Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hart's Erotica

I had everything a woman could want…

My husband, James. The house on the lake.

My life. Our perfect life.

And then Alex came to visit.

The first time I saw my husband's best friend, I didn't like him. Didn't like how James changed when he was around, didn't like how his penetrating eyes followed me everywhere.

But that didn't stop me from wanting him. And, surprisingly, James didn't seem to mind.

It was meant to be fun. Something the three of us shared for those hot summer weeks Alex stayed with us. Nobody was supposed to fall in or out of love. I didn't need another man, not even one who oozed sex like honey and knew all the secrets I didn't know, the secrets my husband hadn't shared. After all, we had a perfect life.

And I loved my husband.

But I wasn't the only one.

Title: Tempted
Author: Megan Hart
Start & Finished: 6/11/08
Published: 2008
Publisher: Harlequin Spice
Pages: 426
Genre: Romance- Erotica

Labeled as “erotic romance”, Megan Hart’s Tempted isn’t what an erotic romance normally is expected to be. The characters all have depth, there actually is a plot, and it is presented in a somewhat believable way too. Especially with the nutty family members!

I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have read this or any of Megan Hart’s novels on my own because I’ve never been that crazy about a lot of Harlequin’s publications (I’ve read too many bad or generic novels by them) but J. Kaye read it and did a giveaway on her blog which I won. I certainly wouldn’t have bought it in a bookstore though… and I don’t embarrass easily! Ms. Hart isn’t my favorite author now by any means, but I did like her story enough that I may try out some of non-erotica just to see the difference someday.

There were a lot of parts I remember not really enjoying but I did like how the story was written including the emotional issues that the characters have to work through. I can certainly see why Harlequin added this book to their Spice collection but if a little editing were done, Tempted could pass for either just a romance or plain fiction. The ending is the only thing I really would have changed.

Links: Author Blog (Category: Tempted)

Picture Explanations
Lake House:
James and Anne live in a house on the lake
Roller Coaster: Alex and Anne go to the fair while Alex is visiting.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just Crazy About Tiffany’s

From the opening strains of Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer’s haunting, Oscar- winning song “Moon River,” you’ll once again be under the alluring spell of that madcap, carefree New York playgirl known as Holly Go lightly (Audrey Hepburn) in this 24- carat romantic comedy based on Truman Capote’s best-selling novella. George Peppard is the struggling and “sponsored” young writer who finds himself swept into Holly’s dizzying, delightfully unstructured lifestyle as she determinedly scours Manhattan for a suitable millionaire to marry.

Title: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Release: October 5, 1961
Genre: Romantic Comedy- Drama
Based On: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
Writer: George Axelrod
Director: Blake Edwards
Music By: Henry Mancini & Johnny Mercer
Produced By: Richard Shepherd & Martin Jurow
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 114 minutes

There are few, if any actresses that posses the charm, beauty, and style of Audrey Hepburn especially in the iconic film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the self-described “jazziest [role] of her career.” Adapted from a novella by author Truman Capote, the role of Holly Golightly was originally meant to go to Marilyn Monroe; whom the author felt fit the role of Holly better, but Ms. Hepburn proved him wrong. Nominated for five Academy Awards, (two of which it won for the score and the song "Moon River") and several other very highly coveted awards, this is the epitome of a funny, sad, and so incredibly romantic film.

Even award-winning films and actresses are forgotten over time but not this one! Despite the fact that the movie was made nearly 50 years ago, the original “glamour girl” is still inspiring fashion today. A few years ago, the Givenchy satin evening gown that Audrey wears in the film was even auctioned off and the winning bid was the highest ever paid for a dress from a film.

How can I even begin to explain how much I love Breakfast at Tiffany’s? It’s not even completely because of the fact that I adore Audrey Hepburn, but it wouldn’t be the same if she weren’t in it. She’s just so beautiful and extremely talented that almost everyone else in the film is dull by comparison. I really love older movies but I haven’t really explored the films from the 60’s too much so a lot of the actors in the movie were unfamiliar to me but I did see a few cameos of people that I recognized (like Buddy Ebsen) and one I didn’t until later… Mr. Yunioshi. He’s actually played by Mickey Rooney! It's one of the most often critized parts in a film though and in many cases has been cut completely.

Usually I love to read the original source material when I like a movie (and vice versa) but I have never gotten around to reading Capote’s book. However, I highly doubt it could be better than the movie and besides, I’ve heard that Capote was extremely disappointed with how the adaptation turned out. Holly may be “just crazy about Tiffany’s”, but I’m just crazy about Audrey so this film will always be one of my favorites.

Related Posts: My Fair Lady

Links:, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Wikipedia), Audrey Hepburn (Wikipedia), TCM Featurette (video), Fan Page
Interviews: Audrey Hepburn Library

Trailer, Audrey Hepburn: A Style Icon, The Making of a Classic (2 parts)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Not In Love

Undercover cop Joe Shanahan's bad luck hit bottom the morning he stared up into the face of sexy suspect Gabrielle Breedlove. She'd blown his cover-- and brought him down with a can of hairspray-- and now his new assignment was to pose as her boyfriend. But spending as much time as possible with the utterly irresistible New Age beauty caused unexpected complications. To make matters worse, his matchmaking sisters are picking out china patterns.

Joe's brooding good looks and T-shirt-straining muscles might be easy on the eyes, but how could Gabrielle be attracted to a straight-laced detective who's determined to find evidence to arrest her? Still, he invades her dreams and when they share a transcendent lovemaking experience, Gabrielle knows it must be love.
Title: It Must Be Love
Author: Rachel Gibson
Start & Finished: 6/10/08-6/11/08
Published: 2000
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 371
Genre: Romance- Contemporary

Contemporary romance author Rachel Gibson published her first book in 1998 and two years later, she wrote It Must Be Love. Ms. Gibson may have found her love of reading and writing late in life but today she is an accomplished, bestselling RITA award-winning author with twelve published novels, four of them a part of series as well as a short story in an anthology published in the same year as this novel.

It Must Be Love was a quick, little happily ever after fluffy read but that is okay because it was what I was expecting. The characters are forgettable, the plot was so-so, but it was fun while it lasted! Well, I did have a few big problems with it such as how New Age people are portrayed because Gabrielle comes off as a kook in many scenes and how she throws herself at Joe like some angst-ridden teenager was almost painful. What I did like was Joe’s African Grey parrot Sam. I just love pets in books when they have such great personalities.

Before I found other bloggers, I stumbled upon author blogs like The Goddess Blogs where Rachel Gibson contributed. Therefore, it was only natural that I would start picking up books by the authors who write such funny and interesting things every day! The first (and so far, only) “goddess” that I read was Rachel Gibson with this 2000 release. I’m not sure if the characters in Gibson’s future books have more depth or not but I’m willing to find out because a lot of great romance writers’ first books do start off a little predictable and cliché but this book does show that the author has potential.

Links: Author (Wikipedia), The Goddess Blogs

Picture Explanations
Oils: Gabrielle blends essential oils that she sells in her shop and she uses and makes them throughout the book
African Grey: Joe’s parrot Sam is an African Grey parrot.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Inventive and Beautiful Nightmare

Enter an extrodinary world filled with magic and wonder- where every holiday has its own special land... and imaginative, one-of-a-kind characters! The Nightmare Before Christmas tells the heartfelt tale of Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town and all things that go bump in the night. Bored with the same old tricks and treats, he yearns for something more and soon stumbles upon the glorious magic of Christmas Town! Jack decides to bring this joyful holiday back to Halloween Town. But as his dream to fill Santa's shoes unravels, it's up to Sally, the rag doll who loves him, to stitch things back together.

This critically acclaimed movie milestone captured the hearts and imagination of audiences everywhere with its Academy Award nominated stop-motion effects, engaging Grammy-nominated music, and the genius of Tim Burton (Batman, Bettlejuice). The Nightmare Before Christmas- a delightful treat the whole family will enjoy!

Title: The Nightmare Before Christmas
Release: October 29, 1993
Genre: Stop-Motion Animation
MPAA Rating: PG
Writer: Tim Burton, Danny Elfman, Michael McDowell, & Caroline Thompson
Director: Henry Selick
Music By: Danny Elfman
Produced By: Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi, & Danny Elfman
Distributed By: Touchstone Pictures
Run Time: 76 minutes
Official Site

An animator working for the Disney company saw a window display where Halloween decorations were being replaced with Christmas ones and because those two holidays met in that shop window, that animator was inspired to write a slightly different kind of holiday poem. His name was Tim Burton and that poem was called The Nightmare Before Christmas. It took a little while to get the idea to become more than an idea, and then it took even longer for that idea to become fully developed but after nearly a decade, the living illustration and probably the only movie in existence that can be played both during Halloween and Christmas time was released.

Never my favorite “Disney” movie as a kid, I rediscovered it again when I was a little older and was able to love and appreciate it so much more. Eventually though my VHS copy stopped working properly so it had been years since I’d seen it last when the newest version was released. Tim Burton’s whimsical darkness has fascinated me over the years and its all there in the film. Technically, it’s not as “pretty” as Burton’s other stop-motion animated film The Corpse Bride but its much more fun!

One of my favorite composers (and Burton’s too), Danny Elfman was responsible for helping make the movie what it is because not only did he create the soundtrack and help produce the film, he even sings! He’s Jack Skellington’s singing voice as well as two other minor characters too.

What I find amazing though is how intricate and how hard it was to make this film! True it does show it’s age a little but at the same time, for something that is 15 years old, it has held up remarkably well to the test of time. It has also become a major part of our pop culture too just like the Christmas specials that everyone remembers so fondly today. The only difference is… this one works for Halloween too.

Links:, Nightmare Before Christmas (Wikipedia), Concept for unmade Disneyland attraction (Disney and More), Fan Site (lots of music, etc), The Tim Burton Collective,

Interview: Henry Selick (Animated Views), Mike Cachuela (Animated Views)

Trailer, Teaser, & Elfman Interview at Re-release Premiere:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Anita & Jason Take a Trip

Jason Schuyler is a werewolf. He's also one of Anita Blake's best friends, and sometimes her lover. And right now he needs her- not to be a vampire hunter, or a federal marshal, or a necromancer, or even for her rank in the werewolf pack, but because his father is dying. He needs Anita because she's a pretty woman who loves him, who can make him look like an everyday guy, who agrees to go home with him and help him say good-bye to the abusive father he never loved. The fact that Jason is about as much an everyday guy as Anita is a pretty woman is something they figure they can keep under wraps for a couple of days in a small town. How hard can that be?

Really, by now, Anita Blake should know better.

Marmee Noir, ancient mother of all vampires, picks this weekend to make a move. Somehow she has the cut the connection that binds Anita and Jean-Clause, leaving Jean-Claude unable to sense what is happening. Dangerous even as she sleeps, buried in darkness for a thousand years somewhere beneath the old country of Europe, Marmee Noir reaches out toward power. She has attacked Anita before, but never like this. In Anita she senses what she needs to make her enemies tremble...

Title: Blood Noir
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Book 16
Start & Finished: 6/10/08
Published: 2008
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 352
Genre: Paranormal

Laurell K. Hamilton’s sixteenth book in her bestselling Anita Blake series Blood Noir was originally meant to be a short novella like her 2006 release Micah. However Jason, the laidback werewolf who is “everyone‘s best friend and bed-buddy,” had much more to reveal than the author thought he did!

The vampire executioner Anita Blake burst into the publishing world with her cross and her gun at the ready 15 years ago in Guilty Pleasures. Saving innocents, kicking bad guy butt, and raising the dead for a living, she has since gone through many changes and could even be considered “one of the monsters” that she so despised to begin with. Or at the very least, she has become so firmly entrenched in the supernatural world that she’ll never be the person she once was and sometimes that’s not a bad thing. Then again, sometimes I do miss the more dangerous edge to the books that has been replaced with lots and I mean, lots of sex (there is a reason but it’s kind of complicated to explain- let’s just say Anita is kind of a living vampire now that feeds off of sex instead of blood).

Officially, Anne Rice was my introduction into the paranormal but Laurell K. Hamilton was my introduction to this type of paranormal mixed genre that has become so popular over the past few years. It’s because of Ms. Hamilton that I discovered Charlaine Harris and MaryJanice Davidson (who in turn made me discover Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, etc.). As the “queen” of the mixed paranormal genre, Hamilton has been around for awhile and many of her fans have been with her from the beginning (she also has newer ones thanks to the graphic novels that have recently come out based on her series) but over the years, some of the original fans have become disappointed with the direction the plot has headed. Most of them still keep coming back because they love the characters in the world that the author has built though. I am kind of in the middle because while I love the characters and reading about them in every novel, I too am getting tired of the repetition.

Blood Noir had a little more of action in it than I was expecting, so that was a pleasant surprise but there were plenty of parts that only over the past three or four years have become normal for the series. From this, you would probably think I hated the book but the thing is I really liked it; I like all of Hamilton’s books! My problem is that the author writes one book of each series every year and recently the Anita books have lost the “substance” that would tide me over until the next book came out. Now it’s getting where there is more of a romance plot than anything else and the books are, dare I say it? Brain candy.

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
1. Guilty Pleasures (1993)
2. The Laughing Corpse (1994)
3. Circus of the Damned (1995)
4. The Lunatic Cafe (1996)
5. Bloody Bones (1996)
6. The Killing Dance (1997)
7. Burnt Offerings (1998)
8. Blue Moon (1998)
9. Obsidian Butterfly (2000)
10. Narcissus in Chains (2001)
11. Cerulean Sins (2003)
12. Incubus Dreams (2004)
13. Micah (2006)
14. Danse Macabre (2006)
15. The Harlequin (2007)
16. Blood Noir (2008)
17. Skin Trade (2009)
18. Flirt (2010)
19. Bullet (2010)
20. Hit List (2011

Links: Laurell K. Hamilton (Wikipedia), Anita Blake (Wikipedia), Myspace, Author Blog (What’s Blood Noir About?),
Interviews: The Dragon Page (podcast), Capes and Cowls

Laurell K. Hamilton Reads From the Book (4 parts):

Picture Explanations
Jet: Anita is scared of flying but she flies with Jason to his hometown.
Hospital: The reason for Jason visiting is his dad is dying.
White Tiger: Anita has several different strands of Were in her and Marmee Noir "gifted" her with a white tiger too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spying is Hard to Do

Harriet M. Welsh is a spy.

She's staked out a spy route, and she writes down everything about everyone she sees, including her classmates and even her best friends. From Harriet's notebook:




Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands. Before Harriet can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she's written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?

In this groundbreaking, bittersweet coming-of-age story, Louise Fitzhugh has created one of literature's most realistic and memorable characters.

Title: Harriet the Spy
Author & Illustrator: Louise Fitzhugh
Start & Finished: 6/9/08-6/10/08
Published: 1964
Publisher: Harper & Row
Pages: 298
Genre: Children’s Fiction

Despite the fact that Louise Fitzhugh’s best-known book, Harriet the Spy has garnered criticism for its unlikable main character, the Sequoyah Book Award winner has since become considered a classic. The author’s own New York Times obituary credits her with introducing "a new realism to children's fiction and has been widely imitated.” Not only has her style been imitated but so has her book! Ms. Fitzhugh, herself wrote two other stories featuring characters from Harriet the Spy, The Long Secret and her posthumously published Sport but in 2002 (nearly 30 years after the original author had died), an author named Helen Ericson wrote a “sequel” called Harriet Spies Again. It won the Best Juvenile Edward award but many of the original fans hate it.

That’s not the only adaptation of Harriet though; she was also adapted into a movie! Nickelodeon’s very first film to be exact, and it was released in 1996 with Michelle Trachtenberg as Harriet in her first starring role with Rosie O’Donnell as Ole Golly. It won a few small awards and was generally thought well of at the time even though there were a few changes from the book. I do remember watching the film when I was a kid but I can’t remember whether or not I even liked it, I do know that this was my first time reading the original book though.

I'm not sure if I would dislike Harriet or not if I had read this as a kid or at least around Harriet’s age instead of as an adult because a lot of children do seem to enjoy the book. Some adults who read it as children have fond memories of it, and there are some who claim that it inspired them to become a journalist, a writer, or even a private detective. I don’t know if it’s the idea of the character that everyone likes, the admittedly well-written story, or if they actually do like Harriet herself but I couldn’t stand her (or her parents for that matter). I thought she was obnoxious, thoughtless, and sometimes even downright cruel but then again, there are some children who are like that. Not all children though, which is mostly how they are portrayed throughout the book. Harriet may have many fans, both young and young at heart but I’m just not one of them.

Links: Book (Wikipedia), Author (Wikipedia), Movie (Wikipedia),

Picture Explanations
Harriet & Janie: Harriet is the heroine of this story & Janie is her best friend who wants to blow up the world.
Dumbwaiter: Harriet hides in an old dumbwaiter to spy on Agatha K. Plumber, a wealthy lady who never gets out of bed.
George Wildenstein: Ole Golly's suitor

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Ultimate Whodunit Mystery

Hang it all! Who will serve breakfast now that the cook's been murdered?

Ten people-eight strangers and two married domestics-come from near and far to attend a posh weekend gala at a remote castle. What's the occasion? Easy. Each has unwittingly been invited to his/her own murder! Who's the mastermind behind this diabolical scheme? Not so easy. Because the cyanide-dipped pen that first put this dazzling brain-boggler to the page was held by the most ingenious crime mistress of all: Agatha Christie.

The title Ten Little Indians refers to the ten invitees, to the familiar nursery rhyme and to the ten Indian figurines affixed to a serving plate at the castle. After the fatal poisoning of a guest (Fabian), one of the figurines is eerily missing. One down. Nine to go.

Who's next? That's a fate Hugh O'Brian (TV's Wyatt Earp), British screen veterans Wilfrid Hyde-White and Stanley Holloway, Goldfinger girl Shirley Eaton and more desperately hope to avoid. Who-dunnit? That's the surprise awaiting you in this clever recrafting of Dame Agatha's marvelous mystery.

Title: Ten Little Indians
Release: June 1965
Genre: Mystery
MPAA Rating: PG
Based On: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (aka Ten Little Indians)
Writer: Peter Welbeck, Dudley Nichols, & Peter Yeldham
Director: George Pollock
Music By: Malcolm Lockyer
Produced By: Harry Alan Towers
Distributed By: Warner-Pathé Distributors
Run Time: 91 minutes

A couple of years after Agatha Christie had published her first version of the book that would later be known as And Then There Were None, she adapted it into a stage play. Soon after that, René Clair directed the first adaptation of her story into a film but it wasn’t too long before other filmmakers followed with their own take on Christie’s novel. In 1965, George Pollock used Christie’s book and her stage play for his adaptation of Ten Little Indians, which was one of the titles that the book was published under before it became And Then There Were None.

My Fair Lady with Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, and Wilfrid Hyde-White is a movie I have seen a countless number of times so when I realized that Holloway and Hyde-White were reunited in this film, I was very intrigued. However, I had already read Agatha Christie’s book, therefore I knew what would happen (or at least, I thought I did!) in the movie to some extent, so I had a bit of a hard time trying to wrap my mind around the fact that two characters that I have enjoyed for such a long time weren’t going to be the nicest of people, to say the least. Of course, these fabulous actors pulled it off though! There were actually quite a few good actors and actresses attached to the movie like Shirley Eaton, Hugh O’Brian, even Fabian among several others.

Quite a lot is changed from the book like the setting (snowed-in in the mountains here, visiting a private island with no way to leave in the book), the ending, and several of the characters are completely altered (the mean spinster in the book is a movie star played by Daliah Lavi) as well as some action and romance scenes added to make it more “Hollywood”. Personally, I would have preferred a complete adaptation of the book but to my knowledge, none has been made yet. They all seem to follow the formula of the stage play that Agatha Christie wrote based on her book instead.

I’m not really complaining though. I actually did like the ending and George Pollock is a great director. This was a truly good adaptation of a wonderful novel… much better than I thought it would be at least! If I had to make one suggestion, it would have been to try to get Rex Harrison to play one of the bad guys instead of one of his fellow My Fair Lady co-stars but that’s just me since Harrison is one of my favorite actors. Oh and the death scenes are a little over dramatic (sometimes laughably so) and a more subtle touch would have made Ten Little Indians an even better movie.

Related Posts: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (book) & Murder on the Orient Express (book & movie)

Links:, And Then There Were None book (Wikipedia), Ten Little Indians movie-beware, spoilers (Wikipedia)

Trailer (sorry, it won't embed)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Beaten Black and Blue

For eighteen years, Fran Benedetto kept her secret. And hid her bruises. And stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father. And because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son's face, Fran finally made a choice- and ran for both of their lives.

Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. And in this place she uses a name that isn't hers, and cradles her son in her arms, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Because Bobby always said he would never let her go. And despite the flawlessness of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time...
Title: Black and Blue
Author: Anna Quindlen
Start & Finished: 6/7/08-6/8/08
Published: 1998
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 293
Genre: Fiction

Oprah’s book club is known for picking sad or even downright depressing reads and they stayed true to that with their April 1998 pick of former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen’s book Black and Blue. She had retired from her career as a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist to write full time a year before the book was published and it was also adapted into TV movie starring Mary Stuart Masterson and Anthony Laragia in 1999.

In an interview, Mrs. Quindlen said that she will the first to tell you that her book “is not easy to digest” but that she wanted to write a story about marriage. She did no research for the book and claims that every bit of it is fiction too (unlike some of her previous works that reflect parts of her life). I’m one of the first to say that this came as a little bit of a shock to me because while I’ve never been in an abusive relationship before I have read plenty of stories like this one and a good majority of them are personal experiences for the writer. It just seems incredibly real!

This was the first time I had read anything by this author and yet I knew better than to expect a happy ending because her heroine Fran just goes along letting things happen to her. She only really does two things in the whole novel that “rocks the boat," so to speak and that is when she takes her kid and runs from her abusive (cop) husband and when she refuses to relocate after the organization that helped her run away tells her she needs to move again. Other than that, she just drifts along just letting things and people come into her life. Don’t get me wrong, she was a likeable character, I just wished she had done more!

Normally I would never have picked this book up on my own even though I have read and enjoyed a few Oprah picks before but one of my online groups was reading it. I can’t say I’m sorry I read Black and Blue because Anna Quindlen is a masterful author but at the same time there was quite a lot I disliked…. especially the ending. It was so disappointing and I think the ending is why only three people (out of at least 20) in the group said they enjoyed the book. Quindlen said:

"People are so invested in happy endings, I think that's why people are so frequently disappointed in their own lives, because they've had a bellyful of happy endings in film and fiction and they don't quite understand why it doesn't happen that way. And I think good literary fiction mirrors real life and I certainly think that this book does."
Moreover, while I could probably agree with her because the ending did make sense, I would still have enjoyed a bit more closure or something. I would almost rather have had this story written from the point of view of Fran’s son Robert.

Links: Book (Wikipedia), Author (Wikipedia), Oprah article
Interview: BookPage (Quote above came from here)

Author Interview with Charlie Rose:

Picture Explanations
Fran's husband constantly beat her up. He even broke her collarbone.
Ferris Wheel: Mike and "Beth" (Fran) take a bunch of kids to the carnival to celebrate the first win of the peewee basketball team that Robert is on and that Mike coaches.
Crowbar: Fran keeps a crowbar under bed for protection
Running: Fran meets Mike while out running something she has always loved doing.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Movie Monster Kothoga/ Mbwn

Come in- if you dare. The opening-night gala for a new exhibit at Chicago's Natural History Museum is under way, but be advised: something terrifying wants to make sure no one ever leaves.

Penelope Anne Miller, Tom Sizemore, Linda Hunt, and James Whitmore star in this effects-packed shocker that gives haunted house movies a terrific new setting. And the non-human star, (brought to head-ripping life by "Jurassic Park" Academy Award-winner Stan Winston), is something no creature fan can let slip by.
Title: The Relic
Release: January 10, 1997
Genre: Horror
MPAA Rating: R
Based On: Relic by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
Writer: Amy Holden Jones, John Raffo, Rick Jaffa, & Amanda Silver
Director: Peter Hyams
Music By: John Debney
Produced By: Gale Anne Hurd & Sam Mercer
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures
Run Time: 110 minutes

There have been tons of monster movies scaring the pants off audience members for years and Stanely Winston (who is responsible for the Jurassic Park dinosaurs, Aliens, and many more); one of the greatest creature makers put his talents to work for Peter Hyams’ The Relic. Based on the bestselling book (that later became a bestselling series) by the authors Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, the screenplay was written by twice that many people.

With so many writers attached to this project, you would think it would be at least half as good as the book was! Regrettably, it just seems like a watered-down version (as if the screenplay authors just skimmed the original work) of it with more emphasis put on how ugly and evil the creature is than anything else. The Relic and it’s monster (which somehow managed to have it‘s name changed to the tribe in the book), looks impressive but the elegance of Preston/Child’s explanation as to the “how it happened” is missing too. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have its moments and there are a few fans of the movie but there is a very good reason why the movie failed at the box office.

Somehow, this movie monster film was nominated for The Saturn award (which deservedly went to the movie Scream) and two smaller awards (Blockbuster Entertainment Award & International Fantasy Film Award) as well. Someone should have given an award to the original authors for turning their first collaboration together into something practically laughable. The crowning disappointment however, was when I realized that my favorite character from the book, Agent Pendergast would not be putting in an appearance. Pendergast is so popular he’s in eight other books by this team of authors and yet somehow, they felt he wasn’t needed.

I honestly tried to be fair and think of The Relic movie as a separate object from the book but from the very beginning, I was picking it apart. Some of the acting was really bad, music is used for the “jumpy parts” (then the director doesn’t follow through), and there many scenes that just didn’t make sense too. I feel like Paramount could have had a hit on their hands, something akin to the great monster movies that are still having sequels made but they totally butchered The Relic. If I would have seen it before I read it, maybe I would have liked it more… but I seriously doubt it.

Related Posts: The Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Links:, Novel (Wikipedia), Original Authors’ Website, Film (Wikipedia), The Script (an early draft), Fan Site (with tons of misspellings)

Interviews: Penelope Anne Miller (Urban Cinefile), Producer, Director, Author (Jason Taylor)


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Swashbuckling Adventure

Ahoy, mateys! Come aboard the good ship Hispaniola and set sail in search of buried treasure in one of Disney’s most critically acclaimed adventure classics.

In his first all-live action feature, Walt Disney has vividly brought to life Robert Louis Stevenson’s timeless tale of buccaneers and buried gold. Authentic locales, rich color photography and musket-roaring action set the stage for the stouthearted heroics of young Jim Hawkins (Bobby Driscoll)- and the skullduggery of that wily, one-legged pirate of all pirates, Long John Silver.

Aye, for that kind of excitement that only treasure and treachery can bring, there’s no better destination than Treasure Island!
Title: Treasure Island
Release: July 19, 1950
Genre: Adventure
MPAA Rating: PG
Based On: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Writer: Lawrence Edward Watkin
Director: Byron Haskin
Music By: Clifton Parker
Produced By: Perce Pearce
Distributed By: RKO Radio Pictures
Run Time: 96 minutes

Pirates tales have been told long before Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island and long before Disney adapted it into a film too but none of them are remembered quite like this one. After the war, Walt Disney couldn’t transfer his earnings out of England so instead of setting up and having to train a new studio of animators, he decided to create his first full-length live action movie and film it in England.

Although Mr. Disney and his family visited Europe during the filming, he had little to do with the actual filming. He left it mainly in the hands of Perce Pearce and the rest of the crew in England which resulted in the film not being as “Disney” as most of his movies. Many critics were shocked by a Disney movie having bloody fights and death, especially since Cinderella had come out earlier the same year. While Cinderella could arguably be aimed mainly toward a female audience, Treasure Island is an all “boy adventure” (of course, many girls enjoyed it too!).

Unsurprisingly, there were a few people upset about an American playing the part of Jim Hawkins but Bobby Driscoll is an essential part of the film and I don’t think anyone before or since has made a better Jim. He was such and talented kid and he helped balance out the decidedly “English feel” to the film and made it relatable for American audiences. However, the real star of this film was Robert Newton because to put it simply, he IS Long John Silver. Whenever I think of a pirate he was the first person to pop into my mind (before The Pirates of the Caribbean movies came out anyway) and evidently I’m not the only one because he has been credited with inventing the “stereotypical pirate voice”. Newton did such a masterful job that he never was able to shake off his pirate image and went on to star in an unrelated movie called Long John Silver and a TV series based on his alter ego too.

It still surprises me to realize that until a few years ago, I had never even seen this lavish, beautiful film. How could I not fall instantly in love with the characters and the settings (many of which have an optical illusion called glass shots painted by Peter Ellenshaw)? I haven’t read Robert Louis Stevenson’s’ book yet but I do plan on it soon. Treasure Island has a wonderful plot, terrific acting, and an amazing adventure… they sure don’t make them like they used to!

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates' loot on Treasure Island and at the bottom of the Spanish Main... and best of all, you can enjoy these riches every day of your life.” ~ Walt Disney

Links:, Book (Wikipedia), Movie (Wikipedia)
Interview: Byron Haskin (Michael Barrier)


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