Dean Koontz, Josh Malerman, James Herbert & Riley Sager (Book Reviews)

Here are some more horror book reviews for October Horror Month. I mostly read Stephen King but did manage to read a few other authors in the past couple of years. Honest! Even read some non-horror, like Dune. But I do mostly stick to this genre for some reason…

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

I’m a big Dean Koontz fan (did a Top Ten list HERE). Honestly couldn’t remember if I’d read this one years ago but think I only saw the 1977 Julie Christie movie based on it. What was disappointing was that I didn’t realise the version I have is actually one that Koontz later re-wrote to update the technology in it & I assume references to specific actresses. I’m old – I can handle reading about out-dated technology. I’M out-dated technology!

Anyway, this book is interesting as I’ve always been fascinated by the thought of machines taking over. (They will, you know!!). But it’s also creepy & very rape-y so not one I’d recommend easily to absolutely anyone. There’s a real “woman hating” thing going on here, but I think part of the point of the book is the dreaded “toxic masculinity”. I do wonder if that was as much a part of the original book or if Koontz put more of that in to fit more with the topics of today.

My Rating: 3/5

The Taking by Dean Koontz

As I said above, I love Dean Koontz books. Well, okay – I don’t love ALL his books. I sometimes really don’t like one. I didn’t like this one all that much. Not sure why. But, man, is it fucked up! I should love it. I like full-on supernatural weirdness. I have to say that, if it had been made into a movie, it could’ve been a kick ass body horror film! Again, I should like it as I have a weird fascination with body horror films (mainly those from David Cronenberg). I don’t know – I think maybe the characters just weren’t that strong. I usually like Koontz characters (Odd Thomas is great). I’ll give it an extra half a point for Koontz saying fuck it & going fucking crazy with this one.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Black Mad Wheel by Josh Malerman

This was a strange one. I first read Malerman’s Bird Box, which I really enjoyed (so much more than the movie adaptation!). But I was absolutely blown away by his short story included at the end of that book (Ghastle And Yule). It was brilliant. I loved it so much that I tweeted the author to tell him that (I never really tweet “celebs” because that feels stalker-y & weird). But I think he appreciated the praise. Here’s the synopsis for Black Mad Wheel from Amazon, which sounded amazing so is why I chose it as the next book of his to read: “The Danes—the band known as the “Darlings of Detroit”—are washed up and desperate for inspiration, eager to once again have a number one hit. That is, until an agent from the US Army approaches them. Will they travel to an African desert and track down the source of a mysterious and malevolent sound? Under the guidance of their front man, Philip Tonka, the Danes embark on a harrowing journey through the scorching desert—a trip that takes Tonka into the heart of an ominous and twisted conspiracy.

Meanwhile, in a nondescript Midwestern hospital, a nurse named Ellen tends to a patient recovering from a near-fatal accident. The circumstances that led to his injuries are mysterious—and his body heals at a remarkable rate. Ellen will do the impossible for this enigmatic patient, who reveals more about his accident with each passing day.

A creepy supernatural story about a rock band? Totally my type of thing! I wanted to like this one more than I did, however. Only Philip Tonka, the band’s front man, gets any character development. The story also doesn’t give much of a resolution if that sort of thing bothers you (I don’t mind that so much, especially with supernatural stories, as I like to sometimes have things left to my own imagination). What the story does have, though, is a lot of originality. It also has a good “vibe”. I don’t know how else to describe that but, especially with his Ghastle And Yule short story, I felt like I was there & could easily picture everything that was happening.

Based on what I’ve read of Malerman’s so far, I’ll definitely be reading more. His stories are unusual & completely unpredictable. I like that. I need more of that. I just want to like his characters a bit more. Likeable characters are always a big thing for me. By the end of Bird Box, I still didn’t like the main character. I want to care about the fate of at least one character… (I should point out that Ghastle And Yule aren’t likeable either but they’re not meant to be. They’re just great characters).

My Rating: 3/5

Unbury Carol by Josh Malerman

What I like so far about Malerman is that he doesn’t stick to just one genre. For the most part, they’ve all been a little bit on the weird or supernatural side of things (which is right up my alley). This one is kind of a Western but with supernatural elements. I liked it. Probably my third favorite of the three full-length novels I’ve read but I’ve liked all I’ve read so far so am looking forward to reading more of his work.

Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “Only three people know Carol Evers’ secret. Her best friend, who’s dead. Her husband, who hates her. Her ex-lover, who left her. Carol suffers from a dreadful affliction which makes her fall into long comas, waking slumbers indistinguishable from death. Her husband Dwight wants her next “death” to be her last. He will claim her fortune by pronouncing her dead … and burying her alive. The infamous outlaw James Moxie, once Carol’s lover, rides the Trail again – pursued by murder and mayhem – to save the woman he loves. And all the while, Carol is a prisoner in her own body. hearing her funeral plans, summoning every ounce of will to survive…

My Rating: 3/5

Moon by James Herbert

Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year (Update: I obviously wrote this in 2020). Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff…

My Rating: 2.5/5

Final Girls by Riley Sager

This crime mystery horror thriller might be a bit of fluff but I think it would make for a really good slasher flick with a decent “whodunnit” plot. I’d definitely watch that movie! The characters are a bit hateful but, hey, so are most slasher movie characters.

Had fun with this one – it was a real page-turner as I wanted to find out what was going on. I’m impatient when it comes to whodunnits & always read them quickly. It gets a bit silly at the end but I don’t mind that with this sort of thing. Here’s the plot synopsis from Amazon: “FIRST THERE WERE THREE. The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma. THEN THERE WERE TWO. But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or… CAN THERE ONLY EVER BE ONE? All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

My Rating: 3/5

Watched, Read, Reviewed: February 2021

Happy March, everyone! I watched way too many movies in February. To be fair, though, I did have a week off of work so what else was I going to do?! 🙂

Here are my quickie reviews of every movie & TV show I watched (and two books I read)…

MOVIES WATCHED IN FEBRUARY (ranked best to worst):

Les Diaboliques – I unfortunately saw the terrible 1996 remake of this starring Sharon Stone years ago. Rubbish! I thought I’d managed to completely put it out of my mind until halfway through this original French film, when I suddenly remembered the whole story. Damn. Well, it’s still a fantastic murder-plot-mystery thriller and I’d highly recommend the original film, directed by Henri-Georges Clouzot, to anyone who likes this sort of genre. (Seriously, do NOT watch the 1996 remake. Ugh.) The wife & the mistress of the same abusive asshole plot to murder him & make it look like an accident. But many weird & inexplicable things happen as the story unfolds. The actresses in this (Simone Signoret & Véra Clouzot) are fantastic and you are rooting for them (especially the poor wife) through the whole film. And do you know what happened when the credits came up at the end of this 1955 movie?! A warning to not spoil the ending of the film for others so that they could enjoy it too! Funny. So people were dicks about spoiling movies in 1955 just like they are in 2021. At least they could avoid Twitter in 1955. – 7.5/10

Willy’s Wonderland – I was never a huge fan of Nicolas Cage but he’s finally growing on me since Mandy. Mandy grew on me a lot too – I wasn’t sure how I felt right away but now I love that film & its look and its amazing score. I now want every Nicolas Cage movie to live up to Mandy but I don’t think any ever will. I did enjoy Color Out Of Space & it certainly gave Mandy a run for its money on “weirdness”. I love weird. It was no Mandy but I’m loving that Cage chooses such bizarre films with cult movie potential. He’s done similar again with Willy’s Wonderland but in the horror comedy genre this time (a favorite subgenre of mine). I was so damn excited to see the trailer for a film starring Cage battling demonic animatronic characters. Love this idea! The film sadly didn’t quite live up to its amazing potential but I still had a lot of fun with it. And Cage was as bonkers as always, even while remaining silent through the whole film. It has a good ’80s slasher sort of vibe to it as well, so I appreciated that. The ’80s had some of the best “bad” horror movies & I’ll always happily watch this kind of thing. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things – Not gonna lie: YA books & movies are a guilty pleasure of mine. Think this one was just a short story instead of a full novel and I’ve not read it but I thought the movie was quite enjoyable. It’s a good story with likeable characters & that’s all I ask for from this genre. It’s also yet anotherGroundhog Day” setup. How many times can this same thing be done?! I think it doesn’t matter as long as the story still manages to feel like it has a unique twist on having to live the same day over & over and this movie does achieve that. Let’s see… Edge Of Tomorrow is still obviously the best film since Groundhog Day with this theme but I’d have to say I preferred The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things to the Happy Death Day movies & Before I Fall. Recommended if you do like the YA genre & a good story. – 7.5/10

**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…

Palmer – I really enjoyed this movie, even though I don’t always go for dramas. It depends on the characters & I liked the characters in this. Justin Timberlake was good as a guy just out of prison who has to try to make a new start & I liked Alisha Wainwright as the teacher of the young boy Timberlake’s character finds himself stuck with when the boy’s troubled mother disappears. The true star is the boy, however, played by Ryder Allen. He’s adorable & super likeable. I think movies often don’t get kids’ characters quite right. They’re sometimes just so obviously saying lines written by an adult screenwriter so it feels awkward (see review below for an example). They don’t act like real kids that age would act. Or, more often, they’re made to be far too “bratty”, which isn’t very realistic either. Not saying kids are never bratty (because they certainly are!!) but I hate how it’s so exaggerated in movies. The boy in this seems real & you just want him to have the best possible life. Yes, the film may be quite predictable & it’s nothing we haven’t seen before but a predictable feelgood film doesn’t exactly do anyone any harm. I liked it. – 7/10

All The President’s Men – I have a confession: This is NOT my type of film. At all. I just very rarely enjoy “historical dramas”. Same goes for true crime. Man, I hate true crime! I have no interest in all the true crime stuff on Netflix that people always go on about. I don’t know why. But I especially hate politics & crime & most of the crappy stuff that goes on in real life. I mainly watch movies for escapism so often go for sci-fi or fantasy or horror. Or, well, any genre really as long as it’s fiction. If I want a genuinely true story, I’ll watch a documentary.

I thought I’d give this one a chance, though, as it’s a respected classic and I really like Robert Redford & Dustin Hoffman. Yeah. It’s good. I guess it’s what you’d call a slow burn as you watch the story gradually unfold through the eyes of the reporters. It felt very “real” but, me being the person-least-interested-in-history-in-the-history-of-history, I haven’t got the slightest clue as to how accurate this movie is on the whole Watergate Richard Nixon thingy. Redford & Hoffman are great (as always). Everyone looks very ’70s which is also great (as always). I ended up playing on my phone through most of this, though, and only kind of paid attention when I realised they were talking to the Deep Throat guy (only porn movie I own!).

I’m sorry. I’m a terrible, terrible movie blogger. This is a classic & I lost interest & I played on my phone & I still have no knowledge of Watergate. But, hey – it’s super tame anyway compared to all the political bullshit these days! Watergate seems like child’s play now. I’ll give this movie a decent score but know it deserves an even higher rating. And speaking of child’s play, it certainly deserves a higher rating than what I gave the Child’s Play 2019 reboot! But I also gave that a 7/10 (it was fun)… – 7/10

Level 16 – No, this movie isn’t exactly the best or most original thing ever made but it IS very much my type of story so I quite enjoyed it. It’s on Netflix & this is the plot synopsis from Wikipedia: “Level 16 is a 2018 sci-fi thriller by filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy. It follows a group of girls who live at a “school” which educates them about how to be perfect young women for families that they are told will eventually adopt them. Two girls work together to uncover the truth about their captivity.” By the way, do NOT look this up on IMDb if you want to see it. The images they show ruin the whole story! WTF? So I knew what was going to happen. But I still enjoyed it. Being someone who grew up loving The Twilight Zone from a very young age, I’d have guessed the ending of this movie anyway as it’s pretty predictable if you watch as much of this sort of thing as I do. I suppose you younger people may also know what to expect if you like Black Mirror. But this is still worth a watch if you like mysterious sci-fi thrillers. – 6.5/10

I Care A Lot – I hadn’t planned on watching this until it ended up being so divisive on Twitter. Man, some people really hate this movie! But others seemed to really enjoy it. Well, movies with such a strong reaction always get me curious so I checked it out expecting to absolutely hate it as I usually despise hateful characters. I want characters to like & to root for!

I enjoyed this film. It’s not one I’ll ever watch again but I enjoyed the ride & thought the performances were good. It goes a bit overboard at the end but, whatever, it’s just a movie so that never really bothers me. And, with everyone going on about how evil these characters are, I thought they’d be far worse. Seriously?! Yeah, Rosamund Pike & Peter Dinklage are assholes. But that’s the whole point? We’re not meant to like them. And there have been many characters in movies just as bad & also much worse. Why such a strong reaction to these characters? Seems strange. I’d also point out that they both have one other person who they clearly love & do truly care about. That’s more than can be said for a lot of “evil” movie characters.

Anyway. I liked this far more than I was expecting so it was a nice surprise. I especially liked Dianne Wiest (always makes me think of The Lost Boys & Edward Scissorhands – she has a great filmography!) & Eiza González was very good as well. So there are two characters who are a little less evil if you really can’t handle Pike & Dinklage. I’d almost give this a higher rating but it’s not a “rewatcher” for me. I’d say just don’t necessarily avoid it based on people being all weird about it. – 6.5/10

Greenland – This was a perfectly fine disaster movie. Not the best but certainly not the worst of this genre. The characters were more likeable than in some of them (I especially liked Scott Glenn as the grandfather). I think we’re all just desperate for blockbuster action movies during lockdown??? So everyone seems to be giving it slightly more praise than it may actually deserve. We’d probably be more harsh on it if we weren’t all stuck indoors with nothing but mediocre Netflix stuff to watch. Compared to most of the straight-to-streaming films we’ve had in the past year, this is one of the better ones. Still far prefer Deep Impact but this was at least less cheesy than Armageddon. – 6.5/10

9 – Somehow missed out on this when released even though its style is the type of thing I like plus I love anything post-apocalyptic. It’s a bit Tim Burton-esque. Which makes sense, as he produced it (he saw & liked the original 9 short film, so produced this feature length film). I wanted to like this one more, as I loved the look and it had so many great names involved. Here’s the synopsis & its stars from Wikipedia: “The film stars the voice of Elijah Wood as a small ragdoll-like robot who awakens shortly after the end of mankind, and must find eight other robots to figure out the mystery behind humanity’s destruction while tangling with the vicious creations of a massive soul-stealing machine, alongside other voices of John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover with Martin Landau and Fred Tatasciore.” I think the story just kind of fell apart plus I wasn’t crazy about the ending. Still a great looking film, though, and am glad to have finally seen it. – 6.5/10

Malcolm & Marie – This was fine. Not sure how to go about reviewing it. It certainly had some issues & some of it came across a bit too “I’m a brilliant filmmaker and my movies are masterpieces and everyone else is an idiot”. Malcolm was hateful as hell as the pretentious filmmaker and complete asshole of a boyfriend. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else that Sam Levinson has done but, looking at his filmography, it doesn’t look all that impressive (does he see himself as Malcolm??). Movies that come across too condescending do annoy the hell out of me. I had the same issues with Marriage Story (I hated that). I didn’t hate this one but I can’t see myself ever wanting to watch it again. Zendaya is definitely the best thing about the film & she does a great job. It’s worth watching just for her performance. John David Washington is good as well, I guess, as he certainly manages to make you hate his character. And people moaned about the characters being too hateful in I Care A Lot?!? Honestly, the guy was a prick. I kind of wanted her to stab him. That would have been a fun turn of events! It would be cool for a movie to go from being all arthouse pretentious to some f*^ked up horror movie like From Dusk Till Dawn at the end. I want to see that version of Malcolm & Marie! I’ll be nice & give it an extra half a point for the good performances. It also made me want some good ‘ol American Mac & Cheese. – 6.5/10

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story – This was… Fine? Man, I’ve seen so many “fine” movies in the past year. I’m bored!! Here’s the IMDb synopsis: “A clinically depressed teenager gets a new start after he checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.” Emma Roberts is in this. And that guy in the photo who I know from nothing else (Keir Gilchrist. Oops – looks like he was in It Follows, which I loved). And Zach Galifianakis, the dude everyone thought was the guy in the Robert Redford meme on Twitter. It’s a predictable but harmless film. Meh. – 6/10

Finding ‘Ohana – This was fine too. Kind of Goonies-light. Very much aimed at kids, so it wasn’t really for me, but I could see why a kid might really like this one. The characters are fun and they mention “nips” a lot. And one of the girls loves Keanu Reeves, which is totally understandable. Cute movie but watch it with a kid of 11 or younger. – 6/10

News Of The World – This movie probably deserves a higher rating. To be fair, I watched it knowing it’s not really at all my type of thing. I think I just feel like I should watch any big new releases that other bloggers are talking about but I’ve been underwhelmed with 90% of the newer films released on streaming services in the past year. Hanks was his usual Hanks-self & the girl was pretty good (Helena Zengel). And I was pretty bored. It ended well, though. So that’s nice. – 6/10

Over The Moon – This started out strong but I lost interest halfway through (and may have fallen asleep for a while). It’s a cute movie with a likeable girl and fun younger boy and adorable pet rabbit. It’s also a musical but the songs aren’t very good. It may have actually been better without the songs. It’s also another movie very much aimed at kids (mine is a bit too old for it & seemed bored by the end). Am sure young kids would like it and the super cute pet bunny, though. – 5.5/10

In Fabric – This was bizarre. I was very excited to see this on BBC iPlayer as it looked like just my type of thing. I like to watch these “Giallo-inspired” movies. But then they end up being really shit & I think I’d have been better off just watching an actual Italian horror from the ’70s instead of a very poor imitation. Hated that Suspiria remake too! What was the point of that?? Well, at least this was an original story instead of a remake, I guess.

I did like director Peter Strickland’s Berberian Sound Studio okay but this one didn’t really work. I’d say there were certain things I liked about it, though. The score & the look were fine (even though it’s ripping off the Giallo style – Again, I should have just checked out another Dario Argento film even though I know none are as good as Deep Red or Suspiria). There are also two stories in this weird “killer dress” movie & the second one sucks. The first one, starring Marianne Jean-Baptiste & Gwendoline Christie, actually wasn’t too bad & I’d be giving the film a higher rating if it had ended there. Why did they feel the need to add the second? Also, the movie is veeeeery slow & the first story dragged on for far longer than it needed to. I think this may have actually been a decent horror anthology instead with four or five movies involving the killer dress. I’d watch several really good stories about a killer dress! Why do one okay story & one completely rubbish one?? Well, I don’t recommend this unless you like slightly boring modern movies that poorly rip off ’70s horror classics (if you liked The Love Witch, which I thought was terrible, you’d probably like In Fabric). – 5/10

Saint Frances – Didn’t like this one. This is just one of those movies where you don’t really care about anyone. The main character is boring & self-absorbed. The only decent characters are the cute young girl & her mother who has a new baby so needs to hire the main character as a nanny to help take of her. Where I mentioned in the review for Palmer above that a lot of writers don’t seem to know how to write child characters? This is one of those. The girl is super cute and I think 5 or 6 years old but talks like an adult sometimes. It doesn’t work. And I know I did a list of My Top Ten Period Dramas but there was waaaaay too much of that in this movie. No thanks. – 5/10

Shorts & Miscellaneous

Wayne & Garth for Uber Eats – I’m a huge Wayne’s World fan. I (kind of) reviewed it HERE. I love Wayne and adore Garth and they’re the two movie characters I’d probably most like to hang out with. I couldn’t believe it when I found out there was a two and a half hour Wayne & Garth Uber Eats “ad”. There is! It’s HERE! And I watched all of it. It was the perfect thing to just stick on in the background – it really feels like you’re just hanging out with Wayne & Garth in Wayne’s basement. There are a couple of guest stars too (one of them is super cool but not a surprise to fans). Highly recommend leaving this on one day if you’re a fan of these guys & just want to hang out with them for a couple of hours.

Rewatched

The Breakfast Club – It would have been the 71st birthday of John Hughes in February & we felt like rewatching a couple of his films. I also again shared all the links to all the guest reviews from the John Hughes Blogathon I had here. Well, I already reviewed The Breakfast Club at the above link so won’t do that here. I’ll just say that I still love it now as much as I did in the ’80s. It’s still my favorite Hughes movie. – 9/10

The Matrix – Thought it was time to introduce this one to the kid. She loved it! She does love a really interesting concept. I have to admit I’d not rewatched it in years, especially after the horrible sequels. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this again & think it has aged very well. I’m now maybe a bit more excited about The Matrix 4 (even though the last two were huge disappointments). We’ll see. It won’t live up to the first film, though. It really is a modern classic. – 8.5/10

Sixteen Candles – Watched this one too in honor of John Hughes. It’s another favorite (reviewed in full in my link). – 8.5/10

Ponyo – Rewatching a lot of my Studio Ghibli favorites. Again, I won’t go into this as I reviewed it in full at the link but I love Ghibli & Ponyo is great. Am also very happy to have introduced another blogger to Studio Ghibli via this film, which she chose as the first one to check out. You can read Claire’s review of Ponyo HERE at Cinematic Delights. Think we may have a new Ghibli fan! 🙂 – 8/10

Catch Me If You Can – Still love this Steven Spielberg movie. Think it doesn’t get quite as much attention as his other films but it’s such a fascinating true story plus Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio & Christopher Walken are all fantastic. Highly recommend it if you’ve never seen it. – 8/10

Tremors – Hadn’t watched this one in years after watching it many times in my teens. I remember this being on TV all the time in America. It’s unfortunately one that ended up being not quite as good as I remembered but it’s still a really fun monster movie slash horror comedy. – 7/10

The Devil Wears Prada – I do enjoy this movie, despite finding Anne Hathaway annoying & not being a big “chick flick” girl and not being into fashion whatsoever (what a stupid waste of money). But the story is fun, Emily Blunt is entertaining, and Meryl Streep is great as a complete & total bitch. She’d get along with Malcolm! Hey, this character is super hateful but people don’t moan about this movie like they moaned about I Care A Lot… Oh, I also admit that I like any movie that has a makeover scene. Why?!? No idea. Oh, and I also like Stanley Tucci. This is one of the better “chick flicks”. I shouldn’t call it that, though. I hate that term. This is a good film. What do we call the equivalent male films starring the likes of Steven Seagal, etc? Those don’t get condescending names, do they?! And there are some terrible “bro movies”. – 7.5/10

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World – Another rewatch that wasn’t as good as I’d remembered. Still think it’s a fun film, though, and there’s nothing else quite like it so I like that as I watch too many movies that all feel the same. It’s very of its time, though, so can see its fans mainly being of the right age when this came out who have a thing for all the fairly big name actors in it. They’ll be nostalgic for it the same way that I am for ’80s movies that don’t necessarily translate to a new, younger audience. – 7/10

The Maze Runner – I remember quite liking this when it came out. It even made me buy the books after so I could read them (even though I prefer to read the book before seeing the movie). Wow, those books were disappointing!! Maybe that’s partly why I didn’t enjoy this film as much on the rewatch, as I know how terrible the sequels were and how strange the books were. Too bad, as this first movie is still a decent film in the YA dystopian genre. – 6.5/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ

Moon by James Herbert – Supernatural horror is my favorite genre to read. This book had been lying around the house for years so I finally read it since libraries have been closed for the past year. Also, I really liked Herbert’s freaky deaky book The Rats so decided I might as well try a second book of his. The Rats was more fun (but super gross). Moon is about a guy with a psychic connection to some psycho murderer & it’s exactly what you’d expect from this type of story. I’ve read loads of stories like this, so… I don’t have a lot to say. It passed the time & I’ll completely forget it years from now. Kind of like how all the Dean Koontz books I read all meld together in my mind & I honestly never know if I read one years ago or not but I still love to read his stuff… – 2.5/5

Iggie’s House by Judy Blume – As I said, libraries have been closed for a year so I’m grabbing whatever books are around the house. I stocked up on Judy Blume books from charity shops for my kid years ago as I grew up on Blume’s books. I’d actually not read this one as a kid and I’m obviously not the target audience now (the kid is too old for it now too – Damn, I don’t think she read all the Judy Blumes I got her!). It’s about racism & obviously seems dated now plus it’s overly simplistic. But it’s also clearly aimed at very young kids so I suppose it’s a good introduction to this sort of topic for them. The kids in it are good characters & they don’t fully understand the adults & their behaviour. It’s written from the point of view of an 11-year-old girl & I think Blume does well to get inside the head of a kid this age. Like I said above, many adults don’t seem to know how to write kids but Blume does, which is why kids liked her books at the time (don’t think they’re as popular now, unfortunately, due to many probably seeming dated). – 3/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

The Muppet Show – Watched four or five of these when they showed up on Disney Plus. Loved how excited everyone was on Twitter! Everyone seemed to be watching them at the same time. This show is a classic & it’s amazing how much I giggled while watching these again despite being an adult (well, not sure I’m an adult but I’m old). I absolutely adore the genuinely funny family comedy in this show. It’s brilliant. The two best we’ve rewatched so far are the Rita Moreno & Mark Hamill episodes (obviously seen the Hamill one many times, though). Wish we had access to ALL of them but think certain episodes, such as the Johnny Cash one, have been pulled? Well, at least that 12 second message they’ve slapped onto the start of each episode of this amazing show gives you time to go grab a snack. Guess we just have to be thankful that they let us watch some stuff from the past still? It won’t last. Grab this stuff on DVD before they go fully Fahrenheit 451 on our asses.

WandaVision: Season 1 Episodes 5-8 – Really been enjoying this even though I’m not a huge Marvel fan (seen all the MCU films, though). I do like how original this show feels as I was getting bored with all the superhero stories, which all end up being exactly the same in all the films. Although, the same thing is obviously happening on this show now as more is being revealed & they’re no longer on the “classic TV sitcom” thing, which was fun. Also, I’ve never seen an episode of Modern Family – it was more fun when I understood the references. The penultimate episode was a bit of a letdown but it needed to lead into the finale at the end of this week, so it did well in getting us all excited for the final episode. Really looking forward to it & will be sure to avoid Twitter on Friday until I’ve seen it.

21 Jump Street: Season 1 Episodes 1 (double Episode) & 2 – This is on Amazon Prime U.K., FYI. Being Gen X, I loved this show at the time & was of course in love with Johnny Depp. Forced my kid to watch the first few episodes. She likes it so far. Yay! I was surprised as it’s admittedly a bit dated. There was also a guest star in the first one whose acting was truly abysmal & we both had a good laugh over that. Hoping to watch some more, as I know it got better & also a bit more serious later on.

Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 1-11 – This is on Disney Star. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone! Am pretty sure we’re the only family watching it as clearly no one has complained about it yet to force a 12 second warning message onto it. I’d seen some of these at the time (off & on – I had a young baby). I’d kind of forgotten about it & how funny it was. We’re loving watching these (especially the kid as it’s borderline inappropriate). What can I say? I love sitcoms about dysfunctional American families. They’re the only types of sitcoms I’ve ever really gone for. I hate “perfect” families. Give me the f*#ked up ones! Can see why I like this, as it’s created by the same guy (Greg Garcia) who did My Name Is Earl. Loved that too.

The Crown: Season 3 Episode 3 – Still seriously not feeling the new cast in The Crown, which is probably why we’ve slowed way down on watching these. Man, Claire Foy & Co were so much better!! Episode 3 of Season 3 (Aberfan) was really good. A very tragic story I knew of but didn’t know much about. Heartbreaking. Will try to watch more as want to get to the Diana years but am not loving the show currently.

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

I’m going to try to get back onto watching films for my 2013 IMDb Top 250 Challenge as I only have 34 of those 250 left to watch. I’ll post about that sometime soon & rank the 65 that I’ve watched for the project so far.

I’m also going to start a Best Picture Oscar Project & try to watch all the Best Picture Oscar Winners. Will post about that closer to Oscar-time. I just realised after watching It Happened One Night in January that I’ve seen a lot of the winners anyway (there are only 31 I have yet to see).

I’d also planned to stick a list of my favorite old movies recently added to Disney Star U.K. at the end of this post but it’s ended up long enough already so I won’t bore you with my weird taste in movies. I’ll just say that I’m super excited that Ladyhawke & Can’t Buy Me love are on there, so that gives you an idea of my Gen X tastes. Maybe I’ll bore you all with a separate post about it.

Let’s end with a classic clip from The Muppet Show

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019

Happy 2020! Here’s the first of my 2019 Top Ten Lists that I’ll be posting every day through Friday. I’ve hidden this one on Sunday since no one gives a shit about books on my movie blog. One of my resolutions this year is to read more books (and more quality ones) and to watch fewer movies (at home). Dune is the main thing I plan on reading in 2020.

I only read ten books in 2019 anyway. Here are My Top Ten Books Read In 2019 (from my least favorite to my favorite):

10. The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – 2/5

9. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – 2.5/5

8. The Woman In The Window by A.J. Finn – 3/5

7. Shattered by Dean Koontz – 3/5

6. Elevation by Stephen King – 3/5

5. Gwendy’s Button Box by Stephen King & Richard Chizmar – 3/5

4. The Rats by James Herbert – 3/5

3. The Institute by Stephen King – 3.5/5

2. Full Throttle by Joe Hill – 3.5/5

1. ‘-All You Zombies-‘ by Robert A. Heinlein – 4/5

Should a short story be number one? Fuck it – It’s my blog so I do what I want. FYI – my number one is the story that the fantastic movie Predestination is based on. I recommend the film to sci-fi fans.

These are the Top Ten lists I’ll be posting this week:

My Top Ten Books Read In 2019
My Top Anime Movies Watched In 2019
My IMDb Top 250 Movies Watched In 2019
My 2019 Blind Spot Movies: Ranked
My Top Ten Movies Watched At Home In 2019
My Top Ten 2019 Movie Releases
My Top Ten Movies Of The Decade (2010-2019)

Watched, Read, Reviewed: March 2019

Holy shit! It’s April! I think I’ll start my New Year’s Diet now. Happy April, everyone! Here’s what I watched & read in March…

MOVIES THIS MONTH

MOVIES REVIEWED (ranked best to worst):

Captain Marvel – 7.5/10
Us – 7.5/10
Fighting With My Family – 7.5/10
Border – 6.5/10

MOVIES WATCHED (ranked best to worst):

Ip Man – This was good. As it was one of my alternate 2019 Blind Spot choices, I’ll do a full review of it at some point. – 7.5/10


The 400 Blows (Les Quatre Cents Coups) – Again, I’ll try to do a full review of this sometime as it’s a film I watched for my IMDb Top 250 Project. A good film but it won’t be a favorite of mine, unlike a lot of the other Top 250 films I’ve watched since starting that project. – 7.5/10

Captain Marvel – 7.5/10

Us – 7.5/10

Fighting With My Family – 7.5/10


Straight Outta Compton – Been meaning to watch this for ages as I do always enjoy films based on musicians and seeing how they came together & made their music. I’m not going to pretend I was a big fan of N.W.A. This music is indeed from my sort of era but, when I occasionally listen to rap & hip hop instead of my usual rock & metal, I’m more of a Public Enemy or De La Soul girl. I also can’t pretend to know how accurate this movie is but thought it was a thoroughly engaging film (after a slow start) with very good performances. I did love that Ice Cube’s son played Ice Cube. Now I’m wondering if the offspring of famous people have played their parents often?! Okay – I’m going to Google that when I’m done with this post. By the way – Boyz N The Hood is a fantastic film if you never saw it (I should watch Ice Cube in Friday now too – I never did see that one). Okay, I’m getting off topic. As far as music biopics go, this is one of the better examples of how to do one right. It’s interesting seeing this not long after Bohemian Rhapsody. While I did enjoy that one (it was fun), it did come across as a bit phoney and I can understand the backlash even though I do think people are too picky on films that are meant to be crowd-pleasing (watch a Queen documentary if you want “real”). Straight Outta Compton came across as being much more genuine. It’s definitely worth a watch if you like music biopics, even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of N.W.A.’s music. – 7.5/10


Mississippi Burning – This is another 2019 Blind Spot choice so I’ll review it in full before the year is through. Good but certainly not the best Blind Spot film watched so far this year. In The Heat Of The Night was better… – 7/10


Leave No Trace – I was desperate to see this as it had a lot of hype from film fans. It’s very good but I can’t say it’s one I’d feel the need to watch again (I saw people saying they loved it so much they went to see it multiple times). This is from the same director who did Winter’s Bone and it definitely has the same mood & feel, although it’s far less gritty than that one. In the same way that Winter’s Bone had a brilliant performance from Jennifer Lawrence, which I believe was the role that got her noticed, Leave No Trace also features a great performance from a young actress named Thomasin McKenzie. Let’s see if she becomes as famous as Lawrence! If you liked Winter’s Bone and like a realistic drama with great performances, I’d definitely recommend this film. I’ll be honest and say that it’s just not a genre that I typically tend to go for. Here’s the synopsis from Wikipedia if you’re interested: “The plot follows a veteran father with PTSD (Ben Foster) who lives in the forest with his young daughter (Thomasin McKenzie).” – 7/10

Border – 6.5/10


Curtains – Meh. This probably deserves to be ranked below the next two films as it wasn’t very good but I’m just a sucker for cheesy 80’s slashers. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis for this mediocre horror film with a kick-ass poster: “A slasher film centered on theater and filmmaking, its plot focuses on a group of actresses targeted by a masked killer at a prestigious director’s remote mansion where they are auditioning for a role in a movie.” Here’s the awesome poster:

This stars Samantha Eggar (from David Cronenberg’s brilliant The Brood) as an actress so desperate for a role as a crazy woman in a new film that she has herself checked into a mental hospital for “research”. I’ll say that part of the reason I’ve wanted to see this for years was because of that doll in that cool poster. I love a creepy doll movie! Well, this isn’t a creepy doll movie, although the doll is used in an effective way in a couple of creepy scenes. This movie is fine. It’s a fairly predictable 80’s slasher but better than some of them. It’s worth a watch on Amazon Prime but only if it’s a genre you like. – 6/10


American Mary – This was pretty hardcore. I’d been meaning to watch this film for a while now to see if it would be a contender for My Top Ten Body Horror Movies list. I’m afraid to say I didn’t love the film but thought Katharine Isabelle did a good job in this crazy role. I thought the film started out pretty strong but it loses its way when Isabelle’s character goes so extreme. She starts out quite innocent (although practising surgery on turkey carcasses while wearing sexy lingerie was odd) but then she goes completely batshit crazy and it just didn’t feel realistic after she was set up as this poor, struggling student who loves her sweet grandmother. I have to say, though, that she seemed to have enough money for lingerie for someone so poor! Lingerie is expensive. If you’re poor, surely you should buy clothes that keep you warm?! But I guess she needed the lingerie for turkey surgery. Anyway! There’s a bit of a revenge plot going on in this film and I did enjoy that because I love some good vengeance. And this was some fucked-up vengeance! I just wish the final half of the film hadn’t fallen apart. We start out on Mary’s side but can’t relate to her anymore by the end (at least, I hope no one can relate to her at the end). Oh well. It’s certainly a memorable film! I give it credit for that. I far prefer a memorable film to something so bland that I won’t remember it in a year. – 6/10


The Love Witch – Like American Mary, this was on Film 4 the other week and I was really happy as I’d been intrigued by the look of this one since it first came out. Damn – this was a huge disappointment. While I did indeed love the look of it, I can’t say that I thought the film was good. Film critics will say something about this exploring gender roles or some shit but I thought the film was all style & no substance. However, I appreciate the effort it made on its 60’s aesthetic and the lead actress is definitely beautiful (and half naked quite often, which may be why the positive reviews I’ve seen have mostly been from dudes. Hmm). As a woman, I was hoping to like this a lot more as it’s from a female director and has a strong female role. It’s artsy and pleasing to the eye but the intentionally bad acting and the slow pace made it a chore to even finish it. Still, it has fans and I can see why it would as it’s a unique film. It just didn’t work for me personally, so don’t let my unenthusiastic review keep you from watching it if you like the look of it. – 5.5/10


Coach – Oh you 70’s & 80’s teenage sex comedies! I can’t resist watching these sometimes since I’m so damn old and grew up with these. When I noticed this on Amazon Prime, I had to watch it immediately because of my longtime crush on Michael Biehn (thanks mostly to Kyle Reese). No, this movie isn’t good but it was interesting seeing Biehn so young (the film came out in 1978). It’s one that wouldn’t be made now since, well, the sexy new 30-something basketball coach (Cathy Lee Crosby) has an affair with one of the teenagers on the team (Biehn, of course, since he’s the hot one). It’s actually better than some of the full-on sex comedies from its day – there’s more of a story and not as much stupid, silly shit. They even explore the sexism that was still so common in 1978. Some people do not want her as a coach despite the fact that she’s a goddamn gold medal Olympic athlete. She was hired based on her resume having a unisex first name. Whatever. Coach is still just a basic sexy teenage film from 1978. I’ve seen worse. – 5.5/10


Red Sparrow – Wow. This was… quite bad. Way too long and surprisingly boring, I also found it a chore to finish this one. I think it tries too hard to be serious. It also tries to be sexy, I guess, with Jennifer Lawrence’s nudity and being required to use sex as a weapon, but it just felt gross and weird. I do think Lawrence is a really good actress but we all know her real-life goofy personality so well that this role just didn’t suit her. At all. What’s weird is that this movie made me appreciate Atomic Blonde much more. While that film was also not exactly great, it had a lot more style and a kick-ass soundtrack and it didn’t take itself so damn seriously. I was actually annoyed that I wasted my time watching Red Sparrow. That doesn’t happen often as I can usually find at least one thing to appreciate about a movie. – 5/10

Re-Watches – Saw these years ago but re-watched recently with the kid:

My Girl – Oh man, I love My Girl so much. Always been a fan of this one and thought Anna Chlumsky was adorable and absolutely lovable in this role. And, of course, Macaulay Culkin in a role quite different from his cheeky character in Home Alone. It was also great having Dan Aykroyd & Jamie Lee Curtis in this as they’re so perfect together. It’s a fantastic family movie that explores a distressing topic in a realistic & sensitive way without ever being too soppy or saccharine. The characters feel real as do their relationships. My heart broke a little as my hubby & kid both said they preferred Bridge To Terabithia, which we also watched recently. Well, I’ll always be a bigger fan of My Girl but both are great coming of age films that treat their young audience respectfully and don’t dumb things down. Kids aren’t stupid – they want movies that don’t talk down to them. I wish there were more family films like these. – 8/10


Men In Black – Figured we better re-watch this before the new Men In Black: International with my beloved Chris Hemsworth. I don’t have a lot to say about this one as it was never an absolute favorite of mine but I think it’s a lot of fun. It’s also very unique, which I always appreciate. There’s no other film with a similar story (that I can think of?!). Remember when Will Smith was a big action star making films like this?? I miss these sort of movies. We don’t seem to get enough fun blockbusters anymore. I need to re-watch Independence Day too… – 7/10

BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS THIS MONTH

BOOKS READ (ranked best to worst)

‘—All You Zombies—’  by Robert A. Heinlein – I finally read this short story because I loved the movie adaptation (Predestination – my review is HERE). This story truly is short! It was about ten pages. I have to say they actually did a brilliant job adapting this into a full length movie. As the story involves someone “telling” a story, it works in the movie as they show what’s being told in flashbacks. Nothing extra is actually added (well, there was a small subplot but I think that was kind of hinted at in Heinlein’s writing). I love the movie even more now – it’s one of the most faithful film adaptations I’ve seen. I highly recommend the film first, though, which is not normally the way I do things. But the film fleshes out the characters a lot more and uses a more serious tone that works better than the almost dark humor of the original story. But certainly read this afterwards if you appreciate the film. – 4/5

The Rats by James Herbert This was fun! I reserved this at the library after seeing a picture of the cover online and loving the cheesy look of it (not the cover above, although that has a great pulpy look too). This is the first James Herbert book I’ve read and I’m not sure why as this genre is my type of thing. It reminded me a bit of Dean Koontz but it’s certainly more violent than his stuff (and with more sex – it made me realize that Koontz doesn’t get very graphic with the sex stuff. Damn.). I enjoyed this one and I’ll definitely read the rest in the trilogy, although I won’t rush to read them immediately. Oh, if you don’t know the story: this is about large rats taking over London and killing people. Pretty straightforward horror stuff but would make for a good cheesy horror film if they did it right. I see it was made into a movie called Deadly Eyes in 1982 but it sounds dreadful. I love this bit of trivia from IMDb: “Dachshunds were dressed up as rats for the special effects.” Ha! Sounds atrocious! – 3/5

The Knife Of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – Umm. This is yet another dystopian YA book series and I’m starting to think I need to stop reading so much of this genre. What can I say? I love the dystopian shit! Maybe I should explore the “old adult” dystopian novels. OA! Any recommendations? Because I found this book really boring and don’t plan to continue reading the rest of the series. I read this because it’s been adapted into a film, Chaos Walking, which was meant to come out last month but has now been pushed back to 2020. Bad sign! I can’t see how they could easily make this into a good film. Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets. Then Todd Hewitt unexpectedly stumbles on a spot of complete silence. Which is impossible. And now he’s going to have to run… “. This book was unnecessarily long and, spoiler… There’s a baddie who never f*^king dies. He keeps coming back again & again like Freddy Freaking Krueger or something. And then, after soooooo many pages of our main character being chased, we don’t get a proper ending. Okay – I knew this was the first book in a series but plenty of first books don’t leave you hanging quite so much. The characters also lack decent development. Considering the length of this, I wanted to care about them more by the end. I don’t know. It’s still a good idea for a story but I’ve read far better YA novels. I’m starting to appreciate Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy more & more. I think it’s time to introduce those to my kid. I could do with re-reading those. That’s great YA writing… – 2/5

TV SHOWS WATCHED

Well, I’m still watching Grey’s Anatomy & The Walking Dead even though they annoy the shit out of me. Bring on the final series of Game Of Thrones!!!! I can’t freaking wait!

BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH

As always, my plan is to watch a few movies. Hopefully good movies! I’m in desperate need of seeing a really good movie. 2019 has been disappointing so far. Also need to read a good book. Any recommendations??

Upcoming Movies I Want To See:

Pet Sematary – Saw this already. I’m a huge Stephen King fan and love the first adaptation of this, which came out when I was a teenager. I’ll review this in full soon. It mostly feels pointless to have done another film but it does improve on the first adaptation in a few areas.

Shazam! – Saw this as well. Am honestly scared to review it after seeing people on Twitter get death threats for giving this a negative review. Insane. Well, I’ll still review it in full at some point. And I’ll prepare for any backlash since, um, I liked but definitely didn’t love this. It has some good laughs & very likable characters but is also quite a flawed film overall.

The Sisters Brothers – Read this book and did a (super short!) review HERE. It was a fun book although it wasn’t my sort of thing so I’ll wait for Netflix to watch this film adaptation.

Missing Link – Might try to go to this since it’s a Laika film and they’re often good (although they can be a bit hit or miss).

Happy As Lazzaro – Looks like a quirky Italian film. Will wait for Netflix, though.

Wonder Park – Hmm. This actually has fairly bad reviews so far so I’ll skip it. Love that my kid is at the age where she only wants to go to animated films with good reviews. I do try to not let her be too snobby of a film fan, though! I still let her watch some shitty films. Like High School Musical

Hellboy – Is it just me or do the trailers make this look BAD?! I certainly won’t go to it but will watch at home if it ends up being good.

Mid90s – Want to see this but have a feeling it might be too indie to get a full cinema release.

Little – This looks dumb as shit but for some strange reason I kind of want to see it. But I sure as hell won’t spend money on seeing it in the cinema.

Wild Rose – Again, I’d wait for Netflix on this one. I HATE country music but do love stories that revolve around people in the music industry (such as The Rose and A Star Is Born) so I’ll definitely watch it sometime.

Greta – This is so the type of movie that I enjoy watching and that the hubby will happily let me watch without him since it looks a bit shit. This looks like those cheesy 80’s & 90’s guilty pleasure thrillers such as Single White Female. I especially want to see this as Isabelle Huppert is in it and I think I developed a weird sort of girl crush on her after seeing Elle. She’s 66-years-old and sexy as hell. Sounds like she might be some sort of psycho in this? Ohh. Fun!

Dragged Across Concrete – Does look good but, again, I’ll wait to watch it at home. Prefer to watch violent films where I can hide my face behind a pillow.

Avengers: Endgame – HELL YEAH! I’m not even a huge superhero fan but am massively excited about this one. My tickets are already booked.

Eighth Grade – Finally!!! This movie is finally being released in the UK. Been wanting to see it for months.

I always end with some good music that was in something that I watched. This time I have to go with I Got 5 On It feat. Michael Marshall (Tethered Mix) by Luniz from the fantastic Us soundtrack.