Lovecraft Country – #BookReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review another book from my September to be read list. This time I am reviewing the inspiration for the hit HBO show of the same name, Lovecraft Country.

SUMMARY

The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction.

A chimerical blend of magic, power, hope, and freedom that stretches across time, touching diverse members of two black families, Lovecraft Country is a devastating kaleidoscopic portrait of racism—the terrifying specter that continues to haunt us today.

REVIEW

5/5 STARS

In Chicago in 1954, Atticus Turner receives a letter from his father. The letter will take him to a place full of horrors, terrors, and the real nightmare of segregationist America. He has to travel deep into Lovecraft country where monsters roam and the cosmic terror of the world seems to be alive. It will take everything Atticus and his whole family have to brave the terrors that confront them and remain sane.

Usually when there is a book and a movie or television show and I have read and seen them both, I am able to tell you if one is better than the other. Most of the time I come down on the side of the book being better but occasionally there is a movie or series that outperforms its source material. I can’t make the distinction either way here. The book and the show are both amazing in their own unique way.

The book, unlike the show, feels a little smaller in scope even though it deals with the strange cosmic entities that populate Lovecraftian horror. The drama is still personal and much like the show, there can be true horror facing the characters in the guise of monsters who only seem insignificant in the face of the terrors of racial prejudice and violence. The true terror comes from reality in both the book and the show and I think that is what makes the story feel so visceral and real.

Matt Ruff has created an intriguing cast of characters here and the situations he places them in are imaginative and brilliant. And while certain details differ from the show, this book is just as engaging. It’s a satisfying conclusion but I hope that there will be sequels to the book.

If you love historical fiction, pulp fiction, science fiction or cosmic horror even a little bit, this book is well worth a read.

Cosmically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Lovecraft Country (Meet Me in Daegu) Episode 6 Spoiler-free Review

The Series is Bold Enough to Ask What Makes a Monster

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the sixth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

What is a monster? Can a monster have human emotions? Can a human who has done monstrous things still be a human? These are the questions that the sixth episode of Lovecraft Country wrestles with. Not enough horror poses this question and those that do typically just ask it on the surface. This episode was masterful at asking this question and forcing the audience to truly think about it.

The episode itself is basically a flashback episode that relates to the larger story. It’s the only episode so far that does not take place in America but that’s all that I am going to tell you because I really don’t want to give this one away.

I think if this show is going to win Emmys in the future, it should be this episode that is considered. The acting here is fascinating and the drama is real.

I have thought a lot about why this show is so good and I think it is this; the show can let you see something horrific, a terrible monster that is objectively scary, and then moments later the show will let you see something from reality that is even scarier. Any show that can place reality as the real horror has done its job well because while we might have nightmares about the big scary monster, there is no escaping reality.

I have no idea where the drama will take us next but I know I am ready for the ride.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Devil All the Time – #MovieReview

The Devil All The Time: Robert Pattinson as Preston Teagardin. Photo Cr. Glen Wilson/Netflix © 2020

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to review the number one movie on Netflix right now. That’s right, I am here to give you my hot take on Devil All the Time.

The film stars Tom Holland and Robert Pattinson as a couple of southerners who end up at odds with each other. To be honest, that’s a really poor description of the film but those two are the most billable, bankable stars in the movie. I won’t give away any major spoilers here so feel free to read this review even before you watch the film.

The movie is really several story lines that intersect, kind of like Pulp Fiction did but it’s much less disjointed than that movie was. There is a lot of suspense and violence in the film. It’s not for the faint of heart but it’s by no means even close to the bloodiest thing you could watch on Netflix.

The pacing of the film is intentionally slow and deliberate but it is not harmed for that. The acting is stellar and there is a scene with Holland and Pattinson that takes place in a church that is downright electric. The whole movie is worth watching just for that one scene.

While it maybe could have used a few less characters overall, the story is rather interesting and all of the loose ends are tied in a bow, with one notable exception.

If you really like suspense or thriller films, especially the kind that have a slow build up to a majorly interconnected story, this movie is for you. Or if you just like a good drama and need a break from Marvel films but still want to watch Tom Holland, this is worth a watch.

Suspensefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

Lovecraft Country (Strange Case) Episode 5 Spoiler-free Review

The Horror and Family Drama is Back on Track

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon, here back to give a spoiler free review of the fifth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The previous episode was a throwback to Indiana Jones for some reason and it felt kind of out of place with the rest of the show. The most recent episode is much more on track. We are back to following the family drama and this episode has tons of interesting things to say on race and class. At the same time, it is full of body horror so if you are squeamish prepare to shut your eyes through a lot of the episode.

There are twists and turns that are surprising and unpredictable and as usual the very end will leave you just wanting to see the next episode as soon as possible. The show is able to be intellectual and visceral all at once which is an interesting mixture.

If you do watch this episode, I can promise that this is one of the episodes that will be in your mind months from now.

I feel like the show will need to have more episodes like this where the audience is both unable to turn away from the screen and wanting to turn away the whole time. There is still a deeper mystery going on here and I look forward to seeing how that plays out through the rest of the show.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

We Summon the Darkness – #MovieReview

What’s up everyone? Slick Dungeon here back to review the Netflix horror flick We Summon the Darkness. I promise not to give too much away but if you continue reading from here on out there could be mild spoilers. You have been warned.

If you were alive in the 1980’s and knew about the hair metal bands of the time, this movie will bring you right back to that period. The opening has all the iconic things from the 80’s you remember. Leather jackets, teased hair, the old Twinkie boxes and even Jolt cola. The movie follows three women who go to a heavy metal concert. While there they see signs that things are not exactly great in the area. Apparently there has been a slue of murders attributed to a satanic cult. When the women get to the concert they meet three men out for one last night of fun before they say goodbye to one of their group for good. The two groups start to hang out and the evening suddenly becomes very deadly.

This movie is described as horror and while there certainly are horror elements to it, I would classify this as more of a thriller than anything. The plot is very grounded in reality and although we have seen this sort of thing before this movie does have a fresh take on it.

The movie makes great use of limited locations and most of the night takes place in a single house. In some ways this reminded me of The Purge but I think the movie I would say this is closest to mirroring is the excellent Kevin Smith film Red State.

If you like the 80’s, if you are a fan of horror or thriller films, and if you enjoy seeing some of those conventions upended, this movie is for you.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: The Fey Queen (Episode 8) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the eighth episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first eight episodes of the series, watch out because there are mild spoilers below.

Although, on this one, I think the title of the episode is kind of a spoiler. Obviously, Nimue has taken on the mantle of the Fey Queen for this episode. This means that she has a lot of people depending on her and a lot more people who will think of her as an enemy.

This episode was action packed, had a couple of great sword fights and the plot moved along nicely. We got to see some characters reunite and lost a couple of others. The pace also picked up significantly and the stakes are getting higher here which is nice to see.

The consequences of what happens when someone holds the sword of power for too long becomes more apparent here too. The politics of the show are heating up here and the race for the throne is on, especially with the end result of what Nimue does in this episode.

So far this is a series I would recommend to any fantasy fan but with the next two episodes, we’ll see if this show can actually live up to its full potential.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Babysitter: Killer Queen – #MovieReview

Hey out there comedy horror fans, what’s going on? McG is back with another crazy horror comedy film on Netflix. Allow me, Slick Dungeon, to give you a little review of it. There will be some mild spoilers below so you have been warned.

The first film in the franchise (wait is 2 films a franchise?) followed Cole, a kid who was just a little too old to have a babysitter. Turns out his babysitter was part of a demon blood cult and they spent a night trying to kill him. It didn’t end well for them. If you want to know more about it, see my review of the first one here.

It’s two years later and while Cole is no longer under lethal threat, he is still the picked on kid at high school. But what about the girl he met from the first movie, doesn’t she like him? They kissed at the end of the last one, she must like him right? Well, she does seem to be the only one that does still think he is okay. She even invites him to go to a lake house for the weekend when….

HUGE SPOILER COMING

She tries to kill him because she is part of that same blood cult from the first movie.

The rest of the movie for the most part, plays out as you would expect. Old cast members return, new ones try to kill Cole, all of them die in gruesome and hilarious ways. There is another twist at the end that I won’t give away.

This movie is a little bigger than the first and there are a few more stunts but basically, if you watched and enjoyed the first one, this one is not a bad follow up. I definitely chuckled through most of it although some of the jokes felt less than fresh.

The only thing I never really bought was the beginning of the movie where they say that there was no evidence of anyone else being at Cole’s house the night of the first movie. I mean, what? There was like ten gallons of blood spilled and major damage to multiple parts of the neighborhood but whatever, I will let it go, this is not Hamlet.

I will say that I hope they leave it here because I think any movie after this one is going to lose the point. Does this movie have a point? Well, not really but it’s still fun, dumb, entertainment which is exactly what I look for in a horror comedy.

If you like comedy and have a strong stomach, this is totally worth ninety minutes of dumb fun.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Cursed: Bring Us In Good Ale (Episode 7) – #TVReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here and I am back to review the seventh episode of the Netflix hit Cursed.

If you haven’t watched the first six episodes of the series, watch out because there are spoilers below.

The previous episode was somewhat slow moving and mostly a flashback to establish character development. This episode jumps right back into the action with exciting fight scenes, unseen threats and the furthering development of character relationships.

From the start of the episode, Arthur is under threat from the Red Paladins while Nimue is still trying to recover from her interactions with Merlin. Meanwhile a rival to the throne is making moves that could place him as head of the kingdom.

I think that so far this episode was my favorite. It has all of the things you want to see in a fantasy story. There are interesting battles with surprising outcomes, cool special effects, mysterious magicians doing their things, and inspirational speeches to the masses.

I don’t want to give too much away here but at the end of the episode I had goosebumps from how cool the whole thing was. The acting continues to be outstanding here and I still really enjoy the performances of Nimue and Merlin especially.

Now that I only have three episodes left to watch, I imagine the action and drama will only be ramped up and more exciting. Here’s hoping that is true.

Fantastically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Kids Kill Monsters – How to Prepare to play Dungeons & Dragons with Kids Part 13

D&D Campaign Adventures for Storm King's Thunder - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hi Everyone! It’s your friendly Dungeon Master, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to talk more about how to role play with kids. In my last posts I talked about whether you should play D&D with kidswhy playing D&D was healthy for kids, I showed you who does what at the table, gave you a tour of the dice and told you to read through the simple ruleswent through the Introduction of the simple rules with you, walked you through the first section of the simple rules and talked about choosing a race and role playing a dwarf, role playing an elf, role playing a halfling, role playing a human, role playing a dragon born, role playing a gnome, role playing a half-elf, role playing a half-orc and role playing a Tiefling. Today, we are going to talk about Class.

In Dungeons & Dragons, if character Race is who the characters are, then Class is best described as what a character can do. In other words, while most of the traits that the characters gained for being a dwarf, a halfling, etc. are immutable, the Class traits are ones that can be learned. If you want to be a wizard, you have to learn how to do it. If you strive to be the best fighter in the land, it is going to take some practice.

At the beginning of character creation, a player’s character is already better than the average person at whatever Class they choose. A fighter isn’t just some woman who can occasionally win in a bar fight (although they probably can), she is also someone who is better than the average fighter. That’s why when it comes to class, you get certain bonuses. Class can be one of the more confusing parts of character creation because there is some math involved. We’ll go through it as it comes in future posts, but in this one, we are just going to stick to defining what class is, how it is used, and my tips for using it with kids.

What is Class?

As stated above, Class is what a character can do. More specifically, I might add, it would be something they would likely be called on to do. In other words, it’s ingrained in who they are, even if they never actually take money for it. A wizard might be hired by a king to cast battle spells but even if he loses the battle, he is still a wizard. A fighter might very well be paid to be a soldier but even if they are defeated in combat, they are still a fighter. A paladin might be a knight but even if they fall from grace, they are still a paladin.

Does it Matter What Class My Character Is?

The short answer here is, yes. This matters greatly. If you really want to use magic, you are going to want to choose a magic user. Be a wizard, a sorcerer or a warlock. If you want to get in lots of combat, a fighter or a monk is the way to go. One note here, if your character uses magic even a little bit, you are going to have to learn some magic rules. These can get complicated but they are also a ton of fun. There is usually a bit more math involved in the game if you are a spellcaster so be forewarned there.

My advice to anyone who is trying to decide what Class to be, is to pick something that you think is interesting and go with that. Be sure to read through the basic rules and have an understanding of what that Class does. You don’t have to be an expert on the math part yet, just read the descriptions of what these people do and decide if that sounds interesting to you. Pick the one that is the best fit for how you imagine your character.

Some people will demand that a party be made up of a delicate mechanical balance where you have certain classes to do certain things. To some extent, this makes sense, but don’t overdo it here. If your kids all want to be wizards, let them be wizards. Maybe have one of them learn some magic for healing and one of them learn magic for fighting but don’t stress too much if your party is not perfectly balanced. If you are the Dungeon Master, you will need to make adjustments to the bad guys based on the party and what Classes they are.

What is Multi-Classing?

This is briefly mentioned in the chapter on Class in the basic rules. What that means is that someone choose a little bit of one class and a little bit of another class. If it is your first time running or playing Dungeons & Dragons I wouldn’t really recommend it just because your character won’t necessarily live up to their full potential unless you have a really good grasp of the mechanics of the game. That being said, if you love the idea of being a fighter who learns magic and then decides to become a wizard, multiclassing can be great. You do you. Just be forewarned that it gets a little tricky.

Slick Dungeon’s Tips for Class with Kids

When it comes to kids, choosing a Class can be daunting and exciting. It is as important, if not more important, than what Race your character is. I would make sure that your kids really understand what someone in a Class is likely to do. Alternatively, you can ask your kids what they want their character to be able to do and recommend a Class to them. If they start talking about magic spells, suggest a Wizard. If they are combat focused, suggest a Fighter. If they want to be entertainers and support their friends in battle, a Bard is the way to go. If they want to heal others, a Cleric might be a good way to go. Look through the Classes (There are 12 in the basic rules) and describe to your kids what that Class does. If it sound like something they want to do, let them do it. Even if they are not good at math but really want to cast magic spells, I would let them do that. It’s much more fun to do something you want to do than to have to pretend to like something you don’t really want to do.

My next 12 posts in this series will be a deeper dive into each Class, starting with my favorite class to play, Barbarian.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Lovecraft Country (A History of Violence) Episode 4 Spoiler-free Review

A Somewhat Disappointing 4th Episode But there is Still Plenty to Love in the Series

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here back to give a spoiler free review of the fourth episode of the HBO series Lovecraft Country.

The first three episodes struck an amazing balance between family drama, the accurate portrayal of horrific segregationist realities in America and impossible monsters, magic and dangers. The fourth episode gives us… mostly an Indiana Jones style adventure.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still horror here and there are definitely moments of history, family drama etc. But most of it really is like something you would see in Indiana Jones. I’m not going to give away any more than that except to say that the series still has amazing potential and I think it will recover from this episode but I expect that when fans talk about the series in the future, episode 4 will be the one they say they could mostly have done without. Of course, if you are a fan of the show, you’ll still want to watch this episode as there are things that relate to the overall story that certainly happen. I found one side story to be particularly interesting and I have no idea where it is actually going.

The main action leaves a lot to be desired but as always the actors portraying the action are the best part of the show. They have all been able to pull off what would seem to be absurd to most of us while still keeping the feeling of their emotions on screen as real as it gets.

I’m looking forward to the next episode very much but if the show does have a few episodes like this one, it won’t turn out to be quite the brilliant show I thought it was. Here’s hoping for a better one next week.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon