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The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2017 edited by Paula Guran, part 2

Seasons of Glass And Iron
An okay fairytale which is basically a MeToo tale. Two women have had bad social contact with those who can’t respond appropriately.

The Future Is Blue
There are painful reminiscences in this scifi tale. A girl faces needless abuse and different levels of aggression on a daily basis in a ruined world. The abuse is ferocious and persistent and way out of proportion to what caused it. She saved everyone to no thanks. This was very good and sad.

Best Line:

Grave Goods
By Gemma Files. I’ve read this before. Quarrelsome archaeologists conduct a discordant dig and face Lovecraftian horrors. This was excellent; there is no dignity, moderation or liberal values demonstrated in the face of unrepentant horror.

The Ballad Of Black Tom
A tale of the making of a monster. This has overpowering prolonged rage, destructive behaviour and certitude. This was a wholly unsatisfactory tale of macabre chaos.

Our Talon’s Can Crush Galaxies
A short and excellent tale of a harpy.

An Ocean The Colour Of Bruises
This is a hopelessly misjudged tale of zombies or something that is especially unsatisfactory.

The Iron Man
An incoherent tale of a future with a very different social structure.

The Blameless
A couple are invited to a teenage girl’s exorcism. This was deeply unsatisfactory.

By Stephen Graham Jones. A good tale of grief, resurrection and unfulfilled obligations.

Just Stuff


Trailers, Quotes and Stuff

‘Supergirl’ 3x11 promo
Supergirl forms a team to stop Reign.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ season 2 first look
Gagged Handmaids, Serena Joy sitting, the Commander, Aunt Lydia and the Colonies. Janine seems to have been sent to the Colonies. Where is Nick? What does June burn? Interested.

‘Evil Encounters’ promo

‘Sicario’ promo
Emily Blunt v the cartels. Josh Brolin is there too. Mmmm.

‘Arctic Murders’ promo

‘Requiem’ promo

Popcorn - dry.
Bacon - nice.
Apple juice - too sweet.
Irish Atlantic sea salt hand cooked crisps - okay.
Gluten free choc chip shortbread rounds - okay.
Pepsi - mmm.

I will review ‘Better Watch Out’ and ‘Shadowhunters’ season 2.

Recall ‘Being Erica’?

What is a cycad?

What became of E numbers?

‘’The Irish Times’ Quotes:
“Moving closer to the finish line of its history as a print product.”

“Clouds she considered to be harbingers of evil.”

“Lunacy Regulation.”

“Live lonely lives of quiet desperation.”

“They couldn’t really play, which was part of their charm.”

“I was in a shop buying underwear and about eight people spotted me. I started running and after three blocks hid behind a skip.”

“Sitting among much older, very sick people with only Sky News as a distraction was hardly psychologically helpful.”

“1970s toys.”

“Rational discourse.”

“Woeful predictability.”

“Alarming ease.”

“Irrevocable lapse.”


“Shunned social contact.”

“Public disquiet.”

“If the inhabitants of the valley couldn’t get out they would all go bonkers from interbreeding after a couple of years.”

‘The Guardian’ Quotes:
“Encouraging this type of behaviour?”

“Put in places with other bad kids, where all the bad kids go.”

“The spikes are said to have evolved to stop the dinosaurs from eating them.”

“Extinct in the wild.”

“Feeling the disgrace very keenly.”

“Thirst traps.”

“Fossilised attitude.”

“Not to have been listened to.”

“Dumped four tons of glitter on the dancefloor.”

“We pumped it into the sewers. You could smell it for two blocks.”

“In violation of the regulations by having a zebra in a club.”

“The animals would take dumps on the dance floor.”

“Least relevant Catherine.”

“Announce it would resign en masse if a queen of the Netherlands alighted on Spanish soil.”

‘Inside Number 9’ Quote:
“Listen to me bitch.”

‘Neighbours’ Quotes:
“Rough Trade’s over.”

“Totally into my urine.”

‘Millionaire Ex-Wives Club’ Quotes:
“A demonic building.”

“Socialite women who live glamorous lives in London.”

“Pleading poverty in court.”

“Branded a liar.”

“Far from given up.”

“Fantastically imperfect.”

3 60s Movies Reviewed

Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors (1965)

The Curse Of The Werewolf (1961)

Frankenstein Created Woman (1967)

Before We Die (2017 - ?) 1x01 Reviewed

This Swedish drama leaves one unenthuastic. A female cop is a weathered observer of crime. She busts her son, Christian, as a drug dealer. A low personal accomplishment. She feels pitiable. The opening credits try for moody. 2 years pass. The female cop bangs a married man. Who is Inez, whom everyone talks about? A snotty woman with a supercilious attitude tries to get the female cop to retire. This was not intriguing or blistering. The married man, Sven, vanishes. What happened to Sven? Clothes shop workers look snotty. This was sorely lacking and there is no logical reason to care. There was also a less than stellar car chase.


Next Of Kin (2018) 1x01
This ITV drama sees GP Mona Shirani and her loving family face shock and horror when a relative is abducted abroad and apparently killed. Mona’s nephew has vanished from his college and the cops ask questions. This was boring with no notable features. The family have dubious connections and continued torment. Who is imperilling them and why? This does not enrage, sadden or delight. This has no rawness or honesty.

Best Lines:
“Four time zones away.”

“I’m sure he does it on purpose.”

Carpathian Eagle
Murder victims are being found with their hearts cut out in this memorable episode. Anthony Valentine, Suzanne Danielle and Pierce Brosnan star. There are white high heeled ankle boots, an obviously fake accent and a perv with a porn-tache. There is back fat and nice opening credits. This has a very 1970s vibe as a rough arse cop (Valentine of ‘Raffles’) looks for the killer. He learns of Natalie (Danielle) an author writing about a long dead countess who 300 years ago liked to cut out the hearts of her lovers. I wonder if ‘Basic Instinct’ borrowed from this.

Valentine’s flat has 70s décor, a glass milk bottle, a big radio and a wall mounted phone. He wonders if someone was inspired to become a serial killer by Natalie’s book which has not yet been published. The cop wonders why people are being killed. There are no moralistic quandaries and there is blathering about the unconscious. Does the killer have DID or what? The killer is obvious.

A mad old lady babbles and has a drag queen nephew. There are desperate contrivances and no stoniness of despair. The cop tells off his partner for being homophobic - he’s progressive for 1980. A fake old rich perv escapes the killer after picking up a woman with murderous instincts in the street. Some reviewers call this misguided and forgettable but I enjoyed it.

This is insane and has a genuinely creepy ending. A jogger (the future 007 Brosnan) in his Fred Perry attire picks up in the loony killer in a park and dies off screen. Natalie hides a key under an outside window sill, nobody notices. Suspicion dissipates the copper’s goodwill. The police search Natalie’s house and fail to the notice the key.

The killer has no power or menace in this non-grimy, non-hard-edged tale. The cop is brilliantly callous and dim. Natalie has coldness and a matter of fact approach to lying. Her flat affect is oddly disturbing. Is it bad acting or an acting choice? Natalie is the killer, like duh and has disregard for human life for no clear reason.

Natalie dumps the cop after the house search and is temperamental. She undumps him and nobody is warm, empathetic or engaging. There is no deep psychological or emotional pain or tormented memories that explain Natalie. The cop thinks he’s gonna get lucky but instead as he lies on his green bed in his green bedroom, Natalie produces a full wig and costume to dress up as the Countess. Where did she get the cosplay getup? She kills him in his green horror of a bedroom and where did she get the outfit? Where was it hidden?

He’s sad when he dies and somehow she isn’t a suspect. His name was Cliff, maybe. This was before DNA evidence apparently. A camera crew with tight jeans lurks at Cliff’s funeral. The drag queen has grief and sadness. There is no dread-filled silence or frame filling darkness. Then things get morbid and eerie as Natalie proves to have no humanity or tragedy.

Natalie meanders to a new location and a new obsession. A gardener (W Morgan Sheppard) tells her of a killer nurse who strangled rich men with a silk scarf while he himself wields a scythe. The last we see of Natalie she is posing with a nurse’s uniform which she then discards to reveal her hard body in sexy underwear as she tests out a silk strangling scarf. Creepy. This was very good.

Best Lines:
“You knew you were going to get more than a lift into town.”

“Not lost his desire for her.”

“Selects young men to be her lovers.”

“People liked that sort of horror story.”

“It’s an alarming thought.”

“To all intents and purposes lives a wholly unremarkable life.”

“The wolf takes over.”

“What nephew?”

“Don’t be temperamental!”

“Not in the business of making life difficult.”

“Thinking in clichés.”

“The Eagle Woman.”

“Let fly with his handbag.”

“Entertaining loonies in their absence.”

“I wish I’d been more understanding.”

“Journalist scum.”

“I break his head!”

“What have we done you and I?”

“Them rich old boys.”

“Set up a nice looking girl in a little love nest.”

Trailers, Quotes and Stuff

‘Fifty Shades Freed’ TV spot
They get married. There is posing and nudity and dodgy accents and blindfolds and a gun. No.

Best Line:
“Yes sir.”

‘Ghost Stories’ trailer
Based on the excellent play. There is mumbling and unfathomable behaviour. Martin Freeman is in this. Maybe.

Best Lines:
“Your incident.”

“Do you believe in evil?”

“I don’t like it!”

‘Next Of Kin’ 1x02 promo

‘Striking Out’ promo
Evil nuns.

‘The Man With The Iron Heart’ trailer

Best Line:
“Turning our nation to greatness.”

Double chocolate truffle - okay.
Simply chocolate - no.
Sticky toffee - okay.
Death by chocolate - okay.
Praline perfection - nice.
Lemon meringue pie choc - okay.
Shamrock & sour cream crisps - okay.

I’d try watermelon jerky.

I’ll review ‘Sicario’.

I won’t read ‘Bad Sister’.

Did anyone read ‘Spycatcher’ (1987)? Or ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ (1982)?

Who saw ‘Stuck On You’ (2003)? Or ‘Doom Generation’? Or ‘The Grifters’ (1991)? Or ‘All The Pretty Horses’? Or ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’? Or ‘Resident Evil’?

Read up on polar thigh - gross.

There are competitive shin kickers?

What’s ‘Save Me’?

A ‘Vampire Chronicles’ TV show?

‘The New Mutants’ is delayed? WHY?

Madonna Rebel Heart Tour Quote:
“Fascist dictators posing as righteous men.”

‘The Sunday Times’ Quotes:
“Mysterious and unsavoury elements.”

“Of poor character.”

“Couldn’t contemplate obscurity.”

“Economic prudence.”

“Capable provider.”

“Dangerous altitude.”

“Ideological purity.”

“Lacks star quality.”

“Generational discontent.”

“Callous intellectual take on modern morals.”

“Beau monde.”

“A frock that costs more than the going rate to defect from North Korea.”

“Privileged orbit.”


“Strategically slashed upwards, downwards and inwards.”


“Digital memory.”

“Go home for trysts with fans who approached him on the street.”

“Shining his torch into the face of anyone in a hoodie.”

“Demands money and time from people to celebrate her own personal life choice,”

“Creepy 1950s unease.”

“Popular TV.”

“Had an evil reputation.”

“Figures of particular dread.”

“The savagery of their habits: painting themselves blue, going naked, drinking milk.”

“Base-pleaser and an antagonist to everyone they hate.”

“Young vs Young might be one of the longest divorce cases in British history, ongoing since 2006 despite him having fallen to his death on railings outside a Marylebone flat in 2014.”

“Goes down like a bowl of cat sick.”

‘Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years’ Quote:
“I’ll help you murder those bastard slugs.”

‘Meerkat Manor’ Quote:
“Waits for a family that won’t be returning.”

‘Dr Phil’ Quotes:
“Conversate with us.”

“Question the sincerity of that.”

Mr. Holmes (2015)
An elderly Holmes (Ian McKellen) seeks the help of his housekeeper’s son in recalling the one case he failed to solve. This is based on the book ‘A Slight Trick Of The Mind’ which I’ve never read. Holmes has resilience and adaptability. He’s old and still famous and has bees. Holmes hated the countryside and would not have retired to keep bees. Foul deeds are not afoot and this is a terrible deconstruction of the legend.

Watson who is never seen left Baker Street when he married. Who did he marry? Holmes has lived past WW1 and WW2. The housekeeper’s son (Milo Parker of ‘The Durrells’) resents his bitch mother. Holmes is a bit of a sexist. Holmes is 93 or so. Holmes was in Japan for some reason. Humourless people talk. This was not a gratifying surprise. Holmes is going senile and has belligerence.

This doesn’t tantalise the imagination. The witless housekeeper who exists for no discernable purpose whines. This was not evocative and is written with staggering laziness. There are flashbacks with a glass harmonica and an angry, bitter, resentful, controlling husband who is fundamentally antagonistic. Holmes deliberately cultivated coolness and distance and this was a bad thing.

There are moral tendencies. The boring housekeeper annoys. This wasn't intensely engaging. It has grim dentation, no elegant mystery and is not a wacky curio. There is no melodramatic pathos and it is not compelling and frees itself from the demands of realism and probability. Mycroft is dead. Holmes never read Watson’s stories which he dismisses as penny dreadfuls. Watson died estranged from Holmes and TPTB spit on their friendship. Did Mark Gatiss write this crap?

This leaves one grievously disappointed. The housekeeper is pretentious. Holmes has rhetorical bluster. Holmes goes to a movie about himself. This is more dead than a coffin’s contents. This was utter tedium that is not even vaguely intriguing. Holmes thinks of a dead irritating blonde chippie. He shoots up or something. The utterly hateful housekeeper is dim-witted. This was ineptitude with too much talking.

Best Lines:
“Watson had always published a false address.”

“Very very wrong.”

“That thing?”

“Is it food?”

“A person of dangerous beliefs.”

“With the hat and the pipe.”

“Question my truth.”

“Cloak his cowardice in a flag of sacrifice.”

“No particular fondness.”

“Done something terribly wrong.”

“Loiter you did.”

“John didn’t know me at all.”

American Assassin (2017)
Dylan O’Brien fights bad guys for rumative and bitter reasons. The trailer gave the whole plot away. Anyway Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan and Taylor Kitsch also star. Mitch Rapp (O’Brien of ‘Teen Wolf’) and his chest hair patch faces insurmountable tragedy and tries for glowering intensity.

This lacks gravity and any sense of impending threat. Mitch wears hideous yellow shorts on a beach; cue a terror attack that bears a resemblance to a real life attack. Mitch walks off being shot and has emotional injury and goes section 8 due to his big busted girlfriend dying. People get shot and its not elemental chaos just facile; Mitch over-obsesses and grows a comedy beard due to his galpal getting shot in her plastic chest.

This portentousness is based on a Vince Flynn novel; this is overplotted unnecessary incoherence with no emotional response. The ever-compelling Keaton is the grizzled mentor with no ethical concerns. David Suchet is in this. Who is the baddie and why should I care? Mitch is recruited by the CIA despite being an obvious mental case. He goes through bizarre training and there is mumbling and violence. At one point he is attacked by 2 dogs. I’m not sure what is happening or why.

The bad guy (Kitsch) wants potentially ruinous things to happen. This does not leave you engaged. Why did the maddeningly irresponsible idiot (Lathan) hire Mitch? This was not direct and profound. Keaton does quiet rage and the baddie doesn’t seem bright enough to concoct the movie’s machinations. There is a bad VFX bomb blast.

The baddie has vicious resentment and this movie is infuriating and inherently maddening. Nobody has ambition, competence or dedication. There is a sequel set up. This is not epochal. People have hearts full of wickedness and deep mutual loathing. Keaton out-badasses O’Brien by biting off the bad guy’s ear, chewing on it and spitting it in his face.

Best Lines:
“Have them lie awake at night, knowing I’m coming for them.”

“Spare me your junior-year abroad moral opinion, would you, Rapp?”

“Where’s the new me?”

Election (1999)

Aladdin (1992)
The Red Brain: Great Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos edited by S.T. Joshi, part 2

The Crimson Fog
This was not motivated, competent or intelligent as soldiers face a dark and disturbing enemy. This does not leave one enraptured.

The end of the world begins in a sex shop. This was all cultural fatalism and social disaffection with no cogent explanation just comical absurdity. This wasn’t even nominally interesting.

The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror 2017 edited by Paula Guran, part 1

“I’m afraid of the people in the dark.”
Volatile Bonds by Jaye Wells
This is the 4th book in the ‘Prospero’s War’ series. It’s good. Kate continues her mortal feud against dirty magic and various bad people do bad things while casting murderous glowers. Kate’s brother fails to be emotionally truthful while being deliberately inflammatory.

People utter portentous dialogue and have plain sinister plans as the ongoing story arcs go on unresolved for the foreseeable future. Someone is colossally ambitious as they seek the unattainable. Kate has a glaring lack of tolerance for stress and receives attention from many men whilst being over-introspective. I enjoyed this but one grows tired of Kate’s rationalisations for her grievances.

Best Lines:
“We ended up being threatened with a duck.”

“Smell the ambition on you.”

“Weren’t going for subtlety on this.”

“It was pretty cool if you didn’t mind stumbling over homeless people having sex.”

“Still managed to shout intermittent threats.”

Summon The Keeper by Tanya Huff
This 1998 fantasy sees various people with magical powers, magical beings and a cat getting into bother at a B&B that has a portal to hell in the basement. This is Book 1 In a trilogy and it is onerous to read.

Hell has unachieved ambition, there is a loveless heroine who is a custodian of knowledge and instead of being a compelling outsider - she needs a man. This is neither humorous nor darkly disturbing. The characters eschew any personality. It is not worthwhile to read this.

The Red Brain: Great Tales Of The Cthulhu Mythos edited by S.T. Joshi, part 1

“An eighteenth century gentleman unwillingly placed in a twentieth century he abhorred-”

Falco Ossifracus: by Mr. Goodguile
This Lovecraftian spoof is a dull tale of non-inventive melodrama that isn’t masterfully subtle.

Best Line:
“That we possessed tastes mutually morbid or a predilection for graveyards I must strenuously deny.”

The Red Brain
This tale full of clunking exposition is full of narrative contrivance and is of no particular worth.

Best Line:
“No one knew or cared, for there was then none to know or care.”

The Beast Of Averoigne
In these sorrowful reflections a monk tells of a beast. This tale promises us a dramatic maelstrom but it is just unfulfilled promise.

Best Lines:
“Its advent was coeval with the first rising of the red comet.”

“Satanry to come.”

The Will Of Claude Asher
This is a very good purple prosed tale of an evil brother who is held in low regard and who is entirely capable of evil. This was unexpectedly efficient. This tells of treachery, cruelty and how one man brings the character of an area into disrepute while making general statements of his evil intent.

Best Line:
“Horror-ridden years that followed.”

The Pattern
By Ramsey Campbell. This tale doesn’t seethe with menace just underlying pointlessness.

The Sect Of The Idiot
By Thomas Ligotti. This is over-written torpor done in such absurdly dramatic fashion that it is wearying.

An okayish tale of a ghoul and her lovelessness and grim unsentimentality.

Best Line:
“Vanished under circumstances of suggestive peculiarity.”

The Peddler’s Tale, Or, Isobel’s Revenge
By Caitlin R. Kiernan. I’ve read this before. A storyteller is ominously evasive about the truth of her emotive oratory.

A neo-noir tale of the cataclysmic impact taking an ill-advised job has on a PI. While not incredibly dark and intense, it is okay and has cold logic.

Pickman’s Lazarus
An artist plays tribute to Pickman’s uncanny promise. There is no emotional investment in this cheerlessness.

Best Line:
Weird things keep cropping up in the cellars and attics of old Boston.”


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