Breakfast: Short Movie Review

You all remember Dinner, right? It’s a short film made by the talented Aleksandra Svetlichnaya. I wrote about it here. Breakfast is the follow-up. I wrote about the trailer here. And, while Breakfast is not yet available for public viewing, the Aleksandra gave me advanced access to see it. Can you believe it? Little ol’ me. She’s the best, you guys.

Dinner clocked in around 12 minutes. Breakfast decided that wasn’t long enough, so it clocks in at a shade over 26 minutes. Once again, we spend the bulk of our time with Dylan (Svetlichnaya), Oscar (Josh Kachnycz) and Hamilton (Ricardo Segarra). Dylan fills the role of Buffy, while Oscar and Hamilton are basically sub-replacement level Scoobies. I guess they’re Scrappies? I need to consult Joss Whedon on this important matter.

Oscar and Hamilton go to a comic shop and find an unfinished comic. Too dumb to heed the warnings of the shop owner – and apparently desperate to start the apocalypse – they steal the comic, run out of the shop and head into the woods.

Meanwhile, Dylan finds herself caught in a time loop. She wakes up, checks her phone, brushes her teeth, puts her hair in a ponytail and declares, “Okay. Breakfast time,” only to exit the bathroom and find a masked attacker. She defeats him, only to find herself waking up in her bed for the same routine over and over again.

What exactly is going on with the unfinished comic? Why is Dylan caught in a time loop? How will she escape? Will Oscar and Hamilton ever actually get a chance to eat breakfast?

These events set up the rest of the film, and it’s an absolute blast. Svetlichnaya’s love for Buffy is on full display here. It’s not totally in-your-face, but there are enough nods to get you thinking in that direction. And, of course, it’s impossible to see a blonde woman kicking faces and not think of Buffy, so my mind would have gone there even without the subtle nods.

Like Dinner, this is a really fun watch. Also like Dinner, this was made on next to no budget, so certain limitations come up. Still, it’s pretty easy to get past that. While I like how Oscar and Hamilton play off each other, I spend most of my time waiting for Dylan to come back and destroy people/monsters/demons.

Breakfast is a fun short with a tremendous ending. Make sure you stay for the scene in the credits. It had me rolling.

I’m a huge fan of what Svetlichnaya is doing. Can’t wait to see what she’s got in store next.

As it turns out, I’m not the only one excited about what Svetlichnaya is doing, as Breakfast is going to San Diego Comic Con 2017!

The Walking Dead – S7:E1 “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

Sunday finally brought the long-awaited season 7 premiere of AMC’s The Walking Dead. The season 6 finale gave fans the biggest bad of the series in Negan, but also delivered a cliff-hanger regarding the death of a major cast member. This play left a bad taste in the mouths of those who have stood by the show’s side through good and bad, as well as those who continue to hate-watch. Executive producers promised a satisfying payoff in the premiere.

By now, everyone knows we lost two beloved cast members. Surprising? Only if you live under a rock without access to the internet.

The premiere starts off after the big kill. That’s not exactly where we left off in April. Negan taunts Rick and tries to assert his power. Rick says very little and, although he feels the loss, he continues to be somewhat defiant. It isn’t until nearly 30 minutes in when we finally get what we came for.

The majority of the episode’s run time dealt with Negan trying to break Rick. A series of quick cut flashbacks slowly divulge the POV from the end of the season 6 finale. It was Abraham’s. Barrel chested and gutsy right to the end, he even gets one last signature Abraham verbal shot in at Negan, “Suck my nuts.” Then, just when we think we’ve seen the worst, Negan turns on his heel and kills the heart and soul of the show (yes, I said it), Glenn Rhee.

With Rick broken and two family members dead, the rest of the group tries to put the pieces back together as quickly as possible. Maggie, who has probably lost more than any other character, declares war on Negan and then sets to getting her husband home, with Rick, Carl and Aaron supporting her. Sasha and Rosita put aside their differences and come together over their love of Abraham.

The deaths, while gruesome and somewhat overwhelming, were not entirely unexpected. Abraham’s story had run its course and even actor Michael Cudlitz said he knew his character was on borrowed time. Glenn dies by the bat in the comic and he’s had so many close calls, not killing him would have been a cop out on the part of the creators.

Was this the satisfying conclusion fans were hoping for? The general consensus seems to be no. Could the episode still have had any shock factor if the audience knew who died at the end of the episode? Absolutely. Since there were two significant kills, with the least impactful being Abraham, why not show that death in the finale? That would actually make Glenn’s death in the premiere even more traumatic.

This is, perhaps, one of the most brutal episodes of the entire series and it’s been a hot-button topic since the episode ended, but let’s be honest, horror fans have seen far worse and viewers have the option of shutting it off or not watching at all.

With only a few days remaining before the second episode, people are still talking about it so whether you loved it or hated it, it certainly made an impact. Kind of like a bat to the face.

Final comments/questions:

  • We get it, Negan is a formidable foe, but the constant barrage of sardonic displays of power and the sexual euphemisms about Lucille will get old really quick. Tone that shit down.
  • Did everyone notice Abraham’s final declaration of love to Sasha? It was brief, but it melts your heart.
  • What is the significance of Glenn’s final statement to Maggie? Does this mean we’ll see Glenn again, maybe when the baby is born or when Rick has tough decisions to make?
  • Negan takes Daryl, knowing he’s valuable to Rick and Alexandria. Will Daryl submit or bide his time? This will probably be the most interesting development since Daryl doesn’t exist in the comics and we have no source to refer to.
  • Carl finally grew a pair and acted like the man he’s been claiming to be since second season.
  • Kudos to the entire cast for their performances, especially Andrew Lincoln.
  • Last season Glenn was looking at the Polaroids of bashed in skulls at the compound. At the end of the episode, you see a guy in the background taking a picture of the damage done to Glenn. The signs are always there.
  • The fuck with that Thanksgiving dinner scene?
  • Seriously, what is Dwight’s damage?

Next week we hook back up with the Oscar and Felix of the zombie apocalypse, Carol and Morgan, as they enter The Kingdom.

Dinner: Movie Review

Dinner is a short film written and directed by the very talented Aleksandra Svetlichnaya.

It’s fun and short and you can watch the entire thing below.  Make sure you give her a follow on Twitter as well.

Dinner follows Dylan as she walks through a deserted town filled with chain-link fences and burned out buildings.  She’s on her way to a date, but there may be something sinister lurking in the shadows.  Every glance over her shoulder could reveal something dark advancing towards her.  Every turn down an abandoned street could be filled with monsters.

I don’t want to give away too much – clocking in at 12 minutes, I could spoil the twists and turns simply by synopsizing it – so I’ll stop.

I really enjoyed this short film.  The term “no budget” was thrown out by Aleksandra, and that’s exactly true, but the lack of a budget doesn’t mean there’s a lack of style or substance.  The opening scene of Dylan walking down the street – in glorious black and white, no less – is stunning, creepy and filled with tension.
The lack of budget doesn’t even really show up with the make-up.  The monsters look great.
It does show up a bit in the fight scenes, but that’s because “no budget” means it’s hard to make it look like you’re burying an axe in someone’s skull without actually doing it.  The fact that some of these actors weren’t willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a movie really makes me question their commitment.

Dinner is a really fun short film, featuring a leading lady I would gladly have on my side in any kind of scrap.  And by “scrap” I mean “me hiding behind something while she kicks everyone in the face and tells me when it’s safe to come out.”  Man, Dylan is the best.

Watch this movie.

Mailbag: May 23, 2016

Welcome to another exciting installment of the Horror Writers mailbag!  Thanks for the questions.

Did you see the Rec saga? – @NicoLasaigues

I have seen the first three, and I really enjoyed all of them.  Like a true American, I saw Quarantine first (USA! USA!), so I think that colored my judgment of the first Rec.  I enjoyed it, but I thought Quarantine was better, mainly because I love Jennifer Carpenter and thought she absolutely CRUSHED that role.

The first two were good.  It has been a while since I’ve seen them, so details are a bit scarce.  I’m a fan of any sequel that is able to expand upon the world of the first one without feeling tacked on.  We went deeper into the mythology of the infection and learned exactly what it was.  The mood of the two matched up perfectly.  I probably need to go back and rewatch those.

The third film was a marked departure from the first two.  The fundamentals of the infections were still there, but the feel was totally different and it involved a completely different scenario.  No longer were we confined to the apartment complex.  It felt more like a Return of the Living Dead movie than a Rec movie. It started off found footage, but switched roughly 20 minutes in when the groom, after asking, “Why are you still filming?” smashed the camera – and a well-worn found footage trope – into oblivion.  That allowed the movie to expand.  No longer were we bound to a hand-held camera for the duration of the film.  Which was good, because I didn’t want shaky footage of the groom donning a suit of armor; I wanted that crystal clear, and I got it.
Rec 3 was bonkers crazy and I loved it dearly.  Also, for a crazy zombie movie, they did a great job making me care about the two leads.  I was really rooting for those crazy kids to make it.  Plus, they’re beautiful people.

rec 3 - wedding
What are your top ten horror series on TV (cable or otherwise?) You can include mini series, too – @Real_Cesca

1. The X-Files – Sure, it begins to wane in season six and never recovers, but this was still five solid seasons of creepiness.  (It’s worth noting that the season 10 comic book run is a lot of fun.  I still haven’t dug into season 11, but it’s on my list.)
2. The Twilight Zone – Being an older show, some of the ironic twists can induce eye-rolling, but this show still holds up.  There are a ton of iconic moments/episodes.
3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer – You can debate whether this is horror or not, but there are lots of monsters involved, so I’m making an executive decision.  The descent starts in season 5 (thanks Dawn), but there are still great moments scattered throughout.
4. Twin Peaks – Again, you can debate whether or not this is horror, but it revolves around murder committed by a possessed man, so I say it fits the bill.  Combine that with the owls not being what they seem and The Black Lodge, and I feel comfortable calling this a horror series.  Agent Dale Cooper is one of my all-time favorite TV characters.
5. Hannibal – A beautiful, beautiful show.  The fact that this lasted 3 seasons on network TV is a miracle.
6. Penny Dreadful – Like Hannibal, this is a beautiful show.  It’s a perfect setting to bring monsters to life in a way that actually feels real.  The acting on this show is tremendous.  Eva Green deserves every award ever made.  I’m fully convinced that she is totally out of her mind.
7. The Walking Dead – I honestly don’t think I believe it should be this high.  What am I doing here?  The first season was dynamite, and there have been enough great moments since then to justify putting it at 7.  I guess.  I don’t know, man.  This last season was great up until the last two episodes, so maybe there are even better things to come?  I think I just talked myself out of this ranking, but now I’m too lazy to change it.
8. iZombie – It’s basically Psych, except the fake physic is a zombie who gets visions from the brains that she eats.  It’s fun, and justifies this ranking based on Ravi alone.  That dude kills me.
9. Tales From the Darkside – It’s basically George Romero’s Twilight Zone.  I don’t know why, but I spent an entire week watching a ton of these episodes and I really enjoyed it.  That was a good week.
10. Sleepy Hollow – It had some plots that threatened to take the show off the rails, but it always righted itself.  I enjoyed every season of this show.

Just missing the cut:
Ash vs. Evil Dead – The first season was good, but I’m not ready to have it crack the top 10 based on one fun season.
Damien – Ditto Ash vs. Evil Dead.  I love the tone of this show, but I want to see more than one pretty good season.
Tales From the Crypt – I know, I know.  I will probably have to turn in my horror fan card after leaving it off the top 10.  I caught a couple episodes as a kid, but I didn’t grow up with it.  I’ve gone back and watched a couple episodes as an adult and it just didn’t do much for me.  I can appreciate what it did, but it doesn’t crack the top 10.
Millennium – It ran for three seasons, but they were all pretty good.  There were quite a few legitimately creepy moments in this show.

Movies that, sadly, DO NOT hold up and then ruin your nostalgic feelings of them. – @lcfremont

I’m not gonna lie to you guys: this was a pretty sad list to make.  Let’s just get to it.  I’m having a hard time writing through my tears.
I didn’t want to just go with “a product of the time,” movies, because that can’t really be helped.  Plus, it would basically be a bunch of computer movies (The Net, Hackers, Swordfish, etc.) and that’s really uninteresting.  I also don’t have many horror movies on my list, as I didn’t watch many growing up.

Highlander – Sweet fancy Moses this movie is bad.  Like, REALLY bad.  First of all, I was convinced that MacLeod was played by Vigo the Carpathian for a decent portion of the movie.  So that was confusing.  The soundtrack is comprised of music by Queen, so it should be decent, but it’s the worst of Queen.  “Who wants to live forever?”  Apparently this movie does, because it’s 116 minutes long for reasons known to nobody.  The only entertaining part of this movie is Clancy Brown as The Kurgan, and that’s because he seems to be the only one who knows just how bad this movie is.  He’s chewing scenery like it’s his job, which I guess it kind of was.

The NeverEnding Story – Let me start off by saying this: the scene in the Swamps of Sadness is still heartbreaking.  So it has that going for it.  Or going against it, depending on how you want to look at it.
Anyway, this movie is super cheesy and doesn’t look great.  I understand that “cheesiness” comes down to the fact that it is a sci-fi children’s movie.  It wasn’t really meant for adults.  As an adult who has seen a fair share of movies, I not only dislike this movie, but I look down on the younger version of myself for ever liking it.  For shame, Young Dusty.  For shame.

The Princess Bride – I thought this was a fun movie.  I enjoyed it.  I never gave it a whole lot of thought, but it was an enjoyable movie.  Then I went to college and, for some reason, every single person there thought this was the best movie of all time.  All of them.  Granted, it was a small Christian college, but there were still several thousand people there.  So I watched it with a group and hated it.  HATED it.  I tried watching it again afterwards and was just annoyed.  Part of my dislike is a product of that experience, but part of it is just that I don’t think it’s a very good movie.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan – As a child, it was all, “Jason punched someone’s head off!”  Then you grow up and realize that this movie is awful.  For “taking Manhattan”, Jason spends precious little time in the city.  For over half the movie, we are stuck on a boat with the worst kinds of high schoolers.  One girl is just trying to make a terrible music video the whole time.  And yeah, the head punching scene is fun…

friday13th-head_punching…but it’s not worth the rest of the movie being garbage.  Watching this taught me that a movie needs more than one scene to make it a good movie.

Troll – I know that Troll 2 is a laughingstock, but I feel like too many people are sleeping on the original.  I remember watching this as a child and being scared.  I recently rewatched it and was horrified – HORRIFIED – that I ever found this remotely scary.  It’s not even in the “so bad it’s good” category.  It’s just bad.  Listen: I still love Ghoulies and Critters, so it’s not like I hate these odd, mid-80s creature movies.  But Troll is bad.  Really, really bad.

Event Horizon – I remembered this as being a ridiculously scary movie, but now all I see is Sam Neill hamming it up all over the place.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – The majority of children are dumb.  I was one of those dumb children.  I liked this because there was punching and they had monkey brains on the table.  Those were the only two reasons.  As it turns out, the monkey brains aren’t that cool and lots of movies have punching in them.

I’m sure there are more, but I’ve ruined my childhood enough for one day, thank you very much.  Chime in with your own in the comments.

If you want to submit a question to the mailbag, you can hit us up on Twitter (@horror_writers) or over email (

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies: Movie Review

ppz - poster

A period piece that follows Elizabeth Bennet – the second of five sisters – through her unwanted courtship.  You could almost say that Elizabeth Bennet and something called “Mr. Darcy” fooled around and fell in love.  Also, there are zombies.  So many zombies.

My thoughts:
I have never read Pride & Prejudice.  I have never seen a film adaptation of Pride & Prejudice.  I once attempted to listen to Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, until I realized that it was boring and I shut it off after roughly 10 minutes.  I know the names Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy simply because I worked in a bookstore for 3 years.  I have also run across many people in my life who can’t wait to tell me about how Colin Firth is the quintessential Mr. Darcy.  “He just gets it.  He’s perfect. All other Mr. Darcy’s should burn.”

"Specifically this Darcy. BUUURRRRRNNNN."
“Specifically this Darcy. BUUURRRRRNNNN.”

That is my entire history with the source material and the source material of this source material.  I have also seen Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter no less than 4 times, which I feel is relevant information to share here.

I had no expectations going in.  All I wanted was a fun movie that featured lots of frilly clothes and a fair amount of zombie killing.  I got exactly that.
I can’t speak to how close the non-zombie parts were to the original book.  I assume the major plot points stayed the same, and I’m also assuming that a decent portion of the dialogue was pulled directly from the book.  I know that the opening line was a slightly modified version of Austen’s opener.  Witness:
No zombie version: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
Zombie version: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”
And they say you can’t improve on a classic.

There was quite a bit of commentary on social class running through this movie.  Again, I have no idea how this was handled in the novel, but I enjoyed what they did here: since the zombie threat was ever present, everyone was trained in martial arts from a young age.  If you had money, you trained in Japan.  If you did not have money, you trained in China.  Those who trained in Japan looked down at those who trained in China.  And round and round they go.  (If you came here looking for a deep breakdown of the clashes of social classes and gender politics in the 19th century, you came to the wrong place.)

Let’s talk zombies for a second.  That’s why you’re here, right?
They looked good.  Really nice make-up and zombie effects.  Being a PG-13 movie, they couldn’t show geysers of blood with every kill, so they had to get creative with their gore.  For example, for one kill the camera showed what the zombie saw.  And what the zombie saw was someone violently decapitating him.  That was fun.  It was basically the final scene of season six of The Walking Dead, except without all the unbridled hate that followed.
The zombies appeared to be of the Romero variety, but, once we saw more of them we saw some differences.  The main difference was revealed when we saw a church full of zombies acting like humans.  Humans with rotting faces and (likely) terrible breath, but humans all the same.  As it turns out, if zombies can sustain themselves on pig brains, they can live relatively normal lives.  They are also capable of running.

The movie ended with a cliffhanger in an attempt to set up a sequel.  Seeing as how this made $16.4 million on a $28 million budget, it’s safe to say that a sequel isn’t happening.  Or, at least, it’s not happening outside of SyFy.

Overall, I liked this pretty well.  It definitely dragged at times, but that’s just because I wanted to see more zombie gore.  I will not apologize for who I am.  Don’t expect a masterpiece, but, if you’re looking to have a little fun with zombies and also feel slightly (SLIGHTLY) literary, give this one a shot.

Rating: 3/5

Notable actors: Lily James, Lena Headey, Charles Dance, Matt Smith, Sam Riley