Saturday, March 18, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #105 - Phantasm 5: Ravager, Dead Snow

 Phantasm 5: Ravager

Reggie (Reggie Bannister) is trying to find Mike (A Michael Baldwin) and rescue him from the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm). And also save the world.

I know, that's an oversimplification of the plot, but seriously, this is the plot for every entry in this series. And this is the last one (I don't believe, at least I hope there will not be a sixth Phantasm. No reason there should be to be honest).

How does this one compare to the others? The series has been going downhill after the second one. This one is no exception. It's terrible. We have Reggie who yo-yos back and forth between the future where he is an old man in a nursing home and Mike tells him he has dementia and none of what he knows is real and a present where he is fighting the Tall Man.

The only redeeming quality of this film is that someone figured out that Reggie Bannister is a better actor than A Michael Baldwin and they made the plot Reggie-centric. I do use the word plot loosely. And, of course, Reggie being Reggie, there has to be a girl involved. Cause he's this chick-magnet, don't you know? And hey, we even get to see Jody (Bill Thornbury), Mike's brother again.

All in all, a terrible film. I only give it 2 Stars because Reggie amuses me. Unless you're compelled to finish the series, I would skip it.

Dead Snow

A group of medical students are taking a ski vacation at the cabin in the mountains. Fun and friends, the recipe for a fun vacation, right? Well, unfortunately for these medical students, they're not only in the middle of nowhere, but they are about to enter a nightmare they could never have dreamed of before

The group reaches the cabin, anticipating the arrival of its owner, Maria. But unbeknownst to them, Maria has met with foul play and she won't be coming. Everyone decides to relax, drink, and play games, including Twister. This cabin is so rustic that it has no indoor plumbing, necessitating the use of an outhouse.  An unexpected knock on the door frightens them, but it turns out to be an older man, who asks for a cup of coffee. Familiar with the area, he is dismissive of the young people and their lack of preparation for their trip. Do they even know the history of this area? He tells them a story about German occupation and how the locals fought back after three years of oppression. But, he concludes, there is an evil here, a presence that can't be denied. He drinks their bad coffee, smokes a hand-rolled cigarette and is on his way. They dismiss his words as so much nonsense.

But then they begin to hear things. When one of the young men goes to the outhouse, he is joined there by one of the women, and more fun ensues. Afterward, he returns to the cabin first...but she is not so lucky. Attacked in the outhouse, she tries to make her way back to the cabin, but never makes it. While they try to figure out what is going on, they find themselves under Nazi zombies! The fight is on!

At first, I admit, this film is pretty much the standard young people in a cabin in the woods terrified by a menacing presence they have to overcome. As such, it's a little slow at first. But the difference is - Nazi zombies! That's something you don't see everyday. The make-up on these guys is great! And they are pretty terrifying. Not sure what I would do if faced with this bunch.  And they turn an okay film into a more terrifying and interesting. Be aware, there is a lot of blood and guts and such, so not recommended for the squeamish. But it was definitely worth watching, and I'm looking forward to the sequel. I'll give this film 4 Stars.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #65 (13.4)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Something is very much not right, but Vinnie and Ethan don't have an idea what that might be, except for the cryptic message that Troy received regarding a certain actress being MIA. See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #65 (13.4)

Carlos approached us, clearing his throat respectfully. “I think we need to get everybody somewhere that’s not so open.”  He eyed our surroundings then gestured toward the woods just on the other side of the clearing. “Frankly, right now I’m afraid we’re sitting ducks where we are.”

“You’re so right,” Ethan agreed. “We should move everyone to the shelter of those trees, and make sure we keep together. That’ll make it easier for us to keep everyone safe.”

We returned to the others and apprised them of our plan. “Help is on its way,” Ethan assured his family. For the most part, they didn’t seem to be panicking, although I suspected it was only the presence of the minister that kept Ethan’s brother from making a scene. As it was, he kept to himself and just eyed the rest of us warily. Little Alex seemed the least troubled of anyone. He was enjoying all the attention he was receiving, and was currently being held in the arms of his grandmother, while Grandpa played silly little games to amuse him, such as Peekaboo, which sent him into gales of laughter. I noticed Sarah was listening intently to whatever story Troy was telling. She undoubtedly realized by now that he and Brendan were a couple, but that didn’t seem to faze her in the slightest. She hung on Troy’s every word as if it were manna.

So far so good. But before we could put our plan into motion, we could hear the wail of an approaching siren. Moments later, a vehicle came into view, emergency lights flashing from the roof.

All conversation ceased as everyone’s attention turned to the oncoming vehicle.

“That was fast, even for Anderson,” I commented. Something didn’t feel right about that, but who was I to look a gift rescue in the mouth? I shot a trouble glance toward Ethan, which he returned. He seemed uneasy too. He gave me a small nod, which I understood to mean stay alert, but don’t say anything yet. I nodded back.

Turned out that it wasn’t a standard police vehicle but rather a regular car with the lights on top. Ethan and I had a set of those ourselves. The car pulled off the road and came to a stop. Moments later, two figures stepped out, coming toward us. The driver was obviously in charge as he swaggered toward us, his fellow officer close behind. I gave the first one an appraising glance as he neared. A little shorter than me, he was somewhat stocky but not overly so, his movements possessing a certain leonine grace at odds with his physique. Age was hard to tell behind the large aviator mirror sunglasses, his dark hair mostly hidden beneath the policeman’s cap on top of his head.

As the officer approached, he glanced around at us, as if to ascertain who was in charge. That’s when I began to suspect these two hadn’t been sent by Anderson, who would have told them who to look for. Local law enforcement? But if so, shouldn’t he be driving a standard issue police cruiser? And if he was plainclothes, why the uniform? I tensed up a little, waiting to hear what the newcomer had to say.

 to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Book Review: Overlord, Vol 4 by Kugane Maruyama


Overlord, Vol 4      

Author: Kugane Maruyama

Publisher: Yen On

American release date:  May 23, 2017

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Fantasy Adventure /304 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


The day begins much like any other for the lizardmen. Until the ominous black cloud appears out of nowhere with a warning – The Great One is coming in eight days, with a great army, and you will be destroyed. Naturally, the members of the lizardman tribe are alarmed. Who wouldn’t be? Zaryusu is a member of the village, a traveler who happens to be in the village when the message arrives. He goes to see his brother Shasuryu, who is head of the village. A meeting is called to decide what to do. According to the messenger, they will be the second lizardman village to be destroyed. So there must be others who have survived. What to do?

After much discussion, they decide that Zaryusu will travel to the other villages and attempt to arrange an alliance with them. Surely, they will be stronger together than separately against this unknown menace. The first village he visits is the Red Eye village, where he seeks an audience with their leader, who turns out to be an albino female lizardman named Crusch Lulu… and Zaryusu finds himself instantly attracted to her. She seems amenable to his suggestions and determines that she will go with him to talk to the other villages. In the Dragon Tusk village, he encounters a big guy named Zembel, who challenges him to a fight.

But when the time comes for the promised army to return, the sheer numbers alone are daunting, and it will take everything the lizardmen have to defeat this unknown enemy… who is actually none other than Ainz Ooal Gown and his followers from the Tomb of Nazarick.

This volume of Overlord is a definite departure from the first three in that we are introduced to and get to know the intended targets, the lizardmen. And that makes a great deal of difference. I have supported and applauded Ainz in everything he did previously, but here I found myself hoping he didn’t really mean to attack them, and that he certainly wouldn’t hurt them, as I came to know and like these lizardmen. I know that Ainz’s guild was known as PK, which means they would fight other players. I tend to avoid those fights myself, whether in D2 or WoW. But until now, I’ve never really thought about what that means in these books, and I have to admit to finding myself a little disturbed at the attitude that is taken toward these lizardmen who have done nothing to warrant being attacked simply as a matter of subjugation. I hope Ainz reconsiders his strategy and chooses a path of peace and prosperity rather than war. I understand he doesn’t know exactly who or what he is up against. And I have to wonder if there are other actual players out there doing the same thing he is. Definitely opens up some moral issues, which I expect will be addressed in future volumes.

I have been getting each volume from the library until now, but I love these books so much that I have decided to purchase them. I already have volume 5 and look forward to reading it.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Saturday is Horror Day #104 - Green Room

 Green Room

Punk rock band The Ain't Rights consists of four friends - Pat (Anton Yelchin), Sam (Alia Shawkat), Reece (Joe Cole), and Tiger (Callum Turner). The band is touring the Pacific Northwest, but to say they're not getting good gigs would be an understatement. They're kind of forced to take what they can get. Which is how they end up in a bar in the middle of nowhere, filled with all sorts of creepy neo-Nazi sorts. What the heck, it's just one night, and it's more money than they've been getting lately, so why not?

Their set goes about as well as expected... more or less. The friends just want to get their money and move 

on to the next gig. But things don't quite go as planned, when they become witness to something they weren't supposed to see. And now they are being held in the Green Room, while it's decided what will happen to them. Can this possibly end well?

This film is really gritty and very visceral. Imagine being at the mercy of young violent skinheads, not knowing if they intend to kill you for what you accidentally saw, or even just for their own pleasure. It's hard not to sympathize with the members of The Ain't Rights, and there is nothing even remotely sympathetic about the people who hold them hostage. Not even their leader, Darcy, played by the inimitable Patrick Stewart. This film does not hold back, be warned of that. Explicit and gory, it's not for the faint at heart. Green Room explores the seamier side of human nature. It's scary to think that people such as this exist, but I'm sure they do. I'll give this film 4 Stars.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 16 by Yoshiki Nakamura


Skip Beat! Vol 16       

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date:  January 6, 2009

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/shojo manga/200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★


Following her unfortunate encounter with Reino, Kyoko is able to find safety, thanks to Ren’s agent, with Ren. But who could imagine that Sho would end up knocking on the door, looking for her? Seriously? But oh dear, Kyoko wanted to explain the circumstances of how she was rescued and bring up Sho’s name herself. Now the cat is out of the bag and she is sure Ren is furious with her, smiling his “gentlemanly” smile. This is just getting worse and worse!

Meanwhile, Reino is in a snit because of what happened, and because it involved Sho. My goodness, this web is becoming more and more tangled! The next day, Ren takes a walk through the woods to clear his mind. Kyoko wanders off herself, despite what happened the day before, because she is…well, she’s Kyoko and her mind tends to drift a lot. She remembers how things used to be when she was younger, but she knows she won’t be able to come to a certain area and find Corn there. To her amazement, though, she manages to discover Ren, on his walk. (Funny, innit? Will she ever make the connection?)

While Kyoko is convinced Ren is furious with her, he is doing his best not to do something that will probably label him as a pervert, holding back his feelings for her. Sho is tired of Reino and his group stealing his songs, so he lays a trap for them, and to discover who is selling him out. And then Ren and Kyoko have a tender moment.

I love how Mr. Yashiro tries to play matchmaker to these two, but they are both so stubborn and naïve that they never seem to catch on. I think he’s being too subtle! They need an awakening. Of course, Ren needs to come clean to Kyoko.  When Kyoko finds out he is Corn… well, that won’t be pretty. It’s amusing that now he can’t have her, Sho wants Kyoko back. And Reino is after her too!

Another great volume, looking forward to more!

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Wednesday Briefs: Bad Karma and the Family Plan #64 (13.3)

 Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Well, this is a fine pickle! Five vehicles out of commission, thanks to some unknown person. Speculation is beginning that maybe Vinnie's least favorite actress is behind all this, but why? See what's happening in this week's chapter of Bad Karma and the Family Plan. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Bad Karma and the Family Plan #64 (13.3)

“Are you saying you think maybe Caroline St. Clair is responsible for what’s going on here?” Ethan seemed clearly skeptical, and who could blame him? And yet somehow I knew that was the case, even if I didn’t know how…or, more importantly, why.

“Caroline St. Clair?” Sarah and her family had just drawn up to us. “You know her too? Of course you do,” she quickly amended. “What about her?”

Ethan seemed reluctant to voice our fears, but I had no such inhibitions.

“We think she might be responsible for what’s going on here.”

“Whoa.” At least Sarah didn’t protest that a major Hollywood movie star couldn’t possibly do anything so crazy. I glanced toward Troy, worried I’d upset him, but he seemed more resigned than anything. She might be his friend, but he was not blind to her faults, or her eccentricities.

“But what exactly is going on here?” A very sensible question from the minister. I couldn’t help but notice he had a protective arm about his wife. I was glad to see that, especially for Ethan’s sake. He threw more than a curious glance toward the other agents, whom we had never introduced, naturally. Maybe it was time we did that.

“We’re still not sure, Dad,” Ethan admitted. “Our boss sent some back-up, though, to be safe.” Here he introduced Carlos. The other agents had taken up strategic points around us, keeping a watchful eye on everything and everyone. One of them had removed the offending spikes from the road. They sat on the ground nearby, gleaming troublemakers.

“How do you do, sir?” Carlos said as they shook hands.

“I’m concerned about the situation,” Joseph admitted just before he patted Ethan on the shoulder. “But I trust my son to do what’s best. What do you suggest we do, Ethan?”

Judging by the way Ethan’s beautiful blue eyes shone, I think his father’s words meant a great deal to him. I squeezed his hand in silent agreement.

“I think the first step is to contact Anderson and see what he wants to do. We need to get these vehicles back on the road and get everybody to a place of safety. At some point, when Anderson tells us it’s okay, we need to get Benny to Atlanta.”

That all made sense. Carlos nodded his agreement, and I followed suit. It was important we stay calm in order to keep Ethan’s family calm. No sense in panicking if we didn’t need to.

Ethan gestured to me and I followed him a short distance from the others, where he placed the call to our boss and apprised him of the current situation. He listened intently before saying “Understood” and hanging up.

“He’s going to send someone,” he said. “In the meantime, we’re to just remain alert, stay together, and wait.”

That sounded sensible. “You know, I just realized something.”

“What’s that, Vin?”

I scratched at my jaw while I formulated my thoughts, something that had been nagging at me for a few minutes. “You remember that detour sign, the one that sent us down this way?”

“I do. What about it?” He narrowed his eyes in thought as he listened.

“Well, if everybody is being shuttled off the main road to take that detout, why isn’t anyone else here but us?”

“That’s a damn good question, Vinnie. A very good question. I’m afraid we know the answer, don’t we?”

I nodded in agreement.

“That only goes to show,” he continued, “that we were the intended targets.”

That was the conclusion I reached even as he said it. So, if this was her doing all of this, she surely wasn’t acting alone. Who was helping her? Did this start back with Benny, at the hotel in Roanoke? The threats in Atlanta? But what did she have to do with any of that?

So many questions, so few answers.

 to be continued

Now go say howdy to the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell


Sunday, March 5, 2023

Film Review: Jab We Met

 Jab We Met

Aditya Kashyap (Shahid Kapoor) is at the end of his rope. His father's death has left him in charge of his very successful business, but there is the matter of his mother, who was also a part of the business but left the family to run off with another man. Feeling stressed, Aditya simply runs and finds himself on a train going who knows where. But his life is about to change when he encounters a very talkative young woman named Geet (Kareena Kapoor), who first chases him out of her seat on the train and then won't stop talking.

When the train stops, Aditya gets off. Geet notices him walking along the platform as the train begins to pull away. Frantic, she calls him but he does not respond, so she jumps off the train to get him back on. Unfortunately, her Good Samaritan intentions cause her to miss the train herself, to her dismay. She berates him for what she sees as his fault, and tells him he has to make sure she gets home. She has a fiancè, even if her family doesn't approve. Well, they don't even really know yet. But she knows they won't approve, so he has to take her there, no mater what he says.

And so their journey begins....

Jab We Met is a fabulous Bollywood rom-com that I watched for the second time, and I still cried, even though I knew what would happen. It is funny and romantic (as a good rom-com should be!), but throw in some great music and dancing, and you have a very wonderful film. The main characters have wonderful chemistry, and watching the evolution of their relationship from complete strangers to two people in love is wonderful. Bollywood musicals are so upbeat, I love them! Geet's family are wonderful and very colorful. But of course there has to be a complication, both with her family and with the man she thinks she loves!

This is a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it!  I'll give this film 4.5 Stars!