Sunday, 17 June 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark


This is the first in a series of posts on the Golden State Killer, beginning with a review of Michelle McNamara's non-fiction book, I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer. The book was published posthumously in February 2018, almost two years after her death. It was updated and finalized by true crime writer Paul Haynes and her widower, the actor Patton Oswalt.

As a teenager, Michelle was deeply affected by the unsolved murder of Kathleen Lombardo two blocks from her own home. This murder shaped not only her passionate interest in crime-solving, but also her compassion for the victims of crime. This compassion is apparent throughout her book and, I think, is responsible for making I'll Be Gone in the Dark such a compelling read.

Michelle McNamara started her website True Crime Diary in 2006, establishing a network of crime researchers, as well as writing numerous articles relating to unsolved crimes. She used 21st century technology to bring to light possible clues to a killer's identity. It was Michelle herself who coined the phrase Golden State Killer after authorities connected the crimes of the Original Night Stalker and the East End Rapist through DNA analysis. As a serial killer, rapist, and burglar, he committed at least 12 murders, 50 rapes, and over 100 burglaries in California between 1974 and 1986. He is thought to have begun as a burglar known as the Visalia Ransacker before his crimes escalated to rape and murder.

The author's observations about her childhood and how she became passionate about unsolved crimes are fascinating in themselves:

...When I meet people and hear where they're from I orientate them in my mind by the nearest unsolved crime.... Mention that you're from Yorktown, Virginia, and I'll forever connect you with the Colonial Parkway, the ribbon of road snaking along the York River where four couples either disappeared or were murdered between 1986 and 1989.

What is remarkable about this book is not only the excellent narrative, but also the author's ability to avoid sensationalizing the crimes and the killer, choosing instead to make us aware of the actual victims, often forgotten in true crime accounts. Michelle McNamara re-creates the crime scenes of the Golden State Killer, always mindful of the small details of the victims' lives, in a manner that creates an intimacy between the author and the reader.



Saturday, 2 June 2018

Hereditary: As Scary As The Exorcist?



BBC News is reporting that Hereditary, due to be released in June, is downright scary. Here's an excerpt from their Arts & Entertainment report:

Horror movie Hereditary has become one of 2018's most eagerly anticipated releases after scaring and impressing critics in equal measure.
Actress Toni Collette is coming in for particular praise as a woman whose family has demons in its DNA.
Bustle said it's 'truly unlike anything you've seen before,' while The AV Club called it 'pure emotional terrorism'.
The film is released in the US on 8 June and in the UK a week later.
In his five-star review for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw wrote: 'Hereditary tripled my heart rate, prickle-massaged my scalp, cured my hiccups - and pretty much terrified me.'
Collette's 'operatic, hypnotic performance seals the deal every second she's on the screen,' he said.
Referring to next year's film awards season, he added: 'Surely this magnificent actor will get some silverware next February.'
The film's New York-based first-time writer-director Ari Aster has also received acclaim.
Writing in Vox, Alissa Wilkinson said: 'The first time I saw Hereditary I yelped a lot, and very nearly crawled under my seat once or twice.
'What you feel from the start is a sense of real horror, some kind of cross between dismay and disgust, which starts out almost undefinable and builds to a (literal) crescendo by the end.'
The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey wrote: 'The fact Hereditary is being (rightly) talked of as one of the most singularly terrifying, singularly disturbing horror films in years speaks to its unique sense of mood.
'Secrecy, guilt, anguish: Hereditary breeds its own phantoms. Ones which like hang around, to boot. Weeks later, you may step into a dark room, and that chilled feeling will come rushing back: am I truly alone right now?'

For the movie trailer, please click here.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Solo: A Box Office Bomb?



The Business Insider reports that Solo: A Star Wars Story has had a less than stellar opening weekend:

It turns out Star Wars is not bulletproof.
The beloved franchise released its latest A Star Wars Story movie over Memorial Day weekend by telling the origin story of space scoundrel Han Solo, and it greatly underperformed.
Solo: A Star Wars Story earned an estimated $83 million domestically over the weekend and is projected to take in $101 million by Memorial Day, according to Exhibitor Relations. That's $29 million off what the industry had for the movie's low-end projection.
In the middle of last week, Solo was projected to earn between $130 million and $150 million on 4,381 screens. If that held, Solo would be set up to be the latest Star Wars movie having a record-breaking box office opening — taking the crown from current Memorial Day record holder, 2007's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End with $139.8 million.
But by the end of day Friday, Disney hinted that the weekend wouldn't go according to plan as it drastically adjusted that projection to between $105 million and $115 million over the four-day weekend.
The $101 million performance by Memorial Day for Solo would be strong for any other movie at any other studio — especially over a holiday weekend where audiences would rather be outside than in a theater — but for a Star Wars movie, this just doesn't cut it.

[Excerpt edited for punctuation]


The Business Insider speculates that the weak performance by Solo at the box office is due largely to three factors: "opening over Memorial Day weekend, Star Wars fatigue, and the movie's lackluster reviews."

Monday, 21 May 2018

The Beginning of Stephen King's Success



This is a scan of an old newspaper article outlining Stephen King's success in selling his novel Carrie to Doubleday. Given that this was the '70s, the money was huge for King and gave him an opportunity to write full-time.

Stephen King has had a long and prolific career as a writer, and he doesn't show signs of stopping any time soon.

His career is a lesson in perseverance for those who want to write.

For a previous post on Carrie, please click here.


Monday, 14 May 2018

Winchester the Movie

The Winchester House has an incredibly fascinating history so I was disappointed to see that the movie, now available on DVD and blu-ray, has received such poor ratings from both critics and movie-goers.

The movie description is as follows:

Inspired by true events. On an isolated stretch of land 50 miles outside of San Francisco sits the most haunted house in the world. Built by Sarah Winchester (Helen Mirren), the heiress to the Winchester fortune, it is a house that knows no end. Constructed in an incessant twenty-four hour a day, seven day a week mania for decades, it stands seven stories tall and contains hundreds of rooms. To the outsider it looks like a monstrous monument to a disturbed woman's madness. But Sarah is not building for herself, for her niece (Sarah Snook) or for the troubled Doctor Eric Price (Jason Clarke) whom she has summoned to the house. She is building a prison, an asylum for hundreds of vengeful ghosts, and the most terrifying among them have a score to settle with the Winchesters...

If you'd like to learn more about the history of the Winchester House, please see my previous blog post on this subject: http://wallsofnightmare.blogspot.ca/2015/04/the-ultimate-haunted-house.html.

Monday, 30 April 2018

A Canadian Anthology: Journey Prize Stories

Like the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Pushcart Prize, and the Best American Short Stories series, the Journey Prize Stories is one of the most celebrated annual literary anthologies in North America. For almost 30 years, the anthology has consistently introduced readers to the next generation of great Canadian authors, a tradition that proudly continues with the latest edition published in October 2017. With settings ranging from wartime China to an island off the coast of British Columbia, the ten stories in this collection represent the year's best short fiction by some of our most exciting emerging voices. 
 
A young boy who believes he is being stalked by an unstoppable, malevolent entity discovers that he may not be the only one. In a sweeping story set against the fall of Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War, a pregnant woman waits anxiously for her doctor husband to leave the city before it's too late. A river that runs through a First Nations community is the source of sustenance, escape, and tragedy for a girl and her family. The haunting footage of the politically motivated self-immolation has unexpected reverberations for a Tibetan-Canadian woman dealing with multiple conflicts in her own life. A man who works a back-breaking job at an industrial mat cleaning service is pushed to his limit. When her mother has to return to Kinshasa to bury a family member, a girl gradually learns of the intricacy and depth of grief, in an evocative piece that illuminates the cultural gaps common within immigrant families, and the power of food and stories to bridge them. 
 
If you missed this anthology last fall, you might like to check it out now.

Source: Amazon.com

Monday, 23 April 2018

May and June 2018 Horror/Crime Fiction Novel Releases

Here's three you might want to look for:

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

(May 22nd release day)


Award-winning author Laird Barron makes his crime fiction debut with a novel set in the underbelly of upstate New York that's as hardboiled and punchy as a swift right hook to the jaw--a classic noir for fans of James Ellroy and John D. Macdonald.

Isaiah Coleridge is a mob enforcer in Alaska--he's tough, seen a lot, and dished out more. But when he forcibly ends the moneymaking scheme of a made man, he gets in the kind of trouble that can lead to a bullet behind the ear. Saved by the grace of his boss and exiled to upstate New York, Isaiah begins a new life, a quiet life without gunshots or explosions. Except a teenage girl disappears, and Isaiah isn't one to let that slip by. And delving into the underworld to track this missing girl will get him exactly the kind of notice he was warned to avoid. (May 29th release date)


The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense that recalls Stephen King’s Misery, Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood, and Jack Ketchum’s cult hit The Girl Next Door.

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road.

One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, "None of what’s going to happen is your fault". Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: "Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world."

Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay. (June 26th release date)


Source: Amazon.com