Book Review – Revival by Stephen King

Revival by Stephen King

SUMMARY

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister, Charles Jacobs. Soon they forge a deep bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Decades later, Jamie is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Now an addict, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings.

REVIEW

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

At six years old, Jamie Morton is playing with his toy soldiers when a shadow looms over him. This is the shadow of the man named Charles Jacobs, a new minister in town. Jamie gets to know this man and the two have a connection until tragedy strikes Charles Jacobs.

Years later, Jamie is destined to be put in the shadow of Charles Jacobs once more. Jamie has succumbed to a heroin addiction after years of touring with various bands. Jacobs is no longer a minister. He’s now a carnival showman who can tap into what he calls “secret electricity” to not only perform neat tricks for crowds but also to cure people of their afflictions. Including addiction to heroine. Jamie’s life is saved by Jacobs but things might be better if he had never been cured.

While reading the book it doesn’t take very long for the reader to understand this is a Frankenstein story about a man obsessing over his grief and loss and willing to go to any extreme to change the world. He’ll pursue knowledge at the cost of anyone and anything that comes his way.

With most Stephen King books I am of the opinion the journey toward the end of the book is better than the ending itself. With this one I feel the exact opposite. The ending is fantastic but it takes more work than it is worth to get there.

While the character of Charles Jacobs is compelling and interesting and the reader always wonders what is exactly happening with him, the weak point is the main character of Jamie Morton. I never found myself caring enough about him for it to matter to me what happened to him. Also, the story of a man who is struggling through addiction is very well trodden territory for King and it never felt like anything new here.

If the book was cut by a third and told from the perspective of Charles Jacobs this really could have been one of King’s best books. That’s not what we have however and while there are great moments of horror and some compelling events, they don’t add up to a great book.

If you love stories about people who can’t quit their obsessions this is a good one and if you like anything Stephen King writes, this is not your worst choice. Just know, it’s also not your best choice.

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 8)

Archive 81

Hello horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’ve finally made it through the last episode of the Netflix hit horror show Archive 81 and I am here to give the episode and the whole series my final thoughts. Just in case you have not yet finished the whole series yourself do be warned I may be spoiling the entire show for you. If you haven’t watched it, give it a view and then read my reviews.

Alright, now that we have that business taken care of let’s talk about this final episode. Throughout the show Dan and Melody have been on opposite ends of a timeline. Dan is in our present and Melody is in 1994. We’ve been watching events that connect the two through archived footage Melody shot and Dan is restoring.

There’s a lot more backstory to it but basically, there is a cult who wants to open a door into an alternate dimension and doesn’t really care who they have to hurt to make that happen. Twice in the show we’ve seen the ritual to make this happen and we know both times things did not go as planned.

Dan feels a strong connection to Melody and realizes she’s stuck in this alternate reality. This final episode deals with Dan attempting to bring Melody back. I guess if you’ve seen a ritual fail twice, the logical thing to do is try it again? Anyway, that’s Dan’s idea. Considering this is a horror show where weird things happen I don’t think any one is surprised when *spoiler* things go poorly. Dan essentially ends up switching places with Melody and he ends up in 1994. Melody is saved which is one thing the audience was rooting for the entire time but of course we didn’t want to see Dan stuck. Ah well, things happen I guess.

While I think some of the episodes of this show were exceptionally good, especially the early episodes, I don’t think the show reached the level of great. If you are a horror or suspense fan there are definitely worse shows to watch. This is a good show for a weekend binge but I wouldn’t get too invested in it. If they come out with a second season I doubt I will care enough to watch. But on the other hand I don’t regret the time I spent watching it at all. I don’t feel like the show cheated me of anything. The acting is really solid throughout the show and it’s able to take itself seriously without getting bogged down in the ridiculous. There are one or two twists which are genuinely surprising but the end of the show isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. While clever, it’s not amazing.

If you’ve watched this whole show, I’m curious what you thought of it. Was it worth the time or do you wish you had watched something else? Also, if you know of a great show (especially horror or suspense) I should check out next give me your recommendations in the comments.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 7)

Archive 81

Hello horror fanatics and aficionados, it’s me, Slick Dungeon, back to review the penultimate episode of the Netflix horror hit Archive 81. There may be spoilers for the first seven episodes in this review so if that sort of thing bothers you go watch the show first and then come back to read.

The first six episodes of this show really tell us the story of Dan who is in our present and Melody who is in the 1990’s. Throughout the story we’ve been getting little tidbits of a cult that seems to have taken up residence at a place called the Visser building, once an old manor and then an apartment building in New York city. While the portions of Melody’s story would still be considered somewhat of a period piece, the seventh episode goes the furthest back in time so far all the way to 1924 to become a proper period piece. We get more context of the videos Dan has been restoring from that era which were a series of shows called the Circle. Turns out the circle was a straight up cult who seems to worship a demon/alien/god or something tied up with a comet.

I’ve said all along this show is going to hinge on its final episode for me but again if it is aliens, I’m kind of over it. Still, whatever this thing is, strange things are definitely happening and we’re about to get the really big reveals in the next episode. The show has done a good job maintaining the tone and the pace enough to make this fairly interesting and this episode still delivers but I’m not sure it’s as impactful as the makers of the show would like. Because we’ve been seeing what Dan sees and experiencing what Melody experiences, it was already pretty clear there is a cult involved and at least one of the shocking moments is not shocking because, well, we already saw it in the restored footage.

Whether or not the show can wrap all this up in an interesting way remains to be seen but I’m looking forward to the final episode to see how it ends.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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My Bloody Valentine (1981) – Movie Review

My BloodyValentine (1981)

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Hey lovebirds, Slick Dungeon here. It’s the month of February and that means love is in the air and everyone wants to celebrate Valentine’s day. Unless, of course, you live in Valentine Bluffs where a trapped miner decided to go on a killing spree offing anyone related to his mining accident or Valentine’s day. Fair warning if you have not guessed already, there will be spoilers for this movie. It came out 41 years ago, I think we’re okay to talk about this one.

Every good holiday needs it’s own slasher/killer movie. The scary ones were already taken with Halloween and Friday the 13th. The next most obvious one would probably be New Years Eve but in 1981 we got a movie suited for horror fans on a date on February 14th. I don’t know when we’ll get around to having an Arbor day slasher feature but I am sure if it is not already out there it will be.

Anyway, this movie is about a group of miners in a small town. It’s been twenty years since a killing spree happened on this holiday and the town is finally ready to move on and have some fun. It’s decorated to the max and there will be a dance.

Everything is going well until someone gets a heart shaped candy box with… an actual heart in it.

If you are a horror fan you already know what’s coming. The killings continue, the town does cancel the dance due to safety concerns, but a group of idiots insists on having a Valentine’s day party anyway. Their preferred location for said party? The mines. Well, more like the rec room of the mine at least to start but it’s still a bad idea.

Soon a maniac with a pickaxe is on the loose doing as much damage as possible. Bodies are found, dates are cornered in secluded locations and then killed, local law enforcement has to intervene and the body count rises.

Now, I know some people love this film and it’s a serviceable slasher film. But I had not seen it until now and there are a few things working against it. This is not the film’s fault but their blood and gore just doesn’t hold up. We’ve seen it done better too many other times for it to work here. We’ve also seen this story done before, the only difference is the mine is a somewhat unique location for a slasher film. As in most slasher films a lot of dumb decisions are made by the main characters but the choice to go down into an abandoned part of a mine on a night when you already know people have been killed and there is a maniac on the loose seems exceedingly reckless. But the point that most works against this film is the one that can make or break any slasher film. The twist at the end. Friday the 13th did this especially well and Scream is brilliant at this but My Bloody Valentine has a twist that seems rushed and obvious all at once. There’s not a great backstory to it and it feels completely tacked on. I think if they pulled this off better I might have been able to give this three stars instead of two and a half.

If you need a Valentine’s day slasher film to watch, well, this is one of them. It’s not great but it’ll do in a pinch. Just make sure you don’t accept any heart shaped candy boxes with actual hearts in them.

Are you a big fan of Valentine’s themed slashers? If you know a good one, let me know in the comments below!

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 6)

Archive 81

Hey TV bingers, it’s me Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review the sixth episode of the horror hit Archive 81 currently streaming on Netflix. Just a fair warning that there could be spoilers for any of the first six episodes of this show in this review. If you’re all caught up or you simply don’t care about spoilers, feel free to read on!

For the first five episodes of this show things have gotten increasingly strange. Melody is in the past trying to find out what might have happened to her mother at a building called the Visser. Dan is restoring footage with Melody on it in a remote location. Dan does have some access to the outside world and Melody is free to leave the Visser any time she wants. Yet their fates are intertwined and Dan and Melody seem to somehow be communicating through time. Through it all strange and horrifying things keep happening. Any time Dan or Melody explain what is going on they sound downright disturbed mentally.

Thus we reach the sixth episode where everyone becomes exceedingly hysterical. The episode begins this time with footage of what looks like an old film of a show Dan has been restoring called The Circle which is also the name of this episode. Melody wakes up in an unfamiliar apartment without any recollection of how she got there or who’s apartment it is.

The bulk of the episode is spent with Melody who is understandably freaked out, especially considering her friend is missing and she saw someone jump to their death the night before. As she goes on her quest to find more answers she seems more and more like she’s wildly out of control but of course the audience knows she is completely sane.

Dan, meanwhile stumbles onto some tapes made by the last guy who tried to restore the same videos he is working on. Let’s just say it seems like it didn’t go well for that guy. This does reinforce for us that Dan is also sane but sounds like he is not when he describes what is going on to his friend on the outside.

The show does feel like it’s starting to come to a bit of a conclusion as we seem to know at least who all the key figures are. Exactly what they want and how they are attempting to accomplish getting that remain a mystery. And as in most of the episodes there is a big twist at the end. I won’t spoil it here but it does have something to do with the footage Dan has been watching and some of the footage we saw very early on in the series.

It’s a little hard to tell if it’s possible but this episode does leave the audience hoping Dan could somehow save Melody even though that should be completely impossible.

There are only a few more episodes to go and I still think this whole show hinges entirely on the last episode. If they can tie things up and connect the story this could be a great show. If not, then there are some great episodes but it might not be worth a full watch. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 5)

Archive 81

Hello internet world, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’ve just finished watching the fifth episode of the horror hit Archive 81 which is currently streaming on Netflix. I’ll be talking about this episode and the episodes before it so fair warning there may be spoilers below. Otherwise, put your cameras down, lock yourself in a secluded archive and come along with me for the review!

This episode is almost fully focused on Melody and we don’t really see Dan until the very end. Much improved from the last episode, there are fewer horror tropes we’ve all seen, although some still exist. Melody continues her pursuit to find out what happened to her mother and once again the episode opens with a bit of television. This time it’s a news report about someone getting hit by a train. This does come into play later but I won’t spoil why in this review.

The mood and atmosphere increases in creepiness this time as Melody desperately tries to find out what happened to her friend. To find out she has to go to the sixth floor of the Visser, which, of course, was the floor she was warned to stay away from in the very first episode. I thought I had an idea of what might be going on but I was completely wrong. The fact it wasn’t what I was thinking was a refreshing development.

Melody is getting more desperate and her behavior, to an outsider, would seem erratic and like she might be capable of doing a lot of strange things. As the audience, we know she’s sane and there are just strange things happening all around her. She gets some vital information about one of the tenants of the building, which I won’t spoil here but let’s just say, it’s a pretty big reveal.

The last ten minutes of this episode are totally what make it worth watching. There’s a huge reveal and a bit twist which just makes everything more complicated.

I will say this about this show. It’s good at slowly doling out complicating factors and having decent twists. However, if the end is lackluster, that could definitely sink the show overall. I hope their final episodes will keep up the weirdness without succumbing to something like Lost where too many things were simply left unexplained. In order to do that they are going to have to fit a lot in to the next few episodes. We’ll see where it goes.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 4)

Archive 81

Hello fellow horror people, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review the fourth episode of the Netflix horror hit Archive 81. We’ve reached the halfway mark so just be warned if you have not watched the series there may be spoilers for the entire first half of it in this post.

This episode is titled Spirit Receivers and if that made you think there may be spirits or seances or other ghostly things in the episode, well, you win the big stuffed teddy bear, because you are right.

Dan is continuing to restore footage Melody shot in the Visser building. We know now that she is looking for her mother and it seems Melody has shown up to talk to Dan a few times. This should be impossible considering she’s dead and all. With the first three episodes it hadn’t been clear whether or not Dan is hallucinating or dreaming all these interactions with Melody.

In the past Melody is still investigating what the people in this building who seem to be part of a cult ritual are actually doing. She’s not getting very far with that until she is invited to a party by one of the stranger characters in the building. And if you’re thinking strange character plus party equals seance where weird things happen, you get another teddy bear.

A lot of this episode falls into standard tropes of horror but there is one significant twist that might make this show stand out. After Dan has conversations with Melody, she or another character says things she and Dan said in their private conversations. While this is definitely weird for Melody, it should be impossible for Dan, considering Melody is definitely dead. Yet Dan realizes if he can warn Melody in time, maybe he can prevent this fire from ever happening. What’s interesting about this is it confirms Dan’s sanity but the moment he tells someone else about it, he sounds totally insane. And as the viewer we want to see Dan save Melody because they seem to be the nicest characters in the whole show.

In the background LMG, the company Dan is working for seems as nefarious as ever. And once again there is a significant twist at the end of the episode. Although, it’s not super surprising and it also falls into a horror trope. It will be interesting to see what the show does with it.

So far, I would say if you have not watched this show and you like horror and can stomach a bit of blood (you’ve almost definitely seen worse) this is worth checking out. But I will say this fourth episode to me was one of the weaker episodes overall because it does seem to rely on a lot of standard tropes.

I’m going to watch the whole show before I give final judgement but I would like to see the next episode pull the viewer in a little more.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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We Need to Do Something – Movie Review

We Need to Do Something 2021

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hey internet, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review another horror movie. This one is streaming on Hulu right now and is called We Need to Do Something. If you haven’t watched it just a warning there will be some spoilers below.

We Need to Do Something is one of those horror films that basically takes place in a single location. A family of four is trapped in their bathroom after a tornado hits. They’ll need to survive until help can come from the outside but what is out there may be worse than what they are going through.

If you’re not a fan of gore this one will probably not land well with you. However, for all the gore shown in this film, it’s the things not shown on screen that are the most frightening. Like almost all of these types of movies, several characters are keeping secrets of one kind or another and at least one of them knows a lot more about what is going on than anyone else.

About a third of the way into the film there is a definite surprise and things take a decidedly horrific turn.

I was honestly very close to giving this one four stars because the acting here is phenomenal. Even when the incredible is happening, all the actors are perfectly believable. And a lot of the horror is subtle or hinted at which I always like. But for me, the reveal of what was actually happening was a bit underwhelming and not quite believable enough for me to go along with it.

I still think it’s really worth watching and there are absolutely moments that are likely to scare any audience. I found myself having a good time watching it, even with the few flaws it has. I imagine if others do buy into the premise more than I do they would put this higher on their list of good horror films.

If you’re in need of a good scare with quite a lot of psychological terror in the film, this one is definitely worth watching. I would sort of like to see this re-done but with a slightly different character point of view and I think it might be an even more terrifying film.

Have you seen this one? If so, how do you think it compares to other isolation/confinement horror films? Let me know in the comments!

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 3)

Archive 81

Hey horror fanatics it’s me Slick Dungeon, back to review another episode of the Netflix series Archive 81. Just a quick warning there may be spoilers for the first three episodes below so be warned before we get going.

The first episode set our story up with Dan being hired to restore videotapes found after a fire at a building called the Visser. Through these tapes we see the perspective of Melody who is doing a study of the residents of the building. The second episode ratcheted up the connection between the two characters by revealing *spoiler* Melody was being treated for mental health issues by Dan’s father. There is also the potential implication that the two of them possibly had an affair.

While watching these tapes Dan keeps seeing things that don’t make sense. He sees strange images at times, there is a song on the tapes he knows his sister played right before she died in a fire, and there seem to be times where Dan is almost talking directly to Melody.

In this episode, it gets weird. There are times as a viewer where we can’t tell if Dan is dreaming, hallucinating, or somehow actually seeing what it seems like he is seeing. We get more of the backstory of Melody in this episode and start to see that almost everyone at the Visser has something more going on than what it appears on the surface.

There is a subplot with a girl named Jess who seems to have some kind of seizures on a regular basis. While in real life when we would see this happen, we’d all probably have Melody’s reaction which is to want her taken to a doctor to be treated, this is a horror show, so there has to be more to it than that. There is a priest and Jess’ mother who seem to think exorcism is the right approach. There’s clearly some connection between the Visser, Jess, Melody, Dan and Dan’s father all happening at once but it’s still too early to say what it is.

I think one of the most interesting things about this series is that it’s kind of subverting the trope of someone being stuck in an isolated space where horror is happening. While Dan is largely on his own, and he knows this can be bad, the company he works for seems to have people watching him. They have cameras everywhere but they also have a groundskeeper woman who seems to know way more about what he is doing than she should.

This flips the script a bit because usually we want to scream at people to leave the location they are stuck in. Dan can actually leave, and does. But still, there’s something about these tapes and Melody that keep calling back to him. In addition, there were a couple of big reveals in this episode. I won’t get into them here just in case people haven’t watched this far but there was one story with Dan’s friend on the outside that really surprised me and again subverted expectations.

So far, this show is really clever and ratchets up the horror to a high degree without showing much gore or anything overly gruesome. I’m really curious where it will go next.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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TV Review Archive 81 (Episode 2)

Archive 81

Hey horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon back to review the second episode of the hit horror series Archive 81 on Netflix. Be warned there will be some spoilers for episode one and two below. If you’re ready, set your camera down and take a look at the review below!

The first episode of this series did a good job of setting up a mystery with our main characters Dan and Melody. Dan is in our present while Melody is in our past. Melody was making a series of videos for an academic paper on a building called the Visser. Dan restores old film, video tapes, etc. for a career. Dan was hired by the mysterious group known as LMG to restore tapes recovered from a fire at the Visser.

This episode gets into strange territory, starting with a commercial for some kind of DNA tracing technology by a company called Wellspring. This also happens to be the name of the episode. The commercial was so realistic I honestly wondered for a moment if Netflix had suddenly begun putting ads in its shows.

The story moves forward with Dan restoring more tapes and us seeing flashbacks of Melody. On Dan’s end it’s clear people are watching him and he has limited access to the outside world. On Melody’s side she meets more of the residents of the building and let’s just say, they are far from normal. There definitely seems to be something under the surface that is out and out creepy. It’s too early to tell exactly what it is yet but definitely enough to make the viewer want to keep watching.

As the episode goes on we see more of a connection between Dan and Melody. They seem to be connected as Dan’s father has now shown up on the tapes. There is also a clear connection due to a song that Dan hears but is also showing up in the tapes with Melody.

Around the last third of the episode things get very bizarre for Melody and the threat of impending doom is palpable to the viewer.

This second episode is continuing the trend of having a pretty major reveal near the end. I’m not going to say what it is here but I can see why people have been binging this one. I’ll hold my judgement over the whole show until the end but so far the first two episodes have been well worth the time.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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