22.4.15

The Two-Hundred-Thirty-Fifth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

I'm used to Hitler appearing in comics during the war, but seeing him lounging in a chair, chatting about relationships? That's fresh!

15.4.15

The Two-Hundred-Thirty-Fourth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

Oh, Chop-Chop, you can always be trusted to shock us with the casualness of historical racism.

7.4.15

Scavenger! It's awful!

I want to talk about Scavenger, and why I consider it one of the worst novels I've ever read.  A 2000 novel by Tom Savage, Scavenger tells the story of one Mark Stevenson, who is offered the chance to play a madman's game in the hopes of discovering the truth behind the murder of his entire family a decade earlier. Perfectly fine premise, but it gets into trouble by being a Tom Savage novel. What do I mean by this?

Well, to be blunt, Tom has a bad habit of cheating. He doesn't outright lie to the reader creating plot holes, he practices something far more insidious - his most effective trick is to have an unexpected character turn out to a sociopathic killer right at the end of the story with no lead-up to hint at the reveal. He banks on his audience being so shocked by the pulled rug that they don't go back and think too hard about the suddenly-evil character's actions and thoughts in the rest of the book. A great writer will fill their books with tiny hints leading up to the reveal, and bits of dialogue or cast-off thoughts and actions that only make sense in retrospect. Tom Savage is not a great writer, and his manipulative practices ensure that his books can only be read once - when you go back, knowing full well which character is the villain, their actions and motivations invariably make no sense whatsoever.

A perfect example of this is his novel Valentine - it involves a woman being stalked by a psychotic man from her past. It features chapters told from the point of view of a stalker, stalking her. Then, for the shocking reveal, we discover that the stalker stalking her was a completely benign figure just looking to get revenge on the killer, who'd also murdered his sister some time previously. While this doesn't seem like cheating on its face, and makes for an effective twist, going back and reading the book will reveal that the stalker's behaviour and thoughts make absolutely no sense if he's not the story's villain. If he didn't have any ill intentions towards the main character, there's absolutely no way for him to behave and think the way he does.

Which brings me to Scavenger, the most egregious example of Tom's cheating. I struggled to figure out the best way to review this book - it's difficult to explain exactly how bad it is without going through the entire plot, and if I'm doing that, I might as well just encourage people to go ahead and read the darned thing. Seeing as that's the last thing I want, I'm instead going to lay out the sequence of events as cleanly as possible - hopefully proving that when looked at dispassionately (at first, there will be commentary as well), the events of the book will be self-evidently idiotic. It's not going to be the cleanest of reviews, though, as I'll have to jump back and forth in timelines to put things in the most helpful order, and of course I'll have to spoil every surprise the book has to offer right away, so if anyone is interested in reading it, they should go and do that now, before returning to the review proper.

All aboard, then.

1.4.15

The Two-Hundred-Thirty-Second Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

If you can think of a better April Fool's Day prank than walling someone up alive, I'd like to hear it!

25.3.15

The Two-Hundred-Thirty-First Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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Such a wonderful realization of the imaginative process.

18.3.15

The Two-Hundred-Thirtieth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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He punched that bandito, then shoved the man's own gun up into his face to get him to shoot himself in the head. Wow. That Destiny does not mess around.

11.3.15

The Two-Hundred-Twenty-Ninth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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They're going back to Feature Comics? That's incredible. Also, the Spider Widow's gimmick is that she wears a fright mask. I miss you, the 40s.

In very narrow and specific ways.

4.3.15

Exists Has Maybe the Fastest Check-Out Point Ever

I think people are generally familiar with the 'Check-Out-Point' in horror movies, the moment in the film where the characters' actions diverge so completely from any human behaviour or experience that relating to them becomes impossible. Exists, the found-footage Bigfoot movie from Eduardo Sanchez (but not Daniel Myrick) has one of the earliest check-out points I've ever encountered, a mere 4 minutes into the film.

Here's some context - a group of twentysomethings are driving to a cabin in the woods. While one of them is screwing around and distracting the driver, they hit something in the road. Then, as they inspect the car for damage, they hear plaintive wails and crying from the woods. Loud, inhuman sounds that are, at the same time, not from any recognizable animal.

When they go back and check the footage of the accident, they discover this-
In the moment before they hit something, Bigfoot was walking on the side of the road next to the car.

So, at this point, they both A: have the best legitimate footage of Bigfoot anyone has ever gotten on film, and B: most likely ran over Bigfoot's child.

The only possible human reaction in that situation is to back the car up until there's room to turn around, and then to drive to civilization as quickly as possible, to do anything else would be suicidally stupid.

Naturally, they head for the Cabin in the Woods, and I check the H out of the film.

How did you forget such basic storytelling lessons, Eduardo? In the Blair Witch Project, the main characters don't know they're screwed until they're so far into the woods that there's nothing they can do about it.

I seriously can't believe this movie is from the same team that brought us Altered.

The Two-Hundred-Twenty-Eighth Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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So, was there no official Quality Comics rule for how to handle phone speech, or was someone in the production line just confused about thoughts vs. calls?

25.2.15

The Two-Hundred-Twenty-Seventh Greatest Panel in the History of Comics

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A face-shooting and a fatal neck biting! Crooks used to be awesome!

21.2.15

Adventures in Fake Journalism: Magic Man

The film Magic Man concerns a woman's half-hearted investigation into the mysterious death of her mother some twenty years earlier. At one point we get a look at an article concerning that crime - and here it is!

Now, for the text!

20.2.15

Game of Thrones and the Hollywood Atheist Conspiracy

For those who aren't theAvod viewers, the "Hollywood Atheist Conspiracy" is a blanket term I use to describe the frequent habit of entertainment industry types to massively underepresent the religiosity and superstitiousness of real people when creating characters for their products. This leads to the odd sight of horror movies in which the majority of characters don't believe in ghosts, except for a lone kook. This compares rather starkly to real demographic surveys, which suggests that a belief in ghosts is a commonplace opinion, with the skeptics being a small minority.

This tendency shows itself in other ways as well. Prominent atheist characters, sparseness of any religious characters unless the plot requires them, and a general lack of consideration to issues of belief and superstition. It even leads filmmakers and producers to shoehorn atheist messages into places where they have no logical or sensible reason for being. Which brings me, naturally to Game of Thrones.

19.2.15

Production Can Be a Struggle, Folks

So I'm watching Scream Park, and we get to the part where one of the killbillies has to chop his way into a gift shop. Then this happens.


If you're wondering why that looks so strange, not unlike an FMV game from the mid-90s, it's because that's some truly iffy bluescreen you're looking at. Its seems that a condition placed on the filmmakers was that they not damage the amusement park's property at all, so this scene proved something of a challenge.

Also, here's a free tip - if you're framing straight at a set of glass doors like this, if you'd just open the door you want out of the way 90 degrees it would be effectively invisible. By pushing it as far as it would go, you've made it abundantly clear that there's an open door right there on the left of frame, right next to the fake one you've added in post.

18.2.15

The Next Day: Scream Park Edition

The film Scream Park concerns an attempt by the owner of a theme park to arrange the murder of his staff in the hopes that the publicity surrounding the massacre will turn the park into a major tourist attraction. Setting aside whether or not this would work (the film seems to think it would), it's one of the most inept examples in recent memory of a film struggling to obtain a 'the killer wins' ending that I've ever seen.

These are the film's two survivors. Woman and her Boss. After a terrible struggle against some killbillies, Woman manages to save the day, while Boss hides in a closet the whole night. Then, right at the end of the movie, it's revealed that Boss was in on it all along, and murdered Woman's would-be boyfriend because he was romantically fixated on her.