Month: October 2013

Top 5 horror films for Halloween


halloween
Welcome to Halloween.

Welcome, also, to too much sugar, pumpkins everywhere, and endless debates about whether or not it constitutes the Americanisation of British culture (answer: nobody cares).

But all of that misses the point. Halloween is not about any of that. Halloween is about horror films. The TV listings are jammed with them, Netflix have a “Halloween film” section, and HMV have been doing a roaring trade (I imagine) in the classics since about mid-October.

So here’s my contribution to the mix. My top five horror films, for your enjoyment. Enjoy.

Read on…

Halloween Flash: “Little White Lies”


hand closet horror

Little White Lies

By Matthew S. Dent

“Mummy there’s a monster in the wardrobe.”

Bliss was awake immediately. She could have cried. The first sleep she’d gotten in three days… She could have screamed.

Instead she exhaled slowly, breathing out into the soft warm darkness. Outside the laughter and calls of loitering youths could be heard, dully through the windowpanes.

“Olly?” she asked, propping herself up on her elbows, trying to blink away the nascent headache chewing on her optic nerve.

Read on…

Heresy of the Week: Is your film too long?


peter jackson

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

The perception of cinema-goers is that films are getting longer. Over the last few decades, blockbusters in excess of two hours have topped box-office rankings, and it seems an expectation has grown up that if a film isn’t long, it isn’t good value.

Read on…

The Way We Write: an (almost) foolproof back-up method


synctoy backup

One of the ongoing fears of writing, is of a computer glitch — or catastrophic failure — wiping out hours of your work. It’s a statistical inevitability, that the more you write the probability of you losing a few thousand words (or worse) approaches one.

It’s why we have a thousand back ups on CDs, pen drives and emailed to ourselves (on floppy disks, back in the day). It’s why we’ve delved into our Microsoft Office settings and changed the autosave interval to one minute. And we’d make it more frequent if we could.

There are a lot of work-arounds for this little problem. None are infallible, though some are very creative. But here is the one I use.

Read on…

Escape Plan – A Review


escape plan poster

The eighties are back, apparently. Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are back in over-the-top action films, so I suppose they must be.

This isn’t really the sort of film I’d usually go for, but we all need a change now and then. And there’s space for OTT action. Not The Expendables, that’s just the genre masturbating, but Escape Plan caught my attention because it has aspirations. It’s not an action film, it seems to claim, it’s a prison break film! Like that TV show a few years back…what was it? Prison Break!

So what the hell. Let’s give Rocky and the T-800 another bite at the apple, shall we?

Read on…

Why I won’t be seeing Ender’s Game


ender's game

Firstly, this hasn‘t been an easy decision to make.

I’m a science-fiction fan. I’m a film fan. On paper, Ender’s Game — a high budget adaptation of a famous and successful military SF book — should be perfect for me. I somehow missed out on Elysium, After Earth was so unanimously panned that I gave it a miss, and Pacific Rim was just too close to Transformers for me to ever get excited about. Idris Elba or not.

So I haven’t really filled my quota of good SF film at the cinemas yet this year. And I’m sure Ender’s Game will be good. It looks it from the trailers, at least. And anything that returns Harrison Ford to science fiction is ticking a whole raft of boxes

But no, I won’t be seeing Ender’s Game. And it’s entirely down to Orson Scott Card.

Read on…

03 “The Replacements” (American Horror Story: Coven) [SPOILERS]


american-horror-story-coven-witches-bitches

Jesus…Christ…

I’m holding fast to my “no spoilers above the line” policy, so as not to spoil the episode for anyone who hasn’t a) seen it, and b) deliberately clicked on this page, but wow.

American Horror Story has always been unafraid to push boundaries, it’s one reason it’s one of the most innovative and exciting shows on TV (possibly taking the top spot, now Breaking Bad is done). Each series it pushes a little further, goes a little further into the taboo, shines the light a little brighter down the darkened corridor.

And Coven had already done that. Sexy, weird, surprising. The first two episodes had already satisfied my need for continual progression. I really wasn’t expecting another great heave in the third episode.

American Horror Story: Coven really is the show that (early) True Blood wished it was.

Read on…(and mind the spoilers!)

Heresy of the Week: The Star Wars prequels were actually good


star wars prequels

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

The Star Wars prequels are not well-loved by any stretch of the imagination, and have become the by-word for the ruination of a once-loved franchise. But once one gets past the righteous indignation, there are actually good points to these three reviled films. They are not that far away from being good, wholesome additions to the saga, and even in their actual form are not nearly as bad as some would have us believe.

Read on…

David Cameron doesn’t get the internet


david cameron

Today, the Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted about Facebook. In particular, he tweeted about Facebook’s decision to again allow users to post videos of people being beheaded.

Mr Cameron was, of course, against Facebook’s decision. That’s no surprise. So am I, incidentally. I don’t see that there is any cause to allow such patently disturbing and upsetting material onto such a mainstream social network. The fact that Facebook is reportedly “considering adding warnings” is not only irrelevant, it’s verging on insulting.

The problem, then, is not with Mr Cameron’s position on this, but with his tweet:

Read on…

The Emperor of Southend


GoT-Iron-Throne

It’s been a while since I blogged about local politics. When I moved out of Wokingham, it was difficult impossible to stay connected with the local political scene in which I had become established. In Reading, I simply wasn’t there long enough to get acquainted.

But now, as some of you will know, I’m now living in sunny Southend-on-Sea. This is somewhere that I already have local knowledge, given that I spent four and a bit years visiting Ashleigh here most weeks. I also wrote this, back in the day, so I already have a bit of a beachhead in the local politics.

For the month and a bit that I’ve been living by the Thames Estuary, I’ve kept fairly schtum. I’ve been reading the blogs of the local politicians and fellow political geeks, reading the local paper, and watching the latest council meeting on their nifty webcast — which is one hell of an innovation.

Straight off the bat, what I notice is something right up my street: a debate on how to elect the borough’s councillors, all at once every four years, or a third at a time in consecutive years?

Read on…