The Hellbound Heart
Greetings, ‘The Hellbound Heart’ is a horror novel by renowned author Clive Barker and is probably better known by the name of its 1987 film adaptation and its numerous sequels, ‘Hellraiser’. The relatively short book was written in 1986, one year before the movie’s release, and the film remains fairly faithful to its literary source but does contain some key differences. Some of these discrepancies include name changes to major characters and characters having alternative relationships to each other. In the original ‘Hellraiser’ movie, some of the main cast include Ashley Laurence, Claire Higgins, Andrew Robinson, Sean Chapman and Doug Bradley.
The book starts with Frank Cotton, a hedonist on the lookout for sensual pleasure, who believes that he has experienced all the joys the world can give him. As such, he follows rumours of the Lerchand Configuration which is a puzzle box that is said to open up another realm of unfathomable sensation. This realm belongs to the Cenobites, beings who participate in disturbing sexual activities that mesh pain and pleasure. Frank, after tracking down the puzzle box in Dusseldorf, brings it back to his grandmother’s home in England where he manages to solve the puzzle. He comes face to face with the outlandish appearing Cenobites who take him back to their horrific dimension after he agrees to go with them. The Cenobites warn Frank that he can’t escape their pleasurable torture after he accepts their offer. Sometime later, Frank’s brother, Roy, and his wife Julia move into the same house that Frank disappeared from.
Julia and Frank had engaged in an affair a week before her wedding to his brother. Julia had never stopped wanting Frank and her relationship with Roy was beginning to suffer as a result of these longings. While Roy was in the attic, the room in which the portal opened, he managed to cut himself accidently and his blood spilled on to the floor. This blood allows a zombie-like Frank to return to Earth, escaping the Cenobite realm, in a much weakened state. His presence attracts the attention of Julia and Frank, in spite of his horrific appearance, eventually manages to inform her of what had happened to him. He explains what he needs to return to his normal form, bodily fluids and blood, and manages to seduce Julia into brining men into the attic to kill them for his benefit. As this is going on, one of Roy’s friends, Kirsty, begins to suspect that Julia is having an affair behind her husband’s back and she decides to investigate into it further.
I enjoyed this book but I believe watching the movie first helped me understand what was going on with the more surreal moments. Two more sequels were written, which I haven’t read, although they were published much later on from the first one. These are ‘The Scarlet Gospels’ which was published in 2015 and ‘Hellraiser: The Toll’ in 2018. Aside from ‘The Hellbound Heart’, Barker is also known for penning ‘The Forbidden’ which was later made into the horror film ‘Candyman’ in 1992 with Virginia Madsen and Tony Todd. This film, like Hellraiser before it, also spawned further instalments.
Quote of the Day
Well, thank you, pal. The day I get out of prison, my own brother picks me up in a police car.
Greetings, Gran Torino is a 2008 film that was written by, directed by and stars Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood as the primary protagonist, Walt Kowalski. The cast also includes Bee Vang and Ahney Her who are both performers of Hmong descent that made their acting debut with this film. Other cast members consist of Christopher Carley, Doua Moua, Brian Haley, Geraldine Hughes, John Caroll Lynch and a brief cameo by Scott Eastwood, one of Clint’s sons. The music was composed by Kyle Eastwood, another of Clint’s children, and Michael Stevens who worked on the soundtracks for various films including ‘Million Dollar Baby’, ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ and ‘Invictus’. Stevens’ discography is mostly comprised of other Eastwood productions.
The plot begins with Walter Kowalski, an aging Polish-American veteran of the Korean War, who is recently widowed. Following his wife’s funeral, it becomes apparent that he has become rather emotionally detached from his immediate family. From one of his sons trying to get him to become a resident in a retirement home against Walt’s wishes to his granddaughter eyeing up his Gran Torino and attempting to talk him into giving it to her, it is clear that Walt is disgusted by his families’ actions. Walt, along with his elderly dog named Daisy, are trying to enjoy their twilight years in Detroit when a new family move into the neighbouring house. The new Asian arrivals are treated with hostility by the set in his ways Walt who had grown to hate those of Oriental heritage during his years on the frontlines.
Detroit, once populated by working class white families, experienced a significant exodus many decades ago that means the area is mainly populated by Asian families in the modern day and crime has become rife. As such, the emergence of the Lor family is an unwelcome reminder of how Walt’s world is changing. Thao, an adolescent member of the Lor family, does little to ingratiate himself with Kowalski when he is pressured into trying to steal Walt’s Gran Torino as part of an initiation into a local gang. The attempt goes poorly as Walt, armed with his old service rifle, discovers Thao in the middle of his grand theft auto. After the confrontation and as part of his penance, Thao is forced by his family to work for Walt and is ordered to undertake odd jobs around Kowalski’s house. Despite an uneasy start in their relationships, Walt eventually begins to warm to Thao and his sister named Sue who tries to educate Kowalski in Hmong culture.
I really enjoyed this movie, despite its relative predictability, and found it to be quite different to the other work’s in Eastwood’s filmography that I have seen so far. I thought Walt was particularly well characterised and it was entertaining to watch his relationship with Thao, a much younger man from a very different cultural background. I was especially interested in the previously stated fact that it was the first performance for Bee Vang and Ahney Her. This is mostly because having such main roles being played by first time artists could have easily been disastrous but it thankfully worked in Gran Torino’s favour as they both gave solid portrayals. I haven’t watched much of Clint’s later movies but after this one I’d be interested in exploring them further, especially those he has directed himself.
Quote of the Day
They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God!
The Blues Brothers
Ten Years of Write Wise
Greetings, welcome to the first blog update of 2021! As this year marks a special anniversary, I thought that I should write an entry that celebrates the many numerous stories that have been made for Write Wise over the last several years. Even after all this time, I still find it hard to believe that our first entries are nearly a decade old. While the site was initially an outburst of creativity from all community members through various monthly challenges, the challenges eventually became less frequent and members dropped out as the years went by. This was not necessarily a negative occurrence as it allowed room for the entries to become more refined and much longer than they previously had been. The challenges became a festive tradition, which I look forward to each year, as they now take place during the holiday season.
I am currently writing my story for the next challenge which should prove to be a good reflection of my vast and varied bibliography. I hope that you will enjoy it when it is published. I am very eager to see what you are all bringing to the table for this occasion.
To kick this update off, I would like to shed light on an important but often unmentioned aspect of the Write Wise process. That aspect being the covers. The artwork, alongside the blurb, is the first impression a reader will have of the book he or she is about to read. Like the entries themselves, I think the cover art has improved over the years as authors have gotten more of a grasp on how to create the images they want. I will be the first to admit that some of my older covers would have benefited from a bit more work being done on them or could have used a more simplistic approach. Taste is, of course, subjective but I’ve listed below some of my favourite covers by each individual writer in the order that I think is best.
Additionally, I have also written a little synopsis of some of the writer’s entries that I regard to be some of their finest underneath my picks for the book covers. I have selected three stories from each author but have excluded my own works. While some of my entries may not have been as polished as they could have been or were not always received as well as I would have hoped, they have been great in helping me become better at crafting stories and are stepping stones leading to bigger and better things. After 35 stories over ten years, I am quite pleased with what I have managed to produce during this time. Do you have any favourite covers or entries yourself? Let me know in the comments below if you do.
My Favourite Covers by Aaron
I think Aaron’s best covers are ‘The Barista’, ‘Marlwood Manor’, ‘Steven’s Way’ ‘On Certainty’ and ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’.
My Favourite of Aaron’s Entries
Run – The first entry in the Terry Holloway series, Run is a short but fun story that introduces the main characters of Terry and Helen to readers. Lycanthropy is a big part of Aaron’s works and it is fitting that the entry that started it all gets a mention in this ten year review. I’ll have to keep the werewolf tropes in mind when I am writing his ‘Imposter’ story later this year.
Dark Depths - Another early writing project from Aaron, Dark Depths is one of the first horror entries on Write Wise. It built up an impressive atmosphere as members of Neptune, a deep sea research facility, are attacked by a terrifying monstrosity. The characterisation was well done in this entry, providing real stakes as things become perilous for the characters.
Marlwood Manor – Nicely incorporating the current pandemic into its narrative structure, Marlwood Manor is a brilliant horror story with an eerie feeling of isolation permeating throughout. An interesting history was given to the Manor and it serves as a fantastic setting for a ghost story to unfurl. The mystery of the building kept the readers guessing the further the story progressed along and it had its fair share of intense moments as the menacing warder made his rounds.
My Favourite Covers by Joh
I believe Joh’s greatest covers are ‘The Workhorse’, ‘Pinky’, ‘The Red Spectre’, ‘The Terrors’ and ‘The Retreat’.
My Favourite of Joh’s Entries
What are you doing on Halloween Night? – A short but very unique entry created for an unofficial Halloween challenge in 2020. This brief story manages to craft an excellent relationship between Caroline and the storyteller without a name that is one of the best that Write Wise has to offer. The strong sense of characters in this entry was very impressive, especially considering one of the characters had no dialogue attributed to them.
The Devil’s Orders – The first of the Killer series that currently has three instalments, ‘The Devil’s Orders’ has a lot of great characters that make the story memorable. This is most notably in the case of the two protagonists, Helena and Alex, who are a pair of hired killers that go through a lot of sinister ordeals during their assignments. Their struggles with their morality makes this series one of the greatest that Joh has created.
War Hero – A first person narrative from Ellie as she serves on the frontlines against an ‘Enemy’ that little is revealed about, War Hero is one of the best entries that Joh has written. It has brilliant moments of dark humour and an interesting cast of bizarre characters that make it stand out from the rest of his more grounded bibliography. Joh excellently balanced the horrors of war and some absurd comedy in this Write Wise project.
My Favourite Covers by Mark
I my opinion, Mark’s best covers are ‘The King’, ‘Purity’, ‘Obsession’, ‘Writer’s Block’ and ‘Stanley’.
My Favourite of Mark’s Entries
Stanley - Often regarded as the best story Mark created by members of the blogging community, it would be remiss if I didn’t include Stanley in this short review. In 3,000 words Mark managed to set up an interesting premise and established a good drama around the titular Stanley as his wife falls into a coma.
City of Angels – Another short story and one of the first to tackle the gangster genre. The plot follows Bobby Brown, a man fed up with his monotonous ways, as he falls in with bad company one night that changes the course of his life. This is one entry that could certainly have been expanded upon with a sequel.
Hunted – The first instalment in the only series Mark ever produced, Hunted conjures up a fantastical world as Kval and Riley, his pet dog, investigate a string of murders in Imperial City. This is one of the few entries on Write Wise that ends in a cliff-hanger. The plot is swiftly concluded by its sequel, Purity. There were also talks of a prequel to the series being considered at the time but that seems somewhat unlikely now considering how long ago it was written.
My Favourite Covers by Myself
My picks from some of the best covers I have made include ‘Odyssey of the Rogues: The City of Silk’, ‘The Bizarre World of Victor Victorious’, ‘The Imposter Series: Saoirse’, ‘The Death and Life of Ellen Smith’ and ‘Guardian: The Halloween Night Shift’.
My blog will return in February with content that is more typical of my usual updates.
Quote of the Day
As you wish.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Happy New Year: 2020 Review!
Greetings, welcome to the last blog update of 2020 as I round up my picks for the entertainment categories of this year. As usual, the winners do not need to have been released in 2020 but just have to have been reviewed on my blog during the past twelve months. Considering the enforcement of restrictions and the general upset caused by Coronavirus, a considerable number of planned films and scheduled television shows had been pushed back for later releases which makes entertainment choices for this year a bit scarce. Despite this, I’ve still enjoyed some great media in 2020. Feel free to add what you enjoyed during the year in the comments if you’d like to do so.
Television Show of the Year: Bojack Horseman
An animated show that ran for six seasons from August 2014 to January 2020, Bojack Horseman flawlessly blends dark subject matter with well-crafted humour as it follows washed up actor Bojack struggling to live his day to day life. This show is voice acted by an impressive cast that consists of Arrested Development’s Will Arnett in the titular role, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, GLOW’s Alison Brie, School of Rock’s Amy Sedaris and comedian Paul F. Tompkins. Aside from having hard hitting emotional elements, it also has plenty of visual comedic moments in the background and subtle jokes that are easily missed which are a couple of reasons that make this one of my favourite TV series. I am also very fond of the more bizarre humour that often comes from the unfortunate mishaps or well-meaning blunders of best friends Todd Chavez and Mr Peanutbutter.
Book of the Year: Cujo
Published in 1981, Cujo is one of King’s earlier works and it is fairly well grounded in reality compared to his other books. The more mystical elements are only hinted at as opposed to being out front and centre on this occasion. Cujo is a Saint Bernard who becomes rabid after being bit by an infected bat, spurring the dog on a murderous rampage as his condition deteriorates. The novel also revolves around the struggling Trenton family who are in the midst of a familial feud as Donna, the mother, is having an affair behind her husband Vic’s back. Their four year old son Tad is stuck in the middle of the failing marriage. The book was adapted into a movie in 1983 and has since become a cult classic after initial criticisms.
Game of the Year: Legendary
Legendary was released in 2008 and was developed by Spark Unlimited. Despite receiving negative and mixed reviews upon its release, I rather enjoyed this video game and was drawn to it because of its premise. The content being the opportunity to face off against hordes of mythical creatures that have inhabited mankind’s historical stories or myths for countless years. As a thief named Deckard, players can battle against werewolves, Griffins and a Minotaur or two once Pandora’s Box is opened at the beginning of the game. Alongside a well-supplied arsenal, the player can also fight against evil creatures with supernatural powers that had been bestowed upon Deckard by Pandora’s Box.
Film of the Year: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Released in 2019, 6 years after the television show concluded, El Camino serves as the final chapter of the hit show that began in 2008. The film focuses on Jessie Pinkman after the events of the explosive finale, in which he notably wasn’t given much screen time, as he tries to form a new identity for himself. Despite a fairly slow opening, the movie really picks up and provides some memorable moments that will satisfy long-time fans of the series. It was also good to see the old cast in their iconic roles again as El Camino had many cameo appearances, mostly in flashback sequences, from Breaking Bad itself. The world of Breaking Bad is still kicking about in the form of the ‘Better Call Saul’ prequel which currently has 5 series under its belt and which is critically acclaimed much like the show it spun off from.
It would be fair to say that 2020 wasn’t quite the exciting start to the new decade that we were all hoping for. I have my fingers crossed that we will have a better year this time around. My next blog post will be in January 2021 with a suitable Write Wise themed update. I have plans to partake in the 10 year anniversary for Write Wise as the year unfolds such as entering the challenge with a special story that should be a nice reflection of the decade. Have a Happy New Year!
Quote of the Day
There will be a substantial reward for the one who finds the Millennium Falcon. You are free to use any methods necessary, but I want them alive. No disintegrations.
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Merry Christmas 2020!
Greetings, Christmas Eve is here and I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Be sure to take it easy tomorrow and I hope you have a good day. It’s fair to say that 2020 has been a bit of a trying year so far so we would like a good time this festive season to make up for it. There is one blog update left for the year in which I go through my entertainment picks for the categories of television series, films, books and video games that I experienced in the last 12 months. I’m looking forward to hearing what you rate as your highlights for 2020 as well. As usual, this blog update will be posted on the 31st December as the year dwindles to an end.
Thanks for reading ‘The Bizarre World of Victor Victorious: An Unnecessary Sequel’ which capped off the writing challenge for this year. 2020 has been a good year for Write Wise with plenty of new entries being added to the site’s extensive collection and an unplanned but pleasant Halloween challenge which saw three authors step up to the challenge, delivering three great stories. While I’m being tight-lipped about my Write Wise entries for next year, I do have a plan for the 10 year anniversary celebration which I am keen to start writing. Readers can also expect the Imposter Series to return which I am very much looking forward to after having a lot of fun writing ‘Saoirse’. Have a good Christmas!
Quote of the Day
Well, come what may. Merry Christmas, Mr. Wayne.
The Boys From Brazil
Greetings, The Boys from Brazil is a 1976 novel by author Ira Levin who is also known for his earlier books such as ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Stepford Wives’. It was made into a movie that was released a few years later in 1978 which was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. Schaffner directed iconic movies including Planet of the Apes and Papillion prior to adapting Levin’s novel. The film version stars renowned actor Lawrence Olivier as the protagonist, aging Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman, and Hollywood leading man Gregory Peck as the nefarious Doctor Josef Mengele who serves as the villain of the story.
The story begins in Brazil in the September of 1974. Barry Kohler, a young American journalist, is investigating a potential plot by former Nazis who had escaped to South America after the end of World War 2. Kohler had been assisting a now old Nazi hunter by the name of Ezra Lieberman who was a famed academic, specializing in Nazi war crimes. Ezra is determined to catch the infamous Mengele, a Third Reich physician known as the Angel of Death who performed lethal experimentation on prisoners during his time in Auschwitz, and bring him to justice. It is believed that Mengele is in South America and feared that he is concocting a plan that will see Nazi Germany rise from the ashes following its defeat at the hands of the Allied Powers. Unfortunately for Lieberman, the world has lost interest in hunting down Nazis and his funding is drying up as a result.
A group of German businessmen are attending a meeting in a Japanese restaurant and have booked themselves a private room. Kohler believes them to be members of ODESSA, an underground organization of former Nazis who escaped trail and imprisonment in Europe. Barry bribes one of the Japanese waitresses to hide a tape recorder in the room while the men are discussing business plans in solitude. After the meeting concludes, the waitress gives Kohler the tape recorder and he listens to it in his nearby apartment. Barry rings Lieberman and tells him he has uncovered a Nazi plot. He advises that six former SS officers are going to be sent out across the globe and are to kill 94 men, who share similar traits, on specific days. The victims are all civil servants and will die at the age of 65 but before Barry can explain why, he is murdered himself and the phone is hung up on Lieberman. Ezra initially believes the call to be a prank but as men fitting the description begin to die, he starts to take it seriously and tries to unravel the mystery that was given to him.
Prior to ‘the Boys from Brazil’, the only other book of Levin’s I had read was ‘The Stepford Wives’ which I had thoroughly enjoyed. Like ‘Stepford Wives’, I already knew a bit about the twists going into this book which is a big part of what the novel is relying on to entertain the reader or to hook them with. I still liked this book but the mystery wasn’t as impactful as it would have been before it had seeped into popular culture. What I find strange about this novel is that its antagonist was very much a real person and still alive at the time of its first release. Mengele would not die until February 1979 when he drowned after suffering from a stroke. I’d encourage you to give this novel a spin, especially if you enjoyed Levin’s other works.
Quote of the Day
Bond. James Bond.