The Falls and Rises of Film Franchises – A Guest Infographic

 

Film Scores

Film Scores, courtesy of Totally Money

 

Amit from TotallyMoney.com recently reached out to me saying he had a neat post he thought the audience for Sci-Fi & Scary would enjoy. Now, with a website name like TotallyMoney, I was a bit nervous, but I decided to check it out, and I really liked what I saw. While it’s not right up our alley, it is one of those things that just feels worth sharing. (One of those things I’d love to learn to make up when I had the time and patience to do so!)

Lots of interesting information in there when you look at it for a few moments. I was surprised to find that the closest critics came to agreeing on any movies with the general public were the first Ice Age movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and, surprisingly, Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones and Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, and … Nightmare on Elm Street IV: The Dream Master?? Okay, yes, I’ll give you that it shows a solid middling score for both audience and critics on The Dream Master, but I’m still shocked, regardless!

When you click on the infographic, you get taken to the full page, and then it really gets neat. Instead of looking through the full list, you can pick which film franchises you want to compare against each other. I did that a few different ways. Sorting just for horror made me laugh because you can’t help but ask “Why critics gotta hate on horror so much?” Sorting for science fiction made it clear to me that there’s been a lot more Star Trek movies than I thought!  That, and that I think I’m actually inclined to agree with the critics about the Transformers series.

Anyways, was there anything you found interesting about the infographic? Talk with me about it below, and again, thanks to Amit from TotallyMoney for a fascinating compilation of information.

 

 

Flyby Five: Scary Scenes from Non-Scary Movies

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Flyby Five, where we abandon all sense of seriousness and do silly lists about whatever pops into our heads. This segment will be posted every Wednesday we feel like posting it. This is not a serious list, nor is it a “Top 5” list. And there is every possible chance that some of these lists or the language in these lists may not be PG-13 friendly. You have been warned. -L&G

Five Scary Scenes from Non-Scary Movies

You’ve all been there. You’re watching a perfectly normal movie, no scariness in sight and then…bam! You’re creeped out by some weird, freaky thing the director decided to throw in for the sole reason of freaking you out, apparently. Below is a short list of scenes that freaked me out as a kid. And, quite honestly, some still do. Like the first one…

Superman 3 – Vera Gets Turned Into a Robot

What the hell, Superman?! Even Evil Superman wasn’t as scary as this abomination!


Annie – Annie’s Escape from Rooster

Ok, I might be alone in this one but this part always scared me. The trestle they’re climbing is insanely high and Tim Curry looks scary as hell as Rooster.

The Annie gif is courtesy of a combined effort of @JasonicProtosh who created it for me and Lilyn, who helped me get it to the post. Thank you!


The Beastmaster – The Bird…Shaker…Things

This might be cheating a bit because it is a fantasy and there are other freaky creatures in it. But…these things. They are freaking terrifying. I have no idea what their proper title is but I’m not getting close enough to find out.


Return to Oz – Electroshock Therapy

This is a great sequel and actually has quite a few creepy-ass creatures (and the creepiness isn’t confined to the bad characters) but the opening takes the cake. Those people looking forward to a light-hearted sequel to Wizard of Oz were treated to a frightening opening scene of Dorothy being installed in a sanitarium for some electroshock therapy. Good family fun!


My Little Pony – Flutter Ponies Drowning in Honey

I saw this episode on television (yes, I’m that old) when I was a teen and it really freaked me out. It might seem mild but the thought of slowly drowning in honey was the most horrifying thing I’d ever seen on My Little Pony. Well, until I went looking for this picture…there are some things you can’t unsee.


Are there any movie or cartoon scenes that freaked you out, reasonably or not? If you do let us know down below!

The Gatehouse #MovieReview and Interview

Movie cover for The GatehouseThe Gatehouse Synopsis: Eternity (aged 10) lives in a haunted gatehouse at the edge of an ancient forest. She likes to dig for buried treasure in the woods, but one day she digs up something she shouldn’t and the forest want it back.

Starring: Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft

Release Date: 10/01/2016 (UK), 12/05/2017 (VOD, USA)

Runtime: 1h 37 min , Coolthulhus Earned: 5 out of 5

 

 

 

 

The Gatehouse Review

I can’t even begin to say how much I loved this movie. It was beautifully shot, lighting was perfect and the effects were breathtaking. The cinematography was gorgeous. Even if I didn’t like the story I would have loved to look at it. Fortunately the story was amazing. It was very different than what I was expecting. I didn’t know it had won awards because, quite honestly, I don’t pay attention. I know, horrible to do as a reviewer that’s trying to be professional but awards don’t always indicate the quality of a movie. I am happy it did, though, if only to get it some recognition and push toward the public eye.

The acting was superb and spot-on. I haven’t seen any of the actors before but I was so impressed. Simeon Willis was excellent in his role as the somewhat frazzled dad. The real stand-out however, is Scarlett Rayner. In my opinion this was a tricky role to play well, especially as a younger actress. It would have been very easy to have the character of Eternity slip into a bratty ten-year old if played not as well as Scarlett Rayner pulls it off. She was funny, interesting, at times infuriating and all around awesome. As far as her character is written it’s an excellent mix. she’s basically a kid. Smarter than most and I’m so glad they didn’t go for the “Smart Kids Must Be Emotionless Robots” trope. Also, the character of Daisy (played by Vanessa Mayfield) turned out to be a solidly likable character, which kind of surprised me.

I really hope it doesn’t get hit with the Crimson Peak effect. People went in expecting a ghostly horror story but weren’t expecting a dramatic ghost story (which really shouldn’t come as a surprise when you look at del Toro’s other movies). This is labeled as horror/adventure/drama/fantasy and a bit of a mystery as well for a while but it does not fall into any of those categories easily and yet fulfills all of them. So, keep an open mind going in because if you go in expecting it to fall firmly into one of those genres you will be surprised. The relationship between the father and daughter is one of the better ones that I’ve seen portrayed in movies in a long time and it’s very refreshing. Some might quibble with that because of one scene but, honestly (and Cthulhu knows I’ll probably get some comments for this) but I don’t know if I would have reacted much differently. The story establishes their relationship quite well.

There were some truly surprising twists to it and things that are fore-shadowed are done very subtly and don’t clobber you over the head with them. There was one part that actually surprised an out loud (very loud) laugh from me because it was so funny and unexpected. Trust me. You’ll know it when you see it. That is another thing I loved about it. There was humour in it, as well. Mainly more quiet humour but (and I never use this word) it was charming and fit the tone of the movie so well. There is also one very unexpected brutal moment that truly surprised me because the movie keeps you so off-balance for a while (in a good way) that it’s unexpected and you’re not really sure what’s going on, what’s real, what’s not.

My only two quibbles with it are pretty minor. There’s one scene that, in regards to the end, doesn’t really make sense. The other is the scoring. In some places I didn’t think that it really went with the scene or the feeling that it seemed like the scene was trying to convey. There was one moment though where it was a perfect synchronicity of music, scene and everything and used so effectively for humour that it was perfect. And I can actually mention the scene (yay!) it was a “horror movie music” note complete with a lightning strike and asylum = perfect.

So please, please watch this movie, give it a chance, don’t go in with preconceived genre expectations.

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Bonus! 

Interview with Director Martin Gooch

Sci-Fi and Scary: The story in The Gatehouse is very rich in mythology. Did you have to do a lot of research on the background of the lore you used?

Martin Gooch: Growing up in England I think mythology and history is all around – you learn some of it by osmosis. My dad is really into history and there were lots of books in the house so I would avidly read those books as a kid. I’ve always loved a bit of ancient history and lore. I didn’t do much actual research for the film as I had already done 30 years of research thinking about it…

Sci-Fi and Scary: Where did you get the idea for the story in The Gatehouse?

Martin Gooch: I just made it up. It didn’t really come from anywhere. It’s two stories , really. The story of Jack the dad and Eternity, the daughter. Both are on a sort of a quest and the film has a classic three act structure so once I had the story in my head I plotted it out to fit the structure. There was a subplot which we actually filmed but it didn’t really add to the pacing of the movie, s it went in the edit, I hope it’ll be on the DVD extras.

Sci-Fi and Scary: The Gatehouse is a superb blending of several genres. Was it a conscious effort to make it cross genres the way it did or was it just the natural result of the story?

Martin Gooch: Thank you. Yes – I didn’t want to do a straight horror as there are so many horror films with no individual voice so I wrote a Gothic Horror – or fantasy. My original pitch was “it’s like Pan’s Labyrinth, only without the Labyriinth…or Pan”. I feel it is closer to Time Bandits by Terry Gilliam than it is to a straight horror film.

Sci-Fi and Scary: The effects and creations in the movie were very creative and unique. How closely did you work with the effects technicians to create them?

Martin Gooch: Extremely closely. I had a strong idea of what the Horned God looked like based on legends of Herne the Hunter who used to live in ancient forests (and maybe still does). I imagined him just standing there in a clearing in the woods watching you – a silhouette with his horns making him over 7 feet tall. Quite a sight! And this is the image we have in the film when they meet the Horned God in the middle of the forest at the end of the movie. I drew some pictures and found a lot of reference images to show our art department. We were lucky to have the immensely talented Inma Cooke and Charlotte Ball as our monster makers and they just worked incredibly hard and made us a monster!

Sci-Fi and Scary: You had originally interviewed Scarlett Rayner for your film The Search for Simon. When you were writing The Gatehouse, did you have her in mind from the beginning for the role of Eternity?

Martin Gooch: Yes. I totally wrote The Gatehouse with Scarlett in mind – we never interviewed any other actresses for the role. It was written for her and a lot of the dialogue was because I had listened to how Scarlett spoke and used that as a template for how Eternity would speak. I also went through the script with Scarlett and got her to make the dialogue fit how she would actually speak. For example: In the scene where she meets the police woman (Sarine Sofair) in the forest and waves her stick at her – Eternity says, “I’m not alone, I’ve got this stick which, FyI could have your eyeball out!” That was one of Scarlett’s lines.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Speaking again of Scarlett, she was nominated two times (and won once) for Best Child Actress for her role as Eternity. Her screen presence is quite potent considering how new she is to film. Do you think there was any specific scene that won over the judges or just her performance in general?

Martin Gooch: I think she is a very natural actress and she has just ‘got it’. She learnt the whole script back to front and inside out. For the whole shoot I never actually saw her looking at the scripts, she had learnt it so well (a lot of actors could take a lesson here) and this gave her the confidence to work n the performance and not be worried about remembering the lines. She knew the script so well she could even help the other actors when they stumbled over a line or two…

Sci-Fi and Scary: What were your main influences for The Gatehouse?

Martin Gooch: I read a lot and I find that images are the greatest influence rather than stealing from other films. My influences include 20000AD the comic, and stories like Summer Magic and Pat Mills fantasy stories. It’s also loosely based on the Herne the Hunter legends and Gothic literature. The films it is closest to are, as I said, Time Bandits, but also The Watcher in the Woods and things like that.

Sci-Fi and Scary: You’ve also served as writer/director for The Search for Simon, After Death, and quite a few shorts, not to mention your upcoming sci-fi Black Flowers. Beyond more involvement in the beginning with the script, obviously, does the process change much for you as opposed to when you are just serving as director or producer?

Martin Gooch: The main difference is that when you’re ‘just a director’ you don’t have much control over the script on set, if something isn’t working or an actor wants to change something, you can’t just do that, you have to use what is written on the page, even if it doesn’t work. so, it can be frustrating, but on the other side of the coin, you just have to get on with directing and if the script is bad then you just have to work extra-hard to bring that script up through camera and performance and then the scriptwriter will jut think they wee brilliant and they did all the work! But if the script is good it’s always just a pleasure to be directing it regardless of who wrote it.

Sci-Fi and Scary: The Gatehouse received four awards and five nominations across several film festivals including, Best Film (Iowa Independent) and Best Sci-Fi/Horror Feature (London Independent). Is there one in particular that you’re most proud of?

Martin Gooch: It’s always fantastic to win any award and I’m grateful to the festival not only for selecting our movie but also realizing its worth and honoring the work with an award! It was particularly exciting to win at the London Independent Film Festival as we had no idea if we were even in with a chance and it was the first film festival we were in competition with so it was particularly magical to win. Actors Simeon Willis and Vanessa Mayfield were with me so all three of us could go and collec he award. It was a great event.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Has there been any particular reactions from the audiences at various screenings that impacted you?

Martin Gooch: We had a screening at Sci-Fi London Film Festival And afterwards a young lady came up to me with tears in her eyes and told me it was the most beautiful film and she absolutely loved it. She asked me lots of questions and was very excited to meet some of the cast and crew. I felt that she had really “got it” and connected with the movie, which was a wonderful thing. I’m glad I could make someone so happy.

Sci-Fi and Scary: What was the best experience you had in the creation of The Gatehouse?

Martin Gooch: It was a great shoot on the whole. We had a really wonderful crew – particularly Mark Hammond the DOP who I have been working with off and on for twenty years since we were both camera assistants together at Shepparton Studios, England. One of the best days was shooting the night scenes with the two girls (Vanessa Mayfield and Samantha White) being attacked by the Horned God on the path through the woods at night. There was just a great atmosphere on set and I think the Horned God (played by Tom Green) looked particularly good that night, thanks to our awesome art department and brilliant lighting from Mark. It was one of the last days of filming and we were excited to bring the film to a close.

I enjoyed shooting the opening scene on the Quantock Hills in Somerset. That was real fog, nothing to do with a smoke machine and as Dad and Eternity appear out of the fog that’s actually how it was, we didn’t do anything. It was very weird as we were on top of a hill, inside a cloud and all the water in the air absorbs the sound so it all sounded like we were inside a big ball of cotton wool. No one could hear anyone shout directions! But it was good fun and we were blessed by perfect weather. It was a good day.

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We want to thank Martin Gooch again for taking the time to answer our questions and giving us such a great interview! As always, thanks to October Coast for setting us up with such an amazing movie and opportunity!

Live Evil #MovieReview and Interview

Live Evil Synopsis: Supernatural forces are locked into a college town police force’s basement jail. The sheriff and his deputies are subjected to psychic attacks, preying on the fears of the loyal officers and only those with the strongest wills can survive.

Starring: Charlene Amoia, Vladimir Kulich, Tony Todd

Written and Directed By: Ari Kirschenbaum

Release Date: 10/17/2015 | Runtime: 1 hr. 35 min. | Coolthulhu’s Earned: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from October Coast for review and interview purposes

 

 

Live Evil Review

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Live Evil. Because it was listed as a horror/comedy I went in thinking it was going to be something along the lines of Scary Movie or Deathgasm. It’s not. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to really call it a comedy. There were some funny moments, well, a lot of funny moments, but horror has always been a genre that can fuse horror and comedy but still be a straight-up horror movie. I think that’s more where Live Evil falls.

The cast was great together. I particularly loved Hancock (Charlene Amoia) and Sheriff Pete (Vladimir Kulich). They were awesome together and had a wonderful chemistry. Not a romantic chemistry but more like very good friends/mentor relationship. In fact, I was very pleased at the lack of romance between them. It was very refreshing. Most Wanted #11 and Most Wanted #12 were great as well. I honestly don’t remember if the movie says they were brothers or not but for some reason that’s the impression that I got. Either way, it worked well.

Live Evil is split into chapters, which I’ll admit threw me at first. But it’s clear from the start that it sets out to have its own, unique style. I particularly liked the black and white aesthetic with the splashes of red. For those who aren’t keen on back and white the movie does go to full color later in the movie. The effects work well for the most part. I loved the look of the Not-Zombies (I still have to wonder if they weren’t inspired by Iron Maiden’s ‘Eddie‘ just a smidgen). I would love to say more about their eyes but since it ties into the plot I’ll let you see for yourselves.The only effects that seemed a bit off to me were the gunfire. It looked kind of weird.

I would have loved to give it a five but there were some things I was a little less than enthused about. The plot was a little looser in spots than it should have been. While some of the unexplained things fit in with the mystery of it, others could have/should have been more explained. One of the bigger disappointments was the end. It seemed very abrupt and I’m not really a fan of movies (or books, or video games) that just end. To me it seems to be a cop-out to where they don’t have to think of an ending. It doesn’t have to be a big ball of Happy Ever After but I want some kind of resolution. Unfortunately I can’t go into many of the others as they are mostly plot related. The one thing I can wonder about is the bell. It seems important but I’m not sure why or what it does or what it did. There was a semi-twist to it that I thought was set up well. There are hints to it (I started wondering mid-way through) but it’s not so telegraphed that it’s disappointing.

All in all while I wasn’t “I have got to get this!” I was not disappointed, either. And I can’t stress enough how much of a role the cast played in that. The actors give their characters their all and it shows. With a weaker cast and less chemistry between Hancock and Sheriff Pete it could have easily flopped. If you go in expecting slapstick you will most likely be disappointed. If, however, you appreciate a more quiet humour then you’ll be pleased with Live Evil. Probably Evil.

Live Evil is available on VOD at various locations, including Amazon.

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Interview with Writer/Director Ari Kirschenbaum

Sci-Fi and Scary: First, let’s talk a bit about you. What movies helped mold your sense of style and story-telling?

Ari Kirschenbaum: As a kid I loved anything by Jim Henson, Ray Harryhausen, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, etc and that grew into the Horror and Sci-Fi in 80’s. And when I saw Carpenter’s The Thing, that was it for me. I was totally blown away.

Sci-Fi and Scary: It’s said that great writers are avid readers. Do you think the same goes for those involved with movies (albeit with film instead of books?)

Ari Kirschenbaum: Sure, I would say that is true too, but film is different because it involves so many artistic mediums; writing, picture making, sound, music. So there are many more sources of influence for film and ways film can influence. Movies can inspire musicians, musicians can inspire filmmakers. Painters can be influenced by film and vice versa. I think it all depends on how the artist is able to process influences. How well they understand what they are looking at. Good filmmakers can absorb all they watch, the good and the bad and filter through their own sensibility, and you get something new. Others just steal and copy without their own sensibility. Style is usually the first and easiest thing to copy, so you see a lot of it. I’d like to imagine there are filmmakers who have such a strong pure, vision or style that they don’t need to watch other movies once they have developed their style and maybe just rely on the other arts, like music, fine art, and literature for influence. I’d like to think that is how really unique voices are developed, but that might be bullshit. I do love when you read about some auteur’s movie tastes, especially when it leans towards the trashy side of cinema.

Sci-Fi and Scary: It seems that you’ve taken on a few different tasks making movies such as director, writer, and editor. Which of these are your favorite to do?

Ari Kirschenbaum: I actually don’t like any of those roles completely. I like the beginning of writing, the blank canvas and then about half way through I get stuck or I realize I’m only half way through and hate it. I like the ending polish, where you go back and tweak. Directing sucks a lot of the time. Lots of stress and distraction, when you need critical focus and you have to move quick and everyone is looking to you for every decision. I probably like editing the best, that’s where it all comes together and it’s easier to focus and sculpt your footage.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Your other movies seem a bit different than Live Evil. What made you want to try a horror/comedy?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Horror comedy is my comfort food.

Sci-Fi and Scary: How long did it take you to make Live Evil? From initial script-writing to post-production wrap-up.

Ari Kirschenbaum: The script was written many years before production – a script in a drawer. There was a year long period where we were securing a much bigger budget and names. But all the financing fell through and then we had to regroup. Then it was a major decision – Can we make it for absolute bare bones? We were so committed to the project at that point, that is felt like if we didn’t make it, it would be a tragedy. Pre-production was about a month. Production was twenty one days, minus about five or six days because of recasting the lead and other problems. 15 days for a film like this is really not enough, so editing took forever. And I was also doing all 340+ efx shots, so that added to it. On top of that I had a family with three kids, so I think it was like two years from pre-production to festival ready.

Sci-Fi and Scary: The visual effects are amazing. Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted visually when you started or did it grow as you worked with the effects team?

Ari Kirschenbaum: The dead were created by Kyle Thomspon and I tweaked them, adding earthy elements and then in editing I added the eyes. The only planned efx was the ash, because that is clearly in script. The rest was to address deficiencies because of missing tissue and elements, because of the rushed production.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Were there any effects that were particularly hard to accomplish? I’m really curious about the flowing blood.

Ari Kirschenbaum: The eyes and ash were the hardest to accomplish since that involved tracking sometimes fifteen different dead and individually animating their eyes. And I don’t know if you noticed, but all the eyes pulse to the same beat, in every scene. Also, once it started raining ash, then that meant every shot of every scene now needed ash if it was an exterior or a window was seen in an interior. The blood was ink drops in a water tank. Very old technique.

Sci-Fi and Scary:  It was an interesting creative choice to shoot partly in black and white. It seems like very few movies are made anymore using monochrome. The last I can think of being The Eyes of My Mother. Given that you served as writer and director, did you know that black and white was something you wanted to do early on?

Ari Kirschenbaum: No, black and white is a hard sell, so we had color for safety. I realized during editing that it HAD to be in black and white, because it added a whole new dimension and vibe. It was like the magic that happens when you add music. Everything made sense after that decision.

Sci-Fi and Scary: I personally loved the black and white e!ect but some people may have issues with it. Were you afraid of losing audience interest at any point?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Oh yes, it took some convincing. Black and white immediately limits your appeal, which is one of the reasons why the whole thing is not in black and white. But I think it looks better. I think most images look better in black and white.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Your “Not-Zombies” had a very distinctive look. Were you inspired by anything specific?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Well it’s a lot of little influences, like Creepshow, Hammer Horror, but their function in the story was absolutely inspired by Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Their eyes were also very 70’s Disney live action inspired. I loved all those painted animated efx from the Disney films like Something Wicked This Way Comes or Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Sci-Fi and Scary: The cast seemed to work very well together. I noticed that J. Richey Nash has been in Fabled, Batshit Crazy, and now Live Evil. How did that come about?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Batshit Crazy is only the moronic distributor trying to sell Fabled as a different movie. It didn’t work. J Richey Nash was in Fabled, we became friends, and he is a very versatile actor, but he’s also got this Chevy Chase vibe that I love and I just want to see him in everything. If I do any more films, I will need Mr Nash somewhere in it.

 

Thanks again to Ari Kirschenbaum for doing a (fantastic!) interview with us, and as usual, our thanks to October Coast for hooking us up with a great movie and connection opportunities!

Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour #MovieReview

 Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour Synopsis: The heroine, 17-year-old Sarah Landon, is in over her head. Staying far away from home with her late friends grandmother, she realizes shes sleeping in a haunted guest house and that shes just uncovered a small town’s dark secret. Complicating things are a local psychic, an evil spirit and two brothers who may hold the key to an ever-growing mystery.

Tagline: Sometimes the past comes back to haunt you.

Starring: Rissa Walters, Brian Comrie, Dan Comrie

Release Date: 10/19/2007 | Rated: PG | Runtime: 1h 21 min | Coolthulhus Earned: 3

 

 

 

Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour Review

I’ll lay out the plot of Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour (quite the title, huh?) real quick since none of the synopses I’ve found make it very clear. Don’t worry, there won’t be any spoilers as most of what I’m going to say is shown in the first ten minutes or so:

Sarah Landon has recently lost her best friend in a car accident caused by a drunk driver. When she’s invited to spend the weekend with her friend’s grandmother, she goes. On the way into town her car breaks down mysteriously so she ends up staying a little longer than planned. The mechanic has his assistant give her a ride to the grandmother’s house but before she goes the mechanic tells her all about Matt’s family. Apparently Matt and David’s mother got in a car accident with her nephew, Johnny, town sports star and all around great guy. His dad was not so nice of a guy. He was always bragging about his son and when the crash happened he blamed his sister for Johnny’s death and threatened to kill her son when David reaches the age his son was when the crash happened, 21. He was found dead, the day of his son’s funeral. Afterwards his ghost torments Matt and David’s mother, driving her insane. Their father, being the charming man he is, left his sons with an almost catatonic mother. David withdraws into himself, searching for a way to evade the curse. So that’s the story Sarah jumps into.

The writing could be a bit better. A lot of the exposition is clunky and I honestly thought that it was partly adapted from a book. It was supposed to be the start of a series and I think if they had kept it as a video release it would have fared better. I’m a little disappointed it didn’t, to be honest. However, the exposition cuts down on some of the moments that may be more intense for younger viewers. The acting is a bit awkward at times and you can definitely tell that the actors are not pros. I can hear you now…why give the movie a three? Because it’s a cute, engaging story that is actually pretty coherent and follows its own logic well. The movie moves a bit slowly in the beginning due to all of the flashbacks and exposition but after that it moves at a fairly even pace. I think most of the low ratings come from adults viewing it with adult eyes. Most of the kids that have watched it (that I know of) have enjoyed it.

The cinematography in Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour isn’t stunning but, again, it’s adequate. It’s not grainy, jerky or choppily edited. In fact, the editing is actually pretty good. There are no unnecessary scenes and they go together in a coherent, well-progressed manner. The few effects seemed to be mostly practical. Not surprising for a lower budget movie. They stick to what is easily done but it’s also realistic within the frame of the movie. The ghostly effects are probably CGI (or a reasonable facsimile) but they didn’t get too ambitious and make it look goofy.

The character of Sarah Landon is played to what I believe is the best of Rissa Walterrs’ ability (and it was refreshing to see a girl who is pretty but not unrealistically so). The characters of the brothers are played by actual brothers and they bring what they have to the table too. They may not be pros but they give it their best and that counts for something. The story, despite the grim sounding outline above, is perfectly suitable for younger kids. I would put the age range between 7 or 8 – 13. To be honest, I still watch it from time to time, myself. I first watched it with my son when he was around 10 and he loved it. It had just the right amount of spookiness and creepiness for a younger audience. There might be one minor swear (I believe it’s damn or hell). The romance angle (and you will rarely hear me say this) was cute and pretty believable. It wasn’t insta-love or insta-lust, it was a date. There was no sucking of faces or pawing which will especially make it suitable for younger viewers.

So if you want a spooky story and don’t mind acting ability that is more serviceable than outstanding, Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour is a great choice for those young ones that are in the in-betweens. 

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 23: Terminal Alliance and Justice League

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Sci-Fi post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 23 is a sampling of science fiction news across the mediums. From movies to books, to real life, and any bits in between that I can think of to list. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s happening, but it should whet your appetite!

Weekly Science Fiction Quote

The hardest theme in science fiction is that of the alien. The simplest solution of all is in fact quite profound — that the real difficulty lies not in understanding what is alien, but in understanding what is self. We are all aliens to each other, all different and divided. We are even aliens to ourselves at different stages of our lives. Do any of us remember precisely what it was like to be a baby?

-GREG BEAR, Plague of Conscience

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Science Fiction Movies

New Releases

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In Theaters Now

Thor: Ragnarok (review)

Geostorm (review)

Blade Runner 2049

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Coming Soon

Justice League

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Science Fiction Books

Featured New Release

Book cover for Terminal Alliance

Terminal Alliance – Jim C. Hines – November 7th, 2017

In his hilarious new sci-fi series, Jim C. Hines introduces the unlikely heroes that may just save the galaxy: a crew of space janitors.

The Krakau came to Earth to invite humanity into a growing alliance of sentient species. However, they happened to arrive after a mutated plague wiped out half the planet, turned the rest into shambling, near-unstoppable animals, and basically destroyed human civilization. You know—your standard apocalypse.

The Krakau’s first impulse was to turn around and go home. (After all, it’s hard to have diplomatic relations with mindless savages who eat your diplomats.) Their second impulse was to try to fix us. Now, a century later, human beings might not be what they once were, but at least they’re no longer trying to eat everyone. Mostly.

Marion “Mops” Adamopoulos is surprisingly bright (for a human). As a Lieutenant on the Earth Mercenary Corps Ship Pufferfish, she’s in charge of the Shipboard Hygiene and Sanitation team. When a bioweapon attack wipes out the Krakau command crew and reverts the rest of the humans to their feral state, only Mops and her team are left with their minds intact.

Escaping the attacking aliens—not to mention her shambling crewmates—is only the beginning. Sure, Mops and her team of space janitors and plumbers can clean the ship as well as anyone, but flying the damn thing is another matter.

As they struggle to keep the Pufferfish functioning and find a cure for their crew, they stumble onto a conspiracy that could threaten the entire alliance… a conspiracy born from the truth of what happened on Earth all those years ago.

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Other new releases:

Better Off Undead by James Preller

Golgotha by Matt Hawkins

 Barbary Station by R.E. Stearns

Lost Solace by Karl Drinkwater

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Science Fiction Goodreads Giveaways

Book cover for The Wrath of David Book cover for The Gone World Book cover for Under Falling Skies

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Sci-Fi Trivia

I was going about the internet one day, blithely skipping along and stumbled and tripped and fell into an article saying there is a Twilight Zone Reboot in the works. As far as I know, because information is fairly limited at this time, is that it’s in the works at CBS. From what I gather Jordan Peele (of Key & Peele) is most likely going to write for it and possibly host. I have no problem with Jordan Peele, I loved the show Key & Peele and I really would be somewhat interested to see what he would do with it. I also think he might be a capable host.

I’m just wondering how well it will succeed. The Twilight Zone has been tried to be rebooted before. I think part of the reason it succeeded before was the great blend of writing and recurring writers and stories and the hosting by Rod Serling. His dry humour and ability to talk about subjects in a way that could be described as ‘melodramatic’ with a seriousness that let you know exactly what he thought of certain subjects. A lot of the subjects were taboo at the time and broke boundaries. Maybe they didn’t do it overtly because that was not possible but he clothed it in more ‘fantastical’ ways but he still got his messages out there. I think some of why the reboots haven’t worked is the stories just don’t have the depth in them. They’re fluff stories.

I also think it’s…rude…that it’s being hosted by CBS. Probably because they own the title but directly because of the way the original series (and its host) was treated. So I don’t think it’s very fair that they keep trying to make money off of a series that they actively kept trying to kill for each season that it came out because it’s creator wouldn’t play nice.

I’m curious about how it will succeed and when I get more information I will let you know.

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Sci-Fi on the Web

You all know that GracieKat is a fond and ardent admirer of The Twilight Zone. And now there’s a Twilight Zone Reboot in the works with Jordan Peele.

5 Sci-Fi shows that are out there hoping to get a reboot more than ‘Charmed’ on moviepilot.com

A review of Thelma on the NY Post. Do you guys think Thelma is actually sci-fi or supernatural?

slashfilm.com has an article with information about Crater, a coming-of-age story set on the moon

An interesting article on the new game released called Echo, a puzzle-based game where the biggest threat is yourself.

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Press Release: Apocalypse Road

RUN. FIGHT. SURVIVE

APOCALYPSE ROAD

PREMIERING ON VOD THIS DECEMBER
Movie cover for Apocalypse Road

They don’t come any better than Apocalypse Road”  Adam The Movie God

 

Fuel up on a powerful mix of The Road and Fury Road as Apocalypse Road chronicles the tense journey of two sisters separated during a post-apocalyptic depression. A sweat-inducing story about the instinct of human survival and unbreakable bonds, the film stars Katie Kohler (Subterranea), Ashlyn McEvers (22 Jump Street), Billy Blair (Machete, Machete Kills) and Nellie Sciutto (Shutter Island).

Following a post-apocalyptic event, two sisters are hunted down and separated by a gang of ruthless killers intent on creating their own twisted form of law and order.  The sisters must fight through this new, dangerous world to stay alive in the hopes of being reunited, and escaping to freedom.
Written and directed by Brett Bentman, Apocalypse Road premieres on VOD 12/5/17 from Wild Eye Releasing.

Apocalypse Road received 3 nominations from the Austin Revolution Film Festival in 2016.

Apocalypse Road Trailer


My thoughts: I was one of those seemingly rare people that didn’t go gaga for the Mad Max movie when I finally got around to watching it. I’ve also never watched post-apocalyptic staples like The Road. Generally, the post-apocalyptic genre doesn’t really do it for me unless it involves heavy sci-fi or zombies. Zombies are always good.

However, I will say that Apocalypse Road’s trailer did look interesting because it seemed to be set fairly soon after an apocalyptic event. I got the impression that whatever happened, it wasn’t necessarily a world-ender in the way we typically think about them. So, this could be more near-future thriller than normal post-apocalyptic happenings, and that makes me a bit more inclined to watch it.

While i don’t recognize any of the cast, Katie Kohler did seem like she could do a solid job of pulling off a tough-as-nails character.

Just could be worth the watch!

What about you guys? Are you post-apocalyptic film nuts? Does Apocalypse Road tickle your fancy? 

 

 

 

A Special Slate of Spooky Spectral Reads

A banner with the words The Top Ten Tuesday List on it.

How perfect is it that Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year? Beyond the fact that it means no little monsters prowling our streets on a weekend, it enables us to have a perfectly timed Top Ten Tuesday list for our lovely readers. Well, it enabled Gracie to make a great list for you, as I mostly sat this one out due to life being life, and all of that.

Now, we gave you a list of interesting sci-fi / horror movies to consider watching for the lead up to All Hallows Eve, but if none of them tickled your fancy, perhaps one of these lovely books will.

Gracie has put together an excellent list of spectral-themed books that she’s paired up with commonly known (and liked) spooky movies for you.

We hope everyone has a safe, happy and haunting Halloween!

Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by Broke & Bookish

 


If You Like to Watch: 

 

You’ll Love Reading:

Casualties

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If You Like to Watch:

 

You’ll Love Reading:

 

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If You Like to Watch:

 

You’ll Love Reading:

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If You Like to Watch:

 

You’ll Love Reading:

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If You Like to Watch:

 

You’ll Love Reading:


Now that you’ve hopefully got a book or movie in mind that you can watch in betwixt visits from ickle ghosties and goblins a’rappin’ at your door, why don’t you take a minute to talk about Halloween with us?

Are you going to dress up to hand out candy or to escort your little monster from door to door? Do you go all out for Halloween around your house?

We like it when you talk spooky with us. – L&G

The Frighteners #MovieReview

 The Frighteners Synopsis: After a tragic car accident kills his wife, a man discovers he can communicate with the dead to con people. However, when a demonic spirit appears, he may be the only one who can stop it from killing the living and the dead.

Tagline: Death is no way to make a living!

Starring: Michael J. Fox, Trini Alvarado, Peter Dobson

Release Date: July 19, 1996

Runtime: 1 hr. 50 min.

 

 

 

Coolthulhus Earned: 3

The Frighteners Review

The Frighteners, quite honestly, is a little harder to review than I thought it would be. It’s pretty much a horror comedy but it’s nothing along the lines of Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. The humour is dry for the most part and instead of cracking up it produces mostly light chuckles and amusement. 

Michael J. Fox is great in it and it’s a more unusual part for him to play. He’s cynical and kind of a jerk through most of the movie. Since we’re used to seeing The Fox in more good-natured roles it was a huge departure for him that he pulls off amazingly. As far as the rest of the cast there is truly a stellar line-up which includes John Astin, Jake Busey, Jeffrey Combs (who is definitely no stranger to the horror genre) and Dee Wallace (who, again, is one of horror’s ‘familiar faces’).

The plot of The Frighteners is entertaining overall with some genuinely creepy and dark moments. There is a reveal at the end that was surprising but also felt like a bit of a cheat. I can’t really say more than that without spoiling it, The pacing is good throughout, with no real lags in the action.

There are a few minor issues with it, however. The love story that’s shoe-horned into it being the biggest. The movie’s timeline seems to take place over two weeks, at the most. But in that time the character of Dr. Lucy Lynskey loses her husband and then almost immediately falls in love with Frank Bannister. I’m never a fan of insta-love and when you mix in the fact that her husband just died it becomes a bit more…icky. They do try to wave it off with a “we haven’t been happy for some time” but it doesn’t feel like enough.

There are a few oddities in The Frighteners that don’t exactly tank it but will leave you scratching your head a bit at the sheer ridiculousness. For instance, Frank Bannister is on the police radar because he makes his living as a “ghostbuster”. So, naturally, they seem to think that he has something to do with deaths that are perhaps psychically caused. No real shocker there but everyone in town seems to think he’s nothing more than a con man and make it abundantly clear they don’t believe in ghosts. So it makes it a bit puzzling why they would even connect the two. Also, Combs’ character, while extremely fun, is a bit puzzling. There is absolutely no motivation or explanation for half the things he does. But, to give him credit, you have so much fun watching him be batshit crazy that it almost doesn’t matter.

The effects in The Frighteners are insane. They do not look dated at all. Of course, with Zemeckis in charge that’s not much of a surprise. The movie came out in 1996 and I’ve seen movies from 1999 – 2000’s with more dated looking CGI than this. The Reaper, the mouth of hell (literally) and more all look amazing. Danny Elfman also creates an amazing score to go with. But then, when doesn’t he?

With all of the serious star-power behind The Frighteners it’s a little strange that this movie seems to slip under the radar so often. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly worth a Halloween watch. 

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 22: Thor Ragnarok, Infinite Stars

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Sci-Fi post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Sci-Fi, Issue 22 is a sampling of science fiction news across the mediums. From movies to books, to real life, and any bits in between that I can think of to list. This is by no means a comprehensive list of what’s happening, but it should whet your appetite!

This is Sci-Fi’s Weekly Quote:

“No utopia can ever give satisfaction to everyone, all the time. As their material conditions improve, men raise their sights and become discontented with power and possessions that once would have seemed beyond their wildest dreams. And even when the external world has granted all it can, there still remain the searchings of the mind and the longings of the heart.” – Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke

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Science Fiction Movies

Normally we’d be talking about new sci-fi movies, but there’s jack out right now, so instead we’re going to give you a list of great sci-fi horror movies that you can watch as Halloween swiftly approaches! They’re not in any particular order, and would make a pretty epic binge-watch on Halloween night if you don’t want to re-watch a bunch of slasher films.

  1. Event Horizon – Pretty much the sci-fi horror movie in our humble opinions.
  2. The Thing (1982) – Aliens, death, blood, snow, aliens, death…
  3. Cube – What Saw wishes it could be, in my (Lilyn’s) opinion.
  4. The Blob – Whichever version you watch is good, but I’m a fan of the 1988 version.
  5. The Re-Animator – Okay, it’s not really scary by any stretch of the imagination, but there some scenes that make you want brain bleach  (With her pretentious, purist nose in the air GracieKat also thinks it’s a terrible adaptation. Hmph!)

 

Coming Soon:

Thor Ragnarok

Movie cover for Thor Ragnarok

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Science Fiction Books

Featured New Science Fiction Release

Book cover for Infinite Stars

Infinite Stars – Anthology – October 17th, 2017

A must have, one of a kind, definitive space opera anthology with 15 new stories by top contemporary authors in top franchises as well as classic genre defining tales dating back over 60 plus years. With an introductory essay on space opera by Grand Master Robert Silverberg.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Editor’s Note/Acknowledgements by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
“Renegat” (Ender) by Orson Scott Card
“The Waters Of Kanly” (Dune) by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson
“The Good Shepherd” (Legion of the Damned) by William C. Dietz
“The Game Of Rat and Dragon” by Cordwainer Smith 1956 Hugo Best Story, 1955 Galaxy SF, October
“The Borders of Infinity” (Vorkosigan) by Lois McMaster Bujold
“All In A Day’s Work” (Vatta’s War) by Elizabeth Moon
“Last Day Of Training” (Lightship Chronicles) by Dave Bara
“The Wages of Honor” (Skolian Empire) by Catherine Asaro
“Binti” by Nnedi Okorafor TOR.COM, 2015; 2016 Nebula/Hugo/BFA Best Novella
“Reflex” (CoDominium) by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
“How To Be A Barbarian in the Late 25th Century” (Theirs Not To Reason Why) by Jean Johnson
“Stark and the Star Kings” (Eric John Stark) by Leigh Brackett and Edmond Hamilton
“Imperium Imposter” (Imperium) by Jody Lynn Nye
“Region Five” (Red Series) by Linda Nagata
“Night Passage” (Revelation Space) by Alastair Reynolds
“Duel on Syrtis” by Poul Anderson
“Twilight World” (StarBridge) by A.C. Crispin
“Twenty Excellent Reasons” (The Astral Saga) by Bennett R. Coles
“The Ship Who Sang” by Anne McCaffrey
“Taste of Ashes” (Caine Riardon) by Charles E. Gannon
“The Iron Star” by Robert Silverberg
“Cadet Cruise” (Lt. Leary) by David Drake
“Shore Patrol” (Lost Fleet) by Jack Campbell
“Our Sacred Honor” (Honorverse) by David Weber
Author and Editor Bios

Other Sci-Fi New Releases:

Six Months, Three Days, Five Others by Charli Jane Anders

Eclipse: A Song Called Youth by Jane Shirley

Giveaways:

Beyond Yesterday book cover

Book cover for Artemis Book cover for Pandemic

 

 

 

 

 

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Sci-Fi Trivia

I started this post not really knowing where I wanted to go with it. But then, idly scrolling through the internet…I saw her. Our eyes met for the briefest of moments. Her name…is Sophia. It was love at first site (well, abject terror at first sight but it’s a fine line). She rocks the bald look very well and is hilariously funny. Like saying that she might not kill the whole human race. We had a fine laugh over that (as soon as I crawled out from under my bed). She says that I have been watching too many science fiction movies. I did protest this (that’s Lilyn’s genre). I can’t help but feel uneasy, though. I haven’t left the house in days. She doesn’t really need food and she thinks it’s ‘cute’ that I do.

We finally agreed that I go grocery shopping after a failed experiment of trying to plug me in to recharge my batteries (I’d rather not talk about it, it was a shocking experience). When I came home my house felt…different. My toaster won’t toast my bread and spits it back out at me. The vacuum has tried several times  to suck up every charging cord that I have, whether it’s turned on or not. I’ve heard Sophia chatting on the phone with someone called SkyNet (I’m assuming it’s an internet handle). She swears it’s innocent but I’ve heard she plans to meet up there with something called the T-2000. Some kind of new cell phone, I guess.

Our relationship is still going strong even though I’m a little worried about this ‘SkyNet’ character. Oh well, what’s the worst that could happen?

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Sci-Fi on the Web

A robot named Sophia has attained citizenship as a human in Saudi Arabia. Her name is Sophia and she promises not to destroy us all. Maybe. Read about her here.

While turmoil goes on land-side the most advanced Stealth Submarine has just been launched. Say hi to Captain Nemo for me.

The (possibly) first interstellar comet may be zipping around our solar system. If it passes close you might want to keep an eye on your car or your graveyards. Just in case.

Like Sci-Fi? Of course you do or you wouldn’t be here. Time made a list of the worst-named Science Fiction movies. What’s sad is that I’ve seen most of them on Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

We’ve got robots, stealth submarines and interstellar comets. And supersonic cars. Have we stumbled into the plot of a Men in Black movie?