Book Review: The Cabin in the Woods (Official Movie Novelization) by Tim Lebbon

Hi again!

Horror comes in all shapes and sizes these days. These days at the movie theater it seems to be more about gore, torture, and blood splatter than any kind of psychological approach, but occasionally something unique comes along and gets my attention. I’m usually not much of a horror fan unless it’s more a monster feature or thriller-type of movie, so quite honestly I don’t go see horror often at the theater. But something about The Cabin in the Woods gnawed at me…

So when I was offered a chance to check out the film novelization of the script from Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard by Tim Lebbon (Hellbound Hearts, 30 Days of Night (Movie Novelization), Dawn, The Wild – Secret Journeys of Jack London: Book One (with Christopher Golden), and others), I jumped at the chance. First, it’s been quite a while since I’ve read a movie novelization. And second, I’m a Joss Whedon fan and was curious to see what was hiding in this mysterious cabin in the woods.

Guess what? I was quite entertained and am now interested enough to see the actual movie when it is released on DVD/Blu-ray!

The summary at IMDB offers the most succinct description of the film (and book) plot I’ve seen: “Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.” But though this film may start like so many of the slasher flicks of the ’80s with a group of horny, drunk, and drug-addled college students heading to a remote cabin that belongs to someone in the family, it quickly becomes much much more than that.

As you start to see flashes of what’s going on behind the scenes, there are two sets of characters you get to know. The kids – Dana (artist after a bad break-up), Curt (jock), Jules (jock’s girlfriend), Marty (pot smoker and deep thinker), and Holden (fellow jock and potential rebound relationship for Dana) – and then the others, who I don’t want to spoil for you if you haven’t seen the movie already. But the back-story explains all of those horrific events in other slasher, zombie, and horror movies over the years. It’s one big conspiracy! (Pardon me as these nice folks drag me off to a sanitarium for saying too much…)

Ultimately that’s the best part of this book. Once you get a peek behind the curtain, you see the story from both sides. There are the kids stuck in the horror film and the people behind it. No, I’m not talking about the scriptwriter, director, and production crew here – or am I? That’s the beauty of this story, which takes a typical horror film and pulls it inside out. Will you want the kids to survive? Or will you root for the monsters?

If you like horror, but want something a bit different I’d encourage you to check out The Cabin in the Woods – the movie or the novelization. It’s a twisted reinvention of the genre and I’ll never look at another horror movie the same way again.

For more about author Tim Lebbon, be sure to check out his website at TimLebbon.net. And for the latest news about things in the Whedon-verse, check out the community of Whedonesque!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Book Review: Red, White, and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth

How do you feel about the Boogie Man? No, we’re not talking about someone “shaking their groove thing” and we’re not talking about something you might get on your finger after some proboscoid exploration. We’re talking about the actual Boogie Man (or bogeyman or boogeyman or boogieman) – the original monster under the bed.

At my house, the Boogie Man received such attention by my youngest child that we had to invent a “Monster Alarm” (like a burglar alarm) that we would “arm” when we went to bed so no monsters could get her in the middle of the night. And during my own childhood I can remember a morbid fascination with monsters in the dark that has survived to the present day.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve really enjoyed Christopher Farnsworth‘s series about a vampire working for the President of the United States. With The President’s Vampire and Blood Oath Farnsworth introduced Nathaniel Cade, a vampire who was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson after a brutal set of murders on a whaling ship. He was then bound by Voodoo by a blood oath to serve and protect the President of the United States. Cade is a monster, but he protects the interests of the Presidents from the other monsters who also live there. Monsters of both literary and mythological origins.

The fact that Farnsworth has now brought Cade face to face with the Boogie Man is twisted enough to be genius. But that he can combine the Boogie Man with a political battle for the White House rife with commentary about the current political climate in the US makes it that much better. The first book grabbed my attention a few years ago, but the second one, though I enjoyed it, didn’t grab me as much. And Red, White, and Blood is now my favorite in the series.

When you consider all the foes Cade has faced in the first two books, from vampires and a real-life Dr. Frankenstein to the more mundane enemies, it’s amazing to think that he’s faced the Boogie Man before. He’s had other names, of course… The Zodiac Killer. BTK. The Ax Man of New Orleans. But as many times as Cade has faced and beaten him, he keeps coming back.

Now the Boogie Man is back and determined to end Cade once and for all. But more than that, he’s working with someone else this time. Helen Holt. A woman who has somehow stayed alive despite Cade’s efforts. A woman who wants Cade gone, but also wants to see power shift and new blood in the White House.

Can Cade defeat the Boogie Man once and for all? You’ll have to read Red, White, and Blood to find out.

For more about Nathaniel Cade and author Christopher Farnsworth, be sure to check out his website and follow him on Twitter!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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Book Review: Sadie Walker is Stranded by Madeleine Roux

Hi all!

Yes, zombies are everywhere. But the stories that are the most compelling are of normal people facing extraordinary odds of survival. Whether you’re talking about The Walking Dead or Jonathan Maberry‘s Rot & Ruin YA zombie series or Sadie Walker is Stranded, it’s the “Average Joe” forced to step up in the face of certain doom that I want to read about. Sure, Milla Jovovich is stunning in the Resident Evil movies, but her character there is more a superhero than the girl next door. I’m much more likely to identify with the flawed heroes of The Walking Dead and Night of the Living Dead.

So back to Sadie… Author Madeleine Roux manages to capture the insanity and dark humor that may in fact make the apocalypse bearable, but does it so deftly that you only notice when she deflects a horrific event with a popular media reference or witty response to get a rise. Mix that with the fact that this is the first zombie book I’ve seen that uses a boat to great effect and you get great paragraphs like this: “Finding privacy on a sailboat is like finding a Starbucks in the desert. You might desperately want it to happen, you might wish upon a star, but you’re better off accepting that you’re going to die, and not with a soy latte in your hand either.”

I’ll be shocked if this book doesn’t get optioned for a movie within a year or two. It has a heroine who manages to be both brave and flawed at the same time. It involves hordes of the undead underwater and above it. And it details a world that seems much closer to the beginning of such an apocalypse than one that’s learned to live with it.

After the zombie apocalypse happens, graphic artist Sadie Walker finds herself living in a besieged Seattle, WA, trying to live a normal life and raise her nephew in relative safety and peace. Fate apparently has other things in store for her. When her nephew gets kidnapped by a radical group of “Repopulationists” seeking to repopulate the earth through copious copulation where children are prized above all else, Sadie goes off the deep end. She must fight her way to her nephew amid the chaos caused when a group of zombies breaks through the barrier around the city. Can she not only save the kid, but keep them both alive?

If I had to sum up the book, I’d say it’s a bit like Gilligan’s Island crossed with The Walking Dead, but with more references to popular culture and humor. Sadie Walker Is Stranded was a quick read and a glimpse into an interesting zombie-infested world. I hope Roux decides to follow-up with another book set in the same world. The book is in bookstores now and if you like a good zombie yarn, I’d definitely encourage you to check it out!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

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