Archive for October, 2020


Review by C.J. Bunce

Your first glance at the title of TCM’s latest overview of a key genre of Hollywood’s greatest films may give you pause: Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and BeyondOnly 31 movies?  Quickly you’ll figure out that the 31 highlighted movies in horror historian David J. Skal’s list are only the framework for a larger, chronological examination of the horror genre, with a lean in to Hollywood’s horror classics, the kind you’re most likely to find on the Turner Classic Movies TCM channel.  In this list of recommendations, readers are sure to pull their hair out, since it’s very likely nobody’s personal list will match the author’s–or anyone else’s.  Yet that’s why we turn to these books, and as you’d expect, Fright Favorites doesn’t disappoint: You’re practically guaranteed to add an obscure–or not-so-obscure–horror film to your future watch list.

Continue reading

Adam Brody has been a high point of two recent fun genre flicks.  In Shazam! he was the grown-up superhero version of sidekick Freddie.  And in Ready or Not he was the brother-in-law that gave Samara Weaving’s bride a chance at survival in a crazy mansion of killers.  In his next movie, the former Gilmore Girls and The O.C. actor plays Abe Applebaum, once a kid detective in the style of Encyclopedia Brown, he’s now a 32-year-old has been, not cutting it as an adult detective.  But despite the title, The Kid Detective, arriving in theaters this weekend, is not a kids’ movie.  Some theaters on the East Coast are offering $50 full-theater rentals and AMC has a $99 deal, or you can always wait for the home release likely coming soon.

Continue reading

Forget about that 2003 remake starring Lindsay Lohan.  Freaky Friday is one of those Walt Disney studio classics before the company issued special re-release limited VHS tapes and merchandised every film to its hilt to become a corporate behemoth.  The 1976 movie (written by Mary Rodgers, based on her novel) starred Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris as mom and daughter swapping bodies and needing to live life literally in the skin of the other.  It was the kind of film your parents would take you to and you’d have a great time (I did).  Flash forward a few generations and we now have an homage that might as well be a remake of Freaky Friday, only this time it stars wacky comedic actor Vince Vaughn as a creepy 50-year-old serial killer, swapped with a high schooler played by young actress Kathryn Newton (Supernatural, Paranormal Activity 4).  It’s called simply Freaky, and it’s from Blumhouse and directed by 1970s icon Michael Landon’s son Christopher Landon, well established now as a slasher movie and slasher comedy movie director.  Unfortunately the release will miss Halloween, but it looks like one to keep on the radar for its inevitable home release.  Check out the trailer below.

Continue reading

Currently housed in a Tudor-style mansion in Manhattan, The Explorers Club is a real place with a legacy of adventurers among its ranks.  Parodied in The Freshman, the club is a meeting place established in 1904 for the purposes of promoting scientific exploration around the planet, and it does host an annual dinner with unusual flair.  A table can cost you $100,000 and features food including tarantula and other exotic animals that would be a nightmare for animal rights advocates, not to mention the taxidermy displays (Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was filmed there).  Honorary members include the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, John Glenn, Sir Edmund Hillary, Buzz Aldrin, and the club has bestowed its highest award to notables including Mary Leakey, Jane Goodall, Robert Ballard, and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Not quite a secret society, the members have circumnavigated the world, flown, sailed, driven, and walked across each continent in search of the next discovery, returning back to the club to share the stories of their accomplishments.  In one of his last projects before his death in 2003, journalist and noted personality George Plimpton (himself a member) collected 51 first-hand accounts of these journeys from the club’s ranks and published them as As Told at the Explorers Club: More Than Fifty Gripping Tales of Adventure, available now in a new edition from Lyons Press.

Continue reading

If you’re discussing the most compelling and amazing action movie franchise actresses, you’re going to begin with Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton.  But quickly you must count Milla Jovovich, whose track record at the box office is hard to match, thanks to her role as Alice in the Resident Evil series.  But she’s also revealed her badass prowess in classics like The Fifth Element and Ultraviolet, and she keeps adding to her amped up, tough-as-nails characters.  This year that means taking on the role of Lieutenant Artemis in Monster Hunter, an adaptation of the online fantasy-action game.  In one word, that overly-used phrase is apt here: Epic.  The first trailer for the film (below) is very Starship Troopers meets Jurassic Park.

Continue reading

Founded in 1939 by Martin Goodman as Timely Comics, then re-branding as Atlas Comics, becoming a household name in 1961 thanks to the inspiration of creators Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, hitting its low in bankruptcy, but rising like the Phoenix to become a movie franchise and Disney property in the 21st century, Marvel Comics has seen eight decades of change.  A new hardcover book aims to chronicle all that.  Marvel: The First 80 Years–The True Story of a Pop-Culture Phenomenon is coming your way next month.

Continue reading

If Neil Gaiman’s prose adaptations of historical works haven’t held your interest, perhaps this new visual adaptation of his novelistic collection of stories in Norse Mythology may be a better entry point.  Adapted by writer-artist P. Craig Russell (whose adaptation of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung should be required reading for all graphic novel enthusiasts), this new series is sure to get those with Viking heritage their needed fix for all things Nordic.  Thanks to key visual contributions from Russell and artists Mike Mignola, Jill Thompson, David Mack, and Jerry Ordway, and color work by Dave Stewart and Lovern Kindzierski, get ready to get immersed in some ethereal, surreal, classical surroundings with the stories of Thor, Loki, Odin, and more.

Continue reading

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Originally released as Audible original audiobooks, Sharon Shinn’s Uncommon Echoes series is now available in trade paperback editions.  With trademark Shinn romance and wholly original magic, Uncommon Echoes will be a must-read (or must-listen) for Shinn fans. The three novels stand alone and feature new characters, but contain somewhat intertwined stories and familiar faces from the other tales.  Roughly chronological, they could be read in any order, although the first two books spend more time grounding the reader in the world and its unique (or not…) magical attributes.  Highborn nobles in the Kingdom of the Seven Jewels are graced with “echoes,” exact physical copies—like supernatural clones—who shadow them and copy their every move. Believed to have been bestowed by the goddess as decoys to protect the nobles, the echoes are connected to their “originals” by a powerful psychic bond and treasured as status symbols: the more echoes you have, the more elite you are.  But the echoes themselves are merely soulless copies, with no sentience of their own.

…Until they aren’t.  Uncommon Echoes explores the lives and loves of three women and their echoes who break the mold, against the background of a kingdom on the brink of civil war.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

A DeLorean time machine Transformer?  It’s like some kind of concept 35 years stuck out of time.  And yet, the future is now–again.  Back to the Future is back in the present, this time with Marty McFly stepping into another future, a future taken over by Transformers’ Decepticons.  It’s a great mash-up idea and it actually works, as envisioned by IDW in its new mini-series, Transformers/Back to the Future Issue #1 is now in comic book stores, and today we have a preview for borg readers.

Continue reading

Review by C.J. Bunce

BritBox may not be the #1 streaming service around, but thanks to the pandemic its subscriptions have reportedly doubled this year.  And you’d think that would give a series like Wild Bill the possibility of a second chance.  Wild Bill was a 2019 British series in the great tradition of police procedurals featuring coppers with attitude starring the unlikely lead in a British series, Rob Lowe.  It’s probably Rob Lowe’s best personal performance to date, and certainly his most mature role, yet the series was canceled by production company ITV after the first season.  And that was a scrawny British season of six episodes, not 10 or 13 like we’d find on this side of the pond, which makes it doubly unfortunate to lose a series with so much promise.  Since American viewership has brought a new life to all things British TV, you’d think that might mean something, but apparently British television studios don’t like making money over here.

Continue reading