Monday, 23 September 2013

Movie Review: The Shadow within

Also known as „Ghosts”, also known as “Les meres noires” (the black mothers), while I personally like the last title the most. Because, although it is a tale about ghosts and a shadow within someone, the mothers are what makes it special. But first things first:

In a little French village in the mountains set in the forties, the nine year old Maurice lives with his mother. The war has taken away the husbands, the phthisis is taking away the children. After losing his twin brother at birth, his mother has become a bitter woman, obviously and irrationally preferring the dead twin over him. And the bond to his dead brother is still strong – and threateningly so. And now the women of the village want to use said bond to communicate to their dead beloved children.

Well, what could go wrooong?

A shocker or thriller this is not. Instead it is what I would describe as a drama with added mystery. The movie moves slowly and in low tones, probably a trait that outs it as an adaption of a book. The recurring themes and the atmosphere are nicely done and gloomy. The special effects are meh, but i´d still recommend this movie. While the dead twin/ dead child schtick has been done to dea- a LOT – what I liked about the movie was its grounding in reality and its pessimism. The relationship of the mother to the child is sad and believable and so are the circumstances that lead up to the decision that they want to use Maurice as a medium to the other side. The real horror, if any, lies in the daily life of Maurice between the coldness of his mother and the closeness of his dear brother.

So if you are waiting for jump scares or masses of ghosts, you won´t get them – no matter how much the cover art tries to make this movie look like a screamer-picture or a gore-fest* – but if you are in the mood for some solid spookiness mixed with melancholia, this might be for you.

*= Pfft, seriously, look at this:
This one is actually rather accurate, all things considered...

... but then this one´s like:
Damn, sales are dropping, we gotta up the scariness!
And BAM: Scream/er face is gonna eat your SOUL!
Only scary thing is that this reminds me of a blow-up doll
... hrrr... okay, that implication IS scary.

... and on to the Mega-Digitation:
Or something.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Neuigkeiten... erneut

Hallo meine Damen und Herren,
leider muss ich mitteilen, dass sich die Herausgabe von Schattenspiele um ein halbes Jahr verschieben wird. Von den, mit mir eingeschlossen, vier Zeichnern haben zwei abgesagt und ich kann die daher ausfallende Menge an Material nicht innerhalb solch kurzer Zeit zeichnen und will das auch gar nicht. Es lag mir immer am Herzen, dass die Schattenspiele-Comics einen gewissen Mindest-standard an Qualität haben und dass ich kein Heft herausbringe, in dem weniger als 60 Seiten Comics sind. Hinzu kommt, dass ausgerechnet in den Zeitraum von Mitte Oktober bis Mitte November viele wichtige Termine meinerseits gefallen sind. Also ist die logische Konsequenz, das Heft zeitlich zu verschieben.
Bis dahin werde ich mein Bestes geben um den Blog hier wieder regelmäßiger zu updaten und falls es wieder etwas Neues gibt, halte ich euch natürlich auf dem Laufenden.
-     -     Nekromantenhase

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Comic Review: Night of a thousand wolves

... might as well be called: Comic of a thousand gorgeous wolves.
The art ist beautiful. It is hand-drawn, giving the pictures a vibe of age and tradition which nicely tingled in the back of my head while I was reading it. That is not say that I dislike digital art (not at all) I just want to say that it fits the theme and the story, which is set in the middle ages. And yes, the masses of wolves by the artist Dave Wachter are very impressive. There are only minor nitpicks, such as the zombie wolves and the faces of the humans just don´t look as interesting as the rest of the art. It is still eye porn, though.

The story is rather classic horror with fantasy elements: A family lives out in the wilderness among green hills and sheep. One day, all of a sudden, the Grandpa grabs one of these sheep and an axe, he wants to sacrifice it, as it seems, to an unknown force called Nagbre. The father intervenes, he argues with the old man, but as they stop their argument end and they look up when they hear a noise, a wolf has already half devoured the white animal, now gnarling his teeth at them. And he´s only the omen of an army of wolves coming their way...

Unfortunately it is not as interesting to read as I am making it sound. The story is not particularly grabbing and it feels a bit like a "what standard-horror-route will they go with?"-game. It mixes up the formula up a bit in the middle of the story when the "family alone a in a shack"-story becomes a "city under siege"-story, unfortunately ditching the horror element for that part completely in my opinion. It´s just not the same kind of fear when you are lying in your bed, unsure if the monster in front of the window has seen you yet then when you stand in the middle of a crowd, uneasy if all those people in front of you will provide a shield thick enough to save your life. I personally find the second scenario not as effective as the first, but that is of course subjective. While it starts out strong, if very clichéd and it mellows down towards the middle, the ending is nice, with a legitimate eerie feel to it and a bit of an open end that still manages to conclude the story.

The characters are pretty one-note. Nothing more to say here, unfortunately. The most memorable one was the mother, but apart from that the story sticks rather firmly to narrating down what´s happening with little to no characterization and little to no background story. While I am not a fan of the "we explain evey little detail"-approach, knowing a bit more about the lore would have been nice. It felt more like they did not have enough pages to tell everything they wanted to (the story is not that long and can be read in a single volume) and not like they meant to leave things out. Still, there is a mythological feel to it and as if there IS a backstory and a greater world behind it. 

Altogether, the story is not bad, just not very special. It is not full of twists and new interpretations, instead it is rather conservative. It´s like bread, essentially. Nah, that´s too harsh. It´s like bread that´s a little special. Like potato-bread. And it´s a good foundation for the delicious layer that is the artwork, the atmosphere and the wolves.
The thousand incredibly pretty wolves.

Buy: If you like the art or just like wolves a lot and want a comparatively "soft" and classic horror story. 
Pass: If you don´t like wolves that much or want an innovative horror story.

A preview of "Night of a thousand wolves" can be read here: Night of a thousand Wolves preview
and it can be bought on by IDW publishing as a paperback here: Buy Night of a thousand Wolves