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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old March 12 2008, 02:15 AM   #106
Spaceman Spiff
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been reading lots of Conan lately, and while it's almost sort of related to horror in that Weird Tales sense, it'd be pushing it to talk about it in here.

Where movies are concerned, I've been on a bit of a '70s/'80s kick. I recently watched Phantasm and Lamberto Bava's Demons. Both were good, but I liked Phantasm more, despite Bava's lineage. Angus Scrimm is just too much fun as the Tall Man. I think I'll stick with the time period for a while and watch Fright Night next.

I've also picked up The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, but I haven't watched it, yet.

Stepping out of those two decades, I watched Night of the Demon, which was pretty darned good. It's listed on the DVD as a double feature, but that isn't quite true. It has Curse of the Demon on it, which is the same movie with some bits taken out for American audiences. That one's not really worth watching if you've got Night.

I picked it up because it's directed by Jacques Tourneur, who directed a number of the Val Lewton films, which RJDiogenes knows I enjoy a great deal. It doesn't quite feel like a Lewton film, which makes it interesting to see just how much influence Lewton had as a producer. It's a great film, mind you, being an early take on the idea of seriously trying to present a supernatural element into a "real world" type of story. The main character, Dr. Holden, is a psychologist intending to expose a "devil cult" as a sham, with the cult leader pulling out the supernatural stops to combat him. Niall MacGinnis gives a great pleasant-while-malicious performance as the cult leader.

I know we talk about fiction and films, but I guess I should throw in some of the former and say that I really enjoyed World War Z. Max Brooks is pretty clever, and he clearly put a lot of thought and effort into it.

My weirdest recent horror fiction purchase was Johnny Gruesome by Greg Lamberson, available from Bad Moon Books. I just like supporting small publishers, and I decided on this one after a positive review at Dread Central. And come on, that cover is great.

I have a few more updates, but I guess I'll save those for later.
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Old March 12 2008, 09:52 AM   #107
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been reading lots of Conan lately, and while it's almost sort of related to horror in that Weird Tales sense, it'd be pushing it to talk about it in here.
It's funny you should mention Conan. I've never been interested in the character, but I've been reading a bit of Robert E Howard's other stuff since it's been brought back into print by some small publishers. I've seen the Savage Sword Of Conan reprints at the comic shop and I've been tempted to pick them up because, a) I now realize that there's that pulp connection, and b) because the art, production and lettering are so obviously 70s that it makes me nostalgic. I love the ambiance of the books from my youth. And those comics are nearly as old now as the pulps were then

Where movies are concerned, I've been on a bit of a '70s/'80s kick. I recently watched Phantasm and Lamberto Bava's Demons. Both were good, but I liked Phantasm more, despite Bava's lineage. Angus Scrimm is just too much fun as the Tall Man. I think I'll stick with the time period for a while and watch Fright Night next.
I recently got the Fright Night DVD. As always, Roddy McDowall ROCKS! There will never be another like him. My feelings about the film have changed since it was first released. When I saw it in theaters, I was fairly disappointed; the only things I liked about it were Roddy and the nostalgia factor of the "horror host" (yes, I was nostalgic even in my 20s-- I was born nostalgic, I think ). This time around, I liked the film a lot more, and I'm even more appreciative of Roddy's effortless genius.

I've thought about watching the Phantasm series, which I never caught when they were new; I had trouble finding all of them, though. It seems like one of the films was out of print or hard to find; I forget which one. I'd like to see them, though.

I'll check out all the other suggestions. I need to make some more purchases at Cemetery Dance before they forget about me. World War Z sounds interesting, but I don't know-- I had another Romero Zombie nightmare last night and in this one, one of my friends became a zombie; that's a new twist.

I finished Dark Resurrection, of course, but I won't say anything until you've read it. Since then I've been reading sci fi-- I started Telzey Amberdon until I was waylaid by a pagination error, and now I'm reading the new Phillip Jose Farmer collection (I've been dying to read Venus On The Half-Shell and "The Adventure Of The Peerless Peer" for a long time). After that, I think I'll go for the Creature novel-- I know it's in one of these piles around here somewhere.
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Old March 12 2008, 10:12 AM   #108
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Crap, after all of that, I forgot the acquisition which prompted me to update in the first place.

I finally--at long last--got my hands on a copy of The Abominable Snowman. You're the one who first told me about it, and then after viewing Flesh and Blood: The Hammer Heritage of Horror, I figured it was a must-have for me as a Hammer fan. But it's out of print, and it sells from $50 for a used copy to as high as $120 for a sealed one. But I just couldn't bear to pay the former for a used DVD and the latter is just too darn much for a single disc, no matter how rare it is.

But after much patience on eBay, I finally picked it up. It was still kind of too much for a single DVD ($60), but it was sealed and new.

I haven't watched it yet (probably this weekend), but it looks great.

Definitely my nerdiest purchase in a long time, just for the cost.
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Old March 13 2008, 01:05 AM   #109
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Ohhh, you got my hopes up there for a second. I thought it was re-released.

I'm dying to see that again and own it. Oh, well; time for one of my period checks at the TCM website to see if it's been scheduled....
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Old March 13 2008, 01:07 AM   #110
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Well, since I just shelled out $60 for it, odds are there will be a special edition released next week.
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Old March 13 2008, 04:18 AM   #111
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

OOC, has anyone read "Duma Key" yet? I've been meaning to pick it up, but I've heard mixed things...
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Old March 13 2008, 11:22 PM   #112
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

I'm waiting for one of my friends to finish it and give me a review; personally, my interest in Stephen King waned a while back. I've got several of his books that I haven't read yet. Although I do dip into Everything's Eventual every now and then and have enjoyed it so far; but I always thought he was better at the short story than the novel.

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
Well, since I just shelled out $60 for it, odds are there will be a special edition released next week.
Heh. That would figure. On the other hand, since I want it, odds are it will take as long as This Island Earth did.
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Old March 31 2008, 11:36 PM   #113
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Conan was swell. It was a fun, pulpy style of writing; heavy on the adverbs. Everything "glinted evilly," etc. Despite that, it was loads of fun. I have two more books to go through, and I'm looking forward to it.

Right now I'm reading The Ruins, by Scott Smith, pretty much in preparation for the movie. I usually try to avoid that sort of thing, preferring to keep the reading and film-going experiences separate, but I've had this one sitting for a while, and kind of bumped it up in the queue on a whim.

I'm only on page 50, so I haven't much to say about it, yet. It's always jarring to go from an older style of writing (even just from the '30s) to a more modern one.
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Old April 1 2008, 09:46 AM   #114
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

I do like Howard's style, from what I've read. Back in the 70s, I had an aversion to the big Conan fad because it was so... barbaric. But compared to what pop culture has become, it looks positively mellow now.

I thought the preview to The Ruins looked great, so let me know what you think of the book.

Also, I should recommend this to all Zombie Apocalypse fans; I may be biased, however.
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Old April 1 2008, 10:09 AM   #115
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Howard's definitely tame by today's standards. After the first book, I'm definitely a Conan fan.

So far, The Ruins is sort of bestseller-ish. It's written competently and has a movie-like feel, and there's not much to the main characters. They're kind of bland, with interchangeable names like Amy, Stacy, Jeff and Eric. They're just college students without much difference between them, so far. There are some more interesting secondary characters, but everyone sort of seems like fodder, so far.

I can visualize each character in Dan Simmons's Summer of Night (mentioned many times upthread), and none of the main characters seemed doomed, so when it happened, it was a punch to the gut.

In this one, Smith has some work to do before getting to that point. I'm only on page 75 of a 508-page book, so it could still happen.
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Old April 2 2008, 12:09 AM   #116
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Hmm. Sounds like it was written to be a movie. Well, anything involving ancient Mayan ruins and human sacrifice can't be all bad.
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Old April 14 2008, 11:03 PM   #117
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

I finished The Ruins last night. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, because the characters remained pretty shallow and made some silly mistakes which made it hard to connect with them.

That said, it's a gut-wrenching story, because even if it's hard to identify with the characters, they're put through some awful paces. You empathize with them just by default of being human.

There's nothing in the way of human sacrifice, though. It's all about the vine. It's sort of a straightforward monster story, in a way. We're not given much information about where the vine might have come from (some people didn't like that--I don't really care, unless it has some sort of meaning), but it does a whole lot more than simply grab people and get under their skin. In fact, it's got some abilities which I'm curious to see how they pull it off in the film without seeming silly.

But Smith is a good writer. He builds some pretty good tension, and there were a few stretches where I couldn't put it down.

I've seen some people say that it would have worked better as a short story, and that might be true from the perspective of pure plot, but despite the length, I don't think Smith really dawdles anywhere. It's funny to admit that, after previously complaining that he'd spent 50 pages (mass market) on one character rescue. But given its placement near the beginning of the novel, it makes sense to ground the reality of the danger they're in as soon as they get to the ruins.

I don't know if I think it's the best horror novel of the 21st century so far (per Stephen King's cover blurb), but it's a pretty tense tale.

...

I've got more updates on stuff I've bought recently--a Waldenbooks nearby is closing down, and they were selling all of their stock for 40% off, so I cleaned up--but I'll save that for another post.

I've just started Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. The fact that he's Stephen King's son is the worst-kept secret in horror fiction, but it's got me curious. Plus, you have to like the premise: "Aging rocker buys a ghost on the Internet."
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Old April 14 2008, 11:59 PM   #118
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

As I mentioned way upthread, Heart-Shaped Box is a fun little book. I think Hill is a better writer than his father on a prose level, but less able to come up with an engaging narrative and characters. The plot of Heart-Shaped Box is thoroughly conventional, and some elements of it undermined the book's theme, but Hill is definitely a writer to watch. His story collection 20th Century Ghosts turned out to be (even) more impressive than I thought when I mentioned it back in October, and is definitely worth a look.
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Old April 15 2008, 12:12 AM   #119
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Spaceman Spiff wrote: View Post
There's nothing in the way of human sacrifice, though. It's all about the vine. It's sort of a straightforward monster story, in a way.
Aha, a vine monster. I can relate to that.

We're not given much information about where the vine might have come from (some people didn't like that--I don't really care, unless it has some sort of meaning)
It's always nice to see a writer come up with a clever explanation for stuff, but it's not really necessary; the mystery can often add to the creepiness factor.

I don't know if I think it's the best horror novel of the 21st century so far (per Stephen King's cover blurb), but it's a pretty tense tale.
Is it just my imagination, or does he say that about a lot of books?

Plus, you have to like the premise: "Aging rocker buys a ghost on the Internet."
He stole that from Courage The Cowardly Dog!

Brendan Moody wrote: View Post
I think Hill is a better writer than his father on a prose level, but less able to come up with an engaging narrative and characters.
King was never a great writer, per se, but his post-modernist style was innovative back in the day; and he was great at re-writing the classic themes. On a technical level, his greatest gift was his ear for the common people.
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Old April 15 2008, 12:33 AM   #120
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Re: Let's Talk About Horror Fiction

Brendan Moody wrote: View Post
As I mentioned way upthread, Heart-Shaped Box is a fun little book.
Speaking of books mentioned upthread, what was your verdict on Inferno?
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