Spooktober 2014: A Tale of Two Sisters (plus special bonus material)

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Back in the long lost era of the early 2000s The Ring came out and Hollywood went on a delirious bender of remaking Japanese horror films for American audiences. Most of both the original films snapped up in this frenzy and their remakes were pretty worthless, but the whole exercise did serve to draw people’s attention to foreign movies that they might have otherwise overlooked.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this director Kim Jee-woon’s Janghwa, Hongryeon became the highest grossing Korean horror movie of all time and some executive presumably went through a thought process along the lines of “hey Korea is close to Japan, right? And the kids these days like them J-horror movies, right? Let’s stick it in cinemas and option the rights for a remake!”

Said remake took its sweet time coming out (more on that later) but the original was released in the US under the title A Tale of Two Sisters and turned out to be decidedly not the cheap Ring knock-off that many people, including a teenage me, assumed it was going to be.

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The Iron Trial

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It’s time for another Middle Grade novel review, as I continue to indulge my stunted taste in literature!

Today we’re looking at the first in a planned series of five books, a collaboration between two authors, Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. Black is probably best known for The Spiderwick Chronicles, which I gather did quite well back when they were coming out. I haven’t read any of her stuff, nor am I familiar with her in general. Clare, on the other hand, I know all about. She’s the author of the Mortal Instruments series and its spin-offs/sequels and is semi-infamous for having come out of the Harry Potter fanfiction scene and arguably plundered JK Rowling’s behemoth cash cow for story elements.

(This is one of those situations where I said “arguably” in order to bend over backward for the sake of fairness, what I actually mean is that she totally did)

But forget all that, this is a brand new literary franchise, a chance for Cassandra Clare to prove to the world that she’s good at more than just pastiches of other people’s work!

So what’s this book about?

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Spooktober 2014: Alien Isolation

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Cliches about imitation and flattery often apply to later works riding the coattails of an influential or novel property, but it can just as be said of any attempt to revisit a beloved franchise. How often have we seen the distant sequel, prequel or remake stuff itself with knowing winks and call-backs, or waste time retreading familiar ground?

The Creative Assembly are clearly very much in love with Ridley Scott’s 1979 Sci-Fi horror film, but rather than strive for mere imitation they’ve taken the film apart molecule by molecule and reassembled the components into something that’s part remake, part sequel and all Alien.

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Spooktober 2014: Paranormal Activity 1-3

[quick programming note: I'm going to be finishing off Otherbound in a single post toward the end of the month]

Back in 2009 Paranormal Activity came out and

Actually wait, back in 1999 The Blair Witch project came out and everyone thought it was awesome (well if you want to go back even further The Last Broadcast came out the year before (and there was also Cannibal Holocaust) but no one really noticed). The found-footage genre laid low for a while, The Blair Witch Project existing mostly as a unique novelty, but the financial legacy of the film couldn’t be ignored forever. Anything that makes literally ten times its minuscule budget is going to cause studio executive’s eyes to light up, even taking the film’s expensive marketing blitz into account.

But why make a shit-load of money on one cheap movie when you can repeatedly make a shit-load of money on a whole series of cheap movies? There was already a precedent for this, with the relatively inexpensive Saw franchise becoming a yearly Halloween staple, so it made sense for Paramount to drive Paranormal Activity into the ground with a whole boatload of sequels. We’re going to look at two of them today!

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