Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Round-Up#41

Book Review: Blood Lite. Edited by Kevin J. Anderson: This is how I came across this collection: I was browsing the new releases section in one of my favorite bookstores, when I came across this paperback with a somewhat cheesy cover, and almost passed on it. But then I noticed that it was edited by Kevin J. Anderson, one of my favorite authors, and a man that can always be trusted to deliver the goods, whether as a writer or editor. So I took a chance and bought it - at a discounted price, I have to add :) Anyway, about Blood Lite. To make things short, if you are a horror fan and pick up this book, you won't be disappointed, granted that you have an extremely twisted sense of humor. From Kelly Armstrong's tremendously entertaining opener The Ungrateful Dead, to Jim Butcher's closer Day Off, you sure get your money's worth.

What makes this collection a winner, despite it having a few duds, is that Anderson, for the most part, succeeds in making this anthology high on diversity. Highlights include: Joe R. Lansdale's demented and compelling Mr. Bear, which features a homicidal talking bear taking a man hostage because it is lonely and needs a friend; Christopher Welch's The Eldtrich Pastiche from Beyond the Shadow of Horror, a hilarious spoof of H.P. Lovecraft pastiches; Matt Venne's marvelous Elvis Presley and The Bloodsucker Blues, about an undead Elvis hunting vampires; Charlaine Harris's An Evening With Al Gore, a witty, nasty little tale with a good twist; Eric James Stone's PR Problems, about a good-hearted ghoul out to stop a cannibalistic serial killer; Jeff Strand's hilarious The Bell . . . FROM HELL!!!, about, well, a bell from hell.

So, whether you are into stories about vampires, werewolves, demons, ghouls, witches, wizards, or serial killers, and you like a little witty humor mixed in with the blood and grue, you're sure to find something that appeals to you in Blood Lite.

Film Review: Due Date: Due Date hasn't a single original idea under its sleeve, not a one. But stars Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galifianakis along with director Todd Phillips aren't after originality here. What they are after is making a nasty, 21st century tribute to the comedic road movies of the 80's (think Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and National Lampoon's Vacation), with dashes of vulgarity and violence thrown in for good measure.

Downey Jr. and Galifiankis's chemistry is the main attraction here, with the two actors bouncing off each other's energy. Downey Jr. is his usual charming self; an actor whose primary talent is in taking any character he is given and making it interesting, even if the writing isn't, while Galifiankis manages to create a character (a middle-age, wanna-be actor) that is both annoying and appealing at the same time; not a small feat in itself.

Although the climax is pat and disappointing compared to the rest of the film, and there are a couple of sequences that border on the ridiculous (the deadly car chase, for example), Due Date is more or less the sum of its parts, a film made up of one gag after another, with two actors at the top of their game, and a director who knows exactly what he is doing. The result: An entertaining film, if nothing too special.

Extra! Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man: This edition's Extra! selection is Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man, Hitchcock's ode to one of his obsessions: The wrongly accused man. But here Hitchcock, for the most part, eschews his stylistic pyrotechnics to deliver a somber, powerful, and haunting film about a family coming apart at the seems as a result of the father being sent to jail for something he didn't do. This film, based on a true story, is a must for Hitchcock fans, and a near-forgotten masterpiece of filmmaking. Out now in a special edition DVD.

That's it for me. Till next time, keep browsing those shelves.

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