Finally Watched It – Challenge Edition: “August Underground” (2001)

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This movie, filmed in found footage style, shows the daily life and brutal murder spree of two sadistic serial killers.

Either I was way overhyped for this movie or I’m developing a tolerance because while this movie was graphic and pissed me off because our main characters are horrible human beings but… I still didn’t feel so repulsed that I was raging or I wanted to turn it off. In fact, there were several parts where I was thinking “Ok, I get it. You guys are disgusting assholes. Can we move forward?” I wonder if I was just overwhelmed by all the input that my brain just went numb and none of it was impressive or disturbing anymore.

I think what bothered me the most is this movie shows taping brutal torture and murder is the same as taping a mosh pit, farm animals, or going to the store. Goes to show where their morals and priorities are. It absolutely gives you the feeling that you are watching something terrible that you should not be seeing… And that shouldn’t be happening. But it wasn’t an easy watch, to be sure. I winced or had to take a break. But I got through it! It took me a bit to deprogram from it, but I got through. If you like found footage horror and can stomach the gore (and grossness) then this is… A thing you can watch. But if poop and rape, and a general disregard for human life make you squirm? Stay away.

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Lenni Reviews: “Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows “by Nathan Carson, Algernon Blackwood & Sam Ford

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Despite the warnings of the locals, two friends embark on a canoe trip down the Danube River only to find unfathomable creatures.

Not only does the art remind me of Junji Ito but the story – a short story by Algernon Blackwood (that I will read at some point) – has some major Lovecraftian themes with the unknowable, incomprehensible evil that is ancient beyond measure and cannot be defeated. I love how the art accentuates how otherworldly everything is and the disturbing events taking place.

I can’s speak to the accuracy to the original story but I liked this. A short and to the point horror story. 4 out of 5. 

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Lenni Reviews: “Mirka Andolfo’s Mercy” Vol. 1, by Mirka Andolfo

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

Due to a horrific mining accident in the small town of Woodsburgh, Lady Swanson is haunted by the tragic event, leaving her with debilitating flashbacks and visions. But when Lady Hellaine and Mr. Goodwill arrive in the town, Swanson’s fears of the creatures in the mine are once again brought to life.

If you liked The Thing, you’ll enjoy this Victorian era equivalent. In fact, from what I’ve read of the comic follow ups to that movie, this may be a better option if you’re looking for that type of story. It’s really cool with fun twists and turns, great characters, and some great detail in the art to really sell the strangeness of these creatures. If there’s a volume 2, I am totally down. I give it a solid 4.7 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Ice Cream Man: Hopscotch Melange” Vol 3 by W. Maxwell Prince, Martín Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran

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This volume gives us some background to where The Ice Cream Man came from before we get into the more vignette style the pervious volumes had. One story is set in Mexico on The Day of the Dead and is completely in Spanish with a translation later in the volume; which was interesting. Even having to bounce between the translation and the story, I was still eft with a more authentic feeling than if they just used carrots or asterisks to visually tell us it’s another language.

But the big deal here is getting some info on our demonic Rick and why Caleb is hunting him. They’re really going off the wall with this one and I’m interested to see where it goes. 3.5 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Killadelphia Vol. 1: Sins of the Father” by Rodney Barnes, Jason Shawn Alexander, Luis Nct

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Detective James Stangster goes back home to bury his father, who had been murdered. While dealing with his hatred for his father, James stumbles upon a nest of vampires hold up in his old neighborhood.

I like the dark and gritty art, I like the idea of who the leader of the vampires was (avoiding spoilers), it feels like it should be really cool and interesting but it all stalled out for me. I found it hard to keep focused on the meat of the plot and felt myself drawn to the character designs and perfect color palate for the dramatic violence. An ok book. 3 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “You Are Obsolete” by Mathew Klickstein & Evgeniy Bornyakov

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Disgraced journalist and alcoholic Lyla Wilton is contacted to investigate an island where all the adults die by their 40th birthday and the kids are all controlled by an app and lead by Martina. Martina’s goal in summoning Lyla is to move her influence from the tiny island to controlling all the children in the world.

This comic feels like an episode of Twilight Zone, directly referencing it in that it’s bleak, depressing, topical, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But it’s too on the nose. If you’ve ever read or seen a story with “the evil little kid” or “technology is taking over the world” storyline in it, there isn’t much new here. I like the art, I like that the protagonist is a pill popping alcoholic woman instead of the usual grizzled guy like a Stephen King character. It’s an alright book but it didn’t stand out for me. 3 out of 5.

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Finally Watched It – Challenge Edition: “Martyrs” (2008)

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In yet another movie that is touted on many lists for being super disturbing and graphic, Martyrs features two women who were at the mercy of a cult trying to create martyrs by having them survive supreme pain to transcend or transfigure to see God. The movie starts with Lucie, seeking revenge on what was done to her with the help of Anna, who hopes Lucie will move beyond the pain she went through.

Is it wrong of me to say this isn’t that bad? I mean, it’s violent and terrible. It opens with gruesome murders and features beatings and torture but… Ok, for me, a movie has to cross a line even within the narrative to ‘offend’ me or make me want to tap out of it. But this didn’t. Granted, I winced, I was shocked, it was gut-wrenching to watch the ‘chosen’ woman break over time but it wasn’t too much for me.

My bar for tapping out is ‘Serbian Film,’ however. And I’ve seen ‘Salo.’ This movie does not come close to either of those in terms of giving up on it.

I do have one kinda spoilery question… Not that I want these heartless bastards to get away with what they’re doing but if you have a cult of murder torture that you don’t want people to find out about, WHY would you set your torture den in the bunker of a house that you plant a family in THAT WOULD HAVE THEIR SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS END UP IN A NEWSPAPER!? Wouldn’t you want some people that were super low key and average? Someone that would take a while to notice if they were missing and not star students in the local school who would absolutely attract attention if they suddenly didn’t show up ever again? That just really bothered me as something a super fancy evil cult wouldn’t overlook. Especially when it’s revealed that they had a bunch of old rich people who probably could pull off the “quirky old person who lives alone now” type of person.

Ugh, but that irksome plot point aside, this was a super bloody movie that’s shocking but it didn’t get me so bad that it’s the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen. I’m kinda glad I was able to scratch this off my list. It was well shot and acted. If you can take it and like horror, I’d check it out!

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Lenni Reviews: “Moon Lake” by Dan Fogler, Tim Seeley, R.H. Stavis, Nick Tapalansky, Stefan Hutchinson, Brian Holguin, et al.

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*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+.

This is a horror anthology centering around a cursed area called Moon Lake.

With a Crypt Creeper like narrator called “Man in the Moon,” these stories are chock full of gore but not so much with the horror. I almost feel bad comparing it to Tales from the Crypt because while the campy nostalgia of that show is a reflection of it’s time and kinda predictable in a way, this collection is trying WAY too hard. It keeps reaching to appeal to the ‘farts are funny’ crowd and as that is not me, I was mostly bored and just flipping through the pages. I can’t give this a 1 out of 5 because clear effort went into the art. I’ll be generous and give this a 2 out of 5 because the last story in the collection saved me from complete boredom. 

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Lenni Reviews: “Venus in the Blind Spot” by Junji Ito

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

In another great collection, we get a nice selection of more of Ito’s signature nightmare-inducing tales; including one about how his interest in horror grew as a child. What sets this collection apart is some color pages! They look beautiful, even if Ito’s art is fantastically effective in black and white. If you are a fan of horror, this will fit the bill with ghoulish perfection. 4.9 out of 5.

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Lenni Reviews: “Sleeping Beauties” by Stephen King and Owen King

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When women fall asleep, they are covered in a cocoon like a catapillar. If anyone tries to wake them, they lash out with terrible violence. At the same time, a mysterious woman calling her self Evie appears, cryptically knowing what happened to all the women and how to cure them.

I read this right after I re-read The Stand and I found it funny the people start forming these committees. It just made me laugh.

Also, co-reading Drifting Classroom at the same time is a mistake I will not repeat…

But back to the point, Eveie’s plan confuses me. If the point was to make men value women more, she let a LOT of women get killed in the process (this isn’t spoilers if you are familiar with King’s work at all). And while I totally understand how it all relates to women having unique trauma and a critique of “traditional” male and female gender roles bit – and this is a bit of a spoiler – it really, REALLY bothered me that Lila in particular just sort of dismissed her husband’s unique trauma; which if you read the book he’s had a rough life. But she doesn’t even fake lip service to it. What a bitch…

Anyway, I liked this book. It was harrowing and really sad but if you like King, you will like this book. 4 out of 5.