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Fins in Funnels: The Sharknado Franchise: Part 3

March 10, 2018 was one of the craziest days of my life. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results? Not so. True insanity is watching all five Sharknado films in one day.

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

Number of Beers Consumed: 4

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘White Noise’ (2005)

‘Stir of Echos’ with EVP

After a string of embarrassingly low budget movies, I decided to review something with a little Hollywood clout.

You know, it’s not a bad movie, but it’s just so lukewarm compared to movies in its class.  I’d compare this one to Stir of Echoes, and every time I do, I’m just going to end up saying, watch that instead. We can pretty much cut to the punch line here. Everything this movie does, Stir of Echoes does better, just with fewer shameless jump-scares.

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Milk by Evelyn Deshane Pt. 2

In honor of Pride Month, we are so happy to offer this story about a young transgender man by author Evelyn Deshane. This story was originally submitted for the Body Horror anthology, and we didn’t think it fit that theme, but we knew that it was an important story, and one we wanted to be able to tell the world. We have broken it into three parts, and one part will be offered each week of the month. Enjoy!

Editor
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A Bun in the Coven: Pregnancy in Horror, Part One

Depending on your definition of horror and how broadly you want to define the canon, the first pregnancy-themed horror stories are tales of gods and monsters; stories that explained both the generative and destructive powers of the universe. This is understandable, not only as theology but also as divine biology, infant mortality and rates of illness and death for expectant mothers being what they were in the misty days of myth: as below, so above. It’s difficult to ascertain the degree of personal choice involved in the matter, but the earliest archeological representations of divinity are of a pregnant mother-goddess, her breasts and belly swollen to exaggerated fullness. If not an image of agency, that is at least an image of potency and power. Sometimes, the women or goddesses in these ancient stories demonstrate agency, as when the titan Cronus’ wife, Rhea, and mother, Gaia, conspired to feed him a rock in place of his son Zeus. More often, however, pregnancy in myth and religion – from Zeus and Leda to Yahweh and Mary — tends to be visited upon women, rather than something that they choose.

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Fins in Funnels: The Sharknado Franchise, part 2

March 10, 2018 was one of the craziest days of my life. They say the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting different results? Not so. True insanity is watching all five Sharknado films in one day.

Sharknado 2: The Second One

Director: Anthony C. Ferrante

Number of Beers Consumed: 2

It was when I began my viewing of the second Sharknado movie that I reached for a beer. I was gonna need it.

The first movie, although flawed, was a lot of fun. If you haven’t read my review last week, go ahead. I’ll wait. I didn’t need a beer then. I had nachos.

The second one, cleverly named “The Second One”, was an inferior sequel at best but held true to the campy goodness displayed in the first film. This no doubt was encouraged by the cult following the original Sharknado had created. More celebrity cameos abounded. More outlandish premises explored. More cringe worthy dialogue expressed. Good. That’s clearly what the people want.

This one starts right off with a homage to the Twilight Zone’s Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. Sharkastrophe strikes as an airplane headed toward the Big Apple is caught in a toothy storm. Our heroine, April Wexler (Tara Reid) is attacked in mid-air by a wind-swept shark with an insanely great sense of direction, and she loses her arm. ‘It’s like he knew who I was,” says she. This time it’s personal.

The film follows the sister of Fin Shepard (Ian Ziering) and her family as they sightsee their way into terror. In peril, they contact our hero, Fin (oh wait…Fin! I totally just got that), and as predicted he becomes entangled in a mess of turbo leviathans. There are some fun moments as New York City icons become destroyed. The head of the Statue of Liberty takes some shit out. A sewer alligator gets eaten by a shark. B through Z-list celebrities show up in damn near every scene. I won’t really dive into the plot because there is nothing to say that you wouldn’t already guess. It ain’t that deep.

This movie goes a little into the “science” of the sharknado, and by that I mean Matt Lauer and Al Roker are seen discussing it several times on television. A southerly shark wind is heading north causing record heat in New York City. Record heat turns to July snowfall as an arctic air front converges over Manhattan. Sharks are coming down at a rate of 2” per hour! The winds are picking up whale sharks now, folks. Hey, those are big! Two nados are combining to form an EF5 finny twister over the upper east side. And god no…a third is threatening to join turning this phenomenon into a “storm of biblical proportions!” Oh the humanity!

I can say I was impressed by the variety of sea life involved in this movie’s weather. In addition to the whale shark, we get to see some airborne hammerheads, makos, and even a wacky wall-walker octopus. This pleased me for some reason. I smiled inwardly as I cracked open my second beer.

I want to take a moment now to appreciate the only player in this movie who had any acting skills whatsoever…Vivica A. Fox. A former flame of Ian Ziering’s character, she teams up with him to slay the winds with the help of a lightning rod and some feisty gumption. Vivica A. Fox is not a good actress. I am just saying she was the best one in this movie.

At some point, or maybe I was just starting to get buzzed, Fin “surfs” the sharknado. There are a variety of useful weapons flying about him amidst the ferocious maelstrom and conveniently within arms reach. Definitely a cartoony moment. I snort laughed, then realized I didn’t know who I was anymore.

The real kicker to this film is the ending. Remember April and her lost arm? Yah, that comes back into play in the most ridiculously Evil Dead kind of way. I just don’t have the heart to spoil this one for you, folks, but it involves a circular saw, the shark that ate her arm and a wedding ring.

The true testament to the brutal staying power of this franchise is that when I finished the movie and went to pee out the Lone Star, I found myself deep in thought about where they could possibly go from here. The first tendrils of dread entered my psyche. Wherever they go with the next one, I best be prepared. And possibly drunk.

With anxiety, a fresh beer and a bit of acid reflux, I popped in the third installment appropriately titled Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

See ya next time!

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘The Intruder Within’ (1981)

From the Bargain Bin: ‘Consistently inconsistent’

This is the last stop on Reed’s history or shitty creature features. While none of them were particularly good, every one was a part of my childhood growing up and shaped the horror nut whose reviews you read today.

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Milk by Evelyn Deshane Pt. 1

In honor of Pride Month, we are so happy to offer this story about a young transgender man by author Evelyn Deshane. This story was originally submitted for the Body Horror anthology, and we didn’t think it fit that theme, but we knew that it was an important story, and one we wanted to be able to tell the world. We have broken it into three parts, and one part will be offered each week of the month. Enjoy!

Editor
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Horror Canon

This is a blog post on a publisher’s website, so what I’m about to say may or may not seem that shocking. The majority of kids today profess a dislike of reading. I’m an English teacher. I hear this all the time. Of course part of my job is to make students read. 

There is a set course of study that every state has put in place. In English, this includes works that need to be read. Teachers have some leeway with what they pick, but boundaries still exist. Early American literature has to be covered. World literature is on the curriculum in certain grades. British literature is usually reserved for seniors. Within those boundaries, schools oftentimes have already chosen what is to be read. This selection is usually what is in the textbook. Sometimes English departments get together and decide novels or plays to be read by certain grade levels. 

What is lacking from most of those lists? Horror. It’s because of a variety of reasons. Horror literature in education has a stench about it. The odor of festering corpses permeates any room in which the idea of using horror to bring in reluctant readers is mentioned. 

In a rather old article, but education hangs out in the world of old research, Randi Dickson, who at the time was a doctoral student in education, wrote about how kids loved reading horror fiction, but that it provided nothing to edify them (Dickson, 1998). 

The ironic thing about this article is how often Dickson discusses children’s love of the Goosebumps series. Again, this is a 20-year-old article, but there is a fundamental issue overlooked then as it is now. If you want kids/students to read, they have to like to read. 

Forcing students to read stories they find boring can damage their relationship with reading for the rest of their lives. Once we lose them; we probably aren’t getting them back. This is where horror comes into play. Kids like a good safe scare like Goosebumps or Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Here in Alabama, kids devour “true” ghost stories recorded by the late Kathryn Tucker Windham. None of her books are under 30-years-old, but kids still love them because they have a spine tingling aspect to them. Adolescents love scary stuff too. There is a reason why slasher movies exist. It’s not because 40-somethings like me watch them. Teens like them. They buy the movie tickets. That’s why so many characters in those movies are teens, and why so many are no rated PG-13. Guess what, teens will like horror novels too.

Later in her article, Dickson mentions that reader choice, even if it’s horror, might be a way to lure kids into a love of reading that will translate into reading books that she says are edifying (1998). 

There it is. As an English teacher, I believe in letting students have some liberty in choosing what they wish to read. I still run into the kids who have no desire to read. This is when I mention graphic novels. (A blog for another day perhaps). When students have difficulty deciding what they might like to read, I suggest horror titles. 

A quick story. I had a student who was a notorious troublemaker. He was smart. He read well, but he was caught up in the whole I need to be bad to be cool mindset. It came time to select a book to read. He couldn’t come up with anything. I escorted him to the school’s library, and together, we looked through the shelves. I was not his main English teacher. I had him in a remedial course, which he didn’t need to be in. He was a fluent and thoughtful reader. His problem was motivation. I knew he didn’t like his actual English teacher very well.

On the bottom shelf in the part of the library where the horror, fantasy, and sci-fi novels were kept. I saw the perfect book for him: Lois Duncan’s Killing Mr. Griffin. I grabbed it and told him to check it out. 

“What’s it about?” he asked.

“A group of kids kidnapping their English teacher,” I replied.

“All right.”

He read the book and loved. (No English teachers were harmed in the reading of that book.)

A student engaged by using horror novels. Did this kid go on to become the model student? Of course not, this isn’t fiction, but he may very well have learned to love books. So teachers, parents, etc. should encourage students to pick books they want to read. If it’s horror, good. They will get something out of it; even if, it’s just learning they like books. 

Now some technical stuff:

Work CitedDickson, R. (1998). Horror: to gratify not edify. Language Arts, 76, (2), 115-122.

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Rest in Peace, Lilly Gray

I live beside the largest municipally-operated cemetery in the United States: Salt Lake City Cemetery, a sprawling necropolis that stretches out over a square kilometer of grounds. It’s one of the most tranquil places in the city. The trees are mature and well-tended, the lawns neat, the markers often interesting and sometimes quite beautiful. It’s a place of peace and reflection, which is exactly what a cemetery should be; I don’t want to spoil the surprise ending for anyone, but the dead appear to care remarkably little about the disposition of their remains or, indeed, their legacy in a larger sense. Cemeteries, like funerals, are for the living, poor fools that we are. Continue reading Rest in Peace, Lilly Gray