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Supernatural: War of the Sons (Book)

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Supernatural: War of the SonsReviewed by Mr. Dark

Written by by Rebecca Dessertine and David Reed

Published by Titan Books


I have sympathy for artists who work in licensed products. Video games, books, music, whatever, the issues have got to be the same. You’re in someone else’s house, playing with their toys. For ongoing works, like the television series “Supernatural”, you’re playing by rules that haven’t even been written yet a great deal of the time. You have no idea what they’re going to do with the universe you’re working with so the limitations must be terribly difficult to deal with.

That being said, while I sympathize with the authors of Supernatural: War of the Sons, I think they fell victim to those limitations.

War of the Sons takes place in a very specific slot in the Season 5 timeline of “Supernatural”. So much so, they even name the episode it follows for the sake of continuity. It tells the tale of a run-in with an angel named Don who plays a very key role in the apocalypse. He tells the boys he has a way to put an end to the whole Lucifer vs. Michael smackdown before it even starts. They just need to get their hands on a scroll. Problem is, that scroll went missing about 50 years ago. No problem, though. Don uses his angelic mojo, and voila, it’s 1954.

Yep, we have a time travel story. I think that’s the critical error Dessertine and Reed made in plotting out this novel. Time travel stories are always fraught with literary peril, difficult to pull off even in the best scenario. Mixed in with the difficulties inherent in licensed works, I think we have a recipe for…well, not disaster, just not success, either.

The boys go on a merry chase for the scroll through 1954 America, starting in New York City and proceeding across the nation. They aren’t the only humans seeking the scroll, which is guarded by some very nasty demonic forces who are also in pursuit of the stolen relic.

The good stuff is easy to describe: The action is hot. This book has a lot more of the rough and tumble we’re used to seeing from Sam and Dean – gunfights, fist fights, stunts far too massive to pull off on screen. All of it is tightly paced and thrilling to read.

The problems start when the gunfire stops. Because this is so precisely placed in a story arc that is long finished, there’s just no suspense here. Is there any threat of Sam and Dean successfully stopping the apocalypse? Well, no, because we’ve already seen the end of Season 5 of the show. We know from the get-go that this is a side trip and nothing important to the story arc can happen here.

In the last book, The Unholy Cause (review here), we saw references to the main story happening in Season 5, but the plot itself was a stand-alone. By making this book part of the apocalypse tale, you’re just giving us a chapter from the middle of a book we’ve finished.

The book also falls into character problems the show has suffered from as well from time to time. Sam is all angsty. I mean, angsty. Guilt-ridden about, well, most everything. After the 10th time we see inside Sam’s head how guilty he feels about starting the apocalypse, we want to take the role of Dean long enough to tell him to put on his man panties and focus on the job. Dean makes it with the one girl they meet. He also drinks. A lot. And deals with more daddy baggage. After the stellar fifth season where they resolved a lot of those issues, to be dredged through them multiple times within one paperback is a little tedious.

The authors also fall into a few time travel traps. 1954 just isn’t believable consistently. I don’t think random Italian window washers would use the phrase ‘You suck at this’ in 1954. For the most part, Sam and Dean’s behavior and lingo goes unnoticed despite being well out of place for the era. Some other characters, including Dean’s love interest, don’t behave remotely like a person from that era and that level of society would be expected to behave. It just doesn’t feel right so that throws the reader out of the story.

The book isn’t a complete mess; it’s just not successful in what it attempts to do. The action is great, and the character of Don and his place in the mess that is the apocalypse are creative and interesting. You’re just left in a place, when all is said and done, of indifference. You don’t feel like you’ve learned anything new or that anything has been changed in the world of the Winchesters.

I suggest reading the superior Unholy Cause or re-watching the amazing Season 5 (now out on DVD and Blu Ray; review here) unless you’re a “Supernatural” completist.

2 out of 5

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?

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Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas


While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)
3.0

Summary

Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

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User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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What If Tina Fey Wrote Jennifer’s Body? My Friend’s Exorcism Book Review

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“Rummaging in one of his duffel bags, [the exorcist] pulled out and athletic cup and slid it down the front of his pants. ‘First place they go for,’ he explained. He then adjusted himself and picked up a well-worn Bible. ‘Let’s do the Lord’s work.'”

It was about a year ago now (it seems) that I first saw the cover of “My Best Friend’s Exorcism.” If you haven’t seen it for yourself in all of its glory, make sure to click the image over to the right for a more in-depth look. Awesome, right? Got to love all the VHS details such as the “Horror” and “Be Kind Rewind” stickers. Classic. Utter classic.

Now I’m fully aware that one should not judge a book by its cover. Literally. But still the moment I saw this work of delicious art crop up in the inbox I had to read the book asap. Well, it turns out asap was about a year later, but all the same, I’ve now had a peek at the inside of the book as well as the outside. Does the content inside match the content outside?

Let’s find out…

For those who might not know, “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” (henceforth referred to as MBFE) tells the tale of two best friends named Abby and Grethen. One night the two, and a few of there other friends, drop a bit of acid for the first time. While the drug never kicks in (no worries, there’s no lame twist-ending to be had here) poor Gretchen still wanders off into the woods and gets possessed like a motherf*cker in some creepy abandoned building. From there, things go from bad to worse until an unlikely exorcist is called in and things go off the wicked walls in all the best ways possible.

Now, to review. First of all, let it be know that MBFE is more of a teen romance (between two friends) than a straight tale of terror. Think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body?” and that will give you a good hint at what the book holds in store for you. Not that that’s a bad thing. Still, you should be aware that the first 2/3 of the book is almost exclusively teenagers not getting along, bitch about losing touch, who is sleeping with who, and yada, yada, yada for pages on end. Dramarama for days. Mostly.

That said, not only is the teen drama bearable (and truthfully quite sweet in spots), Hendrix keeps the horror in the spotlight just enough that I never lost faith the book was heading somewhere truly balls to the wall. And it does. Oh, boy does it. From the time the unholy shite hits the fan in the last third, to the time the last word is read, the book is filled with horror moments that will make even the most jaded fright-fiction fan gag, grimace, or stand up and cheer!

You just have to get through all the angst first…

But speaking of angst, let me get a bit of extremely personal business out of the way real quick. Can I trust you with this info? Sure I can. MBFE made is cry like a baby. Not kidding. There have been very few times in my life that I have literally burst out crying. I’ve had some sad shite happen in my days, and I have seen some sad-ass movies, but nothing has made me cry out of the f*cking blue like MBFE. I’m not going to go into details about the final 10 pages of the book, but it tore my poor horror-heart a new one. It was bad. Like snot and hyperventilating type shite. Again, not kidding. Thank the lord I wasn’t in public is all I can say. I would have arrested and thrown in the booby-hatch.

MBFE goes along like a slightly horror-centric version of Mean Girls and Heathers for most of its page count. If you’re a straight horror fan, you’ll be at odds with whether you should bother finishing it or not. You will. Trust me. But listen to me now and know that once our heroine goes into the dark, dank bedroom of the school’s resident bitch to find out why she hasn’t been in school the past few days/weeks, the horror hits like holy hell. And it only gets worse (RE: better) from there.

In the end, MBFE is a book ever horror fan should own – if only for the cover. I dug the hell out of the book (eventually) and I’m sure the majority of you guys will too. But even for those hard-hearts out there that just can’t stand to read about things like uncompromising love, and hellfire-forged friendship, you still need to own the book. You still owe it to yourself to give it a try. If you don’t care for it, that’s cool, just display in on your bookshelf in all it’s VHS glory. It will make you look cool.

  • My Best Friend's Exorcism - Book Review
3.5

Summary

Grady Hendrix’s “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is a killer mixture of Mean Girls, Heathers, and The Exorcist. Just think of it as “What if Tina Fey wrote Jennifer’s Body” and you’ll have a good indication of what lies in store for you within the amazing VHS-inspired cover art.

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Knock Knock Review – This Throwback To The VHS Era Packs A Fun Punch

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Starring Kerry Tartack, Sisi Berry, Chuk Hell

Directed by Toby Canto


I remember the glory days of my youth back in the early to mid-80’s, renting every friggin horror flick on VHS and keeping the cassettes well past the return dates, eventually blacklisting my name from damn near all of the movie shops in my hometown. For the sole reason of wanting to hop back in the time-machine, I’ll never turn down the opportunity to check out a film that promises to ship you back to the days of all of that cheesy-neon attire and overblown hairdos.

Director Toby Canto was generous enough to offer his latest film up onto the sacrificial stone, and it’s called Knock Knock – about a WAY past his prime pugilist named Sam (Tartack) who is unwillingly thrust into a throwdown with a bloodsucker who happens to reside in the same apartment – damn noisy neighbors! His only birthday wish is to spend his 60th go-round safely hold up in his domicile, away from pesky residents alike. Well, that plan goes to shit when his kooky neighbor (Berry) comes by and pitches the idea of throwing hands with the newest tenant: a real creature of the night (Lucas Ayoub).

Sam initially nixes the idea wholeheartedly, but when more of his quirky neighbors show up to his place to substantiate the vampiric-claims, Sam finds himself lacing up the leather for one more round…or two, depending on if he can still take a beating. Filled with more than a handful of goofy instances, this near-hour presentation won’t blow the doors off of the horror/com vehicle, but should more than suffice in the short-term until the next spooky-laugher comes slithering out of its hole.

  • Film
3.0

Summary

Historians alike, this movie’s for those who want a reminder of how loopy those VHS days were, and the best part is you don’t have to rewind a freakin’ thing.

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