Friday, June 26, 2015

"Cannibal Holocaust" VS "Cannibal Ferox": AKA I Hate Myself

Eli Roth's long anticipated, and much maligned, love letter to the cannibal film genre "The Green Inferno" is finally going to be released this coming September. A lot of people are pleased about this finally happening...but not so much because of the film itself per se. One thing about Eli Roth: he's always promising...but never quite reaches that level of excellence that we all want him to. Regardless of all that, that's not the point here, or even what this is about.

With "The Green Inferno" finally coming out, it looks like interest in the "cannibal film" subgenre of horror is about to be reignited. Now what is a cannibal film you may be asking yourself? Well kids, a cannibal film was a type of super sleazy horror film that was huge back in the 70s and 80s, before dying out because they just got so damn boring and predictable. These films usually always involved numerous similarities between each other as well: sexual violence, animal mistreatment, being made by Italians, and hokey-ass dubbing.

And just about all that is what made these pieces of garbage so fucking endearing. They're exploitation films pure and simple, and for their time, they were the shit. And speaking of shit, there was a shit ton of these fucking things. "Jungle Holocaust", "Last Cannibal World", and much more that I don't feel like looking up at the moment. However, out of all those films, there are two in particular that have managed to resonate throughout the years even as the cannibal film fizzled out: "Cannibal Holocaust" and "Cannibal Ferox". Both these films are infamous in the horror world, and for good reason...and it's not because they both featured actor Robert Kerman, better known as "R. Bolla", AKA the sporting goods store owner in the original "Debbie Does Dallas" that fucks Debbie eight ways from Sunday.

Released in 1980 and directed by Ruggero Deodato, "Cannibal Holocaust" was a film I had first heard about in my youth (thanks Phil Anselmo) but for a long time I had thought was an urban legend. It had been touted as "extreme" and all that, and this was when the internet was in its infancy and I was stupid in general and didn't know how to do something simple like use the internet as a research tool. Somehow, I managed to find a bootleg VHS copy of it and proceeded to watch it. At the time, my 16-year old mind didn't know how to handle it, which is perfectly fine, because a lot of audiences didn't know how to handle it either back in 1980 when this fucking thing was released. Deodato had to go to court to prove that the actors in the film were actually still alive and that he didn't go down into the jungle and make a fucking snuff movie. That's how powerful the savagery on display is in this film...or at least it was back then. Quite frankly the film hasn't aged all that well, and I'm sure I'll get called out here by "horror purists" (and I have before for this), but I can really do without all the on-screen animal death.

"Cannibal Ferox" was released in 1981 and directed by schlock-meister Umberto Lenzi. Touted as "the most violent film ever made", "Cannibal Ferox" doesn't disappoint in that department. Like "Cannibal Holocaust" before it, "Cannibal Ferox" is revolting, but for me personally, this film tops "Cannibal Holocaust" in the barf factor. Don't ask me why, maybe it's because of hooks going through nipples, but there's just always been something in general about this fucking movie that makes my stomach churn.

Analyzing the two films against each other finds a lot of similarities, mostly because at its core "Cannibal Ferox" is a quickly thrown together cash in on the then new infamy that "Cannibal Holocaust" was garnering. While both films offer up numerous instances of rape, torture, flesh-eating, penis mutilation, and animal slaughter, at the very least "Cannibal Holocaust" has a teenie-weenie little bit of social commentary to back itself up with. "Cannibal Ferox"...well, it doesn't, like at all. Now social commentary isn't a necessity in this type of film, or even in exploitation films and the horror genre in general, but it's that little curtain of social awareness that elevates "Holocaust" over "Ferox", at least for me.

"Cannibal Ferox", while providing some surprisingly amazing gore effects for its time, is just cruel for the sake of being cruel. Now as I said before, what else would you really expect in a movie of this type? That aside though, that little bit of social commentary that "Cannibal Holocaust" has still separates both films completely, at least for me anyway, with "Cannibal Holocaust" being the superior of the two. Now that may be like being the most popular kid in a boys only daycare that's run by priests, but you get the point.

Now to go a little out of character (I'm a fucking character?) I have to admit that I generally dislike these kind of films in general. I love the horror genre with all my heart (and all two and a half inches of my stubby Irish dong) and have a lot of love and admiration for the exploitation era of that time period, but watching these films for me wasn't an easy task, and really never has been either. But I am willing to suffer for my art, for I am an artist...if by artist you mean I go on the internet and talk about bullshit films involving cock chomping and what I assume was a shit load of cocaine being passed around behind the scenes.

Oh, and if it's one thing these films have taught me, it's that if I ever wind up stranded in the South American jungle, I'm blowing my brains out before anyone can eat my dick.

Monday, June 22, 2015

40 Years of "JAWS"

It's the movie that made you afraid to go in the water.

It's the movie that made Steven Spielberg a household name.

It's the movie that pretty much created summer blockbusters as we know them.

It's motherfucking "JAWS".

What would otherwise be a simple-minded B-movie became a global phenomenon and altered the course of filmmaking as a whole. "JAWS" at its core is a monster movie through and through, only with a real monster. No otherworldly alien or rampaging beast created through radiation or some shit, "JAWS" is man versus chaotic nature in the form of one of the greatest natural predators in recorded human history.

I first saw "JAWS" as a kid, like most (if not all) of people from my generation. Its bloodletting and suspense may be tame by today's standards, but for me back then? Holy fucking shit. I was scared shitless and afraid to go near water, so much so I wouldn't even go near my toilet. Granted I was pissing and shitting myself constantly, but that's a story for another day.

Throughout its 40 year legacy, "JAWS" spawned some really shitty sequels and hordes of merchandise and video games (I beat that piece of shit NES game years back), but ignoring all of that, think of the film in its most simple terms. To do that, and I might be talking out of my ass here since I wasn't alive at the time the film was originally released, think of the climate of horror/suspense/thriller/monster films of the time:

There were years upon years of dude in a rubber suit-type monster movies stumbling through theaters seemingly since the dawn of film. Most of these were low-budget schlock that delivered what fans wanted the most: blood, gore, and boobs. They were successful, and that was all well and good. Then out of nowhere, "JAWS" appeared on the screen and changed a lot of things forever...and it made a fuck-ton of money in the process.

Besides the timeless "man versus nature/animal" theme of "JAWS", what really set it apart from other films of the type was the characterizations of our three leads: Sheriff Brody (Roy Scheider), marine scientist Hooper (Richard Dreyfus), and grizzled fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw). The true highlight of "JAWS" for me personally wasn't the blood and suspense and believable terror; it's that scene of all three guys bullshitting and talking on the boat over a few beers. Quint's super memorable monologue of his chilling past experience with sharks will send chills down your spine...seriously.

Chances are you know what I'm talking about and you're reading shit you already fucking know. If for some reason you've never seen "JAWS"...well, what the fuck is wrong with you??? It's a truly perfect film from beginning to end. And to this very day, the final confrontation between Brody and the shark is one of, if not the, greatest showdowns in the history of film.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"Halloween Returns" Piss You Off!

Oh “Halloween”, how I’ve loved thee so. The slasher franchise that helped kickstart…well, slasher franchises in general, is getting another “re-imagining”. Oh wait, I’m sorry, it’s a “re-working”…or a “reboot”? No, none of that? It’s a sequel to Rob Zombie’s shitty remakes? No, not that either? It’s a direct sequel to “Halloween III” (SILVER FUCKING SHAMROCK!)? Because if it was that, I’d be all over it like a drunken priest at a pre-school.

No, the new “Halloween” movie is none of the above. Tentatively titled “Halloween Returns”, this installment is instead a follow up the original “Halloween II”. How is that going to work you ask?

Fuck if I know.

The “Halloween” franchise is weird when you get right down to it. Of course we have the classic original, then we have the first sequel which for me was always a letdown, but at least it wrapped up the story as a whole that John Carpenter had planned. We then got a standalone film with “Halloween III”, which bombed with audiences (and is severely underrated). After that we got two more sequels that brought Michael Myers back as he chased after his niece. Following that we got another film that exposed Myers’ part in a cult as to why he can’t die. After that, we got two more films in which Jamie Lee Curtis came back as Laurie Strode and ignored the previous three films before it, concluding with Michael getting his ass handed to him by fucking Busta Rhymes for fuck’s sake. Years later, we got an unnecessary remake that had an even more unnecessary backstory for Michael, followed by an experimental sequel that was a literal flaming turd.

Fuck me man, can we just let it end already?

I know that slasher franchises are designed to keep going on and on forever, whether it is through sequels, remakes, reboots, etc., but there comes a time when enough is enough. Look at the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” movies. There have been numerous sequels, prequels, remakes, and re-imaginings, and none of them manage to come close to how great the original film was.

Now I know that it’d be stupid to expect a new “Halloween” film, no matter what kind of film it is, to top the original, but that’s not what any of us are expecting in the first place, because no follow up to that ever will. It’s the fact that we just don’t need any more “Halloween” films. The more they churn them out, the more tarnished the legacy of what the series has done and has meant to fans becomes. Now this might sound like sour grapes, and maybe it is just a little bit, but haven’t we all gotten tired of the same old shit already? Don’t we want to see something new and somewhat exciting and maybe even a little innovative in the genre?

The major movie studios think we don’t. They just want to print money. And that’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t mean we have to give it to them either.

No matter what, I’m sure I’ll get around to seeing “Halloween Returns” at some point or another; I’m just not in a fucking hurry. You probably shouldn’t be either.

Monday, June 15, 2015

10 Years of "Batman Begins"

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been a decade since Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” hit theaters. The first big-screen take on Batman since 1997’s cinematic abortion “Batman & Robin” had a lot to fulfill for fanboys and regular moviegoers alike, especially considering what all had come before it. Tim Burton’s 1989 “Batman” is still considered the definitive take on the character, and while it still is for me to a degree, there’s something about “Batman Begins” that ever so slightly edges it out.

Gone was the gothic atmosphere and art deco set design. In its place was a sense of realism that a Batman movie had never had before. Looking back, this was for the best, especially considering the ridiculousness of “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin”. We were given a suit and gadgets that were based on military technology, adding to the realistic tone, and it worked. Nearly everything in the film worked…except for the twist of the real Ra’s Al Ghul (I saw that coming a mile away when I first laid eyes on Liam Neeson, it’s the beard man). That aside, this was the best modern take on Batman that we could have hoped for thus far.

Speaking of Ra’s, the other thing that “Batman Begins” did really well was present us two iconic villains that had never been on film before with him and The Scarecrow, and it did it in a realistic and believable way. Granted that Scarecrow’s exit from the film is abrupt and Batman’s final showdown with Ra’s I always found to be a bit underwhelming, but that’s beside the point. For a majority of the film’s two and a half hour running time, it doesn’t relent much, and that’s a good thing.

The casting is mostly good. Say what you will about Christian Bale overdoing the voice, because he does, but he’s a believable Batman in terms of sheer physicality. Katie Holmes sucks; we all already knew that, but Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Neeson, and Cillian Murphy are pitch perfect as Alfred, Gordon, Ra’s, and Scarecrow respectively. We couldn’t have asked for better casting choices for any of them.

Now granted, I do tend to enjoy “The Dark Knight” more than “Batman Begins”, mainly because of Heath Ledger’s timeless take as Joker, but looking back on it; “Batman Begins” is the superior film, only by a hair. It’s the perfect superhero origin story on film, and it hits all the main points without it being overblown or missing the mark. “Iron Man” comes close as being a perfect take on a cinematic origin, but “Batman Begins” tops it with its villains and overall sense of realism.

I could keep singing its praises, but most of you already know how great “Batman Begins” is already. Nolan’s trilogy is a whole is still the best live-action representation of Batman to this day, even if “The Dark Knight Rises” falters to the point of close to mediocrity. If you’ve never seen it for some reason, you need to. “Batman Begins” is the best pure origin story of a superhero on film, and remains one of the greatest comic book film adaptations of all time.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Remembering Christopher Lee

I've always had a lot of love for Christopher Lee. My earliest memory of him I think was his bit part in "Gremlins 2" as the asshole mad scientist that tries to experiment on Gizmo and instead meets a nasty end. After that, I remember seeing him the hilariously awful "Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf" on HBO or Cinemax...granted the only reason I really remember that movie is because I was a kid and I saw glorious boobs on display, but that's another story.

Anyway, it was when I got a bit older that I discovered the wonderful world of Hammer horror. Though he was most famous for playing Dracula in a slew of films (beginning with the legendary "Horror of Dracula"), Lee had also played the Frankenstein monster in "Curse of Frankenstein" and even as an undead mummy in "The Mummy"; both of which also from Hammer. Lee didn't stop there though, he did many, many horror productions in the years to come, which would lead to solidifying a legacy that very damn few could ever come close to touching. I mean just think about all the films, other than horror, that Lee was and would be involved in in the years that would follow: "Horror Express", "To the Devil a Daughter", "The Wicker Man", "The Last Unicorn", "The Man with the Golden Gun", "Brides of Fu Manchu", "Sherlock Holmes", "The Gorgon", "1941", "Corpse Bride", plus the "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" franchises, and the latter two "Star Wars" prequels.

The man could do anything.

In his real life, Lee was a soldier, a Nazi hunter (!), and an all around bad motherfucker. He crafted a heavy metal album in his 80s (!!), and is considered one of the classiest actors to ever grace the horror industry, alongside Vincent Price, and his frequent co-star and best pal Peter Cushing. Now all three have left this mortal coil. There's no more living horror screen legends that could be on par with these men.

I could gush about Lee all damn day if I wanted to, but I won't. Hearing about his death early this morning admittedly fucked me up. Maybe it's because I have such long memories of him from my youth that it feels like another part of the past has bitten the dust, or maybe it's because a true icon of film history has passed away. I really can't say which for certain to be totally honest.

No matter what, Christopher Lee led a great and long life that many of us would and should be envious of. The horror world, the film industry, and the planet as a whole is a worse place without Lee's presence. That being said, his legend and legacy lives on in film, and the reach and impact he's had throughout the decades will likely never come close to being touched by anyone else.

Rest in peace good sir, you deserve it.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Top 10 Overrated Horror Films

It's happened to all of us at one point or another. You hear so many of your friends and people in general rave about a certain movie so much that it builds the hype about it in your head so damn much that you can't wait to see it for yourself. Then you finally get to see it and you think to yourself "oh my fucking God this is going to be so awesome"...and then halfway through it you realize it's a steaming turd. Well, maybe not quite a steaming turd, but nowhere near what you envisioned it as being.

This has happened to me quite a bit over the years with horror movies. I've heard nothing but great things about all the ones I'm going to list here, and then when I see them, I scratch my head in amazement that they are as well-received as they are. I managed to narrow this down to ten entries (this honestly could have gone on forever) of what I believe are the most overrated horror flicks around. Most of these films aren't all that old either, which either says a lot about the modern horror film genre as a whole or just my overall perception; you decide.

Now there were quite a few films that didn't make this final list, most notably being the "Paranormal Activity" franchise as a whole (mostly because I did actually enjoy the first installment), the American remake of "The Grudge", George Romero's "Day of the Dead", "Haute Tension", "House" (the one with William Katt), and "The Orphanage". The rest of these flicks I'm gonna list here? Well, fuck em.

10. FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)
Director: Sean Cunningham
Starring: Betsy Palmer, Adrienne King, Kevin Bacon

Now don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect and love for the original "Friday the 13th". Hell, the franchise as a whole is probably the most enjoyable (to me) out of all the 80s slasher franchises because they are the most consistent in terms of what they offer. That being said, most people often associate this original installment as a "classic" that stands tall next to the original "Halloween" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street". Well, those two films are slasher, and horror in general, classics. The first "Friday the 13th" definitely is not. It is fun and iconic in its own way, there's no doubt about that, but the fact that there would be future installments that surpassed this film in terms of overall quality and dare I say it value, doesn't help its case. Not to mention that it wasn't scary at all then or now, where as "Halloween" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" can still manage to elicit chills no matter how old they are.

9. HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003)
Director: Rob Zombie
Starring: Sid Haig, Karen Black, Bill Moseley

Oh shit, this fucking movie. Where do I start? I remember going miles out of my way to the only movie theater around me that was playing this just so I could see it opening night. Well, I did...and my reaction then is pretty much what my reaction to "House of 1000 Corpses" is now: meh. I mean it isn't terrible, not one bit...but it is nowhere worthy of being as revered as it is either. Just for so much of its running time I'm just so fucking bored and I don't give two shits about any single character in it. Now the fact this movie even exists is good for a few reasons: it brought a lot of beloved genre actors back into the spotlight like Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, and Karen Black for a new generation to discover, and it also led to us getting a far superior sequel in "The Devil's Rejects", which remains the pinnacle of Rob Zombie's filmography.

Director: Tom Six
Starring: Dieter Laser, Ashley Williams, Ashlyn Yennie

Fuck this movie...seriously. Well, maybe that's too harsh a sentiment, but still, fuck this movie. Fuck it in the ear. Body horror is a sub-genre that I often waver between loving and hating, and this fucking movie stirs up quite a bit of hate from me. Actually, the whole franchise does now that I think about it. One of the films that kickstarted the whole ultra-gross-out-horror kick we were on for a while, the original "Human Centipede" isn't nearly as graphic as its predecessor (which in all honesty I've never fully seen and probably never will) but the fact that there's a certain sect of people that consider this film a modern day horror classic makes me ill. Again, for the most part this flick just bores the shit out of me. Its premise tries to entice you with its shock value, and it fails. Miserably.

7. ANTICHRIST (2009)
Director: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe, Storm Acheche

When Lars Von Trier birthed "Antichrist" upon the world, critics and audiences were polarized to say the least. Some hailed it as brilliant art, others called it misogynistic garbage. In my opinion, it isn't really either. Von Trier as a director I often find myself polarized by. I really try to enjoy a lot of his work, but most times I just can't. I often feel that his mission is to make you feel uncomfortable, and he totally succeeds here with "Antichrist". The film drains the viewer in every emotion that it elicits. Most people may see that as a good quality, and maybe it is, but for me I just don't see what the fuss is over it. That, and the graphic genital mutilation I could've done without. Maybe I'm just out of touch...but if I am, in the case of "Antichrist" I am totally fine with that.

6. HOSTEL (2005)
Director: Eli Roth
Starring: Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson

I really want to like Eli Roth. He seems like my kinda guy, he really does...I just wish a majority of his films reflected that manic personality and love for the horror genre that he has. Anyway, the original "Hostel" was birthed out of the torture porn craze that hit in the mid-2000s, and it definitely shows. So much of the film just feels derivative. For being classified a horror film, it isn't scary in the least (I'll get to how I feel about torture porn as a whole in a bit) and instead we get scenes of very nasty things happening to characters we know next to nothing about and feel little to nothing for either. Its overall premise is intriguing, which helps make its failed execution (no pun intended) even more of a disappointment.

5. THE BABADOOK (2014)
Director: Jennifer Kent
Starring: Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall

The most recent film on this list, the hype surrounding "The Babadook" was so sky high that I should've known better going into it. With an absurd rating on Metacritic and featuring scores of critical acclaim across both the horror press and mainstream press, there was no way that "The Babadook" would fulfill those lofty heights. Well it doesn't just not fulfill its promise, it lands hard with such a disappointing thud that it doesn't take long to realize how much of a turd this flick really is. What kills it for me the most? That fucking kid. I prayed and hoped that that kid would get devoured by the film's monster so fucking bad it isn't even funny. If that makes me a horrible person in any way, shape, or form...I welcome being thought of in that way. Maybe it's because I don't have kids that I'm so fucking annoyed by that kid, but it doesn't change the fact that the promise this film has is just thrown to the wayside. Is the mother crazy and imagining all this shit due to the trauma of losing her husband and being a single mother? Or is there really a terrible monster lurking inside her making her keep losing her mind? There were so many interesting directions to go in, and they went for the most predictable one. Fuck this movie.

Director: Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sanchez
Starring: Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, Joshua Leonard

Another film that received tons of praise and is credited for starting the whole "found footage" thing (spoiler alert: it didn't, thanks "Cannibal Holocaust"), "The Blair Witch Project" is an overblown bore. Its creepy premise is ruined by the found footage aspect. I know that many consider its framing making it more realistic and scary, but for me all it does is detract from any frightening atmosphere the film can conjure up. Doesn't help that the principal actors are terrible and don't come off as being realistic people at all. I'll never understand how this film became one of the most successful independent films ever made, I really fucking won't. Oh, and on a side note, I get motion sickness just thinking about how shaky the camera in this fucking is.

3. THE RING (2002)
Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson, Brian Cox

Oh fuck me, this fucking movie. Another flick I'll never understand the wide acclaim it receives, only this is a piss-poor Americanized remake of a genuinely creepy and scary Japanese horror movie ("Ringu"), which thanks to the success of this we became flooded with PG-13-rated Americanized remakes of good Japanese horror movies for the next few years. I remember seeing this in a theater and laughing to myself while everyone was gasping at the cheap jump scares that are so damn predictable. "Ringu" is far superior in every way, shape, or form. If you've never seen it, I highly recommend tracking it down and giving it a watch.

2. SCREAM (1996)
Director: Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette

The slasher franchise that defined the 90s, I have little love for "Scream". Granted it helped put Wes Craven back on the horror radar as a well-regarded director, and it isn't terrible one bit in all honesty, but it is absolutely nowhere near being a "classic" like many think it is. I actually think "Scream 2" is better, but the franchise as a whole is just so damn overrated. It certainly has its place in history for breathing some life (and money) back into the slasher genre and spawning so many parodies and rip-offs, while also spawning many, many shitty teen slasher flicks that raked in cash and offered nothing in terms of thrills or excitement. Oh, and true story, I called who the killer(s) were 15 minutes into the movie the first time I saw it. That's nothing to be proud of, anyone with a brain could.

Director: various
Starring: Tobin Bell and many other poor bastards

Okay, deep breath...fuck "Saw" and all its sequels. Let me illustrate something for you: the year is 2004. We're still recovering from the horde of PG-13 Japanese remakes (see above) and cheap scare ghost movies that were plaguing mainstream horror. Enter the original "Saw": a super low-budget and violent film that made so much money out of nowhere that it made the execs at Lions Gate keep pumping out sequels every single Halloween for years to come. Now, the original film isn't terrible at all, and can actually be genuinely shocking...and it was refreshing. We were sick of the watered-down teeniebopper horror that had been all over the place for the past couple years, and we craved something somewhat original and super violent: and that was "Saw". The sequels that followed took whatever promise the original had and threw it out the window for gratuitous scenes of torture and traps that began as interesting and inventive and just became totally fucking lazy. The longer the overall story became as the films went on, the more ridiculous and just plain stupid it became. By the time "Saw 3D" came around, people had had enough. Now I'm sure the franchise will be back one day (it's made way too much money not to), but the other thing that "Saw" is responsible for is kick-starting the torture porn sub-genre in horror. You know, the genre that features nothing more but torture scenes, isn't scary at all, and classifies itself as "psychological horror"? Fuck all that. I only wish the "Saw" franchise stayed dead and buried, but I know as well as every horror fan does, no franchise stays dead forever.

So, that was my top overrated horror films. I know I cheated a little with the last entry by making it a whole franchise, but I feel it's warranted. Agree? Disagree? I don't give two fucks...but thanks for reading it regardless. Now go watch some good shit.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Reviewing Clive Barker's "The Scarlet Gospels"

I've got a major soft spot for Clive Barker, and I think I always have. At least I have since I first saw "Hellraiser" in my youth. Since then I've watched every single film Barker has ever directed and/or had his name attached to (for better or worse) and read most of his stories as well. Needless to say, I've ate, drank, and slept Clive Barker for the better part of my 30 years on this planet.

That's why I've looked so forward to "The Scarlet Gospels" for the better part of a decade since he had first hinted at a novel pitting Pinhead against supernatural detective Harry D'Amour (from the story "The Last Illusion" and the film "Lord of Illusions", where he was played by "Quantum Leap" star Scott Bakula) in a be all, end all confrontation that would mark the end of stories for both characters. So when the book was finally released this month, I was so fucking excited to finally crack it open and read this thing. Well, after finally getting a chance to finish it completely, the end result is just...well...underwhelming.

Don't get me wrong, the novel starts off fucking AMAZINGLY with a group of some surviving magicians meeting super grisly demises at the hands of Pinhead, but after that it's mostly downhill for everyone involved. Granted it isn't terrible, actually almost quite the opposite, but I just felt so underwhelmed by the whole thing. Now without giving too much away, half the book is dedicated towards Harry and his crew of cookie-cutter stereotype supporting characters (which in itself is a major disappointment: Barker almost always crafted super well-rounded characters) traversing through Hell as Pinhead wrecks havoc. I figured seeing vivid descriptions of what Barker's take on Hell would be awesome...but instead all it does is conjure up a whole bunch of "meh".

Oh, and Pinhead's mission? What is it exactly? We're never really given a clear idea. We just know he wants to rule Hell (maybe?) and needs Harry to be a witness. Why? We're never really sure. Not to mention the fact that "The Scarlet Gospels" just feels like so much was left on the cutting room floor that the novel as a whole feels kind of incomplete. Maybe it's just me that feels that way, but it sure as shit feels like a lot is missing here. Maybe in a few years we'll get a "director's cut" or something.

All in all, I still recommend reading "The Scarlet Gospels" regardless. It is entertaining for what it is, but Barker has done much better with his past works. Also if this is indeed the end of the road for Pinhead and Harry, they at least get wrapped up decently enough. And even though it isn't perfect, it's just good to see Barker back in the game. Maybe somewhere along the way he'll get his full game back and come back to blow our collective balls off one more time.