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From The Blog
August 4, 2015
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Teddy Pierson
Showing posts by: Angie Barry click to see Angie Barry's profile
Mon
Jul 13 2015 12:00pm

Infecting the Infected: What’s to Come on The Strain Season 2

When we last saw Dr. Eph Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his rag-tag team of vampire hunters — young son Zach (Max Charles), lover and fellow CDC coworker Dr. Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro), vampire expert and Holocaust survivor Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), exterminator Vasiliy Fet (Kevin Durand), and hacker Dutch (Ruta Gedmintas) — things weren't looking too bright.

Abrahams's plan to drive the Master, the source of the vampiric plague, into deadly sunlight failed; the Strigoi defied all expectations and managed to escape before he was immolated. And just to cap off the day's failure, Eph and Zach came face-to-face with the freshly turned Kelly (Natalie Brown), confirming their worst suspicions about what had happened to their wife and mother.

The first season closed pessimistically: with Eph breaking his sober streak by downing a shot of booze and the group driving off into a chaotic night full of fires and bloodshed. That final shot and voice-over suggested that New York was as good as gone, the first large-scale victim to the Strigoi's push for global domination.

[Not so fast...]

Fri
Jul 10 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Suspicion at Sanditon (Or, The Disappearance of Lady Denham) by Carrie Bebris

The Suspicion at Sanditon (Or, the Disappearance of Lady Denham) by Carrie Bebris is the 7th cozy addition to the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery Series set in the location of Jane Austen's final work (available July 14, 2015).

“Well, does Lady Denham intend to join us at all this evening?” Mr. Hollis's volume drew the attention of all the guests, and the conversation ceased.

Miss Brereton flinched at his querulous demand. “I do not know.”

Mr. Parker was more sympathetic. “As you have returned without her, I can only suppose something significant prevents her from joining us. Is Lady Denham indisposed?”

Her composure suddenly breaking to reveal her distress, her gaze swept all the guests before returning to Mr. Parker.

“Lady Denham is missing.”

Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife Elizabeth (formerly Bennet, oh she of the “fine eyes” and lively wit) have only recently arrived in the small coastal town of Sanditon, primarily to advise their friend and cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam on whether it will be a sound investment for him, when they find themselves embroiled in a most perplexing situation.

[The knots only grow tighter...]

Tue
Jun 30 2015 1:00pm

Under the Radar: Genre Movies You May Have Missed — Push (2009)

By now, Chris Evans is a bona fide Hollywood star. Everyone knows his name and face, and he's made a big mark in pop culture with his roles in four comic book adaptations: The Fantastic Four (where he was Johnny Storm, the Human Torch), Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (Evil Ex Lucas Lee), The Losers (Jensen), and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Steve Rogers, aka Captain America).

(He likes to say that he was never big into comics and it's just a coincidence that he's starred in so many adaptations, but we know better. As the folks at Tumblr like to say, it's no coincidence that he has the perfect superhero shoulder-to-waist ratio.)

But before he was the superpowered soldier with the star-spangled uniform, he played another guy with superpowers in the little-known film Push.

Nick Gant (Evans) is what's known as a Mover, which is just another way of saying telekinetic. Like Jean Grey, he can move things with his mind. Which makes life difficult for Nick, because there's an organization very interested in people like him called Division. Division has been “collecting” superpowered folks for several decades now: testing them, classifying them, and doing their best to weaponize them for the good of the government.

[Sounds recognizable enough so far...]

Tue
Jun 16 2015 11:00am

Fresh Meat: The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells

The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells is the 4th paranormal thriller featuring a teenaged sociopath who fights demons for the government (available June 16, 2015).

John Wayne Cleaver is a teenaged sociopath. A fact he's pretty open about. He also has a driving urge to kill, which is why it's a good thing he lives by a set of self-imposed rules. Rules that include: keeping away from animals, eating a strictly vegetarian diet, and never touching a gun.

And it's also a good thing that he's found a way to channel his murderous impulses; it seems the government is in need of someone with John's particular proclivities and mindset, because it turns out there are worse things than serial killers in the world.

Things like demons.

[Well okay, that's fair...]

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...]