Tag Archives: Review

Hell Hound (1977) Review

Written by: Aaron B.

I first heard of this book while watching reviews of obscure horror movies (thanks to spookyastronauts), someone made a review of a movie called “Baxter”. About a dog who basically has no remorse or guilt for the bad things he does. I knew I had to read this, animal books and horror books are two of my favorite genres.

The opening of the book details Baxter’s disdain for his owner, an old lady who he eventually pushes down the stairs. He enjoys watching her die, so kicks off the story. The chapters are partly written in an omnipresent fashion, while the other chapters (and my personal favorite ones) were written from the POV of Baxter himself. I sort of wish the entire book had been written in this way, but I also understand that character development happened in the other chapters.

They’re a few startling events in the book, but don’t go into this thinking it’s a bloodbath. This isn’t a slasher, it’s a dark and psychological story about what it means to be a sociopath and have violent tendencies. The story is about the build up to violent acts and the anticipation rather then the actual ‘kill.’ The book is intense because of the lack of emotion not only from the dog, but from one of his owners, a boy who’s obsessed with Hitler and Nazis.

To me, that boy was the most interesting character aside from the dog, every time he was in a scene I was tense, he had quite violent thoughts and very morbid motivations, his parents were at a loss of what to do with him almost the entire time.

There are some sections towards the end which get into animal abuse, which is something I expected from a story like this, but just be warned. I personally can handle it in a story, but it was tough to get threw one section in particular involving puppies.

Overall though, this is now one of my favorite ‘horror’ books, this is one I’ll recommend to other horror fans for sure. This is a rare time where I’d say I could’ve written this story, but I’m glad a very talented author did so already. We need more horror / animal books out there, and this is a great addition to that genre.

“The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break” – Book Review

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Written by: Aaron B.

Usually, books about someone living their daily life is something I’d stay away from, as I’m more into action and fantasy. But, I love stories about humanoid animals and I basically bought the book after reading the plot.

The book tells the story of ‘M’  he works at a restaurant, does car maintenance on the side and is just trying to live his life in some Southern town, it is also about the many interactions he has and a love life that may never come. While the book may be about a creature of legend living in our modern world, is one of the most human books I’ve ever read. Full of realism, the daily struggle of a guy trying to fit in and love-it’s a book I’ll remember for a long time.

The author, Steven Sherrill does an amazing job describing the daily struggles of being a half-man, half-bull. The little things like how hard it is for him to bathe, or how hard it is to fit through narrow doorways. I expected a lot of that, but what I got was something much deeper. It also is a book of M’s inner thoughts. He can barely speak, maybe one word along with a lot of guttural sounds. But his conscious is often much kinder and open-minded than the humans who inhabit the town, the book’s overarching theme to me is acceptance. A minotaur isn’t accepted by everyone, he does have his circle of friends, but even they don’t help his inner loneliness. That is where the book shined.

As someone who has autism and special needs, that message of feeling ‘different’ and ‘less than’ rang so true to me, especially when I was in school where I felt I had to compare myself to everyone else. Even during my routines, I feel like an outcast, so reading about his life and how hard it is to fit in and to connect with people, really was what made my heart go out to him. He’s one of those characters I wanted to reach out and hug multiple times.

As the story went on, I didn’t know what would happen with M. He finds some girls attractive, he has some mental breakdowns and gains some enemies and some life insight, and the way everything is resolved was satisfying. A bit sad, but realistic and not sappy or over the top.

If you’re someone who likes a unique story with some mature themes and can handle reading something that read more like a spiritual journey rather than an action packed plot with tons of violence and typical character arcs, I highly recommend this. I’m going to order a hard copy so I can have it in my collection (I got the Kindle version.) I only get hardcover books of works that really speak to me (Watership Down, Call of The Wild, War Horse, Black Beauty to name a few I have.) Those are some of the books that I want to re-visit, and this should be in the collection.

I feel it’s a disservice to just have a digital copy, as it’s a book I’d like to lend to friends who might be curious. Plus, I might want to re-read it the next time I feel low self-esteem or stupid about my disabilities, may M can cheer me up? The way M was written, made me feel like doing away with technology and just living a simpler life. Which is a good thing in my eyes.

I will read the sequel at some point, but I want to marinate in this story a bit. Think about it before I’m ready for another journey like that. Maybe read something lighter to kinda give myself a rest, because this was a heavy read. I mean that in the best possible way, the book was 100 times better then I thought. I thought I was in for a fun little story with lots of humor, but I’d compare this book to something of a truly deep drama (maybe something like “Lean on Pete” or the movie “Boyhood”.) It’s a book that made me think of outcasts and a story that reflects my own worldview as far as how to treat others who don’t look like we do. I think everyone could learn something in that moral, especially in this day and age of hatred and prejudice towards anything and everything. Sometimes I need to read books like this, to remind myself thoughtful stories are out there-you just have to look.

 

How to fix “Slender Man”…

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Written by: Aaron B.

I just got back from seeing “Slender Man”, and it was awful. Maybe no surprise there, but it truly was terrible. Instead of bashing it, here is how I would have made the movie. Give me a bit of a budget and here is what I would have done.

In fact, I made a Slender Man movie, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7l-Uw39idQ&t=9s

1. No summoning of Slendy. Why summon him? Why watch some stupid video wanting to summon him? I would have started off with the missing girl and gone from there. Slowly introduce the supernatural elements. Maybe have Slendy pop in a corner here and there, but keep him hidden until maybe the 35 min mark. Don’t even MENTION his name until that mark either. Make it a mysterious missing persons case.

2. No / fewer Jumpscares. Why do we need a huge BANG everytime the shadowy figure emerges? Silence is much scarier than noise. They’re so many instances where a character is walking and Slendy appears in a corner and all the music does is a loud thud noise. It’s stupid. I didn’t jump once. Have Slendy appear in a corner with only natural sounds. See if the audiences notice him on there own. Have ONE really good jumpscare instead of 100 stupid ones, OR none at all.

3. WAY Too Much CGI. Come on? CGI for a tall call in a suit? You only need to use CGI for things that you can’t do in real life. Why can’t you find an actor who’s maybe 6-7 feet tall, lanky, put him a black suit and apply some faceless make-up? That would have been effective, maybe put some cool lighting on him too. Have him walk slowly or maybe slightly off? The Marble Hornets movie did a great job with this (and everything else.)

4. Better Script. One of the major downfalls was the story. Slendy has so much lure and mystery, why couldn’t something more unique be done? With a monster that abducts kids, maybe have it from the parent’s point of view? Show his / her grief. Show how devastated they are. If you must use teens, maybe have one search for her / his missing sibling? Build up the characters instead of throwing us a bunch of cliches.

Check out DeviantArt for Slendy art and ideas. Fans have come up with great ideas and concepts, Slendy should not be a cookie cutter horror movie. It should be so much more. With all the fan theories and all the mystery, I do think Slender Man could have had a really nice story-maybe even excellent. Slender has been around for 10 years, and the script was most likely written by someone who didn’t even KNOW who Slendy was. I would have given ideas to REAL fans. Give them a chance to shine.

5. Better Direction and Editing. There’s a movie I loved, called “The Strangers.” Came out in 2008. The direction was fantastic. Just little things he did with the camera were awesome. The lack of music, using your surroundings as a character, build up to things, make us feel suspense. This is Slender Man, not Jason Voorhees. The point of Slendy is a psychological terror. I’d even say “The Conjuring” would have been good inspiration as well with its incredible sound design. If I could, I would have hired maybe the guy who directed “The Descent”, Neil Marshall, or my dad suggested Ryan Murphy, who does “American Horror Story.” For writing? I’d say Victor Surge, let him write his character and his vision. If not him, maybe James Wan? Or, an unknown? Have Blumhouse pictures release it or A24.

Final Thoughts. This is so sad. Slendy has SO much potential. So many cool pictures and short films, and this is what we get? Again, it’s sad. It makes me want to make my own feature-length Slender Man movie and give fans what they deserve.

 

Call of The Wild-Book Review

It’s amazing that only a few days ago I finished reading “The Call of The Wild” by Jack London.
I had read an abridged version in middle school, but it was fun to go back and actually read the ‘full book.’
What can I say? It’s an amazingly written book with excellent characters and a plot that really to me, is about sort of becoming your own person and following your heart, whether people agree with you or not. Whether or not London indented that, I have no clue-but it is after all, a story about a dog who finds his true calling by going out to the woods and embracing nature and not letting man hold him back, and how he rises against those who want to hurt him.
It’s probably the best book in the ‘animal fiction’ genre in my opinion, VERY close to “Black Beauty.” However, the two novels have completely different messages, one is about discovering who you are and “Black Beauty” is about the true magic of kindness.
I found myself more invented in Buck’s story though, I feel like a lot more happened and he went through a more dramatic change, plus I loved how Jack London kept the descriptions of the wilderness fresh and new, I didn’t feel like I wad re-reading the same prose. Great book might be my favorite, or neck and neck with “Watership Down”. I don’t know, it’s hard because even though I don’t read that much-all the books I pick I seem to love.

It’s sad that students are ‘forced’ to read the book, because forcing a book on someone can defeat the enjoyment. Sure, teens / kids should give the book a chance, at least read the first two chapters and see what they think, I think more could enjoy not only “Call of The Wild” more-but get more of an appreciation for literature in general and really get to think about the meaning of stories and why they’re so good, and relate the plots to there own lives maybe?