Monday, May 13, 2019

Top Movies About Mars with Author Damien Larkin, What We Do in the Shadows, Top Grossing Movies, and Ninja News

Please welcome fellow Dancing Lemur Press author, Damien Larkin! His book. Big Red, comes out May 14. (I’m almost through reading it and it’s really good!)

He is here to share some of his favorite movies about Mars…

Mars has long since been a fascination for us lowly humans. From worrying about an advanced alien civilisation preparing to conquer us to dreaming of the day we set foot there, the Red Planet holds a special place in our imaginations. To celebrate the launch of my Mars-based sci-fi novel Big Red, I’ve selected some of my favourite Mars themed movies:

Total Recall (1990): Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, this action-packed tale of espionage and altered memories is an instant classic. With stunning special effects for the time, this romp remains a timeless sci-fi adventure. (Bonus points for anyone who can remember what character Star Trek: DS9’s Gul Dukat played!)

Doom (2005): I’m probably going to get some flak for this, but I loved this movie adaption of the cult video game. Plenty of cheesy moments, action sequences and a nice little first-person shooting spree scene as a nod to the game.

The Last Days on Mars (2013): This sci-fi horror isn’t the greatest movie you’ll ever see, but it covers a plot that you just don’t see enough of: zombies on Mars! Starring Liev Schreiber, it’s definitely worth a watch if you have a few hours to spare.

Mission to Mars (2000): Directed by Brian de Palma, this movie follows humanity’s disastrous first attempt to explore and colonise Mars. Although far from a box office hit, there’s plenty of tension to keep you teetering on the edge of your seat.

The Martian (2015): Based on the stunning novel by Andy Weir, The Martian depicts a single astronaut’s struggle to survive after being abandoned on Mars. With limited resources, Matt Watney (Matt Damon) defies the odds by utilising everything at his disposal until a rescue mission can be mobilised.



Traumatized by the effects of Compression travel, soldier Darren Loughlin holds the key to the fate of Earth's Martian colonies.

Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland.

Find Big Red on Amazon and Goodreads

What We Do in the Shadows Review

This series is from the creators of the movie of the same name. A film crew follows three vampires living in Staton Island. Think Monty Python meets The Office with vampires. Comedy is subjective but I find this extremely funny.
Add to the fact that the three are mostly idiots and you can see where the humor goes. Plus there is fourth vampire who sucks the energy out of people by boring them to death. They were supposed to conquer and hold a large trek of land – they rule a couple houses. As I said, not very bright!
It follows the standard vampire trope – they have a familiar, garlic and sunlight kills them, werewolves are enemies, etc.
The series is filled with funny, dry British humor. It’s very silly and overall very unique.
One of the writers, Taikia Waititi, directed Thor: Ragnarok. So he knows humor.
They’ve also an open invitation to any actor who has played a vampire to be on the show. Tilda Swinton, Danny Trejo, and Wesley Snipes took up the offer. Plus there are other guests.
If you want something silly and laugh out loud funny, check out this series. Season two has been greenlit, so more to come!

Here’s the trailer for season one, although it still doesn’t quite capture the zany, dry humor:


Top Grossing Movies

Jessica from Hollywood Mirrors shared this cool graphic.

What if some of the top grossing movies’ take was adjusted? Where would that place their box office income? The winner wasn’t Avatar. (And Avengers: Endgame doesn’t beat it either…)


Ninja News

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is now open!


Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.


See the site for full details.




And finally, after the Starbucks cup in the Game of Thrones episode, LBrink5446 tweeted a screen shot from a RiffTrax: Live event and RiffTrax responded.
(The screen shot reads: Spoiler Alert – People will hate the Game of Thrones finale not for the way it ends, but because of all the product placement for Hot Pockets and AutoZone.)


Very true!


What are your favorite Mars movies? (Mine is John Carter.) Picking up Big Red? Have you watched What We Do in the Shadows, either the series or original movie? Surprised by which movie comes out on top? And who is entering the IWSG Anthology Contest?

Monday, May 6, 2019

Devin Townsend: Empath Review, Movie Reviews, IWSG News, and Ninja News

Devin Townsend: Empath Review

Where to begin when reviewing a new album by the mad genius Devin Townsend?

My initial reaction to the album upon first listen was mixed to say the least. All I could think was that this is the soundtrack to schizophrenia. But there was something there that made me give it another listen. And I’m so glad I did.

This is progressive music at its most challenging. It’s simply impossible to digest the scope and breadth of what Devin is trying to accomplish in a few casual listens. This album rewards the patient listener with an album that gets better and better with each listen. I’ve had it on permanent play for about a month and it still amazes me.

First off, the music is mixed to perfection. Every instrument is clearly distinguished, which is a feat considering that Devin has included every sound on the planet including the kitchen sink. (Seriously, I would not be surprised if someone was playing the kitchen sink in the background.) You get gigantic, intricate choruses that are blended perfectly with screaming and growling metal to create a wall of sound and what seems like (at times) a thousand instruments all meshed into one strange but compelling and beautiful mix. The album is pop, rock, metal, soundtrack, show tune, children’s story, and so much more.

All the musicians are top notch (Steve Vai plays guitar), but I have to give huge props to the three drummers. Each one brings his own unique flair and style to the music.

Bottom line, this is not an easy album to dive into, but if you are patient you will be rewarded with one of the most unique musical experiences ever. This is a ten out of ten. Perfection!

Below are three videos from the album of some of the more accessible songs. The middle one, Genesis, displays some of that schizophrenia.

Evermore


Genesis


Spirits Will Collide


Movie Reviews

Skyscraper
Released last year, this thriller has Dwayne Johnson as a security expert trying to get into the top of a burning skyscraper in China to save his family from criminals. Also starring Neve Campbell and Chin Han.
This movie breaks no new ground and will remind you of the first Die Hard. (And sadly, it will remind you of the Twin Towers on 9/11.) And as you watch the flames crawl up the floors, you’ll have to completely suspend disbelief.
What saves it is Johnson. He’s charismatic enough to carry just about any movie, generic or not. Plus the cast does a good job and the effects and action are good.
Worth a watch on NetFlix

Tomb Raider
Also released last year, this reboot sees Lara Croft venturing to an island off Japan in search of her missing father.
The action and acting were fine, but there was just something off about this film. I never could quite nail what though. Maybe it’s because this Lara didn’t come off as tough and a tomb-adventuring kind. Maybe it was because I never felt invested in the plot or the characters. Maybe it was the constant girlish screams and squeaks from Lara. Maybe because it was boring.
Whatever the reason, this one was just so vanilla. Not that the first one was really epic or that only Angelia Jolie can be Lara Croft. It was just easily forgettable and probably won’t even be a fun cheesy watch in ten years.
Watch only if drying paint excites you.

The Predator
Yet another film from 2018! A boy triggers the Predator’s return to earth and a group of ex-soldiers and a scientist must stop it.
The director is Shane Black, who directed Iron Man III and scripted Lethal Weapon.
It’s an odd film. I can understand why it didn’t do well since the tone is all over the place. (But far more interesting than the boring Tomb Raider.)
Despite its many flaws, I was entertained, mostly due to the comedy in the film. Even the Predator gets in on the joke now and then.
The effects were good and there was lots of action.
And wild to think the first Predator movie was thirty-two years ago.
Worth a watch on NetFlix if you’re into this kind of film.

IWSG News

Thanks to all who volunteered to co-host – we are booked all summer long!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is now open!
Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.
See the site for full details.
And start writing now!

Masquerade: Oddly Suited – an IWSG Anthology is available now!
Find it here - Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Goodreads

And the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are hosting a live Q & A session on Discord! Join them on Sat 11th May from 1:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GMT to find out more about the anthology and the contributing authors and ask any burning questions you may have.
The Q & A will be held on Discord. Please follow the invite link: HERE

Ninja News

Juneta Key hosts the quarterly Story Time Blog Hop.
July the genre is speculative fiction.
Visit her site for details.

Grumpy Old Gods Vol. 1 from Storm Dance Publications now available.
What happens when gods wane, retire, or just decide they need a change of employment?
13 writers took up the challenge and let their imaginations run wild in this anthology that is nearly-always amusing, somewhat insightful, and completely irreverent as we imagine the gods of yore in retirement.
Find it on Amazon
Volume 2 is in production and they are looking for submissions for volume 3. Details HERE.

Available now-
War Maiden by Juliana Haygert
The Fire Heart Chronicles Book 6
“I never imagined the choices I made would lead to this— to the very end of all things.” 






Into prog rock like Devin Townsend? Have you seen Skyscraper, Tomb Raider, or The Predator? Pick up Masquerade? Entering the IWSG contest?
And have you seen Avengers: Endgame yet?

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

IWSG - Masquerade: Oddly Suited Release and Opening of Anthology Contest! Plus Avengers Endgame Review and May Movie Preview

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

My awesome co-hosts for the May 1 posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Juneta Key, Yvonne Ventresca, and T. Powell Coltrin!

May 1 question: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
Probably the first time I read a book by myself. Nothing could stop me then.

We have two amazing announcements today!

Just released:
Masquerade: Oddly Suited - An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844651 $4.99

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual companion or a date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

Find Masquerade: Oddly Suited here - Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Kobo

You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.

And the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are hosting a live Q & A session on Discord! Join them on Sat 11th May from 1:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GMT to find out more about the anthology and the contributing authors and ask any burning questions you may have.
The Q & A will be held on Discord. Please follow the invite link: HERE


The 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions!

Guidelines and rules:

Word count: 3500-5000

Genre: Middle Grade Historical – Adventure/Fantasy

Theme: Voyagers

Submissions accepted: May 1 - September 4, 2019

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ insecurewriterssupportgroup dot com before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

Judging: The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges:

Elizabeth S. Craig, author and honorary judge

Dianne K. Salerni, author

Lindsay Davis Auld, agent - Writers House

S.A. Larsen, author

Rachna Chhabria, author

Lynda Dietz, editor

Tonja Drecker, author

David Powers King, author

Prizes: The winning stories will be edited and published by Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will have the honor of giving the anthology its title.


Our previous IWSG anthologies:
Masquerade: Oddly Suited
Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime
Hero Lost: The Mysteries of Death and Life
Parallels: Felix Was Here

Avengers: Endgame Review

So much build up for this film – and so much payoff!
This movie is more about the human element than action. (Although don’t worry, plenty of that as well, especially in the last part.) It picks up five years after Thanos snapped his fingers and those who remain are trying to cope and move on. Many of those moments are quite touching.
Sparked by an idea, the remaining team sets about to change what has happened and bring everyone back. I can’t tell you how, but it involves more touching moments and some wild twists. There are some really clever moments and laughs, but you also need to bring Kleenex with you.
And the ending battle – that’s where the kid in me geeked out with joy!
This is twenty-two Marvel movies to date and not a dud in the bunch and they are so well woven together. What other franchise can boast that? Not Star Wars. Not Star Trek or Doctor Who. It’s an incredible achievement.
Highly recommended!
So what are you waiting for? Go see it! (Don’t forget the Kleenex.) I’ll be seeing it again to catch everything I missed the first time.

Strange Blood Now Available! 

Strange Blood, edited by Vanessa Morgan

This is an overview of the most offbeat and underrated vampire movies spanning nine decades and 23 countries. (Featuring a piece by me on the film Near Dark!)

Pick it up at Amazon US and Amazon UK



May Movie Preview

Here are the upcoming theatrical releases for May! As always, descriptions courtesy of the IMDB. Snark provided by me.

10-

All Is True
A look at the final days in the life of renowned playwright William Shakespeare.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Kenneth Branagh, Lolita Chakrabarti, Jack Colgrave Hirst, Doug Colling
This might be much ado about nothing…

Tolkien
Explores the formative years of the orphaned author as he finds friendship, love and artistic inspiration among a group of fellow outcasts at school.
Director: Dome Karukoski
Stars: Lily Collins, Nicholas Hoult, Patrick Gibson, Pam Ferris
Tolkien and Shakespeare on the same day? I smell a cage match!





17 –

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Super-Assassin John Wick is on the run after killing a member of the international assassin's guild, and with a $14 million price tag on his head - he is the target of hit men and women everywhere.
Director: Chad Stahelski
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Ian McShane, Asia Kate Dillon, Jerome Flynn
If less that a hundred people aren’t shot in the head at close range, I’ll demand my money back.



24 –

Aladdin 
A kindhearted street urchin and a power-hungry Grand Vizier vie for a magic lamp that has the power to make their deepest wishes come true.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Stars: Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Alan Tudyk, Billy Magnussen
Starring Will Smith as the Fresh Genie of Bel-Air.





31 –


Godzilla: King of the Monsters
The crypto-zoological agency Monarch faces off against a battery of god-sized monsters, including the mighty Godzilla, who collides with Mothra, Rodan, and his ultimate nemesis, the three-headed King Ghidorah.
Director: Michael Dougherty
Stars: Millie Bobby Brown, Vera Farmiga, Charles Dance, Bradley Whitford
This could be Stranger Things on a whole new level. (And yes, very stoked for this film!)


Picking up Masquerade? Entering the next IWSG Anthology Contest? Can you co-host? Did you see Avengers Endgame? And what movies catch your eye this month?

Monday, April 22, 2019

Favorite Romantic Movie-Masquerade Style! Plus RiffTrax: Live – Octaman, Shazam!, and Triple Frontier Reviews

Today I am hosting the Masquerade: Oddly Suited authors! I asked them a question - what is your favorite romantic movie and why?

Elizabeth Mueller:
My favorite romantic movie is I am Dragon. The cinematography is breath-taking in every scene from its lavish costuming, the picturesque setting, the color scheme of dreariness accented with white and red, the beautiful characters, and the acting! The love between Mira and Arman is believable, satisfying, swoon-worthy, poignant, and thoroughly unforgettable. I challenge you to watch it! (I am Dragon on YouTube )
The Cog Prince, Elizabeth Mueller
Falling in love, saving the day, and a masque—oh my! Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince?

L.G Keltner:
I love Before Sunrise. I enjoy the idea of meeting a stranger in a foreign country, seeing the sights together, and having lots of interesting conversations along the way. It’s a simple concept but well executed.
Oddly Suited, LG Keltner
The silliest situations may be oddly suited for romance.

Anstice Brown:
I’ve always loved old-fashioned musicals and one of my favorites is The Sound of Music. I enjoy watching the developing chemistry between Maria and Captain Von Trapp as their irritation blossoms into affection. Another favorite (sorry, I couldn’t choose just one!) is Singin’ In the Rain. Gene Kelly serenading Debbie Reynolds with “You Were Meant for Me” must be one of the most beautiful romantic scenes in film history.
Sea of Sorrows, Anstice Brown
What could a shapeshifting siren know about love?

Chelsea Ballard:
My favorite romantic movie is Beastly. I'm drawn to fairy tale retellings and this one just takes the cake. Steamy bad boy learning to love while struggling with who he is on the inside and the outside? Count me in.
Remedy, Chelsea Marie Ballard
Everything is against Remy and Rudy, but on the night of the Masquerade Ball, they must choose: each other or their lives?

Jennifer Lane:
My favorite romantic movie is Sense and Sensibility for several reasons. I can’t imagine living as a woman with so few rights back then—the movie makes me grateful for all of the opportunities women have today. The story also shows that lasting love is more about inner character than outer appearance, and the intense romantic angst leads to a huge payoff at the end.
Behind the Catcher’s Mask, Jennifer Lane
Who can help her through a meltdown on the pitcher’s mound?

Carrie-Anne Brownian:
I think I'd choose Flesh and the Devil (1926), with Greta Garbo and John Gilbert. It's so sexy and sensual, without any graphic scenes. A particularly sensual scene is when Felicitas (Garbo) turns the Communion cup to drink from the spot where her secret lover just drank.
Charleston Masquerade, Carrie-Anne Brownian
Can two worlds come together and find love?

Angela Brown:
There are many highly acclaimed movies that come to mind as an enjoyable romantic movie. But then there's Darius Lovehall and Nina Mosley of Love Jones. Why my fave? Because loving, falling in love, falling out of love, all of these are so much bigger than 4 letters of an alphabet situated in the dictionary. These are experiences that often transcend the ability to string together letters and words to express the how, the what, the impact. All of these things are played out in Love Jones, a movie where chemistry and the complexity that is love gives the audience every reason to swoon.
A Diver’s Ball, Angela Brown
You can be anything you want in the online world of Cumulus. A human. An elf. A powerful beast mutation from your wildest imagination. But can you be in love?

C.D Gallant-King:
Crash, directed by David Cronenberg. A classic. You can never go wrong with James Spader, and Deborah Unger is gorgeous. Elias Koteas is delightful.
The Dark Charade, CD Gallant-King
The new girl in town falls in love for a mysterious boy who is maybe, probably, most definitely, a vampire.

Myles Christensen:
I have too many favorite romantic movies to choose just one, but I love the 2007 BBC Persuasion. It is so full of longing and unrequited love. And that kiss at the end has so much tension, it's the ultimate payoff.
Flower of Ronda, Myles Christensen
What if life's price of servanthood could be changed?

Deborah Solice:
I love the movie Notting Hill with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. It’s sweet and so humorous. I love the line, "I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." I cry at the end during the song, “She.”(by Elvis Costello)
Fearless Heart, Deborah Solice
Is he a figment of her imagination conjured to keep her sane, or is he something else…something more?

Masquerade: Oddly Suited
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Release date – April 30, 2019
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844651 $4.99
Goodreads, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo

You can find out more about the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited here.

Plus they are hosting a giveaway for a $50.00 Amazon gift card. Enter the Rafflecopter HERE.

And the authors of Masquerade: Oddly Suited are hosting a live Q & A session on Discord! Join us on Sat 11th May from 1:00 pm EST / 6:00 pm GMT to find out more about the anthology and the contributing authors and ask any burning questions you may have!
The Q & A will be held on Discord. Please follow the invite link: DISCORD

RiffTrax: Live - Octaman

Last Thursday night was RiffTrax:Live and the guys delivered another great show.

There were no pre-show joke screens – bummer! However, Kevin Murphy did a music video for us about Space Mutiny that was hilarious. Best part was the screen with him holding the triangle, which he only hit once at the very end.

There was one short before the film. McGruff the Crime Dog talked about drugs. The best line – It’s bring a furry to school day.

Then the main attraction – Octaman. Those of you familiar with MST3K will remember the infamous ‘rock climbing.’ Well, here we got cave crawling. (After an already really long scene on the water in the dark.) During one ridiculously long cave crawling scene, Bill just up and quit. (Mike and Kevin got him to come back.)

Next up – Star Raiders on June 6. Don’t miss it! Get details and tickets HERE.


Movie Reviews

Shazam!
Based on the DC comic, fourteen year-old Billy is chosen as Champion and turns into the adult superhero by saying one word – Shazam!
This movie got high marks from early viewers and rightly so. It’s just a lot of fun. (It’s like a kid-friendly, gentler version of Deadpool.)
Zachary Levi is perfectly cast as Shazam, both genuine and innocent, and Asher Angel great as Billy, giving Shazam a little bit of a bad boy streak. Mark Strong is threatening as the villain Dr. Sivana and Billy’s foster siblings and foster parents fill out the rest of the cast nicely.
The film works on many levels. As a superhero origins story, it sets up Shazam and how he fits into the DC universe nicely. (With this film and Aquaman and Wonder Woman, DC has found its stride.) It’s also a touching tale of family, as Billy struggles to fit with his foster family while still hoping to find the mother who abandoned him.
It’s a smaller-scale film, but the effects are excellent. The Seven Deadly Sins are very creepy (and involved in a couple intense moments) and the CGI never overtakes the film.
There are also some funny moments, especially as Shazam tests his powers. He’s a very human superhero and I think a lot of people would try some of the things he attempts, even if they aren’t all honest and legal.
And stay for the ending! And the extra ending after the credits roll.
Highly recommended!

Triple Frontier
Loyalties are tested when five former special forces operatives reunite to steal a drug lord's fortune, unleashing a chain of unintended consequences. Starring Ben Affleck, Oscar Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund, and Pedro Pascal.
They decide to steal the money and keep all of it. What could go wrong?
This played like a throwback to the 70’s and 80’s mercenary films.
Triple Frontier is a NetFlix Original, but it could easily played in a theatre. The acting and production values were top notch.
The movie was good as it followed these five men, dependant on each other and desperate to pull off the heist. It fell short of great though – we’ve seen it before and it could’ve been a little leaner and tighter.
However, I enjoyed it, and there were several really intense scenes. (Confirming my resolve never to get in a helicopter.) It’s definitely at the top end of NetFlix Originals.
Recommended.


What is your favorite romantic movie? Eager to read Masquerade: Oddly Suited? Have you seen Shazam! or Triple Frontier? And did you catch RiffTrax?
And are you ready for the next IWSG Anthology Contest? It opens May 1 – watch for the theme reveal.