying sequences, but the middle is bogged down with the budding romance of Dave and Allison. Some of the dialogue is hokey, but to be expected from a film that is 30 years old. There are a few time warp discoveries for the two men and Allison, but they are nothing mind blowing for a film about time travel. Considering this was released the same year as Terminator, I think they could have infused something more paradox.

I do like that Nancy Allen’s character is named Allison Hayes, an homage to Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The TV in the diner is showing Humanoids From the Deep which I reviewed just a few weeks ago. The TV in the Motel room plays part of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. We also see an Ad for a very early computer. The effects in the film are dated, even for 1984, but convey the story well enough. The biggest aspect in time travel discovery is the actual film itself. As the men from 1943 look strangely at Pay Telephones, Cars with Chrome Bumpers, and free-standing Arcade Games, I am reminded that my children would probably look at these items the same way today as our movie characters do in 1984.

Some of my disappointment with the film is that my memories got this mixed up with another film about the same subject matter, released around the same time called, The Final Countdown. TFC had better special-fx and because of that, I was waiting for scenes in The Philadelphia Experiment that never came.

All in all, it’s not a bad movie, perhaps just a little light on the sci-fi aspect for such a serious film subject.

I give it 3.3 wormholes out of 5 for vanishing vessels and valiant heroics.

20 Million Miles To Earth – Ymir – Model Kit

Ymir model pic 1

20 Million Miles To Earth – Ymir – Model Kit

This is the Geometric, Ymir model kit. It’s a fantastic kit with excellent detail.

Ymir model pic 3

It was fun painting the kit because the skin detail really worked well with dry brushing techniques. I started with a dark green base coat and worked with lighter greens and finally yellow for highlights.

Ymir model early stages pic 9

It didn’t come with a base so I made a custom base for it.

I made the title placard with clay. I printed out the movie title image and pasted it on.

ymir CU 2

 

And don’t forget to watch the video inspired by this kit: Monsters on the Mantle