Sunday, 31 August 2014

My 100th Post!

Here we are, at Momento Maureen's 100th blog post! For those of you who experienced the brief but delightful wonder of my last blog, you'll know that this is quite a milestone. The question is, what am I going to do to mark it?

Originally I was going to write a sonnet about Evil Dead II, but it isn't finished. Last night I considered penning a quick ode to the new Doctor Who, but I kept getting stuck rhyming "Capaldi" with "baldy" which didn't make any sense and was pretty awful, so you'll have to wait for that one as well.

Having said that, I do have to make a quick digression to say how much I'm enjoying the new series of Doctor Who. Matt Smith was wonderful, and he was always going to be a hard act to follow, but two episodes into the new series and I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'm loving the darkness and ambiguity about Peter Capaldi's Doctor and I'm looking forward to seeing how the series develops. It's got an old school feeling to it that I think is great, and the new titles, with all the cogs and clocks are fantastic.

Anyway, where was I. Oh, I also didn't get around to writing a short story for this blog, or making some kind of exciting photo story, but these are all ideas that will probably show up here as we make the journey to the 200th blog post.

So for now I'm celebrating by watching George Romero's The Crazies (1973) which contains so many elements that return in his Dawn of the Dead that it makes a fascinating watch. Then I'm going to jump up and down and wave my arms around in the style of Kermit the Frog, because nobody celebrates better.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Frightfest 2014: Top Five


No, that's not a scream of fright after a particularly horrifying film. Neither is it due to the horrible pain in my knees after four-and-a-half days of sitting in a chilly cinema. Nope, that is my reaction to attempting to come up with my top five favourite films from Frightfest. As I sat down to type, I'd managed to narrow it down to a top twelve, but that's just silly, so I'm just going to have to suck it up and make my choices.

Here we go. In no particular order:

  1. Housebound was a bit of a surprise. The story of a young woman sentenced to eight months home detention in her parent's haunted house didn't appeal on paper, but it was brilliant. Some excellent jumps, some clever plot twists, some good bits of gore and a moment that had me crying with laughter. Horror-comedy is so hard to do well, and this really nailed it. Rima Te Wiata is especially good as the over-bearing if well-meaning mother.
  2. Another great example of horror-comedy (one of my favourite sub-genres with a strong showing this year) was Life After Beth. I had high expectations, because of my love of Aubrey Plaza, and she didn't let me down, especially with her excellent zombie run. The second film to make me cry with laughter, I'm still giggling and quoting things from it days later. Can't wait to watch this in a zom-rom-com double bill with Shaun of the Dead.
  3. Next, I'd like to recommend The Samurai. This is the story of Jakob, a policeman in a small German town whose main problem is dealing with a wolf that has been bothering the local dogs, until one night he comes across a Samurai in a dress, intent on causing chaos and chopping off heads. A crazy play on fairy tales and the problems of confronting your own sexuality in a close-knit community. The male leads (Michel Dierks and Pit Bukowski) both put in brilliant performances that keep your eyes glued to the screen, for often quite unexpected reasons.
  4. Late Phases is like Dog Soldiers meets Gran Torino. A blind veteran  moves into a retirement community where everything, from the disappearance of the local dogs to the violent death of his new neighbour, has been blamed on animal attacks. But the real danger isn't lurking in the woods and our hero takes it upon himself to put an end to the deaths. Full of subtle nods to genre classics, this film reminded me of how much I love werewolf movies.
  5. Okay, so it's going to have to be done. I know this film divided the audience, but I'm backing Stage Fright because I left the theatre with a massive grin on my face, feeling that all was right with the world, and I'm still humming some of the songs. Yes, it's a musical and, yes, it's very stupid, but it knows how silly it is and goes for it with real gusto. If you love Meat Loaf (and who doesn't?) and seeing annoying Performing Arts kids getting killed (again, who doesn't?) then this is the film for you.
Man, that was really hard! Here's a quick list of the other films I loved: The Guest (really fun, Dan Stevens is gorgeous, out soon, go see it), Zombeavers (exactly as much fun as I was expecting), Dead Snow 2 ( a worthy successor to the first part), The Harvest (moving, disturbing, Samantha Morton is amazing), The Babadook (more creepy emotional journey than scary jump fest, with some astonishing performances), Open Windows (fast-paced, funny, clever and enjoyable), VHS: Viral (the best one yet). I might add The Signal to that list, but it needs another watch for me to decide if I just like it or really love it.

Overall, a great weekend in the company of the ever-loving Frightfest family. Already can't wait for next year.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Frightfest: The Morning Before

I've spent this morning pottering about doing all the little things that need doing before Frigthfest takes over my life for the next four-and-a-half days. My hamster's cage has been cleaned, I've made sure I have enough money in the bank to keep me in steamed buns and peanut-butter M&Ms (all the major food groups), and I've been to the library (okay, that last one isn't really anything to do with Frightfest, but still, it was something I did this morning).

Now I'm just chilling out before it's time to put my glad-rags on and head out. This year I shall be donning a gorgeous 50's style dress which has the benefit of being beautiful, comfortable and warm. I love seeing everyone in their finery on the first night, and I love it even more knowing we'll all rock up tomorrow morning, clasping teas and coffees, in the comfiest clothes we can find.

So, what films am I looking forward to this year? Sin City: A Dame to Kill For should be exciting. The fact that Robert Englund is going to be there for The Last Showing is making me geek out more than a little. The Babadook looks like it could be the stuff of nightmares and Life After Beth is a zom-rom-com staring Aubrey Plaza, so can't possibly be bad. And there's the much anticipated Dead Snow 2. Check out the first film if you haven't seen it and like zombie comedies. It's fabulous.

Having said all that, the film I'm most looking forward to, if I'm being honest is Zombeavers. Yep, that's beavers who are also zombies! What's not to love?

Actually, all of the films look really good. You'll have to wait and see what makes it on to my top five once the dust has settled and I've finally woken up on Tuesday.

Now I'm off to paint my fingernails and maybe have a little doze on the sofa. I'll post again once the screaming stops.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

My Life in Pictures

Here are some things I saw this week, that I thought I would share with you all. Thanks to Stacey and her photo a day blog for the inspiration.

 First, Jago, having a little nap.
 Then Fitz with his head turned away so you can't see how much he's dribbling.
Romero, fast asleep and upside down on Mum's new chenille throw.

Then this view on my way home from work. The combination of the Monument and the Shard make it look as though London has slipped into some kind of alternative, sci-fi universe. All that's missing are the hover cars.

Finally, proof, if proof were needed, that there is no such thing as too many peas. I was feeling a bit crappy before Dad placed this feast before me, and the sheer number of peas really made me smile.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Desert Island Books

A little while ago I was listening to Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 and thinking how unfair it is that you only get to pick one book to take with you. I mean, the complete works of Shakespeare is pretty good, but it seemed unfair to have eight music tracks and no real variety of reading material. So, over the course of more than a month, I have been working on my Desert Island Books, the eight books that I feel could sustain me while I slowly went crazy in a tropical paradise (the craziness is inevitable, I am no lone wolf.)

Prayer for Owen Meaney, by John Irving
This book ignited a love of Irving's work that shows no sign of declining. It's a beautifully crafted story that makes me want to read it again as soon as I get to the end, and on a desert island I might actually do just that.

Dracula, by Bram Stoker
I've read Dracula at least fifteen times, as well as a whole range of literary criticism on Stoker's most famous work, and I always find something new to enjoy. It's the reading equivalent of a favourite, most comfortable jumper.

American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
Another one that I've read a few times and can't imagine ever getting tired of. I love the world that Gaiman has created and really enjoy his style. So many people I know read and loved this ages before I did, and I owe a big thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for just buying me a copy and telling me to get on with it.

An Angel at my Table, by Janet Frame
Jane Campion's film is wonderful, and the book is even better. The collected autobiographies of New Zealand poet and writer, Frame was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent eight years receiving electro-schock therapy in an insane asylum, but it's a much more positive tale than that fact might imply. I love reading books by poets because the language is always so beautiful.

War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
I read this about a decade ago and absolutely loved it. It really has something for everyone, humour, romance, intrigue, and it's not as daunting a read as it's reputation makes it seem. I've been meaning to re-read it ever since. Where better than in my tropical paradise?

Bridget Jones' Diary, by Helen Fielding
Again, a book that I've read over and over and always enjoyed. Maybe it's not the height of literary sophistication, but it's really enjoyable and pretty high-class for chick-lit. Sometimes you need a bit of daft romance.

Homeward Bounders, by Diana Wynne Jones
I read this book on a coach trip to Plymouth and nearly ended up in Penzance. In fact, I loved it so much I'm having to restrain myself from writing this whole section in over-excited capitals and exclamation marks (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). I'm a late adopter of Diana Wynne Jones' work, which is proof that good writing is enjoyable for all ages. A brilliantly crafted story, which doesn't treat it's audience like idiots, and really inspired me to write.

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts
This is a wild-card entry because, unlike the rest of the world, I haven't actually read it yet. I bought a copy years ago, but have never quite been in the mood for it, and am a bit concerned that it's been over-hyped. On the beach, under a shady tree, I think I would finally get around to finding out for myself

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Joy of Mini-figures

Here's an example of the wonderful things that can happen when making your own mini-figures in the Lego Shop. Left-to-right, that's Ash from Evil Dead, me, and Shaun, from Shaun of the Dead. They didn't have chainsaws or cricket bats in their selection, so I did my best, and I think we'll all agree that the nice big mug of tea is perfect for the mini-me.

Happy days.