Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Some six years ago, I read this book “Out are the Lights”, got it from my Brother’s Girlfriend, a crumpled 80’s paperback with yellow pages. Some B Grade horror, Boy..!! I loved that… creepy story line, no supernatural ghosts, just humans capable of doing grotesque crimes, scary sequences, lovable character, especially the female lead Connie…
Since then Laymon have been one of my favourite trash authors. Just like those Zombie and Slasher movies, the gory, splattering horror has its own charm. No class, no place in the literature, but once or twice every year I pay my homage to them, and for this Laymon is my source (At least until now).
Well coming to ‘The Cellar’, I got it from flipkart for some 550 bucks (with approx. 250 pages, it’s more than a Rs. 2/per page affair). When I was in college (read ‘unemployed’) pages per rupee used to be a significant factor before buying any book… leave the exceptions like Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh, Gresham, Paulo Coelho etc. Coming to the point, right from the beginning it disappoints.
It opens with a beast house, a house notorious for some 11 murders by some beast, then this single mother running away from her Ex-husband, a convicted paedophile. She runs away and enters the town of the beast house, meets the new love of his life, the guy called Jud (short for Judgement), the visit to beast house, the new found love is hell bent on killing the beast, the Ex-Husband tortures, murders and rapes on his way to chase his wife (wondering why she decided to flee only on the day he’s freed… I mean she had 6 whole years for that, why the hell only on getting the news), anyways, the lover boy goes on beast house expedition, finds an old diary about a women and her pet beast, or the beast and her pet women… whatever… crap..  well the Ex-Husband comes in, fights the new found love, as usual the lover-boy wins, decides to put the Bad Guy in the beast house… ends up dead himself… and the lady and her daughter? Well the last page tells their fate… I won’t spoil it for anyone still interested..!!
After the plot the biggest setback are the characters, The Ex-Husband Roy, he kills without reason, and emerges more as a frustrated loser then a terrifying killer on the loose (Compared to the similar Husband on hunt in Stephen King’s “Rose Madder’ he’s too naive and fails in creating an impact), and The women Donna, She has no class (unlike Connie in ‘Out are the Lights’), I mean the first day in new town and she dates this guy, common, and her daughter, somewhat aged 12, She’s Slow, or we can say retard… no no “Special” will be better term… (Don’t want SRK’s son suing me now), Jud is umm… Stupid, I never got satisfied with his reasons to kill the beast. In all no one impresses, not on any front.
Before ordering the book, I read a few reviews on Amazon, and a lot of people have mentioned the climax as gory, fantastic, most unpredictable, blah blah… yeah it is ‘unpredictable’ but sorry I’m not impressed… I’ve expected better.
Conclusion: gross, crap, pathetic, No more Richard Laymon for the time being… at least not for a year… 🙂
My Rating: 1/5 

I Spit On Your Grave is a revenge film at it’s finest and also a powerful take on feminism. It was there in my HDD for past two years, and the only reason I kept on delaying it is the fact that the movie has been marked as one of the most disturbing, sickening movies ever made. But finally last night after Chelsea’s yet another loss to Man U, I decided to give it a shot.. finally..!!
While many people find it hard to look past the brutality of the rape scenes- they are failing to realize the overall outcome of the film. So what if Roger Ebert called it the “worst film ever made”, he also gave two thumbs up to Speed 2: Cruise Control (which rarely anyone has seen, and those who did end up saying ‘I Spit on your Film’). Clearly the man is not to be trusted.
Coming to the plot – Jennifer is a writer working on her first novel in her rented summer home in some woodsy area. She meets a few nice townsfolk who seem pretty normal and really not all that backwoods-like. They aren’t even close to those in Deliverance which is probably what makes the rape scenes so unbelievably gruesome. Anyways- Jennifer settles into her summer home and one day while sunning in a canoe, two of the boys round her up with a motor boat and pull her canoe to the far off side of the lake. Here she is pulled from her boat and stripped and beaten then raped by the lead guy. After this she runs away- only to be met again by all the men who once again rape her. After getting away a 2nd time she tries to call for help once she reaches her home but is interrupted by-you guessed the men once more. Oooh and raped. Again… And the scenes are really brutal, disturbing and sickening.

After barely escaping with her life, Jennifer rebounds faster than any rape victim in the history of rape victims, and plots her revenge.

As I said before, what makes the rape scenes truly unsettling is that all the men appear to be quite normal. They aren’t toothless hicks who force grown men to oink like a pig before sticking it in their butt. They just truly believe that what they are doing is 100% A-OK. Even their conversation the night before while fishing never really spells out that they are going to rape someone.
What is even more unsettling is the fact that they let her go 3 times. After the first rape I kind of thought, “that’s it?” But then bam rape number two, and bam bam rape number three. And also the actress who plays Jennifer is extremely extremely convincing. You could truly feel her anguish and her screams almost ripped through your body.

Now the revenge sequences I thought were pretty damn good. Although I kind of questioned her decision to kill Matthew, but I suppose in the end it had to be done. He still did it and even though he was egged on, he did jump in on the fun a bit suddenly…so yeah I don’t trust him.

The best revenge and probably the best scene of the movie is the bathtub scene. The red of the blood mixed with all those bubbles is pretty impressive and almost gives Argento’s blood a run for his money- but not really because that would just be preposterous. Then the way Jennifer calmly locks the door and settles down in the chair to enjoy some nice classical music, with the guy screaming in the background…I just really thought that was well done.

My only real complaint about the film was how quickly she bounced back. And how she just took a bath afterwards and laid down in her bed. There is no way she could have known she was suppose to have been killed and that those men wouldn’t be back. It doesn’t entirely make sense that she wouldn’t jump in her car right away and go to the cops immediately. The scenes after that- her taking a stroll in the meadow, and her continuing to write her novel are kind of like….ummmmm hello? You got raped? A lot. But I suppose it’s speaking to her strong character as a woman and her abitlity to move on with her life and not let what happened to her destroy her as a person and all that. It still makes me raise a “I don’t think this makes any sense” eyebrow.

The great thing about this movie is that you are always always on Jennifer’s side. Even when you see that the gas station guy has kids and a wife you never for once feel sorry for him. You might feel a little sorry for Matthew- but when Jennifer has had her last word you truly feel empowered as well. The revenge sequences weren’t some cheap way to get people to watch a horror movie and go wild over violence and blood. They were necessary to the film and it’s overall impact is a strong one. Jennifer comes away from the movie as someone who has literally whacked her rapists in the balls. Yes, she uses her sexuality to appeal to the men in the end but that is what they deserve- because nothing is worse than getting a boner and then having it cut off. Or so I’m told..!!

It’s very rare for me to get influenced/moved by movies, but almost every few months I usually come across one such masterpiece that makes me think and wonder about this whole world, humans and human relations. Something related happened with this Japanese movie I just watched this evening.

Aruitemo Aruitemo (Still Walking) is a 2008 japenese movie, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. With a cast comprising of Hiroshi Abe, Yui Nutsukawa and YOU… yes you, It’s a storyline so simple and still so complex that it entangles you along with it and before you can realize, you became an inseparable part of it.

A son went to meet his parents, living alone in a small town, and the duration of visit.. just one night. That’s it, its just a long tale of those few hours. There’s a father busy reading newspaper when everyone else is busy clicking some family portraits. And the one part which touched me the most – When the mother very lightly, very casually in a simple tone tells that she always had a dream to take her kids out for shopping in a car, their own car. And now for her kids, its just such a simpleton thing… going out shopping in car… no big deal.. “So who’s stopping us mum, let’s go anytime..”  Anytime?? But where is the time ???

It has some inherent sorrow within it, some deep gloom inside every character… there is something breaking inside, something like the old washroom tiles, rotting and becoming weak day by day, nearing a collapse. Its brings you face to face with those hidden sadness of today’s life that you always turn a blind eye to.
And in between all this there are the characters, one who’s thinking what to say to these parents next morning while bidding farewell? what to say to them to solace them that they won’t be alone in their last days ? and the thought that do we really have faith and trust on ourselves?

Don’t miss it, It’s a rare film…

I won’t rate “The client”, I never rate Gresham, his novels are like – time pass reads, momentary pleasure, one or two night stands with well spun plots and a few real to life characters…. certainly no masterpiece.

The Client is, overall, a nice book, good page turner. Although it does drag in places and some of the “lawyer jargon” can get annoying, the characterization and plot are quite involving. It is a very suspenseful and unpredictable novel which kept me up till 4 am reading.
What make the book so good are the characters.
Mark Sway–an eleven year old, trailor-trash, kid is brilliant and foolish all at the same time which keeps the book moving well because every time he gets himself out of a situation, he always manages to get himself into another. He talks like he’s 45 and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He also questions a lot about society and the legal system in such a childlike matter that it really makes you stop and think about your position on the topic and what you would tell an 11 year old kid.
Reggie Love is definitely the most complex character. After a painful divorce, attempted suicide, and commitment into various mental facilities, she begins a new life as a smart-talking, witty, clever, and absolutely crazy lawyer who you just have to love. They call it her “second life” and she lives it to its fullest. Only a 4 year lawyer and she’s able to outsmart the FBI. She cares so much, too much, about her “little clients” and although she denies it, is willing to risk her life for some of them. She’s a very strong character, but still very vulnerable, which makes for a great story.
 ( forgot the spelling :)), is the opposing, big-headed, stuck up, U.S. prosecuting attorney who is absolutely determined to win the case no matter the extremes. Completely engrossed in his job, he really helps display the infamous view of the lying, cheating, snake-like lawyers which we all hate so dearly, yet, Grisham also makes it seem like he is just trying to do his job.

The plot is pointless for me to elaborate :), is either full-blown action, or boring, drag along lawyer stuff and mob talk. Basically, at some parts you can’t put the book down and then at others you are just waiting in agony for something exciting to happen, but its well worth the wait. Overall–I’d only suggest it as a casual read, not great, not bad… just an interesting book for any given weekend…

P.S. for the time being I’m taking a break from reading, will be trying something new for some time – music, theatre, movies, ngo… ?? Maybe… but books are my most reliable and loyal girlfriends… we are just having a break… it’s not over, it will never be over… 🙂

And Then There Were None

Posted: January 7, 2011 in Books & Movies, Reviews

I’ve never been a huge Agatha Christie fan, but I’d always liked her books, most of the time i only read her Poirot novels. Hercule Poirot is the greatest fictional detective ever after Sherlock Holmes, whose character is unparalleled . But this book does not feature Poirot, which is why I wasn’t too enthusiastic for it, but after a friend of mine, Sundaram suggested it with a brief outlook of the plot i decided to give it a shot rightaway. As it turned out, this book is now on the list of my all-time favourite mysteries!

I suppose the plot is what draws most people to this book. There never has been a more elaborate mystery in the annals of fiction. Ten people gather on an island, supposedly invited by a host who isn’t present. We learn quite quickly that all the people are murderers — murderers that the law can’t touch. And the mysterious host who calls himself U. N. Owen (‘unknown’) plans to execute his guests.

The murders take place in accordance with a little nursery rhyme that is framed in each guest’s room. And as people begin to die one by one, and an extensive search reveals that there’s no one else on the island, it soon becomes clear that U. N. Owen is someone among the original party. The book soon turns into a psychological thriller as each guest becomes paranoid and suspicious of the others.

The last few chapters are nerve-wrecking and the Epilogue is shocking. Some of the contexts of the book are really nerve recking and worth the horror. “Definitely worth reading” is a huge understatement. Go read it!

“When the sea goes down, there will come from the mainland boats and men. And they will find ten dead bodies and an unsolved problem on Indian Island.”

The Girl who loved Tom Gordon

Posted: November 28, 2010 in Books & Movies, Reviews

Well written, but not upto Stephen King’s Standard

This book, from its cover design, its author’s reputation and its blurb at the back, seems completely to suggest a tale of seething terror.

However, I find that it is more a tale of jungle survival couched as a horror story. The horror is really very much in the background, while the reader (and protagonist) is mostly absorbed in the nitty-gritty of finding food, fighting bugs and avoiding the rocks when falling into a river.
It is admittedly a very charming book, especially in the characterization of 9-year old Trisha McFarland and the depiction of her struggles, her ever-deepening exhaustion and that fine line between comedy and tragedy; between hope and the abyss.
Yes there is a good build-up of fear about the “special thing” that lurks in the forest; stalking Trisha; but I found myself actually laughing when the terror should have climaxed. Laughing. Sure, you might choose to interpret that I am twisted, but I think the climax was more than a little funny.

While the writing style of King is great, as usual, the plot of this book is really monotonous because he spends too many pages detailing Trisha’s wanderings through the forest.

King could have involved the enemy more in the plot and spend more pages describing the hard moments that her family was going through instead of telling us so much about her misfortunes in the Appalachian Trail.
King also could have detailed the efforts of the search party to introduce more adventure and thrills to the book.
Overall I think this book is more suited to introduce teenagers to King’s books than for King’s fans craving the classic suspenseful terror stories of gore and blood.
Being a big Stephen King fan i’ll say its not worth the money for those of us used to his classic stories.

One of the most seductive of all ghost stories i’ve ever read, Turn of the Screw is not a tale for young people inured to Halloween or Tales from the Crypt. It is a sophisticated and subtle literary exercise in which the author creates a dense, suggestive, and highly ambiguous story, its suspense and horror generated primarily by what the author does NOT say and does not describe. Compelled to fill in the blanks from his/her own store of personal fears, the reader ultimately conjures up a more horrifying set of images and circumstances than anything an author could impose from without.

Written in 1898, this is superficially the tale of a governess who accepts the job of teaching two beautiful, young children whose uncle-guardian wants nothing to do with them. On a symbolic level, however, it is a study of the mores and prejudices of the times and, ultimately, of the nature of Evil. The governess fears that ghosts of the former governess Miss Jessel and her lover, valet Peter Quint, have corrupted the souls of little Flora and Miles and have won them to the side of Evil. The children deny any knowledge of ghosts, and, in fact, only the governess actually sees them. Were it not for the fact that the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, can identify them from the governess’s descriptions, one might be tempted to think that the governess is hallucinating.

The governess is certainly neurotic and repressed, but the existense of evil will always be debatable. The ending, which comes as a shock to the reader, is a sign that such struggles (whether psychological or paranormal) should never be underestimated.

As is always the case with James, the formal syntax, complex sentence structure, and elaborately constructed narrative are a pleasure to read for anyone who loves language, formality, and intricate psychological labyrinths.

Over the years there has been much speculation about the meaning of this story, especially the enigmatic ending. I know what I think, but I won’t give anything away here. Read The Turn of the Screw yourself and be prepared for a scary evening of surprises and perhaps even a sleepless night.

This is an immortal tale about hybrids, love and hate, justice, racism and the responsibilities of scientists.
Its fundamental question is: ‘Had I the right to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations? … Future ages might curse me as their past, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price, perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race.’

The ‘unhallowed arts’ of Frankenstein produce a ‘filthy mass that moved and talked’, but it is nevertheless a human being with normal human aspirations: ‘Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good, misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.’
But, Frankenstein is a ‘painted bird’: ‘Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me? I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.’
His reaction is : ‘If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.’

Mary Shelley’s vision of mankind is far from rosy: ‘I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty.’ ‘A man was considered, except in very rare circumstances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few.’ ‘Was man yet so vicious and base? I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow.’
Her world is one of resentment, racism and jealousy: ‘religion and wealth had been the cause of his condemnation.’
But, ‘how strange is that clinging love we have of life, even on the excess of misery.’

Frankenstein is the scion of the evil principle, the invention of a man-scientist and a ‘painted bird’, who is therefore not accepted by the rest of the human race. His reaction is revenge.

As Oscar Wilde said in ‘The Critic as Artist’: ‘For when a work is finished it has as it were, an independent life of its own, and may deliver a message far other than that which was put into its lips to say’.
Some texts become even more important and luminous with time, like this masterpiece.

A must read.

Death Note – A must watch..

Posted: November 14, 2010 in Books & Movies, Reviews

Death Note is one of those few anime that captured me right from the beginning. As being someone very selective, and particularly repulsive of anime this was something different for me, a tight fast packed story line gripping right from the first episode. I highly recommend this to fans of animated series or to horror/thriller fans. This is a well-written, artistic and dark anime indeed.

As depicted in the story line, Shinigami, the gods of death prefer to use note books, or death notes to cause human death. And occasionally, they lose their notebooks accidentally-on-purpose so that a human can find it. That is the beginning of Death Note, a story of a genius student named Light who finds this strange notebook and decides he wants to change the world into a utopia by killing all of the world’s most horrible criminals without any suspicion to him. All he does is write their name in the death note and they’re dead.

The description above sounds dark, and this story is very dark. The lead character seems to have little care for those he kills and in fact finds some enjoyment in the unique ways he can bring about their death. His Shinigami shadow, Ryuk, bound to him because Light now owns the death note, guides him only to the point just beyond complete ignorance but otherwise lets Light do as he wishes. Thus, even despite the fact that it’s nearly impossible to trace the murderer, suspicion does rise. This is when the true horror starts, as we begin to see what Light is willing to do to get him free of suspicion.

Anyone familiar with Shonen Jump’s Hikaru No Go will recognize the artwork here. There is a deep theme of morality VS. Immorality hidden beneath the storyline. While watching, you have to decide, based on your own personal beliefs, what side Light is actually on, moral or immoral, good or evil. Certainly, at face value, Light is a decent human being, studying hard to become a top student, helping his sister with her homework, talking cop-business with his father, but it’s in those moments of inspiration that Light has when you’ll begin to wonder.

And yet, it’s his anti-hero love-ability that makes you keep watching, no matter what your beliefs are. You want him to avoid suspicion, to do away with the criminals, and to get rid of the cops tailing him.

Apart from the thrilling storyline, intellectual encounters of Light with ‘L’, bits of romantic humor thrown away by the character of ‘Misa Amane’, another great thing is the soundtrack, its simply superb, the background score and the themes of Light, Ryuk and Death Note are simply awesome.

In short a must watch for every anime fan, A short (just 36 episodes), gripping and extremely likeable tale… Don’t miss it.