Sherlock Holmes is quite the character. According to certain statistics, he’s the most portrayed human literary character. Way back in 2012, the Guinness Book of World Records awarded him the title after it decided the sleuth had been depicted a whopping 254 times on-screen. A number that beat Hamlet by 48. All in all, the great detective has, according to the numbers, been played by over 75 different actors so, by this point we’re definitely starting to get that sense of déjà vu. Which is probably why so many TV and film executives keep trying to find new and interesting ways to reinvent the character. We’ve seen him with deerstalker, without deerstalker, with a coke habit, without a coke habit, with emotions, without emotions. He’s been played by American actors, by British actors, by Grand Moff Tarkin, and by Dr Strange. So many options. It’s amazing anyone even keeps trying when there have been so many options! But, apparently, people will never stop trying to make it new again. Something director Thom Eberhardt took to a new level in 1988 when he turned the traditional premise on its head starring two of our finest actors.
I don’t read enough graphic novels but I do love them. To the extent that every time I read a great one I think to myself “I should read more graphic novels”. It was Sabrina that really got my heart pumping for a good graphic novel this year so when I was given the chance to read a new release from Pushkin Press. It is the prequel to Jakob Wegelius’ critically acclaimed The Murderer’s Ape. I hadn’t read The Murderer’s Ape but everything that I found out about it suggested that it would the kind of thing I loved. And the promise of a unique and rare graphic novel was something I couldn’t ignore. It arrived last Thursday and I immediately started reading it. I was done by Friday and I’ve already ordered Wegelius’ first book.
I genuinely think it’s impossible to hate Blake Lively or Anna Kendrick. Thanks to their sensational personalities and fun social media accounts, the pair are the kind of women that you really want to be friends with. The effortlessly cool and funny people who you wish you were more like. Or, at least, I do. So, when I first saw the trailer for A Simple Favor I was intrigued. The two together seemed like a winning combination and director, Paul Feig, has the ability to come out with some fabulous stuff. He’s surprised me in the past with his films. I was absolutely sure that I would hate Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Spy but each time I ended up filled with joy. He quickly became one of my favourite film makers which is why I was able to forgive him the dodgy Ghostbusters reboot. Do I have a long list to send him about things he should have done differently? Yes. But did I still enjoy it? Yes. So, this trio seemed like the kind of thing I would definitely love even if it did seem to be going a bit too far down the Gone Girl or Girl on a Train route. Surely if anyone could make me love a femme fatale focused psychological thriller then it would be Paul Feig, right?
If I were to ask you what your favourite 80s horror film starring small furry monsters then you’d probably, and quite rightly say, Gremlins. Unfortunately that film was released in 1984 so I had to find the next best thing. Thankfully, in 1988 the film Hobgoblins came out and that’s essentially just a carbon copy. Hobgoblins didn’t exactly make a name for itself when it was released but has since become something of a cult classic. Mostly down to the fact that it was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 where it was described by Paul Chaplin as heading “right to the top of the list of the worst movies we’ve ever done.” A fantastic legacy that was only helped by the fact that Rick Sloane (writer, director, producer) submitted the show himself and loved the episode. Whatever else you can say about the film, it certainly had earned its place in the annals of Hollywood history. Read more
As I’ve said before, it’s sometimes difficult separating quality and purpose when reviewing something. When I reviewed The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas I was a bit scared to admit that I had been disappointed by the book because it was so tied up with such an important issue. I didn’t want to suggest that not liking the book meant that I was against the message at its core. It was that I thought it could have dealt with that issue better. I’m now facing that situation again as I try to work through my feeling for Matt Haig’s second mental health oriented book. How can you criticse a book where a man opens up about his mental health issues and discusses his difficult relationship with social media? How can you openly criticise a book that has, by all accounts, helped plenty of people deal with their own mental health issues? Any criticism of the book could very well be taken as a criticsim of Haig himself or the people who have found help from it. But reading is a very personal thing. As is mental health. What works for one won’t necessarily work for another. So, it is with trepidation, that I offer my immediate thoughts on Notes on a Nervous Planet.
I’ve been banging on about October and Halloween for ages now and I do apologise. But I’m getting into the spirit quite a lot this year. I’ve loved creating seasonal photos on Instagram and I’ve been using my TBT posts to watch some appropriately scary films. Well, not that scary. I’m not exactly a lover of horror films in general. It’s not the gore or the violence that get me. It’s the suspense. I’m one of those people who can’t stand being scared. I have no chill so I can’t cope with anything too shocking. Anything that relies on jump scares could, probably kill me. So I have to be careful at this time of year when it comes to my film viewing. I’m just lucky that children are catered for at this time of year. So, instead of watching the countless Netflix films about haunted houses, I decided to watch the sequel to a film I reviewed years ago. 3 years ago to be precise. It’s been so long since the first Goosebumps film came out so I tried to refresh my memory by reading my review. I discovered 2 things: number 1, it wasn’t a very good one and number 2, I made no real discoveries about the film itself. I kind of liked it but kind of didn’t. So not very helpful. It certainly didn’t get me more excited for the sequel.
So, I couldn’t find an appropriate film with the word “Return” in the title to review this week but, as I’m still on this October high, I have picked another great horror film. Last week I watched a parody of a classic B movie from the 50s. This week we’re celebrating a remake of one of them. The Blob was first released in 1958 starring Steve McQueen. 30 years later it was remade with Kevin Dillon. The original was a low-budget, independent film that went on to become a surprise hit. It helped that McQueen, appearing in one of his earliest roles, stood out as the star he would go on to be. The original film is everything that the science-fiction films of the 50s were known for. It became a classic horror film and it’s obvious to see why it would be on the cards to be remade. As we have seen, the 80s was a big era for horror films. The zombie uprising was still in full swing and cinema audiences were keen to be scared. It makes sense that one of the granddaddies of the genre would be near the top of the list for a remake utilising the improved special effects of the time… and that guy from Entourage.
There’s something quite scary about nostalgia. When you revisit something that you loved as a child there is always the danger it won’t be the same. Which is why I’ve tended to avoid most of the reboots of my most loved childhood TV and films. It’s the reason I only got round to watching the two new Paddington films recently instead of when the first one came out. I just didn’t think it would the same. I didn’t think there was any chance that the CGI bear would give me the same feelings as the cartoon one did in my youth. As we now know, I loved both of the films and feel like an idiot for not believing that I would. So, when Christopher Robin was announced I treated it with less suspicion. I knew that it was possible to make a really good live action version of one of my childhood favourite animated classics. Plus, you know, Ewan McGregor’s face is always a reason to get excited. Read more
Continuing with my apparent comedy horror theme for this month, I’m reviewing another sequel to a cult classic. This time it’s the film that followed up 1978’s Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. The first film is a ridiculous and terrible horror parody of those 1950s B movies about huge monsters rampaging through a quiet American town. It flipped it on its head and, though a lot of the jokes don’t land or are incredibly desperate, there is a lot of fun to be had. It’s so fucking random and weird that it’s impossible not to enjoy it on some level. From the moment you hear the title song at the start of the film you know you’re in for a ride. Then it’s a roller coaster of bad acting and poor people being paid to roll around with actual tomatoes. It’s perfect. The ultimate “so bad it’s good film”. As for the sequel, it’s something that I’ve only seen bits of many years ago. Sticking in my mind only because it stars a young George Clooney. So, in the spirit of last, I decided it was worth rewatching the orignal and follow it up with the sequel. Of course, I was slightly worried that the whole process would put me off eating tomato soup or pizza for the next few weeks but I’m willing to sacrifice these types of things for this blog I guess.
So, this week may seem like something of a departure for someone who, only a couple of weeks ago, was ranting about how simplistic YA fiction is. And I realise that it is slightly hypocritical of me to then go on to read and review a teen horror novel from the 90s. However, I’ve been obsessing over this book for so long that I needed to reread it. I first read this book hen I was a teenager myself. I loved R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books when I was a kid so, once I started to get a bit more mature with regards to my reading, I started to “borrow” my older sister’s Point Horror books. Most of them were forgettable but this one stayed with me. I don’t know of it’s because it was the first one I read or whether it was just the story itself but I’ve never forgotten it. Well, I didn’t remember the name of it. Which didn’t really matter until last year when I got an urge to find it again. So I went through every beach related title in the set and finally found it. I started reading it night after I’d finished Long Way Down and turned the final page the next day. What a blast from the past.