The Institute – #BookReview

Hello out there all you horror fans, it’s me Slick Dungeon, back with a review of a book from the master of horror, Stephen King. This time I am reviewing The Institute, a novel about kids with psychic abilities and what happens to them after they are kidnapped and taken to the eponymous Institute.

SYNOPSIS

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

REVIEW

5/5 Stars

To say that the book is gripping would be an understatement. King hooks the reader in with threads of people who seem to have nothing to do with each other but in as the reader we know there must be a reason we are introduced to these characters. By the end the reader is fully invested and the action never slows or disappoints.

Luke Ellis is a child genius. He’s able to ace the SAT with hardly breaking a sweat, he is able to get accepted into two Ivy League schools, and sometimes, just occasionally, he can knock and empty pizza platter off of a table with his mind. He’s twelve years old. To him, the least interesting thing about him is his mild telekinetic ability.

Meanwhile we meet Tim Jamieson who makes a sudden and possibly irrational decision to get off of a flight to New York and go wandering for a while. He ends up in DuPray, South Carolina, where he becomes what is known as a night knocker. This is sort of like a police officer, but it’s more like a security guard who walks around town, making sure nothing terrible is happening to disturb the peace of the quiet town. Little does he know it, but eventually, Tim and Luke’s fate will collide.

Luke wakes one day to find himself in a room that is almost his, but not quite. It turns out he has been kidnapped and he is in what is known as the Front Half of “The Institute”. Here kids are kept and fed and experimented on. The people who took Luke don’t care that he is a genius, they only care about his psychic abilities. That’s an unfortunate mistake for them because if anyone can get out of the place and expose what is going on, it’s Luke with his genius level intellect. Only, he will need to do it before he is taken to Back Half. The kids who go there, never are seen again.

Of course, since this is a King book, there are moments that are truly and genuinely terrifying and might just give you nightmares. The book reminds me very much of Firestarter or even Carrie when it comes to kids and psychic abilities but it has it’s own flavor to it. In my opinion it’s one of the better recent Stephen King books and doesn’t suffer from a poor ending the way some of his work can. It left me wanting more and hoping that there might be a sequel. Psychic abilities is a subject that King likes to delve into a lot, from Danny Torrence in The Shining to The Institute and I feel like they all intersect in one way or another. I kept imagining what would happen if little Danny had been taken to the Institute instead of to the Overlook hotel or if the kids in the Institute had gone to that haunted hotel. Whatever the case, if King writes about these psychic abilities, I am all in because it always delivers a great story.

If you like Stephen King at all, pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.

Institutionally yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Bulbbul – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back with another review of a film, this time, a horror/supernatural film from India called Bulbbul. This is on Netflix right now and although the plot can be somewhat predictable here, if you don’t watch any other movie on Netflix, you should check this one out. There will be very mild spoilers here but I definitely won’t give much away as far as plot, but then again, it won’t really have any twists or turns that knock you out of your seat anyway.

The plot centers around the titular character Bulbbul. At the beginning of the film she is a child bride in the 1880s during the Bengal presidency. Bulbbul is so young in fact, when she is wed, that she mistakes her brother-in-law who is around her age, for her husband, who is significantly older. Her husband, Indranil, also has a twin brother named Mahendra. Both characters are played by Rahul Bose, while Bulbbul is played by Tripti Dimri. Bulbbul, lost in her new surroundings finds some solace in her companion Satya, Indranil’s youngest brother. Satya is played by Avinash Tiwary. Satya tells Bulbbul stories about a witch who haunts the woods they live in. Bulbbul and Satya become virtually inseperable, which causes conflict with Indranil. I’m not going to go much more into the plot other than to say, you can see that it is a story of a romance that is not allowed to be, against the backdrop of supernatural events and the abuses of men who think they can get away with harming women and children.

If that plot is sounding tried and true and like it might not be worth watching, I would say you may have a point. However, the cinematography in this film is breathtakingly beautiful. Honestly, I don’t know if I have seen a better use of color palette in a film. From the very beginning credits, it’s clear how gorgeous this movie is going to be. When supernatural events occur, the screen is awash in deep reds, and even when it’s more of a normal situation, the beauty of the scenery is something to behold. The only time the camera seems to see things in actual real colors and tones is in the scenes between Satya and Bulbbul. It provides an anchor to an otherwise fairy tale or dreamlike quality that the movie has. The acting is engaging and there are no poor performances anywhere to be found. Tripti herself is especially fascinating to watch.

There are moments in the film that remind me slightly of the book Dracula and I think that’s intentional by the filmmakers but it works. The frequent use of flash backs and flash forwards is a little disorienting at times and I’m not sure how much the film benefits from that decision but at all points during the film, there is so much for the eyes to take in, it’s nearly impossible to look away. We can all feel for the plight of Bulbbul and empathize with what happens next but the real triumph of the film is its ability to mix its social commentary with the utter beauty of the film itself. You will sometimes hear film makers remind audiences that movies are a visual medium. This movie proves how true that is.

If you are not sure about this one, just sit down and watch it for a few minutes. If you are not utterly stunned by the masterful cinematography, deep performances, or beautiful music, nothing on film will truly impress you. Bulbbul is technically in the supernatural/horror genre but I think it’s more on the line of a fairy tale, just one of the darker ones. There isn’t much need of blood or gore here, and there is at leas one scene with almost none of that that disturbed me immensely and it’s a scene that I will still think about a long time from now. And as horrific as it was, it still made use of that masterful cinematography I was talking about. If you sit through the movie, I guarantee it will stay with you too.

Visually yours,

Slick Dungeon

July 2020 TBR

Hey Everyone, Slick Dungeon here. I just wanted to share with you my July 2020 TBR list as it currently stands. Note that some of this could change as I do tend to be a slower reader and some books may get pushed back a little. For that reason, you’ll see two books that were on my June TBR showing up on my July TBR. I do my best to get through, but there’s only so much time. This month I plan to go through everything from horrific government experiments to science fiction classics to animal adventures. Check out my list and let me know what you think.

  1. The Institute by Stephen King

I’m a little more than half way through this one and I am loving it so far. Expect a review up on my site soon. This is about a secret “Institute” where kids with psychic abilities are basically being used as lab rats and weapons. As you might imagine with Stephen King there is plenty of horror included, as well as plenty of heart.

2. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

This my next read after The Institute. It’s the first in the Wheel of Time series and I am really looking forward to reading it, especially with the Amazon show on the horizon. It’s the first in a series of epic fantasy books that I am ready to take my first real dive into.

3. Eirwen and Fridis by C.S. Watts

This is book one in a fantasy series starting animals, akin to Watership Down or Wind in the Willows. I have begun this book and so far it has started to grow on me, so I am really curious to see where it goes. I will also be reviewing this for the website Reedsy so you can expect a review, but not until this one goes public on that site. It should still happen in July though.

4. The Invasion of Aeronbed by C.S. Watts

This is the sequel to Eirwen and Fridis and is the second part in a seven book series called The Ravenstones. I can’t really pre-judge this one since I haven’t finished the first book but the review for it will appear about a week after I review Eirwen and Fridis both here and on Reedsy.

5. Lies, Inc. by Phillip K. Dick

Phillip K. Dick is my favorite science fiction writer that a lot of people have never heard of but most of us have seen a story by. If you loved the film Bladerunner or Total Recall, you can thank Phillip K. Dick. Total Recall is based on a short story called We Can Remember It for You Wholesale while Bladerunner is based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Okay, so maybe Dick is not the best at good titles for his stories, but they are always odd and interesting and tend to influence a ton of science fiction storytelling both in literature and film. Lies Inc. is about an overpopulated Earth where people get teleported to Whale’s Mouth, an allegedly pristine new home for happy and industrious emigres. It’s supposed to be an examination of totalitarianism, reality and hallucination. To me it sounds highly relevant to our time period and I am very curious to find out.

6. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Honestly, I am not sure if I will make it to this one in the month of July but I am going to try. If I don’t make it, this will be at the top of the August TBR list for me.

This is the first in the Broken Earth series and won the Hugo award. It’s the story of how the world ends, for the final time. I’ve heard a lot of great things about this series but I haven’t ever had the chance to pick it up until now. I’m looking forward to it. The author says she likes to write about ordinary people in extraordinary situations and I really want to see how that is handled because that can either be done extremely well or extremely poorly in fiction. From all the accolades that the series has gotten, I am betting this is done extremely well.

Well, there you have it, that’s my list for the month. I am unfortunately one of those people who absolutely loves long books, long series, and is also a slow reader. It makes for a hard life but a lot of time spent enjoying good books.

Let me know what you think of my list and if you have a TBR I should check out, let me know in the comments!

Bookishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Boy – #MovieReview

Hello all you internet boys and girls out there. Slick Dungeon here back to review another creepy movie for you all. There will be some mild spoilers but I won’t give away the whole thing.

The Boy stars Lauren Cohen, of The Walking Dead and Supernatural fame, as Greta. Greta has had trouble at home in America with an abusive boyfriend and she has taken a job in England to be a nanny for an elderly couple’s child. When she arrives, it turns out that the “boy” is just a life size and very creepy looking porcelain doll. The couple give Greta strict instructions on how to treat the boy, what his routine is, and everything she needs to do to take care of Brahms. They refer to the doll as a living being and treat it essentially as you would an actual child.

Greta does make a friend while she is there. Malcolm, played by Rupert Evans, is the local grocer and delivers food up to the huge house in the countryside where Greta is staying. He also treats Brahms like an actual boy whenever the elderly couple are there but it’s clear he is just playing along.

A lot of this movie does unfold in the way you are probably picturing. That is, pretty much like Child’s Play or any of the subsequent Chucky series, but without the humor. Odd things start happening when it’s clear no one else is in the house. Greta’s shoes go missing and are returned. Strange sounds happen. And most importantly, the creepy as can be doll, moves when there is no possible way for it to have gone anywhere.

At first I was getting impatient with this, feeling like I knew exactly where it was going. I was mostly thinking how Lauren Cohen knows those guys from Supernatural and they would make quick work of a cursed doll, and this could be a forty-five minute television episode instead of a full length film. But then, Greta starts playing it smart, if a little oddly. I’m not going to let you in on what happens from there in case you have not seen it, but it’s worth an entire watch through.

While this film got bashed by certain critics, and I can see why some of them did not like it, I don’t think it deserved the drubbing it got. It’s moody and strange and there are definitely some jump scares that seem a bit silly, but overall, I am pretty sure you are not going to expect what happens in the end.

If you like the creepy doll form of horror, this one is right up there with the good ones in my book.

Creepily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

1922 – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to review the Stephen King short story adaptation of 1922 playing on Netflix. There will be some spoilers but I will try to keep them mild here.

As far as Stephen King adaptations go, mileage tends to vary. Consider 1922 to be one that lands on the good side of these things. While the film can’t be quite as disturbing as the novella written by the master of horror, it does an excellent job of getting close.

The story revolves around a man named Willfred “Wilf” James and is played by Thomas Jane. Wilf is a gruff and quiet rancher whose wife has inherited a plot of land after the death of her father. Wilf wants to expand his farm with the land but Ariette (Molly Parker) wants to sell the land and move to Omaha instead. The pair have a fourteen year old son named Henry who is in love with his girlfriend Shannon (Kaitlyn Bernard).

Wilf and Ariette are long past loving each other and it’s clear that this argument is not going to work itself out. Wilf decides that the only way for him to get the land that he hopes to pass on to his son is to murder his wife. He even enlists Henry’s help to do it.

The fact that Wilf murders his wife should not be a spoiler for this because it’s what happens next that is surprising. The act that Wilf and Henry commit come to haunt them both in different ways. The film takes us through the rest of the year of 1922 seeing what happens to Wilf and Henry throughout.

Thomas Jane gives a masterclass example of conveying horror in a quiet but ever present manner. When you get down to it, it’s a simple story but the unfolding of events in the film leaves the viewer disturbed and on edge for the entire film. Certain sequences recall other King stories and adaptations, what with the prominence of endless fields of corn growing everywhere.

At no point to we ever really like Wilf but that won’t stop the viewer from being disturbed by what happens to him. The frequent use of rats in the film come at the most unexpected times and the imagery it puts in the viewer’s head will stick with them long after they have seen the film. And of course, the whole time, the viewer is thinking that Wilf really should have moved to Omaha.

Unlike a good portion of Stephen King stories, the end of this one does not disappoint. The horror is raw and gripping all the way through.

If you are a horror fan or a Stephen King fan (I know those groups mostly overlap) this is a great way to spend a little less than two hours. I just wouldn’t recommend having any snacks handy while you do unless you have a strong stomach.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Babysitter (2017) – #MovieReview

The Babysitter

What’s going on you young hooligans out there? It’s me, Slick Dungeon, back again to tell you about a wacky horror comedy that’s now showing at your local Netflix. I’m not sure this is the kind of movie that needs this type of disclaimer but there will be spoilers for The Babysitter in this review.

I’m a sucker for comedy horror films, especially the ones of the several characters die implausibly horrible yet also hilariously funny deaths in completely unlikely circumstances due to the actions of a child variety. It’s a very specific genre, but I like it okay?

This is also in the category of a ton of critics hate it but somehow people keep watching it anyway. Let me tell you, I’m on the side of the people watching it anyway. No, it’s not high quality cinema, there is no meaningful revelation you will make because of watching it, but it’s fun okay? It’s still okay to have fun sometimes. For real.

The Babysitter stars Samara Weaving as Bee, the eponymous babysitter, and Judah Lewis as Cole, the babysittee. Cole is twelve years old and still has a babysitter. It’s pretty embarrassing because he is already picked on. However, Bee is cool, pretty and gets along well with Cole. Even his bullies think Bee is cool.

One night when Bee is babysitting Cole, he stays up past his bed time to see what she really gets up to after dark. Turns out it’s a whole lot of murdering and satanic ritual stuff. Needless to say, Cole is freaked out and has to get out of the situation without, you know, ending up dead. One by one Cole goes up against the cultists and one by one ends up obliterating them, usually through accidental means. I don’t want to give up the whole ballgame here by telling you how those deaths go, but some of them are downright hilarious. None of them are really believable, but reality isn’t what this movie is about.

This movie is basically Home Alone if Kevin McCallister was up against murderers instead of robbers and Kevin had unleashed full kill mode instead of less deadly methods. Oh, and also if Kevin did all of that nearly completely by accident. Cole and Kevin do both use fireworks though, so there’s that.

Like I said I don’t want to spoil how the deaths happen so I am just going to share with you my favorite part of the whole movie. If you can get behind this part, then you should watch it. If you think this part is stupid, well, there are a bunch of other things to stream. One of the cultists is a high school quarterback named Max, played by Robbie Amell. He has Cole right where he wants him, he’s about to just end Cole forever when he hears the sound of an egg being thrown at Cole’s house. This is one of the kids who bullies Cole egging his house yet again. Max lets Cole go, drags him over and insists that Cole go and confront his bully. He even gives him a pep talk before he goes over there. It’s hilarious how fast Max goes from deadly killer to older friend who is just looking out for his neighbor and back again. Cole does confront the bully and Max is right back to trying to kill Cole. Less than five minutes later Max is dead. I loved how Max was totally cool with killing a kid but thought that egging was just over the top. To me the scene was really funny.

While this is not the funniest, or scariest horror comedy I have ever seen by a long shot, it’s got enough in it that if you are a fan of those types of movies, it’s worth a try. I mean really, you’re probably reaching the end of your Netflix queue anyway so have a little bit of a bloody laugh.

Comedically yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Vast of Night – #MovieReview

It’s Like a Long Twilight Zone Episode and I’m NOt Complaining

Hey people out there catching my signal, it’s Slick Dungeon. I’m back again with a movie review for ya. This time I watched the sci-fi, quiet horror film that is getting all the buzz lately, The Vast of Night.

The film takes place in the fictional town of Cayuga, New Mexico and is about Everett and Fay, two characters caught up in things they can’t explain in the 1950’s. Fay is played by Sierra McCormick and Everett is played by Jake Horowitz. Both performances are fast paced, tense and low key brilliant.

Just a warning that there will be mild spoilers in this review but I won’t give too much away.

The film starts off with us looking at a television screen and getting an opening that essentially mimics The Twilight Zone. That sets the tone immediately as we transition into the town of Cayuga, where everyone is abuzz with getting ready for the high school basketball game. We met Everett immediately and it’s clear that he is the smartest guy in the room considering that everyone at the school wants his attention on a number of random things, including fixing scoreboards, setting up recording systems and repairing cables that have been chewed through.

One of the people wanting Everett’s attention is Fay. She has just bought a new fashioned tape recorder and wants Everett to show her how to use it. The dialogue in these scenes if fast paced and cigarette filled and it takes a moment to get your bearings as the viewer. We find out quickly that Fay would be a good match for Everett because she is able to talk about science in a way that impresses him. In fact, for me the scene that really got me into the film is when Fay starts describing these far in the future science articles that perfectly describe smart driving cars and cell phones. After that I was all in on this film.

Fay

Everett is not going to the basketball game because he hosts a radio show and needs to be at work. Fay works the telephone switchboard and is also unable to attend the game. They are about the only ones in town that won’t be there.

Every once in a while the movie reminds us how this begins by pulling back and showing us, or someone or something, watching the events unfold on a screen.

Things really get going once Fay starts to pick up an odd noise on the phone lines. She thinks it’s odd and has Everett listen to it. After that he plays the sound on the station and asks if anyone can identify it. Things get really interesting once a caller says he can.

I don’t want to give the story away from here but let’s just say Everett and Fay spend the rest of the night trying to understand what is going on. Whether or not they do, you’ll have to watch the film to know.

The film does miss on one point, it does not really address some of the injustices that were prevalent during that time period. While this film is not about that, I think that any film taking place in that time period produced now has a bit of a duty to at least address how bad it was for anyone who was not a straight, white, man at the time. There is a little bit but it barely brushes by the audience. But I digress.

The only other thing that really bothered me about this film is one that I have seen in multiple films, books and even in songs. The town is in New Mexico but the radio station is called WOTW. Not to put too much geography on you here but that’s west of the Mississippi. Any station west of the Mississippi is supposed to start with a K. I know how easy it is to make this mistake if you are from the east of the Mississippi. As someone who lives on the west of that river, it is always 100% confusing to see a station in New Mexico start with the letter W. So please, if you are east of the Mississippi and you make a movie on the west coast, start your stations with a K and if you are west of the Mississippi and you set your movie on the east coast, start your stations with a W. There are some people like myself who would really appreciate the effort.

The performances are outstanding and I felt like it was a really gripping, if a bit long episode of The Twilight Zone. Lucky for me, I love that show, so it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this. The tension is quiet and builds very well. Enough happens to keep the viewer engaged while still allowing for a low budget film.

Right now the place to find this is on Amazon. It’s a worthy 90 minutes to spend if you want to watch a bit of eerie mysteriousness. For my money it’s definitely worth a watch.

Mysteriously Yours,

Slick Dungeon

June 2020 TBR

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon, here. I’m trying to get a little more organized with my blog so I thought I would post here a quick TBR (To Be Read for those uninitiated) list I have for the month of June. Now, I reserve the right to push these out in case I don’t get through them but I have a few books I am hoping to post reviews for. I’m not a fast reader, so I may or may not make it through them all but here is what I have planned so far.

  1. Bastion Awakens (The Remnant Trilogy Book 1) by Christopher M. Knight

This is an epic space opera. I’m about a quarter of the way through but I am going to review it on Reedsy Discovery so I will definitely finish this one. I’m excited for it because I tend to love a good space opera, if it’s told well.

2. The Garden and Other Stories by Aaron Ramos

This is a collection of 8 science fiction short stories. I’m a sucker for a good short story and I like to read them right before bed as a little “mini-snack” of reading. I hope this one is good and I’ll let you know once I’ve read it.

3. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I’m about half way through this. Yes, I read multiple books at the same time, it’s just how I roll. So far, this has been, as I would expect, outstanding. There are original thoughts and concepts here and it’s mind bogglingly good. I have no idea how the story is going to end. None.

4. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

For years, literally any time I bought a fantasy book that was not in The Wheel of Time series, the cashier would ask me if I had read it. Sad to say, I haven’t but what with quarantine and all, plus an amazon prime show coming up, this definitely feels like the right time and I’m really excited to see what all the buzz is about.

5. The Institute by Stephen King

I have read nearly everything the master of horror has written and I have heard that this is one of his best in years, so I can’t wait to get into it. I do feel like his endings can be disappointing sometimes but almost always when I read a Stephen King book there is enough in it to keep me fascinated and coming back for more.

I’m not sure I’ll get through all these this month but I’m gonna give it my best shot. I hope you’ll come back and read the reviews once I finish. I can’t wait to see what everyone else is reading.

Organizedly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Girl on the Third Floor – #MovieReview

Hey all, it’s Slick Dungeon here and I wanted to give you my take on the dramatic drywall antics of the film Girl on the Third Floor. Be forewarned, before you read on, there will be spoilers right in the very foundation of this review. If you really want to watch the movie before you read the review, go for it and then come back. If you don’t mind spoilers, read on. You do you.

The film stars CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks), Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks and Tonya Kay.

I’ll give you a quick run down of the plot but then I had a few questions about this movie.

Don, a class A jerk, who has defrauded a bunch of clients of their retirement money has moved into an old house. As is typical with horror films, the purchase of an old house is a poor investment and to make matters worse, the dude is trying to fix up the place on his own. He needs to fix it up before his pregnant wife moves in. About the first thirty minutes of the film is watching CM Punk listen to angry metal and totally mess up drywall. There are also lots of shots of him walking slowly as if he thinks someone is in the house and wondering where his dog got off to. Plus he picks up a lot of marbles that roll around out of nowhere and he doesn’t seem to think this is a big deal.

Guess what? Don is still a jerk when he meets an attractive woman named, Sarah, and then instantly sleeps with her despite the fact that he has a pregnant wife. We also get to see him talk to his neighbor across the street and go to a bowling alley. I had major questions about the bowling alley but we’ll get to those in a bit.

Don, despite being a jerk who likes angry metal, yelling at his dog, and cheating on his wife, also has a friend named Milo. His friend, who is innocent in all this, finds out that Don is still a class A jerk and had an affair. After a fun day of doing more drywall and then going to a bar, Milo goes back to work on the house only to end up talking with Sarah for a moment and then getting his head crushed in with a sledge hammer. To finish up the job, the also innocent dog is killed, cut up and stuffed into the dryer for Don to find. So for those keeping track, Don has ruined peoples lives, cheated on his wife, gotten his buddy and his dog killed and also been rude to the pretty odd bowling alley owner all because he wouldn’t just admit he sucks at drywall and hire some contractors with that money he defrauded people of. If you are getting the impression I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Don, you would be right. That guy sucked.

Turns out that the woman who Don had an affair with is a ghost. Yeah, you probably saw that coming. Or, if you were watching the film you would. The house they are renovating used to be a house of ill repute, if you know what I mean. And bad stuff happened there and then it seems bodies were buried and hidden and those spirits don’t exactly like it when renovations to the house are made. The rest of the movie is basically seeing if Don will survive, it his pregnant wife will end up dead and if anyone will figure out where the heck all those marbles are coming from. I won’t spoil the end but yes all those questions get answered.

The performances were interesting and the pacing of the film was overall good if a little too slow at times but I still wondered a few things about this movie.

  1. Don shows up and starts poking around in the house. This disgusting black goo starts coming out of the wall. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t instantly make you think the house is haunted but I would think that maybe you would want to find out if that stuff is some kind of leak or dangerous chemical or something but Don is just like yeah okay. Why didn’t he watch more home improvement videos before starting?
  2. Similarly, this white goo comes through the electrical outlets at which point, I would think you would freak out. Not thinking that the house is haunted still but definitely, like, man I need an electrician here because, like, I don’t want my new baby to get electrocuted because I am pretty sure there is something wrong with the wiring. Why would you ignore that?
  3. Next Don talks to his neighbor who seems to give cryptic hints about life choices and the house he just bought. Why wouldn’t you want to know more here?!
  4. Then the dude goes to this bowling alley. There is no one there and there are only three lanes. The owner makes Don some food and asks him if he is visiting or new in town. Don tells him about the house he bought. At which point the owner asks Don if he is gay and tells him that the house has a history of being, “bad for straight men.” Dude. Someone tells you that about the house you just bought and your impulse is not to say, what do you mean by that tell me more?!?!? Really, I would be like that is one of the weirdest things anyone said to me but all Don does is say, “You’ve got a real nice way of welcoming people to town” angrily at the dude. I get missing the dry wall, the white electrical goo and rolling marbles not tipping you off about your haunted murder house but if a bowling alley owner tells you the place is bad for straight men and you don’t follow up, that is entirely on you.
  5. What did Milo ever do? This house seems to kill men who are bad to women because it has a bad history, but that Milo guy was just there doing some home chores. While the house doesn’t seem to like it, I’m not sure that the rules as this movie has set things out should have had Milo die. He didn’t cheat on anyone or anything. All he did was say that Sarah probably shouldn’t be there and he gets a hammer to his head for that? Come on murder house, stick to your own rules!
  6. When Milo comes in the first place he is baffled by the fact that Don hardly has any tools. Why didn’t Don look this stuff up? I’m gonna renovate a whole house. You know what I’m not gonna do? Read about how to do that!
  7. Okay so again spoiler here but Sarah is a ghost who died in like the twenties maybe but she seems to be up on modern lingo and able to use a cell phone. Do ghosts still get to learn stuff after they are dead? Also she can totally touch stuff all the time and Don even sleeps with her but she is dead, so uh, how does she even feel warm to him?
  8. Later the bowling alley is packed and there are a ton of people there. Does no one else there know that Don bought a murder house? If they do, then it’s pretty messed up that they didn’t warn him. Then again, Don is a class A jerk so I guess it’s all good.
  9. In the end one of the characters lives but then does more renovation on the house. The thing is that there are still at least two bodies in the place. This character knows about the house and why it is haunted yet they don’t check everywhere for other bodies. What the heck man? If you find one, you check the whole house, that’s the rule.
  10. A major plot point in this is this hidden third floor that Don finds when the roof of his bedroom basically collapses. His reaction to that? Just seal it back up. Okay, I get that you don’t get creeped out by a ton of marbles rolling around unexplained. I get that when you hear a laughing voice at all hours, you think it’s in your own mind, I get how you ignore that weird white goo coming out of electrical sockets, and I guess I get why you didn’t ask more at the bowling alley (although I totally would have) but how in the world do you look at a surprise third floor and not at least call someone about it?!?!?!
  11. I’m pretty sure that a neon sign flashing that said this was a bordello where people got murdered so you should probably stay away Don, would not have been enough for this guy to forget about the amateur dry walling. But when you find your dog murdered in the dryer for any reason, it is time to leave. What kind of an idiot stays in a house like this?!
  12. I guess a class A jerk is your answer.

I hope you enjoyed this review and remember that if you are about to take a sledge hammer to a wall because there is weird black goo coming out of it, you are probably better off going to the bowling alley and finding out why it isn’t a good house for straight guys. Or you know, watching some home improvement videos first at least.

Handily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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The Fog (1980) – #MovieReview

“Eleven fifty-five. Almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before twelve. Just to keep us warm.” That’s how John Carpenter chose to start his masterful follow up to Halloween and prove that he is one of the all time horror greats. He showed us he could take a shoestring budget, a simple ghost story, a menacing tone and a crap ton of dry ice and fuel nightmares for decades.

What’s going on everyone? Slick Dungeon here and I just re-watched this classic from 1980 and wanted to give my thoughts on it and a little bit about horror in general. It has been a long time since I saw this movie so although, I certainly remember thinking it was a decent film, I had forgotten how good it actually is. Needless to say, I will be giving some mild spoilers here so be forewarned.

The beginning of the film is a story around a campfire. At this point in cinema history, that’s probably over done and most of the time would not work. But here, in this film, the whole movie is what amounts to a campfire story so it makes a lot of sense. Also, by framing it this way at the beginning, Carpenter is able to set up the atmosphere, give us most of the information that we need to understand the story, and introduce us to the town the story is set in. He takes the time do one very important thing that I think a lot of modern horror films lack. He sets the tone. If you think about one of the best horror films to come out in recent decades, Get Out, does the exact same thing. I know that gore splatter and body horror films are popular but they never scare me as much as a film willing to be patient enough to make the scares matter.

We’re told the legend of the founding of Antonio Bay, involving a tragic shipwreck and it’s obvious from the start that even if every word of this legend is not going to turn out to be true, it will still be deadly. Even more so because the teller of the tale is able to time the tale so that it is finished at the very second that it is 100 years to the date that the shipwreck happened. We know there are ghosts coming for someone from the depths of the bay, through the fog.

Around the same time, a priest in town discovers an old journal belonging to his grandfather, full of murder and secrets buried for a century.

It turns out that the campfire story was only partly true. The shipwreck was deliberate and six men met their deaths because of it. Now, one hundred years after, these six men are coming back through the fog to take revenge on six victims.

Simultaneously, a ship out to sea is enveloped with fog, and a radio station operator starts seeing the impossible. The fog moves against the wind.

The rest of the movie is basically what amounts to guessing who will get killed and who will survive. And to be honest, the effects don’t all hold up that well. But it still works for a few reasons. First, Carpenter waits long enough to truly show us the monsters that they don’t have to look that good. Second, the performances by everyone in this are outstanding. To top that off, the film stars high quality actors including the ever entertaining Hal Holbrook, scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and of course, the most famous Hitchcock blond of them all, Janet Leigh. Finally, Carpenter makes the stakes high immediately by murdering everyone on the ship at sea.

It’s a fascinating psychological portrait and while there are things that jump out at you and startle you, it never has to rely on that to be frightening. I wish more films could learn these lessons. Jump cuts are fun and entertaining but they simply don’t make for the greatest tone, and personally, I usually notice the edit and think, “yeah okay that was a jump cut, let’s move on.”

I can see how a lot of horror fans may have missed this film as it was never as popular as Halloween and it’s sequels and while it doesn’t quite grip you as well as The Thing, it is still masterful cinema. If you love a good ghost tale and have about ninety minutes, you should definitely check this movie out. And if, like me you haven’t seen it in years, it’s a great and fun look back on when horror took it’s time to creep up behind you before striking out.

Foggily yours,

Slick Dungeon

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