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Thomas E. O'Sullivan
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The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror Fun-Filled Frightfest
The Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror Fun-Filled Frightfest
by Matt Groening
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.87
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.02

4.0 out of 5 stars A FREE LUNCH, Oct. 7 2003
Although a little uneven, this, the latest print edition to THE SIMPSONS TREEHOUSE OF HORROR featuring all new original artwork and stories, is still an entertaining and very funny book. Rarely is it really scary, but there are some truly inspired moements (MOE'S URBAN TALES OF TERROR: #62: THE PHANTOM GIRLFRIEND!!), visual gags and some daring plots (REASONS TO AVOID A ZOMBIE-RUN RESTURANT and HELL-O-WEEN, the last and best story of the entire book) are to be found inside. A major draw for these stories is the often new and original take on both the artwork and the actual look of the Simpsons. Artists are given free regin here to play with the look and style of The Simpsons, as well as placing them in odd and strange situations (even more odd and strange than even the television series is allowed to go). While third in the series, it shows no sign of getting old or growing stale. Perhaps not the best TREEHOUSE ever, but still remarkable and highly recommdned.

Ice Hunt
Ice Hunt
by James Rollins
Edition: Hardcover
20 used & new from CDN$ 1.81

2.0 out of 5 stars ICE ONE, HUNT ZERO, Aug. 8 2003
This review is from: Ice Hunt (Hardcover)
For fans of Irwin Allen's VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA, James Rollins ICE HUNT pays loving tribute to the style, tone and form of the film, mixed with similar types of action, pacing and storytelling. It's a throwback kind of thriller, pulpy, but fused with current technology and hard science...and if you like what you've read there, then stop reading here, because ICE HUNT is for you, but if you're looking for something more, something that bucks the standard cut and paste techno/adventure/science/submarine/thriller/monster hunt/spy vs. spy/cold war/science shocker/adventure, then ICE HUNT fails on all levels. To be blunt, the book is just plain boring. It has a rich idea, and Rollins does manage to mine some promise from the storyline at times (and if the book had been more geared towards the horror/thriller side of publishing, then ICE HUNT would have fared much better), but for the most part the book is dragged down by too much cardboard, mind numbing backstory (no one is happy in this book, at all, about anything, and it seems NO ONE had a happy childhood, marriage or career... and Rollins isn't content just to give his characters one or two problems, but EVERY problem he can imagine...the leads, Matt and Jenny, alone in the book suffer through a host of problems that most people don't suffer in two lifetimes, let alone one, and all in the space of 394 pages), "one thing after another" action and repeative exposition (Rollins often repeats action from the previous chapter to remind readers of what has happened early on in the book, and by the end he has it repeated sometimes from paragrpah to paragraph), dialouge, and overly clipped and metaphor heavy writing (although to give Rollins credit, there are only so many ways you can write about snow and ice, and Rollins uses them all here, by the close of the book we've moved from the hard science of ice and snow down into Middle Earth where everything looks like dragons bones, teeth and claws). This book really seems less written for the reader, and more written for the small screen. It's a treatment, nothing more. Fused with all the bells and whistles a television mini-series craves for sweeps, if sold, I'm sure will be a big hit. But as a book, ICE HUNT doesn't reward you for the effort put into it. A bigger book for Rollins, some better ideas found inside, but still not a breakthrough... be brave, James, fear not, the fans will follow you even if you break with tradition and blaze a new trail.

Raiders of the Living Dead
Raiders of the Living Dead
DVD ~ Scott Schwartz
Offered by The Digital Vault
Price: CDN$ 49.99
7 used & new from CDN$ 41.50

3.0 out of 5 stars KNOW YOUR HISTORY, April 1 2003
This review is from: Raiders of the Living Dead (DVD)
While RAIDERS OF THE LIVING DEAD will never win any awards, and it will attract only a few hardcore fans who will go away sorely disappointed since so little of the film has anything to do with the living dead (much less raiders of them), this two disc special edition is still a must for fans of the genre and those interested in making movies. Presented here are three wildy different versions of the same movie. DYING DAY, a very low budget (yet well put together film) by Brett Piper. DARK NIGHT, the workprint remake of the same film with newly added material and storyline from Sam Sherman and INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL PICTURES, and the end result of the two: RAIDERS OF THE LIVING DEAD, that takes both films, both stories and then crams them together to try and come up with a totally new story. The end result with RAIDERS is a choppy and confusing mess of images, plots, poor shots and hollow acting. Easily dismissed and largely ignored by the zombie fans. But, with the inclusion here of DYING DAY and DARK NIGHT (plus a snappy little commentary by Sam Sherman) you are really treated to an inside look of how "one thing lead to another". DYING DAY actually is not a bad film (if you ignore its Prologue, which was shot soley to get the film to a "feature length running time"), and of all three versions of the movie, has the best story. DARK NIGHT tries to ramp up the action by adding a mad doctor plot and turns our hero from DYING DAY from a doomed man, to a doomed reporter. RAIDERS sticks with the doomed reporter, and drops out the orignal mad doctor from DARK NIGHT, and instead makes him a happy-go-lucky and plucky Grandpa with a brilliant Grandson (who makes a laser out of very ancient LaserDisc player). There still is a mad doctor, and you can see him as a good guy in DYING DAY, but cut from DARK NIGHT, and finally added back into RAIDERS who now commands a horde of the undead (which for this film is stretching the budget at around five undead). It's also interesting to note what finally becomes of DYING DAY's original villain in RAIDERS. Overall this DVD release of these three films gives insight on not only filmaking, but taking what you've got and going with it (no matter what kind of budget you've got). It's about making a movie NO MATTER WHAT. Determination, grit, gusto and lot of spit and scotch tape went into making RAIDERS OF THE LIVING DEAD. And while you'll not love the film any more by the end, you will respect it a little more than you did going in to it. Cheap, fast and tacky (check out the review of the film from a JESTER-27 on the back of the box, and then look closely from where it came from... too funny), this release of RAIDERS OF THE LIVING DEAD is a great buy (the DVD is put together very well) and solid lesson in never giving up on anything... no matter how bad it turns out.

Mythos - Wonder Woman; Justice League of America
Mythos - Wonder Woman; Justice League of America
by Carol Lay
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars JONESING, DUDE!, Jan. 9 2003
In her acknowledgments for MYTHOS, Carol Lay states that this is her first novel, and that she would like to thank her friends for their support. But soon after you polish off the last page you may be wondering if those friends were either too fairweather or too afraid to tell her that she has not so much written a novel, but instead has turned in what amounts to a first draft in a freshmen English creative writing class. It's a repeative and lackluster work filled with little in the way of plot, story or even action. And while it's true that WONDER WOMAN predates Xena by decades, you'd be hard press to find any lick of difference between the two women here. WONDER WOMAN is simply given no real personality, no real identity, no depth whatsoever. She's so lightweight she almost easily brushed off the page. And this is a crime, because of all the hero's in the DCU (that's the DC Universe for all of you who only know of WONDER WOMAN outside of comics)WONDER WOMAN has had the hardest climb, the lonest trial of any there. Only now after decades of being brushed aside, passed over and taking her share of hard knocks has she finally been allowed to play in the Big Boy's club and has gone on to become part of the "HOLY THREE" at DC - Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. There Wonder Woman is more than equal, she is her own woman... here in MYTHOS, Lay seems contended to push her into the background, often leaving her helpless and on the cutting edge of being... assulated, molested... Unforgivable. Granted these books are more written for the young adult crowd, but even they will be hard pressed to find anything of interest here. For fans there are moments to enjoy (oddly, her writing of BATMAN is far stronger and more vivid than anything she has to say about WONDER WOMAN), but for first time readers or those new to WONDER WOMAN, check into her background first before picking this up.

White Shark
White Shark
by Peter Benchley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
51 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars IT'S NOT SOMETHING... BUT SOME ONE..., Oct. 4 2002
WHITE SHARK is perhaps one the best written dead ends in history. Although packed with ideas, some adventure, and many, many ten mile wide close calls, by the end of the book you are literally left wondering what is it you just read. Its pacing and narrative are written like the tides breaking on the shore... it rolls in, it drags out, repeat until end of novel. Every so often the waves bring up something that sparkles, but it never truly shines through. The creature here is a crackjack idea (although a lift from the film SHOCK WAVES), but Benchley spends little or no time with it. And the major players in the book are made from the thickest carboard there is - they hold no surprises, and are so routine that Benchley never breaks a sweat when writing them, because we already know them and know what will happen to them. The hero and herione will get together at the end (they do), the sidekick will pull through (he does), the son will find his first love (he does, a deaf girl with telepathic powers which Benchley mentions once, and then drops, almost like she was going to play a larger part in the story, but Benchley found it too time consuming to continue with), and the monster will die (it does, pretty quickly and easily). Not his best work. For fans, it's worth the read. For those just picking up Benchley, start and stop with JAWS.

Earth vs the Flying Saucers (Sous-titres français)
Earth vs the Flying Saucers (Sous-titres français)
DVD ~ Hugh Marlowe
Offered by marvelio-ca
Price: CDN$ 20.49
15 used & new from CDN$ 9.89

5.0 out of 5 stars IT GOES AROUND THE WORLD, Sept. 29 2002
It has subtitles in the THAI language. I know that is a abrupt way to start a review for such a sci-fi classic making its way onto DVD for the first time, but I can't get around the idea of how interesting it is watching this film with THAI subtitles. It actually adds something to the film, perhaps not in story, but in scope, that EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS has ceased being simply an American film, but now truly belongs to the world. COLUMBIA PICTURES has done right by this sci-fi gem, releasing it with a clean and clear widescreen presentation, excellent sound, and a host of extra's, from a excellent documentary THE HARRYHAUSEN CHRONICALS, a making of feature, and a pop quiz on what "dynamation" is. The photo gallery is a bit small, but does feature one oddball promotional image that will have you doing a double take. The only thing missing here is a commentary track, and while EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS deserves one, it does not really need one... it can speak for itself, in six different languages no less. For fans, EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS is a must, no collection could be complete without it. For those first time buyers to either E.VS.T.F.S. or the works of Ray Harryhausen, this is a solid and entertaining start.

The Santaroga Barrier
The Santaroga Barrier
by Frank Herbert
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars WHAT DO WE REALLY KNOW ABOUT JENNY?, Sept. 27 2002
It's important to note that this re-issued Herbet novel was first published in 1968, and new readers can be forgiven if after the set up of the story presented in its opening pages, they find themselves asking: "Haven't I read/seen/heard all this before"? The answer would be yes, we've been here before. A small, isolated community, strange happenings, odd deaths, and a big secret (JASPERS) which may or may not destroy the hero/world. Nothing new here, and surprisingly, not that gripping either. Herbet spends much of this story trying to build a mystery, but neither the town, its people or our hero, really hold much water. The text is often stiff, the dialouge daytime soap opera quality (at best) and it isn't until the last third of the book that we finally get down the root of the mystery, only to find that Herbert has nothing up his sleeve (there is no shocking TWILIGHT ZONE twist her, nor even a thoughtful OUTER LIMITS musing, the book simply coasts to a idle and then a stop... almost as if it was meant to be part of a large work, which this book was part one in). All THE SANTAROGA BARRIER seems to offer is a extended study into another book, published in 1965, DUNE. The relationship between Jaspers and the spice Melange is direct, their effect, the same, and Herbert tries to tie this into college counter-culture, LSD experiments and some tossed off and dated (even for 1968) ideas about the US government and the corporate world. Not the best from Herbert here, but behind it all there is a gem of an idea that just before the book ends almost gets going and is worth pondering. For fans of Herbert, these re-issued books are a must for the library, as for the casual reader, there is some reward for those who stick it out.

Shock Waves
Shock Waves
DVD ~ Peter Cushing
Offered by M and N Media Canada
Price: CDN$ 61.88
6 used & new from CDN$ 24.98

4.0 out of 5 stars BLOND AMBITION, Sept. 19 2002
This review is from: Shock Waves (DVD)
SHOCK WAVES has for years been a often referenced, reviewed and beloved little gem of a zombie film that could. But it was also hard to find on video for years, and most people had to make due with dupes or copies taken off late night television, but no more. SHOCK WAVES on DVD is finally here, and it is just about perfect. Presented in widescreen with a touched up print, and a host of extra's (a fun and informative commentary, a photo gallery that not only gives us some insight into the behind the scene work, but also clues us in on some of the footage missing from the film - plus a great selection of poster art and production notes), SHOCK WAVES is sure to please any fan of the zombie genre without question. My only complaint about the film is that, while it builds atmosphere, suspense and a general feeling of unease, it is up until the last third of the film a bit of a bore. It seems that the Nazi Zombies are everywhere and yet nowhere as well, and Peter Cushing, a true star, actually has nothing more than a cameo role here (spending most of his times either in shadows, long shots or on the run). But when the film finally cuts loose, it's a thrill ride up until the final frame that leaves you grappling to turn on the lights quickly and check under the bed, just to be sure. A powerful film that has actually inspired a "tribute" from Peter Benchley, the author of JAWS, in his novel WHITE SHARK, which is almost a novelization of this film. For fans, SHOCK WAVES is a must, no collection can be complete without it. For those new to the zomibe wasteland, SHOCK WAVES is a slow starter that once going won't stop until you're good and scared.

Super Monkey Ball 2 - GameCube
Super Monkey Ball 2 - GameCube
9 used & new from CDN$ 6.78

4.0 out of 5 stars MARRY ME?, Sept. 5 2002
SUPER MONKEY BALL was a the kind of sleeper hit that the GAMECUBE needed when it launched. It was easy to pick up, quick to master and the mini-games added hundreds of hours of replay value to boot. Now SEGA has brought us SUPER MONKEY BALL 2, and for those that loved the first, this updated and expanded edition will delight as well. Brighter graphics, new and catchy backgrounds (there is so much to look at in some levels you will find your eyes drifting from the level to catch all the odds and ends... my favorite is the city of New York after it's been eaten by a whale), a story mode that finds our Monkey's making like the Power Rangers to save their world, and a whole slew of new levels, SUPER MONKEY BALL 2 is a must have for any GAMECUBE owner... but there is a downside. For younger fans who found the first game graded on a easy learning curve, this new game assumes that you already know how to play, and not only that, but you already play like a master. There are some levels that require percise moves, require that you follow a perfect path, require you to have eyes in the back of your head (because there is no camera control here, if you loose sight of something - you're dead). Even those raised on the expert puzzles and levels of MARIO will find themselves grinding their teeth in serious frsutration, and clawing at their controller with desperation as you are thrust into some seriously CHEAP levels that require nothing but perfection to complete. It's because of this that S.M.B.2. may frustrate more than entertain younger gamers. Be warned. Other than that - S.M.B.2. is pure delight and is a must for your GAMECUBE collection.

It Came From Outer Space (Full Screen)
It Came From Outer Space (Full Screen)
DVD ~ Richard Carlson
Price: CDN$ 16.99
24 used & new from CDN$ 6.97

4.0 out of 5 stars THE ALIEN SAND BOX, Aug. 25 2002
Even with its carefully crafted arrival on DVD for the first time, I still consider IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE a lost work... as to the reason, in a moment, but as to the why you should pick this up... simple, it's fun. IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is a classy sci-fi picture that, at its worst, can be a little stiff, while at its best can be thought provoking and creepy. Drawn from a treatment by Ray Bradbury, and put together by a solid before the camera and behind the camera cast, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is not to be missed. Tom Weaver again provides commentary, and like his others - CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE WOLF MAN, FIEND WITHOUT A FACE - he takes us on a comprehensive trip from the back lots, to the stages, to the seats right in the theater, never missing a beat and always talking with you like he's sitting right next to you - enjoying the high points and never afraid to point out its lows. As per normal with these Universal releases, a documentary is included that spans the ALIEN YEARS with Universal, a well stocked photo gallery and more... more... more. But what's missing for me is the 3D, and that's why IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is still for me a lost classic. While it's not only the jolts that I miss with the 3D I'm sure IT CAME provided, but its quiet moments as well... the simple turning of a telescope, a roaring fire in a fireplace, how the glitter trails left by the aliens must have floated there before you eyes. Despite being presented in 2D, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is a must for any collector of sci-fi. For the casual viewer, IT is a lot of fun.

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