Fresh Meat: <i>Broadchurch</i> by Erin Kelly Fresh Meat: Broadchurch by Erin Kelly Debbie Meldrum Two small-town cops team up over a boy's murder. Comment for a chance to win! Now Win <i>This</i>!: Can't Beat the Classics Sweepstakes Now Win This!: Can't Beat the Classics Sweepstakes Crime HQ They're classics for a reason... Fresh Meat: <i>Nine Days</i> by Minerva Koenig Fresh Meat: Nine Days by Minerva Koenig Angie Barry Under witness protection in rural TX, Julia's no innocent, but neither is anyone else... FM: <i>Virtue Falls</i> by Christina Dodd FM: Virtue Falls by Christina Dodd Laura K. Curtis An earthquake brings one family's history rushing to the surface.
From The Blog
September 15, 2014
Steve McQueen: The King of Cool Westerns
Edward A. Grainger
September 15, 2014
We'll All Be Seeing Hannibal's Therapist Regularly
Crime HQ
September 14, 2014
Mossad as Superspy: Is the Myth Slipping?
Lance Charnes
September 13, 2014
Bogie and Bacall: Key Largo (1948)
Jake Hinkson
September 12, 2014
Checking into The Knick 1.05: “They Capture the Heat”
Joe Brosnan
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
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...]

Wed
Sep 3 2014 12:30pm

The Strain 1.08: “Creatures of the Night”

“Creatures of the Night” picks up where last week left off, with Eph and Co. recovering from their confrontation with Eichhorst. When Abraham confirms that the strigoi cannot stand sunlight, Nora and Eph’s medical expertise comes into play: as this vampiric plague is viral in nature, and viruses die when exposed to UVC waves, they reason that ultraviolet light may be one of their best defenses.

Our heroes arrive at a local medical supply warehouse only to find the place closed. Well, desperate times certainly call for desperate measures. “(We’re) burglars, vigilantes, vampire hunters—add it to the list,” Eph deadpans before breaking a window. And once inside they learn they’re not alone…

Turns out Vasiliy Fet has beaten them to the valuable UVC lamps, having correctly deduced that they’ll prove useful weapons against the “big munchers” he’s already encountered. So not only did the exterminator know enough to raid the medical supply warehouse, he also cunningly cut off the alarm for the place from down the street, and  even goes so far as to haggle with Nora over who gets how many lamps. And then calmly announces that he’s already “exterminated” a couple of the creatures on his own. Like it’s no big thang.

[Swoon...]

Mon
Aug 25 2014 11:00am

The Strain 1.07: “For Services Rendered”

“For Services Rendered” kicks off on an eerie note: Joan Luss’s husband (who looks remarkably like a Cylon from the Battlestar Galactica reboot) arrives at his country club to find the place abandoned. Largely unfazed, he helps himself to an after-flight martini, which is interrupted by a phone call from nanny Neeva. Worried about Joan’s deteriorating condition, she’s taken the children to her own apartment in Yonkers. Mr. Luss isn’t all that concerned—not even when a distant scream echoes in the night.

You don’t really realize just how scary random noises around empty buildings are until it’s thrown directly in your face. Talk about the shivers.

Ignoring Neeva’s warnings, Luss returns home to find that his gardener is looking decidedly unwell. When Franco springs into attack, and the cabbie falls prey to another vamp, Luss runs for the safety of the house. Only to find that home is no longer safe, when devoted wife Joan emerges covered in blood.

Proving old adages are often correct: lawyers truly are blood-sucking creatures of the night.

[But they're not the only ones around here...]

Mon
Aug 18 2014 5:00pm

The Strain 1.06: “Occultation”

After five episodes of build-up, we’ve finally reached the “Occultation”: the day of the eclipse. And when you’ve got creatures of the night taking New York City by storm, you can bet your sweet bippy that craziness is gonna go down as soon as the moon slides into place…

But before we get to said madness, we first check in with Herr Eichhorst, who has momentarily foregone his human disguise while he nips into a sealed, padded room for an early morning snack. I honestly didn’t think Nazis could get any worse—but Eichhorst sure does delight in his monstrous nature. Sucks to be you, nameless dude chained to the wall.

As Eichhorst is chowing down, Kelly opens the door to find a pair of FBI agents on her porch looking for Eph. Boyfriend Matt has to butt in and snag a federal calling card, and of course he’s got an itchy dialing finger when Eph bursts in moments later, frantic and begging Kelly to get Zach out of the city. (Whatever happened to the whole, “Someday I’m sure we’ll be friends!” sentiment, Matt?)

[Darkness is upon us...]

Mon
Aug 11 2014 1:00pm

The Strain 1.05: “Runaways”

This week’s episode, “The Runaways”, opens with a house call that doesn’t end well. A urologist arrives at Bolivar’s loft to tend to the rock star’s unusual “problem”. A problem that includes looking like death warmed over; pretty sure there are corpses in funeral homes that look better than Gabe. While manager Ruby is downstairs making her own beauty appointment, a crash and scream suggests that the examination isn’t going too well for the good Dr. Evanston.

And when Ruby rushes upstairs to find Bolivar feeding on the doctor with a definitely inhuman tentacle tongue, there doesn’t seem to be much more she can do but run—injuring her ankle in the process; this is exactly while ladies in survival scenarios need to be thinking about practical footwear—and call someone to come clean up the “mess”.

I know the rich and famous have enough money to get away with just about anything, but this is absolutely taking it to the limit.

[C'mon!]

Mon
Aug 4 2014 3:00pm

The Strain 1.04: “It’s Not for Everyone”

In Episode 4, “It’s Not For Everyone”, we pick up right where we left off: with Eph and Co. standing over the body of what was Captain Doyle Redfern. Everyone’s understandably shaken, but Eph shows that he has a level head in a crisis and mobilizes the others to perform an emergency—and illegal—autopsy on the body.

“Well, I just wanna go on record,” Jim complains. “That I do not think this is a good idea.”

“A monster just tried to murder us. There are no records,” Eph replies.

Finally. They’re starting to get it.

As they prepare for the autopsy, Eph reassures Nora that if she needs time she can take it. But she insists on helping, hoping that finding answers will make Redfern’s death meaningful. It’s a noble thought, but we’re quickly reaching the point where nobility will have very little to do with what unfolds. It’s becoming obvious that decisive, pragmatic action is what’s most needed.

Sometimes to cure the plague you have to kill the carriers.

[Is our group up to the task?]

Mon
Jul 28 2014 11:00am

The Strain 1.03: “Gone Smooth”

Episode 3, “Gone Smooth”, opens with a truly Extreme Makeover. While sweeping classical music plays in the background, a man who most certainly isn’t a man sets to work affixing a fake nose over the gaping hole in his face. Glues a foam neckpiece over some disturbing folds. Attaches rubber ears and inserts normal dentures over serrated teeth. And adds a layer of healthy flesh tones over his corpse-gray skin. The transformation complete, he adjusts his tailored suit and brushes his shoulders clean with a satisfied smirk.

Of course the man is none other than Herr Eichhorst. Fitting, that a Nazi pretending to be otherwise to the outside world is also a monster pretending to be a man.

At the CDC headquarters, not even the higher ups are sure what happened to the missing bodies. Knowing how inept government agencies can be, they assume that the military has gotten involved and is perhaps mixed up in the cover-up. Not a bad guess, really, except it allows everyone to turn a blind eye to the truth. Thinking the situation out of their hands, Eph’s boss at the center assures him to forget what’s happened. It’s none of their concern any more.

[Well that doesn't seem like the best way to act...]

Mon
Jul 21 2014 11:00am

The Strain 1.02: “The Box”

We pick up only hours from where we left off last week in Episode 2 “The Box”. A well-built exterminator is prepping his gear for the day like a warrior preparing for battle. As we’ve already est ablished that the vampires of The Strain are caused by parasitic worms, this is a dead giveaway that Vasiliy Fet (played by genre favorite and hulking Canadian Kevin Durand) is going to join our roster of heroes, soon to stand alongside Dr. Eph in the good fight—

Sorry. Kevin Durand started speaking Russian and my brain just sort of short-circuited.

Moving on, we watch as errand boy Gus delivers Mr. Master’s Coffin O’ Dirt to a conveniently underground, dimly lit garage. At least Gus has more common sense than your typical horror movie character: as soon as the coffin starts to shake and yowling shrieks fill the air, he promptly peaces out.

[Can you blame him?]

Mon
Jul 14 2014 10:30am

The Strain 1.01: Series Premiere “Night Zero”

Regis Air Flight #753 is arriving at JFK from Berlin—our first warning that, in true Guillermo del Toro fashion, creepy Germans will play a part in the unfolding horror. As the plane begins its descent, a flight attendant is worried. It seems something has been moving in the cargo hold. Sure enough, the hatch promptly explodes and a black thing erupts to the accompaniment of screams.

So far, so creepy.

Enter our hero: Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, a CDC doctor who is perhaps a little too devoted to his work. Hence the court-appointed counseling sessions with frustrated, estranged wife Kelly. I know this is establishing plot and adding tension, but I’m honestly just trying to wrap my head around frequent character actor (and frequently bald) Corey Stoll’s hair.

While Eph and his partner Nora (Mia Maestro) prepare to enter the “dead” plane, we meet the elderly Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), owner of a pawnshop in Queens. Old he may be, but helpless Abraham most certainly isn’t. When a pair of hoodlums—one of whom happens to be Weevil from Veronica Mars, looking somewhat different with hair; why can’t I stop focusing on everybody’s hair?—try to rob the old man, he responds with an impressive turn of speed and a stone-cold threat. Clearly, Argus Filch is not to be messed with.

[Let's get back to that plane...]

Wed
May 28 2014 11:00am

Vivisect the Director: Guillermo del Toro and Pacific Rim (2013)

Okay, I have to be entirely upfront about this: I love Pacific Rim with every fiber of my being. I want this movie played on a continuous loop on my tombstone—you know the tombstones of the future are going to have televisions embedded in them, don’t try to deny this. I’m even planning to incorporate the Gipsy Danger sigil into my sleeve tattoo; yes, I want something from this movie permanently imprinted on my skin. That’s how serious my love for Pacific Rim is.

Forewarning out of the way…

Summers have been all about big action blockbusters for years now. We’ve come to expect them to the point where it just isn’t July if there isn’t a superhero or robot blowing crap up in the local theater. And when del Toro announced that his summer release Pacific Rim was going to be about heroes in giant robots fighting monsters from another dimension, we had a pretty good idea what to expect.

[But don’t call it cookie-cutter!]

Wed
May 21 2014 3:15pm

Vivisect the Director: Guillermo del Toro and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)

With three technical Oscars for Pan’s Labyrinth under his belt, Guillermo del Toro returned to Hollywood with the clout necessary to finally have full creative control on a project. (It’s harder to argue with a filmmaker when he’s got an Academy Award in the hand not holding the camera.)

Eager to return to one of his favorite fictional worlds, del Toro had been working on the script for Hellboy II: The Golden Army even as he was filming Pan’s Labyrinth. Unlike the first film, however, there wouldn’t be high-handed demands from producers or the studio—this time, del Toro would not compromise on his vision. Actor Doug Jones would be the face and voice of Abe Sapien; the budget would be bigger; the sets would be more elaborate.

[With del Toro, bigger is definitely better...]

Tue
May 13 2014 2:45pm

Vivisect the Director: Guillermo del Toro and Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

While flashy comic book adaptations established Guillermo del Toro as a bankable director in Hollywood, it was his sixth film—and third Spanish-language outing—that brought him the full critical success he deserved. Pan’s Labyrinth is not only a great achievement in fantasy film-making, it’s also the film that finally gave de Toro the clout he needed to have full control in an industry that is infamous for outside interference and micro-managing.

Pan’s Labyrinth is a richly dark fairy tale firmly in the vein of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. A companion piece to the earlier The Devil’s Backbone, this is a young girl’s coming of age in war-torn Spain, where the horrors of war are equally reflected by the horrors of a world full of magic and monsters.

[Everything del Toro did in the past was building towards this film...]

Wed
May 7 2014 12:15pm

Vivisect the Director: Guillermo del Toro and Hellboy (2004)

Following the box office success of Blade II, it wasn’t a surprise when Guillermo del Toro announced his next film would also be a comic book adaptation. At the time, the Dark Horse series Hellboy was hardly as recognizable as DC or Marvel franchises like Batman and The X-Men. But Mike Mignola’s gothic comic about a demon-turned-monster hunter was right up del Toro’s alley—Hellboy was, in fact, a longtime dream project for the Mexican director, and when offered the chance to do the third Blade film or Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, he chose Hellboy instead.

The titular hero works for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, or B.P.R.D.: a secret organization tasked with protecting humanity from the things that bump in the night. The irony is that Hellboy (del Toro fave Ron Perlman) himself is a literal monster—or, more accurately, a demon from another dimension that was summoned by the immortal sorcerer Rasputin (Karel Roden) on Hitler’s orders.

(Yeah, this is a story that’s so pulpy it could come in a carton, but it’s also deliciously over-the-top and wildly fun.)

[Like everyone, Hellboy's working for the weekend...]

Thu
Apr 24 2014 10:30am

Vivisect the Director: Guillermo del Toro and Blade II (2002)

After his terrible experience with Mimic, Guillermo del Toro was understandably hesitant about making another American film in Hollywood. But when he was offered the chance to helm the sequel to the successful Blade, the lifelong horror comic fanboy couldn’t resist. With his unique handling of the vampire mythos in his debut Cronos, the studio knew he would bring something new and interesting to the table.

Blade II opens two years after the events of the first film. The titular antihero (Wesley Snipes)—a half-human, half-vampire also called The Daywalker—is searching for his father figure and mentor, Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), who was bitten before being snatched by their vampire enemies.

No sooner is Whistler recovered and cured of his vampirism before their base is infiltrated by a pair of bloodsuckers. The twist is that they haven’t come to destroy the hunters: they arrive bearing a peace treaty on behalf of the vampire nation. It seems there’s a new monster stalking the streets, a creature even the vampires fear, and in their desperation they are forced to turn to their enemy for help.

[The enemy of your enemy is your friend...]

Mon
Apr 21 2014 2:30pm

Fresh Meat: From the Charred Remains by Susanna Calkins

From the Charred Remains, by Susanna Calkins, is the second book in the Lucy Campion Mysteries Series set in 1666 London where a body found amidst the debris of the Great Fire turns out to be a victim of murder (available April 22, 2014).

London, 1666. Just days after the Great Fire, former chambermaid Lucy Campion is helping to clear away the debris of her devastated city. Mind already swirling with turbulence—from the fire, from her uncertain place in her master’s household, and from her recent heart-to-heart with her master’s son, Adam—Lucy finds herself caught up in even more turmoil when the body of a man is found in the rubble. A man not killed by the fire.

From the vermin crawling all over him, he’d clearly been dead for a while. Lucy dimly noted a shock of black hair and brownish skin before her eyes fixed on the handle of a knife protruding from his chest…

The constable who takes on the case happens to be the same man who only weeks ago arrested Lucy’s brother for a crime he didn’t commit. Determined to see justice carried out for the stranger stuffed ignominiously in a barrel, Lucy attaches herself to the investigation.

[Even fire can't hide the truth...]

Thu
Apr 17 2014 1:00pm

Vivisect the Director: Guillermo del Toro and The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

“What is a ghost?” It’s the question at the heart of Guillermo del Toro’s near-perfect The Devil’s Backbone, the pin that holds together the interwoven threads of his layered story. Is it a literal ghost: a restless spirit that persists in stalking the halls at night? Or perhaps the looming specter of war, in a place full of orphans whose parents were claimed by the conflict... Or is a ghost simply the lingering regret for words unsaid, chances untaken, dreams unfulfilled?

The story opens at a remote orphanage in the final days of the Spanish Civil War. Young Carlos (Fernando Tielve) arrives with a suitcase and shoebox of childish treasures, confused and uncertain. And for all that the teachers—including the eloquent Dr. Casares (del Toro fave Federico Luppi) and the elegant Carmen (Marisa Paredes)—are kindly, Carlos has a hard time settling in. The resident bully Jaime immediately dislikes him, the orphanage echoes eerily with secrets, and there is an unsolved mystery surrounding a boy who abruptly disappeared the night a bomb fell in the courtyard.

When Carlos is given the boy’s bed, he soon suspects that the missing Santi never actually left the orphanage. Something began haunting the school in the wake of his disappearance, a being the other boys call “The One Who Sighs”, and it isn’t long before Carlos comes face to face with the ghost and hears a most frightening warning: “Many of you will die.”

[But even in the midst of violence, there can still be hope…]

Wed
Apr 9 2014 3:30pm

Vivisect the Director: Guillermo del Toro and Mimic (1997)

Last week, I discussed Guillermo del Toro’s 1993 debut, Cronos, and now I'm back to examine his 1997 thriller Mimic, which opens with dire circumstances: a sickness akin to a Biblical plague has broken out in New York, striking down an entire generation of children. No cure can be found, no treatments are working, and in desperation the CDC turns to an entomologist to attack the source of the disease with one of mankind’s oldest pests—the common cockroach.

Given the resilience of the insects, Dr. Susan Tyler (Mira Sorvino) resorts to genetically splicing DNA to create the Judas Breed, a super predator that eradicates the plague carriers. As they are designed to be sterile and die out once their work is done, Dr. Tyler and her husband, Peter Mann (Jeremy Northam) of the CDC, promptly move on with their lives.

Fast-forward to three years later, when strange happenings in the city’s subways prove that the Judas Breed did not die out as expected. With their genetically modified metabolism, they have been breeding and evolving at exponential rates. Until the insect has begun to mimic its new prey…

[And you thought it was hard to kill a cockroach now…]