Category Archives: horror

Locke & Key Volume 4 – Review

Lfile_4_13311ocke and Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom – Review

Volume 4 of the Locke and Key series starts with a kind of art tribute to one of my favorite comics of all times – Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson.

But there’s no cuteness about childhood adventures as with the famous Calvin and Hobbes comic strip of our youth.  Locke & Key volume four kicks up the darkness and the intensity several notches – with relationship drama, interesting experimentation about letting people into your head/memories, violence, racial commentary, and fighting the ultimate bad guy, Dodge (AKA Lucas Caravaggio/Zach Wells).

In any series, there is a book that brings us to the turning point – that crucial place in the universe where a story goes from innocence (and a fair amount of set-up) to the real action and the real heartbreak.  In the Harry Potter Series, I’d say it was the Goblet of Fire.  In the Locke and Key series, I’m guessing it would be this volume – the keys to the kingdom.  Something quite unsettling happens at the end of this story, but there’s still hope for the Locke kids, and it’s the hope (as well as the curiosity of what the bad guy is going to do next) that will keep me reading.  I don’t want to give too much away or spoil anything for anyone…which unfortunately prohibits me from doing a good job of summarize what happens in this part of the series.  Let me just summarize and say…there are a few characters that are no longer with us at the end of this book (I know, I know, boooo).

The one issue that I had with this volume is that A LOT happened here and A LOT of battles were condensed to just a synopsis.  I get it, I do…too many battles against the bad guy and your series runs really long or worse, things start to feel repetitive to your audience.  But still, there were some things that were summarized that I wish I’d be given more detail about.  But hey, leaving your readers wanting more is really a problem we’d all like to have.

5 out of 5 stars…and I really need to finish the rest of this series!

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Hemlock Grove – Season 1 + 2 Review

Hemlock Grove – Season 1 & 2 Review

Have you ever wondered what a bromance between a werewolf and a vampire would look like?  Well, look no further, because a paranormal bromance of epic proportion is alive and well on Netflix’s Hemlock Grove.

…but is the show worth watching?

Well….it’s complicated.  Let’s take it in steps and note, there are spoilers in here, but I’ll warn you before.

Season 1: One-liner summary –  Boy with blood obsession seeks moon-inspired wolf for angsty bromance and solving murder mysteries.

Peter is new in town and has a secret – on a full moon, he walks as a wolf – a change he treats the viewers and a new friend, Roman to watch.  The two bond over  a series of terrible shared dreams – dreams that can lead them to a serial killer targeting teenage girls at their school.

What’s nice about this show, is that each season is dedicated to solving one major mystery, all while allowing the viewer to slowly delve into this town, where the paranormal live along side the blissfully ignorant normal.

Non-spoiler comments –

  • Roman and his mother are Upir (Vampire-like creatures who can walk around during the day), but Roman is unaware of his paranormal nature until much later.
  • Roman has a sister, Shelley, who was brought back to life by a doctor who…let’s just say he likes to push the envelope.  I’m thinking they named her Shelley in honor of Mary Shelley & Frankenstein.
  • There’s an interesting character who is a writer and goes around explaining that because she’s a writer she has to ask questions to understand motives and experience things so that she can write great stories. lol
  • Since this is a paranormal story with vampire-like creatures and werewolves AND angsty teenagers, there is of course a love triangle.  Although this one is extra wrong, because two sides of the triangle are related.

I enjoyed the first season a lot, I’d give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.  It was fresh, paranormal, and there were mysteries to puzzle through.  I recommend it, however, I’m a little torn about season 2…

Season 2:  One-liner summary – last time we had a triangle, this time an awkward, angsty, paranormal three-way (team Jacob and team Edward fans can now unite under one banner).

At the end of Season 1, Peter and his mom leave Hemlock Grove, as it is filled with too many bad memories and sadness.  Season 2 starts with Peter’s mom getting arrested and then jailed.  Where? Hemlock Grove.  Why?  Because of plot.

And the Roman-Peter bromance is severely damaged.

But no fear!  More mysteries are here!  Yay!

Soon our bromance is back in business and more angsty than ever as they try to determine who is behind a string deaths and also navigate a strange three-way relationship.

This season, while weird and a little less strong than the first, wasn’t really annoying until the last episode.  I’d probably give this 3 out of 5 stars.  And now for spoilers, because it’s the only way I can accurately explain my beefs with season 2.

But first, my favorite line from this season has got to be after Norman breaks up with Olivia.  Olivia says: “Fuck me….No, fuck you.”  And later she literally rips his heart out.  Awesome.

Okay…my biggest issue with season 2 was the season finale (SPOILERS!):

  • Item 1 – Miranda jumps off the building with the evil baby who then tries to kill her as she has with others, by looking at her with the crazy baby demon eyes.  While Miranda’s eyes begin to bleed, she magically doesn’t die…probably because something flies down and saves them.  Which brings me to item 2…
  • Item 2 – The dragon and a whole lot of wtf.   This dragon was the doctor from previous episodes in the season.  How do I know?  They put his face on it, in case I was confused and somehow didn’t pick up what they were putting down.  Additionally, this dragon doesn’t really look like a dragon, but like a manta ray with talons and a weird dude’s face.  My response upon seeing this – a whole lot of wtf… will I watch season 3?  Ah, this remains to be seen…

Bates Motel – Review

TV Series Review – Season 1, Bates Motel

Let’s take a moment and appreciate how creepy this picture of Norman Bates is…super creepy, right?  And I picked the least strange of the series poster type ads.

Series 1 Synopsis  – Norma Bates wants a fresh start for herself and her teenage son, after her husband is killed in a freak accident.  So, they move to a small sea-side town to run a small motel and start over.  Except nothing is what it seems – not this small town, Norma herself, nor her favorite son, Norman.

Thanks to the joy of tv series of Netflix, I powered through the first season of “Bates Motel” this week. And it was awesome – a seamless blend of creepiness, teenage angst, mysteries, rich characters, and a very interesting town…all while filling us in on a backstory of one of the horror genre’s most notorious, well psycho. If you enjoy mysteries and horror, definitely check it out – not only are there mysteries/creepiness lurking everywhere, all of the characters are flawlessly acted.

For those of you who have watched, will watch, or are watching, just a few interesting tidbits I wanted to bring up –

  • Norman talks with his mother a lot, even when she’s not there – As the viewer, we generally follow Norman (though often enough we follow Norma and Norman’s bother, Dylan) and as a side benefit of that, we also get to see what goes on in Norman’s head through dream sequences, quick visual fantasy type events, as well as his conversations with his kind of second personality – a really angry version of his mom.  Sometimes he remembers these conversations with his other personality and sometimes he doesn’t.  What’s interesting is that this lays the ground work to what Norman eventually does in the movie Psycho (i.e. attacking a woman while dressed as his dead mother and no, that’s not a spoiler..if you haven’t watched psycho you most likely know what happens anyway).
  • Norman has “black out” moments – I won’t ruin this for people, but it’s an interesting concept for a character who seems to have two very extreme sides to his personality.  It also raises interesting questions about “black out” moments – is he blocking them out after the fact (for self-preservation) or is it another side of his personality taking over?
  • The town is really, really interesting too – We all know the final fate of Norman Bates, and while a backstory is interesting, that can’t be the only thing happening if you’d like an engaging and long-running series.  Answer?  The town is crooked!  Crooked, I say!!  And filled with mysteries!  Yay!  Also, this town is run by Sheriff Alex Romero (Nestor Carbonell) who is quickly becoming one of my favorite side characters along with the quirky Emma Decody (Olivia Cooke), Norman’s only friend.

Predictions for season 2?  Methinks murder shall be afoot….also, I’m betting Norma and the Sheriff are going to have a complicated relationship that will no doubt lead to romance.  Why?  Well, romance is everywhere…even in horror stories. 😉

iZombie Pilot – Review

While listening to Pandora at work yesterday (and trying hard not to give in to the temptation of wiggling around to beat of the music), I heard quite a few commercials for the CW’s new series – iZombie…from the brains that brought you Veronica Mars (ha! the pun-ery!).

(Queue the fan girl squeal)  I love Veronica Mars…and Logan, but mostly I love the kick-assness of everyone’s favorite badass pixie.  So, how could I pass up the opportunity to see (hopefully) a zombie-fied version of one of my favorite heroines?

So, I tuned in at 9 pm EST to check out the pilot and my overwhelming response is….

hmmmmm…uncertainty…

Problem areas (and yes, I have my bitch pants on today):

  • Too much focus on the zombie thing – Okay, okay, this is what makes the show fresh.  However, what is the struggle here?  Is it being a zombie?  Being a zombie while trying to solve crimes? Or solving crimes, and btw – I’m a zombie and prepare yourself for amusement/awkwardness to follow?  I’m not sure.  I’m hoping that the next episode will not focus on reminding us every five minutes that the heroine is a zombie.  Speaking for the TV audience, I’ll say this – she’s a zombie, we read you loud and clear.
  • Unlikely duo/future romantic interest crap – Our zombie heroine is working as medical examiner (giggle), though it’s clear that she’s going to be tagging along with an untested, young detective.  <SNORE>  Seriously?  How many of these “unlikely pairs” must we suffer through?  Is it mean to say – it’s be done before?  Because it has…at length and continues to be done on TV.  And why must we eventually have sexual tension between the two?  And oh no, the fact that she’s a zombie will surely impact their budding romance!  Ugh.  While I do like the actor who is playing the detective (and will still watch despite future romantic interest crap), I’d really rather see a crime fighting duo that consists of two women, which brings me to the next point…
  • Dialogue with other female characters – best friend/roommate is concerned about our zombie heroine and tells her, during a one-sided conversation, that our zombie is “her heart.”  Ugh.  I don’t know anyone who talks like this, I certainly don’t, not even to my best friend for the last…shite, 15 years.  Never have I told her that she’s “my heart,” though I did recently suggest we pose as lovers (long story), which is kind of the same thing… :p
  • “Uplifting” end to first episode – We hear our zombie heroine’s internal thoughts throughout the episode, which is fine.  But the end of the episode got a little …overly happy for me, as our heroine becomes optimistic of a cure for her zombie condition (which let’s be honest, we know is not going to happen any time soon).  Call me jaded, but I feel like a zombie shouldn’t be super optimistic…I’d prefer her to be a little dark and brooding.

Exciting areas:

  • Concept of heroine as a zombie is fresh and fun.  A snarky, badass, zombie heroine is even better.
  • Comic book feel of the series – each scene began with a comic book frame that came to life.  Some people might have found this campy, but I actually liked it (though this could be because I’ve been reading a good amount of graphic novels lately).
  • Angry zombie – When our zombie heroine gets all riled up (and possibly when she sees fresh blood?), she turns into a super zombie (complete with crazy eyes and awesome strength)…which I’m guessing/hoping can lead to interesting scenarios down the road.
  • ….Brains – When she eats pieces of brain, she has the ability to access the dead person’s memories, habits, and language abilities.  This is a fun concept, though if not done right may end up getting campy quickly.

Pilot episodes are a damn tricky thing – there’s a lot of information (on characters, the world, relationships, etc.) that you have to introduce to a brand new audience, but in a way that doesn’t bore us or make us feel like banging our heads against the wall.  This pilot episode, while awkward in some places, did a fairly good job of introducing us to the main players in the series, as well as the heroine’s unique struggles as a zombie.  Was I blown away? Not really, but how many pilot episodes are actually able to do that?  The pilot episode was able to pique my interest a bit and make me curious about the next show.  And for a brand-new series, I think we can count that as a win.

Did you watch iZombie last night?  What do you think of pilot episodes, in general?

Review – 20th Century Ghosts

51a575Ka2sLBook Review: “20th century ghosts,” by Joe Hill

For Valentine’s day, I got the missing piece to a collection that I hadn’t even realized I had started – all of Joe Hill’s published works.  The missing piece to this…shall we call happy but accidental collection, was “20th Century Ghosts.

Like his father, Stephen King, Joe Hill is often categorized as a horror writer.  Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what he writes is downright creepy.  “Heart Shaped Box” not only kept me up wondering what would happen to its main characters, it also gave me terrifying nightmares of deadly hypnotizing ghosts.

I don’t know how I would classify “20th Century Ghosts.”  This book of short stories does have horror type stories – the first one in particular is the most typical of the genre.  But it also has stories about families, friends, murder, bugs, and some that are just strange.

Out of the collection of stories, I think my favorites are “20th Century Ghost” and “Pop Art,” which are less scary and more sweet.

“20th Century Ghost” is about an old man who runs a movie theater that is haunted by a ghost of a teenage girl…who happens to be a movie buff and a somewhat chatty one at that.

“Pop Art” is a story about a young boy and his best friend…who happens to be inflatable.  And before you ask, no – not that kind of doll.  But, as you can imagine, it would be hazardous to live as an inflatable person…so many things could be the end of you, including a vicious dog named Happy.  It was a touching piece, and it is from this story that I’ll choose my quote for the book –

“It is my belief that, as a rule, creatures of Happy’s ilk – I am thinking here of canines and men both – more often run free than live caged, and it is in fact a world of mud and feces they desire, a world with no Art in it, or anyone like him, a place where there is no talk of books or God or the worlds beyond this world, a place where the only communication is the hysterical barking of starving and hate-filled dogs.” – Joe Hill, “20th Century Ghosts

I loved this book and I loved the dedication page of the novel (as I am and will always be a hopeless romantic, even if lately I’ve been doing a good job of pretending not to be), which reads:  “To Leanora: We are my favorite story.”   Oh Joe Hill, you fabulous, romantic bastard…who also happens to write excellent novels, short stories, and graphic novels.  <Sigh>  Can’t say I’d mind a dedication like that to me.

Five out of five stars.

Witchy Women – American Horror Story Season 3 Review

American Horror Story – Season 3 “The Coven”

AHSCovenPosterOh American Horror Story, you’ve restored my faith in you with the “Coven,” or as I like to say, “I’m all about the witches, bitches.” 🙂

“Coven” follows a small group of yes, witches (duh, it’s in the name) within a secret school.  There are enemies outside the group – witch-hunters and a voodoo queen with a serious grudge.  But even more dangerous, there are enemies within the house and within the coven itself, as the witches strive to determine who the next supreme (the head witch) will be.

From the first episode to the last, this series does an excellent job with plot, twists, and characters (yay for interesting and strong women!).  Loved everything – the story, the main characters, side characters, and strong characters.  Side note though: whenever they’d talk about the next “supreme,” I kept thinking of “Toddlers & Tiaras” and all the weird kid beauty pageants.

Also, this season had excellent guest appearances from Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, and Stevie Nicks – which totally made me download a bunch of Fleetwood Mac music because, hey there’s so much wisdom in there.  I mean, players really do only love you when they’re playing.  And you really shouldn’t stop thinking about tomorrow either. 😉

And may I just say, Angela Bassett – you look fabulous.  I wish I could look as good as you do now, let alone when I’m in my 50’s.

Sadly, that’s the end of the seasons available on Netflix, so I’m not sure when I’ll be able to start the fourth season, “Freak Show.”  Boo.  I’ll have to find some other dark and/or thrilling TV series to watch on Netflix.  Lucky for me, there are a ton to pick from. 🙂

Five out of five stars for “Coven,” and I can’t wait for Netflix to have the next season!!

Review – American Horror Story (Season 2)

TV Review – American Horror Story (Season 2, Asylum)

518sndmfCEL._AA160_American Horror Story Season 2, Asylum, was…interesting.  In its first season, American Horror Story had a fairly simple premise – a haunted house.  The second season takes place in an asylum with A LOT going on.  We have an aspiring journalist, troubled Nun, serial killer, a copycat serial killer, wrongfully accused man, demonic possession, angel of death, weird scientific experiments/zombie people, a Nazi, and aliens/alien abduction/alien pregnancy.  I shit you not, I got to episode two or three and was wondering if bigfoot was going to make a cameo.

But I stuck with it and the episodes got better.  I was fairly pleased with the way everything ended, though not clear on why the alien story arc was necessary.  Maybe the writers included the aliens as a bit of a benevolent force to balance out the devil and serial killer story arcs?  I’m still not sure.

American Horror Story Season 2 gets 3.5 out of 5 stars, not terrible but certainly not as good as Season 1.  I’ve heard that all of the seasons are supposed to be linked, so maybe that was why there was so much going on in Season 2.  I’m still excited for  Season 3, the Coven…especially since the first episode is called bitchcraft.  lol.

Locke & Key – Volume 2 Review

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Graphic Novel Review: Locke & Key, Volume 2, Head Games:  By Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (And yes, that’s “head games” like the Foreigner song of the same name, so cue the music..)

Ty, Kinsey, and Bode continue to settle into their new lives in Lovecraft, Massachusetts.  And they are beginning to realize that the Keyhouse, the old house where their father and uncle grew up, is a place with hidden secrets and magic keys.

In Head Games, Bode finds the head key, which opens your mind (literally) and allows you to put in or take out whatever you want.  Ty uses the head key for studying (this would have been so convenient in college).  Kinsey uses it to get rid of her fear monster and the part of her that cries.  Side note: this part of the graphic novel really stuck with me – especially when Kinsey’s fear monster starts talking and a lot of what it says sounds like the normal and terrible fears of a teenage girl.  Of course, taking out the part of your brain that’s responsible for fear would be intensely freeing – Kinsey is euphoric and empowered afterwards… But we also know that it will be a recipe for disaster…

5 out of 5 stars for Volume 2.  Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, you guys are officially deepening my level of nerd to graphic novel reader….and I love it.  😉

If you haven’t already seen it, check out the review for Locke & Key Volume 1.

Review – American Horror Story (Season 1)

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Television Series Review – American Horror Story (Season 1)

Don’t you just love the ability to binge watch a series?  Oh Netflix, how I love thee, I shall compose a sonnet in your honor.

Anyway, I have recently rediscovered my love of the horror genre.  Only issue?  Well….sometimes horror tends to be campy and overly gory.  I’m sure even die-hard fans would agree, a certain amount is expected, but unless you’re planning on mystery science theater-ing, over-the-top gore and campiness is an eye-rolling offense.

It was with this in mind that I embarked on my foray back into the horror genre.  First up was Season One of American Horror Story.  I’d heard that the series was good, but sometimes out of stubborn-ness, I can be one of the last to show up at the pop culture party.

So, I finally arrived at this pop culture party in December 2014 and..wow, the series over-delivered on my expectations.  I watched the season over the course of 4 days (don’t judge, two of those days were the weekend), with breaking only to walk the dog (at night, this routine became rife with creepy shadows and sounds), sleep (where I’d try to work through the show’s mysteries), and work (boo, work! Why must you thwart me from living in the land of books, movies, and tv shows?).  Instead of suffering the flaws of the horror genre (of too much gore and camp), this series weaves in mystery with its horrific acts.  I love chewing on a good mystery, and Season One of American Horror Story gave me a lot to work out…and as some bits were revealed, more questions sprang up, keeping my interest piqued throughout the season.  There are some aspects of the story that I still think about, even weeks after finishing the season (mostly about how one seemingly redeeming character completely surprised me with the level of their treachery).  It was amazing: 5 out of 5 stars.

Season Summary:

The Harmon family moves across the country to LA after infidelity and a miscarriage rock their foundations. They buy a beautiful Victorian home for a song, but what they don’t know is that it is the notorious murder house, with many of its inhabitants still lurking in the shadows… (cue the creepy ghost noises)

Locke & Key – Book 1 Review

Graphic Novel Review of:  Locke & Key, Volume 1 – Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez

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I have quite a few friends who read (some who experiment in writing) comic books and graphic novels.  A few weeks ago, I asked where I should begin with graphic novels <giggle>, and since I am already a Joe Hill fan, my friends pointed me to the Locke & Key series.

Side note: before I was a fan of romance novels, I was a fan of the horror/thriller genre.  I still am a fan, though now whenever I read/watch horror, I have to watch cartoons before bed. :p  So, for all my fellow lovers of romance – sorry, but this isn’t a romance series.

Locke & Key, Volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft

After a brutal attack, the Locke family moves to a family house, the Keyhouse in Lovecraft, MA, for a fresh start and to heal their wounds.  But the house is full of secrets – keys, doorways, and a past…

I really enjoyed my first foray into the world of graphic novels.  I’ve read two of Joe Hill’s novels (Heart Shaped Box and Horns), so I already knew that he was a talented story-teller.  Like in his novels, Joe Hill does not disappoint in the first part of this graphic novel series – the story, the build-up, and the climax – all well done.  The art, by Gabriel Rodriguez, compliments the dark feel of the thriller genre and the magic of the story.  Five out of five stars for Locke & Key Volume 1.  Can’t wait to read the rest. 🙂

One particular bit of dialogue stuck with me, as it rings true in life and also has my mind spinning through the possibilities for the next books:

…No, you can’t understand.  Because you’re reading the last chapter of something, without having read the first chapters.  You’re a little guy, Bode.  Kids think they’re coming into a story at the beginning, when usually they’re coming in at the end.

ohhhhh! So true! And it makes you curious about the history, doesn’t it? 🙂