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Tuesday, 27 April 2010


Look at THAT! Now that's what I call a cover!

Picked this up from a second-hand bookshop recently for 80p - as you can probably guess, it's the novel that spawned the film WILLARD. Except, the original title of the book is actually RATMAN'S NOTEBOOKS and takes the unusual and interesting format of diary entries, written by the titular 'Ratman'. There are no chapters, no dates and no times. The narrator also never mentions his name (Willard is from the film, not the novel) and in fact refers to most people by their job or sex ('The Book-Keeper', 'The Grocer', 'the girl'). Yet, none of this pulls you out of the fictive dream, and does indeed feel rather authentic.

The story follows the narrator as he is first tasked to kill some rats by his mother, but then studies them and realises how like people they are. After a little while he also realises that he has a 'thing' for them; an affinity. Soon, he's training rats to follow simple voice commands and plotting minor crimes, which in turn leads to...MURDER!

You see, the narrator works as a clerk in his father's business. But, when his dad died his business partner (a man known as 'Jones') took over, and now the narrator slaves away, doing exactly the same thing as he's always done, getting treated the same way and all the rest of it. The narrator starts to suspect he's only being kept around as a 'favour' and a sense of resentment starts to build up in him, compounded by Jones' smug and arrogant behaviour.

Suffice to say, a battle of wills builds up between the two men, and then between the narrator and his army of rats. Yes, he ends up controlling hundreds of the little buggers. There're also two love stories woven into the story, between the narrator and 'the girl' and the narrator and the smartest of the rats, Socrates, which is actually quite touching.

WILLARD/RATMAN'S NOTEBOOKS does very little wrong as it shows the somewhat pathetic world the narrator lives in, and his subsequent motivations to better himself and seek revenge on Jones, all of which ring true and, given the context, believable. And best of all, the ending is purposefully unfinished and ambiguous.

Here's the back cover, to further wet (whet?) your appetite:

I haven't seen the 70's (original) film version of WILLARD but I have seen the 2003 remake, and it's remarkably similar to the book, for the most part, and is very enjoyable despite being cut to ribbons by the censors/studio. Plus, it stars Crispin Glover in the title role and I fkkking love him (that reminds me...must re-watch BARTLEBY).


Friday, 23 April 2010


It's St George's Day here in dear old Blighty. Woop-de-doo! I'm going to celebrate by travelling on our fair rail network, complete with noisy children and drunks who always seem to get on when we go through Doncaster. At least the trains I get no longer smell like dog. I also planned to re-use my return ticket from my last sojourn, to be both crafty and save a few bob, but the difference in price between a single and fresh return ticket is £2. That's ridiculous. I'm off to Nottingham, incidentally. Whilst there, I might visit a national park and take some pictures! But I might need to buy a camera first; I used to quite enjoy taking photographs of natural beauty, but had to stop it when my neighbour called the police.

Sunday, 18 April 2010


I saw KICK-ASS today and I loved, absolutely loved it. But instead of writing a review, I am instead going to post the DAILY MAIL'S OPINION hahahahahahahahahahahahah


Don't be fooled by the hype: This crime against cinema is twisted, cynical, and revels in the abuse of childhood
By Christopher Tookey

Kick-Ass (15)
Verdict: Evil
Rating: One star

Millions are being spent to persuade you that Kick-Ass is harmless, comic-book entertainment suitable for 15-year-olds.

Don't let them fool you. Kick-Ass has been so hyped that it is certain to be a hit. It is also bound be among the most influential movies of 2010. And that should disturb us all.

It deliberately sells a perniciously sexualised view of children and glorifies violence, especially knife and gun crime, in a way that makes it one of the most deeply cynical, shamelessly irresponsible films ever.

The title character is nerdy American teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson from Nowhere Boy). He yearns to be a superhero so he dresses up as one. The trouble is that he has no superpowers and - unlike Batman - no money.

His one asset as a crime fighter is that he can survive serious thrashings because his nerve-endings have been destroyed by previous beatings. Like Wolverine in X-Men, he has metal plates where some of his bones should be.

The movie's central appeal is to fanboys like Dave, who will spot the references to previous comic-strip movies, and imagine that these constitute satire. Really, the tone of the movie is deferential pastiche.

The plot is an unimaginative clone of Spider-Man 2, and the screenplay - by director Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, wife of comic-book enthusiast Jonathan Ross - conforms slavishly to the cliched norms of Hollywood action movies by working towards not one but two huge action set-pieces at its climax.

As a rip-off of its Hollywood betters, it is sporadically funny, efficient, and well shot - hence my arguably overgenerous award of one star.

The biggest problem of the movie, creatively speaking, is that it has pretensions to intelligence but is profoundly, irredeemably bone-headed.

It starts as though it's going to expose the huge gulf between comic strips and reality, but ends up reducing the real world to the most morally fatuous kind of comic strip.

A worthwhile satire on comic-book culture might criticise the idiotic way it uses sadism and voyeurism to entertain, with no thought of the social consequences.

It would also lampoon the risible pretentiousness of many so-called graphic novels. Kick-Ass does neither.

The movie looks at first as if it might satirise the era where talentless nonentities can become celebrities. But it has nothing to say about that either.

Although it runs nearly two hours, there's even less character development than there is social comment. Our hero learns nothing, except that extreme violence against criminals is cool, which is something he thought in the first place.

The reason the movie is sick, as well as thick, is that it breaks one of the last cinematic taboos by making the most violent, foul-mouthed and sexually aggressive character, Hit-Girl, an 11-year-old.

Played with enormous confidence by Chloe Moretz, she's the most charismatic character in the movie. She may not realise it, but she has been systematically abused by her father, brainwashed and turned into a pint-sized

She believes that her vigilante dad (played, simplistically, for laughs by Nicolas Cage) is a hero just as much at the end as she did at the beginning.

Her attitude towards him doesn't mature, which makes her pathetic, rather than cool. The fact that many people who see the film are going to think she is cool is one of its most depressing aspects.

The movie's writers want us to see Hit-Girl not only as cool, but also sexy, like an even younger version of the baby- faced Oriental assassin in Tarantino's Kill Bill 1. Paedophiles are going to adore her.

One of the film's creepiest aspects is that she's made to look as seductive as possible - much more so than in the Mark Millar and John Romita Jr comic book on which this is based. She's fetishised in precisely the same way as Angelina Jolie in the Lara Croft movies, and Halle Berry in Catwoman.

As if that isn't exploitative enough, she's also shown in a classic schoolgirl pose, in a short plaid-skirt with her hair in bunches, but carrying a big gun.

And she makes comments unprintable in a family newspaper, that reveal a sexual knowledge hugely inappropriate to her years.

Oh, and one of the male teenage characters acknowledges that he's attracted to her.

Now, children committing violent and sexual acts should be a matter for concern. Children carrying knives are not cool, but a real and present danger.

Underage sex isn't a laugh. Recent government figures revealed that in this country more than 8,000 children under the age of 16 conceive every year.

Worldwide child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry. In Africa and South America, brutalised youngsters who kill and rape are rightly feared as members of feral gangs or child soldiers.

Movies such as City Of God, Innocent Voices and Johnny Mad Dog have treated the issue with sensitivity.

But in Kick-Ass, childish violence of the most extreme kind - hacking off limbs, shootings in the mouth, impalings and fatal stabbings - is presented with calculated flippancy, as funny, admirable and (most perversely of all) sexually arousing.

The film-makers are sure to argue that there's nothing wrong with breaking down taboos of taste - but there are often good reasons for taboos.

Do we really want to live, for instance, in a culture when the torture and killing of a James Bulger or Damilola Taylor is re-enacted by child actors for laughs?

The people behind this grotesque glorification of prematurely sexualised, callously violent children know full well that they are going to make a lot of money, and they'll get an easy ride from the vast majority of reviewers, who either don't care about the social effects of movies or are frightened to appear ' moralistic' or 'judgmental'.

The truth is, of course, that all critics moralise and make judgments, whether they realise they are doing so or not. So please don't be misled. Kick-Ass is not the harmless fun it pretends to be.
Yes, it's lightweight and silly, but it's also cynical, premeditated and mindbogglingly irresponsible.

And in Hit-Girl, the film-makers have created one of the most disturbing icons and damaging role-models in the history of cinema.
It is literally impossible to take the Daily Mail seriously, and absolutely nothing can be said that is in any way funnier than this review.

Friday, 16 April 2010


Panoramic view of an island.


Storm clouds coalesce in the sky.


2 cops on a boat approach a small dock.



The strident, vaguely discordant strings compel and urge events along as a detective, Teddy, and his partner, I Can't Remember His Name, investigate the disappearance of a woman from a locked cell. Was she a prisoner? Yes and no: she's a mental patient in the loony bin on the island.

SHUTTER ISLAND is brilliant, and a 10/10 film if ever there was one. It is also a very deliberate pulp fiction piece, with a supernatural hint to proceedings (in the same way that John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 feels like a zombie film) that demands your attention. Who's telling the truth? What are some people hiding? Where did that broad go? Teddy suffers from vivid dreams and nightmares about his beloved wife who died in an apartment fire - what does her murderer, a deformed arsonist, have to do with the main case? The film asks a lot of questions, but satisifyingly, you get answers to all of them.


The score is equally wonderful, with snatches of wonky piano punctuating moments of eerie calm, and classical music soundtracking other flashbacks to World War 2, all of which helps heighten the tension and suspense.

The word 'run' gets wet and in a lovely visual pun streaks down the paper it's written on.

Water flows down a red door in an unnerving trick-of-the-light that resembles blood.

The dungeons in the mental hospital hide dangerous men, but are they as dangerous as those on the other side of the bars?

I can't recommend this film enough. I love it!


In other news: I'm helping my chum Bill Tucker edit another anthology. Here're the details:

The Library of Science Fiction & Fantasy Press presents -
Doomology : The Dawning Of Disasters

The submission period is now open and will close as the book fills. An advanced deadline date will be announced here when established. DEADLINE IS APRIL 30th

Seeking original stories about disasters/apocalyptic events. Stories can be from a global scale to a small localized event. They can be about the beginning, middle, end/aftermath or all three aspects of an event.

The types of disasters could be man-made events/accidents, natural events, biological (plague/viral, animal attacks), scientific (nuclear, technological, computers/AI), or other creative scenarios. Think of a combination of disaster films and apocalyptic fiction. Could be anything from surviving a sinking ship, attack of mutated bugs, giant killer rabbits, nuclear threats, computers turning off world wide, or erupting volcanoes.

Not seeking zombie stories in any form.

Please use standard manuscript formatRTF AttachmentCourier font size 12
No page numbers/headersUse italics – do not underline
Word Count is a strict 6k min. to 10k. (if longer please pm me). Seeking detailed fleshed out stories. Please include your name, address, phone, number and email on the title page with the word count.

Send submissions to DoomAntho@gmail.com

Payment is 1 cent per word and 1 contributor copy.

And don't forget we're still after subs for No More Heroes!

Further details/discussion of these anthos can be found here: http://libraryofthelivingdead.lefora.com/forum/category/library-of-science-fiction-fantasy/

Thursday, 15 April 2010


Loads of sub calls out there at the mo - if you haven't already, join DUOTROPE!

I was going to do a review of Shutter Island but the laptop battery's flashing 'CRITICAL' so the power will probably die any mi

Friday, 9 April 2010


Almost everyone hates their hometown, sometimes because it's a dead-end town, sometimes because it's a case of familiarity breeds contempt. There are other reasons too, but I think those're probably the main ones. Scunthorpe is a cesspit, with the main industry being provided by the steel works. But even this huge complex, that I have a lovely view of from my bedroom since it's less than a mile from my house, is dying. The whole town is dying.

Yet, I don't mind being back here. There's countryside literally at the end of my street, and a massive lake near my house, that used to be a quarry (so it's impossibly deep). Plus, my main group of friends are all here, and I have a cool job in an art gallery. Not to say I intend to spend the rest of my life here; I'm not mentally ill.

I've been considering the "unpublishable story" angle recently. I don't mean something that's controversial or anything like that, but rather a story that's an awkward length (like 9000 words) or combines genres that don't typically go together/aren't popular. Where can these stories find a home? Unless you're lucky enough to find a niche market or open-minded zine: nowhere.

For a while now I've toyed with the idea of putting together a short story collection, with a solid central theme. I don't know how "easy" something like this is to get published - I think it's 50/50 as to whether someone wants it or not...never mind if they actually like the style/genres. Anyway, if I use some of the "unpublishable" stories I've been polishing, I have something that's around 45K words. My aim to have double that word count, with a total of 13 stories, and I think I can do it. Since I'm struggling to get anywhere with my novel (thanks to it being a strange format and 'unpopular' style) I'm going to get this collection sorted and see what happens. It appears my niche is 'small town horror' so that'll be the central theme. Lord knows I've experienced enough of it where I live.


and as a special amendment: can anyone translate this for me: 辛苦了!祝你愈來愈好

I tried to find out what it says and found a blog that, translated, said a load of crazy guff:

Sunday, 4 April 2010


I've eaten so many creme eggs this weekend I think my guts have been replaced by fondant filling. I met Geoff Nelder and another writer chap called Leigh Barlow, and that was really cool. Also sullied my eyeballs with LAW-ABIDING CITIZEN and turned my brain upside-down with TRIANGLE.

TRIANGLE first: I thought it was ace. Group of friends go yachting. Get in trouble. Get rescued by massive cruise ship. No-one's on the ship! Except...

It's not spoiling it at all to reveal it's about alternate time/reality lines, but the fun is in following the characters as they try to avert situations they've already experienced, only to find...well let's just say there are some effectively chilling situations and reveals along the way, as the story writes itself before it's happened, if that makes sense. I think director Christopher Smith would be very good at the video game BRAID.

LAW-ABIDING CITIZEN: Man sees wife and daughter killed in front of him by two thugs. One gets the death sentence, the other gets off lightly. Man goes nuts and swears revenge. Except...

Gerard Butler is that man, and despite the film's tagline being about vengeance, his character admits his motivation isn't revenge at all. In fact, he's making a point about the US legal system, which he does quite succintly, but then decides to continue being a nutter and kills a bunch of people. So clever is his character that everyone's sat round scratching their heads wondering how on earth they can stop him - he's locked in jail but still managing to kill folks in intricate and clever ways. Gerard Butler starts off as a clever technophile driven by grief and the need for justice, but ends up as a full-blown supervillain, plotting the destruction of the human race from a jail cell. Enjoyable but completely stupid.

AND the new Dr Who is now on our screens. Matt Smith is VERY weird-looking, like his face is the wrong shape for his head, but I thought he made a convincing Doctor, going by the first episode in the new series. Shame the overall story was a load of wank. How many times can the Doctor save the world from aliens without everyone on the entire planet going "Oh yeah so you're the Doctor, I thought I'd heard about you" but instead everyone acts stunned that such a thing is happening. GRAH!