Greetings, Cujo is a horror novel by world renowned author Stephen King which was published in 1981. The book was the 10th book published in King’s extensive bibliography and, rather interestingly, he does not recall writing most of it as Cujo was produced during a period of intense narcotic use in his career. Like most other King stories, the plot was adapted into a film that received mixed reviews during its release in 1982 but the movie has since earned itself a cult following. The film stars Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro and Daniel Hugh-Kelly as the three leading actors. The two incarnations are reportedly similar in nature bar the endings in which the movie adaptation has a more positive conclusion than its source material.
The story begins in the fictional town of Castle Rock in Maine and it revolves mainly around two families, the Trentons and the Cambers. The Trentons consists of advertising man Vic, his stay at home wife Donna and their four year old son Tad who is affectionately called ‘Tadders’. They are from a middle class background and are originally from New York City, having recently moved to Castle Rock for a quieter life. The lives of the Trenton family are upended when the advertising agency that Vic co-owns suffers a major setback. A cereal brand that he helped promote and specifically aimed at kids had hospitalized some children once they had consumed the product. Vic and his business partner, Roger Breakstone, must come up with a clever ad campaign to address the problem or face bankruptcy. As things look bleak on the work end of Vic’s life the home front is even worse as he discovers that his wife had been engaging in an affair with a man named Steve Kemp. Donna thoroughly regrets what she did and broke the clandestine relationship off with Steve, who proved to be incredibly volatile in his rejection, but Vic is furious and heartbroken by the situation nonetheless.
The Cambers on the other hand are from a lower socio-economic class. Joe, the father, is a mechanic who owns a garage in the outskirts of the Castle Rock. His wife, Charity, is another unfulfilled stay at home mother and the son is a ten year old called Brett. The titular Saint Bernard, the well-mannered Cujo, belongs to the Camber family and he has a particularly special bond with Brett. Charity wins $5,000 in the lottery and convinces her reluctant husband to allow her and Brett to spend the money to visit her sister, Holly, in Connecticut. She wants her son to see the world and is somewhat concerned about Joe negatively influencing Brett as he heads into his teenage years. Shortly before the Cambers are about to leave Joe alone with Cujo for their holiday, Cujo chases a rabbit through their fields. The witless rabbit flees the dog by heading into a small cave that Cujo can only fit his head into. The dog startled some bats inhabiting the cave which causes one to bite him on the nose. A panicked Cujo retreats and heads home with a sore snout. Slowly but surely the rabid infection leads the good natured dog on a murderous rampage as the disease takes control.
I really enjoyed this novel and was interested to discover that while it is also tells the story of a deranged dog with rabies, it is essentially about the everyday domestic lives of the Trentons and Cambers. King wrote more extensively about the ups and downs of these two families than I was expecting. The supernatural elements are limited in Cujo and are only really suggested as a theoretical aspect rather than being solidly confirmed as existing in this world. For instance, it is implied that former police officer and serial killer known as ‘The Castle Rock Strangler’ Frank Dodd has come back from the dead to haunt the citizenry of the small town but the character never makes an appearance himself. This is a solid book that sits well among King’s other works. If you like his other novels then you would most likely get a kick out of Cujo too.
Quote of the Day
Pathetic earthlings. Hurling your bodies out into the void, without the slightest inkling of who or what is out here. If you had known anything about the true nature of the universe, anything at all, you would've hidden from it in terror.
Emperor Ming the Merciless
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker
Greetings, welcome to the first blog update of 2020 and the new decade. Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is a 2019 film which serves as the 9th and supposedly final instalment of the Skywalker saga that had spanned for over forty years since the original had been released to wide spread acclaim in 1977. The latest film was directed by JJ Abrams who launched the new trilogy with ‘The Force Awakens’ back in 2015 and was infamously rumoured to have all manner of behind the sets drama during its filming. It stars the new leads of Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran as they reprise their roles from the previous two movies. New actors also joined this instalment including Richard E Grant as Allegiant General Pryde, a character who I personally believe was a good addition to the saga and helped to make up for the Sequel Trilogies’ complete lack of intimidating villains.
Most of the original, surviving Star Wars cast such as Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams had been given reduced roles, practically glorified cameos for some of them, due to the fate of their characters from the previous movies. Only Anthony Daniels as C-3PO and Ian McDiarmid as Emperor Sheev Palpatine of the old cast could be considered to have reasonable screen time as well as an off-putting inclusion of the late Carrie Fisher. Fisher’s CGI appearance seemed very peculiar and it was very obvious that the charismatic Carrie was not there herself to give a solid performance as usual. John Williams, an essential part of capturing the Star Wars spirit, returned to conduct the music for this final film as well and remained an integral part of the movie series from beginning to end.
The plot begins by mentioning that Emperor Palpatine has returned from his seemingly permanent death at the hands of his former apprentice, Darth Vader, some thirty years prior. Kylo Ren, the newly appointed Supreme Leader of the First Order after his assassination of Snoke, hears of the Emperor’s return and aims to destroy him in his quest for Galactic domination. Ren finds a device called a Sith Wayfinder which leads him to Palpatine’s secret location on the unchartered planet of Exegol. The two antagonists confront each other and the Emperor, wizened and decaying, reveals he has a clandestine armada of Star Destroyers at his command. He promises to give his armed forces to Kylo once he has killed Rey on his behalf. Following on from Luke’s death on Ahch-To, Rey is being taught the ways of the Jedi from Leia Organa in preparation for her final fight against Kylo Ren.
Finn and Poe, two Resistance fighters operating against the First Order, learn from a spy within the Order that news of the Emperor’s return is true and that he is residing in the mysterious planet of Exegol. After a skirmish with First Order Tie-Fighters, Poe and Finn manage to get back to the safety of the resistance controlled territories where they inform Leia of the threat they face. Upon their return, Rey discovers from Luke’s notes of the existence of a Sith Wayfinder that would lead them all to the Emperor’s hideout. The three alongside Chewbacca, C-3PO and BB-8 take the Millennium Falcon to the world of Pasanna where they understand Luke’s search for the item came to a fruitless end. They continue his trail in the hopes of finding it. Shortly after landing, the protagonists learn that they have been tracked down by Kylo Ren via his force abilities and that he is leading First Order troopers to them.
I could analyse this film in great depth but will stick to some of my more prominent points for brevities’ sake. Rise of Skywalker had the unenviable task of following on from the divisive Last Jedi and, after the spectacular Box Office bomb that was Solo, it had to prove that the new iteration of Star Wars could still pull in audiences. It is certainly a better film than the previous entry, which I became more disillusioned with as times went on, but it falls far short of reaching the magic of the original three and it is clear that it is desperately trying to course correct on Episode 8. An obvious example of this was the grating character of Rose who, like Jar Jar Binks of the Prequel Trilogy before her, was side-lined to only having a few small scenes in the concluding film. The plot was incredibly quick paced, very convoluted and so condensed that it would have warranted another episodic follow up as opposed to hopping from location to location at breakneck speed like it ultimately did. This is a deeply flawed film and it was clear there was no overarching plot in mind from the start which ensured there was no carefully laid foreshadowing to hint at the Emperor’s return. This made Palpatine’s return feel like a Hail Mary attempt to have a proper antagonist for the conclusive instalment.
Moreover, I found the political situation to be confusing and all over the place since the Force Awakens ill explained backdrop. Rise of Skywalker did nothing to alter that and the Sequel Trilogy just returned to the old Empire vs Rebels fold rather than try anything new or daring. One of the greatest problems that befell this trilogy was the new characters who were, in my opinion, completely bland and one dimensional. The older, iconic characters were treated very poorly in Disney’s hands but to its credit this film does try to return these characters to their former glory. With the series now in a particularly bad spot, even direr than the era of the derided prequels, what legacy George Lucas will have and whether the nostalgia filled Star Wars can stay relevant in current popular culture remains to be seen. I like to stay hopeful that these new films could one day be considered non-canonical additions to the series and that a fresh start can be made once again.
Quote of the Day
Now, you listen here: 'e's not the Messiah, 'e's a very naughty boy!
Monty Python’s Life of Brian
Happy New Year: 2019 Review!
Greetings, welcome to the last blog update of 2019 and the 2010s. It has been an interesting year, and of course a decade too, which will have left its mark in history. Without going into too much depth in this reflection, this decade has been quite eventful with seismic shapeups in the political arena, the passing of numerous legendary celebrities and considerable changes in how we watch our entertainment as streaming services became very prominent. The internet has certainly radically changed since 2010 as the immensely popular concept of memes that we are familiar with today hadn’t even existed at the start of this decade. Superhero films, most notably those from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, really began to dominate the box office these past 10 years and it seems likely that their strong performances will continue on into the next decade as well.
This little blogging community matured as these years went by and although most of these blogs are no longer functioning as they had done so a decade ago, the community itself is still going strong. It should also be said that a significant part of the community was established early on in the 2010s. I of course speak about Write Wise which has now produced 100 entries that cover a vast range of genres, topics and storylines. 2019 was an important year for the site in which some big milestones were reached. These feats included two ‘novel’ category entries being published within a space of a few months. The stories are continuing to grow larger and are becoming increasingly well-crafted as the years go by. All of this leads me to believe that it just might be possible that the mammoth status of ‘Epic Novel’ may be reached by one of the writers at some point in the next decade or so.
As it is the last day of 2019, it is time for me to go over my favourite picks of entertainment that I have enjoyed over this year. As usual, the winners do not need to have been released in 2019 but should be among the reviews I have written for the blog this year. Please let me know what your personal favourite choices for these categories are or, as the 2020s are quickly approaching, what you think this passing decade will be remembered for.
Television Show of the Year: Godless
A western mini-series from 2017 consisting of only seven episodes, Godless proved to be one of the more interesting television shows I have seen in recent years. It boast a fairly large cast of which Jeff Daniels of ‘Speed’ fame is probably the most well-known actor among them. Other prominent cast members include Jack O’Connell, Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy and Thomas Brodie-Sangster. A bloody dispute between outlaws Roy Goode and the psychotic preacher Frank Griffin threatens to take its final showdown to the small mining town of La Belle which had lost most of it male population in a mining accident years prior to the beginning of the show. The unprepared townsfolk, mostly consisting of women struggling to get by, have to arm themselves against the approaching forces of Frank Griffin.
Book of the Year: A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange is Anthony Burgess’ most famous novel and was popularised by Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film adaptation staring Malcom McDowell as the infamous protagonist, Alex DeLarge. The book is well known for being written in a unique style which combines English, Russian and Cockney Rhyming slang. This can make the story a little difficult to read but it becomes more understandable as the reader progresses along and picks up the vocabulary. The plot follows Alex DeLarge and his fellow ‘droogs’. They are a group of youths who seek to commit senseless and violent acts purely for their twisted sense of sick enjoyment. The novel is ultimately about the oppressive authorities attempting to redeem Alex of his wicked ways through the use of a torturous rehabilitation programme.
Game of the Year: The Secret of Monkey Island: 2009 Special Edition
Ten years ago ‘The Secret of Monkey Island’ was remastered and released alongside the now defunct TellTale’s ‘Tales of Monkey Island’. The comedic point and click puzzle game reintroduced Guybrush Threepwood to the world as its pirate wannabe hero on his quest to become a legendary icon. Threepwood’s adventuring leads him to the love of his life, Elaine Marley, who he must rescue from the clutches of his nefarious foe, ghost pirate Captain Le Chuck. This version of the famous game stars talented voice actors who had also contributed to TellTale’s spin on the Monkey Island property including Dominic Armato as Guybrush and Alexandra Boyd as Elaine.
Film of the Year: Joker
Destined to be considered a cult classic in the future, Joker is one of the most successful films of the year and the passing decade. Joker has a tight nit cast consisting of Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beets and Frances Conroy to name a few of the star-studded actors and actresses. Joker is a gritty origin story for Batman’s arch-nemesis which immaculately details the downfall of Arthur Fleck and the rise of his psychotic alter-ego, the Joker. The powerful, slow burning movie has been inspired by and compared to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and the King of Comedy. Combined with an appropriate and stirring musical score, this origin story for Gotham’s most notorious criminal won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Before I wish you all the best for 2020, I decided to end this year with a little humour from the comedic duo of Fletch and Roman to mark the passing of the decade. Hopefully the 2020s will have as much great moments as the 2010s had. The blog will be back in January with my thoughts on the latest Star Wars film, the Rise of Skywalker. Have a great year!
Narrator (Fed up): No… Just no. I refuse to participate in this charade any longer. Roman and Fletch will just have to do their own narrative openings from now on. Good luck narrating your sketches without my rich, dulcet tones you talentless hacks!
Roman: Yeesh…These introductions are getting worse as time goes on. I guess it is just up to me and you to carry this event forward Fletch.
Fletch (Confused): …Carry what exactly? I don’t understand what this is. What the Hell is going on here?! It isn’t the blasted 20th anniversary of this blog already, is it?
Roman: Not quite my time illiterate friend. There is only 9 more years to go for that celebration! I’m sure the good readers here are positively waiting with baited breath for our comedic stylings when that day comes though! Probably marking out the days in their calendars as we speak.
Narrator (Mumbling in the background): No doubt you’ll not be any funnier then.
Fletch: I’m ignoring those hurtful grumbles for the sake of my super inflated ego. I won’t be brought down for today is New Year’s Eve! A night for celebration, wine and awkward…awkward…kissing.
Roman: Exactly! That is why we are here! To celebrate the end of one decade and the beginning of another. This decade started with us and it is going to end with us too because… uh… because … alright. I’m going to be completely honest with everyone, the blogger behind this site wanted to celebrate this occasion and was perhaps a little (cough) majorly (cough) creatively bankrupt and out of ideas so he decided to just throw me and Fletch in here for hosting duties. Not sure what we are supposed to be doing here in all honesty though. Talk utter nonsense I guess.
Fletch (In deep thought): Hmmm… Hey! Wait a minute! This blog began in the noughties. That means we could just copy whatever was written down in 2009’s review of the decade. Yeah, let’s do that. Work smart, not hard. That’s my motto!
Roman: I admire your ability to weasel your way out of your every commitment but I am afraid that is no good. It won’t work at all. The blogger just listed off general things that the 2000s would be remembered for. Most of these were either generic phenomena that happen every decade or were flat out wrong. See point 8 which lists the completion of the Star Wars saga with the ‘final’ instalment of Revenge of the Sith coming to cinemas in 2005. We were all unfortunately wrong on that one considering that the review for ‘Rise of Skywalker’ will be the first blog update for 2020.
Fletch (Deflated): Oh. Convoluted Damage Control: The Movie. Well, I guess that makes some sort of depressing sense, right? The only way is up from there? That should be a fun review.
Roman: Yes, I suppose so but we still have to fill in for the meantime. Should we talk about something? Anything? I can sense that the audience isn’t getting bored and restless. I don’t think I could handle being booed at again.
Fletch (Animated): The audience is getting bored? Well why didn’t you say so earlier? I have some new material from our new comedy show Fletch and Roman: After Dark that I’d love to try out. It’s a bit raunchy but I think people will get a kick out of it. What do you get when a lady of the night and a near-sighted penguin walk into a bar….
Roman (Hurriedly Interrupts): Don’t finish that joke! You’ll ruin the good, clean and upstanding reputation of this site. Who do you think you are saying such lewd things anyhow? One of the Greenwich Golds? Oh….and just because you keep saying we have a new show doesn’t make it so.
Fletch: Well since you sucked the fun out of that…and since you brought it up….What did you think of this year’s Write Wise entries? A lot of milestones were reached in 2019 and the stories were bigger than ever before.
Roman: Yes, I liked them. Fine pieces of literature. I was disappointed in the lack of werewolves though and …the biggest let down of all… there was no sequel to Writer’s Block for another year running. I tell you what though…That Hikari and the Other World business was weird, wasn’t it? Almost as bizarre as our courageous adventuring. What do you think it all meant in the end? The villain had many names and one of them was the Cosmic Weed. As such, I expect it’s a pretty flimsy analogy for narcotics and its trippy effects. It would explain a lot of the surreal things that happened in that story.
Fletch (Sophisticated): I suppose that is one way to analyse it but I have another theory that could apply too. It was really an analogy about growing older and the frailty of the human spirit and mind. It is about the inevitable march to the grave. We become increasingly fragile in mind and body as the years go on until…at last… we simply become so senile that we forget everything about ourselves. Our friends and loved ones are vanished, trapped in a forgotten memory that was forged long ago. When the animal-human hybrids held their annual feast on New Year’s Eve, they were celebrating the life of one of their loved ones but ultimately they are letting them pass on to the afterlife. If you recall… the longer a person stays in Other World, the more beastlike they become and they eventually lose their human qualities. Of course that is just a theory. Perhaps it is all just gobbledygook that was thrown together at the last minute and is simply masquerading as something else.
Roman (Taken Aback): ...Well…That is certainly a dark thought. I thought it was meant to be a positive, uplifting piece about facing your fears and being a more complete human after conquering certain trials. Who would want to read something that depressive at Christmas? I couldn’t imagine anyone publishing something dark like that at the best time of the year.
Fletch: Uplifting stories? Positivity? Dear Sir! This is the last day of 2019! The people want senseless violence, gritty, graphic, gory details and they want their stories to have such a bleak bleakness that it could blot out the sun itself. They want to be excited in all sense of the word. The world has moved on from your day old man. An audacious peek at a woman’s ankle under her long, flowing dress no longer sells papers in the modern world.
Roman (Flustered): Peeking at ankles under dresses? How old do you think I am? What are you talking about papers for?
Fletch: ….and that is all we have time for ladies and gentlemen! We must bid you adieu and a happy New Year. Good luck with those resolutions you keep breaking on day three of your trials. I intend to get royally hammered myself tonight as per my personal resolution.
Roman: Hold on! Hold on! We have one more bit to go through. Seeing as it is the end of the decade I decided now would be the time for it. Goodwill to all men at this time of the season and whatnot.
Fletch (Pleading): Please no. Don’t do it. It’ll be terrible. I can guarantee it.
Roman: Quiet you! Stop spoiling the moment. As long term fans of our show should know….
Fletch (Rudely Interrupting): We…uh…We don’t have long term fans. Come to think of it… I don’t think we have any fans at all in any shape, form or variety.
Roman: ….Continuing on unimpeded. Back in Season Two: Episode 18 of the Adventures of Fletch and Roman, our dear friend, the Narrator, stated so eloquently that he would like his own spin off show in an offhand comment. Well… Now is that time. Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to announce…a heartfelt story of whimsy, tragedy and love…The Fantastical Adventures of the Narrator!
Fletch (Groaning): Can’t we delay this another eight years or so? I think I might pass out from the tediousness of your description alone.
Roman: ….Err. No. Not really. No. Just get on with it, will you? Start narrating with me. Here we are… Season One: Episode 1: The Beginnings of Greatness. Just make up a scenario and the Narrator can run with it till his heart is content.
Fletch (Sighing): Yes...Fine. There’s a room that the Narrator is in. It’s small and cramped… and it is just as disinteresting to look at as I feel towards this story. There’s a window in the room and…oh…I’m so bored. Just…just do it yourself Narrator. I want to get sloshed here so make it quick.
Narrator (Excitedly): Really? You want me to have my own show? Oh! I’m so excited! Thank you guys! I mean it from the bottom of my heart. I have been wanting to do this for oh so long. You know…I am a little embarrassed to admit but I was always kind of jealous of you two constantly being in the spot light. Having to recall your nonsensical adventures for disinterested readers while I….
Roman (Yawns): Okay…. I have to agree with you Fletch. This is boring. Screw goodwill to all men and that happy clappy hippy crap. We’re cancelling this show now. Have a great New Year’s everybody!
Fletch: Yes! Have a merry…happy….whatever! …What he said. I’m going to get so hungover so I can forget the very awkward moment when I don’t get kissed again at 12 o’clock tonight. Just hope I don’t get trapped in some magical train with an invisible conductor first….
Narrator (Flummoxed): No…Wait! I haven’t set up the story yet. I have many complicated but emotionally satisfying plots in mind and would like to perform a few one man plays too. Aw! Come on guys…. Come back. I haven’t even sang the theme song yet!
(Distinct Sounds of Silence)
Narrator: Aww… Crap!
Quote of the Day:
I know. I feel the same way. I feel that we've lost so much... but we've got The X-Files, and I believe what we're looking for is in them. I'm more certain than ever the truth is out there, Scully.