“A Dark and Winding Road” by Matthew Weber

Posted in News with tags , , , , on August 2, 2015 by Donald "D.J." Pitsiladis

Hello fellow Addicts.  D.J. Pitsiladis here with another dark and sinister review to offer you.

23356124A Dark and Winding Road” is a collection of dark short stories that range from park animal vengeance to a government program to take care of people deemed too much of a burden or danger to their families and society, and finally a teenager so bullied he calls upon a demon for revenge.  No two stories share the same scare factor, so be prepared for some horror filled variety.

I really enjoyed this book.  It got my blood pumping in all the right spots and made me wish at points that I didn’t need to put it down for such essentials as work and sleep.  In some ways, it reminded me of Stephen King’s earlier anthologies in how fun the stories felt.  I very much recommend this book for anyone looking for a fun break away from the norm.

Until next time….

Donald “D.J.” Pitsiladis

Ink

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on August 1, 2015 by David Watson

cover_ink_454Brian is the creator of a series of popular graphic novels starring a character named the highwayman. The Highwayman is a supernatural being who comes to earth when a person is unjustly killed and his motive is to help the victim get the revenge they desire. Success for Brian came with a price, after being continuously stalked by an obsessive fan, he became a prisoner in his own home.

This all changes though when he is talked into going to a convention and meets a female illustrator named A.J. Hart. A.J. has demons of her own but the two hit it off and decide to collaborate on a project. One day a mysterious bottle of ink arrives on Brian’s doorstep, they use the ink and it starts to bring their creations to life. They now have to stop the creatures they created from destroying everything in their path and bringing on the apocalypse.

First thing I thought when I read the description for Ink by Glenn Benest and Dale Pitman was that it was a great idea for a book.  There is a lot going on in this story, we have a love story between the two artists, we have the highwayman’s story from the graphic novel and an apocalypse story in the real world. There is almost too much going on here, Ink is a mixed bag, the characters are all interesting. This includes Brian’s dog who has a big part in the story, I can’t say I’ve read to many books that focused on the dog’s viewpoint, but this one does.

While I loved the characters the story was slow-moving and the sub plot of the Highwayman didn’t really interest me even though I did like the character. I got the impression while reading the Highwayman’s story that the author just threw it in because it was important to show what kind of book that Brian and A.J was writing. Every time we cut away to the Highwayman I found myself being bored and just wanting to get back to Brian and A.J.’s story. That being said I did enjoy hearing the reasons why Brian created the Highwayman.

The best part of this book is the love story between A.J. and Brian and this is coming from a person who doesn’t like love stories. When you hear what they’ve gone through in their lives you can’t help but root for them and you get to see how the two of them working together makes them better people. There are some great horrifying moments in this book such as when Brian’s obsessed fan sneaks up on him in a dark theater and again in a parking garage. Then what really tops it off so well was when the fan says why she is doing what she is doing.

This book has its share of scary moment but best of all it works as psychological horror by getting into how A.J. and Brian are effected by their stalkers.  One good scene that was in this book that really showed how Brian was affected by his obsessed fan was when we see him making an elaborate meal for two and then find out that no one is joining him and he is eating alone. Another part of this book I loved was when Brian was reading letters from his fans and you see how caring for his fans affects his life. While I have to say I had my issues with Ink, it was pretty good and I look forward to more from these two writers.

Kbatz: Penny Dreadful Season 1

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2015 by kbattz

 

Penny Dreadful Debuts with Scary Sophistication

by Kristin Battestella

 

penny_dreadful_by_pzns-d7iyerpThe 2014 Showtime series Penny Dreadful has some hiccups in blending the stylish past and its literary based madcap of monsters and macabre. Fortunately, shrewd writing and a gothic, sophisticated approach keeps this eight episode debut a cut above the rest.

The alluring but mysterious Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) recruits Wild West show shooter Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) for a dangerous mission headed by explorer Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton). No longer climbing mountains with his manservant Sembene (Danny Sapani), Sir Malcolm is searching for his daughter Mina (Olivia Llewellyn), who has been abducted by a vampire master while brutal, butchering violence shocks the post-Ripper London. Young Doctor Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) aides Sir Malcolm while Vanessa has several risky dalliances with the enticing Dorian Gray (Reeve Carney). Victor’s monster Caliban (Rory Kinnear), however, pressures the doctor to do his wishes, and Dorian has encounters of his own with Ethan’s immigrant girlfriend, the ill prostitute Brona Croft (Billie Piper). Will the supernatural secrets of this unusual group unite them or tear the team apart as they go head to head with vampires, demons, and monsters in hopes of saving Mina?

 

penny-dreadful-eva-green-ep-1Not having all the trademarks to Dracula gave Penny Dreadful creator and Oscar nominated writer John Logan and fellow Skyfall and Spectre James Bond producer Sam Mendes an excellent dramatic license to combine the gothic tropes we know and love along with uniquely macabre off shoots. The expected upscale period splendor is here yet the cinematic film quality and realistic visual schemes add a dark and dirty as each episode narrows the character focus and clues the viewer in on these bizarre circumstances. It’s downright fun to guess who is actually who, as not all of our similar but different literary inspirations are immediately named or their secrets revealed. My husband doesn’t know what’s up with Dorian Gray and I’m not going to tell him! The audience takes the paranormal leap along with the psychic connections and horrific elements thanks to the character concentration, great dialogue, and a writing first approach instead of the more recent lame brained gore over substance horror. The well written, likable players make literary allusions themselves and the sophisticated conversations don’t insult the viewer – though that’s not to say their isn’t some shocking, then colorful language or scandalous words flavoring the ghastly polish. Racist, of the time terms are also unfortunately necessary, but honest conversations about American Indian history and past injustices make up for the occasional harsh term along with parallel circumstances and bitter, supernatural lessons not learned. Wild West side show parodies and horrible killings set this miserable Victorian mood in Episode One “Night Work” while Latin prayers, an opium house, Nosferatu underlings, monsters, and abductions add to the titular creepy along with a macabre mix of the well dressed, violent fighting, mysterious Arabic, and Egyptian Book of the Dead hints. How did this disparate crew get into this dark underbelly? The good versus evil and seemingly untarnished layers aren’t as clear as we think. Do our players find themselves amid the spiritual realm between life and death or the new world of science – or are their transgressions across both?

rtw3udft198rnhszvvniSeance” introduces more Penny Dreadful players to the dockside desolate with prostitution, tuberculosis, and Dr. Frankenstein joining the fold. Everyone has a secret – Victor, his creations, and the so pretty yet so naughty Dorian Gray. Are the crimes about London related to these concealed truths and Sir Malcolm’s paranormal quest? The saucy is both demented and artistically done even if it is also slightly over the top, but the intriguing dialogue continues alongside the parlor fun and spiritualism winks. What can I say, it’s simply great to hear people use big words, and the titular sequence is superb. Vanessa’s unrevealed role to play goes wild, hooking the audience thanks to creepy voices, hidden history, and possession. Demonic language, sad revelations, and frightening powers – I’d leave that table! At only 48 minutes, Episode Three “Resurrection” is shorter than Penny Dreadful‘s usually true hour long airtime, but this segment focusing on Victor adds some flashback colorful before unpoetic death enters in and a bloody convulsing spurns Victor’s goals as his mother is snatched from him. Do our violent births, first rejections, and brushes with death irrevocably shape our outlook on life? The Caliban framing narration slows the pace, but transferring the monster’s plot to a theatre underground adds a Phantom of the Opera-esque gory onstage pulp. The zoo showdowns, wolfy scares, and captured informants, however, are more sinister, and details about finding Mina and the antagonism between our players are more interesting than Caliban’s complaints.

 

Penny-dreadful-episode-3-calibanPenny Dreadful could have been cheap and nasty in showing Dorian Gray’s depravity in “Demimonde,” but I’m glad it doesn’t go there despite his increasingly extreme desperation. His creepy mirrors, photography, and secret passages juxtaposed nicely against innocent questions, sad burials, and melancholy churches where one is not sure she is permitted entry. Bright outdoor scenes and delicate orchids belie dangerous nightshade and peril in beauty. Is there a method to nature’s madness or these supernatural apparitions? The show within a show audiences and theatre behind the scenes add more dimension, and players previously unknown interact as Vanessa’s revelations happen in Episode Five “Closer than Sisters.” Childhood beach side splendor, white lace and sunshine evoke the time before Penny Dreadful began, when evil temptations, sexual desires, and “little acts of wickedness” lead to much more. This past recounting is better than Caliban’s bitterness because this is the root cause for Vanessa and the show’s main quest – creepy taxidermy and tales of safari cannibals hint at macabre to come. Do we willfully choose this dark path over prayers unanswered as jealousy and hatred mount? pd7Are evil possessions at work on a corrupted soul or is physical illness the cause of a sickly body? The hospital cruelty and institutional torment are just as dehumanizing as the demonic possibilities. Who is at fault for such suffering and sin when the devil is your friend? Penny Dreadful puts all its gothic sin, salvation, and transgressions together here, and “What Death Can Join Together” moves the action forward as our team learns to forgive themselves. Plague ship battles are congested, intimate, and messy with rats, vampires, and monsters. Dreadful prices, divine gifts, escalating desires, and internal, self referential ironies are not lost on this merry outfit as evil of all shapes and sizes ups the ante.

Minimal but dangerous levitation and flying objects are smartly used in Episode Seven “Possession,” imagesand Penny Dreadful’s motley family huddles in support of the titular victim – not that they always keep it together as they face their inner demons, however. Insects and manifestations mount as hidden truths will out, and things get ugly as people lose control, fight loved ones, and try to reach the lost souls. Foul language, demonic speaking, and symbolic snow add to the great performances all around as the science versus spirit debate rages. Does demonic possession belong in the realm of the religious or will standard doctoring do? These divides unite our players, strengthening their trust in each other against evil without the usual smoke and mirror exorcism spectacles. Penny Dreadful remains personal with excellent agonizing screams, weary witnesses, and sickly pallors as faith, friendships, and romances are tested. In a lengthy 24 episode season, this episode would be a bottle show thanks to its contained nature. However, some lofty material goes down with Penny Dreadful’s five core players without them even leaving the house. Hot damn. “Grand Guignol” puts all the outside factors and interior influences together for the finale’s multilevel theatrical showdown. Stage ropes and trap doors add to the vampire peril as characters come to new truths and surprising bonds are made. Can redemption yet be found? Has everyone done their part in this play? Of course, there are subtle implications left for Season Two, possible future plots culminate, and Penny Dreadful certainly tells us that death isn’t quite so definitive.

 

penny-dreadfulI feel like I’m glowing with praise, but Penny Dreadful is not without its fair share of debut problems. While there are no excessive, panorama, look at the monster so cool camera works; cliche, bad ass walking transitions, dark meetings on street corners, and lengthy establishing shots meander when a cut to already being where we need to be would do. There aren’t that many flashy for flashy’s sake moments, but modern shock editing, zooms, and dark vampy battle scenes are iffy at times, and the closed captioning is also sometimes more amusing than atmospheric with its “screams reverb and flow into the night” or how every door simply must “creak” open. Quibbles, yes, but the story lines on Penny Dreadful themselves are unevenly paced and not equally interwoven – something that should be easy to do across only eight episodes. Unnecessary support takes up time from the relatively straight forward, supposedly primary vampire abduction quest, and the ongoing carnivorous murders about town are poorly handled, sprinkled throughout the season along with Egyptian themes. Both are trumped as being of critical importance then disappear before the previouslies introducing the episode or obvious flashbacks and foreshadowing shoehorn them in again. It’s superb to see bisexuality on Penny Dreadful, however, same sex material is bizarrely montaged over – and isn’t as equal opportunity nude or graphic as the other heterosexual kinky scenes, either. Evil and sexual acts or on the nose light and dark symbolism are also linked together, but perhaps these naughty ties are in commentary on hypocritical Victorian ways. Penny Dreadful is a great show upon the first watch, but picking through it with too many fine toothed comb viewings can crack its veneer.

Fortunately, Eva Green (Casino Royale) looks dynamite in period regalia as Vanessa Ives. Lace frocks, Penny-Dreadful-1-07-Vanessa-Ives-episode-stills-vanessa-ives-penny-dreadful-37563938-3600-2400wild up dos, and red lips add allure, but Green remains can’t look away stunning when stripped bare, down and dirty, or possessed and spouting wicked incantations. Vanessa shows strength in weakness yet shakes down the men around her, recognizing their similar complications even though the audience hasn’t figured out what’s behind her poise. Over the course of Penny Dreadful, Vanessa goes from a pious and humble beauty to hospital horrors, creepy crawlies, and back again as she struggles between religious beliefs and increasingly nasty evils. Miss Ives is at times the lady, a child, or evil with slightly scandalous hints to her latent naughty – no gloves at a posh Victorian party and such a saucy kinship to Dorian Gray. What is she to Sir Malcolm? What is the source behind her psychic and possessive powers? Green is simply great in “Seance” and “Closer than Sisters” – award worthy in fact. Vanessa is a strong woman facing death daily whilst hiding a hidden internal battle yet remains put together as best she can. Her convalescence is anything but when she must live with the violence and death she has caused. This is a wonderful original character anchoring Penny Dreadful, and Vanessa Ives fits right in with the familiar literary boys.

 

imagesThen again, when Timothy Dalton’s (The Living Daylight) Sir Malcolm Murray says don’t be amazed by what you see and don’t hesitate, we don’t! The classy waistcoat, top hats, and cane add prominence while the gray in his beard adds gruff to his elder gentleman appeal. This African adventurer has been aged by his shady experiences; he’s a pissed off dad and has the means to do something about getting his daughter back but he hasn’t been a perfect parent by any means. Sir Malcolm’s tug and pull with Vanessa is scene chewing excellence – they’ve both gained a bizarre new family with this dreadful team. Sir Malcolm navigates the Gentleman’s club bright and fancy as swiftly as he handles the down low and dirty. His power and wealth have a long reach, and Sir Malcolm is able to follow inside the police investigations whilst also keeping his own family secrets behind closed doors. Be it arrogance, negligence, or dark forces, he’s running out of people close to him to lose, and this increasingly high price is taking its toll. Fatherly love clouds Sir Malcolm’s judgment, he sees some of his son in the young Victor, and tries to be better man to this motley band than he was to his own family. However, he’s also uses or protects them as necessary in this quest to save his daughter. Sir Malcolm thinks he is above the darkness about him and believes he will do what has to be done. Unfortunately, he is sorely mistaken and must learn to face his regrets, familial mistakes, and grief.

He’s pretentious about his research and the possibility of a greater science, but Harry Treadaway images (1)(Honeymoon) has some wild disciplines and bloody medicine to contribute as Victor Frankenstein. He rebuffs the notion that he is just a man with a knife and isn’t afraid to call these shocking circumstances as he sees them despite his glassy stare and small stature compared to paternal steady hand Sir Malcolm or would be big brother Ethan Chandler. Treadaway delivers some wonderfully intelligent wit and ambitious dialogue – Victor wins his battles with a dance of words but also knows when to be silent or in awe of his creations. His work is a mix of genius and barbaric butchery, yet there is a poetic, touching, and human sensitivity amid Frankenstein’s snap, crackle, and pop laboratory. Victor remains gentle in his power of giving life and death – but he isn’t exactly able to control such corrupting opportunities or his so-called children. Indeed his maternal aspects are stunted and cut short, for Victor is so desperately interested in trying to cheat death that he’s missing out on life. The doctor lives through literature, he’s sickly and bloodshot, and unprepared when his creation becomes painfully superior. Naturally, “Dr. F.” looses whatever innocence he may have had along the way, leaving reluctance for complete compliance and monstrous orchestration.

 

images (2)Penny Dreadful unfortunately missteps again in the handling of Josh Harnett’s gun for hire Ethan Chandler. His secret is pretty apparent to start and obvious to the audience in “Resurrection” and “Demimonde” yet his plot is played as though it were some major surprise kicker for the finale. Instead of underestimating the audience, the focus should have been upfront so the viewers could be further inside his may or may not know pain. Thankfully, there’s a built in American reason for Chandler’s kinky, cowboy veneer, and without the need for the usual trite Yank going faux Brit, Hartnett becomes surprisingly impressive for the somber and serious moments. Granted, there is a part of you that can’t stop thinking of the woe that was Pearl Harbor or “It’s hottie of the 90s Josh Hartnett all grown up!” However, Ethan knows his weapons and fearlessly goes after the vampy monsters. He has a would be sibling rivalry with Victor yet provides a wise sounding board to Sir Malcolm when needed and holds fast to a tender sentiment with the ladies. Chandler is running from a lot more than an oppressive father back home, and the bluffing banter with Vanessa on his shadowed possibilities is more interesting than the inevitable love with Brona. Much of Ethan’s relationship with Brona feels unpolished or shoehorned in as set up for the tug and pull plots in Season Two – which would have been a real pity had there been no next year. Fortunately, Hartnett’s “and” billing is fitting, for Ethan adds a relatable American tell it like it is wit and dark humor matching Penny Dreadful‘s twisted cynicism.

PennyDreadfulUnderstandably, Reeve Carney (The Tempest) as Dorian Gray is played up to be depraved and assy, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. It’s tough to enjoy the extremes Dorian takes, and for the most part, it’s all too pretentious to care. His chemistry with Vanessa is also too smarmy and not on par with the other characters– Carney feels inferior to Green and she carries their scenes. Dorian is styled as a modern pretty boy – his bathroom is absurdly decadent, the one excessive, intruding set piece here – and he seems hammy and out of place. Dorian sorely miscalculates Vanessa, uses Ethan, and ultimately, his superfluous, slutty twists don’t do much for the main plot. Likewise, it’s obvious who Billie Piper (Doctor Who) will be in Season Two as the original but dead end Brona Croft. Her entire plot is not as sympathetic as it should be thanks to a pitiful accent and redundant support driving Ethan to places he was already headed. I like Piper, but she feels wrong for the part, and Brona’s inevitable should have been paired down to its late season essentials. Rory Kinnear (Othello) as the creature Caliban is also slightly over the top and obnoxious with a pissy entry that the audience won’t like. He can’t get over his sad start, and Caliban goes overboard in complaining about the perceived sins of his father when it’s his own crimes and monstrous actions making him just as villainous. With his smarts and superior attitude he should know better. Caliban learns of hatred and mercy but chooses the former – his own adolescent, emo behavior and violence mars the would be theatre kindness he receives. He isn’t fun to watch, and a late introduction taking up most of the third episode takes away from the other more interesting players we have already met.

 

Indeed, the alphabetical credits belie the importance of the aforementioned trio – they don’t appear in all the episodes and provide uneven aggravation or fodder for the main stars, again all in future storytelling hopes not needed in the tale at hand. I’d much rather have had the wasted David Warner (Titanic) as Van Helsing, an all too brief but charming hematologist with wise words and a steady, grandfatherly presence beyond the occult matters. Recurring guest stars such as Alex Price (Father Brown) as Proteus also do much more for Penny Dreadful. His nudity, subtext, and a childlike but sensuous, emotional exploration add a far better bittersweet sense of wonder to the Frankenstein plots. Does the new man composed of previous men belong to those past recollections or new human development? The answers are both touching and upsetting. Likewise, we’re immediately curious about Danny Sapani (Trance) and his mysterious manservant Sembene. He’s a soft spoken cool cat, a butler who is the keeper of far more secrets and skills than we realize – which comes in pretty handy to Sir Malcolm. Sembene claims he has no story to tell, but there’s certainly some excellent sophistication and compassion in how smoothly he can do what Sir Malcolm cannot when it comes to the new, if uneven, twists for Olivia Llewellyn (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles) as Mina Harker. I hope we have more intrigue from Sembene in Year Two, for the subtle seeds have been placed for him alongside the perfectly flamboyant Egyptologist Simon Russell Beale (The Hollow Crown) and the wild Madame Kali Helen McCrory (Peaky Blinders).

Speaking of items I’d love to see, can these Victorian fashions please come back in full force? Penny Dreadful has the period look as it should but the clothes also have an air of modern streamline – no fru fru frilly is getting in the way of the appropriately bloody bodies, gruesome human parts, or harbored ships with their shady below decks and monster works. Cringe worthy institutions show the old errors juxtaposed against photography, emerging technologies, and more rarities of the time, but the unpleasant, red eyed Nosferatu vamps keep Penny Dreadful old school ugly. The seemingly nondescript courtyard and townhouse hide a dramatic staircase, a dungeon below, the possessed upstairs, and a sweet parlor where all the heavy conversations happen. How did wallpaper then look so good when ours can be so tacky? Cartography, old time explorations, antiques, and fine woodwork add realism while seances, tarot cards, and luscious red interiors shape that 19th century mysticism. Gas lamps, candles, and fire add a period patina as London fog and lamplighters create a near black and white noir scheme; storms, winds, and rain add to the bleak when all is stripped bare. Sound effects or simple tricks of flashing darkness, moving in camera with a character, or cut away shocks do heaps more in building spooky than the more recent in your face horror designs. Small doses of other languages, fancy phrases, and of the time speakeths add to the panache while play within a play under the stage theatre spectacles layer the observations. The angry, frenetic violin theme music establishes the blue, macabre symbolism during the opening credits, and the viewer is more than ready to settle in with the snakes, spiders, bloody tea cups, and all that is afoot on Penny Dreadful.

 

Currently, Penny Dreadful can be seen via Showtime streaming options, Amazon, DVD and blu-ray releases, or in on air marathons as Season Two looms. Unfortunately, the on Demand and Xfinity interface can be quite cumbersome and nineties laden with sound issues and playback trouble. Episodes also expire or have varying dates, and it doesn’t make much sense to have Year One unavailable to subscribers when the Second series is imminent. These viewing technicalities, however, are but a quibble when considering how Penny Dreadful proves what can be done when a network gives a paranormal drama the care and attention the production needs to match its literary weight and saucy opportunity. I loved NBC’s Dracula, but the Big Three American network didn’t have the inclination or know how to support the series. Universal probably also misfired with its Dracula Untold, leaving its new monster mash up franchise off to a shaky start, but this, this, this is how Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows movie should have been done. Penny Dreadful is pulpy but witty, and any bemusements or camp don’t interfere with the frightful mood and macabre atmosphere. Their are First Year growing pains, but the series goes where it wants to go and shows all its saucy or gory without dumbing the style, players, or plot down to the bottom denominator. Instead of lowering the bar, Penny Dreadful raises the measure for gothic horror adaptations with lavish looks, intriguing characters, and sophisticated storytelling.

Kbatz: Teen Witch

Posted in News with tags , , , on July 30, 2015 by kbattz

 

I Just Love Teen Witch!

By Kristin Battestella

 

I can’t help myself- I think I have the 1989 family friendly spookfest Teen Witch memorized.  Though seriously dated and trapped in the eighties time warp, there’s still plenty of enchanting fun here for young and old.

Soon to be sixteen, frumpy teen Louise Miller (Robyn Lively) doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd at school.  Her parents (Caren Kaye and Dick Sargent) are clueless, little brother Richie (Joshua Miller) is an annoying slob, and her big crush Brad (Dan Gauthier) doesn’t know she exists.  After a bicycle accident, however, Louise encounters Madame Serena (Zelda Rubenstein) and learns her true calling as a reincarnated witch.  With Serena’s help, Louise realizes her new found powers and casts spells to be the most beautiful and popular girl in school-but will there be consequences to these magical ways?

 

As if we haven’t seen the fantastical teen powers metaphor before, Teen Witch is for girls what Teen Wolf is for boys.  We begin with a bad music video dream sequence and it only gets more eighties bad greatness from there!  Director Dorian Walker (Making the Grade) keeps the comedy relatively innocent by today’s standards and Robin Menken (Young Lust) and Vernon Zimmerman’s (The Unholy Rollers) story is a fun, if typical plot.  The relatable scenarios and likeable cast create multiple layers of charm and wit with the sassy script.  Innocence and eighties stylings may hamper our fast paced, technological and violent or profane sensibilities, but this simplicity and youth also make Teen Witch’s memorable scenes all the more fun.

Despite recognizing her in plenty of other shows, Robyn Lively (Savannah, Chicago Hope, Twin Peaks) will always be known as the girl from Teen Witch, I don’t care what you say.  Her fun charm and comedic delivery establishes the heart of the film perfectly. Dan Gauthier also always recalls ‘Hey, the guy from Teen Witch!’ every time I see his guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It’s not easy to be the popular guy without being a jerk. These characters are fun and likeable, and the romance is reasonable despite the supporting eighties saxophone.   Lively is naturally lovely, and Gauthier has just enough of that eighties handsome to keep everyone looking pretty; but Amanda Ingber (Cheers) as Louise’s unhip best friend Polly is also a lot of fun.  She keeps it real when all Louise’s spells get out of hand.  I could however, do without her ‘Top That’ rap.  Oiy!

 

Maybe we are just really silly, but my sister and I can quote Joshua Miller’s (The Mao Game, Near Dark) Richie in casual conversation.  His pudgy and youthful appearance mixed with a sardonic, acerbic delivery and love of messy foods creates the perfect evil little brother on whom to cast spells. Of course, we can’t help but love the late Zelda Rubinstein (Poltergeist, Sixteen Candles) and her adorable Madame Serena.  She uses the young witch for her own gains, but she’s just too dang cute for it to be an issue.  Casting spells to make twenties and turn frogs into handsome men, we can forgive her those!  The rest of the teens, however, all look 30 and have some strange names- Randa and Kikki, anyone?  Lisa Fuller (Freshman Dorm) is the usual buxom blonde, and Megan Gallivan (Married People) and Tina Caspary (Can’t Buy Me Love) round out the bitchy eighties trio in proper fashion.

Sadly, Caren Kaye (It’s Your Move, The Betty White Show) and Dick Sargent as Louise’s parents Margaret and Frank don’t have a whole lot to do-or rather as much as I might have liked.  Nevertheless, they are a cute, yuppie, and oblivious couple who make the most of their scenes.  I mean, it’s the second Darrin from Bewitched!  Shelley Berman (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Boston Legal) is juicy and love to hate worthy as Mr. Weaver, and his nasty style and ruthlessness towards Louise is made all the more fun when he gets his hysterical comeuppance thanks to a voodoo doll.  Marcia Wallace (The Simpsons, The Bob Newhart Show) is also a delight as the flighty theatre teacher Ms. Malloy

 

Unfortunately, the music wasn’t super then; and to some, perhaps it’s worse now-although that makes the guilty pleasure of Teen Witch all the better, too.  ‘Never Gonna Be’ and ‘Finest Hour’ are still eighties catchy, yeah, but the hit here is ‘Popular Girl’. Maybe I’ve just heard these songs so many times that I’m used to the sound by now. I know some of the dance routines, too-that’s all I’m saying.  The early rap and beat box songs are, however, so sad. Maybe the super dated and niche styles of Teen Witch are an acquired taste to those who didn’t see it back in the day, but the nostalgia and time capsule here is still a lot of fun.  Do you need a big dance-off finale or musical montage or two? Teen Witch has ‘em!

Oh me oh my, even what’s supposed to be the hip look in Teen Witch is woefully eighties: the fluorescent colors, ruffles, layers of skirts with leggings, hideous patterns everywhere, too much denim with lots of glitter and rhinestones, and double slouchy socks with high heels!  Goodness me, the styles look way too old for high schoolers, and the frumpy look for Louise looks like the grandma section of the old Sears catalog. What was deemed sleazy onscreen is beyond tame to us now- a full coverage sweater and a skirt to the knees! What ever happened to that kind of modesty? And why do they all wear purple bodysuits for gym? The hair is just as bad, too.  Again, the feathered, over-sprayed high bangs of the popular girls no longer looks pretty.  Louise’s seemingly plain, wavy, and pulled back hair is actually more becoming than the styled tresses that come with her magical transformation.  This is why I don’t like to see too much popular fashion in recent films.  You know modern styles are going to seem just as hokey in a few years’ time. Even the sets, couches, and sports cars suffer here in Teen Witch. Just check out that wallpaper!

 

For being so dated, Teen Witch still has plenty of rewatchablity.  Unfortunately, the bare bones DVD is dang tough to find.  It took forever to come from Netflix, but cable airings are often found around Halloween.  There is one funny sex education scene dealing with condoms and a make out scene that looks like an old Obsession commercial that might make parents feel iffy, but otherwise Teen Witch sticks to its PG rating.  Magical girls will especially enjoy, but any family audience can spend the night with Teen Witch. I can’t believe there’s remake talk of this one when a proper video edition isn’t even readily available.  Yes, it’s horribly of its time, but Teen Witch still has a lot of charm to give the witchy folks of today’s generation.  Take in a virgin viewing or revisit the eighties with Teen Witch ASAP.

Press Release: Jenn Vix releases new single

Posted in News with tags , , , on July 29, 2015 by Horror Addicts Guest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: FORMER DRUMMER OF THE CURE, ANDY ANDERSON, FEATURED ON NEW SINGLE, BY ELECTRONIC-ROCK RECORDING ARTIST, JENN VIX.

a1980001275_16JUNE 15, 2015, PROVIDENCE, RI USA — The official scheduled release date of the new track, “I Don’t Trust You,” is June 17, 2015. It will be exclusively available at https://jennvixmusic.bandcamp.com. This is Vix’s second release featuring Andy Anderson. The first collaboration track was released in March of this year, and is titled “Eyes Roll Back.”

Vix has also recently recorded and released tracks featuring guitarist, Reeves Gabrels; formerly of David Bowie, and currently of The Cure.

Jenn Vix’s full-length, debut album, received a three and a half star review, in Rolling Stone magazine. Her recent single, featuring Reeves Gabrels, received an excellent review in Sound & Vision magazine, from the editor in chief.

Claustrophobia and The Dangerous Type

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on July 28, 2015 by Horror Addicts Guest

by Loren Rhoads

The first time I went away to sleep-away camp, I was a junior in high school.  Michigan Tech, a university 500 miles north of my home, was hosting a weeklong writing program. I dragged my typewriter into my assigned dorm room and waved goodbye to my parents, excited to be a real writer for a week.

Almost immediately I met another high school girl there for the program. I really liked her at first.  She seemed sunny and competitive and dramatic. I thought we’d provide a good challenge for each other. I looked forward to reading her stories.

I’m not sure what set her off.  She and some of the guys from the program were hanging around in my room when I went into the large walk-in closet to demonstrate how big it was.  Once I was inside, Nicole slammed the door behind me.

I heard giggling.  Nicole enlisted the guys to help her shove the dresser in front of the door so I couldn’t get out.  They talked loudly about going to dinner while I was trapped.  They slammed the dorm room’s door behind them on their way out.

I didn’t have a flashlight. I didn’t know where the light switch was.  With the dresser blocking the door, the closet was very dark inside.  This was long before cell phones were a gleam in some engineer’s eye.  My parents wouldn’t be back for a week.  I wasn’t due in class until morning.  No one would even know I was missing until then.

I sank down onto the floor of the closet, tears burning at the edges of my eyes.  What if there was a fire?  What if I needed to pee?  If I screamed, would anyone hear me?  Were there people on the floors above or below me?  Would my tormentors only laugh at me more if I begged to be let out?

I decided I was too angry to cry. I tried to figure out what had just happened, what I’d done to be tormented like this. I’d only just met Nicole.  I’d even admired her.  I’d thought she seemed like fun, that we might be friends. Why would anyone be so mean to a total stranger?

I never realized I was claustrophobic until I found myself barricaded in that closet. As I sat there in the blackness, I felt the walls shooting away from me into space.  I felt them contract toward me with every panicked breath.  I couldn’t hear anything but my blood pounding in my ears.  My body flushed with heat, then iced with fear.  I understood why people went crazy when locked up alone in the dark. I wondered how long that would take.

I don’t know how long my classmates left me in there.  Eventually one of the boys felt guilty and they crept back into my room to drag the dresser away from the closet door.

I walked out of the closet under my own power.  Nicole laughed at me.  I let my tears fall finally and asked them to leave my room.  Then I locked the door after them and didn’t open the walk-in closet for the rest of the week.

The experience of sitting alone in the dark directly inspired “Claustrophobia,” the first story I published about Raena Zacari.  That story ended with Raena’s imprisonment in an empty tomb on an abandoned planet.  A feature of the weird stone walls of the tomb was that she wouldn’t age and couldn’t die. She would only wait for a savior who would never come, trapped in her tomb until her claustrophobia burned itself out.

Being locked in the dark by strangers isn’t an experience I would wish on any 16-year-old girl.  Still, I suppose I have Nicole to thank for the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy.  Not only did my confinement in that closet lead to that initial short story, but Nicole’s behavior inspired the villain of The Dangerous Type, the first book of the trilogy.

I’ve wondered over the years if Nicole’s lack of empathy led her to abuse others.  It’s hard to believe that I was the only victim she ever singled out.  She really didn’t know me.  At the time, she blamed me for the length of my punishment.  Apparently, she’d stood outside the closet, listening, waiting to hear me scream for help.  When I didn’t satisfy her by begging to be let out, she decided to leave me in there a little longer, since I “appeared to be enjoying” myself. She didn’t apologize afterward, because as far as she could see, I wasn’t actually hurt by the experience. That complete failure to imagine herself in my place led directly to Thallian, the Imperial torturer who lacks empathy to the point that no one in the galaxy – except Raena herself – seems real to him.

I lost touch with Nicole after that week of camp, even though it turned out that we later had friends in common.  I never forgave her for what she’d done.  I also never forgot the lessons she taught me. My novel The Dangerous Type is the story of Raena’s eventual escape from her imprisonment and the vengeance she takes on the man who knew where she was trapped and never came to let her out.

Hopefully, finally, I have exorcised the experience at last.

**********

Loren Rhoads is the author of the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy, published by Night Shade Books. The Dangerous Type is out now, followed by Kill By Numbers on September 1 and the conclusion, No More Heroes, on November 3. She is the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of As Above, So Below and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two. Spy on her at lorenrhoads.com. 

Grant Me Serenity – Field Trip

Posted in News with tags , , , , , on July 26, 2015 by veryuniqueusername

GMS

The wand whispered over Jerry’s genitals and he closed his eyes, arms akimbo as the metal detector worried the bulge in his trousers.
“Go on sir,” the guard said, and stepped back, allowing Jerry entrance to the Sand County Penitentiary. One by one, the members of the little group were escorted through the security point with more attention paid to their personal areas than was strictly necessary, thanks to the screening process responsible for placing that particular guard. His personal fetishes coincided nicely with this job and he took full advantage of the opportunity to fondle Jessica’s curves. For her part she ignored this lechery, apart from contenting herself by fantasizing about making the guard eat his own penis.
Len led them down a white marble hallway, making for a door at the very end of the corridor with the rest of them forming a flying V behind him. He reached it and stopped, tentatively raising a hand to the knob. The group watched as he grasped the knob, then jerked his hand back.
“What? What’s wrong?” Paul asked.
“Damn thing shocked me,” Len grumbled and seized the offending knob, pulling it open with authority.
Behind the door sat a stairway, arteries leading up and down. Len led them down two flights and about ten degrees of temperature, stopping in front of an imposing looking iron door with what looked like three dead bolts. Len pounded on the door with the heavy gold ring he wore on his left hand, the crack echoing up and down the stairway, vibrating the fillings in Jessica’s teeth.
There was a pause, and the door was opened a crack. Another guard with an enormous black mustache looked out at them.
“Access is restricted down here, sir,” the guard said in a weary voice, one which was clearly used to redirecting idiots. “Take two flights of stairs up, and -”
“Thank you, no, we’re attending the execution of Dennis Arbogast. We should be on the list of witnesses.” Len gestured at the invisible list behind the door.
“Oh.” The guard seemed nonplussed. “IDs?”
There was the expected fumbling as everybody produced their bits of government plastic for perusal by the mustachioed giant, who examined them carefully before opening the door further and ushering them in. He showed no signs of returning their IDs and shook his head when Jessica asked for hers back. “Sorry ma’am, I keep these until you return. It’s the law.”
Jessica refrained from telling him what she thought of the law and smiled sweetly. “Of course. Thank you so much.” For what? she wondered.
They were standing in an area much like a parlor. There was a desk for the guard, a laptop and water cooler, and a phone. There were two doors on opposite sides of the parlor room, with a large 1 and 2 painted on them. The guard consulted a clipboard he had taken from the desk drawer and nodded toward door number two.
“That’s the one you want.”
Len nodded and they all followed him over to the door. It had no handle with which to shock, and Len pushed it open.
Inside was a small stuffy room with three rows of ten chairs bolted to the floor. A wall-sized window covered most of the wall the chairs were facing. Behind the glass was a chair similar to a dentist’s. Except dentist chairs don’t have arms sticking straight out. The room it inhabited was bright white linoleum and the kind of blue-green trim you only see in hospitals.
The group wordlessly took their seats in the front row. They sat quietly as the door swung open again and again, admitting relatives of Dennis Arbogast’s victims and various officials here to witness the humane taking of a human life. In an hour, the room was full.
Len stared straight ahead, neutral, his face blank.
Behind the glass, the show began. Two guards escorted Dennis Arbogast through the door. Arbogast was thin and balding with what had once been a well kept goatee. He was pale, but composed. Any tears had been shed earlier, leaving no trace. He had asked for death, and was not afraid of it. Surrounding the group, a mutter at Arbogast’s appearance from the peanut gallery. Another guard entered and took his place by the door, apparently there to hold the door in place, should it attempt escape.
Two doctors, a man and a woman, were the last to enter. He was a pudgy bald man with cottony wisps sprouting conspicuously from his ears and the slump-shouldered shuffle of a man who has long since given up on life. She was tall and her eyes took in the scene from behind horn-rimmed glasses. Her black hair was twisted up in a severe little bun behind her, and she surveyed the room with an air of unmistakable authority. She spoke a word muffled by the glass and her pudgy subordinate nodded, moving toward the chair upon which Arbogast had placed himself, arms spread as if to be crucified.
The pudgy doctor made a business of inserting the two IV lines, made more difficult by his inability to find a vein on the first try. The lady doctor’s face was immobile, but her eyes betrayed her irritation at the delay. Finally the vein was broached and the needles taped in place. The three bags of chemicals contained in bright red plastic were hung like poison apples from the IV tree. They were connected to a series of tubes flowing into the two IV lines with the same dexterity by the pudgy doctor. In the gallery, not everyone was so sanguine about the delay, and there was a good deal more muttering regarding curiosity as to where the good Pudge had gone to medical school and if he had bothered to earn his degree before starting to practice.
Pudge finally hooked Arbogast up to his demise and stepped back, his face slightly redder than when he started. The woman stepped forward, blatantly checking his work. Pudge watched with no expression as she did this, then nodded, satisfied, and stepped back to the IV.
The guard by the door flipped a switch on the wall. There was a click, and the gallery could now hear everything those in the death chamber heard. The guard began. “Dennis Arbogast, you have been sentenced to die by a jury of your peers. Do you have anything to say before the sentence is carried out?”
Throughout the rigamarole of being hooked up, Arbogast had stared at the ceiling, still as death. Now he raised his head, and looked directly at Len. Len nodded once. Arbogast nodded back, a ghost of a smile playing around his mouth.
“Nah, let’s get this over with so these fine folks can go on about their day. Be seeing you, Len.” Arbogast said cheerfully, then lay his head back down, a peaceful smile on his face. On his left middle finger, he wore a heavy gold ring.
In the gallery, there was dead silence.
The woman reached for the vines connected to the first poison apple. Sodium thiopental had been held from entering Arbogast’s body by the barest of crimping. Now as she opened the valve, it began flowing into his arm, working its magic quickly. Within ten seconds, Arbogast’s eyes had closed for the last time. The next apple was pancuronium bromide, which paralyzed Arbogast’s muscles, notably those which provide respiration; finally potassium chloride’s finishing touch stopped his heart completely. In seven minutes, it was over.
Len had not moved. His face had not changed. He could have been anywhere, but for a single tear.

The flick of a lighter. It was passed around as the group lit their cigarettes. Not all of them smoked regularly, but all of them smoked now, not all of whom with steady hands.
Len broke the silence, speaking for the first time since he had spoken to the guard who had taken their ID. “That’s what we have to look forward to if we step off this tightrope. Some pudgy fuck mangling our veins with an audience for our last death. Sound fun?”
Nobody answered.
Len took a deep drag and coughed, not being one of the regular smoker. “I’m glad I quit these. Who’s hungry?”
Nobody was, but they all nodded.
“Let’s go grab some chow before we head back. We’re just waiting for someone else -” he broke off. “Here she is.”
The group turned as one to see the lady executioner with her hair down coming toward them, all trace of her severe face gone. On it was a radiant smile. She raised a hand, waving. “Hi Len!” Len raised his hand in return, his smile radiant to match. “Guys, this is my sister Missy.

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