Led Zeppelin II – Better all around song structure on this sophomore release.

Led Zeppelin II

Price: $4.48

(4/5)

Pros: Better overall sound with a few stand out performances

Cons: Lyrical content gets annoying fast for me

In 1969 immediately after the release of their debut album. Led Zeppelin were hard at work recording their sophomore album on the road in which they managed to release the same year. There is obvious progression that can be heard across this release through better complicated strong structure and just overall writing. While this second album is not as ear splitting catchy as their debut; it has another identity altogether and is enjoyable in its own right.  In fact, I enjoyed their debut album a lot more at one point, and this took several repeated listens for me to grow more appreciation towards it. Some people consider this their best album. At this point in my life it’s still not my favorite and perhaps never will be.

Personally I don’t think this album rocks as hard as their debut though, but the bluesy character found through out is pretty tough not to enjoy. The classic and most well known opener Whole Lotta Love opens up with possibly Jimmy Page’s most recognizable riff. There’s some good song structure with that spacy break and nice drumming. Speaking of the drumming, John Bonham has his moments as well, and the song Ramble On displays this, as I find it to be one of their better and more creative songs here. The drums are incredibly light and sound similar to a pencil eraser tapping against a notebook, then later on he gets harder on the kit that blends well with the bass parts. This is one of my favorites for sure.

Lemon is a number that definitely has the most provocative lyrics on the album; but I choose to listen to this a lot more for the technical guitar work, prominent bass work, and catchy soloing. Heartbreaker stands out for its heaviness due to that bass and guitar fusion, with some good soloing as well. They rock pretty hard here; and I love how this blends directly into Living Long Maid. This slightly sped-up, rock-poppy number couldn’t be anymore lyrically simple but it’s really catchy.

There are a few other well crafted songs on here with the closer Bring it On Home ending this thing off on the right note; this one is very bluesy with a nice melodic use of the bass and harmonica, and leads into a hard rocking finish.

The only real flaws for me on this album is the actual content which once again focuses on something to do with a woman; either it’s Robert Plants love for one or how rotten they can just be. I understand this type of content is something found in blues, but if it wasn’t for Plants vocal range in making this stuff cool, with stand out performances for me on songs like Thank You, Bring It On Home, and a few others, along with the band’s overall unit cohesion that allows me to block out the actual lyrics. I wouldn’t care for this album much.

In closing, Led Zeppelin II is a really good follow up that shows the band were progressing as a cohesive unit. Of course there are songs I like more than others, but it was due to repeated listens which leads me to say there’s nothing I actually dislike. Definitely recommended to those whom love classic rock. The album was also re-mastered and re-released last June along with the first four albums. It would be a good idea to grab them if you don’t already own them. I do recommend picking up the debut album Led Zeppelin I as well.

 

 

Classic clashes against Namor and Titanium Man. Invincible Iron Man vol. 3

Marvel Masterworks: Invincible Iron Man – Volume 3

Price: $19.07 

(4.5/5)

Pros: Iron Man vs. Namor, interesting stories and new twist

Cons: Some story elements are too, too overplayed

Tony Stark is under harsh criticism by a congressman named Senator Byrd. He is determined to bring down Tony and take away his national defense contract. Stark not only must remain vigilant against this very aggressive patriot, but also against numerous enemies such as the Black Knight, Count Nefaria and others seeking revenge. -summary

Collecting Tales of Suspense issues 66 – 83 and Tales to Astonish issue 82. This collection of Iron Man stories that shared the title with Captain America continues the Golden Avenger’s exciting adventures. When looking back at these stories it is pretty understandable on what made Iron Man into one of Marvel’s more important properties around the time. Although his rogues gallery would be a negative issue later; they are quite interesting during this time period and his civilian life has many moments of being close to as interesting as well. This is another solid trade that really shouldn’t be skipped by those whom have a soft spot for the earlier stories of the 60’s.

It’s worth mentioning immediately that the action segments are pretty much on par with the last volume and even in some cases quite better. Iron Man engages in a very personal battle with the Russian armored warrior the Titanium Man and I really like how this confrontation was set up, with the Titanium Man simply not liking him, and believing Iron Man’s defeat would terribly hurt the will of the American people. Stan Lee manages to make the battle entertaining enough with a good dose of imagination, and captures the hostilities between Russia and the USA during the Cold War, plus adding that usual comic twist for adventure. It was a pretty good conflict.

Later on Iron Man’s title crosses over with the Sub-Mariner during Namor’s feud with Warlord Krang, which resulted in one of the best Marvel slugfests of all time. Many people forget that at one point Sub-Mariner was a very popular character whom had engaged in some ferocious battles with not only the Hulk but also Iron Man, and some will say this is the  best encounter with the latter. They really do go at it in one for the ages. The Titanium Man returns for another clash, Mandarin attacks once again, and Senator Byrd really becomes a thorn in Stark’s side.

On a positive note a majority of the stories deliver something nice with engaging action and suspense, because one can only wonder how Stark is going to come out on top; unfortunately some of the stories are quite corny, and the love triangle between Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts, and Tony Stark had begun to run its course. Thankfully Lee manages to shake this up quite a bit, but this does get a little annoying in paperback form as opposed to monthly single issues.

Don Heck and Gene Colan’s pencils deliver the goods quite nicely. The multi-arc battle against Sub-Mariner feels very intense and even more personal than the battle with Titanium Man. It’s mainly because Namor has something to fight for, plus he had been fighting Iron Man and the Avengers for quite some time at this point. For the most part there really isn’t anything to complain about with the action panels; and the character designs are quite consistent. I really didn’t notice when the title crossed over into Tales to Astonish. The backgrounds, character designs, landscapes such as dark castles were nicely detailed and a joy to look through.

Overall this is a very solid volume that will definitely appeal to Iron Man and most Marvel fans. Despite the age this paperback reads quite well and I never had the feel to stop at any point. If one has been avoiding the early Iron Man titles for some reason, I highly recommend starting with the second volume and giving them a try.

Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange – Vol 2. A nice change of pace from other titles.

Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange – Volume 2

Price: $28.98

(4.5/5)

Pros: Very good writing at times, nice imagination

Cons: Could be too different from other titles, multi-arcs may bother some

Dr. Strange finds himself in an intense battle against a group of sorcerers whom he manages to overcome. However, his greatest challenges lies ahead as his nemesis the Dread Dormammu returns. To include other would be conquerors will stand up to challenge him. -summary

This second volume of Marvel Masterworks Dr. Strange collects Strange Tales issues 142 – 168, and continues the rest of his shared stories with Nick Fury which took place between 1966 – 1968 across Marvel’s title Strange Tales. After this series Dr. Strange would see his own title due to some popularity. For those who may not know, Nick Fury’s stories are collected in his own Marvel Masterworks trade titled Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This second batch of stories may not be as good as the first volume but they’re far away from bad, and they still maintain a great amount of entertainment through some imaginative writing. The stories this time around are also longer focusing on actual story arcs which is a good thing, because some of the individuals Dr. Strange is forced to battle are indeed some tough customers, and through so much build up it would be quite lame for bit-sized stories.

Now one thing to point out is that these stories were written by a plethora of writers such as Steve Ditko, Marie Severin, and even Dennis O’ Neil.  Dr.  Strange’s titles weren’t looked at in the same favorable light as Spider-Man , Hulk, or Thor for example. Therefore his Strange Tales title was like a testing ground for writers. Despite this revolving door of writers; I found a good enough consistency between the stories.

Dr. Strange engages in another confrontation with Dormammu which is nothing more than a set up to introduce newer and more powerful characters such as Eternity, The Living Tribunal, and finally  Dormammu’s powerful sister Umar; whom actually doesn’t care for her brother, but considers it a duty to kill Strange and avenge her brother’s defeat and apparent death due to a mortal. This is one of the better and quite possibly best encounters in the book. However, there’s nothing afterwards I can consider to be boring.

Dr. Strange’s title really is a lot better than some people give it credit for. One thing I still find interesting about his stories is how unique they are to him. As master of the mystic arts, Dr. Strange’s world is strictly based on magic and even the occult. In these stories he faces sorcerers and demons with these battles taking place in different dimensions. It seems as if he’s the only hero capable of performing these missions which sets him apart from everyone else. The cleverness needed to escape and confront many of his enemies is something only he can do, and it adds another dimension to the overall action. His fists are rarely the answer which provides a huge change of pace when compared to about 99% of the stories written around this time.

The artwork delivers some highly creative fantasy landscapes that fully develops Dr. Strange’s world. When picking up this title and witnessing these highly colorful backgrounds and different demonic creatures, it’s clear that a frequent comic reader will be getting something different. The different otherworldly settings reminds me of Thor’s title during his trips to Asgard. There’s a grand feel to everything that towers over the usual streets of New York Spider-Man frequents or the Hulk’s desert stomping grounds. I find it to be a lot of fun.

The only real flaw besides the artwork and writing not being as tight as the first volume, is that I can imagine hardcore action fans, the fist to face types not really getting into this fantasy world where the characters battle through incantations and magic wielding; but if one can get pass those things then they more than likely may come away enjoying these stories. I definitely recommend giving this early Dr. Strange run a look. I enjoy these stories much more more than when I was younger.

I was never much for fish stories, but this was a good catch. Killer Mermaid.

Killer Mermaid (2014)

Price: $9.79

(3.5/5)

Pros: Works very well with its characters and build up

Cons: Lack of gore and creative kills helps hold it back

Two friends by the names of Kelly (Kristina Klebe) and Lucy (Natalie Burn) take a vacation to Montenegro where they hook up with an old college mate by the name of Alex (Slobodan Stefanovic) and his fiancée. Along with a fifth friend they decide to take a tour on the island of Mamula, which houses an old prison that  Nazi’s once used despite an old cryptic warning not to. The group has no idea what’s in store for them.  -summary

Killer Mermaid…. Opens up with the usual hot chick getting topless or something with her man, next she gets iced…. Then we’re treated to a really hot chick in Natalie Burns in a bathing suit. Killer Mermaid… This spells B-movie over the top, horror comedy shlock, with plot holes so big you could coast ships through. I mean based on its name alone one should be thinking “so bad it’s good”. At least these were the things I thought coming into this with very low expectations. Fortunately, this little Serbian B-Flick is nowhere near the usual retard-fest, as the viewer is treated to a pretty well done horror movie with some really good build up and a nice revelation. More than likely I wouldn’t consider this something to run out and grab, but it’s definitely worth a watch at some point.

The plot follows the group of friends as they enter that forbidden island and soon make a horrific discovery. This then leads to them fighting for their lives against a man whom wants to kill them for reasons they don’t know. From here the viewer is treated to a pretty good mystery and thanks to the spoiler-filled title, probably won’t be able to wait until this mystery reaches its conclusion.

Director Milan Todorovic nails the character development well enough making this group people to care for. Their curiosity got the better of them with even one person wanting nothing to do with the island as he constantly made excuses not to go there. For the most part these characters were believable in their actions, all the way down to their personal feelings unrelated to the island.

The second element Todorovic handles very well is the pacing. Killer Mermaid really takes its time through some solid and creepy build up. Those whom are familiar with the mythology behind these creatures will quickly understand what’s going on with their siren and its attraction towards men; and this plays a really good role in arousing interest on what’s going to happen next. The addition of a human killer roaming around murdering people also adds to the suspense, but at the same time it works against the movie creating a pretty big flaw.

I do understand for the most part that not many people are fighters especially women. The first instinct is to run when facing life threatening danger and this is simply standard fare in the horror genre anyway; yet at the same time though, I simply couldn’t buy into the killer as a legit threat, and I continuously wondered why he was even breathing at all. It seemed like he could be easily beaten and this ruined some of the movie’s effectiveness. I also have to mention the lack of gore and creative death scenes as an issue. There really isn’t anything over the top which is unfortunate, because it would have made the pay off on numerous occasions that much rewarding.

Despite lacking in gore and creative death sequences with some things left up to the imagination. Killer Mermaid is still an enjoyable watch with a really nice creature design. I could imagine men trying to sleep with that thing without being hypnotized. Plus the movie continues its tense build up until the very end with a promise of something really cool.

Killer Mermaid is a movie that’s better than what it should be, but it could have been much better. I do not recommend this movie at all to the gorehounds because you guys will no doubt hate it. This movie is mainly for those whom for some odd reason watch horror movies, yet complain that they are violent with blood and gore.

Avoid this camp because it’s hazardous to your time.

Return to Sleepaway Camp

Price: $6.88

(1.5/5)

Pros: A decent kill here and there

Cons: Overly wretched and just nothing worthwhile.

Several teens are trying to enjoy their stay in Camp Manabe which is head by Frank Kostic (Vincent Pastore). One of the staff members comes up missing and later someone is killed. This leads Ronnie (Paul DeAngelo) to believe that the killings are being committed by Angela Baker (Felissa Rose), whom was guilty of the murders on Camp Arawak decades ago. But apparently there’s proof Angela is still locked up. -summary

The original 1983 Sleepaway Camp was no way a masterpiece and was at best, maybe a slightly above average slasher which delivered one of the best and surprising endings in horror. It was the more serious movie of the bunch despite some weird death sequences, but really couldn’t be considered anything near a horror comedy. The sequels to follow however were by far different from their predecessor, as they took a drastic turn towards being horror comedies, which eventually lead to Sleepaway Camp becoming a joke of a franchise to many. I longed for the day to see this series return to its dark roots. Unfortunately, the wait will have to continue since Return to Sleepaway Camp is just about as absurd is the original sequels following in their comedic foot steps, but this one is by far the worst and can definitely be a chore to get through.

One thing about this movie that bothered me the absolute most is the characters; I mean with the exception of maybe one or two, this entire cast is beyond unlikable, and the rotten script does nothing to make them the least bit redeemable. Most of the plot, in fact too much of it follows a bi-polar kid by the name of Allan (Michael Gibney) whom is disliked by everyone and is often picked on. The viewer would probably be able to sympathize with him if only he wasn’t a jerk himself. How anyone can come away liking Alan even remotely is beyond me. In fact, I can imagine 99.9999% of the audience hoping he bites it and very early too.

I can’t harp enough on these annoying characters, but seriously none of them screamed “disembowel me now!” more than Alan. Fortunately a couple of these annoying pest do get it and on some occasions the pay off is worth it. Now the Sleepaway Camp sequels, especially the third movie took great pride in those psychotic Bugs Bunny deaths. This movie delivers some of them also and despite professional magazines brushing all the deaths off as uncreative trash. There’s maybe one or two worth a mention.

The deaths no matter how well deserved or even a little funny does not save this bomb even in the least. First off the kills are too spread apart; and taking their place are long filler scenes of bullying and pathetic attempts at character development for a guy everyone is going to hate in the first five minutes. I’m talking about you Alan! There’s almost nothing to hold one’s interest unless they are abnormally easy to please or just love bad movies, and believe me when I say this movie is bad. Director Robert Hiltzik does go to some length to give nostalgic fans something, by bringing back certain characters to reprise their roles from the original movie, in which this is what Return to Sleepaway Camp actually follows ignoring all of the sequels. He also does a semi-decent job concealing whom the killer is or could be. Some people may catch it quick, some will not. Sadly, these elements do very little to enhance enjoyment.

In closing, Return to Sleepaway Camp is rubbish all around to be brutally honest. The tiny bit of good the movie manages to pull off is outright wrecked by all of the bad. Some of the kills aren’t worth waiting for, and the filler for characters I’m sure everyone will hate certainly doesn’t help matters. The original Sleepaway Camp will probably always be the best, and to those unfamiliar with the series I recommend starting there and ignoring everything that comes after it, especially if horror comedies aren’t your thing. There is a reboot in the works though, and I really hope it goes back to its original character. As for this movie, my advice is to leave it alone.

Another haunted house revealing something Sinister.

Sinister

Price: $9.25

(4/5)

Pros: Nicely paced with strong characters and chills

Cons: The scares kind of lose effectiveness, jury is out on that ending

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a one hit wonder in the writing world as a true crime author whose stories have somewhat made him an enemy with law enforcement. His latest book has drawn him to a town in a new house where a family was murdered, and their youngest daughter Stephanie (Victoria Leigh) disappeared. To the chagrin of the police sheriff and townsfolk, he chooses to pursue this story anyway for fame and fortune, but doesn’t realize this was a story he should have avoided as advised. -summary

Released in 2012 and directed by Scott Derrickson, a director with a less than impressive track record as far as I’m concerned. Sinister is a supernatural character driven horror movie that attempts to add devious twists to old ideas, and along the way manages to generate a few chills and frights. At its heart though, it’s more of a character driven story that focuses on the character Ellison Oswalt.

The plot follows Ellison as he attempts to uncover the whereabouts of the missing child Stephanie whom police are convinced is dead. He finds a box with Super 8 film and plenty of titled and dated footage; the videos appear to be snuff films, as he watches up to five families brutally murdered and at the site of these killings, a man dressed in black with a demonic face appears.

Sinister relies on two things; it’s massive build up to revelations, and Ellison’s obsession with this footage. Ellison is accused by his wife of putting his work ahead of her and their two children which is clearly true. He’s not exactly a bad person, but it seems as if he makes it his duty to uncover the truth of what is going on. This results in an interesting enough story about either a cult, a supernatural entity, or both, that abducts children. There is plenty of information delivered to rope the viewer into the story, and the chilling atmosphere along with weird occurrences taking place in the house and with his family enhances the fright and uneasiness quite a bit.

While the movie handles those clichéd scares well enough with nice surprises; the problem is that some of the stuff quickly becomes overplayed despite being very important to the story and thus loses effectiveness. The film takes place in the dark quite often, and it works very well with its build up some times leading to either twisted or flat outcomes.

Sinister is definitely not a slasher film despite disturbing footage and even being labeled as one. It has slasher elements but this is supernatural, haunted house if anything. There is no real gore to speak of since those killings in the footage either reveal very little or next to nothing. The film’s goal is clearly to stimulate imagination through tension, atmosphere, and the fear of having an idea something is going to happen instead of actually happening, which will always be good if done right.

Sinister wouldn’t be very effective if it wasn’t for the acting and smart use of the cast. Juliet Rylance as Tracy Oswalt with her loveable European accent is quite believable as the ticked off wife, whom isn’t the least bit happy about being inside of that house. James Ransome as the deputy added quite a bit in developing the plot, and I liked his purpose in helping Oswalt in the first place; but it’s Hawke whom shines best here as the obsessed man needing to know what happens, and later on when his family becomes more important to him.

I definitely won’t spoil the ending because although some things felt obvious it was still something unexpected; but for some reason I always thought that this movie was nothing more than a foundation to a long running franchise; the fact there’s a sequel due out later this year confirms to me that my suspicions were correct. I feel there’s plenty of mystery to explore with this premise, and it feels as if this movie scratched the surface and there’s just more to tell. In any case, Sinister is an above average horror movie that has a fair amount of jump scares and characters worth caring about. Now do I feel it’s among the greatest horror movies ever? Not at all, but it’s better than a lot of that shovel-ware floating around in the genre.

Zombie fun in London taking it to the old folks home.

Cockneys Vs. Zombies

Price: $8.99

(3.5/5)

Pros: Comedy that really works on occasion, nice cast

Cons: Some comedy falls very flat, gore a bit inconsistent

While working in a demolition site two construction workers dig up a tomb that was sealed by King Charles hundreds of years ago. They unknowingly wake up something horrible and unleash it on the public. One of the cities in London are soon under attack by a zombie plague that managed to spread within minutes causing a large amount of chaos. -summary

Cockneys vs. Zombies is a zombie comedy that I had been somewhat looking forward to, because even though I wasn’t too crazy about their most popular title of this type being Shaun of the Dead. They at least provide some really good laughs, original ideas, and a handful of memorable moments. This movie directed by Matthias Hoene manages to cover those areas and deliver a somewhat good time with some nice moments, yet at the same time it misses the mark probably about as much resulting in only a decent, turn your brain off, comedic zombie romp.

The plot follows two brothers by the names of Terry (Rasmus Hardiker) and Andy (Harry Treadaway)  as they plan to rob a bank and steal a construction company’s earnings in hopes of sabotaging them and keeping his grandfather’s elderly home operational, due to the head of the company hoping to demolish it. While in the middle of the hit they’re caught up in the zombie apocalypse which has made it over to the elderly home. This is when the fun begins.

One thing for sure is that when the comedy hits, Hoene definitely nails it with some original ideas that provides some good laughs. One of the situations is very predictable but pays off really well, while another dealing with a “high speed chase” comes deep out of left field, and without a doubt puts the slow moving zombie angle to its best use ever.  There are a couple of good moments and during these segments the movie feels well paced. Unfortunately there are areas where the movie tries way too hard to be funny and completely fails, and this leads to some wheel spinning and scenes feel longer than what they should. This is the first time an 87 minute movie actually felt a little long at times.

The gore scenes are mixed for the most part but come off more as below average though. There’s at least one good zombie bite moment that suckers the viewer into believing there will be more like this but it really isn’t so. The action scenes against the zombies have its highlights on occasion such as one funny scene involving a samurai sword, plus plenty of gunfire at the same time. The quick paced climax does feel like a nice enough pay off in a way.

Despite the films flaws though it could have been much worse, but thanks to some solid acting and interactions by Michelle Ryan as Kate, Ashley Thomas playing the hilarious Mental Mickey, and Alan Ford, they managed to make the movie more fun than it could have been. It was also nice seeing ex- James Bond girl again Honor Blackman aka Pussy Galore.

Cockneys vs. Zombies is a decent enough watch and it all depends on how well the comedy registers with the viewer in question though. In any case, with its dark humor, very consistent slapstick tone, and action. This is something that will appeal to a majority of fans that need and love comedy in their horror; and I would also recommend Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2 as back up. To those whom need their zombie horror to be pure horror or mixed with some of The Walking Dead drama, I recommend skipping this because you will hate it.

Scary? Brilliant? As good as The Conjuring? Lies!

Annabelle (DVD)

Price: $14.99

(2/5)

Pros: Some decent moments at times

Cons: Far too simple and formulaic, very predictable

John (Ward Horton) and Mia (Annabelle Wallis) are a young couple expecting their first child. After a clash with a couple representing an evil cult, the two begin to notice strange occurrences in their lives. Mia quickly realizes these things she’s witnessing are indeed real and attempts to do something about them. -summary

For those whom may not know, the horror movie Annabelle isn’t a sequel to The Conjuring at all, in fact it’s a companion piece to that film which focuses on the origin of the possessed doll named Annabelle whom was introduced in the first movie. I will come out now and say this; if you loved The Conjuring for its stimulating atmosphere through clever camera work and lighting, strong cast of believable characters, overall very good use of horror elements, and clever use of old clichés. Then I recommend now to not even buy into the hype of this inferior expansion pack.  It is beyond belief that people are actually claiming to see this shameless cash in if one enjoyed The Conjuring.

The plot follows Mia as she begins to realize some type of evil entity involving a woman’s suicide is tormenting her, and she becomes especially fearful believing that her newborn baby Leah is targeted. She soon learns that this all has something to do with the doll Annabelle.

I will admit that the movie is interesting during some of its first half, as the characters are being developed into real people. It’s even a joy to see that Mia’s husband actually believes her and even attempts to help her. Things were going very well at first, and even some of the fright began to work really well shaping this movie up into being at least a decent companion to The Conjuring. This all quickly goes to hell once it resorts to becoming very predictable and turns into an uninspired seen it before.

There’s at least one really good scare and after that it’s all pedestrian; but it gets much worse later on and this is all because of Mia’s character. It’s difficult to feel for someone this dim-witted. She soon comes to a full understanding that these things she’s witnessing are as real as the sunlight, and she would leave her child several feet away or even in a different room altogether multiple times. The only thing really frightening about this movie is how bad of a parent she is. The movie is also predictable to the point of being laughable, and although the ending made some sense it still came off idiotic, especially when you know that the character involved got the raw deal really hard.

For the most part I can’t knock the acting because at least Mia was a competent dunce. Alfre Woodard’s performance brought a small bit of life but there’s no way she could have saved this.

When looking at the fact John R. Leonetti directed this, whom happens to be the mastermind behind such masterpieces Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and The Butterfly Effect 2, I really shouldn’t be surprised. Anyone who puts a movie in his hands deserves whatever monstrosity they get. I’m also not crazy about Annabelle’s future as a franchise series, especially since Don Mancini whose crowning moment in filmmaking is the Seed of Chucky, is hoping to unite Annabelle with that joke of a killer doll. Dark days are ahead for this porcelain demonic little girl.

In closing, Annabelle is a horror movie I cannot honestly recommend for anything other than a rental. Please recognize that The Conjuring and this are two different movies, and one shouldn’t be used to give the other some type of credibility. Come into this one only if curiosity gets the better of you.

 

Finally a horror film deserving of its hype and praise. The Conjuring.

The Conjuring (2013)

Price: $7.99 

(4.5/5)

Pros: Strong characters, right amount and well timed frights, great atmosphere

Cons: Small plot missteps

Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson & Vera Farmiga) are demonologist whom wrap up a case involving a doll named Annabelle that is used as a conduit for a demonic spirit. The two are called back into action when a family of seven purchases a house ruled by a very evil and powerful spirit that they accidently unleash. -summary

I feel ashamed to say that The Conjuring is a horror film that I put off since its 2013 debut. The reason for this is simple; I refused to buy into the hype due to being swindled numerous times into believing my time was going to be well invested, instead only to want that precious time back for something productive like cleaning my house. This time I can honestly say that the majority in favor of this movie is right, as director James Wan not only managed to craft a truly terrifying horror movie that I believe everyone should see and own, but easily one of the best pure horror movies in the last ten years since its release.

Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron in "The Conjuring."

The Conjuring is a near perfect haunted house horror film that dabbles in demonic possession and witchcraft. The plot follows The Warrens as they interview the family, research, and try to combat this evil threat. The film does borrow from films of the past and uses techniques that many would feel to be cliché. However, the lack of originality in these things does not lessen their devastating punch. One of the films many attributes contributing to its greatness is definitely the pacing. Wan spends just enough time developing this loveable family for the viewer to feel for them; then suddenly the tormenting begins and it all occurs at a well timed pace. The little noises such as slamming doors, hand claps, are done with precise precision as not to be over played. These things are joined by really clever camera tricks and great use of lighting creating uneasy shadowy effects to help stimulate the viewer’s imagination and bringing them into this world.

It’s near impossible to talk about this film without further going into how the chills and scares are handled. It’s quickly established that this family is up against a mischievous and wicked spirit. Wan sees to it these people are even harassed in their sleep using some of the simplest scare tactics to large effect; perhaps the biggest reason why this approach works is because these are things we can relate to. I’m sure many people make sure to cover their feet in bed, because they believe something will grab them. This movie will see to it that some folks go back to doing it after growing out of it.

Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron in "The Conjuring."

The family whom are terrorized are the Perrons, and I have to give credit to them for their believable roles, because bad acting would have ruined some of the stand out moments. Joey Lynn King playing one of the daughters by the name of Christine was indeed convincing in her role; but Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson were the heart and soul of this ordeal, as they were given enough proper background and motivation to help this family. This is among the most memorable batch of characters for me in a horror film.

I must also mention that Wan does not skip on keeping the story interesting in the least. The threat in the house is examined in an interesting enough way. To include he also did his homework on delving into the key elements in recognizing witchcraft, such as the negative reaction towards dogs especially and the rotten, decaying like smell.

While the film did hold my attention from start to finish with the right amount of tension. It definitely suffered its share of flaws. I found the last few minutes to be kind of shaky, and I really didn’t see the point or like the Annabelle doll coming into play in any form. It felt a bit too forced and at least for me created a rather puzzling question I’ll leave alone. It really didn’t serve a purpose outside of more creepiness, but the story paid for it a little.

In closing, with its strong cast of characters, well paced plot delivering perfectly timed scares and tension; The Conjuring is something that shouldn’t be missed and I recommend it to movie watchers in general. The lack of nudity, rough profanity, extremely low amount of gore, makes this film something pretty much anyone can enjoy.

 

She Wanted to Know How I Knitted the Hat – Knifty Knitter Loom Hook

Knifty Knitter Loom Hook

See it at Amazon 

(5/5)

Pros: affordable, durable, easy to use, rubberized grip

Cons: can fall into the bottom of a knitting bag (but has a colored handle to spot)

A true compliment is when I give a knitted gift to a friend, only to have her friend fall in love with the hat and want to know how I made it.  I love to loom knit, and one of the necessary tools is this Knifty Knitter Loom Hook.

Description

One hook comes per package.  The hook tip is angled in an “L” shape.  It also has a rubberized handle, with makes it easy to grasp.  The hook I purchased has a purple handle that measures about 3 1/2″ long.  The silver “hook” part is 1 1/2″ long.  When bought new, a safety piece of plastic covers the blunted hook tip; remove it before use.  Provo Craft manufacturers this tool.

My Experiences

I inherited my mother’s extensive yarn collection.  Since I had trouble knitting the regular way with knitting needles, I experimented with loom knitting.  I fell in love with this easy way to create knitted items and invested in the Knifty Knitter looms.

Essential to successfully using the looms is to have a loom hook.  I bought extra so that if I misplace one, I immediately have another loom hook to use.  My cat has kleptomaniac tendencies.  He will grab anything of interest and scoot away with it.  Yes, I have caught his furry little paws nabbing the loom hook.  He seems to like trying to sneak away with the hook more than playing with the yarn.

Using the loom is easy.  The looms are round or oval/rectangular and have upright pegs.  Wrap the yarn around the pegs to form two rows of yarn on each peg.  Use the loom hook to catch the bottom strand of yarn to lift it over the top of the peg.  Do this for each peg to form knitted rows.

I find this loom hook comfortable to hold and use.  Never has one of these hooks been a problem.  They are durable.  The colored rubberized handle makes this tool easy to spot amid my projects.  I also like it that they are inexpensive.

To keep track of the loom hook, I tuck it into one of the skeins of yarn I am using.  (I often use two different colored yarns to create a custom color blend for each hat or scarf.) There is always a project in process … sometimes two!

Summary

I would definitely buy more of these Knifty Knitter Loom Hooks.  They are excellent quality.  It is also an affordable hook, so I have extras on hand to use.

Enjoy the day,
Dawn

http://dlstewart.com

Copyright 2015 Dawn L. Stewart

 

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