Madhouse Review

Madhouse (2004)

Starring: Joshua Leonard, Jordan Ladd, Natasha Lyonne
Directed by: William Butler



Ever notice how almost every movie set in a loony bin has at least one character smear shit everywhere? What's up with that?

In Madhouse, psychiatric intern, Clark Stevens, moves to Cunningham Hall in hopes of a residency, but instead uncovers dark secrets about the facility.

Even though, objectively, psych ward movies tend to have a lot of similarities -- the "Nurse Ratched" character, the stoic, warden-like head doctor, the aforementioned shit smearer -- I still find myself able to enjoy them for the most part. Madhouse wasn't an exception.

Straight from the beginning, the opening scenes are nice foreshadowing to the plot twist at the end as well as a huge red herring. These scenes have nothing to do with each other, but are worth noting as when you hit the end, it hits you like a ton of bricks. Leading through the plot was a very good recurring clue related to the upcoming twist as well, which I thought was very nicely done.

Aside from plot twists, I did very much enjoy the story line itself. There was plenty of creepiness, plenty of character development and a plethora of excitement to balance the drama.

Character wise, Madhouse has a decent amount of star power, enough for much of the faces to be familiar and set the bar for how well you would expect the movie to perform. I can say, in my opinion, it excelled in this department. I fully enjoyed Joshua Leonard (more known for the Blair Witch Project) in the lead role with Jordan Ladd as Sara, a great supporting character. Alice (played by Natasha Lyonne) was not a letdown, either, in any way, shape or fashion.

I will say Dr. Franks (Lance Henriksen) felt a bit stuffy and more par for the course, but all in all, it wasn't a bad role. It just feels you know what to expect from him.

It is very easy to say of all the performances in the film, Mark Holton (of Leprechaun fame) was the biggest scene stealer and all around one of my favorite actors in the movie. On a side note (and a bit of trivia), though, the transvestite character in the titular "Madhouse" was played by Todd Stites, who was also the post-production supervisor. In the final scene in the film, the building shown is named the "Stites Mental Facility".

One of the best parts about this film is its atmosphere. When Clark initially enters the facility, it's almost completely typical of any mental health facility, save for his first encounter. Soon into the tour, though, he is taken to the lower depths where the actual "Madhouse" is located. Here is where the scenery completely changes. Here is where you get some of your more wild, but stereotypical characters. Here is where it gets dark and disgusting and doesn't apologize for it! I liked it. Except for the shit guy. Ew.

Though the special effects aren't very common, they were very well done. There is a good amount of gore without being gratuitous. Think quality over quantity. One of my personal favorite scenes involves Nurse Hendricks and an electro-shock machine. Another stereotypical, but very well done kill scene.

I thoroughly enjoyed Madhouse and all it had to offer. I mean, there were a few minor gripes, but nothing that really sat out as making the movie not worth watching. This is definitely a good rainy day film for any horror geek to enjoy. Especially if you like psych ward films. Or shit smearers. Ew.


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Overall Rating: Delightfully Maddening

Movies Based On True Stories: My Thoughts

I've never really thought much of the claim some movies make about being based on true events. Like the case of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, this is usually just a bunch of bullshit to sell tickets. I mean, even though TTCM is a great movie, it's still a lie, plain and simple. Well, actually, to be fair, it's more a fictional tale based (very) loosely on the serial killer Ed Gein.


Other examples would be movies like The Amityville Horror or The Haunting in Connecticut which are two films associated with exposed frauds, Ed and Lorraine Warren.

I suppose the real question related here is why do people do things like this? Is it that hard to simply market your movie based on its own merit? Would The Conjuring have been as good a movie if they'd not consulted Lorraine Warren? Would people have cared less? I guess there's no real telling, but it's still a worthy question, no?

The late Mitch Hedberg once made the joke--
"I like when they say a movie is inspired by a true story, because that's weird; it means the movie is not a true story, it was just inspired by a true story. Like, 'Hey Mitch, did you hear the story about that lady who drove her children into the river and they all drowned?' 'Yes I did, and it inspired me to write a movie about a gorilla!'"
This is typically what comes to mind when I hear about a film that is described as being "based on a true story". As far as I'm concerned, the truth has been bent so far out of shape, the original story usually tends to have absolutely nothing to do with the movie.

Movies like The Exorcist and The Exorcism of Emily Rose are the types of movies one could only claim as "true" through exercising something called "confirmation bias". It's a question of how much you believe in the supernatural to begin with and how far you are willing to go to accept a supernatural claim, no matter how ridiculous or far-fetched.

Being one who takes great pleasure in majorly fictional horror genre, I find I normally get the most enjoyment from films based on reality when they are directly about serial killers and the like. I find myself feeling a bit more connected to the film when I know the amount of truth to it hasn't been stretched like Gumby on the rack.


I'm sure we all can appreciate a little artistic license every now and again, but it'd be nice if good ol' Hollywood could sometimes dial it back a little, ya know? What are your thoughts on these kinds of movies?

Detention Review

Detention (2011)

Starring: Josh Hutcherson, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke
Directed by: Joseph Kahn



If my high school were like this, I probably would have eaten a bullet years ago.

In Detention, a rag tag group of Grizzly Lake co-eds must try to survive the wrath of the student body stalking Cinderhella while also serving detention.

I can't lie, this movie had a strong opening. There are heavy comedic overtones as the pretty, popular girl explains how to be cool or some other vapid shit like that. She is then brutally murdered as her mother waits for her outside in the car. After that, it's all downhill. Yeah, this film had an interesting premise and could have been a lot more interesting. The problem is there apparently wasn't enough shit to throw in for the horror and comedy angles, so they added a bunch of nonsense sci-fi to the mix.

Like a frog in a blender, these elements are tossed haphazardly throughout the film. There's no real rhyme or reason to it. To be honest, I felt this film is what Scott Pilgrim Vs The World would have been like if they'd thrown in elements of horror movies and instead of referencing video games, referenced the 90's ad nauseum. Oh, and time travel. There's fucking time travel in Detention.

That being said, even though by the end of the movie a lot of the various jokes come full circle, by the time it gets to that point, you're pretty much ready to jump out a fourth story window just to end the schlock.

I hated the characters almost as much as I thought I would. After that opening, there's a good idea what you're in for -- a bunch of fourth wall breaking, air CG'ing, joke tossing fuck-tardedness. Almost every line in the movie is some sort of punchline and honestly, it gets old very quickly. Dane Cook is in the movie, but he's about as funny as a rectal herpes outbreak.

I did like Cinderhella's look as well as, well, her killing everyone. That was nice. The main heroine of the film, Riley (Shanley Caswell) wasn't that bad, either. The Billy Nolan character (Parker Bagley) added to the "doesn't make any fucking sense" factor of the movie. The guy vomits acid like and sprouts fly wings because he touched a fallen meteor as a kid. His dad even had him stick his hand in a television set! Why was this in the movie? His whole roid raging issue isn't even funny, it's more irritating than anything!

And don't even get me started on that overly rape-y coach...!

On the plus side, Mimi (Tiffany Boone) is pretty cute as the "goth" chick.

Atmospherically, this movie shifts between being colorful and bright to being slightly less colorful and bright. There isn't much that gives the movie anything related to the horror atmosphere we all know and love. It's not scary in the least bit and the sci fi concepts sometimes even take away from the comedic twangs Detention throws at you.

Finally, the most detention has to offer is a cadre of CG effects. There are some decent practicals, like the throat slitting at the beginning and a death or two towards the middle of the film, but for the most part, it's CG effects back to back.

Really, Detention doesn't have much to offer except a few cheap laughs and a slight amount of gore. Most of the jokes and dialogue feel more forced than prison sex. The characters are mostly forgettable. There's nothing to this vapid waste of a movie that I could consider any horror fan wanting to own it for. NOTHING!!

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Overall Rating: Lightly Bandaged

Home Sick Review

Home Sick (2007)

Starring: Bill Moseley, Tiffany Shepis, Lindley Praytor
Directed by: Adam Wingard



I would just like to begin by saying meth. It's one helluva drug.

After an encounter with a mysterious man with a suitcase full of razor blades, Claire's friends begin to drop like flies as a superhuman psychopath is unleashed on them.

Home Sick is probably one of the most bizarre movies I've ever watched. The premise to begin with is pretty out there. When the group first encounters Mr. Suitcase (Bill Mutha Fuckin' Moseley), by far the happiest character in the damn movie, it's out of nowhere. He simply shows up at the house, uses the bathroom then proceeds to offer the characters a chance to air  their grievances by naming the person or persons they hate the most. After a few names are given, one character, the ever-cracked out Tim, names everyone in the room, which begins the ordeal. Mr. Suitcase then cuts his arm up with a razor blade, sings a song and then disappears into the night.

Probably the most fun part of this movie was the characters. Granted, the acting wasn't the best, they all had their own...personalities, if you will. There are two straight edges, Mark and Claire. With Home Sick being her only acting credit on IMDB, I think Lindley Praytor did a pretty good job.
With how timid and scared Robert was, I feel there was a rape scene this movie was missing. Tim was by far the most cracked out character of them all, although Candice (Tiffany Shepis) had a rather hilarious scene involving her getting methed out as she clocks in to work. Finally, Devon was, well, just really weird.

The superhuman monster that spent the movie killing off the characters was a little bit of a let down, considering it wasn't really introduced or explained. The first kill in the movie seems completely random until the scene with Mr. Suitcase, but even then, there's no way to know whether it's just some psycho sent after the group or a demon summoned from some pit in Beelzebub's ass.

Overall, though, I feel it was the characters that made each scene. There wasn't anything special about the various locations they went to, so it was pretty much left up to the actors to make each spot work. One of the best examples is the empty grocery store at the beginning of the film, the cashier's deadpan delivery was not only foreshadowing, it was kind of funny.

The special effects in Home Sick are strictly practicals and done decently. There are some notable scenes including a good, squishy curb stomping scene. There is also a crazy scene involving Candice where she is so high, she walks in on her dead mother and just starts playing in the blood. Again, she starts playing in her dead mother's fucking blood. Oh and she vomits on the body. That also happened.

As the directorial debut of up-and-comer Adam Wingard, Home Sick is definitely a very special horror movie. Unfortunately, it's a bit disjointed, suffering from mostly from a lack of good atmosphere and awkward dialogue. On the plus, this feature is all about the gore and the two leading ladies are gorgeous. I'd suggest this film to majorly to Bill Moseley or Tiffany Shepis fans, but the general horror community may find this one palatable, if only due to the gore.

But before I finish, I just have to ask--is it just me or does Bill Moseley seem to be one of the the hardest working mothers in horror? I mean, even when I'm not looking for the name, he's popping up more than herpes in a frat house! How about you horror freaks share your thoughts in the comments?


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Overall Rating: Gashed And Bleeding

Exit Humanity Review

Exit Humanity (2011)

Starring: Brian Cox, Mark Gibson, Bill Moseley
Directed by: John Geddes



It's been a while since I've seen a zombie movie set during a war that wasn't WWII. That being said, I wasn't sure what exactly to expect when I came across this one. But rest assured, I can say I was definitely impressed.

Exit Humanity is the story of a man, Edward Young, as his life is chronicled through a zombie outbreak during the Civil War.

Unlike a lot of other zed-based films, Exit Humanity is the type of film that gives you good Western action action peppered within a web of drama, along with some decent zombies.

For almost two hours, you are driven through a story that begins with Edward Young, played by Mark Gibson, as he searches for his son. The chaos of the Civil War has finally begun to come to a staggering halt in the wake of an unexplained rise in undead. Unfortunately, Edward's family has been caught up in the upswing.

Exit Humanity is heavily narrated by Malcolm Young (Brian Cox), a distant relative to Edward, as he reads from the journal the movie is based on. Each act of the film is a chapter of the book, the first being the titular chapter.

What makes this movie shine so much in my eyes is the attention to the story and the characters. To be honest, the zombies play a good part in the film, but fall to the back burner in lieu of the direction the film takes. I found this gave the film a phenomenal sense of despair and longing.

Bill Moseley plays a fantastic part in the film as the unhinged General Williams. I feel he was the perfect antagonist to Mark Gibson's Edward Young. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? Bill Moseley is just fucking awesome in general. You should follow him on Twitter @choptopmoseley. Go ahead. I'll wait a minute.

You back? Awesome, let's finish here.

The old style Civil War setting was perfect for the kind of movie this is. In my opinion, it makes every scenario in the film seem that much more urgent and serious. There aren't ammo shops for characters to just randomly raid. There are no automatic weapons with which they can spray crowds of zombies. It's a real struggle, be it versus man or monster.

One of the cool things about this film is at certain points, there are bits of animation, depictions of the drawings found in the journal. They help to tell the story in a bit of a different way. A visual representation of what was going through Edward's mind at the time, if you will. Ultimately, it's just a really nice touch.

There are some very good makeup touches throughout Exit Humanity on the various zeds wandering through the forests, though it's not as in your face as many other zombie movies. Like I said before, they were more put to the back burner for the story and the characters.

I'll be honest here, Exit Humanity isn't going to be for every horror lover. This doesn't make it a bad movie, just more niche. Personally, I really enjoyed the blend of not-WWII with zombies. I do think a lot of you will as well if you're willing to give something a little different a chance.



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Overall Rating: Down To The Bone

Altered Review

Altered (2006)

Starring: Adam Kaufman, Catherine Mangan, Brad William Henke
Directed by: Eduardo Sanchez



So, how did you feel about Signs?

Personally, I wasn't all that impressed. I wasn't impressed by the story. I wasn't impressed by the "twist". I wasn't impressed by the alien. Enter Altered. This movie may have revitalized my expectations in close encounter genre horror films because...well, read on and find out.

In Altered, after a shared, life changing occurrence 15 years ago, a group of four will come back together for one more night of terror.

I have to say, right from the beginning, Altered is a fun ride. It throws you into a situation years into the making when three of the four good ol' boys are out in the swamp chasing aliens, the creatures that screwed up their lives over a decade before. With the help of bear traps, shotguns and a badass harpoon gun, they catch one and bring it to the final friend, Wyatt, the one who has apparently had a closer encounter than the rest of the crew. I loved how this movie paced the action and the drama as even when it seems nothing is going on, in reality there always is.

There is a nice diversity between the characters, as even though they all seem to be more or less backwoods, they are all different significantly. Duke is the headstrong one, seemingly in charge, Cody is the brash asshole of the group, Otis is somewhat of a coward and Wyatt has definitely been traumatized the most, even though early on you find out Cody lost his brother during that first encounter 15 years ago.

I really liked the alien in this film. Though it was of the usual humanoid type and somewhat reminded me of the one from Signs, it was a lot more aggressive and dangerous. This creature was more interesting chained and taped to a table than the hydrophobic monster from the M. Knight Shama-shitfest. And besides being a physical threat, it also had some mental abilities, which it uses a few times.

The dramatic tension in Altered was one for the books, in my opinion. First, between the friends there is a lot of in-fighting, but when the lights go out, things get kicked up a notch. This leads to the film having an overall great atmosphere, which I can honestly say goes unmatched by most other modern films of its ilk.

In regards to special effects, Altered does very well. There is little CG and quite a few good practical effects: the bear trap damage Duke suffers from the beginning of the movie, Cody's infection from a bite wound and in one particular scene, a character has his intestines stretched across the room and slowly pulled out. I, personally, was pleased with how this movie presented these things.

I have to say, Altered is definitely worth purchasing. I've read reviews (or more so, YouTube comments) claiming this movie was simply "okay" or "decent", but compared to other modern movies of the same variety, it's fucking fantastic and worth the hour and a half of your life.


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Overall Rating: Multiple Stab Wounds

Smiley Review

Smiley (2012)

Starring: Caitlin Gerard, Melanie Papalia, Shane Dawson
Directed by: Michael J. Gallagher



Do you remember Totally Sketch?

I do. I remember mostly that I just didn't really care for Michael Gallagher's work. But then this trailer came up for a new horror movie coming out that he was directing and I was torn. On one hand, I didn't care. But on the other hand, that mask! So I waited and waited and was finally able to see Smiley. Le sigh...

Smiley is about a girl who discovers an internet urban legend regarding a serial killer with the titular emoticon carved into his face. When her college mates begin dying off one by one, she must figure out if she will be the next victim or if she is merely going insane.

Now, I wouldn't be lying if I said I wanted to like this film. There were some things about Totally Sketch I did enjoy. Some skits were good. Um...Nikki Limo is hot. Yeah, that's really about it. But that being said, when a new horror movie comes out, regardless of how I feel about the makers, I at least try to get into it, simply for the sake of horror. Even Michael Bay has had his hands in some decent horror.

Anyway, on paper, Smiley seems like a fun concept--take a bunch of YouTube stars and kill them in a horror movie. What could go wrong, right? Well, in this case, just about everything.

Starting off, I did enjoy the idea of the plot to Smiley...but then again, I loved Candyman and liked a few Bloody Mary based movies, so I suppose that's par for the course. At the least, there is decent pacing for the hour and a half this movie lasts. One thing I didn't care for, though, is how this movie is supposed to be horror, but summoning Smiley feels more like it belongs in a comedy. Especially whenever someone does it on camera. When the phrase "I did it for the lulz" is repeated three times to your video chat buddy, Smiley, appears and kills them. That alone stops the movie from aging well. Bloody Mary and Candyman--timeless.

One thing I can say is however much I like the majority of this cast in their own personal spaces, DeStorm Power, Shane Dawson, Richard Ryan, Toby Turner, etc, as a whole they did NOTHING for me in this film. Then again, I will say Shane Dawson wasn't bad, actually. And I know all of these actors have talent, but due to what I feel was poor writing and direction, a lot was lost in the making of this movie. It really did feel like an average, trying-too-hard Totally Sketch skit that lasted way too long.

I almost liked Proxy, Melanie Papalia's character. I mean, I loved her in Postal, but in this movie, her character is just too sardonic to not make certain twists a little too obvious. I almost felt bad for Keith David and Roger Bart as well. Based on their acting, this movie seems like it was something they may have had genuine faith in. Something they thought could be good. But their talents were largely wasted in a sea of shallow acting and poor screenwriting. Not even a naked Nikki Limo could save this movie. There was a Mr. Repzion cameo I enjoyed for the quick moment.

The atmosphere set in the trailer differed largely from how it was in the movie itself, which I suppose isn't anything too outlandish or unheard of. The problem, though, is you set yourself up to watch an interestingly creepy movie and are left with something that's more jump scares and subterfuge, which isn't cool. At the least, some of the Smiley appearances helped a little, but not enough to make this movie worth it.

Like I said before, I do love the Smiley mask. That's almost the full extent of the good special effects in this movie. I don't mean they suck, I just mean they're almost non-existent. There's some blood and knife stabbings, but not much else. There is a scene that involves a major character crashing through a window (not trying to spoil anything for those wanting to watch), but there isn't much to it beyond CG effects.

After finishing this movie a second time to make sure I didn't miss anything, I think I can say I won't be watching this one again unless I have to. I suggest you, the reader, avoid Smiley yourself. What could have been an interesting take on the "Bloody Mary of a new generation" comes off as vapid, formulaic and flabby; almost a social experiment in how much shit one person can handle before they want to eat glass. I don't think Michael Gallagher should quit doing what he does because, hey, he was actually on to something here. I just think another pass at it without the YouTube-esque hijinks, a better, more seasoned cast and some actual gore could make a remake of this film shine.

Oh, and I will give Michael one thing: around the one hour mark, he does have a good cameo. I really did like that.



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Overall Rating: Just A Flesh Wound

Cherry Tree Lane Review

Cherry Tree Lane (2010)

Starring: Rachael Blake, Tom Butcher, Jumayn Hunter
Directed by: Paul Andrew Williams



After watching Mother's Day, I was inspired to give this English horror-thriller a shot. It's been staring at me from the collection like a neglected orphan, so I figured it couldn't hurt, right?

In Cherry Tree Lane, an already tense dinner becomes even more so when a trio of hoodlums invades and assaults a couple, Mike and Christine. The three teens are there for revenge against their son, Sebastian.

This was a very interesting movie. Instead of taking the sensational route a la Mother's Day, it plays toward a more realistic scenario. The couple are bound with duct tape and repeatedly harassed and assaulted. There is even a scene involving rape, though it is implied and not explicitly shown. Cherry Tree Lane runs for an hour and seventeen minutes, which is below average, especially by today's standards. Be that as it may, all the while, there is a serious air of tension throughout the movie that keeps it interesting and even gives it the feeling that it's actually lasted longer.

I almost liked the kidnappers, Rian, Asad and Teddy. Almost. Rian, the main antagonist with a chip on his shoulder, spends the entirety of the film ordering the other two around. Asad is more laid back, even offering Mike a drink and a smoke at a point. Teddy...well, Teddy's just there. I couldn't help but feel like the couple had been taken hostage by Seal, Eminem and Forrest Whitaker, which made it a bit hard to take them seriously, at least until Christine is taken upstairs. Later on, a couple of younger girls show up. In what has to be the best case of judgement, one of them brings their well-dressed young brother, Oscar to the shindig.

What I really enjoyed, though, was towards the end when things come to a boiling point, there is an open interpretation of what happens when the credits roll. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will say it involves the youngest of the cast and a simple question: What would you do?

Overall, this movie uses dialogue, suspense and story arcing to set the atmosphere with very little left to special effects. For the gore hounds, this wouldn't be a very good pick, but if you are into plot driven movies, I would actually recommend it. Cherry Tree Lane isn't the heavy-handed torture fest Mother's Day felt like, but it does have enough going for it for it to be worth adding to any horror fan's collection.


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Overall Rating: Wounded and Limping

University Review

University (1995)

Written by: Bentley Little


One of my favorite authors, without a doubt, is Bentley Little.

This is a man who definitely deserves the Bram Stoker award and has won it as well. Now that I'm getting more time to read, I have a few more of his novels I need to make my way through. This was the most recent.

Originally written as "The Night School" in 1994, in University violent crimes are on the rise at U.C. Brea, a once respectable Southern California school. Rapes, murders and hate crimes are becoming all too common and only a few students seem to have taken notice.

I wish I'd have gotten back into reading much sooner than later, that's a lesson for all the kids out there. Knowing there were great novels out there like this one would have made high school that much more interesting.

I found University to have a very good plot. The story arc alone creates so much tension as different groups of friends -- students and professors alike -- begin to notice strange happenings around the campus. Jim and Howie working at the Sentinel, the school news paper, and are best buds. There is a great emotional aspect to the story as Jim worries for Howie a lot as his condition deteriorates from muscular dystrophy. There is also a bit of a romance, if you will, between Jim and Faith throughout the novel, though it's almost overshadowed by a series of fucked up happenings, such as in this (explicit) excerpt:

The piss was soaking not only him but the bed, and now he could see it and it was red, bloody. Was she having her period?
"Untie me!" he ordered.
The flow stopped. "I thought this was what you wanted."
"Wanted?"
"It's what I wanted."
"Untie me right now!"
She crawled backward, sat on his knees, grabbed his penis. One long fingernail scraped against the underside of his now soft organ, and a line of red welled forth.
"Jesus," he said. "Jesus..."
She reached down, picked her panties up off the floor, used them to wipe the bloody urine off his stomach. She shoved the panties into his mouth, stuffing them all the way in.
He threw up instantly, but his mouth was filled and there was no place for the vomit to go and it backed up in his throat. He tried to cough, tried to breath, tried to suck in air, but his air passage was blocked, and he knew that instant that he was going to die.
She squeezed his testicles tightly, dug in with her fingernails.
He felt his left testicle pop.
"Fun time's just starting," she said.
If he could have, he would have screamed.
 This passage comes before the 100 page mark in the book. There are a 415 pages. This book, like many things Bentley Little, is not exactly for the weak.

The passage above also sets the bar for the general atmosphere of the book. So many things just end up getting worse and worse as it progresses that you can't help but expect with each page, something more violent or perverse is waiting to shock you.

Have fun, readers.

Plot

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N/A


Overall Rating: Going For The Jugular

No Dreams For Henry Update

After a bit of a setback, I've made some progress on my first book, No Dreams For Henry.

It's not been much, but I'm still proud of moving forward and getting things to where they are, both literally and figuratively. There will be more details about the story later as it's fleshed out more, but for now, I'm not trying to set any unnecessary expectations. All I can say is I hope it turns out as good as I'm hoping, but only time will tell. But at the least, here's a first draft excerpt of chapter one for those who are curious.

1

Henry lay in bed staring at the ceiling. 
It was approximately a quarter to three and he couldn’t bring himself to get back to sleep. It was yet another night insomnia claimed for its own.
The early stages of a rainstorm were just beginning; light drops of precipitation pitter-pattered against the window pane of the bedroom. Occasional flashes of light streaked across the sky, lighting up the shades like ghostly, glowing sheets. Wind rustled through the leaves of the trees outside. At least it was his favorite type of weather. 
Next to him, his girlfriend, Jessica lay still, snoozing. The covers lightly rose and fell with each breath. Henry found one of the few benefits to not being able to sleep was being able to watch her sleep. He loved her faint snoring. He loved the calm and relaxed look on her face as she slept, even those nights when she would drool after a long, hard day at work or a long, hard night of fucking. 
It ended up being a little of both as today had been a bad day for her. She loved her job, but sometimes it just got to her. She held a position as a barista at a local coffee shop. Coffee had always been a sort of passion for her. Jessica hoped to one day own her own shop. Henry hoped one day he could provide that to her with his writing. With the way things were going, he wasn’t sure when or if that would ever happened, but he still hoped. He thought about it almost every day. It was one of his goals that kept him on track, focused. 
Henry sighed and sat up in bed. The rain began to beat harder on the windows, audible through the walls. He could hear strips of thunder rumbling in the distance. That was his cue to go ahead and head out to the porch. He loved sitting through rainstorms, watching the sheets of precipitation pour over the houses and streets in falling waves. The noise of the thunder, the flash of the lightning, he’d always found it soothing. It was his writing weather. He did his best to sneak out of the bed, to not wake Jessica. He decided he would make a pot of coffee and sit out on the porch with his pad. 
Fumbling around in the dark, Henry was able to find his night pants and his favorite writing pad. The now more frequent flashes of lightning provided him the light he needed to make it from the bed to the doorway without making too much noise. He still wasn’t lucky enough to make it through without stubbing his toe on the door frame. 
Grunting in pain, Henry hopped on one foot down the hallway and into the kitchen. He favored his left foot, stepping extra lightly. The sharp pain shot up his leg with each step, but he knew it’d go away soon. He flicked on the light, taking a few moments to let his eyes properly adjust. 
He set up the coffee pot for a full load. He wasn’t going back to sleep any time soon anyway, so it didn’t really matter. He enjoyed his coffee as well. 
While the maker prepared to drip, Henry grabbed a pen from the mug on the kitchen table and limped to the front door. The rain was still beating down hard. He didn’t worry about getting wet, though. The porch was covered. His favorite chair always stayed dry, even during the really bad storms. Tonight looked like it was going to be one of those. Henry was ready. 
The latch turned smoothly on the knob. The deadbolt turned just as smooth, clicking into place. The door, though, creaked loudly when he turned the knob and pulled. He looked behind him, not sure what to expect in the dark. There was no movement he could see. It was difficult to hear anything subtle over the rain. The cool air from the outside gusted in. It was a little chilly, but he could handle it. He enjoyed the colder weather. 
Henry figured he had five to ten minutes before the coffee pot fully finished. He made himself comfortable in his favorite chair outside, the wind blew wildly, and the rain came down in the sheets he loved so much. 
For a few minutes he leaned back and closed his eyes and just listened. The noise of the rain was calming to him, relaxing. It helped him get his mind going, usually helped the ideas pour out more than laying and staring in the dark and he knew better than to turn on the television. He listened to the thunder. Behind his lids, he could still see the occasional bright flash of the lightning. 
The patter of the falling rain began to pull thoughts from his mind. Without opening his eyes, he leaned forward and began to jot down on the pad. It was therapeutic. He tried to not think directly as to what he was writing down, only put words on the paper. He found this lent interesting twists and turns to his stories. New ideas forged like swords and daggers from the molten steel swimming through his head. Whenever it stormed and he wrote, he stabbed the paper with near pinpoint accuracy. The rain was his muse. The storm was his method. 
He sat scribbling, eyes closed, for what felt like an eternity.  He didn’t dare open his eyes to see what he had put down just yet. He didn’t want to break the spell. 
Then the door creaked. 
Shaken out of his trance, Henry looked up to see Jessica, dressed in only an oversized, faded band t-shirt, holding two steaming mugs. “I figured you were out here.” 
“Sorry, I didn’t want to wake you.” He stammered. She shook her head. “You didn’t. Well, not directly.” Jessica handed him a mug. She always tried to support his writing, no matter how weird his techniques were. “You know how I am about my java.” 
He snorted, “Heh, yeah, I forget sometimes.” 
Jessica carefully sat back in the chair opposite Henry. Her soft breasts pressed against the material of the shirt. “So, whatcha got so far?” 
The wind howled; rain still fell like crashing waves. 
“Well,” he looked down at the pad. As usual, the writing was a bit messy, but still surprisingly legible. “It’s a bit scattered like always, but I think we’re looking at a murder mystery here.” He handed her the pad. She had to lean forward to take it. A few drops of coffee spilled on the table. 
She looked quizzically at the pad, “Scissor-Fist? That’s not that guy you told me about from your childhood, is it?” 
“No, no, that was StitchFace. He, he doesn’t exist. Not anymore. Hurray for medication, right?” Henry stared off into the rain. “I really don’t see how you put up with me. You know I’m not all there.” 
Jessica sighed and laid the pad on the table. Her impatience was audible.
“You know I hate when you talk like that, Hank!”
“You know I hate when you call me ‘Hank.’” 
He continued looking at the rain; it was beginning to lighten up a little. Jessica put her head in her free hand, “It’s too early for this shit, baby. Just come back to bed, okay?” 
Henry sighed. “Fine. Can’t promise I’ll get anymore sleep tonight, but fine. I’ll meet you there. Gotta turn off the coffee pot.” 
Jessica went to pick up the pad, but stopped for a moment and stared as her hand got close. “Baby, am I going crazy or does this look like…a face?” She picked up the pad and handed it to Henry. When he looked at the page on which he had just blindly wrote, he couldn’t believe he didn’t notice it sooner. Though the writing was normal for the most part, certain words, letters, punctuations, were darkened; scribbled over more than the rest.
When Henry relaxed his vision some, he could see what Jessica was talking about.
He could see the eyes. He could see the mouth. He could see stitches.


Thanks again for sticking around! New reviews coming soon!

Fear Island

Fear Island (2009)

Starring: Hailey Duff, Aaron Ashmore, Lucy Hale
Directed by: Michael Storey



If for some reason you've ever wondered if Hailey Duff can act in a horror, I'd suggest this movie to be your starting point. Most likely you haven't, though, so let's talk about other things that made this movie.

In Fear Island, a prosecutor and a psychologist must question the traumatized survivor of an island spring break massacre in order to determine the identity of the killer. Piece by piece, Jenna recalls the events that led to the deaths of her friends.

First we have a vaguely familiar, but not too often touched premise -- the sole survivor of a horrific incident is under duress to provide information on what happened, but to throw a monkey wrench in the works, she suffers from post-traumatic amnesia and has to fight to remember the details -- the likes of which includes a handful of twists and turns. Overall, there is an okay plot behind this movie, which is good because most of the characters are forgettable. As expected, Aaron Ashmore and Hailey Duff provide an acceptable performance.

The special effects in the movie are acceptable. There's nothing truly special going on, but there is noticeable care put into the effects, which is always nice. To be truthfully honest, there's not really too much to say about Fear Island that sets it apart from most other B-horrors. The overall tension of the film is decent, but not really "edge-of-your-seat" good.

I'd say this is a movie for a rainy afternoon when you just want to throw something on for background noise. Fear Island is pretty average by all accounts and should be treated as such. Maybe turn it into a drinking game? Remember, it's not really bad, it just lacks what makes a horror movie really good. I'd recommend Fear Island for B-movie fans and horror movie completionists, mostly.



Plot

Characters

Setting/Atmosphere

Special Effects



Overall Rating: Wounded And Limping