Benedict Cumberbatch Engaged on Page 57

Benedict Cumberbatch Engaged on Page 57

Fans of the Star Trek: Into Darkness actor Benedict Cumberbatch could have missed the news that he is engaged to his director/actress girlfriend Ms. Sophie Hunter if some sharp eyed folks had not seen the announcement which was buried on page 57 of the United Kingdom news publication The Times. At one point, Twitter was alight with fans of the 38 year-old formerly eligible bachelor expressing their upset at the news that the English (born and raised in London) actor has taken himself off the market, so to speak.

Under the Skin Scarlett Johansson Intensely Stark Beauty (Trailer)

Under the Skin Scarlett Johansson Intensely Stark Beauty (Trailer)

Jonathan Glazer’s “out of the box” film Under the Skin starring Scarlett Johansson is a film that almost defies description, but at its core the movie is intensely stark with a terrible grim beauty. The film could be categorized as science fiction noir for lack of a better term, and Glazer may just have, along with his star, the wildly talented Johansson, invented a new genre.

 

Ash by James Herbert: The Final Journey

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I will admit that I had no idea that another David Ash book existed until I read the obituary-type articles after James Herbert died this month. Despite my obvious shock at the news that one of my favourite horror writers (he has always had a place of honour in my very small stable of great horror master’s) had been dispatched to the great unknown realms of death, I was intrigued  enough to buy an eBook copy for reading.

As a grand finale or final gesture, it was the best David Ash story yet. Although, if you look at the reviews on Goodreads, it appears that I am in the minority of readers who actually enjoyed the book. I am left wondering if those critical of the tale even read the same tome that I just finished. It is, to be frank, puzzling.

In this last ever David Ash investigation, David has been obligated by his employer Kate McCarrick to find the cause of the violent hauntings at Comraich Castle; a sanctuary for the criminal rich who can afford it. Run by the shadowy and overly influential Inner Circle, the castle’s dangerous spirits have already injured one paying guest and the spokesman for the Comraich, Sir Simon Maseby wants the haunting stopped at all costs.

While travelling in the Castle‘s private jet, David meets Dr Delphine Wyatt, the exotically beautiful psychologist who works at the retreat and who will turn out to be his only ally in his upcoming battle with the ancient evil that is trying to destroy Comraich Castle. An evil whose power has grown beyond all expectations and is aided by a living evil who also wants to destroy the Castle and all those in it.

James Herbert’s last book has everything but the kitchen sink in it. He has returned to his roots as a writer and once again has grabbed his readers by the lapel and screamed in their face.

I loved it.

His story of the intrigue and the corruption that permeates the government and the royal family is mesmerizing. The depiction of the “inner circle'” group who orchestrates the cover-ups that prevent the royal’s and the government from horrific publicity is, quite frankly, scary on its own. Add to this the evil that has grown so powerful that it can harm living beings and influence their actions makes this mix of terror damn near too scary for comfort.

There are a bunch of Scottish wildcats who “haunt” the hunting grounds around the castle that will give you nightmares and they are just a small portion of the evil things that lurk in the shadowy recesses of the castles halls and dungeons.

I could not turn the electronic pages fast enough as I became immersed in David Ash’s last ever case. When I finally reached the end of the book, I let out a sigh of relief and sadness as I realised that I’d never again get to vicariously live through any further David Ash adventures.

I am going to miss James Herbert’s prodigious output of work, he averaged a book a year, and not once was I unimpressed with his story and the originality of his plots and the comfortable feelings that his characters evoked. Unless of course they were scarily evil then the feelings that they generated were not of a comfortable ilk.

In my humble opinion, which is the only opinion that I can have, it is the best David Ash yet. It is always a very bittersweet experience reading the  last ever adventure of one of your favourite characters. I had the same feeling when I read the last ever Travis McGee book. Of course that was slightly different as I read the book before I’d learned of the author’s (John D MacDonald) passing. But the feeling was the same when I thought of the book.

So Rest In Peace David Ash, may you never be forgotten as one of the most believable creations of the fertile mind that was James Herbert.

A real 5 star ending to a 5 star character.

Author James Herbert promoting his last book on the bbc September 2012.
Author James Herbert promoting his last book on the bbc September 2012. RIP James.

‘Cause it’s Your Birthday…

For the love of all that’s holy! Don’t blow those candles out!

I sit here this morning on the day that is officially the day I turn 54. For the past few years I’ve always shared the same status on the day of my birth.

‘So this is what it’s like to be (fill in age here). *puts finger out from under cover and makes pinching gesture* Feels the same.’

Well, I can’t do that this year. My 53rd year was so event filled that anything after that has got to feel different.

There is an old saying that goes something like this, “Life is what happens while you’re making plans for something else.’ [sic] I have discovered that is true. Everything that happened this year, happened while I was making plans for other things.

Life changing things.

Can you feel the irony in that statement? Probably not if you aren’t aware of how completely SNAFU or FUBAR (military acronyms, just Google the terms if you need a direct translation) my 53rd year has been.

Suffice to say, the only two constants in my life are my daughter and my blog. Of course including my blog also includes all the wonderful folks I’ve met through the WordPress site.

There will be some folks who read the above paragraph and grumble, “Hey ass-hole, why don’t I count as a constant in your life? Aren’t I a: colleague, friend, relative, twitter-pal, facebook friend, YouTube subscriber? I could go on listing the folks that I interact with on a daily and not so daily basis.

But the key word in both the statement and the question is ‘constant.’ “Do ye ken?” As they say in Scotland. Constant meaning that no matter what level of interaction, these two things remain the same. Got it? Right, time to move on then.

Because I am still in recovery mode from my latest gift bestowed upon me by the number 53  (sorry I just kind of slid into Sesame Street for a minute) I cannot really make plans apart from immediate ones.

Getting to where I can walk a bit further each day. Going to the many different medical appointments and the cardio exercise classes. Everything I am planning is on a ‘step by step’ basis. Some of these steps are just as ‘life changing’ as before, but, in a different sense.

Due to the nature of my last gift, everything has changed. The lady at the hospital did ask me if I was ready for my ‘new’ life. I really did not know how accurate that question was.

I have learned one very good lesson this past year. A lesson that you would think I had learned already being just a little over a half-century old. The lesson is actually two-fold.

The wise old sage takes a power nap before solving the world’s problems.

Don’t get angry. Not only is this a colossal waste of time, it show a side of your character that weakens you and detracts from who you really are. Don’t complain. This also falls into the ‘colossal waste of time’ category. I remember grumbling non-stop when I was recovering from my back injury earlier this year.

I was annoyed at how painful and slow my walking was and how long it took to walk to the Tesco’s Metro from my house. Behold a few months later (figuratively speaking) and now I can’t even walk to the bus stop just outside my house without stopping for a break. The Metro? Uh-uh, no way Jose, not happening.

I used to joke that while I was gimping around with the back injury I should have a sign on my back that said, ‘World’s easiest mugging victim here.’  Now I don’t think I even need a sign, my gait and snail-like pace says it all.

I have learned one thing though. It was re-enforced yesterday in my first visit to the cardiologist since my surgery, emergency and otherwise, I am a fast healer. The doctor repeatedly reminded me that all this had only happened three and a half weeks ago. My overall recovery rate is off the chart.

So my new catchphrase for my 54th year is look ahead. Just those two words and all their limited meaning will suffice, I think. If I don’t waste too much time worrying about the things that are ‘life changing’ or stressful, or time wasting. I can just look ahead to the next thing I need to do.

Sometimes looking ahead requires that we look back. Not too far though! That way lies madness my friend. A little introspection is good for the soul, a lot is not. Just trust me on this one. Okay? I have been around for well over a half-century you know.

So for the immediate future I will focus on the things that need to be done to move forward. The simple things, like getting my car sorted. I’m not sure what happened to it. I don’t know if it went into a decline because it missed me  while I was gone or if I left something on to drain the poor old girl dry. (personally I think the latter is more likely)

Once that is done, I’ll focus on getting me sorted. The process of taking a few steps more each day and eating properly. Doing the  limited sort of introspection necessary to insure I’m not repeating past mistakes. Most importantly though, I’ll be taking my time on the things that need ‘long-term’ changing.

I came face to face with my own mortality this year and that in itself is a life changing event. One that, if you’ll forgive me, I’m not in a hurry to repeat. I also found out that unlike a few short years ago, I did and do not fear the reaper.

He’ll come for me when he’s ready and I’ll react the same way.  I’ll fight to keep what I deem as mine and he will either win or not.

He’s gonna get mighty lonely up there…

Doomsday (2008): Don’t Fear the Reaper

As the poster so clearly states: A New Film From Neil MarshallDoomsday is the third film to be written and directed by Neil Marshall. The first two, Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005),  I have written about before. These three films, if watched in the order they were made, show Marshall’s growth and  increased status as a writer/director. Each progressive film benefits from an increased budget and the calibre of actors goes up as well.  More importantly, each film’s scope is enlarged; the first two films were a cozy affair. Single locale, set number of actors and scenes, FX capable but not too flashy. Doomsday in terms of all the above mentioned items, scoops them both.

Filmed for an estimated budget of $30,000,000 Doomsday looks impressive. The cast comprises the usual Marshall regulars, Sean PertweeEmma CleasbyNora-Jane NooneMyAnna Buring, and Craig Conway (Conway gives a stand out performance as the mad-as-hatter ruler of a blood thirsty mob of survivors – Sol). The cast also includes some big namesBob HoskinsMalcolm McDowell (as Sol’s pop, you can see where Sol gets his personality from), Rhona Mitra, like I said big names.

In the not too distant future a killer virus known as The Reaper sweeps through Britain. The government decide to contain the infected behind a huge fortified fence that stretches from coast to coast, cutting off Scotland completely and leaving everyone trapped behind the fence to die. The United Kingdom is condemned by the rest of the world for their actions.

Jump ahead thirty years and two things happen almost simultaneously. Satellites that have been orbiting the  contaminated area north of the fence spies movement and The Reaper has made an unwelcome return. A small group of elite specialist are drafted into entering the contaminated zone. Their mission is to find  a research laboratory that was working on a cure for the virus before they were trapped in the containment area and to find out who has survived and how.

Rhona Mitra is one-eyed Eden Sinclair (this role so obviously got her cast in Underworld 3) who leads the team of experts into the area. Eden, whose “glass-eye” doubles as a camera with video recording capability, is hard as nails and  very independent. Once she and her team breach the wall and head into the laboratory, they get jumped by Sol’s people. They are captured and as part of Sol’s twenty-four hour madness, Sean Pertwee is again killed at the beginning of the second reel.

The film has a very ‘Mad Max‘ feel to it. From the outfits that Sol’s people wear, to the vehicles they use at the end of the film in a protracted Mad Max chase scene, the film feels like an English version of the Mel Gibson cult favourites. Marshall himself stated the the Mad Max trilogy inspired him and that he was paying his own homage to the films.

It was very nice to see Malcolm McDowell as Sol’s father, the lab scientist who has decided to remake the survivors behind the wall into his vision of Darwin’s theory. His madness dictates that he can willing sacrifice his own children if they do not obey him and his rules. Once Eden returns from the infected territory with a “cure” for the reaper virus, she  sets up the very people who sent her and her team to almost certain death. She puts in motion  the mechanics for their downfall.

Doomsday is a cracking film. It has a snappy pace and the actors all do well. The bigger budget shows in the end result and I am guessing the Marshall will have an even bigger budget for his next film.

Marshall’s next film is The Last Voyage of Demeter,  Dracula fans will recognise the name of the ship, it is the one that transports the Count to England in the book. It looks as though  Marshall is going back to his horror roots. The film is due to be released in 2013. I am looking forward to it.