Movie review: It (2017)

Fasten your seatbelts, people. This is going to be a long one.

It was originally released in September,  1986. I read it shortly thereafter, because I distinctly recall pulling the heavy hardback copy out of the new release shelves at my local library.

Not much of a story perhaps, save for the fact that I was eight-and-a-half at the time. I don’t know if my mom was awesome or negligent in signing off on the adult library card.

Obviously, most of what I read went over my head, and I skimmed a lot. But I returned to the work in 1990, when the original ABC miniseries aired, and I’ve read it multiple times since.

Short and sweet – the newly-released film edition is dynamite. It both homages and updates the materials in clever ways. I’m excited for the second part to come out – heck, to be honest, I’m excited just to see casting news, to see who’ll be stepping into the shoes of our heroes.

More detailed – and spoilery – thoughts after the jump.

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Dragon Awards results

There’s a very real sense of deja vu here . . .

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September 3

As we move through our lives, there are dates and then there are dates. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad. My son’s birthday, for example, will always be bittersweet because my grandfather passed on the same day.

In terms of good days, I’ve got today.

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The Dragon Awards – How I Voted

Today is the last day to register to vote September 1 is the last day to register to vote for the Awards, which will be announced next Sunday. Go here if you still need a ballot. I previously believed it ended earlier but found out they extended the deadline.

Not going to lie, a lot of these were tough calls for me. I have more than a few friends on the ballot and some in competing categories. Spare time for reading has gone down a bit, but for me that just means dropping from 2-3 books a week down to one or two.

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2017 Dragon Awards Ballot

H.P. at Every Day Should Be Tuesday lays out some of his Dragon Award picks . . .

Every Day Should Be Tuesday

The Dragon Awards, associated with massive multi-media con DragonCon, are in their second year.  Unlike the Nebulas, which limit voting to SFWA members, and the Hugos, which limit voting to WorldCon members, the Dragon Awards open voting to anyone interested.  There are definite limitations to this approach, but given that the Nebulas and the Hugos already exist, it makes sense to take such a markedly different approach to voting.

It especially makes sense given that one of the rejoinders to criticism of the insularity of the Hugos—despite the fact that they are effectively open to anyone willing to pay $40—was “go create your own award.”  Disgruntled Hugos voters were happy to see just that happen.  So have we come to a happy conclusion to the political fights over the Hugos?  No.

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Interview: Ivan Ewert

Yesterday, I reviewed Ivan Ewert’s Gentleman Ghouls Omnibus – out today on Amazon. As I was reading, I jumped at the opportunity to dig a little deeper.

Ivan_ringbell

Ivan, thanks for the interview today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Thank you for having me! I’m a part-time creative and a full-time woolgatherer from northern Illinois. I write, I speak, I act and I cook. When something interests me I grab it in my teeth and dig in until I’ve learned all I care to learn, or something else interesting comes along. I’m highly inspired by the natural world and landscapes, as well as interstitial arts.

‘Gentlemen Ghouls’ has had an interesting path. How did it proceed from conception to the final omnibus version that’s out now?

Such a long road, but a great experience.

Jennifer Brozek of Apocalypse Ink Productions set up an online magazine called The Edge of Propinquity years and years ago. She asked me to contribute a one-year, once-a-month serial of horror or dark fantasy. Those weren’t my usual genres but I wanted to be a part of this, so I wrote a 12-part story titled Vorare. (This was, by the by, prior to my discovery of the vore subculture, of which I’m still not a part.) *

*Dan sidebar: this is probably a good thing. Let’s just say, don’t make the mistake of Googling it as I did, and leave it at that.

I thought that would be the end of it, but the magazine kept going and Jennifer asked me to keep writing. Vorare lasted for three years before I set it aside. When Apocalypse Ink started up, they approached me about turning the series into a trilogy, but – between us all – what I’d written over three years really only condensed into a single book.

So, two more had to follow. It took longer than I expected, and I suspect longer than anyone involved would have liked, but I’ve learned so much. I’m so very grateful to everyone who’s been a part of this.

Your prose, particularly in the opening, “table-setting” portion of the book could almost be described as lush or sensual. This is more of an observation rather than a question. Kudos to your style selection, it fits the work quite well while tying into the growing sense of dread.

Thank you! Many readers praised the lushness of the first book, Famished: The Farm. We stripped some of the language down in Famished: The Commons, set in more prosaic New England; and that really drew some unexpected commentary from those same readers. I like to think I struck a mature balance between the two in Famished: The Ranch.

I also have to say, this is one of the more unique horror novels I’ve read in recent years. I’d compare it in some sense to “The Troop”, but what I like more about your work is that you focus more on telling the story rather than skipping from scene of body horror to the next. That’s not to say that it isn’t there, but it’s more subtle and not quite so over the top. Was there a point in which you said to yourself, this is a line I cannot cross? And if so – which direction did you choose?

Ooooo. Yes, a few times, I had certain scenes that impacted me strongly. I have a tendency to put myself in the shoes of the victims about whom I’m writing, to empathize more with them than with their tormentors. I think that sometimes puts the brakes on going all-out gonzo with the horrific quality. I prefer a quiet undertone throughout my terrible scenes, though there are obvious exceptions to that rule.

In one of the final scenes of the omnibus, my beta readers (who review and advise prior to publication) kept pushing me to go further. I had made something ugly and scary, but not truly horrific yet. After I think the third go-round, there was a unanimous request that I stop re-writing and get some fresh air, thank you very much.

I think I know what5 scene you’re referring to, and wow. It was pretty impactful, to say the least. Can’t imagine it being punched up more. While the ghouls aren’t necessary classical vampires, they share some of the same traits. There are also intimations toward other things that go bump in the night. How did folklore influence your plotting and story decisions?

Not much, to be honest. Which is funny, because it influences a lot of my non-horror work, and is one of my few lifelong interests. In Famished: the Gentleman Ghouls Omnibus, though, the majority of the background elements came from Goetic* magic or whole cloth out of my head. At least, that’s how it seemed to me. Readers may see some connections I’ve missed.

*Second Dan sidebar: not nearly as bad a Google as the first reference, but definitely spoileriffic. Search at your own risk, or hold off until you’ve finished reading. 😉

And there you have it. If your interest has been piqued over the last few days, and you enjoy reading way too late with all the lights on, give Gentleman Ghouls a shot.

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Pre-release Review – Famished: The Gentlemen Ghouls Omnibus

When I got an offer to read an early release of horror author Ivan Ewert’s upcoming book, I admit that I had to stop and think about it.

I used to be a huge fan of horror. I was the weird kid who got an adult library card in the 4th grade. One of the first books I checked out with my newly found power was Benchley’s Jaws, and I spend most of the book scratching my head as I tried to line up the story on the page with what I’d seen in the movie. And then there’s the ending, which is completely different from Spielberg’s Hollywood climax.

As my reading tastes have matured I’ve shifted more towards traditional science fiction and fantasy, though some of my favorites could be considered horror – F. Paul Wilson’s ‘Repairman Jack’ series is a prime example. Other than that, most modern horror seems intent on crushing any sense of hope or goodness.

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