Brian Lumley’s Titus Crow–A Review

So I have yet to think of a catchy title for my book reviews. (Suggestions are always welcome!) Until then, we’re going to stick with the simple fare. Here is a plain ol’ review of Brian Lumley’s book, Titus Crow: The Burrowers Beneath / The Transition of Titus Crow.

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First, I absolutely adore the works of Brian Lumley. When I was 13(ish), my stepfather introduced me to the Necroscope, and I was forever in love.

Brian Lumley - Necroscope

Pictured: True Love

Lumley has an amazing writing style, and one day I will have to pour my thoughts about him (and others) into a blog all his own. Suffice it to say, he’s a fantastic writer and his approach his all his own.

In terms of the book at hand, Lumley takes on the Old Ones, fathered by H. P. Lovecraft. The style in which both The Burrowers Beneath and The Transition of Titus Crow are written is very reminiscent of Lovecraft. While the vocabulary is updated (but mind you, it’s still dated by our 2011 standards considering both were originally written prior to 1975) from the words used by Lovecraft and crew, the Titus Crow books are permeated by the atmosphere and power locked within the pages of such masterpieces as The Shadow Over Innsmouth and The Call of Cthulhu.

The title character, Titus Crow, is completely Lumley’s creation. Unlike many of the fragile-minded protagonists in Lovecraft’s work, usually left doddering as insanity soaked them through, Lumley’s characters are made of sterner stuff. Lumley is quoted as saying:

I have trouble relating to people who faint at the hint of a bad smell. A meep or glibber doesn’t cut it with me. (I love meeps and glibbers, don’t get me wrong, but I go looking for what made them!) That’s the main difference between my stories…and HPL’s. My guys fight back. Also, they like to have a laugh along the way.

I can’t help but relate to this thinking. I know as much as I enjoy Lovecraft’s work, I still feel a little letdown that humanity isn’t able to put up a better fight.

But that’s not what’s going to happen in this book! Not with a main character who looks like this –>

TheCompleatCrow

That is one awesome moustache and beard combination. One that will defeat Cthulhu!

I will be honest, though. I read the book last August, so it has been a while. That said, a lot has stuck with me. Crow has some amazing adventures in Transition, including encounters with the Hounds of Tyndalos, travels to new worlds and dimensions, spending an exorbitant amount of time lost among the space time continuum and more.

The Burrower’s Beneath, quite frankly, was amazing. Fraught with tension, and of the can’t-be-put-down-all-night quality that can be so hard to find in books today, The Burrower’s Beneath is not only readable despite its dated language, but enjoyable beyond measure.

Also, there was one bit that prompted me to actually write a note for my own devices. While I’m certain I’ve seen this method used before, it never quite set off the flash bulb in my brain enough for what it does to sink in. Here, within the delicate folds of Titus Crow, I had an Eureka Moment.

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Pictured: Eureka – House Style

Whether to save room for stories in the future, while tantalizing readers today, or whatever his reasons, there are a few sections of Transition that are elliptical’d. Quite a bit. Leaving delicious bits exposed for the reader’s taste buds, while hiding the juicier heft to our imagination. I must say that while it left me a little frustrated and wanting to know more, I found it overall a wonderful way of teasing me to the point of … extreme satisfaction … but not quite getting me there in the end. Which leaves the rest of the novel to satisfy my hungry demands.

Titus Crow does just that. Overall, if you’re a fan of Lovecraft, it is extremely like you’ll enjoy this book, among Lumley’s many other takes on the Cthulu Mythos. If you’re not a fan of Lovecraft, reading this will make you one, or at the least curious enough to seek out the original.

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Head on over to Amazon and pick up Titus Crow today!

Hump Day Horror — Double Shot

This special (belated) Hump Day Horror edition is a double shot of goretastic flavorfulness. Half Indie, Half Mainstream. A mix of your two favorite flavors: bloody and terrifying.

bloody and terrifying.. deliciously terrifying...

 

So let’s take this double shot straight to the head!

Hump Day Horror

Double Shot

 

Necromentia

Directed  and Written by Perry Teo; Co-Written by Stephanie Joyce

Starring Layton Matthews as Morbius; Chad Grimes as Travis; Santiago Craig as Hagen; Zelieann Rivera as Elizabeth; Zach Cumer as Thomas; and Nathan Ginn as Mr. Skinny

For an indie film, this one isn’t bad. Fans of the genre will immediately notice a striking similarity to Clive Barker’s Hellraiser in visuals and atmosphere. The premise is interesting: a Ouija board carved into flesh has the ability to open a doorway to Hell, offering a grieving man a chance to recover his lover… and that’s where the cover description ends and after about 45 minutes you realize the movie isn’t exactly all Dante’s Inferno (the game, not the poem). There is far more back story involved, and it isn’t until you reach about the hour mark that you realize the story is being told entirely backwards (alá Irréversible) and that’s when you start catching on to what’s really happening. A disgusting man is searching for his lover; a lost and still living soul seeks his brother; and a … well, that’s supposed to be the surprise part of the end, so I won’t ruin that.

But suffice it to say, the movie overall is good enough for a single-viewing, maybe even a second to understand it better, but I can’t see this film really standing the test of time. I think there was a lot left unsaid that could have really helped the film go past that line, but that’s the burden of the indie film. Low budget done well can be really good, but rare is the low budget film that will last a lifetime.

The best part of the film is a strange dream/hallucination (maybe more?) sequence where a dancing pig named Mr. Skinny manipulates a mentally disabled teenager. The insane song Mr. Skinny sings will definitely be an aspect that stands the test of time, as well as Chad Grimes’ performance as Travis, the living and lost soul searching for his brother. Be prepared for some intense and bloody torture scenes, some disgusting insinuations, and that crazy lullaby. Good job on the song, Mr. Teo. Really good job.

 

My Soul To Take

Directed by Wes Craven

Starring Max Thieriot as Adam “Bug” Hellerman; John Magaro as Alex; Denzel Whitaker as Jerome; Zena Grey as Penelope; Nick Lashaway as Brandon; Paulina Olszynski as Brittany; Jeremy Chu as Jay; Emily Meade as Fang; and Raul Esparza as Abel

For a mainstream teenage pop horror flick, this one isn’t bad, either. Craven is certainly showing that he hasn’t lost his skills. The film is filled with tension from beginning to nearly-end. Unfortunately, for the experienced movie-goer (and plot-writer), the ending is fairly easy to spot, but it’s not too hard to suspend your instinct to keep enjoying the movie anyway. The best part is in the beginning, when the original Riverton Ripper is acting out his .. possession? mental illness? hallucinations? Something like that. Either way, it’s a pretty good scene and well-acted by Raul Esparza. Later in the film, “Bug” has similar scenes and Max Thieriot does the scenes justice as well.

The movie is fairly straightforward. The idea is that there was once this bad guy who swore he’d be back for revenge, and 16 years later to the day, the day turns bloody. Seven kids born that night, one of whom has inherited the soul of the murderer, and no one can be quite sure who it really is. There’s an interesting sub-plot that could have been better developed. Another member of this “group,” Emily Meade as Fang, is revealed to be a crucial character only near the end, and you wonder how she ended up as the school’s female Godfather, running the “Mean Girls + One Idiot Jock Mafia.” Aside from the main character, Fang is the next most interesting character and could have used more development, but it is understandable. There’s only 2 hours and how much can Craven really fit in?

At the very least, the film isn’t Craven’s attempt at a “Jennifer’s Body” type of teenager flick, with some hot girls titillating the movie audience. It’s a sound film with a solid plot that might be obvious at times, but is enjoyable in the end. It’s also not a movie likely to last a lifetime, but it is a fun watch on a stormy spring evening. You might even jump at the shadows when it’s over. Maybe.

 

For a second opinion on Necromentia, try this review at QuietEarth and for another on My Soul To Take, try RottenTomatoes.

Final Tally
Necromentia     Three Bloody Hearts
       My Soul To Take     Three and a Half Bloody Hearts


Been So Long…

Yeah. I know. I’m a horrible blogger. But.. I moved, guys! I’ve been busy!! And my kids’ schedules changed (the big’un goes to school at 7.45 now – what an unearthly hour to make a kid start school, right? I mean, it’s kindergarten!! – and the other doesn’t head that way until 12.30!!) which leaves me 2.5 hours of quiet time sans munchkins under foot, but since the hubby works nights now, that’s the only quiet time we get together daily… So.. yeah.. My schedule’s full til about midnight nowadays. (It is a blessing that the hubby’s job gives him internet access and we get to talk in the evenings. Keeps us connected.)

But… I am here now. And this is better than staring at Facebook wondering if I should bother seeding new crops on Farmville. The way Facebook has taken over my life…

So I’m sitting here right now… honestly, waiting for the clock to go round enough so I can wash the dye out of my hair…  (yeah, I do that sometimes… but only when the hubby’s made a point of saying “Shanna your roots are showing and their 3x lighter than the rest of your hair…” LOL) … thinking of what to blog about..

For me, this is like that meet and greet small talk at a work picnic for the spouse where you don’t know anybody. It’s been a while, I’m out of the habit (shameful!), and now… The weather has certainly been lovely lately here in Texas. It’s quit raining finally. (The first month we were here it seemed to rain every other day!) But now it’s warming up, our air conditioning went kaput, and the only cool air is in my home office. (ha! Encouragement to go write or what?)

Man. Look at all those typos. The atrocious format. Writing is long over due. I’m turning into one of those people who spends too much time writing like they’re in a chat room, or updating a social network status.

Although I do find it highly amusing that even without blogging regularly… at all… for months, I still get 10-20 views per day. That’s pretty sweet, actually. Does that mean I have some sort of audience? At the least, I’ll have to send Google a big thank you for finding ways to place my blog in search listings!

So here I am. For those wondering where I went, life whisked me away for a while. But I’m making my return.

I can’t think of anything funny, witty, or even entertaining to really add.

Tomorrow I’ll try to put something together more legible. How’s that?

Fickle Readers, Zombieland, and NaNoWriMo

Y’all are horrible, ya know? I put great effort into blogging a lot in September, and my views drop considerably (except for the week I blogged about Megan Fox, but her post was only third highest! Ha!!) … but I don’t blog for yet another month and my views go up and remain a constant 20-30 a day.

What is wrong with you?

No, that was not a rhetorical question! I want answers! Comment them!

But let’s not go into how you never comment…..

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So October 3rd, I went to see Zombieland.

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There was one scene where I jumped. That’s it. Aside from that, the story was 90% funny, with a brief 10% of truly emotional back ground. A few scenes were very touching.

The zombies were not of the undead variety, rather they were the diseased living person type from 28 Days Later. They were also not very scary, despite the buckets of blood and creepy costumes. It was difficult to take the zombies seriously, when the opening credits are a slow-mo montage of spectacular zombie chases and attacks. (There’s a particular zombie-stripper moment which truly demonstrates the effect of gravity on breasts.)

The film contains many little flash backs, montages, and cut-aways, which make it obvious the film is going more for laughs than scares. (I really can’t imagine who they were planning to scare with hilarious set-ups like the Zombie Kill of the Week; the rules Columbus comes up with to survive the Zombie Apocalypse, such as “Beware of Bathrooms: Zombies like to attack at vulnerable moments;” as well as Columbus’s irrational fear of… everything. Including clowns. Worst is zombie clowns. Even I have to admit that one would actually scare me if stumbled upon in real life.)

The touching, emotional plot point steps in entirely in Tallahassee’s character, both the strongest and most withdrawn, yet the most emotional and connected to his past. While Wichita, her sister Little Rock and Columbus appear to have accepted the change in the world, as well as lost family and loved ones, with the ease and tolerance of the disconnected-from-people perspective of the young today, Tallahassee is closely tied to what he lost that he loved most dearly. When Columbus realizes just what the strong cowboy is talking about, and reveals the truth to the audience, a tear springs to the corner of your eye.

As such, I feel like standing on a podium in front of a tent decorated with zombie posters from the film, and harking about it’s complete package-ness. It’s touching, there might be a scare or two in it for you (if you’re easy), it’s hilarious, there’s a quest for Twinkies, and a Bill Murray cameo that was for once kept entirely out of the film’s press and took everyone by surprise. It has everything you’ve ever wanted in a zombie comedy!

I can’t wait for this movie to hit DVD shelves everywhere. It will be added to the collection.

Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, and Abigail Breslin, with Bill Murray appearing as himself, this is the extent of the cast, aside from zombified extras.

So run out and see it if it’s in theaters in your area, or wait patiently for it to come on DVD, or steal it in transit to the dollar theater. Whichever option suits you best.

A sequel is possibly in the works, which would include the same returning cast, so keep an eye out for that. As such, I leave you with…

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Zombie Clown. Just a messed up combination.

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NaNoWriMo is coming up. No, that’s not some Mork word. (If no one gets that, maybe I’ve watched too much old, old, OLD Nick at Nite.)

National Novel Writing Month is an event held every November, where thousands (millions?) of writers and wanna-be writers congregate at www.nanowrimo.org to fulfill their dreams of writing a novel in 30 days, at a pace of about 1,367 words per day.

Check it out.

There’s tons of forums to find encouragement and discuss frustrations.

The main idea is to write as much as possible as fast as possible to satisfy the 50,000 words by November 30th deadline.

If you make it through, there’s a prize. I do not recall what it is. Oh, wait, self-esteem and confidence. You wrote a novel. It will probably stink, but you still wrote it.

I’m trying again this year. I say “try” because I’ve yet to make it through the month and finish a 50K novel.

Usually, my problem is I take on too many side projects during the month and don’t leave enough breathing room to work on a novel. I have four days before the month starts again, I’m taking down a few notes and ideas to work on, then we shall see how it goes again this year.

Most of all, it’s about having fun. Not everyone who signs up succeeds, most just have fun getting as far as they can. There’s a lot of wonderful and helpful tips on the website for writing during NaNoWriMo, as well as in general.

So swing by and make yourself at home if you’re a writer. If you’re not, I must ask, who said you weren’t? Take your browser there and sign up. Do something new and different, even if you think you’ll fail, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

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I can’t wait to see how a new blog affects the views. I wonder if they’ll rise or fall? You fickle, fickle readers.

Keep an eye out. I’m going to do a review of Paranormal Activity here in the next few days. (When I find the odd moment of quiet time. Even now I am being smothered in the wee hours of the morning before school. Already the munchkins are up and hovering.)

See you on the flip side!

Let’s talk Zombies

Have you ever found yourself pondering the inevitable collapse of civilization at the hands of the undead? A.K.A. the Zombie Apocalypse? Have you wondered at how this could occur? What type of zombies you are likely to encounter? Are there multiple types? (According to Zombies Central, there are.)

If you haven’t yet, you should get your hands on a copy of the The Zombie zombiesurvivalguideSurvival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks. Here you will find the guidance and directions about preparing yourself for the zombie onslaught. Whether it’s fortifying your home, the best weapons to arm yourself with, or how to “clean-up” after the Zombie Apocalypse ends, this book has everything you ever wanted to know.

It also sticks to the traditional rules about zombies.

What are these traditional rules?

Traditional Zombie Rules

#1:

Zombies are slow. Because of their rotting state of decay, zombies lack the ability to think beyond basic instincts (such as eating, finding food and shuffling around, and grunting) and can only move in a hobbled, limped gait. Their coordination lacks any cohesiveness. Combine that with their lack of muscle structure (if they have many muscles left at all) and you’re left with a slow-moving, if tenacious undead creature that will continue to pursue its prey long after the prey is out of sight.

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#2:

The only sure way to kill a zombie is to blow its head right off. Sure, you can try setting it on fire or shooting it to smithereens, but if you don’t destroy the brain, you are not guaranteed that the zombie is officially–really–dead. It’s just immobile. As long as the brain is intact, it will continue to seek food…. i.e. YOUR gray matter.

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#3:

One of the top reasons zombies are scary, whether the traditional slow- moving type or the modern fast, ninja-like ones, is the speed of infectious transmission. Do not get bitten! Keep infected blood out of any open orifice or wound! The smallest fraction of saliva or blood WILL infect you. Considering that there is never enough time for scientists to safely tackle the zombie disease (if that is the origin) with experiments and tests to determine if there is a cure or possible vaccination before the Apocalypse begins, the zombie plague spreads quickly from infected to uninfected, almost as though airborne. (This is definitely not the case, however; the plague would spread much faster if it were.) The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to avoid the bite or blood of a zombie!

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So there we have the 3 basic, “traditional” rules. With emerging new and innovative science and the creative imagination, we are learning that there are many new rules to be learned.

First, I highly advocate reading “5 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen,” by David Wong, from The Evil Sloth.

Now, sure you might be thinking that this stuff is just ridiculous fantasy. You might even think the Zombie Apocalypse is pure fiction! But keep an open-mind. Sure, the likelihood of an unholy evil or plague actually reanimating corpses is incredibly unlikely. (I’ll give you that. It’s just fun to think about.) But as it’s pointed out in the article, more than likely our greatest threat to create the Zombie Apocalypse is the very same people we would turn to for help! The scientists!

Have you ever heard of nanobots? A.K.A. nanites, nanoids, nanotechnology and so on and so forth?

Itty, bitty, unseen–practically–invisible robots that will one day inhabit our bodies. Designed to heal us with remarkable speed, boost our brain power, keep our bodies healthy despite whatever stupid stuff we may do to it, and whatever else your imagination can come up with. As with most science invented with the best of intentions, meant to aid us it will eventually turn around and bite us right where it hurts most…. the brain stem.

Our brain stem controls our basic motor and instinctual functions. (Breathing, biting, swallowing, shuffling about with an undead gait.) The idea suggested in the article above is that unless science counters the nanobots by installing infallible technology that turns the bots off immediately at death, the likelihood is that they will go on running the body like it’s just another day. But without the upper consciousness we humans have that separate us from the zombies, we are likely to end up as drooling, shuffling, rage–filled beasts that attack … well… everything!

(Of course, I’m paraphrasing. Read the article for the full story.)

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For an idea of what the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse would possibly be like, pick up a copy of Max Brook’s second book, World War Z.

Then buy it by clicking on the cover!!

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Don’t forget! Tomorrow is the debut of Zombieland. I know. It looks funny rather than scary, but that’s not a bad thing. For the most part, “traditional” zombies are no longer terrifying. As a whole, people have grown accustomed to the idea of the dead rising from their graves. (Which is nearly worth a blog on its own merits. Really? We’re accustomed to that idea?)

So go watch it. It’s going to be awesome and worth your money. I plan to see it Saturday, and will definitely be reviewing it later that night. (I make no promises I won’t accidentally include spoilers, but I will try to warn you first!)

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RANDOM PARANOID FEAR OF THE DAY # 7:

That I will not survive to see the Zombie Apocalypse, and will only find myself lucky if I am resurrected from my grave. *sigh* Don’t want to miss out on the zombies! And the head shots!

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