I’m a little late to the show for this one, but if a movie fuels my imagination, even if it’s eight years old, I’ll review it. I felt this way about HOUSE OF WAX, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and released in 2005.
Synopsis: Six friends are traveling to a football game. They camp out for the night and plan to continue driving the next morning. But after discovering car trouble, two of them accept a stranger’s ride into the small, out-of-the-way town of Ambrose, where the main attraction is the House of Wax. But something’s strange about this town. Save for the wax figures, the town is deserted—except for two serial-killing twin brothers. The friends must fight to survive and escape from being the next exhibits. (Adapted from IMDB.)
I’ve always loved wax museums and think they’re fascinating as well as creepy. (A great combination for me.) I love the concept of not just a wax museum, not just a house, but an entire town made of wax. This village is cut off from everything and full of wax figures—any of which could be one of the deadly brothers—a situation that generates plenty of suspense. The awesome set makes for some genuinely creepy moments. And there are plenty of adrenaline-jolting scares from loud sound effects (cheap thrills, nonetheless effective).
The twins are the perfect killing franchise: one is the artist, the entertainer, and the other is the businessman, the salesman. Their only redeeming quality may be that they love their mother. The artist twin works with flesh, wax—and cutlery.
Protagonists are fraternal twins Carly and Nick Jones, played by spunky Elisha Cuthbert and brooding hottie Chad Michael Murray. The acting is unexceptional, but it’s not terrible either, except perhaps for Paris Hilton, who plays part of Paige Edwards. And other than the roadkill picker-upper (Damon Herriman), none of them is hard to look at. Even the mangled twin keeps himself hid behind a nice wax mask (Brian Van Holt). He’s a scary sonofabitch, this vicious killing artist.
There’s loads of violence and gore in this flick, but the set and cinematography are visually rich and satisfying, something I like in horror, although these can’t redeem bad logic or shitty plotting.
HOUSE OF WAX suffers from some typical stupid horror movie moments. Why chase after the smell of rotting flesh? Why split up to search in a dangerous place? Must we have an explanatory info dump at the end? And gas at the filling station is $1.19—totally threw me out of the story. (Was it ever that cheap?) 😉
Favorite parts: Paris Hilton getting pegged. (It was her finest scene.) Catching a clip of Bette Davis crooning to Victor Buono’s ivory tickling in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, which plays nightly to a theater full of wax-covered corpses. And how the film used symbolism and tied in thematic elements at the climax.
HOUSE OF WAX isn’t as brilliant as CHAINED, but all in all, it’s not a bad view. The biggest problem with a house made of wax? Like an enormous candle, it melts. I’ll leave a few surprises for your viewing pleasure.
HOUSE OF WAX was written by Charles Belden (writer credited for the original story of the 1954 Vincent Price version) and TWIN brothers Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes (screenplay). 113 minutes. Rated R.
I’m participating in a blog hop called The Next Big Thing, about my latest work in progress. I’ve got other things in the work, but here’s what’s up next…
What is the title of your next book/work?
DEATH PERCEPTION. You can read the summary and the first chapter here.
Where did the idea come from for the book/work?
Where it came from, I’m not certain and am a bit afraid to know! But the original idea was that a young man can discern the cause of death of those he cremates–by toasting marshmallows over their ashes. When what he discerns differs from what’s listed on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers.
What genre does your work fall under?
DEATH PERCEPTION is a blend of supernatural crime, horror, and the paranormal. With a touch of black humor.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I’m showing my age here with a few of these answers, but if he were younger, Casey Affleck would be a great fit for protagonist Kennet Singleton. Richard Deacon (if he were still alive) could play antagonist Cecil Grinold. And a younger Joan Collins would do justice to co-antagonist Flavia Costa. Reese Witherspoon could portray Kennet’s love interest, Christy Sprunger.
What is the one-sentence synopsis to explain where your work begins?
Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton is cremating his last corpse of the day when he receives a call urging him to visit his invalid mother.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
DEATH PERCEPTION was my thesis project at Seton Hill University, where I earned a master’s in Writing Popular Fiction. It took me two years in the program to complete the first draft. By the time I graduated, I was burned out on the project that I put it away for a few years. Off and on, I did a few more revisions and finally completed my ninth at the end of 2012.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Although I wrote most of DEATH PERCEPTION before I read the popular Dean Koontz book, the protagonist and his spiritualistic, paranormal world is similar to ODD THOMAS.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I became obsessed with the idea of someone who could communicate with the spirits of those he had cremated. It wouldn’t leave me, so I honored it and turned it into a story.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
When I first started this project, I didn’t believe in communication with the departed. Since then I’ve completed a course of study with the Morris Pratt Institute and now work part time as a Spiritualist medium. I found that many things in the early manuscript were accurate when compared to actual studies of after-death communication. In later revisions, I used my education and experience as a medium to flesh out Kennet’s psychic abilities and enhance scenes.
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“Brilliant!” That was my exclamation after watching CHAINED (2012), dark crime thriller directed by Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David Lynch).
Bob is a taxi-driving serial killer who abducts women, rapes and kills them, and buries them on his property. But one day he picks up Sarah and her nine-year-old son Tim. After doing his schtick on Mom, Bob raises the boy as his own. “Rabbit,” as Bob calls him, must do as he says: eat his leftovers, clean the house, and bury the dead.
Although the house is inescapable, Rabbit is chained to the daybed in the kitchen. As he grows older, “Dad” assigns an anatomy textbook for his protegé’s education, expecting Rabbit to follow in his footsteps whether he wants to or not.
Shot in just 14 days, there are no spectacular special effects in this film. Just intense drama, keen suspense, and fascinating characterization.
Although I don’t like looking at Vincent D’Onofrio, he’s an incredible actor and, like his performance in THE CELL, delivers a convincing—and chilling—performance as Bob. The lovely Eamon Farren portrays Rabbit with sympathy. I hope to see more of him in coming years.
While this movie is not for the faint of heart because of its violence, it’s worth studying for its writing and characterization. And there are shocking surprises you won’t want to miss.
My current work in progress is DEATH PERCEPTION, a supernatural crime story corrupt with horror yet preserved by a sprinkling of black humor. The skinny:
Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care facility, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he can discern the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.
He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. But when his perception differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, he must bring the killers to justice.
Ginormous Multi-author Genre Anthology to Benefit Seton Hill University Alum
Seventy-six writers connected to the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction program contributed to a multi-genre anthology, HAZARD YET FORWARD. All proceeds from this project benefit Donna Munro, a 2004 graduate of the program. Munro, a teacher living in St. Louis, Missouri, was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. An active member of the SHU WPF alumni committee, Munro helps organize the school’s annual writing conference, In Your Write Mind.
To aid Munro and her family, faculty members, alumni, students and friends of the Writing Popular Fiction program immediately responded to compile this massive anthology. The book features flash fiction, short stories and a full-length novella. There are 75 works total from various genres—literally, something for everyone—ranging from horror to romance to mystery, and everything in between.
Notable writers in the anthology are World Fantasy Award winner Nalo Hopkinson, Bram Stoker winners Michael A. Arnzen and Michael Knost, Bram Stoker nominee Lawrence C. Connolly, ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults winner Jessica Warman, Rita finalist Dana Marton, Spur winner Meg Mims, Asimov’s Readers’ Award winner Timons Esaias and WV Arts and Humanities literary fellowships winner Geoffrey Cameron Fuller.
HAZARD YET FORWARD co-compiler Matt Duvall says, “It’s an unprecedented collection of stories from every genre imaginable.” This large volume is an electronic book for the popular Kindle platform and is available for purchase through Amazon, reasonably priced at $9.99.
When I heard about the project, I quickly responded by contributing my story “Mixed Breed, Loves Kids.” Donna was my sponsor when I entered the program in 2004, and she does so much for the WPF program. She’s an all-around fantastic person; I want to support her while she conquers breast cancer.
Then tag 7 more authors to carry forward the 777 game. Add their links, and remember to link to the person who tagged you… (Also, let everyone know.)
From page 77 of DEATH PERCEPTION:
Antogonist Cecil Grinold puts protagonist Kennet Singleton to the test, to see if the young man really can discern cause of death by toasting marshmallows over the cremated remains of the deceased. But Grinold is up to no good, of course.
“I was just thinking of a little experiment.” Yes, why not find out whether my young employee is telling the truth or inventing tall tales? Knowing that his psychic “gift” was impossible, Cecil gloated about the time when he would fire Kennet for good. Hopefully, soon.
“Yes, Kennet. Are the marshmallows still here?”
“Unless you threw them away.”
“I should have, but I didn’t. Bring them out.”
“I hope there’s no problem . . . ”
“Relax. Just get the marshmallows.” Dummy.
Okay, so I posted a few more than 7 sentences, but it was a good breaking point. You can learn more about DEATH PERCEPTION here.
Rose’s links are at the beginning of this post, and here are links to 7 of my friends’ blogs. Check them out. Read their stuff. Support writers!
Ever notice how much alcohol is consumed in a zombie novel? Guest blogger, Armand Rosamilia, author of DARLENE BOBICH: ZOMBIE KILLER, DYING DAYS and DYING DAYS 2, muses about the relationship and turns a drinking game into an intoxicating giveaway—perfect for St. Patrick’s Day…
Have you ever heard that old line about writers and alcoholics being cut from the same cloth? It doesn’t hold true for me.
I currently have one bottle of rum in the house, which I bought about one year ago while on a cruise. I keep no beer in the house; I have no cool bar on the patio with tiki torches and a neon Budweiser sign flashing while I mix drinks. I’m going on a cruise again in a few days, and will buy my token bottle of rum from the Bahamas and add it to the other bottles collecting dust atop the fridge.
I’m not much of a drinker, preferring gallons of coffee as my poison. But I noticed after finishing my latest zombie book, DYING DAYS 2, that the survivors of the zombie apocalypse can last without good food, toilet paper or communication with others, as long as they have alcohol.
There’s even a bar that plays a huge part in the story (Kimberly Murphy’s Bar, in case you keep track of trivia), and I intended it to be a small, passing chapter. Except a strange thing happened. Most of the characters in the story hang out there. They want to be there when they aren’t, and seem to have the best time there after killing undead all day. Kimberly became as big a character as Darlene Bobich in the tale.
I took a quick glance through the three books in the series (DARLENE BOBICH: ZOMBIE KILLER, DYING DAYS and DYING DAYS 2) and noticed how much drinking I’d added. It’s an interesting observation, although I’m not sure what it means. Post a comment here and share your opinion.
For you zombiephiles, maybe there’s a drinking game in there somewhere: Every time a zombie dies, down a shot… every time a character drinks, take a shot… I don’t suggest drinking every time a character says the “F” word, though, because you’ll probably fall into an alcohol-induced coma, leaving you vulnerable to attack.
Want to win free eBooks and maybe print books of them? My contest is simple—like a drinking game. E-mail me at armandrosamilia (at) gmail (dot) com with DYING DAYS in the subject line, and I’ll enter you into the daily giveaway. Also, post a comment here, and you get another chance to win. Follow my blog at http://armandrosamilia.com for yet another chance, and friend me on Twitter (@ArmandAuthor) and simply tweet DYING DAYS to me, and you’ll get another shot—nice and easy, right?
If I get enough people joining in the giveaway, I’ll give away a print book that day! Kind of makes you drunk with excitement, doesn’t it?
Tad has a problem: he ran away from home only to find he has no place to stay in the big city. After selling his abusive father’s comics collection, the sixteen-year-old twink hasn’t near enough money for a bus ticket home. Two days without food and two nights in an alley force him to do what he swore he wouldn’t: trick for cash. But trick he must—just this once—to get back home, lest he end up living on the streets of Pittsburgh.
At Lucky’s Lounge, the thirty-something with the reptilian tattoos seems to be his ticket home. Bruce is a kind man, a generous man, a spiritual man who takes in strays of all kinds. But Bruce has needs—dark needs—of his own, and only Tad can satisfy them.
What will Tad forfeit for a bus ticket home? To find out, download STRAY, bone-chilling gay erotic horror from Lee Allen Howard.
I’m seeking beta readers for my current work in progress—DEATH PERCEPTION—a supernatural crime story infected with horror yet preserved by a sprinkling of black humor:
Nineteen-year-old Kennet Singleton lives with his invalid mother in a personal care home, but he wants out. He operates the crematory at the local funeral home, where he discovers he has a gift for discerning the cause of death of those he cremates—by toasting marshmallows over their ashes.
He thinks his ability is no big deal since his customers are already dead. However, when what he discerns differs from what’s on the death certificate, he finds himself in the midst of murderers. To save the residents and avenge the dead, he must bring the killers to justice.