Hack/Slash: Marry, F*ck, Kill

51Pv51LcgJLAs usual with an 11th volume of a series, it’s hard to not end up deep in spoiler territory. So, instead, a series of mostly unconnected thoughts.

1) It has been a long time since I’ve read one of these, so I guess I’m not surprised I couldn’t remember exactly where things had left off. What I guess is important to “know” is that the long-running arc with the (let’s say) Black Lamp Society had finally been wrapped up. Taking it a step further than that: by the end of this book, all but one dangling plot thread had been wrapped up, and only one new dangling thread had been created. It’s almost like the series is angling toward an ending of some kind?

2) The book is split into two arcs, of which the second arc is both the better and the more important. The first arc either highlights that the artist only knows how to draw one type of chick, or else it is meant to clumsily indicate that Cassie Hack[1] is lots of different characters in lots of different dimensions, depending on how she was raised, I guess? Including an oversexed lady in even skimpier clothing who likes to take over by blowing things up and the warden of an interdimensional women’s prison, for the incarceration of the kind of oversexed lady in extremely skimpy clothing who would choose to take over by blowing things up.

3) I’m glad the next book promises to be a lot more about Vlad[2], what with almost everything else being wrapped up and all, because I didn’t even remember that there was something wrong with him (spoiler alert: there is), but I was very disappointed that he was sidelined almost the whole book. Though I can definitely see why it was structurally necessary to get to the end point they got to.

4) The title: I cannot find any specific thing that fits Marry, Fuck, Kill, but if I squint sideways at it, I can see where there’s sort of vaguely a game of that going on throughout the book, just barely enough so to justify someone trying to get titles moved via shock value.

[1] She, you’ll no doubt have forgotten by now, is the teenager on the road in fishnets and carrying a nailed-up bat with “Kiss It” burned into the non-naily portions who hunts supernatural slashers to make them be more specifically dead than they previously had been.
[2] Cassie’s green-skinned, monstrous companion who helps her out on the whole destroying mystical psychos task, mainly because she’s nice to him when everyone else thinks he’s one of those same kinds of monsters.

All-New Ultimates: No Gods, No Masters

51MeEMpGe1LBack when I ordered this book, and every time between then and when it arrived and I started reading it earlier this week, I thought the title was a reference to one of the first Ultimates books, Gods and Monsters, from nearly ten years ago now. But as of cracking the cover open, I have realized that the title of the book is actually No Gods, No Masters, which is a completely different title. Apparently it’s a reference to a political book about anarchism? I don’t see a particular parallel here, but maybe I would if I’d read the other book.

So, you know the street level gang war the teenaged Ultimates were fighting / trying to clean up last time? This is the conclusion to that storyline. Which means, yes more irrelevant third-or-lower tier “super” villains, yes more Roxxon intrigue. Also, some of the art was all scribbly and lame, but only some of it. Still, though, the character evolutions among some of our heroes has made the pair of books retroactively worth the price of admission after all.

Well, actually, that may not be true. Spoiler alert based on news reporting of happenings at Marvel. But, the thing is, most of these characters and in fact the Ultimate universe in general may be coming to an end when it collides somehow or other with the regular continuity. Can’t blame the current authors who have been pushing things forward that everything since Galactus has been basically a meaningless placeholder. But it’s damn disappointing nonetheless.

The Alloy of Law

51ewY4KqOmLI should have finished this book weeks ago, right? But at 75% through it (and, as I later discovered, right at the cutoff before the climax started, so at least my timing was good?), I lost my tablet in a tragic accident involving angular momentum and inertia; a few hours later, I learned that the touch screen of my Kindle Touch had ceased working, which made it unusable also even though it powered on nice as you please. Both devices have since been replaced, which is nice, and in the meantime I read a paper book, as you know.

If you wonder why I roll my eyes every time someone disparages my physical collection of dead trees, this is pretty much why right here. You can say I could have read things on my phone in the meantime, but…. nope. Too small, wrong proportions, just, no.

In the meantime, though, I’ll keep buying stupidly cheap daily deal ebooks because I am Amazon’s bitch, which in this case explains why I didn’t have a physical copy of The Alloy of Law in the first place. Obviously I like Sanderson and would have bought a Mistborn sequel, right? Just, the ebook found me first, so.

As far as the book? It was interesting having the same experience as the characters, where history had faded to legend, and most of the details were probably wrong. See, the book is set hundreds of years after the Mistborn trilogy concluded, and while it has not been hundreds of years for me personally, I could hardly remember more than the broadest strokes of what went down, and the characters here thinking over the way the world used to be, it was just wrong enough for me to know they had things wrong without knowing what was right instead. I don’t know how to have that kind of experience except by sheer luck, but it made the book an extra bit cooler, no doubt.

Anyway: it’s a Mistborn book, right? People can use allomancy to take certain metals and give themselves cool powers, same as always. But now there are guns and trains and… it’s not steampunk, right? There’s no steam-based science, mainly. Magic, sure, and a Victorian period setting, but those do not steampunk make. If you’re allergic and that’s what was keeping you away, don’t worry! If you’re allergic to a world evolving over time, that’s silly. If you didn’t like Mistborn the first time around? Well, this is not epic fantasy like that was, and it may help? But it is almost certainly the first book in a trilogy rather than fully standalone. So if you’re allergic to that, I got nothing.

Otherwise, enjoy! I did.

Dark Carnival

51VKHsxpjILI wish I read the Deathlands books a little more often than I do, although the truth of this matter is you could insert any ongoing series[1] I am reading and not yet caught up to live publication for, and that would still be a true statement. I have an embarrassment of reading wealth, I guess? Kind of.

But as much as I enjoy reading them, they’re getting harder and harder to review, because of how much continuity is piling up. I have read 14 of these over the past 7ish years (they are published quarterly, I think, so yes, this means I’m falling behind), and they’re so far not the least bit episodic. Old enemies come back, the cast changes over time, the past (both the written past and the characters’ pasts before the series opens) has consequences. All that, on top of post-apocalypse porn with a deep sci-fi bent and surprisingly[2] egalitarian gender parity, and yeah, of course I want to keep reading more.

This one, leaving out all the piled up plot, centers around dire happenings in and around an operational amusement park in Florida that is conspicuously not DisneyWorld. Also, though, let me leave you this hilarious dispatch from the 22nd Century:

Doc returned to his own room and watched some vids of a television series that Boss Larry piped through. Ryan and Krysty tried to watch it, but it seemed a plot of such staggering complexity that they gave up on it.

“It wasn’t the giant and the dwarf,” Krysty said, lying back on the huge bed. “Nor the damned fine coffee and the cherry pie. It was the woman who was dead, then Japanese, then alive again.”

[1] I mean, not Anita Blake. Seriously. But otherwise, yes.
[2] Both for the genre and the publication date. And I’m not saying it’s perfect, it’s just a lot better than could have possibly been predicted, and objectively closer to the good side of the scale than the bad side.

Project Almanac

MV5BMjIyOTYxMjM0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTE2NTI3MzE@._V1__SX1859_SY847_Did you ever see The Butterfly Effect? The one with Kelso from the 70s Show, right before he turned into Ashton Kutcher? If not, definitely watch that instead. But if you have, it’s probably been quite a while, and you may be ready to walk that territory again. Project Almanac is an MTV movie about a bunch of high school students who find themselves via quirks of causality in possession of the ability to time travel.

Then, they use it to do the kinds of things high school students as envisioned by MTV would do (pass chemistry, go to Lollapalooza, you know), until, inevitably, things start to go wrong. Which is what the movie is really about.

I liked it well enough, probably because of how much I liked the other movie in the first place? I assume it was meant to be neither an indictment nor a non-judgmental representation of how high school popularity works, but instead accidentally represented and indicted that process. And from a time travel logistics perspective, well, I had issues. They used and tossed out causality pretty much at whim, which is annoying simply because time travel logic needs to be internally consistent. Pick your method, but then stay there. That’s all I ask.

Like I said, the only reason to watch this is if you can’t watch the Butterfly Effect for the first time instead. Not because Project Almanac was bad; it wasn’t. It just wasn’t nearly good enough.

Movie 43

MV5BMTg4NzQ3NDM1Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjEzMjM3OA@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_What I actually wanted to watch last night was Project X, but it wasn’t on Netflix. But the reason I wanted to watch it was that I was watching Iron Man earlier in the evening and thought the Vanity Fair reporter looked familiar. Turns out she didn’t, but I saw Movie 43 in her credits, which reminded me of Project X. Because, you know, generic titles and all.

Movie 43 is a series of comedic shorts tied together by a movie pitch plot[1], and… well, let me offer you this quick guide. If you’ve ever wanted to see Anna Faris as a coprophiliac, or if you’ve ever wanted to see Halle Berry make guacamole with a breast prosthesis, or if you’ve ever wanted to see Hugh Jackman being a literal dickhead, you should watch this movie. If you actively want to avoid seeing those things, you should not.

This doesn’t feel like a “middle ground” type of situation, you know?

[1] No, seriously, it’s not a V/H/S sequel, and I’m pretty sure this is not the only kind of movie I watch anymore? Pretty sure.

 

Ghost Story

51PeXmFimqLThis has been a long time coming. Sure, I’m not yet caught up on the Dresden Files, but I no longer feel spoiled for them. So, hooray! That said, I have to figure out how to write this review without spoiling anyone else[1], which I’ll admit is easier said than done.

Ghost Story picks up after the perfectly named Changes, which I understand to be the midpoint of the series, and it focuses on one of the changes that occurred in Harry Dresden’s life over the course of that book. Arguably, the most minor change, certainly next to last. But still, it was a pretty big change, right? So, spoilers follow this paragraph / reside below the cut.

[1] Ha ha, joke’s on me, everyone has already read this book. Who am I fooling?

Continue reading

V/H/S/2

MV5BODg4OTMxNDAxMV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjM4ODQ0OQ@@._V1__SX1859_SY847_I know what you’re thinking. Why am I reading a review about a crazy former hot werewolf when I was promised a review explaining how V/H/S maybe actually does make sense as a series?[1] Answer: I can’t[2] review things out of order, can I? And I watched that other movie in between because my girlfriend was over, and she had not even seen V/H/S, so I couldn’t very well throw her right into the middle of things, could I?

But then, a night or two later: here we are. The open question is, does V/H/S/2[3] make a damn lick of sense, and, even trickier, does it retroactively make its precedent make sense? That’s what we in the radio business call a tease[4]. First, I will say that all of the short films that tied the sequel together were as skin-crawly and engrossing as last time. (Well, one of them had a monster that should never have been shown closely and in slow movement, but that was like the last 15 seconds and did not ruin the Lovecraftian splatterfest that had gone before.) I don’t know if it’s that most horror movies are too long and the compactness packs a punch, or if it’s that the first person nature of all found footage movies makes me identify more closely with what’s going on, or what, but these stories, one and all, were genuinely disturbing.

Okay, I’m doing it for real this time. Yes, there is a small degree to which the cohesion stories about finding these houses full of screens and creepy tapes does make sense now that did not exist last time, and it even sort of works retroactively. It’s a pretty small degree, but still, if you were really here because you desperately wanted to understand the underground world of tapes of supernatural events, you would hate these movies I think for their inability to deliver. And since that’s the only way they don’t deliver, well then.

[1] Well, correction: I know what you were thinking.
[2] Well, correction: I don’t
[3] These movies are irritating as fuck to type out, b/t/w.
[4] Well, correction: they in the radio business.[5]
[5] I know what you’re thinking this time, too. And no, I really have no idea what I’m doing, much less why. You gets what you pays for.

88 (2014)

MV5BMjM2ODQxMjU3Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzc1OTE2MzE@._V1__SX1859_SY847_Remember Ginger Snaps? I do, very fondly, even if my viewing of the original movie barely predated my starting to review things. Remember Ginger? ….no, not from Gilligan’s Island, this Ginger, the one I was literally just talking about? My point is, Katharine Isabelle’s face was tugging at my recollection the whole time I was watching 88 on the strength of it’s Memento-like description on Netflix.

To be clear, this is no Memento. But it does have a cool fragmented parallel story structure where you can’t tell what’s real. The hot girl in the poster (Ginger, you guys, why is this not sinking in?) has obviously had a psychotic break[1], but still, something you’re seeing must be real, surely! And it’s pretty fun trying to figure out what. Long story short, I’ve made bigger Netflix mistakes than this.

[1] Sounds like a spoiler, possibly is a spoiler, but they say it in text at the front of the movie before you’ve even seen her come to herself, confused, in front of a stack of pancakes.

V/H/S

MV5BMTUwODAxMzMwNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTk3MTQ5Nw@@._V1__SX1859_SY893_I was so confused by the overarching “plot” of V/H/S that I watched the sequel before writing this review, in the hope that it would clear things up for me. Answer: maybe it did? But since I’m going to end up writing two reviews anyway, I may as well wait ’til then.

Anyway, there’s this group of punks with a camcorder documenting their asshole exploits and re-editing them together in exactly the sort of way that someone with a VHS camcorder would never, ever do. Then, later, they break into an old abandoned house. The IMDB summary says they were being paid to find something, but if that was actually communicated in the movie, I sure missed it. What they do find is a dead guy who was watching about 15 TV screens all hooked up to VCRs, and surrounded by piles of VHS tapes. Then, while all the other punks search the house for whatever it was they were looking for, one of them sits down to watch some of the tapes, which is the actual point of the movie, because they portray various horror short story events that are clearly set in a future beyond when anyone would be filming their exploits on a VHS camcorder. (Plausibly, I am thinking about this too much.)

The important part, though, is that the short story segments were really well done, scary, suspenseful, and affecting in the way that I always want my horror to be and it so very rarely is. So, if you wanna watch something modern and reasonably frightening (and with an adequate amount of breasts, which like being scary have also abandoned the horror scene of late), this is your movie. Just don’t try to understand anything that’s going on outside of the short stories.