Review of “Overlord”

If you are a stickler for historical accuracy, Overlord is probably not for you.  The most glaring error I saw was Whites and African-Americans serving in the same paratrooper unit.  During the Second Word War, combat units were segregated.  Black personnel had their own units, although some African-Americans did serve in white units in a support capacity such as cooks or transportation drivers, etc.  Combat units did not become integrated until 1948, three years after the war ended.  The paratrooper unit in the movie should have been either solidly white or solidly black (there was one black paratrooper unit, the 555th Regiment, though it did not seen action overseas). There were probably lots of smaller errors, though none were blatantly obvious to me, and I am probably more well-versed in the units and tactics of the Second World War than most people, because I have a longstanding interest in military history, particularly that of World War II.

The story is about the survivors of a squad of paratroopers on D-Day, who are supposed to parachute behind German lines and blow up a communications tower.  However, they find the tower, which is concealed in a church, is on top of a covert facility in which the Nazis are using the local French populace as guinea pigs in experiments to develop a soldier that will live for a thousand years.  The serum to transform the soldiers is not yet ready and, although it can raise the dead (turning them into hideous monsters), it has not yet been tested on the living.  Of course, you know that some of the living will be injected with the serum.

As far as the story goes (outside the noted anachronism), I thought it was well-written with regards to explaining how certain aspects of the plot tie together.  For example, in one scene American soldiers are hiding in an attic while German soldiers are on the floor below.  One of the Americans knocks something over and the Germans start up the steps to investigate.  A young French boy who is with them, and who is the brother of the woman the Germans are questioning, downstairs happens to be in the attic with the Americans.  As the Germans come up the stairs, he appears at the top with a baseball glove and ball, which he drops down the stairs.  The Germans think the noise was caused by the boy, laugh, turn around, and head  back downstairs.  The reason the boy has the baseball glove and ball is explained in an earlier scene, when it is noted that he has a longstanding interest in baseball, which is not normally a sport that interests the French.

The film is fast-paced and the suspense and action are constant.  This film straddles the genre boundary between horror and action and does it very well.  For a horror movie or action movie, the characters are well-developed.  I actually felt some empathy for the main ones in their various plights.  When someone dies, there is actually a reason.  This is not the norm for most horror or action films where the characters are there just to build the horror by increasing the body count.  The ending is not disappointing and it ties up one plot point nicely.

This movie is well worth getting at Red Box, which is where I got my copy, and would be worth the price of full admission at a theater.  It might even be worth adding to your DVD collection.

I recommend this film to horror fans, though action-adventure fans may find it too gory.

Review of “The Disappointment’s Room”

the-disappointments-roomI am not very enthralled with “The Disappointment’s Room” .  I started to nod off to sleep once and I found myself checking my e-mail when a major denouement occurred.  Nonetheless, it’s an okay film to which I give a C+ (slightly above average).

It’s  a typical, low-key haunted house plot.  A family consisting of a mother, father, and small son moves from the big city (Brooklyn) to an old mansion in the country (in this case North Carolina) outside  a very small town of quaint characters where everyone knows each other.  The mother finds out that their house is haunted by the spirits of a nineteenth-century family, ruled by a stern father, who kept their deformed daughter locked in a room upstairs.  However, the mother’s perception is in question, as she is recovering from her own bout of mental illness and depression, somehow rooted in the death of the couple’s daughter (I won’t give away any more).

The ad I saw billed this as “drama/thriller”, and I would say that is a decent summary, except I would add this is about 60% drama and 40% thriller.  This movie would have been better if the director (D.J. Caruso:  Disturbia, Eagle Eye, Taking Lives) had focused more on the thriller aspect.  The psychological aspect of the mother’s problems isn’t sufficiently explored to be terribly interesting…nor is the story behind the ghosts.

The suspense (though not intense) is fairly continuous as the story progresses, but no real shocking revelations in terms of twists or the unexpected take place.  Still, the story is put together better than some and I didn’t notice any obvious loose ends.  Luck did play a major part in resolving the plot, which I always take as lazy writing.   The whole film seems to be made out of stock characters and bits of stock plots lazily interwoven to make a few bucks without really advancing the genre or taking the effort to create anything new or to explore the deeper aspects of the characters.

I recommend seeing this movie at a matinee, if you have nothing better to do and if you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket.

Hold onto your seat at “Don’t Breathe”!

Dont breathe Sept 2016Pay full ticket price to see this at the first opportunity.   This is one hell of a suspenseful movie.  I’m old enough that I fall asleep in action movies and shoot’em-ups if they flag the least in holding my attention.  I sat on the edge of my seat like a teenager through this entire flick, flinching, dodging, squirming, and ducking with the action every step of the way.

The plot is incredibly simple.  Three teenage friends work as a team to  break into rich people’s homes for different reasons, a girl to earn enough money to run away from home, her jerk boyfriend who trips on the vandalism, and the intellectual who has a crush on the girl and will follow her anywhere.  The jerk finds out about a blind veteran of Iraq, who won a lot of money in a lawsuit involving the death of his daughter.  They film the vet’s house in a deserted section of Detroit until they find out that he rarely leaves.  They decide to go against their usual practice of waiting until the owners leave and instead break in during the wee hours with the intent of chloroforming him while he sleeps.  Of course, things do not go as planned and the friends find themselves trapped with a tough, twisted killer who has a dark, sinister secret to protect.

With Iced Tea, Farmington, New Mexico, March 20, 2015

With Iced Tea, Farmington, New Mexico, March 20, 2015

Now, at this point, you can probably guess who is the first to die and then the second, but don’t be too sure about the ending as there are innumerable twists and turns throughout and they are particularly rapid-fire at the end.  I found the action very inventive and well done with completely unsuspected twists.  One moment that had me twisting and muttering “Ewwww” was the most wicked and innovative use of a turkey baster that I have ever seen or even heard of.

I found the acting first-rate and the use of close-ups very effective for bringing the viewer directly into the fast-moving, blood-splattered heat of the action.  I didn’t catch any slip-ups and I thought all the action was logical and exceptionally well planned out down to the tiniest detail.  The set-ups to maintain or generate constant suspense were right on the money.

See this movie at your first opportunity.   This is one of the most terrifying thriller/horror movies I have seen in a very long time.

Slattery’s Art of Horror Now Takes Submissions and Announcements

Writing at Hasting's Hardback Café, October, 2015

Writing at Hasting’s Hardback Café, October, 2015

If you have a bit of horror flash fiction or poetry you would like to see published on this blog, go to my submissions page for guidelines.  I would like to see more original fiction and poetry published here in any short form from narratives to any type of poetry (including the experimental and off-beat) to short plays or whatever.  I would like to showcase as wide a range possible of works of horror.  If in doubt, send it.  This is not to say that I will publish anything that comes along.  Whatever I publish will have to meet my own aesthetic standards and tastes, but I do want to see anything you have (so long as it meets the minimal standards expressed on my submissions page).  We have had some very good authors and poets recently and I am eager to see more.

In addition, I will now start taking announcements about works of horror.  If you are a horror author with a book-signing coming up or you will be giving a public talk somewhere or you have a book (or film) with a definite release date, announce it here.  If you have anything related to a creative work in the horror genre that you would like to publicize, draft an announcement and send it in.  I reserve all editorial rights however to make any needed changes for clarity, etc, and to ask questions if the announcement isn’t clear on some point.  There will be no charge for this, at least initially, but I do reserve the right to charge fees later, if a lot of announcements do start to flood my inbox.

However, note that I will not do advertising for any product.  I want to publicize creative works and to help authors, poets, film makers, and others jump start their careers.  I am not a merchant.  As to where the line is between advertising a product and publicizing a work, that will be my subjective decision.  So if you want to sell pens, notebooks, software, or any other concrete product, try Amazon.com.