Author: Steve Vernon with illustrations by Jeff Solway
Release date: Originally released September 30th, 2009, re-released July 31st, 2019
First – I just want to say, this isn’t going to be one of my ‘traditional’ reviews – in that I won’t be sharing any criticism or my usual ‘what I didn’t like section.’ The reason being that this is a book about mythical creatures for kids. I absolutely loved everything about it, and truthfully I can’t find something to suggest any improvement or something that may turn readers off, which is what I usually do.
Second – I owe Steve Vernon an apology. It never dawned on me to review this! How ridiculous, because I review so many books. Steve kindly sent this as a surprise gift for my son last year. My son (who’ll be turning 5 in two months at the time of this review)…
Okay, so for those folks out there who follow this blog – I heartily apologize.
I am a bad, bad, bad blogger. I mean, how long ago did I last blog? It’s been freaking ages.
So let’s just jump right into the blog!
Folks always ask me for my movie suggestions – so here’s one we watched earlier this week. It’s a movie called THE DESCENT, directed by the same director who made one of my favorite werewolf movies, Neil Marshall.Belinda and I originally watched this movie in a theatre and it rocked back then. It is a scary, creepy, claustrophobic film that is guaranteed to make you jump when you watch it.
By the halfway point of the movie you are going to be looking over your shoulder to see if something is behind you. Before you are done watching, you will be checking the walls and ceiling of your living room to make sure there isn’t anything clinging to it.
It is THAT scary.
The second half of the film is shot in the darkness of a cave – and yet we have no difficulty following the story in spite of the darkness. Most movies that depend on shooting in the dark run the risk of confusing their audience – such as the last big battle in the last season of GAME OF THRONES (pardon me while I turn and spit). They completely screwed up what should have been an epic battle the forces of good, evil and not-so-evil when they decided to shoot the so-called “Battle of Winterfell”.
And please do NOT get me started ranting about the absolute pure and undiluted unholy suckitude of that last season of GAME OF THRONES. All I will tell you is that I have got the first seven seasons of GAME OF THRONES on DVD, and after watching that last eighth season I truly believe that I am NEVER going to watch those seven seasons again. I mean, that’d be like getting married to someone who divorces you ten years later and then inventing a dimensional-crossing time machine so that you can go back those ten years and marry that person all over again.
Who needs the grief???
However, in THE DESCENT that darkness plays a part in the irresistible terror of this movie. It is like the ultimate scary campfire story. The little flickers of light around the darkness of the cavern draw you in and make you lean forward in your chair, absolutely terrified that something is going to reach out of that television screen and grab you by the throat. The pale white almost-leech-like skin of the crawlers will totally creep you out.
It is interesting to note that this movie ISN’T actually shot in a cavern. They had planned to, but then in the interest of actor safety and film crew logistics, they built a series of sets and shot from many different angles. So the cave was nothing but a group of hot sets, that added to the feeling that you (as well as the actors) were absolutely lost.Neil Marshall ALSO insisted that rather than using stuntmen, dancers, and contortionists to play the maggoty-white crawling cave-creatures that he hired professional actors to play the monsters. He wanted the skills that these actors could bring to the screen to show each creature as being unique. In all fairness, I don’t know if his gamble paid off, in that they all looked much the same especially given the fleeting glimpses we catch of each critter. However, I admire the creative thought demonstrated by the filmmakers decision to stick with professional actors the way that he did.
So in closing, my recommendation to those of you who are hankering for a scary creature film, to give this one a watch. I recommend that you turn out the lights in the living room. Keep your snacks handy so that you don’t have to interrupt the hour and a half watch time with kitchen breaks. Wait until late at night to watch this flick and prepare yourself for a truly terrifying jump flick that is well-worth watching.
For my ninth Halloween horror movie I followed up last night’s DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) with the direct sequel TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (1970).This is Christopher Lee’s 4th Dracula movie – starting with DRACULA (1958), DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1966) and DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968).
Lee played Count Dracula in a total of 10 movies – 7 Hammer movies, a Jesse Franco film (which I intend to watch later this month, a Jerry Lewis film (?), and a French film entitled DRACULA AND SON.I’ve got mixed feelings about tonight’s movie. First off – hey, it’s Christopher Lee and he’s playing Dracula. That always works for me. Still, this movie seems a little disjointed, and that is due to a pretty good reason.Originally, Lee wasn’t going to be in this movie.
Originally, Lee wasn’t going to be in this movie. The way it happened was that Lee got wind of just how much money his portrayal of Dracula in the first three movies had made for Hammer Studios in the American market and he asked for one of two things.”I want a substantial raise,” Lee demanded. “Either that, or a percentage of what we gross in America.”
To which Hammer Studios replied – “Meh.”
So Lee was out and it was decided that his role would be taken over by a young British actor by the name of Ralph Bates. The idea was that Bates would purchase some of the blood that Dracula had spilled during his beautifully brutal death scene in DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE. Bates donned Dracula’s cape and his famous signet ring and then he drank the blood of Dracula – which is probably where the title came from.
At that point in the movie Bates was supposed to officially become the new Dracula. However, when the US distributor got word that Lee was being replaced they put their foot down.
“No Lee,” the distributors told Hammer Studios. “No US distribution.”
So Lee was back in.
Bates role was brutally severed, letting him die in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Now, you can imagine that Ralph Bates was pretty peeved at losing that role – but Hammer did their best to make it up to him by giving him back-to-back roles in THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTIEN (1970), LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971), and the title role in DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971).
So – getting back to TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA, we’ve got Ralph Bates drinking Dracula’s blood and then spontaneously reincarnating as Christopher Lee. At that point Christopher Lee vows vengeance on three Victorian English gentleman – only he doesn’t kill them himself, he gets their daughters to kill them for him.
Which is a pretty cool idea.My one big beef with the movie is Dracula’s big finish. One of things that Hammer usually did right with Dracula was to kill him off in a really big fashion – but Dracula’s death scene (or at least his temporary death, until the next movie rolls around) really left me cold. It didn’t really seem like the hero had all that much to do with killing Dracula this time around.
My final verdict – between the two movies I’d take DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE every time. But, as a part of Hammer’s 7 movie Christopher Lee Dracula series, I still enjoyed it a lot.
Here’s the trailer to give you just a little taste..
Now – I started writing this series of October reviews – partly because I absolutely love watching horror movies in October – but mostly because I am taking part in the OCTOBER FRIGHTS BLOG HOP!
Join FIFTEEN authors, including myself, in this wild October Festival!
For my EIGHTH Halloween horror movie I decided to go old school and reach for my Hammer.
Yes sir, nobody made horror films like Hammer Films.
Even though I really love Bela Lugosi in the original 1931 movie Dracula – nobody took Dracula so far as Hammer and Christopher Lee did; and DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE is one of the best of them. From scenes like the initial church bell opening scene, or the cinematic priest climbing up the mountain with a cross tied to his back. Gorgeous breathtaking cinema. And the athletic grace that Lee gave his portrayal of the ancient vampire, leaping across the floor and out the window. Nobody moved like Lee did.
Tomorrow night we’re going for TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA. I picked up both of these in two separate 4 movie DVD’s at Walmart.
Here’s a look at the trailer.
And up at the top you might have noticed TWO versions of the movie posters. When I saw this movie in the Audion Theatre in Capreol, Ontario back when I was a youngster – it had the band-aid version of the poster. I loved the flick then and I love it now. Nobody makes horror like Hammer does!
All right so here’s my HALLOWEEN MOVIE COUNTDOWN #7 – SHE CREATUREBack in 2001 Stan Winston (the fellow behind the make-up and creatures in PUMPKINHEAD, THE MONSTER SQUAD, THE THING, EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, LAKE PLACID, MOUSE HUNT and a whole lot of other movies – almost all of them I’ll be watching this October with the exception of MOUSE HUNT) decided to make a series of Creature Features based upon 1950’s AIP monster movies including SHE CREATURE.
Now the original SHE CREATURE (1956) is a bit of a decaying turd – but the 2001 SHE CREATURE – which is what we watched – is the scariest mermaid movie that I have ever seen.
It’s got the old-school Hammer Horror feel to it, with one of the wildest Stan Winston monsters I’ve ever seen.
It’s hard to find – but you can order dvd copies through Amazon. I picked my copy up at a video store that was closing and I am guarding it with my life.
Here’s the trailer.
AND…if you really want to kill an hour and fifteen minutes or so – here’s the public domain copy of the original 1956 SHE CREATURE.
For our sixth October horror movie night I decided to try a movie I hadn’t ever seen. I enjoy the original Leprechaun series of movies with Warwick Davis but I thought I’d try out one of the reboots.So I sat down and watched LEPRECHAUN: ORIGINS.My wife and I watched the first half hour. It had a good jump start, but then things slowed down and then somebody took a left turn into a deep Irish bog and it all crawled to a halt.
I mean, it was bad.
It was a movie funded and created by the World Wrestling Entertainment (known as the WWF up until 2002). The leprechaun was being played by a midget wrestler who goes by the name of Hornswoggle. His birth name is Dylan Postl – and before anybody chides me on using the term “midget wrestler” I’m going to refer you to Mr. Postl who has stated in several interviews “Hey, the word midget makes me money!”
Anyway – back to the movie review. That picture above this paragraph is what Hornswoggle looks like in his wrestling gear.
The picture below this paragraph is the rubber suit they put him in for the movie.
Now I ask you this – does that rubber suit monster look anything like a Leprechaun to you?
No, of course it doesn’t. It looks like a rip-off of Gollum.
What else can I tell you. This is one of those movies where you sit back and say to yourself – “Fuck it. I don’t really all that much to do with the next hour and a half of my life.”
Listen, don’t bother watching this one. I caught it on Amazon, but I really wish I’d thrown it back on in.
For my fifth horror movie night we started out with a brand new SHUDDER release called SCARE ME. The film consists of two main characters – Aya Cash (Stormfront from The Boys) and Josh Ruben (who hasn’t been in ANYTHING that I have ever seen). The whole movie centers around these two caught in a power outage in an old cabin, telling each other scary stories.Basically, it’s horror improv.The only problem is, they truly suck at storytelling. If they were going to make a movie about scary storytelling, I know a fellow who might know a thing or two about that business.Judging from the poster, I guess a third character (Chris Redd) would have shown up but we just couldn’t be bothered. Belinda and I lasted through about one and a half stories and then gave it up as a bad idea.
All right, so SCARE ME didn’t, but we were determined to find something better to watch. Now I had heard about this movie FADE TO BLACK sometime ago, but I had never seen it. The flick was released back in 1980.Basically, the story revolves around this young misanthropic film buff named Eric Binford who lives with aunt (or maybe it’s his mother). The only problem is that he identifies so strongly with characters from older movies that he starts acting out some of these movies. It is sort of a flick about a cosplaying serial killer.Now, this is a cheaply shot flick – but there are some really well shot parts of the movie. And the young actor who plays the main character really gives it his all.The worst part of the movie were the so-called “good guys”. Tim Thomerson plays what has to be one of the shittiest police psychologists that I have ever seen. I mean, this guy is a freaking piece of work. First time we meet him he attempts to seduce the lady police officer who is supposed to be his partner – but, seeing that she basically comes on to him from that very same scene. I mean, the scene plays out like – “Hi, I’m a trained police officer. I’ve heard amazing things about your psychological skills. We should sleep together, right now.” I mean, I know it was the 80’s and all, but you have to see that scene to believe it. And later in the movie when, as a trained criminal psychologist he tries to talk the killer into giving himself up, he goes from “I can help you, Eric, I’m your friend.” to “YOU FUCKING CROSS DRESSING LUNATIC, I’M GOING TO FUCKING BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT!” in about a minute and a half flat.Again, you really have to see it to believe it.But, in spite of some sloppy character work from the “good guys” the scenes with the villain are creepy and mindblowing. I’d recommend this flick, if you don’t mind a few glaring goof-ups from any other character besides the main role. I found this flick on Amazon. Here’s a look at the trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zaIQu1mZ4E
Tonight’s horror movie was another flick from my John Carpenter collection and is my wife’s favorite – PRINCE OF DARKNESS.
It is a moody, creepy, dark and sometimes confusing film – but some of the scenes are going to stick with you all night long and give you nightmares.
I love Donald Pleasance, and Victor Wong is always fun to watch. Jameson Parker (AJ Simon in TV’s Simon & Simon) turned in so stiff a performance that I’ll swear that the actor must have gargled with Sta-Flo Laundry Starch for every single scene he was in. Rock star Alice Cooper is suitably creepy as a weird possessed homicidal derelict does a great job of killing a guy with the frame of a bicycle.
This is a movie that people either love or hate but I find it has grown on me over the years, just like the molecules of cellulite that hang about my waistline.
Okay, so I am going to talk about the horror movie we watched tonight, but I first want to warn you folks about a horror of a movie. A couple of months ago I watched THIS trailer.
Looks pretty good, right? Especially if you are a fan of cheesy hardboiled action flicks, like I am.
Only this movie was way past cheesy. I mean, we’re talking moldy cheese. We’re talking the cruddy fuzz that grows on moldy cheese that has been left too long on the counter to molder. I mean this was crap. If you EVER want to sit down and have a “Bad Movie Night” – (and I’m looking at you, Connor) – this is the movie to choose to watch. Do NOT waste your time, otherwise.
Mel, I know you’re career has been in the toilet lately. For God’s sake, just flush!
Okay, so after watching that last crapfest – and I sat and I watched the whole hour and a half – which really felt like about two and half hours of cactus thorns and pickle juice beneath my fingernails – I decided to reach for something a little more surefire.I pulled out my John Carpenter collection and reached for THE THING.Here’s the trailer.
I mean, do you REALLY need to see the trailer? If you dig horror movies that really scare the shee-it out of you then I know you have already seen THE THING. Probably own a couple of copies of it. Probably have watched it two or three hundred times.
And if you HAVEN’T seen this movie, sit down and watch it right now. I mean, this fucking minute. What – you have to go to work tomorrow? Fuck that noise. Sit down and watch this.
You’ll thank me later.
However, watching this movie tonight seemed particularly appropriate. We’ve got a dozen men living in lockdown conditions afraid of catching what is, basically, a great big freaky alien virus. And the creeping paranoia of this movie. It is freaking marvelous. Everybody in the whole movie is watching each other, not trusting each other, not knowing if their buddy is really the guy they’ve known or if he is this freaky alien in disguise.
Okay, so I would LOVE to do this for every single day in October, but I’ve got a day job and a week or two of night shifts coming up and I’m trying to squeeze in some writing as well, some work around the house, and maybe even a storytelling gig or two.
October is my busy month. Not as busy this year as it has been in other years, but I’m not complaining. Hell, I walked ten kilometers today and I’m still not complaining.
We both found it creepy. It’s a movie about an old couple who have hired a nanny to look after their son, who turns out to be a nearly life-sized ceramic doll.
Have I told you how creepy dolls can be for me? They’re even worse for my wife. I mean, if anyone out there ever watched SONS OF ANARCHY, just try to remember how freaked out Tig was, when it came to dolls, and then multiply that two or three times.
Well, she needs the job and hell, it seems a really easy kind of gig – especially when she finds out that the doll’s “parents” are leaving town for an undetermined time span. So all she has to do is too take care of this doll, bang the local grocery man, and receive an envelope full of cash at the end of every week.
How hard can it be to take care of a freaking doll?
Well, I won’t tell you anything more, because I don’t want to spoil your movie-watching experience. It’s a horror movie, and it isn’t academy award winning quality, but I really enjoyed the all-out creepiness of the atmosphere as well as the occasional jump-scare.
I’d give it a “D” for “Doll”, but not for dull. We enjoyed it. I’d watch it again. What more do you need to hear? It’s a freaking horror movie. Check your brains in the hat rack, kick back and enjoy.