Saturday, January 22, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #45 - Siren

 Siren


Jonah (Chase Williamson) and Eva (Lindsey Garrett) are to be married in a week's time. Jonah's brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan) decides they need to take Jonah on a last fling. Off they go along with Jonah's best friend Rand (Hayes Mercure) and another friend Elliot (Randy McDowell). The strip bar they end up in is rather seedy, but Jonah doesn't mind as he has no intention of doing anything wrong. But Mac is approached by a stranger who calls himself Mr. Nyx (Justin Wellborn) and he accepts the stranger's offer of a lot more fun.






The four men follow their would-be host out in the literal middle of nowhere. Jonah and Rand want to turn around and leave but Mac insists. They finds themselves at a large and elegant manor. But things begin to get weird. They'd foolishly consumed from mushrooms given to them by Mac at the other bar, so they can't be sure if they're tripping or not. Mr. Nyx sends Jonah off for some private entertainment, then tells the others he is going to exact a price for this... in the form of a memory from each of them. He instructs them to look at their shoe. Rand is reluctant, but he is forced to obey.


Jonah finds himself outside of a shuttered room. He expects to see the typical strip tease/sex show, but when the shutter goes up, he sees a girl, Lily (Hannah Fierman) on the other side. At first nothing happens, but then she begins to sing, and Jonah finds himself lost in her song. After she is done, the overwhelmed Jonah leaves the room and tries to gain entrance to hers, only to discover she is padlocked inside. Realizing she must be the victim of sex trafficking, he determines he must save her, and goes back to the bar to enlist his friends' aid.


Siren is a spin-off from the V/H/S series, and we see a couple of familiar faces here. Hannah Fierman appeared in the first film and Justin Welborn appeared as the magician Dante the Great in V/H/S Viral.  SIren is different from the others in that it doesn't involved found footage or several stories. This is the story of a bachelor party gone horribly wrong.  As the title tells us, the creature in this film is a siren, but they have changed the definition (at least from anything I'm familiar with). This siren has vicious teeth and a long tail that does... interesting things.

I think Siren is sufficiently chilling to satisfy most horror aficionados, and has definite creepy vibes, 


 especially from Mr. Nyx. You might actually recognize Lily from the first film, with the guys in the motel room. Well, she's back, but she's under control now. At least until her knight in shining armor, aka Jonah, decides to come to the rescue. That should teach him to stick his nose in without learning the facts first.  Also, you know something terrible is going to happen when common sense tells you not to do something but everyone else seems hell bent on doing it. I think following a stranger into the middle of nowhere qualifies as definite stranger danger! On the whole, it's a decent film although it could have been better. I'll give it 3.5 Stars.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Book Review: Demon Slayer, Vol 12 by Koyoharu Goutouge

 

Demon Slayer, Vol 12     


Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 3, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

 

The upper echelon demons are gathering, no doubt to receive Lord Muzan’s latest instructions regarding the current situation. Apparently, they do not all get along, and even among so-called allies there is a certain amount of animosity and competitiveness as they attempt to curry Muzan’s faavor. Some of these demons are certainly less human than others and some are decidedly creepy. When Muzan announces the death of Gyutaro, Doma offers to gouge out one of his eyes as atonement for having brought Gyutaro and Daki to his lord’s notice. Muzan declines the offer. He tells them he sees them all as failures, having failed to live up to his expectations. The Ubuyashiki family is still alive and the blue spider lily has not been found. Gyokku claims to have information on the family’s whereabouts, so Muzan says once confirmation is obtained, he and Hantengu should go there.

Tanjiro awakens from what must have been a dream – or was it a memory – to find that he has been unconscious for two months. He asks after his friends and learns that Zenitsu awoke and was sent on a mission, and Tengen was up, but supported by his wives’ shoulders. Inosuke, on the other hand, was in bad shape. Tanjiro decides he must be hallucinating seeing  Inosuke on the ceiling, but it’s really him. Tanjiro inquires if a katana has come for him, as his was chipped in the recent battle. But all he has received is an angry letter from Haganezuka. It is suggested that Tanjiro go to see the swordsmith in person , and Tanjiro is surprised to learn how close the swordsmith village is. But getting there is far from straightforward.

On Tanjiro’s arrival, he learns that the swordsmith has disappeared and is being sought. Probably sulking, they assume, as that is often his way. Not because his sword has been damaged but because of what he perceives as his shoddy workmanship that allowed the sword to be damaged. While searching, Tanjiro encounters a rude Hashira bullying a small swordsmith, so he intervenes. Tokito, the Mist Hashira, insists on using the practice doll, although Kotetsu tells him it will break. But every action has its consequences, even selfish ones.

This begins the Swordsmith Village arc, and we are seeing the upper ranked demons in larger numbers than before. Their relationship to their lord is interesting to watch, and you know they are just jockeying for position in order to get closer to him. They’re feeling the pressure of his displeasure and will do anything to regain his favor. The swordsmiths are interesting. We see little of Inosuke this volume, and none of Zenitsu, but I’m sure they’ll be back soon. Muzan is an interesting study, cold-hearted demon that he is. In this volume, he was actually standing on the ceiling as he addressed them.  It’s always fun to watch Tanjiro battle, and he certainly has to keep his wits about him to defeat these foes. Hopefully he’ll be able to obtain the blood he needs to help cure Nezuko.

Great volume, looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Book Review: Monster: The perfect Edition, Vol 7 by Naoki Urasawa

 

Monster: The Perfect Edition, Vol 7   


Author: Naoki Urasawa

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 19, 2016

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Manga/Horror/416 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

As the news spreads that the serial killer long sought by the police, Kenzo Tenma, has been taken into custody, certain people listen with disbelief. Detective Suk is determined to go to Prague to speak with Tenma before he is extradited back to Germany, but runs into two other detectives, who inform him that his name has been cleared thanks to a journalist named Grimmer. Meanwhile, Detective Lunge, who is supposedly on vacation, is also in Prague, following various leads. He learns certain things which point away from Tenma’s guilt. Will he believe them? Or is he too obsessed with the idea that Johan is Tenma’s alter ego?

In the jail, Tenma is called upon to treat a fellow prisoner, due to the doctor being otherwise occupied. The prisoner knows who Tenma is and asks if he wants to escape with him, but Tenma declines. An attorney, son of an accused spy, is enlisted to aid in Tenma’s defense at the request of a number of people, including a group of his former patients who all believe in his innocence. He goes to see Tenma, who tells him everything, and decides to take his case.

After his own meeting with the attorney, Dr. Reichwein goes back to Eva and tells her she needs to cooperate with the lawyer in order to help Tenma. But she isn’t interested in helping him. She wants to see him suffer for the rest of his life for breaking up with her. She blames him for the way her life turned out, rather than blaming herself. Tenma receives a surprise visitor – Roberto, the assassin he shot the night of the fire. Roberto tells him he might kill Eva. Now Tenma has no choice but to escape in order to save her.

There is so much going on in this volume. The tension is rising, and it feels like we are close to the end, to the truth. So many burning questions. Will Eva change her mind and testify for Tenma, now that she realizes she actually saw Johan that night? How are we supposed to tell the difference between Johan and Nina, when he looks just like her when he’s in disguise? The secrets of the Rose Red Mansion are coming out.  The story with Eva and the detective was pretty interesting, I’ll have to admit, although I can’t stand the woman. Will Tenma’s escape lead to anything? What will Nina do? Guess we have to wait for the next volume to find out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Rose and Thorne 6 #7 (2.3)

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.  

Vinnie and Ethan take a walk and Ethan talks about his one-time best friend, his sister's baby daddy. But as they head home they unexpectedly see their boss' car in the drive. What does that portend? See what's happening in this week's chapter of Rose and Thorne 6. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Rose and Thorne 6 #7 (2.3)

Anderson Riley was the second supervisor Ethan and I ever had, and he was by far our favorite. While the first one had been under the mistaken impression that we were in the military, Anderson was more laid back and genial and very Southern. In appearance, he reminded me of Sean Connery, if the actor were to pack on a few extra pounds, and he had a drawl you could cut with a knife. But you could always count on Anderson to have your back, and I trusted him. That wasn’t something I did lightly. I was even suspicious of Ethan when we first met and were partnered up. He still finds that funny and likes to tease me about it, although I’ve long since gotten over that. I trust him implicitly now, with every fiber of my being.

“What’s he doing in Roanoke? You don’t think something’s wrong, do you?” Ethan fretted. But at least our boss’s presence was distracting him from the situation with his sister, so I had to think that was a good thing, no matter what the reason turned out to be.

“Maybe he just happened to be in town and decided to come give us our next assignment,” I suggested, trying to spin his presence in a positive light. Although he could have phoned just as easily, without having to make the three hour trip from Richmond.

“Could be, but he knew we were taking time off. What couldn’t wait a day or two? I hope there’s nothing too serious he needs us for. Like another Mangler case.”

I couldn’t help but shiver at Ethan’s words. Only a few months had passed since my harrowing experience at the hands of that crazy killer, the one who’d been responsible for the death of our temporary partner, Eva June. I tried not to think about what had happened, but sometimes images of Chip crept into my dreams against my will. And sometimes I’d awake in a cold sweat to Ethan’s strong arms, his gentle words and soothing ministrations. I’d hoped more time would pass before we had to face such a situation again.

Now it was Ethan’s turn to comfort me. He wrapped his arms around me and hugged me close. “I’m sorry I brought it up. I’m sure it’s nothing so dire. Why don’t we just go find out why he’s here?”

He was always the sensible one between us. No wonder I loved him so much.

We found Anderson sitting in a chair the living room across from Sarah on the couch.. Our boss was making goofy faces at Alex, who sat on his mother’s lap, and the child laughed as though he thought the man was the funniest thing he’d ever seen.

“Hey guys,” he greeted us. “You’ve got quite the nephew here. Reminds me of my kids when they were this little.”

“He is something else, isn’t he?” This brought a smile from the proud uncle. He unclipped Benny, who ran off immediately to the kitchen, probably in search of food and water after his long arduous walk.

Ethan and I took seats on the couch, but just as we did, Sarah rose, too suddenly to be coincidental, surely. I had to assume she was still angry with Ethan. “Time for your nap, little man,” she said. Alex didn’t look in the least bit sleepy, but who can argue with a mother’s intuition? Was she being the soul of discretion, assuming our boss had something sensitive to discuss with us, or did she just not want to be in the same room with Ethan? I had no idea but I was hoping for door number one.

“It was nice meeting you, Mr. Riley,” she said politely from the doorway. Alex was squirming in her arms. I could tell he wanted to play with Benny, but his mama was having none of that and held onto him with an unbreakable grip.

“Please, call me Anderson,” our boss replied, rising. “Thank you for your hospitality. The pleasure was all mine.”

Sarah disappeared down the hall and Anderson resumed his seat. Then he got right to the point.

“I’m sorry to disturb you, and I do apologize for coming unannounced…”

Neither one of us spoke a word. Ethan had taken one of my hands in his, the other was white-knuckled against the sofa cushion. I’m not sure what I was afraid to hear… okay, maybe I did know, and words were failing me at the moment.

“I think you’d better look at this.” Anderson handed Ethan a manila folder.

 to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb


Saturday, January 15, 2022

Saturday is Horror Day #44 - 1408, Honeymoon

 1408


Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a writer who makes a living visiting and visiting/staying at haunted locations and writing about them, usually debunking them in the process. Once upon a time, he had greater literary ambitions, but this is what currently pays the bills. To finish his latest book, he travels, albeit reluctantly, to New York City to the Dolphin Hotel, where Room 1408 is said to be a place of great evil. Mike hasn't been back to NYC since... well, just since. But one night can't hurt, right?

 





When he calls to make the reservation, he is outright refused. But after threatening legal action, and finding a law that actually requires them to rent him the room if it's unoccupied, he shows up, only to be greeted by the manager, Gerald Olin (Samuel L. Jackson). Olin tries to dissuade Mike, attempts to bribe him, but nothing works. Enslin insists on the room and nothing else. So that's what he gets.


Olin gives him a dossier on the deaths that have occurred in that room, and quite a collection that is, including a number of suicides and many unknown deaths. Mike is undeterred and pries into every nook and cranny. But then things begin to happen, and he has to wonder if there isn't some truth in the stories. The question is will he be able to make it out of this hotel alive?

1408 is based on a short story by the master of horror, Stephen King. If I read the story, it's been too 


long ago to remember, so I can't exactly compare the film to the story. However, thinking about this movie reminds me of something I saw in the Witcher TV series. Geralt makes a passing detrimental comment regarding Jaskier's vocal abilities, and Jaskier insists that Geralt tell him how he really feels. Geralt says it's like ordering a pie and finding no filling. That's the feeling I get with 1408. Cusack and Jackson look good, and the special effects are slick and sufficiently spooky, but when you get insist, there is not substance.

There are actually a couple of endings. I only watched one. From what I read, the other is even more depressing. Honestly, there was never an explanation given for anything that happened, as if you're meant to take it at face value and not question anything. But in my mind that is leaving out the best part of the story - the resolution. Were we meant to come away with the idea that Mike Enslin has evolved as a person since his arrival in this haunted room? That bearing witness to the suffering of others, and the knowledge of his own, has made him less smarmy and more understanding?

Do we sympathize with him because of the tragedy in his own life? And disregard the fact that nothing he goes through is explainable? Or is this just an excuse to let the special effects crew have a field day? I didn't find the movie particularly scary, more weird. I'm sure the story is much better. I would suggest reading that instead. I'll give this film a somewhat shaky 3.5 Stars.

Honeymoon


Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) are a young couple in love and on their honeymoon. They go to a remote cabin owned by Bea's family. It's the off season and no one else will be around. Ain't love grand? While walking the area, they come across a restaurant. They enter the restaurant to see if it's open, and a surly young man tells them to leave before recognizing Bea as an old friend of his. His wife appears and tries to warn them to leave but her warning is cut short by her husband in a rather forceful manner, leaving Paul more than a little confused.





Paul wakes in the middle of the night only to find Bea missing. Frantic, he searches the woods and finds her standing there. She startles at his touch, but then laughs it off as sleepwalking. Paul isn't so sure, however. Suddenly he begins to mistrust her. It seems like she is lying about something... or everything. Wakened by a strange light in the middle of the night, he suspects Bea knows more than she is letting on. But he can't put his finger on what that is.


Bea becomes more and more secretive... and Paul begins to wonder who she really is. At first, he thinks it's her old friend Ben, but when he tries to confront him, Ben isn't there and his wife Annie is also acting strangely. Can the two women's actions be connected?


This was an interesting mix of horror and sci-fi. The best things about the film are the performances of the lead actors. I liked Harry Treadaway in Mr. Mercedes and Penny Dreadful. Rose Leslie is best known for playing Jon Snow's Wildling girlfriend Ygritte in Game of Thrones. The atmosphere is chilling and suspenseful as two people who love each other dearly find themselves being torn apart by forces they can't comprehend. The ending is unexpected and eerie. Definitely worth watching, I give this film 4 Stars.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Book review: Demon Slayer, Vol 11 by Koyoharu Gotouge

 

Demon Slayer, Vol 11     


Author: Koyoharu Gotouge

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 3, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Fantasy Manga/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

 

Daki’s brother Gyutaro is fast, like a mantis. He’s proving to be difficult to kill, even with the combined efforts of Tengen, Tanjiro and the others. Thinking quickly, Tanjiro slices off his feet and keeps them from regenerating with the use of wisteria extract. But how long can such tactics work on this demon?

Tanjiro’s quick thinking and fast actions save the life of one of Tengen’s wives. The Hashira is grateful to him, and says he owes him one. Everyone tries to cut off Gyutaro’s head, but that proves to be trickier than they thought. And now Daki is back in action?  Perhaps they should cut off her head first… assuming they can.

Tanjiro refuses to give up, no matter how bleak things look. And they are looking pretty bleak. How many more will they have to lose?

In this volume, we get to see Daki and Gyutaro’s back story. No one is born evil, and neither were they. Sometimes people are born into difficult situations and they do the best they can.  Also, we get a glimpse into the relationship between Tengen and his three wives. This was a pretty good battle, and it was hard to know what the outcome was going to be. But since this isn’t the last volume of the series, it should be apparent that good must prevail.

Good volume, looking forward to seeing more of the mystery guest introduced on the last page!

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Wednesday Briefs: Rose and Thorne 6 #6 (2.2)

 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.  

Upset by his sister's revelation, Ethan takes a walk with Benny and Vinnie and reveals the story of James, his one time best friend. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Rose and Thorne 6. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Rose and Thorne 6 #6 (2.2)

“God, you’re the best Vinny.” His words reverberated warmly against my neck. “I just don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d survive,” I assured him, even after he turned a skeptical eye toward me before straightening up. I was just being honest. Ethan was a strong man. His continued survival didn’t depend upon me. Me, on the other hand…

“But you don’t have to worry about it,” I hastily added to avert any potential storm. “I’m not going anywhere. I need you too much.”

That produced a smile. “Vinny, you always sell yourself short, you know? You’re like a cat. You’ll always land on your feet no matter what.”

I felt my cheeks warm at his words and could just imagine the blush he’d brought about. “But it wouldn’t be the same without you,” I said honestly. When Ethan kissed me, I decided to steer the conversation away from scenarios in which either one of us was bereft of the other. Such topics tended to be upsetting to me, especially considering what we did for a living. We might not face death on a daily basis but with any new assignment it was always a possibility. One I’d rather not think about too much.

“Did you try to contact James after he took off?” Back to the original subject.

By now Benny had finished his investigation of the insect—or rather the bug took off for greener pastures, to his dismay—and we continued to locomote along our path.

“Of course I did. I phoned him multiple times, shot him some rather nasty emails. I even went to his parents’ house, but they said they didn’t know any more than we did about his whereabouts. When I told them Sarah was pregnant, they…” He took a deep breath before continuing. “They weren’t surprised at the news, and neither did they seem to care. When I questioned them, they had some pretty terrible things to say about Sarah. How she entrapped their son. And worse things I won’t even repeat.  I never even told her. I mean I just couldn’t. It was bad enough she had our father to deal with, she didn’t need to worry about them too.”

“I’m so sorry,” I said. “What did your father do? He didn’t try to throw her out of the house, did he?”

He shook his head before stopping once more in the middle of the sidewalk. We had reached the point at which we normally turned and retraced our steps back to the house. Maybe he’d heard something in my voice. Not surprising. I couldn’t help but think of my mother, and how her own parents disowned her when she found herself having me. And so did my sperm donor. I’d never met any of them and didn’t want to.

“I would never do that to any child of ours,” he said in a solemn voice, and I believed him.

“I wish you could have met my mom,” I said wistfully. “I know she would have loved you. And you her.”

“I’m sure she was a wonderful woman,” Ethan said. “You’re proof of that. She raised you to be the fantastic person you are today.”

Again with the blushing. Only Ethan Thorne could affect me this way.  I tried to turn my head but he was having none of that. Using his free hand, he brushed back a stray strand of my dark hair before he kissed me. “Love you so much.”

“Love you too, Ethan.”

A moment or two of silence passed as we slowly wandered toward home. “I don’t want to see her get hurt again,” Ethan said at last. “I just don’t trust him anymore.”

“I can understand that.” I wanted to be the voice of reason, to tell him that everyone deserves a second chance, but every skeptical instinct I possessed told me that Ethan’s sister was just heading for heartbreak if she continued along this path. I had never met the baby daddy but I already mistrusted his motives. A man who would abandon a pregnant woman without so much as a backward glance and never make an attempt to see his own child… well, he was no man in my book.

“What the hell?” Ethan exclaimed. At first I thought maybe I’d said something wrong, though I couldn’t imagine what that might be. Then I saw his gaze riveted on a vehicle that sat in our driveway and my first thought was how did Sarah’s ex find us? But that irrational thought quickly passed as I recognized the car. Apparently Ethan did too. His anger had morphed into a puzzled frown. “What’s Anderson doing here?”

 to be continued

Now see what's up with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

J Ray Lamb