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Halloween Reading

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Want some good seasonal reading to get into the Halloween mood? Here are some of my top picks for October.

Usher's Passing by Robert McCammon
One of my absolute favorite novels, Usher's Passing tells the story of the Usher family, descendants of Poe's Ushers, as they prepare for the family patriarch's death. Sinister events begin occurring around the family's North Carolina estate, as the heirs to the family fortune (and curse) gather. McCammon's novel takes place in October and really captures the feel of the season.



A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazney
A new favorite, A Night in the Lonesome October (illustrated by Gahan Wilson), is set in the Victorian era and features characters such as Jack the Ripper, Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Larry Talbot, and Sherlock Holmes. The story is narrated by Jack's familiar, Snuff, a very good dog, who is helping his Master prepare to fight the attempted release of the Old Ones into our world.



Mara

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Just a brief review today; I'm covering Mara, the 208 debut feature from director, Clive Tonge.

Mara's plot revolves around a "sleep demon," the titular Mara, who haunts and eventually kills members of a self-help group for people suffering from sleep paralysis. Olga Kurylenko (a stunningly beautiful actress resembling a young Catherine Zeta-Jones) proves she's more than just a Bond babe (Quantum of Solace) playing Kate, a forensic psychologist, who is called in to investigate the death of Matthew, one of the members of the sleep group.

Kate soon finds herself haunted by Mara, played by Javier Botet, (also the titular ghoul in Mama). Mara is a genuinely terrifying apparition, although she begins to suffer from over exposure toward the film's requisite downbeat ending. While Mara may not be the most original horror movie I've seen lately, it's still entertaining and manages a few good scares and definitely knocks the aforementioned and similar Mama out…

Kaw

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Kaw is a simple movie about killer birds. And, surprisingly, it's a pretty good simple movie about killer birds. It knows it will never be The Birds and doesn't try to be, although it does wear its homages to the Hitchcock film proudly.


The story is simple; locals in a small Pennsylvania town find themselves running afoul of some killer ravens. Sean Patrick Flannery is the chief of police who tries, along with a small group of citizens, to fight off the feathery menace.

The cast is uniformly good. Along with Flannery (who is both adequately talented and easy on the eyes), Stephen McHattie graces us with his presence. McHattie is an underrated gem, particularly in genre films, and he is wonderful in Kaw, as town eccentric, Clyde. Robert Taylor, the square jawed hero of The Birds, is also a nice surprise in the role of the wise town doctor.


Kaw may be just a fun killer animals run amok flick, but it grounds the action in reality by giving us some well developed characters. Serio…

Among the Living

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2014's Among the Living (French title: Aux yeux des vivants) was directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, the super duo who first gained recognition (or notoriety) for their 2007 film, Inside, one of the bloodiest, most violent films I have ever seen (that wasn't directed by Takashi Miike). While it never registered as one of my favorites, I have been eager to see what the pair has done since. So how did this one compare?



The story revolves around three friends, including our hero, Victor, who skip their last afternoon of school before summer to smoke, set things on fire, and tour a long abandoned old movie lot in the nearby woods. It is at the movie lot where they discover a kidnapped woman and the weird family unit who kidnapped her, including a creep in a clown mask. When the boys attempt to tell the police what they've seen, they're dismissed as delinquent kids telling tales. Unfortunately for them, they left behind evidence of Victor's identity and are…

Happy October!

Happy October!
It's the best month of the year!