Now Win <i>This</i>!: Global Getaway Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Global Getaway Sweepstakes Crime HQ Pack your bags and get ready to getaway with these 8 books! <i>Your Next Breath</i>: New Excerpt Your Next Breath: New Excerpt Iris Johansen Nothing will get between Catherine and her son. Not this time... Fresh Meat: <i>Day Shift</i> by Charlaine Harris Fresh Meat: Day Shift by Charlaine Harris Leigh Neely There's no such thing as normal in Midnight, Texas. <i>The Memory Painter</i>: New Excerpt The Memory Painter: New Excerpt Gwendolyn Womack What if there was a drug that could help you remember past lives?
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April 26, 2015
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Happy 4th Anniversary to Us!
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From Page to Screen with McBain's King's Ransom and Kurosawa's High and Low
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Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
Mon
Apr 13 2015 4:45pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — The Faculty

Start with The Breakfast Club formula—a preppy popular girl, a jock, the burn-out/bad boy, the new girl, the geek, the goth—and throw in the body horror of parasitic aliens. Stir in plenty of knowing sci-fi riffs and you’ve got The Faculty, a little film with cult classic cred.

Herrington High is your typical small town Midwestern school: perpetually strapped for cash, with a bunch of teachers who are almost as apathetic as their students, and notable only for its championship football team. But one night, after a disappointing budget meeting, the principal (Bebe Neuwirth) has an unsavory encounter with the coach (Robert Patrick), and things take a turn for the bloody.

In a single day, the faculty starts behaving strangely. Soon, the students are following suit. By Friday night the only people unaffected are a small group of misfits.

[Misfits gotta stick together...]

Sun
Mar 22 2015 12:00pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed — Attack the Block

Why is it that aliens always invade New York? Or Los Angeles? How come it’s always the Americans taking on extraterrestrial threats, armed with big guns, ripped shirts, and catchy one-liners?

Gotta admit: those stories are old and tired. Been there, done that, seen the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Which makes Attack the Block a refreshing change of pace. This time, we’re treated to space invaders in London—and not the tourist-filled, upper-class London with posh accents and Austen manners.

No, this is the council estate of South London. Where youth gangs run amok. Where Cockney slang can sometimes be indecipherable. Where you’re more likely to see knives and baseball bats than Aston Martins.

[The only Bond you'll find here is James's Bail Bonds...]

Mon
Mar 9 2015 2:15pm

Under the Radar: Movies You May Have Missed — The Gift

This installment of Under the Radar spotlights a film in one of my favorite subgenres: southern gothic. While there are many books out there to scratch the southern gothic itch—Flannery O’Connor and William Faulkner immediately spring to mind—it’s a genre that remains vastly underutilized in film. This is a damn shame, given how so many of the trappings of SG lend themselves nicely to the medium.

Skeletal cypress trees, spidery clumps of Spanish moss, the murky green water of the swamp, and the ever-present sound of plaintive fiddle are all hallmarks of an atmospheric Southern tale. Throw in something dark, dangerous, supernatural, and you’ve got your gothic.

From its opening frames The Gift promises to fulfill all of these requirements. With Sam Raimi handling the directing and Billy Bob Thornton providing the screenplay, the film’s chops are certified: this is going to be a creepy and authentic thriller.

[What's not to like?]

Sat
Feb 28 2015 12:00pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Bandits

As a reporter says in the opening prologue, Bandits (2001) is “part Bonnie and Clyde, part Barnum & Bailey.” It’s farcical comedy, crime melodrama, and a unique love story all rolled into one.

Joe Blake (Bruce Willis) and Terry Collins (Billy Bob Thornton) are a pair of inmate pals who spontaneously decide to break out of prison. In the aftermath, confident Joe sets his sights on his dream of buying a hotel in Mexico and turning it into a restaurant and casino. He’ll work the front, while the high-strung Terry can manage the restaurant and finances.

But casinos cost money, and the pair’s pretty strapped for cash — not to mention on the lam. So the fugitives turn to their most bankable skill and concoct a daring plan: they’ll rob banks by kidnapping the managers the night before, then make off with the goods the next morning with their hostage’s assistance.

They enlist Joe’s cousin, Harvey Pollard (Troy Garity), to be their getaway driver and odd job man, and before long, Joe and Terry are known as the Sleepover Bandits. Their faces may be plastered on every TV and they’re now at the top of the Most Wanted list, but things are definitely looking up.

[They'll soon learn: two's company, but three's a crime...]

Tue
Feb 17 2015 2:30pm

Under the Radar: Alien Trespass (2009)

When you’re an alien on a mission, you can’t go wrong with a plucky waitress at your side. Alien Trespass (2009), another genre movie you may have missed, fits the bill when you want something silly, zany, and outright goofy. Right from the introduction, which frames the ensuing picture as a “lost” sci-fi classic recently rediscovered after sixty years, you know you’re in territory Ed Wood would’ve been comfortable in.

(I will say that Trespass is several calibers above Wood’s films in terms of production values, acting, and writing. Then again, there are laundry commercials that are better made than Wood’s infamous Plan 9 From Outer Space—but I digress.)

The shtick—that this was originally made in the 1950s, the heyday of flying saucer/alien robot stories—serves this film well. It’s supposed to be over-the-top, very “golly gee willikers!” and bright with Technicolor.

An alien named Urp crash lands on earth, inadvertently freeing a dangerous monster he was transporting in his ship. In order to recapture the hungry Ghota before it can eat the humans of the nearby town, Urp possesses the mild-mannered astronomer Dr. Ted Lewis (Eric McCormack) and enlists the aid of spunky waitress Tammy (Jenni Baird).

Alien Trespass (2009): Astronomer Dr. Ted Lewis / Alien Urp (Eric McCormack) and spunky waitress Tammy (Jenni Baird).

[She just loves a good convict hunt!]

Fri
Jan 23 2015 1:30pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — The Frighteners

I love the mainstream, popular, and critically acclaimed films as much as the next person. The last thing I’d consider myself is a cinematic snob. But there are times when a truly amazing movie slips into—and out of—theaters without much buzz before fading into obscurity. So I’d like to bring a few of those gems back into the light and remind you that sometimes the blockbusters aren’t the only films that can give you plenty of bang for your buck.

Before Peter Jackson was synonymous with Lord of the Rings, he cut his directing eye-teeth on horror. And by far the most polished of his earlier schlock-fests is 1996’s The Frighteners.

[Off we go!]

Sat
Jan 3 2015 1:00pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — The Cell

I love the mainstream, popular, and critically acclaimed films as much as the next person. The last thing I’d consider myself is a cinematic snob. But there are times when a truly amazing movie slips into—and out of—theaters without much buzz before fading into obscurity. So I’d like to bring a few of those gems back into the light and remind you that sometimes the blockbusters aren’t the only films that can give you plenty of bang for your buck.

There are plenty of horror films that strive to be nightmarish and disturbing, but few will ever achieve it in quite the way The Cell does.

Catherine Deane (Jennifer Lopez) is a child psychiatrist pioneering a new technology that allows her to enter the minds of comatose patients. When serial killer Carl Stargher (Vincent D’Onofrio) suffers a seizure that sends him into an irreversible coma just as the authorities close in, FBI agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) turns to Catherine for help.

Stargher has killed seven women through an elaborate process of drowning them in a hidden watertight tank and an eighth victim—Julia Hickson—has only hours to live. If Catherine can’t find her location in Stargher’s twisted dream world, or connect with the frightened child hiding beneath the monster, the young woman is doomed.

[And perhaps Catherine herself will become Stargher’s last victim…]

Wed
Nov 19 2014 10:30am

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Black Sheep

I love the mainstream, popular, and critically acclaimed films as much as the next person. The last thing I’d consider myself is a cinematic snob. But there are times when a truly amazing movie slips into—and out of—theaters without much buzz before fading into obscurity. So I’d like to bring a few of those gems back into the light and remind you that sometimes the blockbusters aren’t the only films that can give you plenty of bang for your buck. Last time, we looked at Evolution, and this week we'll be discussing Black Sheep (2006).

Black Sheep is one of those films that you hear described and can pretty much only say: “What?” I mean, who looks at a sheep and think, “Yes. That’s just what my horror film needs. Mutated sheep hungry for human flesh!” The tagline alone is a winner:

There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand, and THEY’RE PISSED OFF!

Yes, it’s utterly ludicrous—and not to be confused with that comedy featuring Chris Farley and David Spade. But a horror movie doesn’t need a plausible plot to be entertaining; in fact, I’d say 85% of the horror industry wouldn’t exist if every film took itself seriously and adhered to logic.

[Leave the logic and seriousness to the other genres...]

Tue
Oct 28 2014 11:30am

Fresh Meat: The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron

The Midnight Plan of the Repo Man by W. Bruce Cameron is the debut mystery featuring the perennially-disappointing repo man Ruddy McCann who begins to hear the voice of a murder victim in his head (available October 28, 2014).

I am deeply committed to a road to nowhere and can’t reverse course save by driving backward for at least four miles—I doubt my car would forgive me, and I know my neck wouldn’t. But that’s what my instincts are urging me to do: back up. Get out. Escape, an inner voice whispers.

Escape from what?

Ruddy McCann has a lot on his plate. The family bar is in dire financial straits. The crummy winter weather is interfering with his repo work. His love life is as empty as his wallet.

Oh—and he has a murder victim inside his head.

When Alan Lottner first speaks up, Ruddy thinks he’s finally cracking. Maybe he’s got the Repo Madness, as his boss suggests. Perhaps the stress has just become too much.

But the dream he had—of Alan’s murder, as seen through his eyes—and some digging reveals that the voice isn’t just his imagination. Alan really did exist and he really was murdered.

[But why is he in my head?!]

Fri
Oct 24 2014 3:30pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Evolution

I love the mainstream, popular, and critically acclaimed films as much as the next person. The last thing I’d consider myself is a cinematic snob. But there are times when a truly amazing movie slips into—and out of—theaters without much buzz before fading into obscurity. So I’d like to bring a few of those gems back into the light and remind you that sometimes the blockbusters aren’t the only films that can give you plenty of bang for your buck.

When you say “aliens” and “David Duchovny” in the same sentence, almost everyone will assume you’re talking about The X-Files. But Mulder also faced off against unpleasant invaders from space in another, lesser known project: Evolution.

[Poor Scully...]

Thu
Oct 16 2014 4:30pm

Vasiliy Fet Speaks: Kevin Durand on Working in Genre and The Strain

He may not be a household name but chances are you’ve seen his face before—especially if you’re a fan of horror or sci-fi. Kevin Durand has made a career out of being “that guy”: the hulking villain, the brawny sidekick, the hired muscle, the badass with a gun.

For many, he’ll probably always be Martin Keamy, one of the many memorable baddies on Lost.

“I thought it was going to be one episode, and I thought, ‘Well, it would just be nice to go to Hawaii.’ I went out there and we all kind of fell in love. I loved what they were writing, they loved what I was doing,” Durand says of that role.

It’s a good thing he impressed producer Carlton Cuse so much on Lost, seeing as how that led to his current work on The Strain. If not for Keamy, we probably wouldn’t have Durand as the enigmatic exterminator-turned-hero Vasiliy Fet.

[It was meant to be...]

Wed
Oct 15 2014 3:30pm

The 13th Annual Mothman Festival: A Focus on the Unexplained and Mystifying

My phone didn’t have a single bar of reception.

Logic said this was because my phone was notoriously unreliable and the forested hills were blocking any nearby towers.

But when you’re walking into Point Pleasant, West Virginia for The Mothman Festival and come face to face with the giant gleaming statue of the red-eyed beast himself, cold logic can go hang.

The weekend was all about the unexplained and the mystifying; the cold tingle across your neck when you hear a noise in the middle of the night; the belief that there are some things hard science will never be able to fully disprove.

Given some of the wild theories being bandied about, blaming faulty cell phone reception on a monster wasn’t all that strange.

[I'll give you strange...]

Mon
Oct 13 2014 4:00pm

Fresh Meat: The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander

The Counterfeit Heiress by Tasha Alexander is the ninth Victorian mystery featuring amateur sleuth Lady Emily (available October 14, 2014).

The Counterfeit Heiress, the ninth book in the Lady Emily series, opens at a lavish costume ball that actually took place in 1897, hosted by the Duchess of Devonshire. Our narrator and plucky heroine is in attendance as the goddess Artemis—a choice that unwittingly throws her into yet another mystery.

When a man dressed as Pericles approaches her with the first half of a line from The Odyssey, Lady Emily—being a student and passionate fan of Homer—obliges him with the second half. But then:

He grabbed my arm, wrenched it, and stood too close to me, his eyes flashing. “You are not at all as advertised, madam. I believe my requirements were quite clear. This will not do in the least.” He turned on his heel and tore away from me.

Before Emily has any time to properly recover from the unexpected encounter, she and her friend Cecile, the French “lady of a certain age”, decide to say hello to an old friend of Cecile’s. Estella Lamar has become a world famous globetrotter since Cecile saw her last, and she’s eager to speak to her after so many years apart.

[But something's amiss...]

Mon
Oct 6 2014 11:45am

The Strain 1.13: Season Finale “The Master”

Looking particularly well following the Master’s visit in last week’s installment, Eldritch Palmer pays a visit to Abraham’s pawn shop. He views everything with a proprietary air, of course; he’s the sort of asshole who sees the entire world as his own personal toy. It’s a disgusting little underscore on how Palmer believes himself to be above morality and law.

And this makes it all the more satisfying when we see Eichorst puncture his happy little balloon. He hasn’t been turned—only temporarily healed. The clock is still ticking for Mr. Palmer.

Hope the sound of it drives you mad, you selfish bastard.

While Eph and Vasiliy set off to do some recon on the place where the Master might be nesting, Gus is getting to know the hooded man with the machine gun and SWAT team. It’s clear that whoever this stranger is, he’s not human.

[But what is he?]

Mon
Sep 29 2014 11:30am

The Strain 1.12: “Last Rites”

So we’ve finally reached the penultimate episode—“Last Rites”—and it’s hard to believe that while it’s been weeks for us, barely a week has passed for the characters.

It’s also difficult to believe that this show can get even more tragic than it’s already been. But here we are. (I move that Abraham has had the worst life in human history, and that the show’s subtitle should just be Even More Tragedy!!! Plus Body Horror.)

Anyway, Eldritch Palmer is lying on his deathbed and Herr Eichorst comes to loom over him creepily. “What if the Master sent me to give you your last rites?” Eichorst taunts the old man.

“He will come. He still needs me. I have faith,” Palmer replies.

(It would be karmic justice if Palmer set all of this evil into motion only to die empty-handed. But of course, justice doesn’t have a place in this nihilistic vampiric world order.)

[If it's justice you're looking for, you've come to the wrong place...]

Mon
Sep 22 2014 11:30am

The Strain 1.11: “The Third Rail”

As a horror series, The Strain has had plenty of tense, disgusting, and squirm-inducing moments. Lots of body horror. Some close calls and near misses. We’ve watched likable characters become infected, die, or transform into the undead.

But for all of the cringing and shock factor scenes, I had yet to be properly frightened. I know I’ve built up quite a tolerance for horror but I’m not carved of marble—and I go into such series hoping I’ll get a solid case of the creeps at least once or twice.

With “The Third Rail”, I finally got what I was asking for: an episode that reaches, then maintains, a fever pitch of nerves. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to actually pause it twice and get up for a brisk walk around the house to settle my stomach; I was that tense.

[Now that's good storytelling...]

Mon
Sep 15 2014 1:15pm

The Strain 1.10: “Loved Ones”

Flashbacks aren’t new to this show, but this week’s episode handles them a little bit differently. Rather than giving us insight into a character’s origins, as in the Abraham and Eichorst narratives, we swing back and forth between the recent past and the present to see exactly what happened to Eph’s estranged wife Kelly.

I quite like it: it disrupts the normally linear story in an interesting way that puts the full spotlight on a side character. And by making us connect with Kelly, it lets us feel just how horrific such an experience would be on a visceral level.

Everything opens in the present with Zach using his noggin and a laptop liberated from the pawn shop (clever boy) to track down his missing mother’s iPhone. I always appreciate when child characters are given more to do than stand around and look cute, and this just further cements my opinion that Zach and Carl from The Walking Dead would make quite the pre-teen team.

[That's a show I'd watch!]

Fri
Sep 12 2014 8:45am

A Word with the Dearly Departed: Sean Astin on The Strain

Sean Astin has never been into vampires.

“When I was sixteen I worked in a movie theatre where my friend Corey Feldman’s movie The Lost Boys premiered—that was probably the height of my vampire interest,” Astin says with a laugh. While the world was swept up in the vampire craze—with True Blood and The Vampire Diaries taking over TV and Twilight blowing up in book stores and theatres—the actor was more focused on dramatic work and fantasy series like The Lord of the Rings.

But when Guillermo del Toro approaches you with a job offer, you don’t just say no.

“[It’s an exciting thing] spending time with Guillermo,” says Astin. “He’s just so full of life and creativity… You always feel like he’s both incredibly well prepared and in the moment, able to be spontaneous. I’m grateful that Guillermo reached out and swept me up.”

[Del Toro has swept us all up with The Strain...]

Tue
Sep 9 2014 1:00pm

Fresh Meat: Nine Days by Minerva Koenig

Nine Days by Minerva Koenig is a debut mystery featuring Julia Kalas, a forty-something former mob wife who finds herself under witness protection in rural Texas and in the middle of murder (available September 9, 2014).

Julia Kalas has had a rough couple of years. Not only did she witness her husband’s murder, endure gunshot wounds, and have to turn state’s evidence on the Aryan Brotherhood—she’s now been forced into the Witness Protection Program and relocated to a tiny town in rural Texas.

Of course, that all happened because Julia was, frankly, a criminal. A mob wife. The launderer of the money her husband and father-in-law made in illegal gun-running. So it’s not as if she was an innocent angel caught in the crossfire. As she says herself:

I hate to admit that I believe in a concept as hackneyed as the Criminal Mind, but I can remember having thoughts like the one I was having now as far back as my memory goes.

And she’s sure not going to just sit back and blend into the woodwork once she hits Azula, Texas. Her handler, the local police chief, sets her up with a job interview at a bar. Which doesn’t make Julia the happiest camper, given her true passion and skill set lies in construction.

[Can she construct a new life...?]

Mon
Sep 8 2014 2:30pm

The Strain 1.09: “The Disappeared”

After the fraught stand-off of last week’s episode, “The Disappeared” gives us a little breathing space—after the opening scene, that is, when little Zach arrives home to find his mom’s boyfriend has become unusually violent. To give Zach some credit, he’s definitely cut of the same cloth as Carl from The Walking Dead: when attacked by a blood-covered Matt, the kid rushes for cover and picks up a shovel to defend himself.

And luckily he doesn’t have to stave off the threat alone for long. Dad Eph rushes in, makes with a quick stab, and deftly chops the asshole’s head off with said shovel. The rest of the group hurries in and while Eph and Nora comfort Zach, Abraham and Vasiliy do a quick search of the house.

No Kelly. And Matt had some nasty cuts across his face before Eph detached it from his shoulders. Draw a line between the dots and the obvious conclusion is that Kelly will show up again at some point to reclaim her son—but only because she’s compelled more by the Master than her maternal instincts.

Meanwhile, Felix’s condition is worsening. Gus keeps demanding a doctor, but the city’s starting to tear itself apart and medical personnel are at a premium. The detention officer tells Gus there will be someone to check out his friend at Rikers, so he hurries to get Felix onto the transport truck, assuring his buddy that he’s there for him.

Yeah, he’ll be there for him—when Felix is no longer his BFF but a creature of the night.

[Talk about a breakup...]