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Friday, October 20, 2017

Review: LUCKY Is A Memorable Exit For An American Icon



In September of this year, Harry Dean Stanton passed away. The legendary character actor was mourned, though it was pretty much universally acknowledged that he was also 91, with a phenomenal career and long, good life behind him. His first acting role was in 1951; his last leading role was in 1984. Stanton had just... always been with us. He was one of those character actors even casual film and television fans would always recognize, because, well, he's pretty much always memorable. The list of the work he left behind as a supporting actor is almost staggering - Twin Peaks, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Twister, The Last Temptation of Christ, Repo Man, Escape From New York, Alien, and many more. It's fitting, then, that 2017 also gave us Lucky, Stanton's first leading role in decades, a film about growing old and letting go. This is how you say goodbye.

Lucky is largely plotless. In it, Stanton plays Lucky, an old, reclusive cowboy whose daily routine is set, and seemingly has been forever -- until he collapses one morning in his living room while staring at a digital clock stuck at 12:00. The doctor isn't worried, though. Lucky doesn't have cancer, or any other terminal disease; he's just old. There's no treatment for old. Lucky had never really thought about death. He'd fought in World War II. He'd smoked all his life. But age? He doesn't seem to have really considered old age, or death, or what he was leaving behind. And for the rest of the movie, Lucky is forced to do so.

It should go without saying, but Stanton - always good - is excellent here. Lucky begins the movie as an incredibly isolated figure. Most of his interactions are with people in service positions - doctors, waiters, cashiers - who see him regularly enough that he's developed relationships with them. Because of this, Stanton's struggle doesn't really play out in the dialogue, which is often sparse and... not formal, but that kind of distant, codified speech you slip into with people you see regularly but have no real relationship with. But as his routine shifts, he finds that the people in his life care more about him than he thought, and that helps make him more open to forging more personal relationships. I think this is a big part of what helps a potentially bleak film about confronting one's own mortality so much warmer and more enjoyable than it seems. In a way, the movie is about a sudden shock bringing Lucky back to life, back to a world he seemingly left behind, and it takes a performer of Stanton's ability to keep an audience engaged with someone through the darker parts of that process.

This is the directorial debut of character actor John Carroll Lynch (The Invitation), and Lynch - no stranger to making the most of a small role - lets Stanton command the audience. He understands the power of Stanton's face and body language, and through long stretches follows Stanton through basic things: A visit to the diner, a visit to the convenience store, light exercise, game shows, bar. But the film is full of memorable small roles too, and as Lucky opens up, a slew of excellent little performances pop up as well. Ron Livingston (The Office) is here as a life insurance salesman who pops up at the worst moment, but finds surprising dignity in an easily-vilified role. Yvonne Huff has a couple good scenes as a waitress who reaches out to Lucky only to be a bit put off when Lucky gets uncomfortably honest. Even David Lynch is here in a small role as one of Lucky's few real friends, an aging man distraught that his beloved tortoise has run away. The interactions here are small and low stake, but the actors filling these roles do so with an offbeat humanism that give Lucky's world a lived-in feeling.

Lucky is a sweet film about coming to terms with old age, and while it's occasionally mournful, it's rarely melancholic thanks to Stanton's prickly presence. There's some heavy shit in Lucky, but it never feels heavy; even at its darkest, Stanton's performance gave me something concrete to latch onto, a guide through the darkness and into the other side. One late-film moment is, I think, a great encapsulation as to how best we can face the tragedy at the end of all our lives, as Stanton - arguing over something meaningless that becomes surprisingly meaningful out of nowhere - makes a cogent argument for saying fuck it, sticking by what you believe, and going out with a smile. Lucky is the perfect swan song for a great performer.



Lucky is out now in limited release, and arrives at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta on October 20th. Written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja and directed by John Carroll Lynch, Lucky stars Harry Dean Stanton.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Kyle's Comic Picks - October 17, 2017


First things first, quick apologies for missing last week. I was on the road in Arizona last Tuesday through Thursday and that kept me from being able to think about anything other than getting from point A to B. I did get a chance to stop by a local comic shop in Phoenix though (the marvelous All About Books And Comics), where I picked up a few new floppies - the marvelous first issue of Michael Cray and the always great Mister Miracle. I also nabbed a couple of bagged runs, in this case the entirety of Wolfman and Colan's original Night Force (just before DC puts out the nice hardcover...go figure), and the first full mini of Nathaniel Dusk

I was on a real Colan kick I guess. Today, I should be getting my Justice League International omnibus in the mail, and I just got my Bronze Age Swamp Thing one as well. So I'm all set for print reading for the foreseeable future, that's for sure. Will that stop me though, really?

Let's get into this week's good stuff

Mr. Higgins Comes Home h/c - Mike Mignola writes/Warwick Jackson Caldwell draws this send-up of vampire tales. I'm excited about this because it's been a while since I've seen Mignola solo-script something outside of his Hellboy milieu, and given his predilection for gothic horror, this looks to be a lot of fun. 

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #1 - the first Black Hammer spin-off from Jeff Lemire and artist David Rubin, focusing on the villains of that other great current Dark Horse-borne comics universe. Rubin has done some nice fill-ins on the main title recently, so I'm really primed for this new foray into another viewpoint on this world.

Aquaman #29 - As always, I think Dan Abnett's Aquaman is one of the most genuinely enjoyable books DC has in their main line, and this current arc with art by Stjepan Sejic has elevated the title's mysticism and adventure. Plus Aquaman has a beard again and long hair. Just in time.

Grayson: The Superspy Omnibus - Your expensive collection of the week. Here's the title that foisted Tom King onto the world, and in a pretty glorious fashion. For a while there, I thought this was the most fun comic DC had, especially during the end of the New 52/DC You era when readers were much more sparse. This is a collection of the entire thing. The King issues are largely better than the Seeley ones, and they're both better than the two writers that take over for the rest. But those first 19 issues are pretty rock solid, modern day DC thrill-rides.

Sebastian O/The Mystery Play h/c- the "your mileage may vary" Grant Morrison collection is out this week. And as a completest, I think I must have this, as it will sit well next to my Kill Your Boyfriend/Vinamarama h/c. But it's also worth noting that I'm much more mixed on both of these stories. Don't ask me, I know some folks that love them.

The Wild Storm tp vol 1 - I bet this series reads a lot better in a collected form. That cover is really cool. And after reading Michael Cray, I'm suddenly a lot more into this as its more subdued main title - which is unusual.

Kid Lobotomy #1 - the first title in the Shelly Bond curated Black Crown line, which was the talk of SDCC this year. This being a collaboration between Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler has my attention, especially to see how the central concept of the line is shared between the titles. My first IDW title in quite some time.

Kill or Be Killed #13 - I'm six issues behind, I'd still buy it. It's Brubaker/Phillips.

Thor #700 - After last week's big "Marvel is teaming up with a defense contractor" hullabaloo, I've basically sworn off their publishing line - but this is surely some big culmination of Aaron and Dauterman's run. You might want it, I'm sure it'll be especially pretty. 

Now #1 - Fantagraphics is basically picking up where the admirable, but never could quite find an audience, Island left off. They've created their own anthology ongoing with works this issue from Eleanor Davis, Dash Shaw, Sammy Harkham and more. This'll surely be more my speed.
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Monday, October 16, 2017

Best Covers of the Week, Vol. 200

 The Infinite Loop: Nothing But the Truth #2
by Elsa Charretier

I absolutely love the unique color and shading choices on this one, and the depth of the perspective is pretty awesome. This is a cover I'd love to see as a poster someday!

 Magnus #5
by Jorge Fornes

This series has consistently had pretty gorgeous covers that try interesting things conceptually, and this one by Jorge Fornes is certainly not an exception to that rule!

 Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #1
by David Rubín

David Rubín can almost do no wrong in my book, but this kind of bombastic and golden age theme set of characters is just perfect for his style. Excellent color and character work here!

 Spy Seal #3
by Rich Tommaso

From the exceptional detail, sharp color, and lovely design choices, I think these Spy Seal covers may be the best of Tommaso's career thus far.

Ghost Station Zero #3
by Robin Hoelzemann

This cover exemplifies how design, color, and character work can come together to make a really beautiful illustration. 


That's it for this week. What did I miss? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
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Review: THE FLORIDA PROJECT marks a new high-point for Sean Baker

2015's Tangerine, Sean's Baker's big breakthrough, best known as "that movie that was completely shot on an iPhone" was a visual and emotional wonder that was ever so close to finding itself in serious awards contention. Sadly, its narrative heft did not quite match the film's directorial prowess and the strength of its central performances (that bit with James Ransone is a particularly sore, meandering spot). But we all knew that Baker was something truly special, and likely had a major work in his backpocket ready to go at some point in the near future.
Who knew it would only come two years later?
With The Florida Project, Baker tackles another story rarely told on the big screen, this time in the form of the culture that resides on the fringes of the world's most popular tourist destination. Taking place within the confines of an actual hotel right on the outskirts of Walt Disney World in Orlando, the director crafts the story of Moonee (Brooklyn Kimberly Prince), a six year old who lives with her single mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite) within this extended stay lodging. Moonee and her pals Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Jancey (Valeria Cotto), basically run amok within the hallways and even the residences of the Magic Castle, while at the same time Halley - basically out of work - goes out every night with her close pal, and Scootie's mom, Ashley, also a single parent and resident at the fairly shoddy establishment.
Both Moonee and Halley are two sides of the same coin in many respects, both displaying a carefree attitude regarding authority and their own actions - they parlay a sort of independence that would be refreshing if it also wasn't so painfully self-destructive. Halley, a caring mother in her own way, consistently skirts the law via solicitation and other illicit means just to scrape together enough rent money to pay for that week's lodging. The effect on Moonee's own development seems fairly palpable, as being raised in that sort of laissez faire environment turns her into a bit of a tornado of rambunctioness - a frame of mind that will indeed lead to some truly bad decision making on her part and cause a downward spiral for both she and her mother in a way that cannot be held off any more.
From that description, you'd think this was a serious and depressing drama, but in truth, Baker infuses The Florida Project with the same liveliness that flowed throughout Tangerine. These down on their luck folks are often very funny, and the situations they find themselves in, despite how dire the circumstances, never really lose that sense of positivity, up till the closing minutes. It's hard to watch Moonee call one of her neighbors a "ratchet bitch" and not be both aghast, but also guffaw at the sheer audacity of the act. In its way, Baker has crafted his own look at delinquency and the harsh realities of the vicious cycle of poverty in a very Truffaut-type fashion. There's no stretch required to imagine Halley may very well have been exactly like Moonee as a child, and it's very possible Moonee may grow up to face the same challenges as Halley, both in terms of class and personality. At the same time, it's also a pretty magical look at the lengths a mother will go to in order to ensure her daughter's happiness and security within her own loving arms. The emotional moving pieces on display are really incredible, and are all the moreso when thought about in retrospect.
Speaking of, this is a cast devised mostly of unknowns, local actors, Instagram stars, and other areas of media than the traditional Hollywood process. The big exception to that (give or take what are basically cameos by Caleb Landry Jones and Macon Blair), is Willem Dafoe in what is some of his best work in years, and that's really saying something given his high quality dependability as a character actor. Dafoe is kind of the third leg of the film's triad, playing Bobby the hotel's manager, someone who is trying to make the best of a pretty tough employment situation and a rather persnickety owner. Bobby is generally the target of everyone's frustrations at the Magic Castle, and is usually the person most at the receiving end of Halley and Moonee's abuse or the one having to chase the former down for rent and any other issues that seem to never stop arising. Dafoe really makes a meal of this character, playing him as a genuinely good man, who wants to do a great job despite working in what is basically a dump. He even has a nice push and pull in his relationship with Halley that comes across as pseudo-father figure-ish, though just so without it ever veering into outright friendship or anything approaching affection. A difficult needle to thread, but Dafoe's wry performance presents an astounding character that you'd love to get to know even more about and the morsels that Baker tosses our way are tantalizing. An Oscar caliber performance for sure.
But let it not be said that Dafoe is the only standout of the film, as both of its stars, Prince and Vinaite are real finds. I spent the entire movie wondering where I had seen Vinaite before especially - as it turns out I hadn't, but in the way she inhabits Halley, there's a sense of authenticity that I'm not sure could have been possible with a big star. Vinaite, through her sheer magnetism, clearly has some level of understanding of the world of someone living in poverty though surrounded by what is basically trash culture. It's a strange, and tragic, dynamic, and it's the kind of performance that I'm not sure can be replicated in the future; but as it unfolds in front of you, it's a star burning quite brightly.
But again, the lion's share of what makes The Florida Project work so well lies on the shoulders of Baker himself. Corralling a number of disparate factors: working out of a real, operating hotel, honing a number of performances from actors of varying experience, and crafting a powerful script in order to tell a story rarely told into a stunning portrait of life on the margins in one of the keystone cities of American life. A sumptuously shot, 35-mm experience that feels utterly lived-in and real, but never loses its cinematic verve; it's a film that will stay with you, both in its unflinchingness and light-hearted touch. It's one of the best of 2017.
The Florida Project opens exclusively at Regal Tara Cinemas in Atlanta on Friday October 20th
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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Halloween Reads: The Child-Bearer by Zachary T. Owen


Zachary T. Owen has been a frequent guest writer for GeekRex around the Halloween season, and since he has given us a great list of Four Great Reads for the Halloween Season, it only seemed fitting that we give you a taste of his own horror fiction. This short story is part of the collection entitled Doom Sayer, about which we interviewed Zach back in March. It's an excellent collection and a perfect read for anyone looking to add some extra creepy, clever, and sometimes hilarious horror to their Halloween this year! Check out the full book here, but in the meantime please enjoy this excerpt–it certainly kept me awake when I first read it!

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THE CHILD-BEARER
By Zachary T. Owen


When I woke up today my body was infested with hundreds of tiny holes, dry perfect little circles which seemed more like pockets than wounds, for there was no blood or scabbing. I stared at these holes and felt my stomach knot-up. My throat grew tight and I felt myself begin to panic. I itched myself frantically, ferociously, hoping to quell the sudden sickly itch that came from seeing these tiny clusters of holes. They reminded me of insect burrows. I imagined ants crawling out of me. I imagined larvae spilling out of my legs, bees curling inside the dry empty hovels of my arms.
I paced my filthy apartment. I hadn’t cleaned in weeks. The ceiling fan was covered in a thick grey dust and sloppy cobwebs made by ungraceful spiders traveled from the blades to the ceiling. The floor was littered with soiled clothes. I did not notice any of this, not anymore. I was transformed and my environment meant nothing to me now. I paced into my bathroom and stared at the mirror which had become smeared and dirty—the only uncleanly part of my apartment I chose to observe, because I had to look at myself and see the damage. I scraped away the grime enough to see my face. It was as clean and pale and young as it had been when I went to bed the night before in a stupor, liquor bottle clutched in my hand like a cross and a pack of cigarettes across my chest like a bible. I am twenty-seven now. My breasts seemed slightly fuller than before, which worried me. I didn’t want to be carrying a child. I wouldn’t know who the father was. Didn’t care.
I hadn’t been to class in over a week. Some kind of anxiety crept over me. Whenever I went out in public I felt as if everybody was looking at me, tracing my form with their eyes. I didn’t like this. I didn’t want to be the subject of somebody’s disdain. I didn’t even want to be admired or envied.
My clothes were still damp from sweat. I stripped them off. Leggings, dress, bra, all crumpled to the floor like wads of colored tissue. It felt good to be naked again. It always feels better to be naked. Had I not passed out drunk, I probably would have slept on my bed exposed, nothing but a sheet drawn partly across my feet—the part of me that seems to chill no matter what time of the year it is.
I stared at my bare breasts. Some of the men and women I’d slept with seemed quietly critical of my nipples. They are large, yes, but I’ve always thought they would look stranger small. And some have been critical of my belly, which protrudes just slightly. But mostly my partners seem to love my body, to relish tasting my insides, cunt and anus alike. And my hair, at that moment greasy, is long and wavy and full. How proud I am of my hair.
I have never been able to grow long nails and have never cared. My buttocks is lightly peppered with cellulite. These flaws seem little in comparison to my attributes. Full lips, sharp chin. Sturdy, long legs.
But the holes. The insect houses. They were (are) hideous, a geometric nightmare of perfectly formed circles in patterns too organized to appear somehow natural—not to say this is natural, but I mean to imply it was hard to believe I had contracted something and easier to feel I had been purposefully cursed or blighted by somebody, but who I knew not.
They trailed down my arms and legs, mostly, but there were a few on the lower regions of my stomach, a few above my groin. This was upsetting. I itched again. It was a psychological discomfort, I know. These holes did not itch. The idea of them itched. The discomfort of seeing them—that itched.
So I scratched myself until I was raw. My skin flushed from the rapid touch of my angry fingers, I crawled back into bed exhausted and stared at my ceiling and imagined one of the loose tiles falling down and crushing me, though they were too fragile and small to do so. What had happened to me, I wanted to know?
I couldn’t remember my last sexual rendezvous. I had kissed a girl in a bar two nights go, but aside from that, it had been a long while. My anxiety had become too great to let hands venture between my legs, tongues across my nipples, hard cocks into my mouth. I still felt attractive, but I felt lost. Something was wrong. It wasn’t class. It wasn’t my parents. It wasn’t my friends (who were they, anyway?) and I wasn’t sure it was an existential crisis, though that seemed to weigh in favor of it being exactly that.
I slept hard.
When I awoke again my stomach roared and I picked myself up and sauntered to the kitchen where I dug around in my cabinets for too long, finding only cheap Macaroni. I sighed and began to prepare my meal. I ignored my arms and legs, though my peripheral vision constantly threatened to break my illusion of normalcy and cast me into an anxious rage.
When I sat down on my loveseat, in front of my television which had been broken for three days, and dug my spoon into my macaroni, I observed the hollow ends of the noodles as they stuck together and pointed upwards, forming a kind of landscape fit for things with skittering, segmented legs. I hollered and threw my bowl across the room. The spoon flung itself somewhere far off and clattered loudly, the bowl smacked my faded pink wall and macaroni splattered against it. Some of it ricocheted back to me. I stood up and wiped the noodles from myself in horror, and this act caused me to observe my arms and calves and feet and see that the tiny holes had multiplied, and worse yet, there appeared to be something inside of them.
I found myself in front of the mirror again. I watched my face carefully, wondering if it would show any sign of mental illness or a kind of psychic disturbance.
When I gazed into my holes and studied them, I found that the things inside of them resembled smooth pebbles. I tried to pull one of them out, but my fingers were too large for the small caverns of my flesh. I pried. I tried to shift my skin, but nothing worked. I shook my arms vigorously, hoping to dislodge the pebbles by sheer force, but it was to no avail. I shook my head and cried. I trembled and placed my hand nervously on my mouth. I stumbled to the toilet and sat down and looked over my breasts carefully, first the left one, then the right one, checking for signs of invasion. I found none.
I stretched my labia, pulled each lip taught, parted them, wriggled my fingers inside myself—into my sex and then into my anal cavity. I sighed with relief when I found no abnormalities.
It was then my fingers went for my scalp. I scratched and massaged at that hidden skin. Without thought, I began pulling out hair. It was painful. After only wrenching out a few strands, I dug around my bathroom sink for the electric razor—a former lover had left it behind (I suspected on purpose, a constant memento of his existence. He was a person who feared everyone he encountered would one day forget him, something I had come lately to feel hope for). I buzzed my hair off and stared at my naked scalp.
They were there. Yes, those tiny, lined-up trails of would-be burrows. I sobbed. If this disease, this affliction, if it wasn’t sexual, what was it? Maybe it really was a curse. But I could think of nothing I had done to deserve it, unless I had hurt a former bedmate by mistake, and if that was the case I could never expect to easily locate the source of attack.
The itch came back with a hunger. My fingers moved. I rubbed my back against the bathroom doorframe, knowing the skin I now scratched was of course polluted.
I ran myself a scalding hot bath and stepped into the water and shrieked. It took some time for my body to grow comfortable in the heat. I could see redness traveling across myself like a rash.
After a while I convinced myself the itch was gone. I didn’t dare open my eyes. I didn’t dare lay a hand on any portion of myself, shift limb or muscle. I lay in the tub, stoic and burning.  Finally, the water cooled. Finally, I felt at peace. Drifting, I let my mind fill with vague thoughts of a life fulfilled. Visions of a successful, post-graduation future littered my stream of thought. I found comfort, suddenly, in myself.
As I started for slumber I pictured a beach. On that beach I placed a beautiful wife under a golden umbrella. I do not know why I chose gold. My wife kissed me fervently and placed a hand against my back and whispered into my ear, “You are beautiful, spirit and mind, and you have value.”
#
The pebbles drifted from me like miniscule buoys, then sank to the bottom of the tub. I stood and watched the water cascade down the landscape of my body. The holes were still everywhere, but they hadn’t increased. And now they were empty. The exodus of the pebbles could mean anything, but I took it to mean I was healing, that soon my body would be whole again, rather than holes. I wept gently and stepped out of the tub. I didn’t bother to drain it. Trudging wet and naked and sleep-weighted to my couch, I sat down and stared and wondered what came next.
I found my phone and tried to call the doctor. The call didn’t go through. A twinge of coiled fear invaded me again—always I waited too late, thought things were fixed when they had broken beyond repair. What if the time I’d spend fretting over the burrows of my body was time ticking toward destruction? What if the release of the pebble-things brought me closer toward something grim? The thought was inevitable and pulled me magnetically toward the floor where I lay in sprawled despair. I tried to put it out of my head. Nothing. I must think of nothing.
Should I leave? Should I go out? No. There was no way. My head was covered in hollow little spaces I could not explain, visible now that my hair was gone.
I opened my phone again and looked at the long list of names inside, many of which I didn’t recognize. There had to be some ally, some aide to call. I chose Dave. It rang.
“Hello?”
“Hello, Dave. There’s something wrong with me. I need somebody to look at me and give me an opinion and maybe take me to the hospital.”
“Seriously? Fuck you.”
He hung up. I threw my phone. It clattered against my bedframe. I got up and retrieved it. This is an emergency, I thought. I should just call 911.
But the truth was, I was terrified of what they might tell me once they saw what happened, and a part of me irrationally believed if I did nothing and remained in my apartment forever, it wouldn’t get any worse than it had. I would still the progress of this blight, keep it frozen, a statue hand spread across me but never clutching tighter.
I felt like my body would rend itself to pieces as I tore off in different directions at once, uncertain what to do.
And, then, a terrible, repetitious scuttling turned me toward my bathroom. Pouring from the tub, falling wetly to the floor, hard and many-legged, there marched an army of something between crabs and spiders and they came for me, straight for me. I squeaked from my tight throat, my fingers drove themselves inward, into my palms.
The things were black and segmented with eyes in bizarre formations. They were shelled and covered with tiny bits of hair. They had claws and mandibles and thick, gleaming bodies. Huge. They were huge. Each the size of a fist, at least.
And. Headed. Toward. Me.
They came, fast and hard, crawling up me, the tips of their legs poking here and there into the holes they had been born from. I stumbled. Threw myself against walls. Moaned in horror. Somebody would have to hear me. I felt certain.
Brushing them off of me, I backed onto my bed, swept my sheets over myself, used them as a protective shawl, and curled into a fetal egg, whimpering and convulsing.
I remained this way for hours, feeling the crab-spiders dance on me, search for an entrance into my abode. Prayed. I prayed they weren’t smart enough to use their claws to tear into the sheets and to tear into me.
#
When I finally reared my head and scanned my apartment, there they were, piled against the door, as if waiting for an escape to find meat. All of them were dead. Some of them overturned, some missing claws and legs. Maybe they had turned on each other. I laughed.
I stood, breathing hard, and stretched my body. I felt victorious.
But no. The holes were filled, once again, with those smooth pebbles that were really eggs. And worse, the insect houses had now invaded my areolas, spiraling on my breasts like geometric art. They shot down my inner arms, spread on my thighs. I was covered. The itch came back, furious and bitter.
#
I know now I will not make it. I know now I must extinguish myself or forever face these shelled, crawling things which find refuge in me and then return to me for meat, to fill their insect bellies with morsels of myself, take pieces from my lithe, ripe carcass.
This is why I am inside the crawlspace above my apartment.
Just above my fridge—that’s where the entrance is—placed in a way that most would ignore it. The work of crawling atop my fridge, opening the latched door, and climbing inside has left me exhausted. My body is rapidly growing sluggish. Perhaps the eggs are starting to sap me of energy.
I have brought with me a shard of my mirror, which I shattered with an old wooden chair.
It hurts, what I’ve done to my body. The smears of blood on my stomach and breasts and legs do not hide the egg chambers. My intention is to destroy the things inside me while they are still unborn. But I cannot reach all of them. They span my back, hide themselves in places I know I can’t see. I am faint now.
It is my hope that when my children are born they die quickly here, as they did in my apartment. They do not seem intelligent. Of course, they will have me to feed upon. This could make them grow strong and nimble. God, I hope not.
I can’t help but think of all my failures. Am I irredeemable? Have I wronged? Or am I no worse than most?
The pain is flowering. Blossoms of hurt. I can’t stop crying now. Am I loved?
I can see the beach again. The golden umbrella. My wife beneath it. She kisses me and places a hand against my back. My unharmed, tan, sun-warmed back, draped partially in the umbrella’s shadow.
“You are beautiful,” she whispers into me. “Spirit and mind. And you have value.”
I’m kissing her now. I’m kissing her forever. Always, I’m kissing her.

Zachary T. Owen is an arsonist and an author. You can find him on Twitter and other internet vacuums. His books can be found here. 

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Friday, October 13, 2017

THE NEW MUTANTS trailer veers the X-Men franchise towards horror

Fox's X-Men franchise is showing remarkable flexibility lately, from the racuous comedy of Deadpool, to the neo-western Logan, to the Lynchian Legion, and now with the Josh Boone-directed The New Mutants, this property makes its first live-action move into horror.

From the outset, it looks like they're running with the same idea as Legion "mutant(or in this case, mutants) in an asylum and fighting to save themselves from mysterious forces", though this one looks to be playing with it more in a The Shining meets modern jumpscares way.

A lot of folks are going gaga over this, I'm not terribly sold as of yet. There's something about the way Boone and his team have lit these scenes and angled these particular shots, that it undercuts a lot of the attempts at terror. But it's only 120 seconds of the movie, we'll see where it goes from here.

The New Mutants hits theaters on April 13, 2018.


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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Four Great Reads for the Halloween Season

Guest Writer: Zachary T. Owen



The Ratman's Notebooks
by Stephen Gilbert (1969)

Until relatively recently, all of Stephen Gilbert's books were long out of print, including his most famous work—The Ratman's Notebooks. This late 60s thriller is immensely entertaining and a quick, easy read. It was the basis for the made-for-television horror classic Willard, its sequel Ben, and the 2003 theatrically released remake starring Crispin Glover in the title role. Willard, or The Ratman, is much less sympathetically portrayed in the novel. In fact, he's quite a fiend, with a huge appetite for hatred and a disdain for humankind as a whole. Armed with an army of rats who will do his bidding, he eventually bites off more than he can chew, putting everything he's worked for at risk. (Buy it Here)



Completely Doomed
by Robert Bloch, Richard Matheson, David J. Schow, and F. Paul Wilson (2007)

This underrated collection of black and white horror comics adapts stories by genre heavyweights Bloch, Matheson, Wilson, and Schow. Not every story is a winner, but the artwork is consistently pretty great, the variety admirable, and the overall tone a perfect dose of nostalgia for fans of comic books in the vein of Tales From The Crypt and Eerie. It's a fun, gruesome read. The final story in the collection, F. Paul Wilson's “Faces”, still creeps into my thoughts from time to time—it's truly haunting. (Buy it Here)



Rasputin: A Short Life
by Frances Welch (2014)

Why not read a little nonfiction in October? If you're looking for the definitive historical account of Rasputin and his mysterious death, there are other books that go into great, painstaking detail about the Mad Monk's bizarre and brief influence over the Tsar and Tsarita of Russia. Frances Welch's account of “dark forces” allegedly controlling Russia focuses more on the spooky rumors and outrageous accounts of Rasputin. Reputedly he could expand and contract his pupils at will and had powers of hypnosis. Many thought him to be mixed up in the occult, others believed he was a direct line to God. Did you know Rasputin “healed” some women by massaging their butts? Don't even get me started on how many people claimed to own his severed penis after his death. But most interesting of all is how many times his corpse was stolen, once even rising up while on fire (probably because the grave robbers didn't cut his tendons before trying to cremate him, but hey, it's still pretty creepy). There are few historical figures as captivating, alluring, and ultimately repulsive as Rasputin. (Buy it Here)


The Great God Pan
by Arthur Machen (1894)


Short, atmospheric, and still quite potent despite its age, Arthur Machen's 1894 novella The Great God Pan is the perfect read for Halloween. At the time of its release it was dismissed as far too grotesque and decadent (those sound like good selling points to me). It has since gained quite a following. Stephen King once said, “The Great God Pan surmounts its rather clumsy prose and works its way relentlessly into the reader's terror-zone. How many sleepless nights has it caused? God knows, but a few of them were mine.” It's best to go into this one blind. (Buy it Here)


Zachary T. Owen is an arsonist and an author. You can find him on Twitter and other internet vacuums. His books can be found here.

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