Movie review: The Mist (2007)

The Mist 2007Synopsis: There’s creatures in the mist and it’s definitely not gorillas!

Director: Frank Darabont

Starring: Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden and Nathan Gamble

Review: Based on the Stephen King novella (one of my personal favourites) of the same name, David Drayton (Jane) must protect his son (Gamble) when a strange mist encompasses the town, trapping him and a number of other townspeople in the supermarket. It’s not long before petty resentments and jealousies erupt, and hints from army personnel about ‘Project Arrowhead’ getting out causes the shoppers to divide into factions. People being attacked by unseen creatures in the mist rapidly inflame the situation and finally Drayton must decide how best to protect his own life and that of his son.

I’ve long been a fan of the King novella and if you’ve read any of his work, there’s nothing surprising or new here: a small town in Maine is attacked but it’s more the exploration of how mankind deals with the unknown and outside threats which is covered here.

The characters are brought to life well and Jane plays the family man struggling to protect his son while coping with an extraordinary situation well, especially when battling against the crazed, cross-welding, religious maniac played to perfection by Harden – you’ll hate her and be in awe of her zeal at the same time. I found Holden’s character ‘Andrea’ in the Walking Dead to be extremely annoying but she didn’t drive me to want to commit murder in this, although she’s not the most memorable in my opinion. As always with a King story, there’s lots of minor characters who get to shine, especially those involved with closing the loading bay doors.

The action is well-paced and the director allows the cast to use the space well. There’s minimal CGI so the actors have to build the tension which they do. For die-hard King fans, they’ll be annoyed that the ending has changed from the novella. The novella offers the characters a future with hope but this ending is more bleak but in my opinion, this ending is stronger. After watching this, I can guarantee that the next time the fog rolls in, you’ll be checking more than your fog lights as you pack your car.

The Big Interview: Adele Wearing

When I first set up my blog one of my aims was to highlight inspirational women to show young girls they could aspire to achieve something that society, their school, friends or even their parents perhaps said they couldn’t. With that in mind, I interviewed authors, a charity CEO, and a friend who could best be described as a nomad, amongst others. I’m going to be re-running those interviews, with updates as to where they are now. To start us off, I’m catching up with Adele Wearing, founder of Fox Spirit Books.

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I first interviewed Adele in 2012. She’d recently set up the ‘Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse‘, was reviewing books for un:bound and was planning to edit an anthology called ‘Tales of the Nun & Dragon‘ which would help launch Fox Spirit Books. Over the last four years Fox Spirit Books have published over 50 titles, been shortlisted for a number of awards and won the BFS best indie press in 2015, had a launch event at Forbidden Planet London (African Monsters) and generally been insanely busy. Coming up they have the Pocket Party to celebrate finally finishing the Fox Pocket series (details here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fox-pocket-party-tickets-25343708715) and an event as part of the Everybody’s Reading Festival in Leicester in October. Beyond that of course they are going live this year with their first titles for both the Fennec kids and the FoxGloves martial arts lines. Busy times but Adele continues in her aim for world domination, with a very fluffy tail. You can find out more at Fox Spirit Books and on twitter.

And here’s the original interview!

You’ve been described as a feral leader, a muse who kicks people in the face as well as blogger, reviewer and publisher. That’s a lot of alter egos. Are you a secret agent in disguise?

No. I’m actually a changeling. Hagelrat is the closest translation I
could find of my species name in your languages, even then I had to go
half dutch. Knowing that you are a changeling can lead to multiple
personality issues. It’s ok though, you’ll never have to deal with all
the voices in my head, some of them aren’t safe in public.

When are you happiest?
When I’m right in the middle of something I love. That could be
kickboxing, working on the books, having coffee with friends and
sometimes there is nothing better than curling up with a book, a
coffee and my cats. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Which living person do you admire most and why?
Oh it sounds horribly trite but it’s true, so it’s my mum. I know what
she’s handled over the years and just how tough she can be when she
has to be.

So you’ve established and organised the Apocalypse Girls, Fox Spirit, Un:Bound, Alt.Fiction and more. Can you tell us a little about each project and your plans for the future (although world domination seems to be a given).
The Girls Guide to Surviving the Apocalypse was just a bit of fun
really, somewhere for a whole bunch of us to blow off steam thinking
about the end of the world. It took off far beyond what any of us
expected and we have been working on a pitch for it.
Fox Spirit is a new venture, things seem to have aligned and now I’m
an indie publisher which is a little unexpected. I love the books I’ve
got on board and the authors, it’s slightly terrifying and very
exciting. The first books will come out in July.
Un:Bound was where I started with it all really, it started as me
talking to myself, then I discovered the blogging community, events,
got a team on board and ten video editions happened. It’s a little
slower these days but still running and I still try to review
everything I read, which shows how much less i’ve been reading I
suppose, or at least how few finished books.
Alt.Fiction was an established event, run by Alex Davis for Writing
East Midlands and last year when Alex stepped down I took the reigns.
It’s a wonderful event with fantastic people involved and it was
wonderful to see it come together this year. Can’t wait for next year.
What’s next? oh umm, well let’s get the books out and the next
alt.fiction event (Leicester Central Library, 6th October) done and
umm a couple more tournaments under my belt, do the unbound fantasy
movie and take it from there? In spite of my claims to the contrary
i’m not really seeking world domination, I just want to see what I can
do. I guess the plan is to keep pushing until something stops me. Then
push harder.

Given all of the above, what do you consider your greatest achievement?
All in all I’d have to say getting to here from there. A couple of years ago I was unfit, unhappy, and facing the collapse of my supposed to be shiny new marriage. Now i’m training regularly, and well we’ve been through the rest but I’ve never been happier. So much has changed in a relatively short time.

And what would be your biggest disappointment?
Stopping. That’s it really. You try a lot of things, some work some
don’t, that’s fine, but to stop trying stuff, to settle for how things
are and not push to do more, or do things better would bother me. I’m
also very conscious of the fact that people are trusting me with their
work. Vince doesn’t let go of things any easier than I do but is
trusting me to do what I need to for the movie and the authors and
editors involved in Fox Spirit are putting their babies in my hands
and I have to make sure they grow and you know, not shake them.

When do you find time to sleep?
Ah, well biologically we only need a four hour cycle of REM sleep, so
it’s fine. Actually I am usually up around 5:20am and crash around
10pm so I get plenty of sleep usually.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
I embarrass easily and forget it just as fast. The last one I remember
was having to get a pair of swimming trunks at the gym because I’d
packed a shortish dress for work and forgotten to pack knickers.
Ooops.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Hmmm, people who only treat people well when they can do something for
them. I fully recognise I am rubbish and unreliable when it comes to
doing social things or calling regularly, but I hope how I treat
people has nothing to do with what they can do for me.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
Nothing. Oh I have regrets, but I’m happy with where I am now and
changing anything might bring the law of unintended consequences into
play so i’d leave well alone.

Do you have any superstitions/quirks/unique qualities others would call odd?
Ha, I’ve been called on the fact that I talk to myself and other
things (I got spotted explaining to a snail why I was moving it the
other day). I also compulsively check the doors before bed.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome, but everything is at the moment. I expect there are lots that
I am happily oblivious too. I probably over use ‘when I take over the
world’, but you know.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I snore, like a log cutter. Only when I’m unsettled but if I leave a
window open you can hear it down the street.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Angel delight or jello pudding. Butterscotch. I’ll mix it up with a
fork in a measuring jug and instantly eat it straight from the jug.
It’s not classy and I don’t care.

What’s your favourite movie?
Ooh, tough one. I must have seen The Lost Boys a bazillion times and
when I recently saw it at the pictures for an 80’s event was lip
syncing line for line. Serenity is a regular re-watch, and The
Princess Bride will always be special. There are probably a dozen
films that I would always have to have whatever format we move into.
Ones I had on VHS and quickly replaced on DVD.

If you could be a character in any movie, TV show, or book who would it be and why?
She Hulk. I covered her for Know You Idols and face it, if I could
spend a chunk of my time being 6ft 7 of muscular awesome and the rest
of it being a badass lawyer and self defence expert I totally would.
She Hulk loves being a Hulk, fully embraces it and makes it her own.
Although Hawkgirl is also very cool, can fly has big hammer. You may
be seeing a pattern emerge.

What is your earliest memory?
I’m actually not sure. I have blurry recollections of holidays and
things from when I was very small but i’m no longer entirely certain
what’s memory and what i’ve been told about. I remember going to buy
fish with Grandpa when I was very small. He kept tropical fish and an
outdoor pond.

Tell us a secret.
Ah, should this be where I revealed I am a changeling? Rats. Something
else then. I can’t buy cheese anymore, because I love it and if I have
it in I will eat the whole lot in a day. I don’t even pretend to be
using it as real food I just cut slices and scoff it down. So now I
only buy it when I have guests.

Thank you, that was fun. 🙂

Thanks Adele, I’m sure we’ll be bugging you again for more updates in your quest for World Domination!

 

 

Movie Review: Forget Me Not (2009)

Forget Me Not 2009Synopsis: A group of friends celebrate their graduation with a trip but Sandy’s friends start disappearing. The strange thing is, the rest of the group don’t remember them. Is Sandy losing her mind, or is there a darker force at work?

Director: Tyler Oliver

Starring: Carly Schroeder, Cody Linley and Chloe Bridges

Review: When I read the blurb for this movie, I assumed it would be another teen horror/slasher so I was pleasantly surprised to discover a thoughtful and fairly well-made movie.

The vengeful spirit of a girl she played with when child is making Sandy’s friends disappear. There are the typical ‘jocks’ and ‘nerds’ who make up Sandy’s group of friends so in some respects you feel on safe ground. The acting is pretty solid and there’s some original ideas in here so it’s worth a Sunday afternoon (or Halloween evening!) watch. However, the story is fairly plodding and the characters are not that engaging which means Forget Me Not will soon be forgotten.

Starting again, a blank page

Looking for inspiration

I originally started my blog when we first returned to the UK. As a writer starting out, I was constantly told I had to have a media platform before agents or publishers would consider my work so I dutifully started logging my random musings, movie reviews and assorted mad happenings. It slowly grew until it included links to interviews, articles I’d written for other websites, reviews, photos and more. However, with the imminent arrival of my daughter, I stopped blogging and as the months slowly rolled by I found I still had lots to say, but annoyingly no proper time to allocate to getting it out there and eventually the hosting ran out on my website and I chose not to renew it, stupidly before transferring all my work over to here. I’m only now realising how much I lost: random thoughts on the pups first day at day care, reviews of Nine Worlds and other conventions, photos of ‘Bob the spider’ who terrorised me for months and so much more.

Still, I have a new website, and am starting again. in some respects my life now with a pup and the baby is like a shiny new page. I hope you’ll join me on my new journey…..

 

Movie Review:A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)

A Tale of Two Sisters 2003Synopsis: A daughter returns to her family’s home after a stay in a psychiatric hospital. However, despite her treatment, she’s still seeing ghosts.

Director: Jee-woon Kim

Starring: Kap-su Kim, Jang-ah Yum and Su-jeong Lim

Review: I love this movie. It’s got ghosts, horror, family disputes and a pretty good twist at the end.

The movie opens with Bae Soo-mi meeting with her doctor. She’s obviously a disturbed young woman, emitting trauma and desperation. She returns home but you can immediately tell that there are problems in the household: her father is distant and her stepmother would put Disney’s most evil to shame and then there’s her sister. The sisters are close and try to protect each other from the harshness of their stepmother and the distracted nature of their father. The only love and happiness in the household is that generated between the sisters. The house itself has lots of dark corners, perfect for ghosts to hide in. The ghosts are desperatelytrying to tell Bae Soo-mi something but she can’t understand them and the frustration is driving the whole household crazy.

The acting is solid by all the characters, from the distant, guilt-ridden Kap-su Kim as the father, Jung-ah Yum personifying the epitome of evil stepmother and both sisters trying to deal with the death of their mother as well as the strange entity which haunts their home. The scenery is beautiful and the distinctive colours of each set add to the atmosphere. Director Jee-woon Kim does a great job of building atmosphere which can only really be appreciated with a second viewing.

Foreign movies aren’t for everybody and the story can be a little hard to follow but I would highly recommend you stick with it because it’s more than worth it.

Movie Reviews

Do you have a favourite movie genre? I do, it’s definitely horror and the trashier, more supernatural and silly the better.

I was recently asked to name my top movies and I really struggled. A lot of what I’ve been watching recently has had a very ‘U’ rating, but sometimes I’ll sneakily watch a horror while mini-human is napping. However, my movie watching has definitely taken a hit so my aim is to watch a horror a week and review it!

So what am I looking for in a ‘good’ horror? And why do so many have such a low rating on sites such as IMDB? Well, firstly I want scares, but in order to be scared, I need to care about the characters. For example, I love the 2002 movie ‘Dog Soldiers’, in spite of some dodgy sets and sometimes off scripts because I was cheering for each of those guys to survive, whereas in contrast I hated the ‘Blair Witch Project’ (1999) because frankly the witch took too damned long to kill them all! Which brings me to another thing that makes a good horror for me: the baddy. Now, this could be either the annoying, bitchy cheerleader you know is going to get a stake through one of her perfect boobs or the evil entity terrorising the block, you need a good, chilling baddy who meets a gruesome and fitting end (I was pinned to my seat in fear by ‘The Conjuring’ (2013) until they showed the witch, such a disappointment. Ditto ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968), I found the whole thing very dull as no one seemed to get their comeuppance. However, I think we can all agree the end met by the killers in ‘Scream’ was fitting AND hilarious while paying fabulous tribute to the whole horror genre).

I also love an independent horror and often find these, with their lower budgets and sometimes dodgy acting, more frightening (in a wide interpretation of that word!). For example, I was terrified by ‘The Babadook’ (2014) and think it’s a shame it didn’t get the recognition it deserved outside of genre fans. Indie movies can be stylistically impressive such as the 2014 It Follows, although in that case I wasn’t really taken with the story or the characters. In contrast I loved ‘What We Do In The Shadows’ (2014) the blood-soaked send up of vampire horror movies. I’m eagerly waiting their sequel.

I’ve been catching up on my older films too and was recently scared stiff by ‘The Changeling’ (1980) and 0f course ‘The Exorcist’ (1973) has been scaring us all for generations.

One thing I don’t enjoy is the growth of ‘found footage’ films. I’ve yet to find one which has an original storyline, or one which I find has some good scares. The quality, both of the cinematography and script is often poor in my opinion and so I tend to avoid them. Ditto slasher movies.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy ‘bad’ movies, there are some fabulous independent horror movies, such as the ones I’ve mentioned above and I’ll really try anything. Keep popping back to see what I’ve been watching and let me know if there’s something you think I’ve missed.

 

 

Welcome back!

Welcome Back!

And hello to you! Welcome back to my website, it’s been far too long. Grab a cuppa and I’ll tell you all about what I’ve been up to.

When we last spoke, I was telling you about my impending arrival and the problems I had been suffering with pelvic girdle pain as well as the chaos our new puppy was causing. However, an amazing mini human was brought into the world by the fabulous team at my local hospital and how I’m a mum to two amazing girls, one furry, one not so furry. Casa CH girls.jpg

I took longer than I had planned as maternity leave from my writing. I was surprised to discover that I enjoyed being a mum (as crazy as it sounds, I had thought I’d be desperate to get back to work and adult conversation, turns out, it was the complete opposite!). I adored spending time with my daughter, discovering her quirks and personality as well as trying to guide her to become the best version of herself. I’ve loved learning how to train a puppy, seeing her interact with my daughter, love her and play with her. I’ve spent my time doing footprint art, creating edible slime and going on adventures to the park, but it has meant those voices I spent so much time talking about (and to!) previously have been silenced for too long. However, lots of exciting things have been happening on the writing front. I’ve had my first Young Adult novel ‘Akane: The Last of the Orions’ published by Fox Spirit Books, a couple of short stories published in different anthologies and I’m now Commissioning Editor for ‘Kit the Fennec‘, an imprint of Fox Spirit Books focussing on publishing books for 9-12 year olds.

Fennec iconI’ve also set up a small crafting business called ‘Blue Beagle Baby‘ which was a good creative outlet while I wasn’t writing. It started as I was trying to up-cycle some of the more precious items of my daughters clothing into bibs, and has just grown from there to include bags, clothes (oh yes, I made a skirt for myself that didn’t a) fall apart or b) look totally awful) and decorations. Thanks to a new addiction to Pintrest I’ve got a lot more crafting projects to do so I hope you’ll like what I’m working on and share your own work.

Blue Beagle IconSo, what can you expect from the new website? Well there will be much of the same, with movie reviews every Monday, a mix of Wacky Wednesday and Writer Wednesdays as well as the odd Friday Fiction, random musings, interviews with inspirational women who’ve chosen their own path and I’m sure the odd Righteous Rant. (I’ve discovered since becoming a mother that I find a lot more to rage about, from the genderisation of our children before birth to the removal of women from history and even movie merchandise.) I’m also working on living a more eco-friendly life so I hope you’ll join me in experimenting with natural cleaners, cloth nappies and more! There’ll also be jokes and more so I hope you join me on this crazy ride we call life.