iGeekOut’s Top 15 Horror Movies – 2016

iGeekOut’s Top 15 Horror Movies – 2016

iGeekOut's Top 15 Horror Movies - 2016

iGeekOut

Whether you are looking for a good scare, or are wanting to get into the mood for Halloween, you really can’t beat the attraction of a good horror movie. However, that can often present a unique challenge since it can often feel like a good horror movie is difficult (if not impossible) to find since most of the horror movies that are made lately are nothing more than utter dreck, with a few sprinklings of decent offerings. So, if you are looking for a way to creep yourself out for the next few hours, or are wanting to put on a film fest that would make even the Mummy quake in fear, here is a list of 15 “go-to” horror flicks that won’t disappoint. Keep in mind that while some of these are a bit funny, they do tend to get scarier (and often times more disturbing) as the list nears the top spot.

15. The Cabin in the Woods

Have you ever wondered why most horror movies tend to follow the same old clichés over and over? Well, we get a rather interesting answer from the minds of Joss Whedon (The Avengers) and Drew Goddard (World War Z). In the simplest of terms, five college friends go for a weekend trip up to The Cabin in the Woods, only to find (in the words of the movie itself) that “bad things happen.” This delightful horror movie has all the old tropes from pretty much all horror movies, but they are presented in a delightfully new way that makes you wonder who is really the bad guy and what is actually going on. This is definitely one of the few movies on this list that when you think you know what is going on, you find yourself both right and wrong at the same time. Confusing? Maybe, but a fun time none the less.

14. Night of the Living Dead

George Romero is, without a doubt one of the Grand Masters of the horror genre, and the undisputed Godfather of the zombie survival movie. In fact, it can easily be stated that with the release of Night of the Living Dead in 1968, George Romero created the modern interpretation of the zombie. This movie may come in rather low in the special effects department when compared to other horror movies that are released today, but it is still consistently ranked on “Best of” lists the world over nearly 50 years after it’s first release. There are a number of reasons why, not the least of which is the superb storytelling and pacing that is seen in the film, but also in the practical effects used to add a gritty realism that isn’t seen much in movies today. Additionally, since the movie can be viewed as a metaphor of american society at the time in a number of ways (race relations, non-conformists vs. conformity, and so on) it is so easy to see why it has stood the test of time.

13. The Exorcist

Both herladed and lambasted as one of the scariest movies of all time, William Friedken’s interpretation of the William Peter Blatty novel of the same name, is almost as controversial today as it was when it was first released in 1973. The Exorcist is much more than a simple possession flick, and can (in many people) create an almost visceral reaction to what is being portrayed. There have been relatively few movies that have portrayed so accurately the fight between faith and science, and the maddening confusion that some find themselves confronted with in the face of inexplicable events. Some of the best scenes throughout the movie is the gut-wrenching fear that mother Chris MacNeil (played by Ellen Burstyn) and Reagan MacNeil (portrayed by Linda Blair) exhibit as they are faced with a series of events that science has no rational answer to. The Exorcist is held up as the gold bar standard of possession movies, even 43 years after it first came out. There is just something about this movie that speaks the to viewer on an almost primal level.

12. Devil

One of the more recent, and successful, offerings by writer M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) and director John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine), Devil is an intriguing study of a group of people who are trapped in an elevator. Seems rarther simple enough, but the kicker is that unbeknownst to these individuals, the Devil (yes, that DEVIL) is also trapped with them. By taking advantage of things such as racism, sexism, manipulation, pride, vanity, and a few others, the Devil is able to pit these supposedly everyday people against one another. At almost every turn, Devil will make you question what is going on, what you believe you know, and what you think you have already learned. In true Shyamalan fashion, there is a twist, but it is one that isn’t really all that obvious at first glance. Best of all, when you think that the twist has happened, you find out that it really hasn’t. While, as with many Shayamalan movies, you may want to pay close attention, you don’t need to worry about the minutia in order to enjoy it. The suspense slowly builds up over time, and there are a couple of jump scares, but all in all Devil is a very enjoyable movie that you will find yourself watching again and again.

11. Alien

Directed by science fiction master, Ridley Scott, Alien is the initial offering in one of the most successful horror (and movie) franchises of all time. The crew of the space mining ship, Nostromo, finds themselves answering what they think is a distress beacon (when in fact it is a warning) and find themselves slowly being killed by an alien organism that is beyond their understanding. To make matters worse, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the corporation that the crew works for actually set them up, knowing that they might likely die in the attempt to capture this organsm. One of the best things about this movie is that not only does it build slowly over time until there is an explosive finale, the story is portrayed by an all star cast led by Tom Skerrit (Top Gun), Sigourney Weaver (Avatar), John Hurt (V for Vendetta), and Sir Ian Holm (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies). Alien is also one of the few horror movies to have avoided the remake craze in recent years. This is probably due to the fact that it can still scare just as much today, as when it was originally released.

10. Signs

The second of the M. Night Shaymalan offerings on this list, Signs is at first glance an oddity for this list. It is not your traditional “horror” movie in that the protaganist Hess family is not faced with the resurrected, ghostly, or supernatural monsters or threats that are portrayed in other movies here. Rather, what the family is faced with is a mysterious series of events that slowly (and inexplicably) take on global significance with no recourse be to hold on for the ride. Signs is arguably one of the top two or three movies ever made by M. Night Shaymalan, and he is truly at the top of his game here. This is especially evident in the portrayal of Nel Gibson (as Reverend Graham Hess), Joaqin Phoenix (as Merrill Hess), Rory Culkin (as Morgan Hess) and a young Abigail Breslin (as Bo Hess). These actors portray a truly loving family that is faced with horrific events that they have no control over. The slow build of tension is done so masterfully, that the audience isn’t even aware that it’s happening until they find themseleves literally on the edge of their seat, breathless in anticipation with what is going to happen. When Signs was first released to packed theaters, it was not unheard of to see the entire floor covered with the spilled popcorn of those who had been watching, since it was common for the buckets to get dropped in fright.

9. The Ring

The whole premise of The Ring can be boiled down to three simple words – demonic chain letter. Directed by Gor Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean:The Curse of the Black Pearl), The Ring tells the story of a video tape that causes all who watch it to die within a week of watching it. The main character Rachel (Naomi Watts) is a reporter that is tasked with tracking down the veracity of this supposed urban myth, and ends up falling on the wrong side of the curse. While the pace and buildup of the tension in the movie is done fairly well, nothing can quite beat the ominously slow and deliberate advance of the horrific Samara, even if it is only on the video tape. You just know that there is something wrong with what is about to happen. This fact is driven home even more when she takes her first, horrific, steps outside of the television.

 

8. The Blair Witch Project

Whether you love it, or hate it, The Blair Witch Project is a movie that will draw elicit a strong reaction from those who watch it. This low budget movie is the one that started the whole “found footage” sub-genre of horror movies that is so popular today. The “footage” that is portrayed in the film tells of the last days of a trio of film students who are investigating the supposed story of the Blair Witch located around the area of Burkittsville, Maryland who went missing…never to be seen again. What makes this movie so truly enjoyable is that so much of it was shot without a script. For example, the entire scene where Heather is recording herself as she apologizes was completely unscripted and the fear shown is as real as could be since she really did not know what had happened to her co-stars previous to this scene.

7. Jeepers Creepers

Victor Salva (Powder) wrote and directed Jeepers Creepers, which tells the unfortunately tragic story of a brother and sister team who are on their way back from college and stumble upon a mysterious monster who is finishing the last few days of it’s 27 year ritualistic killing and eating spree. The brother and sister team are portrayed by Justin Long (Tusk) and Gina Philips (Chained) who see what looks like a mysterious figure potentially dumping a body down a well and investigate. What they don’t know is that that this is infact a supernatural creature who, every 27 years, starts to hunt those it finds “interesting” in some way to gather new body parts to keep it going. Throughout the course of the movie it appears as if there is literally nothing that that the two can do to stop the relentless pursuit of this monster…other than out last the cycle. What makes this story truly horrific is that you don’t really get the meaning behind the movie’s title until the last few minutes.

6. The Changeling (1980)

Are you looking for a good old fashioned haunted house story? If you are, then you can’t go wrong with the masterful performance delivered by George C. Scott (Patton) in the Peter Medak (Species II) directed The Changeling. George C. Scott plays John Russell who is the sole survivor of an accident which killed his wife and daughter, who rents a beautiful old home that has a tormented past. John slowly comes to realize that there is another occupant to the home, a child who was murdered decades before who supposedly wants justice and answers to why. Unlike many other horror movies, The Changelingis entirely psychological with no blood or gore throughout the movie. In many ways this can make the terror much more intense than in some other contemporary horror movies since there is no “outlet” for the fear that slowly grows throughout the movie. One thing for sure, you would never expect that a wheelchair can be quite as terrifying as it is in this show.

5. The Conjuring

Some of the scariest stories around are those that are said to have been based off of real life. Whether you actually believe in real life supernatural events or not, the events portrayed in 2013’s The Conjuring are truly terrifying. The Conjuring, directed by James Wan (the Saw franchise) documents one of the most horrific events that paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson, Insidioius) and Lorrain Warren (Vera Farmiga, The Judge) supposedly took part in. BAck in 1971, the Perron family move onto an old farm located in Rhode Island, and soon start to experience some truly demonic events. To make matters worse, it really doesn’t matter where the Perron’s move, or what they do, it doesn’t seem to help. As things escalate, the Perron’s reach out to the Warrens (noted for investigating the events at Amityville) for help. What sort of demonic force is awaiting the Warrens, and why is this considered one of their most terrifying investigations? Watch the movie to find out.

4. Evil Dead (2013)

The original iteration of The Evil Dead (1981) is perhaps one of the most famous, and well known, B-movie horror flicks of all time. In fact, it is so well known that it is the one movie that could arguably be given credit for giving Sam Raimi (30 Days of Night) his first big break and is also what helped Bruce Campbell (Burn Notice) become the king of the B-movie. This remake has all the elements of the original, though it is presented in a much darker way. It has been said that this remake is what Sam Raimi, who also had a major hand in the production, would have made originally if only he had the budget.

As with the original, five friends head to a remote cabin and accidentally unleash a demonic entity that could potentially destroy the world. The official tagline of the movie is “The most terrifying film you will ever experience,” and while that may be stretching it just a bit, it’s not that much of a stretch. Not only is the descent into madness that the five friends experience absolutely horrific, this is arguably one of the most disturbing movies that you will ever see. A brief example of this can be described in four words: tounge and razor blades. If you want to see a movie that will leave you feeling like you have gone through the wringer, then this one should be on your list (as it is on ours).

3. Sinister

Sinister tells the story of Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) who was a one hit wonder in the true-crime book genre, and is desperately trying to regain the fame that he once obtained by researching the unexplainable deaths of most of the family, and the apparent abduction of the younest child. Shortly after moving in, Ellison finds a box of old 8 MM movies that strongly imply that these deaths were actually the result of actions conducted by a serial killer. Unfortunately, as the movie progresses, it turns out that he has stumbled upon the worst possible form of a chain letter. Worst of all, his family may now be at risk if action isn’t taken.

Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) does a superb job of directing the cast in this movie, and slowly building the tension until the terror felt by Ellison (and the rest of the family) is almost physically felt. While there are a few bits of blood, they are certainly limited when compared to other movies. Unlike many of the other movies on this list, and that have been produced recently, Sinister doesn’t fall into the trap of relying on “blood and guts” to scare or titillate. Most everything is done relying on camera angles, pacing, and story to produce the overall tension that is expereinced by the viewer. In many ways, this tale of a demonic “chain letter from hell” has a very Alfred Hitchcock feel and pace to it.

2. Insidious

Perhaps what sets Insidious apart from any of the other movies on this list, is that it plays on the horror that parents feel when their children are at risk. Director James Wan (Lights Out) perfectly captures the story of two young parents who are desperately trying to figure out what is happening to their child as he falls into a coma following a mysterious incident in the attic of their new home. As the story progresses, it turns out that there may actually be a mysterious link between the events that are currently plaguing the Lambert family, and some events that took place to the father, Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson The Conjuring), when he was younger. Evenn when the final, chilling, confrontation takes place you find yourself terrified and wondering what is going to happen next.

 

1. The Grudge (2004)

The Grudge tells the story of a young American nurse who is in Tokyo with her boyfriend, and who is drawn into a powerful curse that is slowly killing all who encounter it. Follow Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Geller, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as she is trying to track down the cause of the curse, and stop it’s spread before it’s too late. The slow, and dramatic, pacing of the story is often told from the points of view of each victim, and shows how everyone is interconnected. Best of all, this movie helps show that a movie really doesn’t need to have tons of blood, guts, gore, and violence to truly scare the pants off you.

Despite The Grudge is actually an American remake of a Japanese horror movie, there is very little that is lost in translation. What this movie does, is beautifully show the difference in teh “rules” between Western horror movies, and those of the East. Frankly, if you found yoruself in a Western horror movie, once you figured out the rules you have a fairly good chance of surviving. Being in an Eastern horror movie basically means you are hosed…you will die (or go insane). You just don’t know when.

Well these are 15 of the best horror movies to watch. How close did we come to your list? Did we miss something that should have been listed? Do you disagree with something that we have on this list? Tell us your point of view in the comments below, and who knows it may just be added into next year’s list.

Artist Spotlight – Alex Webb

Artist Spotlight – Alex Webb

Artist Spotlight - Alex Webb

iGeekOut

Shortly after Salt Lake Comic Con, 2016, iGeekOut had the opportunity to sit down and interview a talented young artist named Alex Webb. Alex, who is in the very early stages of his artistic career, shows a lot of talent and potential that belies his young age (he is a senior currently enrolled in Copper Hills HIgh School, located in West Jordan, Utah). He was nice enough to take a few minutes to answer a few questions, and provide us some exciting news as to what we could potentially expect from him in the coming years. This is one artist that we would not be surprised to make it big. Who knows, maybe he might even make it to the big time, and one day be the artist or inker for DC or Marvel Comics? The raw talent is certainly there.

When you were a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to do what I am doing know. I always wanted to be an artist.

What originally got you interested in drawing?

I don’t remember much from my childhood, but my Mom used to say that when I was young I used to have books that I couldn’t read. [Instead] I would just stare at the pictures every night. So, for me drawing is obviously a way to express myself, but what got me into it was Comics. That I could make a living off of doing art.

How (and why) did you choose to become an artist?

I just…no matter what I have done, I always come back to drawing. I have always stopped, and whenever I did I have always felt lost. Drawing is a way for me to feel at home. I just love to draw all the time. It’s like a comfort type of thing. Some people have comfort foods, for me I have comfort drawing.

What was your first “Big Break?”

This past Salt Lake Comic Con (SLCC16). It was my first time there as an exhibitor, where I was able to get a table, and set up and display my art to a large audience.

What decisions in your career do you consider the most beneficial?

Beneficial, meaning, what helped me out the most? I would just continue to read comic books. Just the thought of, you know, me being able to…my art being able to be in those books, and read around the world, has always been a drive for me.

Did you receive any formal training (i.e., schooling) to become an artist?

No. I really didn’t start taking lessons until my middle school year, and those were only school lessons. Even then, they weren’t very helpful. I have primarily been studying on my own, looking at other people’s art. I think that I excelled in such a way that they just couldn’t teach me much any more.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Most of it has been from comic books, though I am trying to listen to more music. But [unfortunately] I can’t seem to put more of my thoughts from music onto paper. It usually has to be just me, the paper, and complete silence. That’s when I can start to really create.

What is your favorite medium to work in, or with?

Pen and paper, though…hmmmm…you know, at Comic Con, there were a lot of people who asked me “Do you do digital?” To which I would usually respond “Do a lot of people do digital?” and I was told that yeah, they are. I don’t know. To me, it sounded like they are saying it is a handicap if I do digital. But, for me I would like to go into digital and see what I can do. It’s just a money thing right now that’s keeping me from doing that.

Do you draw for a target audiendce, or simply create art that you like to view?

It’s more for me. But now that I’ve gone to Comic Con, and seen all these different people who like sooo many different things, I am starting to think that I should start doing other things, and branch out a bit. Become more diverse, ya know?

How do you come up with your ideas?

Uh…it Just comes a lot from the movies [that I see], and the comics that I read. But, if I really, really like something, I usually take a long time drawing it. Inspiration also just comes from my head, you know? If I feel this is will look good on this character, I try to integrate it as much as I can.

When you start working on a project, what do you do to “Get in the Mood?”?

Beyond absolute silence, usually when I get an idea, I try to sketch it out, and try to force myself to think of it in different ways. Until I start thinking about drawing it “for real,” that’s when I have to get in the mood. Usually…usually, just drawing all day. But, now to get in the mood, I look at other artists. Before that though, I just drew. I always had something with me that I could doodle or draw on.

What is your favorite artistic style?

Honestly, it’s definitely not mine. I wish that my style could be a lot better. It’s not as tight, or as unique as I would like it to become. I have always tried to have things be more realistic, so the artist that I have really tried to influence my style is Joe Madureia. I have always tried to have styles like that. And now that I styles like this. (Pointing at artwork). I can see myself going towards it, though I can also see myself going away from it. I am trying to develop my own style, though having some elements that I like form [Joe’s work].

How do you deal with “Artist’s Block?”

It definitely does happen. I have thousands, and thousands, of screenshots of other artist’s work. I don’t publish them, or share them in any way, but when I see soemthing that I like, I try to draw it in a different way. So, it really is just trying to push past it. Push past the block, and I use other people’s art to help me out.

What is your favorite part of a project?

uh…that’s hard. Because, sometimes I love getting started, but when you get to the end and it did not turn out the way that you wanted. But to me, it’s really towards the middle. Like, that’s when you are in the grind. When you know that you have to keep going. And, in the middle is where I would stop with a lot of pieces. So, it’s just the middle, trying to get past that grind, it’s like the bliss of finishing the project.

How often do real life events impact, or influence, your work?

Definitely does impact my work. Usually, it impacts it for…some times it’s detrimental. But, if there is something hard going on in my life I tend not to draw a lot. After such an experience, I find myself drawing more and more, and if it [the experience] was bad, I try to draw more good things. Sometimes it does influence my work, it just depends on what’s going on. If it’s dark, and I draw more dark things that’s when I know I need to take a break and deal with what’s happening.

If you could pick any one artist to work with, who would it be, and why?

That’s tough, that’s very tough. I would like to see the greats from the Renaissance, you know? Like DaVinci, Michelangelo, and so on. But then, there’s a language barrier there. This is a good question, I have never really thought of it before. It’s a very good question. Straight off the top of my head, I would have to say Michelangelo. This is because he was big into sculpting, and I would love to learn that. It’s the way that he did the human body, and the way that he was so accurate. I would like to get that accuracy into my drawings. I would love to work with Michelangelo and get that accuracy into my drawings.

When working with another artist, how do you divide the work load?

I don’t do a lot of “professional” work with other artist, though there is a family that I do try to work with as much as possible to feed off them. To help me and get a real big mashup of our work. We have tried to do some collabs, but you know, their life and my life sometimes things happen where we can’t. But we have done some collabs. Usually, if we like to draw on it, we draw on it. If we don’t, then we pass it over to the other guy. We generally do the stuff we like, and pass on the stuff we don’t.

When working with another artist, how do you settle “Artistic Differences?”

Oh, man…uhmmm. It’s probably not the best idea [to have those kinds of differences]. It’s probably best to surround yourself with those who have the same interests as you. That family I love to collaborate with, one of them have this style that everyone loves. I try to be around him more often. But, I also find myself going over to this other guy’s work, and it’s very “cartoony.” I don’t know, I can’t pick and choose which one I want to follow any more.

What does a typical work day (or week) look like for you?

For me, it’s split with school and then I have newspaper as well. I actually work with my school newspaper, I am the layout guy, and I do comics for them, and I also have to draw art for them. Then, after school I stay after school to help with the newspaper, and I have swimming. Usually, I try to do it when I can, stay up late or do as much as I can on the weekends.

For comic books and graphic nocels, which is more important – story line, or the artistic depiction of story line?

I don’t know. The story is the backbone. If you don’t have a good backbone then the art is going to just fall off, and it will just reveal the bad story. A good story is crucial since you can have an excellent story, and mediocre art, and still have a fantastic comic. Now, if you have good story, and great art then you have a work of art.

What, from an artistic perspective, do you consider to be the difference between a comic book and a graphic novel?

Uhhmmm…I don’t really know the technical difference between a comic book and a graphic novel is. I think that a comic book is more for entertainment though,s oething that you can enjoy reading, and focus on the great piece of work. A graphic novel would be more on the storytelling side of things, where you can focus more on a single character and see where they go, and what they do.

What other artist, besides yourself, do you consider the most exciting right now, and why?

Oh gosh, I think it’s. I don’t know, I think…have you seen the art from the new Civil War II? I just think that it’s fantastic. I think his name is Mark Morales (it was actually David Marquez). It’s just so realistic, but then you can tell that he has also his own style. It’s just…I know I’m trying to follow after him, and develop my own style to where I want it to be.

Which of your artwork is your favorite, and why?

I don’t know if I could say any of these (Alex points to the artwork he brought with him). I think that it was a picture I drew back in elementary school. I drew this fantastic picture of Venom, and I thought the world of it. I look back on it now, and I still think it’s the greatest even though it doesn’t look as good as I thought it would be. It’s just that it was teh best that I could have drawn at that moment, and it was the one that I thought most epitomizes the skills I had at the time.

Do you have any plans to either continue, or start, a new series, and if so, how many pieces do you envision in it?

I may be working on a comic book series in the future. Ever since Comic Con I was approached by this guy, and I am thinking about it. I have two or three pictures that are with in a collection, but haven’t really tried to tell any stories (of my own) with a series of pictures. If I have done it, it may have been more by accident then design.

I know that things are rather busy for you right now, but what do you do to decompress in your offtime?

Probably bug my little brother. He’s not all that little anymore since he’s almost as tall as me. Just bug the crap out of him, or just veg out from him. When he comes home from practice, he’s just totally destroyed, and I just sit next to him and watch Netflix.

Is there anything special, or specific, that we should be keeping an eye out for?

As I said earlier, I may be working on a comic book series in the future. Ever since Comic Con I was approached by this guy, and I am thinking about it. I’m really, really, thinking about it. It’s a local, it’s called Yonder Comics, and as far as I know it’s called Cosmo-Man. My art might not be in the early issues, ’cause he is already drawing and publishing it. So, I might be involved in the later stages.

If you could say any one thing to a budding artist, what would you say?

Obviously the cheesey line of “Don’t give up.” But, it’s just to try. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You know, I’ve never shown [my work to] as many people as I did over at Comic Con. You know? Just don’t be afraid to show people your art, and you know be out there. Basically, just own it.

What personality trait is the most beneficial for an artist?

I don’t know…I would probably have to say “humble.” If you go around and show people your art, and say “Yeah, I’m the best,” it can kind of push people away. You have got to be able to say “Yeah I drew that,” but you have to be humble, and show that you are nice.

What do you consider your best work?

I would have to say it was a picture of this guy who many people at Comic Con thought was Diablo from Suicide Squad, that was actually just a Native American guy in a head-dress that was done in pen. I called it “Breaking Fate” since it shows this guy breaking chains around his hands and taking his own fate. I just felt like I rocked it, and it was my first real pen drawing.

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Alliance of Shadows

Alliance of Shadows

Alliance of Shadows

iGeekOut

With the introduction of the two protaganists Valetine and Lorenzo in Dead Six, authors Larry Correia and Mike Kupari launched an incredible new adventure that no one could truly predict would be so successful. When the first book of the Dead Six series was introduced almost exactly five years ago (9/27/2011) about the only thing that fans knew to expect was a wild and rather violently explosive escapade across the world, with perhaps a slight hint of the supernatural. By even the most conservative of estimations, this rather modest expectation was completely blown away. On October 4, 2016, the latest, and potentially last, installment in this thrilling series will be available with the release of Alliance of Shadows.

Perhaps one of the most basic questions that any potential reader may ask when looking at a new book is whether it is any fun. Luckily if you have read any of the previous work completed by Larry Correia or Mike Kupari, then you have a rough idea of what’s in store for you. Simply put, Alliance of Shadows is an enthralling, entertaining, and action packed ride that you simply can’t put down once you start reading. One minute you find yourself gasping in shock at the events that Lorenzo, Valentine, Ling, Jill, or Reaper find themselves faced with, and the next howling in laughter at the dry and acerbic banter that seems to be the groups trademark.

 

The events of Alliance of Shadows starts with an event that has, in many ways, become the standard start to a Dead Six book: someone is trapped in a hellish prison and needs to be rescued, or is getting blackmailed into undertaking a suicidal mission. In Dead Six Lorenzo and Reaper were the ones being blackmailed, and in Sword of Exodus Valentine was the one that was needing to be rescued from prison. Alliance of Shadows has Lorenzo taking the hit this time, and holy crap is it a nasty one. The prison that Lorenzo finds himself confined in is something that seems to have been born in the deepest, darkest, pits of hell where Lorenzo is faced with an almost daily gladiatorial daily fight for survival…and that’s just the start. When you take into account very shaky alliances with shady organizations straight out of the darkest of urban myths, then you have the very definition of an action packed book.

As the Dead Six and Exodus survivors’ adventure unfolds, the events seem to move at an ever increasing pace that in many regards has the feel of being an adventure straight out of Hollywood. In many ways, the overall flow and pace found Alliance of Shadows mirrors that found in either a Jason Bourne or James Bond movie. Time is blatantly of the essence throughout the events of the story, and one that is always in the forefront of the reader’s mind, though this is done in an exceptionally talented way. This is typically done in a way where the reader is finding themselves asking if the heroes will be able to beat the swiftly narrowing window that is available. While there are times when the reader will find themselves stating “Well, that escalated quickly,” the pacing of the story is not presented in a method that is in the least detrimental. In many ways this is one of the biggest draws to this series, and the latest addition that is the Alliance of Shadows.

There are three main characters in Alliance of Shadows, two protagonists and one antagonist. The heroes are (as with the first two books in the series) the preternaturally dangerous Valentine and Lorenzo, and the villain is the alarmingly insane Katarina Montalban. Due to the rather rapid pace of the story, there isn’t all that much in the way of major character development, though that is only to be expected. As with each of the previous stories in the Dead Six series, you do learn some background information on each of the main characters. While there isn’t all that much meaningful character development in the traditional sense the heroes are very heroic (if not more than a little beaten down) and the villains are defeated (as to be expected). Best of all, you are given a glimpse of the future of the heroes and the world at the end of the book…which may indicate that the series is now at an end (though time will only tell for sure).

Books and stories that are as well-crafted as the Dead Six stories are, they almost literally beg for a revisit, and Alliance of Shadows is no different. Throughout the entire series you get a rather sizeable hint of the supernatural world…enough of a hint at least that you will want to reread the entire series to see if you really read what you thought you did. Even now, after having reread Alliance of Shadows (and the rest of the series) a couple of times I am still trying to figure out whether the supernatural is really as much a part of the series as it appears. Even if the characters and interactions were not as enjoyable as they are, then this one particular aspect of the series almost demands that the books are studied a couple of times apiece. Luckily, the book is as fun as it is so that isn’t a difficult task in the least, and Alliance of Shadows will be on my bedside reading list for months to come.

Rating: Everyone

 

At the risk of repeating myself, Alliance of Shadows is an enthralling, entertaining, and action packed ride that you simply can’t put down once you start reading. If you are a fan of movies such as The Avengers, The Bourne Identity, or even television shows such as The Blacklist, then you will not be disappointed in this book or series. Whether you are a fan of action adventure stories, share a love of shooter stories, or like to dip into the urban fantasy pool once in a while then you will enjoy this particular story. Be sure that you get your copy of the story as soon as possible at your local book store (such as Barnes and Noble) or online at locations such as Amazon (available on both digital and hardcopy) or on iTunes. Luckily, you will only need to wait till October 4th, 2016, which is next Tuesday.

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge

Jason Dyck

Since it erupted onto the scene in 2009, Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series has been a huge hit. For those new to Correia’s work, the titular MHI is a company of private contractors who help protect everyday folks from the evil and hungry parts of the hidden supernatural world. Straddling the line between action horror and urban fantasy, the MHI series hits a sweet spot appealing to fans of action, guns, monsters, fantasy, Lovecraft, and heroes who keep trying to save the world even after being pounded by every monster you can think of and the terrifying Agent Franks. After five novels and several short stories, Correia has begun allowing other top-notch authors to come play in his horror-infested sandbox. John Ringo, one of Baen’s other superstars, is the first out the gate with Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge. Memoirs is a slight departure from the rest of the series since they are a jump back in time, in this case to the eighties and nineties.

I want to hit the most important thing right off the bat: this book is fun. The voice and flow of the story are different from the mainline books, but the feel is the same. The recurring themes of the MHI setting are here. Of course two of those themes are scary monsters and awesome weapons, and that’s lots of fun right there, but there are more. The emotional notes can shift in a heartbeat: I went from cackling to cheering to wincing to choking up in just a few pages, and more than once. Humor is everywhere, from the main character’s noisy face off with his crazy mother in a naval hospital, to the numerous action scene one-liners, to the old school nerdy references (I remember the Zork one off the top of my head). Monsters get out-fought, out-witted, and occasionally befriended, and the hero gets several of the girls.

The protagonist of Grunge, Chad (occasionally called “Iron Hand”) makes an interesting contrast with Owen Zastava Pitt, the hero of the original MHI. Both are hyper-competent, but Chad’s gifts (both intellectual and martial) are sometimes ridiculously over the top, and where Owen clearly worked his butt off for the skills he has (some exceptions, but…spoilers), Chad is born with several of his, and the rest seem to come without much effort. Where Owen is somewhat socially awkward and sincere, Chad is a deft womanizer and a self-described lounge lizard. Owen is largely a reluctant player in grand destinies, prophecy, and so on; Chad throws himself happily into his role of God-sent warrior. Interestingly enough, being a God-sent warrior doesn’t slow down his sexual exploits one bit, so…no warrior-monk here. One of the things I’ve noticed is that while the protagonists of the Monster Hunter series are consistently skilled, powerful, and often supernaturally favored, they can still make boneheaded decisions, have everything go wrong on them, and get the bejeezus beaten out of them. Chad is no exception

Most of the characters in Grunge are new, and even the familiar names are interesting to see as they were twenty years before the current main story arc. Earl Harbinger and Agent Franks are largely the same, of course, but it’s fun for long-time fans to see Milo when he was just an assistant in the shop, or the Doctors Nelson before their retirement (they lead the team Chad works with in Seattle), or Raymond Shackleford III before he was crippled. The way the story is written, as a memoir, the authors do a good job of introducing people so that no prior knowledge of the characters is required. There’s not a lot of character development in this book – once Chad graduates from training with MHI, he stays pretty much the same for the remainder of the novel; but it still makes an excellent introduction to the monster hunting world as it was and sets the stage for Chad’s career.

In addition to new characters, Grunge continues to reveal the enormous worldbuilding in the MHI setting. New-to-us supernatural creatures, interacting with the Court of Faerie (never a fun thing), a little more of the history of the odious Monster Control Bureau, a little more of the international view of monster hunting (yakuza don’t like the supernatural, who knew?), and why Seattle has so many out-of-town vampires all the time, all come into play. The cosmological angle comes in a little bit – our old friend Pete from Nemesis makes a brief appearance, there’s a tantalizing hint with Franks, and the various supernatural factions finally get a big-picture outline – but most of the focus is on the everyday life of monster hunters, such as it is. Where the mainline MHI books focus on rather world-altering catastrophic events, the issues in Grunge are more local: a town with a giant spider problem, a new vampire in town, getting to know the local sasquatch, things like that. Oh, and repeatedly dealing with a demonically-infested software company that totally isn’t Microsoft.

Given the authors involved it’s no surprise, but Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge is a great addition to the Monster Hunter universe. It hits all the expected notes for an MHI book while still giving us new stories, new characters, and a very different narrator from any before. Those with kids and teens should be warned, the sexual references are not as subtle as when Correia is writing solo. There’s nothing very graphic, no actual sex scenes, but references are frequent. Profanity is heavier and more frequent than the mainline books as well. The book is violent and sometimes gory, which is expected for a series about shooting evil in the face. Political and religious comments by the narrator may annoy the theologically sensitive. The sequel, Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinners, is due out the first week of December

 

 Rating: Buff

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge, is a fantastic read that (in many ways) harkens back to the action adventure movies of the 1980s and 1990s, that once it grabs a hold of you can be a tough fight to put down. A wonderful addition to the MHI series. Unforunately, it will not appeal to everyone out there. If you are an urban fantasy, survival horror, or action adventure buff then you will definitely have a blast reading the latest addition to the Monster Hunter International series is one that you have to read today. Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge can be found at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon.

Anti-Hero – Loot Crate Reveal

Anti-Hero – Loot Crate Reveal

Anti-Hero - Loot Crate Reveal

iGeekOut

Loot Crate is one of the leading companies that provides monthly subscriptions where you can collect all kinds of fantastic, and often exclusive, Geek themed memorabilia. One of the fantastic things about this service is that the crate you receive each month has a specific theme, and that you will never receive the same items twice. This month, in part to honor the release of the movie Suicide Squad, the theme is Anti-Hero so you can probably expect to see at least one Harley Quinn item along with several other unbelievable items that you will just love.

Shipping Crate

The first thing that you will notice when you receive your monthly Loot Crate is that it comes in a distinctive, though rather discreet, box. Receiving this unassuming box each month is almost like receiving a birthday or Holiday present every month. While it may not be known exactly what will be included in each month’s Crate, it is almost certain that it will contain items that you cannot (and will not be able to) receive anywhere else. Generally speaking, this box is not particularly large, in fact it is often small enough to fit within a standard mailbox. The cost for the Core Crate is as low as $14.00 a month, and lower if you use the link below. Considering that you will receive a minimum of $50.00 worth of items in each package, it is well worth the subscription. Careful when you open the box though, since you will need it to make something rather special later on.

First Look

Even if you were able to go online to see what the theme for the month is (in this case Anti-Hero), you don’t get to really know what you are getting until you open the crate. Considering that all you can really see when you open this month’s crate is the t-shirt you get, you are still left to wonder what is coming next. So, without further ado…let’s dig into the crate and see what else we get.

Archer

Sterling Archer is one rather unforgettable character, and almost the very epitome of suave and debonair. This long running cartoon from FX just hit its 10th season, and is pretty much the perfect satire of the British 007 spy series. Between the superbly written story lines and the recurring running gags (i.e., Danger Zone) it makes perfect sense that this show is still going strong and is so popular. Celebrate this amazing television show, and rather comedic political season, by wearing this stylish t-shirt. Considering the wide selection in sizes, you will definitely have fun not only setting a trend but also making a statement about your presidential choices the next time you head out.

Kill Bill Vol. 1

While it has been over a decade since The Bride danced her deadly waltz across the screen in the Quentin Tarantino classic, Kill Bill vol 1. Beatrix (a.k.a., The Bride) had a rather fantastic sense of style, and what better way to celebrate that style than to done these wonderful looking socks? These unique socks were designed exclusively by Loot Crate Labs, for this month’s Core Crate to help honor one of the most beloved of the anti-heroes in recent cinematic history. While you may not look like Uma Thurman, these socks will definitely give you a leg up in the confidence area when you wear them. You have gotta love that!

Harley Quinn

Since the first time that she made her appearance in a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series called “Joker’s Favor,” Harley Quinn has been one of the most popular villains in the DC Universe. Is there really anyone that is as insanely lovable as Harley? This quixotic character is not exactly your traditional anti-hero, in that she readily goes about being a villain whenever her “Puddin’” (a.k.a., The Joker) or her best friend Poison Ivy happens to be around. However, when these rather negative influences are removed she often tries to do her best to do good…even if it is in a slightly wacky way. Well, with this great looking Q-Fig by Quantum Mechanix has Harley Quinn modeling her original look…which may just be her best look ever.

Hellboy

The next item in the Anti-Hero crate is a bank that you can place on your desk or dresser to help protect your loose change. Hellboy is probably one of the most remarkable, and intimidating, examples of an Anti-Hero around. After all, what else would you call someone who literally has the Right Hand of Doom which can bring about Armageddon. While Hellboy may not be the nicest of guys around (the big loveable lug that he is), even he wants to keep the world turning. It’s for this reason that he is trying to keep himself kicking so that no one can take the Hand and start the end times themselves. Whether you want to use this bank to collect your money, or place it in pride of place, you will be happy that you did.

Sylvanas Windrunner

Every month Loot Crate provides a new and one of a kind collectible pin that you will not find anywhere else. This month you got a pin celebrating Sylvanas Windrunner and the World of Warcraft. This character has a long and storied career where she went from the Ranger-General of Silvermoon, to being a tortured prisoner of the Lich King, to becoming the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken. What better way to celebrate this wonderful Anti-Hero by taking advantage of the $20.00 retail value of the DLC that you get with the unique password that comes along with the pin. With this month’s code you receive all six of the expansions (World of Warcraft, Burning Crusades, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, and Warlords of Draenor), and a 30-day subscription or game time. Whether acting “For the Glory of the Alliance,” or you are more “For the Horde,” you will have a ton of fun creating your own story and legacy by joining in today.

Loot Crate Magazine

One item that you will get each month is a copy of the Loot Crate Magazine. This particular item, while similar, is also rather unique each moth as well. This magazine not only contains a little extra information about each of the items that are included in the crate. In this particular month’s issue, there are two things that you will want to pay particular attention to. The first thing that you will want to pay attention to is an article about three of the women that belong to The Suicide Squad which don’t get a whole lot of attention: Dr. Amanda Waller, Katana, and Enchantress. The second part of the magazine that you will want to take a particular look at is a preview of DC’s Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1, as well as a special redeemable code so you can download a free digital copy of the entire comic. You have gotta love that! Personally, I just love the rendition of both Dr. Amanda Waller, an Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

Something Extra

Remember when I said earlier to be careful with the shipping box? The reason for this is that you can make something special out of the box each and every month. Typically, the crate can be turned into a diorama that you can use to play with your new toys. However, this the box turns into something a little different. Instead of a diorama, this month the box turns into your own version Harley Quinn’s hammer, as modeled by iGeekOut’s very own Anti-Hero – trust us, she has been putting that hammer to almost as good use as Harley would herself.

Rating: Everyone

As a company, Loot Crate is an organization that looks to truly provide the fan with some exclusive items that simply cannot be found anywhere else. Simply put, Loot Crate is a service that every true Geek needs to take a long and hard look at, in large part since it is a service that will allow you to add to your growing collection of Geek Gear.

If you are curious about what other kinds of things that you can get from Loot Crate, whether it is anime, gaming, wearables, or something specialized, then you just need to click on the Loot Crate ad. Not only will you be able to look into what is offered by Loot Crate, you can also potentially receive a discount on your already low subscription. You won’t be disappointed if you take a look.

Loot Crate
Suicide Squad Review

Suicide Squad Review

Suicide Squad Review

Bob McFadden

Suicide Squad was a fun movie with plenty of action and some funny moments.

They made a good decision focusing mainly on Deadshot and Harley Quinn, as these two characters really shone and made up the heart and soul of the film. Deadshot is probably the most developed character in these two hours, and he was just a straight-up cool dude. Will Smith did a great job showing someone who was multidimensional, who was a likable murderer. You felt a little bit more of where he was coming from when compared to the other characters. His role as a father made him decidedly more human than, say, a crocodile monster whose entire character arc involves getting BET in his cell by the end of the film. Harley Quinn is another character that audiences want to like, and have fun watching. She is always the one who is first to speak up and say exactly what’s on her mind, and having a character like that plays a crucial role in adding to the fun of the film, especially when she is mostly surrounded by a bunch of serious soldier-types. While her character was definitely an enjoyable addition to the film, her stockholm-syndrome back-story wasn’t quite as relatable as Deadshot caring about his daughter. For the average viewer hailing from an average life, it is a struggle to understand her feelings towards the Joker. It probably would have taken an entirely separate documentary to really dive in to understanding that whole twisted experience, but it is touched upon several times throughout the film, enough for audiences to get the general idea. The fun angle that this movie was always going to take as an anti-hero story was that you would want to root for the bad guys. This movie made this process very straightforward as they humanized the villains and made the most evil people those working for the United States government.

But overall, it was an action film. Stuff blew up and faceless red-shirts got torn apart. Popcorn was consumed. Don’t let people tell you what to like. The fact that the movie review sites were so ruthlessly cruel to yet another DC Universe film makes me question if maybe some of the cries of a deliberate conspiracy aren’t completely unfounded.

Just kidding. No tin-foil hats here. More likely is that there is a sort of hive mind taking place in regards to these films. People see that it got a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. They register that other people don’t like it, and they board the train and come along for the ride, some making the decision to hate it without even seeing it. I see way more people seeking to dredge up a list of criticisms than I ever see saying, “I enjoyed going to the movies tonight.” The culture of reviews has influenced us in a way that we love to hate movies. The moment that some people heard that this movie was undergoing reshoots, they already began crafting the dialogue about how the movie would be a directionless failure.

The effect of the reshoots seemed to be exactly as reported. A movie with an apparent original intention of being somewhat dark and brooding injected a little more fun and Marvel-esque flavor throughout, to keep the film skipping along. To the average filmgoer, the entire premise of Suicide Squad seemed to take a page out of Guardians of the Galaxy’s book by taking a bunch of wacky criminals and putting them on a team. (Suicide Squad first appeared in comics in 1959, compared to Guardians’ first appearance in 1969.) Something that I assume was a more recent addition to SS was their decision to take those similarities a step further and play cool 80’s songs in the transitions, even playing the exact same song on one occasion.

Of course, not all of the complaints about the movie are unfounded, as Suicide Squad does have its flaws.

There were a lot more characters than they actually had time to do anything with. Although they spent a good portion of the beginning of the film giving short bios and introductions, it seemed a little more difficult to keep track of or care about some members of the team as opposed to others.

Suicide Squad did seem directionless at times. As we followed these anti-heroes through post-apocalyptic city streets, the audience is often left to wonder what they are even doing there. We are vaguely aware that their initial mission is to get to a specific location to rescue a specific individual. We understand that they are not told the specifics because they are not trusted. But regardless, it is annoying to have no idea where they are going for such a large chunk of the film. Once they actually get to the specific location, which is a skyscraper in the middle of the city, it turns out that their job was just to rescue their boss, who had been perfectly content and safe, holed up in a secure room observing everything from a distance. What was the point of all of that? Did they really need to pull these super-villains out of their secure holding facility to do a job that could have just as easily been performed with the same degree of success by… anyone? They toddle throughout the streets on foot, losing some lives along the way, to get to a building and beat up some magical super-soldiers with baseball bats. The person that they were sent to rescue then hops on a helicopter, by herself and without their help, and immediately gets gunned down and captured. And then, after that, with their initial stupid mission both completed and failed, they go back to more walking around desolate streets and beating up cold-sore-goons without any clear objective.

Deadshot hit the nail pretty directly on the head at this point when he asked, “So, we’re going to that spinning ring of trash in the sky, right?” Of course they are. Why are they even dilly-dallying? Every casual moviegoer knows the moves to this dance. The team would eventually have to go to the huge beacon of spinning metal for the final boss battle, just like they had in X-Men: Apocalypse a few short months before.

Rating: Fan

The film was fun to watch if you go into the film seeking to have fun watching it. If you go in looking for problems, you will probably find those, too. Will Smith and Margot Robbie killed it as Deadshot and Harley Quinn, and fans will have a lot of fun diving into the Universe for two hours.

Thanks to T-Mobile Tuesdays, my wife and I were able to get free tickets to see Suicide Squad in 3D on opening day. The promotion also included free digital copies of Suicide Squad #1 (1987), Suicide Squad #1 (2011), and Harley Quinn #1 (2013). Shout out to T-Mobile for making this review possible!

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