33 days until Corpus Evil releases!

My eyes are swollen, my head is light, and I feel like I’m being waterboarded with mucus.

Allergies, man. Who needs ’em?

Let’s get the promotional junk out of the way: We’re about a month away from the release of Corpus Evil. Mark your calendars. It’s gonna scare your tits off.

The Amulet

Considering my allergies have whooped my ass to the point of lethargy, I would rather talk about Michael McDowell’s The Amulet, one of the most entertaining—and absurd—pieces of horror I’ve ever read. His later novel The Elementals seems to crop up on Amazon every time I browse the fiction section, so it’s satisfying to see such an underrated writer trending so many years after his death. I couldn’t tell you which of the two books I enjoyed more. I expect to burn through the rest of his stuff before the end of the year.

Another book I enjoyed recently is Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door. For years I’ve avoided it based on its reputation. I don’t care how fucked up a story is as long as it’s fun (read: not mean), but joyless stories which participate in debauchery for the sake of being extreme tend to bore me. Mercifully, The Girl Next Door doesn’t belong in the extreme category. Yes, what happens to the titular character is certainly extreme, but it’s not without purpose and it counterbalances Ketchum’s sentimentality for the time and place. It’s an honest, beautifully written story about a horrific act, and it doesn’t use “evil” as a lazy, catch-all excuse for why bad things happen to undeserving people.

I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I reeled from a book, not wanting to go any further. And when you get to that point (you’ll know which part I’m talking about), you’ll probably discover you can’t put it down, either. That’s some powerful stuff.

Hellraiser Judgment, Skull Island, and The Cloverfield Paradox

Yeah, I’m still alive. Work has been busier than it’s been in ages, my girlfriend and I are remodeling our kitchen (extensively), and I’m still working on Corpus Evil. I haven’t forgotten the blog, it’s just low on my list of priorities at the moment, which sucks because I’d rather be doing this than most things.

So I saw Hellraiser Judgment today. I only fell asleep once.

The prologue is a promising ten minutes of gore-filled debauchery. Maybe it’s because the bar was set so low by the other direct-to-video sequels (I believe there were, like, a thousand of them), but it felt relatively fresh for a franchise that was always better in its idea department than in execution. I even began to think I was in for a fun stupid movie as opposed to a plain ol’ stupid movie.

My first problem (of many) is the same problem I had with the earlier sequels: Pinhead gets a little too much dialogue. (Come to think of it, that was one of my problems with Clive Barker’s The Scarlet Gospels, which I kind of suspect was ghostwritten by someone else.) I don’t care what makes Pinhead tick because I just don’t want that particular veil of mystery lifted. It’s the same reason I’ve never read the Hannibal prequel: some villains are much more interesting without a backstory and monologues. Pinhead has become so pedestrian as of late.

Thankfully there’s a new villain who retains his mystique and his name is The Auditor. Like a cross between Yul Brynner’s role in Westworld and the bad guy from Highway to Hell, he’s a formidable screen presence played by an actor who’s far better than any of the other leads. His face covered with scars and sunglasses as black as welding goggles, he bores intimidation directly into the soul of any mortal foolish enough to cross his path… okay, maybe I’m laying it on a little thick, but trust me: the first ten minutes of Judgment are a blast.

It’s the rest of the movie that stinks to high hell.

If a CSI spin-off is your idea of a good time, you might like Judgment. Hopeful and/or desperate fans of the franchise, on the other hand, are going to be especially disappointed. I’m still wondering why it needed to be a Hellraiser movie in the first place. Like the more recent sequels, it feels like Pinhead was shoved in there just to get tortured fans to shell out money to see it. Unlike the recent sequels, it feels like the supplemental stuff could have made for a decent movie had they been given room to breathe.

I saw Kong: Skull Island and The Cloverfield Paradox, too. Skull Island has gotta be one of the best dumb blockbusters ever made—and believe me: it’s really dumb, going so far as to incorporate Hollow Earth Theory, the proponents of which could even make Flat Earthers cringe. Thankfully, I’m a sucker for giant monster movies (Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake notwithstanding). My brain is telling me not to like this movie, but it’s downright irresistible, even as one helicopter pilot after another repeatedly flies into Kong’s arm reach instead of firing their heavy weaponry from a safe altitude and distance.

The Cloverfield Paradox, on the other hand, sucked almost as bad as Hellraiser Judgment. JJ should really lay off the parallel dimension stuff, which kind of explains key events of the first two films at the expense of failing to explain any of the key events in this film. I fell asleep during this one as well.

I’m getting old, y’all.