Lenni Reviews: “Smashed: Junji Ito Story Collection” by Junji Ito

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and us suggested for mature readers.

In another Junji Ito collection, I am once again impressed, frightened, and confused as to why I keep inflicting these nightmarish stories on myself. But Ito is true to his usual macabre, gory self in this series of short stories that will send shivers down your spine. I never get tired of this guy and love his work. I don’t want to go too deep into all the stories but my favorite was “Earthbound.” 5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Ice Cream Man Vol. 1: Rainbow Sprinkles” by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo

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This comic is a horror anthology based around our title character who is obviously a demon of some sort. It’s trippy and surreal but sometimes I got this feeling the book is trying too hard. I want to like this more than I do but after finishing it, I didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t creeped out, disturbed, or scared in the slightest. The only reason I would continue this series is to find out what happens to the demon in the long run. Overall, it’s just meh. 2 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Infidel” Vol. 1 by Pornsak Pichetshote, Aaron Campbell

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature audiences.

Aisha is a young Muslim woman living with her mother, fiancee, and step-daughter in an apartment building that has recently suffered a bombing. Aisha faces not only suspicion from her neighbors but she begins to see visions of the dead bomber in the form of enraged and violent poltergeists tormenting her. As the specters become more aggressive, Aisha and every other occupant in the building is at risk of being killed or worse.

I like the idea of the ghosts in the building feeding on the inherent fear and hatred around them; as such emotions become dangerous when people are scared and panicked. This book manages to express this sentiment without getting too preachy or pandering. The art and the writing make this an effective horror story that reminds me of Stir of Echoes with some Tales From the Crypt mixed in there and if it continues, I’m on board. 4 out of 5.

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Finally Watched It: “House” (1977)

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Having seen this movie mentioned dozens of times on crazy movie lists, I finally had the chance to check it out.

We have our set up of a bunch of high school girls (I have nicknamed them The Sailor Scouts) all go to this old woman’s house and of course, shenanigans ensue. Typical right? Hoooooo boy, ladies and gentlemen, this movie I have to come right out and say is either the scariest funny movie I’ve seen or the funniest scary movie I’ve ever seen. Everything feels otherworldly and off kilter even when things are “normal.”

When it starts, all the main characters are so damn happy and go lucky all you can think is “well, hey there, Cannon Fodder. I’m sure nothing will go wrong here.” But even as old as this movie is, gods is it refreshing to have a cast we actually root for instead of a collection of unlikable assholes you WANT to die. You actually feel for the characters as they go through all this horrific shit; all done with effects that are creepy in some parts, and ‘pause the movie because you’re laughing so hard’ parts. If done with skill, I wouldn’t mind seeing this movie remade with updated effects! As it is, I’m half tempted to watch it a few times just because it was so much fun. This movie BEGS to be watched with a bunch of friends and booze if you got it.

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Lenni Reviews: “Happiness” vol 6 by Shuzo Oshimi

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Yukiko Gosho has been trying to move on with her life and in the years since her injury from Makoto, she has grown up, gotten a decent job, and even a possible romance with a coworker. But the ghosts of her past resurface and she risks losing her stability to find answers.

While I enjoyed this volume, the ending makes it feel like filler. Fun filler, but filler. The abrupt ending felt less like a cliffhanger and more of a puttering out since once Gosho makes up her mind, all you can think about is what the fallout will be once it’s revealed what has been happening to the vampires in captivity all these years; if they are even still in captivity. Either way, I’m betting Makoto hasn’t been chillin at a hot spring in the years that have passed. 3.7 out of 5 for this one.

Lenni Reviews: “It” by Stephen King

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“Hey, Lenni? You’ve been kinda quiet with the reviews lately. What’s the deal?”

I PUT EVERYTHING ON HOLD TO READ THIS SO I COULD FINALLY WATCH THE MOVIE.

As I was reading this over 1000 page epic, I was almost tempted to do a read-along like I did with Battle Royale but by the time I thought of doing that, I was WAAAYYY too far into the book to pull that off without seeming fake as hell. I do try to avoid BS in this blog. My gut reactions would seem forced and too knowing as I would have been way ahead by the time I wrote up a review.

And who wants spoilers anyway!

What can I say about King? I’ve been reading his books since middle school (I was about 14-15 when I finally outgrew R. L. Stine and Christopher Pike) and Ma was always cool with me reading whatever I thought I could handle (and I wasn’t shy about passing up something I felt I couldn’t handle at that age). I’ve been a fan for over 20 years, I’m still working through his EXTENSIVE biography and he is a man I greatly respect as a person and as a writer. As a comparative novice (who am I even kidding with that statement…) it hardly seems as if I’m in a place to remark on anything he writes. This author is on a short list of people who I would read the phone book if they wrote it simply because they are THAT awesome.

That being said? I have some gripes.

  • Ben is fat. I get it. We don’t need to know every time his stomach, ass, chins or whatever bubble over everything. I have enough body issues and I was a fat teen (and fat adult). I don’t need reminders of how shitty my ass would look on a bicycle seat.
  • I haven’t seen Django Unchained or Hateful Eight and I understand the time period but jeepers, the flagrant use of the N-Word. Context, yes. I totally get it. But having been the target of that word, it’s rage inducing; which takes me out of the narrative until I calm down. It’s so heavy with meaning and emotion it takes me out of the story for a minute before I dive back in, which brings me to:
  • I want to kick the shit out of these bullies and I hate them. On second thought, if the writing is strong enough to elicit an emotional response, I withdraw that criticism.

Note: Anyone want me to do a read-along of any other books? I’d gladly do another King book of you guys are game.

In the meantime, I have so… SO many review copies I owe that are WAAAYY overdue. And for that, I can only apologize and overtly blame Stephen King. Tell him to write shittier books. That way I can blast through them faster and write long, funny, rage-filled reviews for you guys.

Or tell him to write even longer books so I shut up for a few weeks. Either way, I’ll be moving on a faster clip from now on.

Maybe I’ll talk about the movie in a post too.

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Lenni Reviews: “Killing Stalking” by Koogi

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*This comic is rated 18+ and comes with just all the trigger warnings: rape, molestation, abuse, murder… Just YIKES.

Since there’s some sizable debate among readers about a summary a reviewer or… Well, anyone who writes their own synopsis, I’m gonna cover my ass for the time being and just copy and paste from the source:

Yoon Bum, a scrawny quiet boy, has a crush on one of the most popular and handsome guys in school, Sangwoo. One day, with Yoonbum’s obsession towards Sangwoo reaching its peak, Yoon Bum decides to enter Sangwoo’s home. But what he saw inside was not the Sangwoo he had dreamed of. (source)

Got that? Good. Now, into sorta of spoiler territory because based on the cover, the revelation shouldn’t be a surprise: Yoon Bum is trespassing in Sangwoo’s house and discovers the man he’s in love with is a serial killer. I dunno, reading that synopsis and seeing the cover to this? Is that really a spoiler?

This series… This series haunted me. Neither character is particularly likable. Bum is a stalker, Sangwoo is a killer (THAT’S THE TITLE!! GET IT!!!) so the ‘relationship’ here is unhealthy at the start.

And I cannot stress how spoilery talking about this will be because I am convinced it is impossible to talk about what is so compelling about this story without spoiling some of it.

Bum, of course, gets caught in Sangwoo’s apartment and is held prisoner. What unfolds is this bizarre mixture of Stockholm Syndrome, infatuation, psychosis, and do we even dare call it love? I don’t think so… But the way this is written, you somehow end up rooting for this couple? I read every available page in ONE DAY (and had some interesting dreams, let me tell you…) and had to stop several times to ask myself WHY. Why do I keep clicking, why do I keep reading, why have I not run SCREAMING in the other direction of this book!?

After some serious introspection (no really, I felt I had to ask myself some serious questions) I determined this: if you took out every single sexual element; this is a murder drama from the killer’s perspective. And Bum is no shrinking violet! There’s a scene (SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS) where Sangwoo has… Ok, he has a girl over and Bum is hiding just… Go read it or imagine this. Bum reaches for Sangwoo’s hand and because Sangwoo is an asshole, he squeezes Bum’s hand hard enough to hurt. Bum’s response? He bites Sanwoo hard enough to bleed.

What I took from that scene was Sangwoo saying “I am a monster. Do NOT expect tenderness from me.” And Bum’s response in that bite? “I know. And I’ll let you know how much I’ll take.”

I gotta respect this book; neither of our main leads breaks character. Sangwoo is not going to be cured by Bum’s love and if that happens, all would be ruined. Shit is very fucking REAL in this book and I think that’s part of what keeps me coming back. There’s no “the power of your love has made me normal” magical happy ending; this is dark and erotic and scary.

That and I read some pretty hilarious censored pages… Where, because censorship law is a THING in various countries, breasts and gore are ok but an actual penis is not… So, they hide it with a giant white blob… Which I will forever term “Lightsaber Dick” and congratulations if you know Star Wars and are familiar with that sound? I just made every single sex scene in this comic unintentionally hilarious for you. You’re welcome.

And I’m sure I’m not the first to coin that phrase but if I am? Credit me.

All in all? Man, I am NOT sure I can totally recommend this. There is sex, rape, murder, gore, dubious con, manipulation, GROSSLY INCOMPETENT POLICE WORK, abuse… This is two damaged SICK people in a VERY unhealthy relationship… I honestly just DON’T KNOW.

But when there’s a new chapter? I’m on board. That premise hooked me and the writing kept me there. And if you can take the heat? Well… Bum cleaned the kitchen. He’s not a bad cook, either.

Try this out at your own risk and don’t come crying to me if you have “strange” dreams.

I’m gonna… I’m gonna go read something clean and wholesome now.

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Lenni Reviews: “Junji Ito’s Dissolving Classroom” by Junji Ito

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New kid in town Yuuma Azawa introduces himself to his new class then immediately apologizes. And keeps apologizing… All the time. Keiko Arisu feels bad for him and befriends him but she didn’t realize Yuuma has an evil little sister, Chizumi. She tells Keiko Yuuma apologizes because he has summoned the devil and feels power when he says sorry to the demon. Oh, it also melts your brain so Chisumi can eat it.

When will I learn? Junji Ito = brain searing terror. From the mind that gave the world Uzumaki and Museum of Terror comes this equally horrid tale of two evil siblings who destroy everything around them. This surreal collection of stories about them is supposed to be “a literal interpretation of the ills that plague modern society” but I’m not seeing it. Is it apologizing too much? There is something to be said for apologizing for no reason or for the same thing over and over because in time the act and the words lose all meaning. But even without digging for interpretation, it’s a gloomy, creepy, SUPER GROSS bit of horror and is a classic example of Ito’s work. I give this book a 4 out of 5; taking a point away to punish it for my nightmares.

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Lenni Reviews: “Smokin’ Parade” vol 1 by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou

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Youkou lives in a world where if a person gets cybernetic limb transplants, they run a risk of turning into a mindless killer called a Spider as a possible side effect. He has spent most of his time caring for his sister, who lost both her legs, and he learns the hard way how bad such a transformation can be. When his sister goes insane, a group calling themselves the Jackalopes come to save him.

I learned after reading this that Kataoka is the creator of Deadman Wonderland, which explains the creepy-cute and gory style. Our main villain, Kurama, seems over the top for me right now. GIANT breasts, bathing in human viscera… She might as well have “I’m Evil” tattooed on her massive chest. If gore isn’t your thing, you will not like this manga but so far I do like the characters and I want to know more about how the limbs are making people insane. 3.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Higurashi: When They Cry” vol 26 by Ryukishi07 and Karin Suzuragi

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Oh, you thought this story was over? Apparently not…

Rika has an accident and wakes up in an alternate timeline where there is no Hinamizawa Syndrome and the dam project was approved so the town will become a lake. Her friends are now virtual strangers and her parents are still alive. Rika must find the secret in this world and destroy it so she can get back to her preferred fragment.

This feels like a What If story rather than something that fits in with the overall story. It is an interesting way to see how the characters would have been different if they didn’t have to go through all the terrible things they did in the main story. Rika’s choice boils down to who’s happiness is more important; her own or her friends in that alternate world. This volume got a little preachy but not enough to put me off or derail the story. For what it is, it’s a decent diversion. But can this series be done now, please? 3.5 out of 5.

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