Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: Hannibal (2001)
The mad genius may be an over played trope, but it is still entertaining to watch. I have to wonder though if the character in question on today’s installment of Slashers & Serial Killers would fit into the mold of “mad genius.” Is Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter truly mad? Is he insane, mentally ill, certifiable, deranged, demented, or otherwise of unsound mind? Honestly, that’s a tall order. What he does is shocking, sure enough. I think we can at the very least say for certain that he is a genius. You don’t become a physician and practicing psychologist speaking fluently in several languages with perfect memorization and dictation of countless works of art and poetry, not to mention an obsessive culinary skill, without the moniker of said genius. Mad though…that begs the question. Continue Reading
Book in Review: FEED by Michael Bray
Tyler Matthews is desperate for change. Sick of his life and plagued by alcoholism, he makes the decision to divorce his wife, sell everything he owns and travel the world to try and find focus and rid himself of his addiction. Eventually arriving on the sun-drenched shores of Australia and still plagued by his demons, he has spent all his savings and is facing the prospect of having to return to his old life.
It is here that he meets two men with an outlandish story about a horde of sunken drug money in an area known as the Devil’s Triangle – Australia’s answer to its Bermuda namesake and said to be the lair of a terrifying monster of the deep. Offered a share of the fortune if he helps retrieve it, Tyler agrees to go with the men to the location, skeptical and thinking only of prolonging his journey of self-discovery.
He will learn, however, that this particular urban legend is real, and they encounter a giant of the seas, the previously thought to be extinct Megalodon which makes its home within the area of the Devil’s triangle.
Barely escaping with their lives, the three men wash up on an isolated island – no more than a rocky outcrop with no vegetation, fresh water of food sources. As desperation to survive intensifies, horrifying decisions will be made that will illustrate how man is sometimes the most violent predator on earth and when left with no option will do anything, even the unthinkable, in order to survive.
You may or may not know this, but I’ve got a bit of a phobia towards ocean water. I don’t mind heading to the beach, especially Flordia’s white sand, clear water beaches of Pensacola. That’s not really the problem. The problem is the deep. Or better yet, what lives in the deep, what’s hunting in the deep. Perhaps blame for this phobia can be placed directly on Discovery Channel’s Shark Week specials I’d watched as a kid. Seeing those Great White’s launching themselves, razor teeth and all, up out of the water to snag a morsel of meat. I also clearly remember watching another show on either TLC or Discovery about an old fisher man’s tale about being out at sea and hearing a thudding noise against the bow of his ship. Taking a lantern (because this is late at night, mind you), the captain goes to investigate. Peering over the side of the boat he stares down at something he doesn’t quite understand, and then suddenly it dawns on him…he’s staring down at a giant eye, the looks at him, and then disappears back into the deep. Most likely, the tale was about the infamous Kraken, a so-called giant squid with massive tentacles. Nonsesnse, perhaps, but still…these were the emotions I carried with me while reading Michael Bray’s new book, FEED.
FEED starts off with the main character, Tyler Matthews, who, as the reader will quickly discover, is tired of his ho-hum ordinary life. To escape he must exsponge his controlling misses (soon to be ex-wife), his banal job (of which she helped him get as means of controlling him), and all his meaningless worldly possessions. Tyler is set on exploring the world. His separated wife seems to think he’ll just burn all his money on booze. I really enjoyed the go between here, between Tyler and Amy (the soon-to-be-ex). And you can see where Tyler is at this stage, that they’ve been here before, and how he had failed to purge his life in the past, succumbing apparently to her controlling ways. I found myself easily rooting for Tyler and relieved that he finally stood up for himself. The one thing that stood out as odd was the separation and divorce, and perhaps seeing how Bray is an English chap and I a mere American is the hang up here, but I was questioning how Tyler ended up with everything from the divorce. He sold all his possession. His house, car, everything. And kept the proceeds…or maybe I missed the part where they were going to split everything 50/50. Amy did confess to having an affair, which drove this separation and eventual divorce, but still…
Throughout FEED we’re able to jump from chapter to chapter into various perspectives. Moving to where the majority of the story takes place, Australia’s Devil’s Triangle, I enjoyed the early setup between Scott and his “buddy” Karl, in which Karl informs Scott of an old legend of sunken gold, the only problem being that there’s a guardian of the gold, a giant monster that lurks in the deep. Scott doesn’t believe his stoner buddy’s story but decides to jump in and take a look anyhow. Why not, right? He soon discovers his friend was right, but instead of telling Karl that there is gold down at the bottom, he simply resurfaces to tell him there was nothing but sand, marking the GPS coordinates so he can return later and keep the prize for himself. This was a fun little scene, setting up what will be the eventual motivator of the story, getting that gold, but also being shown that getting said prize will most likely cost something, something very dear more like, as Scott definitely senses something down there stalking him. Or was it just his imagination?
Somewhere around here, we’re introduced to Nash, a very scarred, very “Ahab” trope character. His face and most of his right side of his body are in ruination. His flesh horribly drafted and pieced back together and over twenty years or so has healed in a not so pleasant on the eyes kinda way. Nash looking into the mirror is constantly reminded of what happened to him out in Australia’s Devil’s Triangle and has his heart set on revenge.
I don’t want to get into too many spoilers here. Understandably, reviews tend to reveal more than a few things about a book. Yet, we need to slow things down here, as around this point in the book, the pace begins to pick up. Needless to say, Scott returns to retrieve what he left at the bottom of Devil’s Triangle, and he brought his older, convict brother with him, Paul. I really enjoyed the go-between with Scott and Paul, and this highlights one of many awesome things about FEED, the dialogue is just about spot on, the reactions feel real, and the motivations, no matter how grotesque or horrifying, are justifiable. Even later on when certain characters are stranded on an “island,” which is basically nothing more than rock, with no food and no water. This scene with Scott and Paul also introduces us to the antagonist of the book, though Bray makes mention a few times, through his characters, that the shark is not malicious or anything, its particular species happens to be very dominate and very protective of its territory, and its territory so happens to cover the Devil’s Triangle. Due to the shark’s size, it needs to FEED quite often, which drives its more violent tendencies. Scott and Paul soon discover how real the legend is…
Things progress, time goes on, and we catch up with Tyler in…you guessed it, Australia. He’s been all over the world now, adapted to his new lifestyle, and burning through his funds rapidly, mostly due to his alcoholism. He claims “near-alcoholism,” but come on, a spade is a spade. If Tyler wishes to continue his pilgrimage, he’ll need to replenish his bank account. And as fate would have it, he runs into the most unlikely of people, Nash and his son, Liam, as they discuss things over a few pints of bitter. He overhears their conversation and is quickly swept up in a bid for unimaginable riches. My only hang up here is how easily diving underwater seems. I liked the detail with the equipment, knowing the names of parts I’ll never look up, and though I’m not a “diver” myself, I would assume there would need to be some sort of training involved. I could be wrong here. I’ve only ever been snorkeling, maybe any joe schmoe can put on a wetsuit and some flippers and tread deep water. But regardless, this IS a detail easily ignored and doesn’t really effect the overall story. And so, Nash recruits Tyler to join him and his son, Liam, on a mission to get rich by finding the treasure left behind on the seabed of the Devil’s Triangle.
For the rest, you’ll simply have to read the book…
FEED works in many ways because it is and isn’t a traditional monster story. Sure, we’ve got the Megladon that is very protective of its territory. But we’ve also got a cast of characters that are not in the least two-dimensional. Tyler, the main protagonist, has his flaws, but he’s also very human and real and because of that, he is relatable. As are the many other characters, even the ones that don’t last very long on “screen.” Nash would be another great character I liked reading, a very “Ahab” prototype, hell bent on revenge, even at the risk of his own son and Tyler. Survival and the lengths we’re willing to go to survive are strong motivators of the story, some of which play out in very grotesque ways. This highlights that FEED isn’t just a story about a shark gobbling up people, in fact, for most of it, there are other predators and demons one has to watch out for. My own personal phobia of the ocean no doubt played into my reaction to the story Michael Bray has cooked up for his readers, but it also says something of the quality of the writing, to be able to play on those phobias, the isolation, and claustrophobia, the unknown aspects of what’s really out there in the black depths of the water. FEED is definitely a read fans of horror will not want to miss.
You can get your copy of FEED for $3.99 on Amazon!!
Michael Bray is a bestselling horror / thriller author of several novels. Influenced from an early age by the suspense horror of authors such as Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, James Herbert & Brian Lumley, along with TV shows like Tales from the Crypt & The Twilight Zone, his work touches on the psychological side of horror, teasing the reader’s nerves and willing them to keep turning the pages. Several of his titles are currently being translated into multiple languages and with options for movie and Television adaptations under negotiation for others, he will look to continue his growth as a full time professional writer long into the future.
THE GREEN INFERNO: movie in review
Never have I been more excited to hand some teenaged clerk $10.50 to see a movie. And I’m not quite sure why. Maybe its because I’m the guy who typically buys candy bars and packs of gum in the checkout line when I see a “On Sale” sign. I’m the guy who watches commercials and gets really excited when they’re flashy and funny. Basically, I’m an easy sale. It really doesn’t take much, sad to say, to get my gear going. My wife has often told me I’m a marketing teams wet dream (in more or less words, wink wink). Now, this in no way is a critique on the quality of film, per say. I’m just wondering, after-the-fact, how I got so enthusiastic for movie? Well, considering the above disposition to cheap gimmicks, there should be no wonder at all, as The Green Inferno pulled no stops on ad space. And lets be real here, its a film designed after the great cannibalistic films before its time. This was marketed as Cannibal Holocaust 2.0, wasn’t it? Indeed. But did Eli Roth pull off what Ruggero Deodato did back in 1979?
Here is your quick fire synopsis:
New York college student Justine, who’s daddy so happens to be a big shot UN lawyer, meets a student activist named Alejandro, who you’ll find has his head way up his ass, when he goes on a hunger strike on behalf of underpaid janitors. After she becomes traumatized by a college lecture on female genital mutilation, Justine pleads to join with the student activist group undertaking a new project: to stop the destruction of an indigenous Peruvian tribe’s ancestral home, Occupy Wall Street Style. The group of young, dumb, and full of bad ideas college brats travels with privileged upper class American exceptionalistic fanfare, marveling at the local scenery while also mocking a few of the customs carried on down in South America. Justine soon learns to regret her decision in joining this band of “one face” wannabes when their plane crashes in the Peruvian jungle and she and the rest of their group are taken captive by a tribe of hungry cannibals.
So that’s a basic set up. From there, the movie guides you through some very realistic and hilarious insights into this slacktivist quandary. And while the acting was choppy at times, especially in the beginning between Justine and her roommate, it is a forgivable let down that quickly fades away into the obscurity of gruesome violence. I felt the film was a honest homage to Cannibal Holocaust while also retaining its own voice. In Cannibal Holocaust, we are forced to question just who are the savages, the tribe or the film crew (who are exceedingly cruel to the locals)? With The Green Inferno, we are forced to ask what good the slacktivist movement does. While Cannibal Holocaust had a broader subversive quality, The Green Inferno brings us into a more localized phenomenon. For those of us watching the news and seeing kids in white V is for Vendetta masks and wondering what good does all that do? Garner attention? Sure. Anything else? Unlikely. And it seemed even more repugnant when some groups attempt to parallel their own movement to the likes of say, Arab Spring, or even worse, The Civil Rights Movement, where in the 1960s college students laid claim to fame for nonviolent disobedience while riding buses and sitting at lunch counters, working in the rural south to get black citizens to register to vote. To me, that is real activism, working to help. Not just chaining yourself to some building or bulldozer and then having a good laugh about it later that night at Starbucks. As the movie progresses, we see just what it was Alejandro was after, fame. Nothing more what a bunch of re-tweets and re-posts on social media platforms to, as he said, bring in more student activists. He had no intention of stopping anything, and in fact, knew he could do jack shit. All of the tag-a-long slacktivists seem okay with this, or worse, expected nothing less. Justine is furious. She thought she was going to cause real political change. Her naivety in the story showcases, I think, Roth’s impressions on similar groups in America. Dumb egomaniac kids with the best intentions.
Things begin to heat up, no pun intended, when their plane crashes in the jungle, and very soon after, the local tribe captures the lot and imprisons them in a pig pen. Here, and among other scenes (including a very gross “stomach problem” scene and a “stoner” scene in which the cannibal tribe gets the munchies…get it?), Roth injects a certain amount of humor amid the gore. Giving the film a very satirical vibe. Perhaps adding to the subversive nature of the film. Understanding Roth’s social commentary aim and sitting down and looking at the film itself, there are a few fantastically horror moments, and there are a few letdowns as well.
The movie had a fantastic vibe building up to the eventual encounter with the indigenous savages. Plenty of foreshadowing to make your eyes roll. When the first student is served on the chopping block, it felt like a shotgun. Roth cleverly used Jonah, the not so token but certainly guileless black guy, as his “first” item on the menu. And it is a fantastically cringe worthy scene, very brutal and terrifying to watch. With something has intense as Jonah’s death, we have to wonder just what lays in wait for the remainder of the film. Understandably, the gore cannot keep the same momentum or the audience could actually grow desensitized to the violence. You want to keep people guessing and on the edge of their seats. So you pull some punches, and that’s okay, because again, you cant just keep hitting people with a hammer and expect them to react the same way as the first scene. But when it comes to the finale, you’d think, okay here it comes, the last hurrah. Its going to be really gross and awesome….!
This particular scene would have really sold the movie for horror fanatics and given the film a bit of tragic-delirious injection of irony. If they’d just gone ahead with the genital mutilation, it would have sent the movie easily as one of the best horror films because it would have captured all of the intentions of the best horror stories: taboo, gore, and subversive. However, Eli did not go through with it. Maybe he knew the ratings board would have shit a brick if he kept it in the film. Either way, the pulled punch did not destroy the overall dread-esk abeyance of The Green Inferno. It was still really fun and had plenty of goretastic moments. If you’ve been waiting for nerds like me to give you the approval, you have it, in spades. Its a fun, perhaps over-hyped, film for maybe not the whole family.
My rating: 4.5/5
Cannibal Holocaust: a 35 year review
Holy cow! What did I get myself into? Cannibal Holocaust?!!? Really? Talk about a movie you have to watch alone for fear of someone walking in and screaming on the way out. You may be surprised, though, to discover that I have never seen the film till this past weekend. I had some time to kill, no pun intended, and thought, “You know, I should watch this movie.” Jesus, what’s wrong with me? Horror fanatics and buffs and nerds alike talk about this movie to great lengths. Strange people have even podcasted reviews and thoughts of the film some thirty-five years in the making. This is part of why I was intrigued to watch it. Another reason is because Cannibal Holocaust is considered as the grandfather of modern day found footage films. And I think this is what really hooked me, at first, to watch the granddaddy of lost tapes. My first experience with found footage was with The Blair Witch Project back in 1999. Cannibal Holocaust is not entirely found footage, however. Its partially found footage and part real time. Which, I thought, made it more interesting. The story goes:
After a documentary film crew goes missing during a trip into the Amazon to make contact and film two warring cannibal tribes, a rescue mission is led by a New York University anthropologist named Harold Monroe. The Professor eventually discovers the ill-fated film crew and recovers their lost cans of film. With only partially watching the footage, an American television station decides to edit and broadcast the material, you know, as a special in memory of the dead documentary film crew in all. However, upon viewing the rest of the reels, some of which even the editors could not watch, Professor Monroe becomes obviously appalled by the team’s heinous behavior and actions towards the Amazonian tribes they encountered, and after discovering how they died, he objects to the station’s intent to air the documentary.
Cannibal Holocaust was filmed in 1980, but it has a very 1970’s vibe to it. That may be the case because its an Italian film, but it reminded me of similar films made during the 70’s, including: Jungle Holocaust, The Mountain of the Cannibal God, and perhaps even Faces of Death. The musical score also screams 1970’s. But as for the special effects, the gore feel all too real. And most of the animal related gore IS real!! Cannibal Holocaust was filmed using actual Amazonian tribes in-hue as actors. The decapitated livestock during production were, apparently, used as real food for these peoples. So, in case you’re worried, nothing went to waste.
Besides being seen as one of the first “found footage” movies, Cannibal Holocaust is also heralded for its controversial history. Because of the films graphic violence Italy ordered the movie to be seized and director Ruggero Deodato was arrested for obscenity and for supposedly making a snuff film due to rumors that some of the actors were killed on camera. Although Deodato was later cleared, the film was still banned in Italy, Australia, and several other countries due to its portrayal of graphic brutality, sexual assault, and violence toward animals. Today, around the world, Cannibal Holocaust has become a taboo cult classic. And surprisingly the message in the movie is still relevant today. If you can get past all the gore and rape, you’ll find an actual significant meaning in all that mess. Crazy right? But that’s how horror movies work. A lot of times they’ll show you the eerie banality in violence by discussing violence in a meaningful, albeit brutal, way.
The message or meaning I got from the film was about xenophobia and ethnocentrism, judging other cultures by the standards of our own culture. During my studies in history, ethnocentrism was a real obstacle for some of my fellow students, and its still a problem with people today. Cannibal Holocaust highlights those issues with blood and the most taboo of taboos. And of course with Professor Monroe’s lasting statement at the conclusion of the film, and I’m paraphrasing: “Just who are the cannibals?” A chilling self examination, are we civilized or barbaric?
I actually enjoyed the film, despite its more unpleasant scenes. And i thought the overall intent of the film to be genuinely profound and still relevant. The grittiness of the film really added to the feel and sucked into that insane world. The turtle scene would be my biggest hangup as it was literally killed for the film, much like the snake from Friday the 13th. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Cannibal Holocaust, why not make it a weekend? Just don’t forget the mustard!
Who doesn’t love a good story? From great works such as, All Quiet on the Western Front and Salem’s Lot, Thomas S. Flowers aspires to create his own fantastic worlds with memorable characters and haunted places. His stories range from Shakespearean gore, feuding families, classic monsters, historic paranormal thrillers, and haunted soldiers. Residing in the swamps of Houston, Texas, with his wife and daughter, Thomas’s debut novel, Reinheit, was eventually published with Shadow Work Publishing, along with The Incredible Zilch Von Whitstein, Lanmò, The Hobbsburg Horror, and FEAST. His veteran focused paranormal thriller series, The Subdue Series, filled with werewolves, Frankenstein-inspired monsters, cults, alter-dimensional insects, witches, and the undead are published with Limitless Publishing. Visit www.ThomasSFlowers.com for more!
Hobo: A Horror Short Story
There isn’t a real post per say. There is no real discussion going on here. This is just some good old fashion shameless self-promotion!
Besides posting articles on this site, ranging anywhere from history to horror movie reviews and even a random political conversation, besides all that, I also fancy myself a fiction writer. I dabble a little in the dark arts of horror fiction and suspense and while I’m waiting for one short story title to be considered for publication with TOR, I’m biding my time with another short story. For whatever reason, other than just getting this out there for people to read, I’ve decided to self publish this second piece, called “Hobo: A horror short story.”
Here is an exurb for your reading pleasure:
The red glow of the traffic was eternal. Beverly wiped what looked to be a crumb off her Ivanka Trump dress pants, pretending as if the hobo was not there, in the median, next to her luxury car. She said a small prayer of thanks that the valet had stored her shopping bags in the trunk. She remembered handing the young twenty-something a Hamilton as he closed her door. He was handsome and young. She fantasied a late night rondevu, perhaps a bar encounter. “What are you having,” she’d ask. He was silent in her mind; his deep blue eyes did the talking, and his toned arms, and legs…and the tight bulge in his designer jeans. Her smile curved with hunger, but quickly went away. From her peripheral, she could tell that the hobo was talking to her now, muttering something inaudible through her tinted driver’s side window. He began to tilt the sign to give her a better angle. Beverly thought of turning on the radio, but decided against it. She did not want to make any movement that would suggest she was reaching for anything. Her eyes remained fixed on the light.
“Please turn, please turn. Come on – turn,” she breathed.
The man abandoned his resting place and shuffled toward her. Beverly dared a glance. And for a moment they locked eyes. She could see his deep brown irises’ and the swollen blue and purple bags underneath. His cheeks were hollow. Afraid to take breaths through her nose, Beverly swore she could smell his stink of skunk and booze choking through the window. Sneaking another glance, she could see something else in those browns, there was something other than hunger, perhaps anger or resentment because she was well off and he was poor, or maybe she was the only vehicle stopped at the light, the only one he could beg and bother. Or perhaps because he didn’t like women and meant her harm. Or maybe he was drunk, she wasn’t for certain, but whatever it was, she despised those morose eyes. She despised that he was looking at her, judging her for not giving him money.
The hobo was off the curb and in the gutter when Beverly waved her hand, dismissing him with the universal sign for, “Sorry, no money. Please go away.” The man kept coming. Reaching her driver side door, he placed a surprisingly large hand on the dark glass. Smearing dirt or whatever else collected from lying in the street. The hobo smiled at her, exposing gaps where teeth had once resided, and those that remained were both yellow and nasty. He let his sign drop to the ground, moving his other hand up, cupping the tinted window, peering inside. Beverly reached for the locking mechanism, again. The bolts danced back and forth, unable to lock any further. The man opened his mouth wide, brandishing his black tongue, and fogged her window with a long drawn exhale. With one large finger he wrote, “Hungry” in the cloud.
If you are interested in reading more, you can check it out on Amazon Kindle.
Or, if you are interested in being an “not so” advanced reader and receive a free copy (PDF) of Hobo and are able to leave a review on Amazon, just let me know via comment or private message.