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Supernatural: One Year Gone (Book)

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Supernatural: One Year Gone

Written by Rebecca Dessertine

Published by Titan Books


It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Supernatural‘s latest season. It was one of my all-time favorite shows from season one through five, but season five ended creator Eric Kripke’s planned story arc in a beautiful and final way. Extending it for another season beyond this master plan, without Kripke at the helm as showrunner, just seemed like a very bad idea. The first few episodes confirmed that for me, so I walked away and haven’t looked back.

It won’t come as a surprise, then, that when I heard the next Supernatural novel was set between seasons five and six to patch together the events of the missing year between them, I was less than excited. Seeing that it was written by Dessertine, who co-wrote the lackluster War of the Sons entry in the book series, did nothing to inspire my confidence.

It was with a little bit of dread that I cracked open One Year Gone…and I’m happy to say that dread vanished completely by the time I finished.

One Year Gone does indeed chronicle that missing year between the end of season five and the beginning of season six. Dean is living with Lisa and her son, Ben. However, things are far from domestic bliss as Dean is still obsessed with somehow rescuing Sam from the cage in Hell where he went with Lucifer at the end of season five. In the meantime, Sam has already returned, and is staying with his also-resurrected grandfather, Samuel. His return is still unknown to Dean, of course, until the beginning of season six. So, wallowing in alcoholic misery yet desiring a better relationship with Lisa and Ben, Dean comes up with a fairly ill-fated and very Dean-like plan to find a necronomicon and use one of it’s spells to free Sam and, if needed, another to jail Lucifer back up again without Sam as a vessel.

This search brings Dean and his new family to Salem, Massachusetts on ‘vacation’. While paying lip service to engaging in tourism with Lisa and Ben, Dean sets off in search of a witch who can help him find a necronomicon. Samuel and Sam also wind up in Salem for entirely different reasons, a group of witches up to no good who may very likely end the world if the Winchesters can’t stop them.

Before long, Dean runs afoul of the coven, Sam and Samuel are forced to keep ducking and running to avoid Dean discovering their resurrection, and Dean’s new family is thrown into harm’s way.

This story in and of itself isn’t bad. We learn more about Sam’s state of mind and being post-resurrection as well as a bit of Dean-oriented humor as he tries to juggle tourism with hunting. However, the really bright points of this book exist in the past and something quite revelatory to the overall Winchester mythos.

At one point, Dean comes across the journal of a hunter in Salem during the time of the witch hunts. This hunting family is named Campbell…and we learn that the Winchester/Campbell bloodline stretches all the way back to the first European settlers on this continent, and that they’ve been hunters from the very beginning.

In all, perhaps a third of the book is spent in the past with the Campbell family dealing with the real source of the mania behind the Salem with trials. These sections are pure gold. It’s still Supernatural, but set in a time vastly different from our own. The Campbells of the past don’t have fancy firearms to cope with threats, so they use far more white magic. The women of the family play active roles in their investigations, but they have to do so in a subtle way due to mores and expectations of the day.

These flashback sections are wonderful. I’d really like to see a series, either in print or on television, featuring the Campbell boys and their sister as their further adventures are strongly hinted at by the close of One Year Gone.

Other than the flashbacks, we have a decent story, but there are problems. For some reason, this entry in the series suffers from some editing problems (grammatical issues and typos) as well as a few fairly poor plot points. (Example: Dean needs a ski-mask at one point and finds one because Lisa ‘overpacks’…for a summer vacation to the beach in Salem.)

As an editor myself, those kinds of problems normally make me crazy, but the strength of the flashback sections overcomes the weaknesses in the primary plot. You’ll need a bountiful supply of disbelief suspension to get through to the finale of Dean’s tale, but there’s a pearl in this oyster in the form of Supernatural Puritan Style.

Dessertine needs some work as a novelist, to be sure. One Year Gone is a long, long way from a perfect book. Still, it’s definitely an improvement over the dismal War of the Sons and provides quite a bit of insight into both the missing year between the last two seasons and the overall Winchester mythos as a whole. Cautiously recommended.

3 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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