Monday, December 15, 2014

Writing Horror Part 1: Introduction and Some Personal History

I love it here at Terrorphoria.

As someone who was bound by the early censorship of a Christian household, Stephen King novels were my first escape.  Reading, being that I could do it privately rather than shared spaces, was harder for my strict parents to regulate.  Reading King quickly led to reading Ketchum, Straub, and Saul.

When I aged into more freedom, that led to gorging on films as well.  When the local video store wouldn't give me a card, I took my mom's out of her wallet.  I'd rent entire series on VHS and marathon through them, watching a franchise like Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween devolve from their first beautiful, creative genesis to cash-grabbery sequeldom. It was awesome.

[Read on to discover more about how Jeff got into writing about horror, and what that means for him posting original works on Terrorphoria!]

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

"The Pyramid" (Movie Review)

Hoo boy.

Let's just do it.  Like ripping off a band aid.  No, not a band aid.  More like that self dentistry scene in Cast Away.  Let's hit the ice skate already.

Waxing poetic about how terrible a movie is on the internet is more worn out than a cash-grab found footage horror film, but The Pyramid deserves everything it's about to get.  Let's rake it over the coals like a burnt piece of chicken.

The Pyramid, (because it needs a definite article so you don't mistakenly expect Donny Osmond forcing Anubis to guess a subject in a category based on vague clues), is a found footage horror film about a group of poorly characterized victims exploring a pyramid. There's a father/daughter archaeologist team whose "Luddite/TechnoGeek" conflict feels more artificial than the lead paint chips the writers ate as kids. This "conflict" is further stressed by the fact that she's dating adult Will Robinson from Lost In Space.

Remember in Jurassic Park how technology vs. traditionalism played out in Dr. Grant's conversation foibles and also in the main conflict of the film?  "Technology is this wonderful miracle that bring dinosaurs back to life, but it can also fail and let these monsters loose and put us all in a grave!"  That is how you have real conflict and weave it throughout your film.

This goes nowhere.  Dad doesn't like technology.  His kid loves it and wants to revolutionize archaeology. Boyfriend builds a creeper robot so he can spy on his girlfriend while she dresses.  If you skipped the first ten minutes of the film you'd completely miss this being a big deal.

Also, we have a documentary team.  Oh you've heard that one before?  It's 2014.  Even though we don't have the hover boards and flying cars that Marty McFly promised me we'd have by next year, we're doing pretty okay.  Everyone has a million cameras available on phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Do we really have to massage the narrative and populate it with more victims (I'm sorry, characters) that we don't need just so we can force first person camera work?

Another (admittedly far more interesting) conflict that goes nowhere is the discovery of this three sided pyramid is jeopardized by political unrest in its country of origin.  A current events conflict that is sadly just used as an excuse to get them in the pyramid faster and provide an additional victim.

Upon entering the pyramid the found footage verisimilitude is constantly broken by using unaccounted for cameras.  If you're the sort that hates reality television when it's painfully obvious they set up the shot before the inorganic reaction, this movie will drive you crazier than me as I scoured Wikipedia to make a cheap joke that a three-sided thing isn't even a pyramid. (Turns out geometry proves it still is).

My biggest complaint about the film is both easy and difficult to articulate.  The easy part is just three words: NO FREAKING MUMMIES.

And it's only those three words because the editor makes me play nice and only swear intermittently.

When Ben and I were chatting about who'd get the task of watching and reviewing this he said to me, "I hope that this movie makes mummies the new zombies."

And you know, that would have been really cool.

Do you remember when Brendan Fraser had a career?  More relevant: Do you remember when the movie The Mummy came out?  Mummies were suddenly cool and scary again and not just Halloween fodder for colorful breakfast cereal.  The next step was obviously to make an R rated hard horror mummy movie.....and that never happened.

Sixteen years later we're delivered this hot piece of garbage.

Victims die from every crappy CG Egyptian monster you could conjure from zombie cats to Anubis, but no mummies.  Where are the mummies!?


Were you really not brave enough to think you could pull it off, movie!? You were cavalier enough to think you could handle political instability in the middle east for god's sake.

Don't watch The Pyramid.  Just don't do it to yourself.  Watch The Mummy again instead and cross your fingers that someone will finally make a real horror movie about mummies soon.

We don't give review grades anymore, but Rotten Tomatoes currently has this at 7% and, trust me, that's too generous.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book of The Month - December 2014 - "Autumn Moon"

Our inaugural novel for the Terrorphoria Book Club is Autumn Moon by Slade Grayson. Technically it's Autumn Moon (Alpha Wolf Book 1)(Volume 1), but I'm bad at math so I'm editing down the title to just what you see above along with the sexy lycanthrope girl.

We selected Autumn Moon as this month's novel because it brings back werewolves. Not the lame Twlight ones either. The kind that Gary Busey fought, and that got all raunchy in The Howling

Tanneheuk is a quiet, isolated town in Montana that runs a lottery where instead of receiving a giant novelty check, the winner gets sent into the woods to be sacrificed to giant supernatural canines. This is the setup for a story that contains some wonderful character development and some genuinely surprising plot twists.

If you're looking for a monster series that doesn't revolve around zombies or vampires, grab a copy here and get reading. Let us know your thoughts down in the comment section and get the conversation started!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book of The Month Club Announcement

In an attempt to be honest with ourselves (and more like Oprah), we've decided that there are just too many great horror novels and compilations out there for us to handle. If you're an author, you probably noticed we had to put reviews on hiatus a while back because our backlog exploded. It was a little ambitious on our part to think that two dudes with full time lives could keep up with reviewing massive numbers of books for a blog with any kind of regularity. That said, we have infinite gratitude to everyone who felt our opinions mattered enough to review their hard work.


Each month, we'll pick out one particular submission that strikes as something our readers should seek out and consume. Then we can start a nice discussion about said novel/comic/anthology in the comments section. We'll be starting this in December, and submissions for the book club are now fully re-opened. Send us your stuff and see if it makes the cut!

Oh, and you get a free monthly horror book suggestion, and YOU get a free monthly horrorbook suggestion, AND THE ENTIRE AUDIENCE GETS FREE MONTHLY HORROR BOOK SUGGESTIONS!!! (See? Just like Oprah.)

'Lollipop Chainsaw' (Game Review)

I don't know why it took me so long to play Lollipop Chainsaw. This game is tailor-made for reviewing on Terrorphoria. It's an absolutely ridiculous, over-the-top horror comedy title from SUDA 51 and James Gunn that provides plenty of action and gore doused with a healthy dose of humor. Also, there are zombies in it.

Juliet Starling is a popular high school cheerleader who just turned 18. She also happens to be the middle sister in a family of zombie-hunters, and on this birthday she gets the unwelcome present of dealing with a petulant goth kid named Swan who unleashes an undead horde on her high school. Juliette (with the help of her disembodied head of a boyfriend, Nick) must rescue her classmates and stop the Dark Purveyors from spilling tons of evil zombies in from the weird nether evil-verse.

From the very start, the art and music style will resonate with me. The menus have a definite Tales From The Crypt look to them, which I appreciated. The character design is campy, with enemies that range from zombie cops to the Dark Purveyors who take the form of an unholy rock band. Juliet will slash, smash and dismember ghouls throughout multiple locations as she tries to return the unleashed evil back to its own dimension while shopping, scouring for the titular candy treats, and loving Katy Perry.

At its core, Lollipop Chainsaw is a "score attack" beat-em-up that harkens back to the golden days of pumping in quarters at the arcade, and trying to grab that coveted "S" ranking in every level. Although the campaign was fairly short, the story and dialogue were so absolutely insane and entertaining that it I found myself replaying a few levels going "sparkle hunting" in the score attack mode after I had completed my initial outing. Watching rainbows explode from decapitated zombie neck holes never really gets old.

I highly recommend Lollipop Chainsaw for anyone who is looking for a solid button mashing beat-em-up. It has a few camera issues, graphical glitches, and a couple of annoying mini games that you'll probably curse at, but they don't detract from the overall package. Totally worth grabbing on the cheap.