Why I’m Thankful for Brandon Sanderson +Steelheart

A few years ago I first caught wind of the writing of Brandon Sanderson.  It was in one of Gabe’s posts on Penny Arcade, briefly praising a fantasy novel he’d recently read called Mistborn: The Final Empire.  The title of the book, as well as Gabe’s words, piqued my interest.  I made a mental note, which I quickly Brandon_Sanderson_signfiled away in the back of my mind because I was obsessively reading through the complete library of Stephen King (a task that I’m still working on, now with the end in sight).  I also had then-recently fallen mostly out of love with the fantasy genre because of a number of mediocre books that I had read over the year previous– the exceptions to my genre abandonment being King’s The Dark Tower series and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.  So, when I later heard that Sanderson had been selected to finish The Wheel of Time after Mr. Jordan’s unfortunate passing, I felt hope that the series might be given the conclusion it deserved.  A quick glance at Sanderson’s Wikipedia page stated that he was selected for the Herculean task after Robert Jordan’s wife had read Mistborn and had, like Gabe, been impressed.  I moved the novel up a few notches on my to-read list.

It was not long after this that I went on my LDS mission, so all of my fiction reading was halted for a couple of years.  When I got home, Sanderson was about to release his second of the three Wheel of Time books he is responsible for, so I quickly set myself to acquiring and reading the continuing adventures of the Dragon Reborn and his companions.  I was, of course, overjoyed at how 9781429997171seamlessly Sanderson picked up the series.  His style for the books was very similar to Jordan’s, and the story picked up with almost the same momentum it had left off.  I felt like Sanderson knew the extensive collection of characters almost as personally as their creator had.

So, there’s my first reason to be thankful for Brandon Sanderson: he finished The Wheel of Time, and did a dang good job doing so.  I was distraught the day that I learned that Robert Jordan had died– I needed to know how the story concluded.  Now, some people may think that selfish of me, thinking only of how much of a cliffhanger I’d been left on, but I think that’s one of the greatest honors that I could pay him.  I was upset because I just had to know how the wonderful story I had been reading for around 10,000 pages ended.  I loved the world he created, and I wanted his legacy– one of the greatest of all fantasy series– to be complete.  Brandon Sanderson honored Jordan’s legacy, praise the light.

Between the time Mr. Sanderson released Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light, my wife-to-be and I visited some extended family in Arizona.  My favorite uncle and I were chatting about books and our discussion turned to The Wheel of Time, and how happy Brandon Sanderson’s handling of it was making us.  My uncle mentioned that he had read a number of his other books, and that they were excellent.  He mentioned that one of Sanderson’s books, Warbreaker, is a free PDF on his website, so I quickly downloaded it (you can acquire it here).  I put it on my kindle.

A few months later, I got married.  While waiting in the airport to head off to our honeymoon, I dug my kindle out of one of my bags warbreakerand suggested to my new wife that give it a read.  She is also a big fan of The Wheel of Time, and had read a little of Sanderson’s other writing already, liking what she had thus far read, so she was excited to agree.  She had already indicated to me that his writing would be fun for us to pursue.  We silently read the prologue in the terminal, then the first chapter or two in the air, nodding to each other for page turns.  Soon, taking turns reading Warbreaker aloud to each other became a nightly ritual, with additional large chunks being knocked out whenever a lengthy car ride occurred.  We fell in love with the characters (Lightsong is my personal favorite) and with the vivid, fascinating world of the novel.  The magic system was especially spectacular– and refreshing– because of how unique yet logically sound it was.  With how impressive the system is, it was no big surprise to me that he has published laws for writing magic systems in fantasy.  The story is wonderful, with some very intricately set traps for the reader.  I recommend it to anybody who loves good fantasy lit– plus, it’s free if you don’t feel like making a trip to the bookstore.

After finishing Warbreaker, my wife and I decided that reading Brandon Sanderson’s writing at night was a ritual that should remain unbroken, so we quickly moved on to the first book in the Mistborn trilogy, The Final Empire.  This time we weren’t just drawn into the world he had created, but were yanked in.  The series (which we are reading the third book of currently– we’re taking our time to really savor its wonderfulness) is simply some of the best fantasy I’ve ever read.  The characters, especially Vin and Kelsier, are compelling, strong, complex.  Sanderson also boasts three mistborn(three!) magic systems in the series, all of which are based around metals.  Just explaining the main system, allomancy, has caused a number of friends to immediately purchase all three books in the main series (there is also a novel set hundreds of years after the trilogy that I look forward to reading).

So, the second reason I’m thankful for Brandon Sanderson is for his magic systems.  They both make for some refreshingly different fantasy reading and have helped me as a writer.  I’ve been working on a fantasy novel off and on for years.  Actually, for just about as long as I’ve been wanting to be a writer– since sixth grade (and I’m now a college graduate).  The ideas I have for the story are pretty decent, I think, but the story was always missing something that could make it have something that made it distinct from the numerous small group of good vs overwhelmingly powerful evil stories that tend to make up most of the fantasy genre.  By reading Sanderson’s books, I’ve come to realize that my magic system was a mess– an amalgam of pretty much all of the typical magics I’ve read over the years.  The only way I can save the story is to start yet another draft, this time with a solid system of magic drawn out.  Mr. Sanderson’s laws will really help me do so.

The third reason I’m grateful for Brandon Sanderson is that his writing is an example to me as a writer.  As I’ve noted before, I’m LDS.  I’ve been long trying to figure out what that means to my writing.  I want to write in a wide variety of genres, focusing on horror, and sometimes the material I want to write, that I have great ideas for, has resulted in extended periods of time staring at a blinking cursor, pondering what to do next.  I often find that my characters do not have the same moral perspectives that I do, or find themselves in extreme situations, which leaves me wondering where the line is.  How do I balance being true to the story and characters against my own views on profanity, violence, and evil?  I have no desire to go the direction of LDS literature (that is, lit specifically written for a Mormon audience), as I find most of it tacky at best.  I’m glad to have two popular literature writers who are LDS– Sanderson, and Orson Scott Card– whose work I both enjoy and can learn from.  I haven’t found the most absolute footing in this conundrum yet, but looking at Warbreaker and Mistborn have helped point me in the right direction.

Plus, he just brings me lots of joy. I really want to go to one of his workshops. And just be as awesome as a writer as he is.

Since it doesn’t 13452375quite fit in with the “thankful” motif (I can’t think of any solid ways to tie it in to that seasonal idea) I’m just going to break to talk about some of Brandon Sanderson’s other writing that I’ve acquainted myself with.  The first discussion will be brief– his novella, Legion— while the second will be a bit more extensive– Sanderson’s newest novel, Steelheart.

I became acquainted with Legion as the result of some ad I came across for Audible.  For most of my life I’ve tended to pay audio books no mind, but the ad caught my interest as it featured the name of Sanderson– next to the word “free.”

Free will almost always catch my attention, and will manage to hold it if I can quickly determine that free is actually free.  So, I clicked on the link, saw that Audible would actually allow me to download Legion, in its entirety without taking my credit card information, if I set up an account with them.  A few hours later, in a car ride of moderate length, I was listening to it.  I was pleased, I’d like to note, that the reader for the novella was very good.  He has a voice that kept my interest and I liked that he gave each character their own unique feel.

The basic premise of the novella is that a protagonist is able to see and interact with a titular legion of vivid, unique people, most of whom are brilliant experts on different subjects– but all of whom are actually just in his head.  Working with them, he’s able to solve the most baffling of mysteries– if any catch his interest.  I must say, I really enjoyed the idea, and felt like it was well-executed.  I would really love to see more with the character (or should I say characters?) in the future.

Now, on to Steelheart17182126The idea of this book is also very fun– when I read a little promotional card for the book in my local bookstore a few months before it came out, I was immediately enthralled.  Basically, the book is about a world where people begin to get super powers– but, every person who gets these powers is evil.  One of these Epics– as these superhumans are called– named Steelheart has declared himself the emperor of Newcago.  Steelheart is virtually invincible, having defeated any challengers to his power.  The story follows a young man, David, who has sworn revenge on the dictator of his city for killing his father years before.

I really like this idea, though I do have one concern with it.  Essentially, the idea of a believed-invincible emperor being challenged by a small, specialized group who theoretically has no chance of standing against him does feel a lot like the basic story of Mistborn: The Final Empire, and was a little difficult to shake in my listening to it (I listened to the audio book at work– it was also very well done, and it is my understanding that it’s been nominated for Audible audio book of the year).  But this feeling of similarity is really my only criticism of the story.  It does a lot to stand on its own, and I especially loved how the powers of the Epics worked.  Instead of all following a set system, each had its own rules with strengths and weaknesses, giving the story a feel quite different from Sanderson’s fantasy novels.  Instead, the world felt an homage to the universes of comic books, though in many ways having a wide variety of powers and abilities in a way that worked much more seamlessly than the worlds of Marvel or DC, which seem to be inconsistent in how balanced their universes are when attempting to blend the stories and abilities of their heroes and villains.  For example, in the DC universe, I always feel like writers really struggle in bringing the tone of Batman and his associated allies and villains into the universe as a whole, especially when he has no superhuman powers himself, and many of his foes tend to be a little more plausible than that of Wonder Woman or John Constantine.  There are plenty of good stories that manage to blend Batman in, but with a story like Steelheart Sanderson has already set himself up for success in that the world is set up with many heroes already in mind, rather than trying to mediate between very different backstories and general atmosphere.  The origin for all of these Epics is the same– the arrival of the star Calamity.

Many of the Epics had powers that I thought were particularly excellent.  The idea of one of Steelheart’s generals, Nightwielder, was particularly compelling, with his incorporeal nature and his ability to bring darkness upon the city.  How he fights, flying and stabbing with tendrils of darkness, is, simply, very cool.  The technology present in the novel, such as gravitonics and the tensors, is also very cool and contributes to the world.  It’s great to see everything that Sanderson does with the sci-fi genre instead of fantasy.  It’s great to see one of my favorite writers change things up.

I look forward to seeing what happens in the future books of the Reckoners series.  I also look forward to reading the other novels that Sanderson has written.  I’ve been curious about Elantris, and I’m eager to see what The Stormlight Archive is going to hold.

P.S. – This post has a sequel!


Sharknado and the Joys (and Pitfalls) of B Horror

Over the past few years, I have developed a great love for B horror films.  Not the occasional gems that are actually just a good film wrapped in a small budget (though I tend to really like those for the obvious reasons– that they’re good— and I must admit that I’m actually quite surprised and how many pleasant, spooky surprises I’ve found while expecting junk food movies), but rather the kind that are weakly plotted, with monsters that elicit laughter instead of screams, and acting so awful it warrants a standing ovation.  The sort of film that Mystery Science Theater 3000 made money making a mockery of.

So, when I first heard the title of Sharknado, I immediately opened up YouTube in my browser and watched the trailer.  I knew, as I caught my first glimpse of a shark inside a tornado, that it was Sharknado_postergoing to be something one typically only finds in dreams.  I immediately added it to my watch list on IMDb.  I couldn’t help but laugh aloud at the tagline “Enough Said!” feeling that so true of words were rarely printed next to such bad CGI graphics.

Unfortunately, the movie was still several months away from its premiere on Syfy, so I let thoughts of whirlwind-borne sharks slip to the back of my mind.  This, combined with a lack of cable television in my home (Netflix is much more viable on a college budget) resulted in me being unaware of the first airing of wonderful swirly, bitey destruction, or even of its two encore showings (which, I understand, grew in ratings each time).  No, I didn’t think of my brief zeal for the idea of the film until one day, while looking through new additions to Netflix, I spied the marine predators that can be seen above and gasped with joy.

Now, my first reaction was to immediately hit the play button and begin my revelry, but I knew I had to constrain myself.  Films like Sharknado are not the sort you watch alone.  You have to have friends, and you have to be ready to bask in craziness.  I had to save it for the perfect time.  I’m glad I did.

One evening, a couple of weeks ago, a group of some of my funnest friends and I were trying to come up with a good movie to watch.  It was proposed that we watch a horror movie, so we began looking through the applicable section on Netflix.  The group was busy laughing and chatting and barely paid attention to the titles that scrolled past on the screen, so when I saw it, I knew the timing was perfect.  I insisted, and we hit play.

From the first cheesy line delivered I knew that the film was gold.  We laughed harder and harder as the plot went from a storm pushing thousands of sharks into a frenzied swarm to tornadoes hurling the razor-toothed beasts through Los Angeles.

The characters have weak back stories and are acted with as much cheese as anybody could dream for.  One of the characters is Australian, and had an accent we all mocked incessantly– until the IMDb app on my phone informed me of the fact that he was, in fact, actually from Australia.

And then this, one of the greatest things in all of film, happened.  Click on that link.  You won’t regret it.  I tried to include it in the post, but for some reason the GIF didn’t work.

Sorry for the spoiler, this is was just good to not share.  I laughed.  A lot.  We all did.  I laughed so hard that I almost shed tears.

Yes, that’s a man, a character the writers unabashedly named Fin, cutting a shark hurled at him from a tornado in half with a chainsaw.  And this was just one of many wonderful spectacles in the film.

The group’s solution to the sharknadoes is simultaneously delightfully whimsical and hysterically funny.

It’s just a magical film.  I love it.  If you like B horror movies, or if you want to find the right one to get you into the, this is likely the right one to watch.

And, for me, it also managed to avoid what I consider to be the biggest pitfall of B horror movies– lots of sex and nudity.  This had none.  Which is good, because I wouldn’t have watched it if it had any.

Most B horror movies seem to have gratuitous amounts of nudity and sex.  Especially many of the more contemporary ones.  Often, they seem to be made with just the tiniest hint of plot as an excuse to show a bunch of naked people (who have no discernible amount of acting ability whatsoever) running around, and also, gore.  Let me be clear that I have no interest in those kinds of B movies, no matter how alluring they would be to me otherwise.  For example, I was deeply saddened when I learned that another movie that is clearly very much in the same vein as Sharknado was about half sexual content: Mega Piranha.  A film with giant piranhas jumping out of the ocean to explode upon impact with skyscrapers (which is a scene I have viewed) seems to be right up my alley.  It’s a real shame that only a half hour or so of the movie was such bliss.

I suppose that, from the responses I’ve gotten to this post on Reddit, I should go a little further into my desire for B movies to not have sex and nudity.  Part of this does come from a moral standpoint– I am very religious and feel as though inclusion of such is immoral and generally degrading to the human body.  Many do not share my views and are welcome to disagree with me on from that standpoint.  However, there is more to it than that, from perhaps a more widely-accepted perspective.  Simply, I feel that the inclusion of such both fails to contribute anything more than the most base of thrills– and not of any level of fear.  Surprisingly, making low-budget horror effectively entertaining seems to be quite tricky to accomplish, so the inclusion of naked bodies tends to show a total inability to keep the audience’s interest any other way.  Simply, it’s cheap, and seems a desperation move.  I’ve had the fact pointed out to me that nakedness does bring an added element of exposure and weakness of a character, especially when confronted with something dangerous or frightening.  This obviously can be quite true– hence the “shower scene” idea that has been used almost constantly since Psycho (and maybe before).  I agree that nakedness– or any sort of physical exposure– can bring a powerful element of frailty and weakness, but it has to be done well.  If it truly being used for heightening tension and scares, it must be done with a careful hand.  Unfortunately, many films that may be defended in such a light are only making the weakest of excuses for sexual reveals of their actresses or actors.  It seems to me that B movies are almost universally quite ham-handed in their use of the exposed human form.

So, to get my fix of the silliness in spades I have come to love, I often have to turn to black-and-white era horror films, such as cult classic The Giant Gila Monster, which could also feature the “Enough Said!” tagline, though mayhap with “Also, A Scene Where Some Kid Badly Plays a Song on His Guitar and Sings That is Like Three Times Longer Than It Should Be!” tacked on, as well.  One of my personal favorites (much better than The Giant Gila Monster) is the 1959 film Att220px-Giantleechesack of the Giant Leeches.  The titular leeches were so tremendous in size, of course, as the result of radiation, but then again, what huge movie monsters wasn’t that way because of something nuclear in that era of Cold War paranoia?  I suppose that I launch into a discourse on how horror movies and books tend to reflect the biggest social fears and issues of their times, but I suppose I should save that scholarly of discussion for a post that doesn’t include a GIF of a man cutting a flying shark in half with a single swipe of a chainsaw.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is another notable monochrome film that just screamed to be watched.  A mad scientist keeping a brain (and assorted other dismembered body parts) alive, a mutant, telepathy, picking victims at a burlesque bar– what’s not to love?

And how about The Killer Shrews, which featured dogs as the shrews and lots of terrible racial stereotypes that were fun to mock incessantly.  For example, the Hispanic servant on the shrew island pretty much only said “Si senor,” the one black character seemed the model for Jar-Jar Binks in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and was, as what almost seems to be a law in horror movies, the first to die.  The female lead did an exceptional amount of swooning and fainting.  Fun for everybody.

KillershrewsIt’s no surprise, with the MPAA regulations being so strict in the 50s and 60s, that this era brought out so many of the B horror films that I’ve come to love, but I am sad that it is such a rare thing to find comparable horror films that are worth my time (as a time-waster) now.

A note– one of the most famous B horror films of all time is Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.  I tried to watch (and mock) this with friends, but it was just too bad and too weird to even come up with sarcastic quips about.  Pretty much anything we said during the film instead was “What is going on?” or disinterested chitchat.  It’s something about aliens, zombies, and a murder (I think).  It was really hard to follow.  I really, really wanted to love it, but it was just awful.  I know many other B horror lovers have a passion for it, but I felt like it was really just unwatchable.  So, I guess a lot of these older films are just as intolerable as many new ones, just for less promiscuous reasons.

At least I can have some hope for the future of B horror films because I happily just found out that Sharknado 2: The Second One is going to coming out next July.

So, what are your thoughts about B horror movies?  Which ones do you like, which ones do you hate, which ones changed your life?  I would really love to get more comments from my readers, make this blog more of a forum of horror (or whatever else I post about), rather than just my thoughts.  I would love to watch some great B movies from what you have to share– especially modern ones that fit my criteria for a good B movie.

“Charlestonian Monsters” and the Horrors of Nature

The following is a horror short story called “Charlestonian Monsters.”  I originally wrote it for the advanced fiction writing class I took my last semester at Utah State.  It is (as the name implies) set in Charleston (well, North Charleston), South Carolina, where I spent the first few months of my LDS mission.  This piece was an attempt to encapsulate some of the “monsters” I came in contact with during that experience– racism, abuse, neglect, poverty.  It also deals with two monsters that I heard numerous stories of– Hurricane Hugo, which destroyed much of of Charleston in 1989, and the hag, which I’ve had several friends who have personal experiences with.  It’s something that scares the crap out of me.  My interpretation of said hag is a little more… twisted than the accounts I’ve heard, but I had a lot of fun with it.

This story is also up on my deviantART, if you’d rather read it there.

If you aren’t in the mood for some horror fiction, skip down to the bottom to read a guest post about the typhoon in the Philippines– and how it, like Hurricane Hugo in the story, is one of the horrors that nature sometimes brings to us.



“There are moments when even to the sober eye of reason, the world of our sad humanity may assume the semblance of Hell.”

–Edgar Allan Poe

“I still get nightmares. In fact, I get them so often I should be used to them by now. I’m not. No one ever really gets used to nightmares.”
―Mark Z. Danielewski,
House of Leaves

Not so long ago, there was a family with a mother named Cherry St. John and two little girls, Aree and Krista, who weren’t sure if their last name was St. John or McCleod, but they were too afraid to ask because the name “McCleod” always made Cherry upset. Even though Aree was only four and Krista was six, the girls were well-versed in what upset their mother. The number one thing was any reference to their “worthless shit of a father,” Mark McCleod. They knew the “worthless shit” had taken off in 1985, just two months before Aree was born.

When their mother was drunk she would tend to lecture the girls (or anybody else who would listen) that she was glad she had never married the bastard and that she wished she could hunt him down and make him pay every cent he owed her for child support. “If I got all that money from him,” she would say again and again, “I would be a rich woman.”

Instead of being a rich woman, however, Cherry St. John was quite poor, living primarily off of a monthly welfare check in project housing in North Charleston. The St. John family was one of only a handful of white families in the area. The clear majority was black, and there was a moderate number of Hispanics as well.

Life was never too bad for the St. Johns– Cherry had a taxing but steady job in a chicken processing plant. The projects were filled with children, so the girls always had many playmates. Even though the area was full of crime their home was never broken into and the family had never been hurt or threatened. The family always had to be careful with their money, but they never had any real problems outside of day-to-day squabbles–

Until the night in the last week of August that Krista got hagged.

Krista awoke late into the night. She awoke sharply, eyes wide, a scream in her throat.

She couldn’t make a sound. Her vocal chords wouldn’t move. No muscles besides those mobilizing her eyes would budge. She was frozen in bed, staring out into the darkness of her shared bedroom.

The only light came from the crack under the door lit by a night light plugged in the narrow hallway to illuminate the path to the bathroom. There were no windows– the room was in the center of the apartment. As the six-year-old’s eyes adjusted to the light, she could faintly see the outline of a dark figure standing at the foot of her bed, gently swaying forward and back.

The girl tried to say the word “Mom,” but her lips and tongue wouldn’t move.

As her eyes adjusted she felt strangely glad that she hadn’t called the figure her mother. Her mother wasn’t that dark– no person she had ever seen was. The figure was the darkest dark, the shadow of a shadow.

The thing continued to rock back and forth, watching with midnight eyes. Krista could make out no face, but felt convinced that it was smiling. After minutes like hours, the swaying increased in scope– when it leaned FORWARD it moved CLOSER then CLOSER. More minutes, and it swayed FORWARD at an inhuman angle, leaning over Krista as if it wasn’t restricted by feet like it were a dense, dark mass and was somehow flat, two-dimensional at the same time.

Then it LEANED to a suspended state just a breath above the little girl– and PRESSED DOWN against her slowly with all of its awful WEIGHT.

Krista felt the breath being crushed out of her lungs as her body was pressed down into the flesh of her mattress an inch, two inches, three. She couldn’t see– the darkness pressed against her face, every inch of her body, like some unstable form of intimacy and then she thought she heard a VOICE as the darkness filled her ears that told her that it LOVED her, BREATHED oh I AM SICK with how I LOVE you

And then the little girl rasped an empty-lunged scream and the darkness was gone.

She cried and cried and her mother, Cherry St. John, swept her into her arms, but the little girl had no words to describe her fear, so her mother thought it was just a terrible dream.

It wasn’t until the second time that Krista was visited, two nights later, that her mother figured out what had happened. The second time was almost as bad as the first. The only difference the second time was that Krista knew what to expect.

That, and when the thing pressed down against her its VOICE gushed, OHHH you smell DELICIOUS I just could EAT you up. For some reason, that didn’t seem as bad to the little girl.

Krista didn’t cry until her mother came into her room. When the dark figure disappeared, the girl was overtaken with exhaustion and quickly fell asleep.

The next morning she tried her best to describe the incident to her mother. Her calmness in describing the manner unnerved Cherry and so she listened to Krista’s account with an attentiveness she normally only held for alcohol. Cherry bit her lip the whole time and offered no solutions.

Later, Aree reported to her big sister that Mom was talking on the phone with Meemaw and told their grandmother “Krista got hagged last night.” When Krista asked Aree what else their mother had to say her little sister shrugged and said “Nothing, she just starting talking about her mean boss at work.”

Krista didn’t know what to think about that. Was her nightmare monster really only worth a passing comment? And what did her mother mean, “hagged?” Was this something that had such a simple name? Did this happen to others?

The child wanted to ask her mother questions, but was hesitant to. Would Cherry even answer?

Would Cherry even care?

On Saturday, the girls were playing on the small, graffiti-covered playground that featured an assortment of gang signs, obscenity, and phrases like “Kill Honkies” and surprisingly, “John 3:15.” Krista was playing with Shakena, a six-year-old girl who lived in the apartment next to theirs, and while pushing her on the small park’s lone swing asked, “So, you find out what ‘hagged’ means?” The girl had set her friend into investigation mode the day previous.

The dark-skinned little girl looked at her friend with a frown. “My mama says to not talk about the devil.”

“The devil? What do you mean, the devil? Is being hagged seeing the devil?”

Shakena shook her head, the small, colorful beads braided into her her rattling. “It think it happened to my cousin, ReVonne. I don’t think it’s the devil, not exactly, but I don’t think I should talk about it. My mama might knock my head.” She bit her lip. “I think she might knock my head, anyway. She’s told me that she doesn’t like me playing with you.”

Krista stopped pushing Shakena. “Why?”

“Mama said that I should just keep to the black girls, that your ma is crazy and you’re gon’ be crazy, too. ‘Specially if you are goin’ ’round talking about the hag.” The girl paused. “She said it’s not good for Christian discussin’.” Shakena hopped off the swing. “I’m going home, I’ll see you tomorrow after I get home from Sunday School.”

Krista looked down. “Yeah, git on.” As her friend departed she walked over to her little sister, who was climbing a ladder leading to a short metal slide. “Aree, do you want to play princess?”

Aree paused on the penultimate step and grinned. “Uh-huh!”

A sharp noise cracked through the air, and a puzzled look spread over the younger girl’s face. “What was that, Krista?”

Her older sister shook her head. “I dunno. Let’s go see.”

Aree had blood on her hand. She had been the first to get to the source of the noise– a man who sat slumped against the wall of one of the apartments. The four-year-old had gently prodded him to see if he was awake. When he fell limply to the side, smearing blood across the wall he was against, she screamed sharply for a short, shattered moment, then fell silent. She raised her hand, and stared at the blood the man’s corpse had left on it.

Krista was at her sister’s side briefly all-adult, covering her sister’s eyes with her hands, moving the child to face their own apartment in the maze of clay-brown buildings. As she pushed Aree forward, she began to cry the kind of tears that she had shed the first night of the hag. Aree didn’t shed any tears, her face blank and pale.

The last time Cherry had felt truly afraid was when she had come home from a doctor’s appointment for her second baby in her stomach, finding a lack of Mark in the apartment. It wasn’t the lack of her boyfriend that necessarily troubled her, but rather the lack of his possessions– and Cherry’s TV– that triggered the fear.

While she had been at the doctor’s office, the receptionist had laid out a payment plan for the medical bills that came with birthing Aree. Cherry had mapped out some ways that her income combined with Mark’s would be able to make it work, to make them work–

And he was just gone. That day, Cherry sat on the floor of her tiny kitchen and cried, not stopping even when her infant awoke in her nearby removable car seat, squalling for attention.

As Cherry St. John looked into Aree’s eyes on that Saturday afternoon as her daughters rushed into their apartment, Krista weeping and Aree silent, she felt like just sitting and crying again.

Just crying until everything bad ended.

Police lights flashed through the windows twenty minutes later. Cherry did not go to speak with them. She still was crying with her daughters.

Other than the person who made an anonymous phone call letting authorities know about the body, nobody in the project housing spoke with them. The handful of doors the officers knocked on went unanswered. It was an unsaid rule of the neighborhood.

The hag didn’t visit that night. There was already enough darkness that day.

On Monday, before sending her to school, Cherry casually asked Krista if she had more problems the previous night. Her daughter didn’t say anything definitive either way, and didn’t look at her mother during the brief conversation.

That evening, LaRainne, Shakena’s mother, knocked on the St. John’s door. When Cherry answered, she simply handed her a note and walked away. It read, Your Krista is scaring my daughter with her bad stories and questions. I don’t want her coming around her anymore. -L

When Cherry asked Krista about it, her daughter just shrugged and continued to draw with crayons. “Don’t you want to see your best friend?” pushed Cherry.

Krista continued drawing. “No’m. It won’t matter soon.”

“The hell do you mean, matter soon?”

Krista refused to say anything further.

Meemaw called on Wednesday. Aree answered, and tried to hijack the conversation with her grandmother, but Meemaw demanded Cherry, insisting it was really important.

“Yes, ma’am?” Cherry answered when Aree finally handed over the phone. “A storm? When? What are they saying?” She walked out of the living room, where the phone was mounted on the wall, into the kitchen to get away from her daughters. The phone cord stretched to accommodate the movement. “That bad? Are you serious? What are y’all gonna do? Us? Only if the governor calls for evacuation, but I doubt that’ll happen.”

That was the first Cherry St. John heard of the storm.

On Thursday, early morning, Krista awoke just after 3:00 to the darkness already beginning to PRESS against her. She was startled, and almost felt a scream successfully pass her lips only to be caught with a rasp in her throat. Her eyes darted side to side and she saw Aree sitting up in her bed across the room, eyes wide.

Aree screamed in the place of her sister.

The dark figure FROZE and Krista felt its physicality tense. Its VOICE was a WHISPER yet a SHOUT in Krista’s ears, Oh my PRECIOUS LITTLE ONE, oh my LOVE I love oh I LOVEANDNEED you. FOUR days oh FOUR DAYS ohno four DAYS to LOVEYOU.

The dark figure jolted up to standing position, turning toward Aree, and lunged at her, the darkness converging into a single sharp point that passed through the little girl and through the wall.

Cherry ran into the room, the door slamming against the wall as it was flung back to admit her. “What is it?” she hissed.

“Uh–” said Krista.

Cherry snapped on the light and the girls could see that she was holding a broom. “What?” Aree began crying. “What is it, babe?” The child shook her head. Cherry looked up at her older daughter. “You know what it is?”

Krista slowly nodded. “It was it again. The thing. That– ‘hagged’ me.”

Cherry clenched her teeth. “Again? Are you serious?” Krista nodded. Cherry muttered what sounded to Krista like a series of words that she had her mouth washed out by Shakena’s mother for saying, then, “I can’t believe it. I’ve never heard of it coming so much to anybody. Usually just once.”

Krista closed her eyes. “Aree saw it. I think she scared it away.”

“Oh?” She dropped her broom and sat on Aree’s bed, taking her in her arms.

“Yes’m. And–“

Cherry looked up. “What?”

Krista shook her head. “I don’t know.”

“What, Krista?”

“It– it just talked to me again.”

Again? It’s been talking to you?”

Krista looked down, feeling ashamed. “Yes’m. It says bad things to me. That it loves me.”

Cherry cursed.

“This time it said something about four days.”

“Four days what?”

“Four days to love me. I think. Does that make any sense?”

Cherry frowned, but didn’t respond.

That night Cherry slept on the floor of her girl’s room. She had found in herself a sense of maternal care that she had thought had left with Mark.

The morning after Aree saw the darkness Cherry stepped outside to check for mail. She found a note attached to her door that stated in cold block letters:


Cherry screamed as she tore up the note, hurling each chunk away from her cracked cement porch. “No,” she shouted out into the mostly-empty complex of government-built apartments. “Nothing is going to touch me or my girls. Nobody.”

Cherry slept on the floor of her girls’ room that night, and the night following. The night of Thursday evening all three slept until morning without any incident. The following evening, Krista briefly awoke just after midnight and saw a dark figure standing in the corner of the room. It made no move towards her or her family members as she watched it, and eventually sleep retook her. When she woke the next morning to the sound of the phone ringing in the next room, the thing was gone.

Cherry inhaled sharply and slowly opened her eyes as Krista tried to step over her to get to the phone that continued to ring an abnormally long number of times. “Don’t worry about it, honey,” she mumbled, “I’m sure they’ll call back later.”

Krista shook her head. “It just keeps ringing.”

Cherry blinked deliberately to clear sleep from her eyes. “How long has it been going?”

“At least a minute.”

Cherry slowly stood, knees cracking loudly. “I’ll get it, just lay back down. Or go eat some cereal.”

The phone was still ringing when Cherry finally answered it. It was her mother, who skipped hellos by immediately demanding, “What the hell took you so long to answer?”

Well, why the hell are you calling so early?” Cherry retorted.

Look, you need to start packing. Right now—“


Shut up and listen to me, Cherry. Pack anything valuable or useful. Clothes, some food, money, anything you really care about. Blankets, pillows. Have it ready by three, I’ll be there then, heaven willing that the roads aren’t too busy to let me get there.”

What, the storm?”

Hugo. Yes, Cherry Valerie St. John, the hurricane. The news reports are saying a nightmare of a hurricane. They named it Hugo, and make jokes that it’s huge-o. You understand me? Why in the name of the Almighty did you not watch the news after I warned you?” Her voice was growing shrill.

Cherry’s voice grew tired. “Because, ma’am, I have been dealing with shit you wouldn’t believe, and because, mother, I know I have you to do the worrying for me. So, they’re calling for an evacuation, then?”

What ‘shit’ could be more important than the safety of your daughters?”

Aree, who had just wandered into the room to see who her mom was shouting at, fled at the sight of her mother’s scowl. “You listen to me, Ma, and you listen to me good. I am trying to take care of my daughters’ safety. I have been sleeping the last three nights on their floor to keep them safe, so don’t tell me that I don’t care about them. If I didn’t need your car to get us out of here, I’d tell you to go to hell, because your face is the last I want to see right now. Three o’ clock,” Cherry spat, and slammed the phone against its receiver.

She spun toward the kitchen, shouting, “Krista, eat your corn flakes like the devil’s on your tail, because I need your help.”

The family loaded key possessions into Meemaw’s car when it pulled in at 5:45. Cherry’s mother had to fight traffic and then argue with a police officer to allow her to drive toward Charleston. The bullish woman had sworn that if the man didn’t allow her to take care of her grandbabies then she would take his gun and shoot him with it.

They drove inland in thick traffic all through the night to reach the South Carolinian capitol, Columbia, which meteorologists had said should be safe from the worst of the storm. They parked the car in a field filled with other refugees and slept, ate the food they brought, and waited. Mid-day Sunday, it began to rain. Krista read picture books to Aree, and Cherry told Meemaw about the events of the prior week and rain fell and fell.

The radio told the family of large temporary shelters that had been erected, some around the governor’s mansion Sherman had burned down during his march to the sea. They moved there, and ate emergency supplies while they waited for the storm to pass.

They didn’t go back until two weeks after the following Friday, when they heard the roads had been mostly cleared enough to allow for travel. They passed hundreds of downed trees as they returned to the coast, and as they got to the city, they saw what Hugo’s thousands of tornadoes had done.

When they reached their section of the projects in North Charleston, they found only rubble, the series of drab brown buildings reduced to crumbling walls. The St. Johns cried, and Cherry screamed profanities into the sky at Hugo, which had gone on to ravage states to the north, but soon, sitting on a pile of bricks that had once made up their apartment building, they came to find peace as they realized that the hurricane provided them an opportunity to be free from their other Charlestonian monsters.




Sometimes zombies, ghosts, and demons are not the only thing we have to fear. Sometimes our fellow humans have to suffer through the horrific reality that is Mother Nature. Many families and individuals have been torn apart by the recent typhoon that struck the Philippines. While many of us do not have the means to fly over and help  in person, we can give aid to those who can. Here are some trustworthy places to donate:

LDS Philanthropies Humanitarian Aid – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does great humanitarian work. It’s non-profit, so every cent goes towards the relief effort. I also read that they are currently teaming up with Roman Catholic efforts, so your donation will probably help with the Catholic relief effort as well.
The American Red Cross and the UK Red Cross – One of the most trustworthy and efficient organizations.
The U.S. White House – The President of the United States has also asked for donations through their website to aid the U.S. volunteers.

Thanks for your time, bloggers!

Three Faces of Hannibal Lecter (plus one of Hannibal Lecktor, whoever that guy is)

About 5 years ago I watched The Silence of the Lambs.  I was bored and was in the mood for something a little dark.  I didn’t know much about Hannibal Lecter– I had just heard that he was a cannibalistic fictional serial killer.  I think a friend had described a scene (I didn’t then know what movie it was from– it turns out it’s from Hannibal) in which Hannibal offers a child sitting next to him some human flesh on a flight for a snack.  Anyway, it was around that time that I decided I really wanted to see– or at least find out if I wanted to see– a majority of the most iconic horror films, so the Hannibal Lecter films were on the list.  I didn’t know what order they were in, so I just went with the one that I was pretty sure was the oldest and that had a cover image that had haunted me in video rental stores as a child (which, of course, has one of the creepiest hidden images of all time in it, with the dead women in the skull on the butterfly).

Yes, I was years behind on this whole thing.  I’ll kindly refer you to my previous post Waiting for Pyramid Head if you have any questions as to why I knew so little about something so big in the horror world.

Needless to say, The Silence of the Lambs blew me away.  It was easily one of the best films I had ever seen– and not just because of the compeI wondered about this image for years.  No lie.lling story, but in general quality (it did win Best Picture, after all).  The way it was directed, with methodical pacing that unceasingly drew me in deeper and deeper, was incredible (the director won Best Director that year).  The script was exceptional, each line of dialogue perfect.  And there cannot be enough said of the acting in the film– the whole cast was incredible, with Jodie Foster making Clarice Starling a character that somehow manages to be distant while you still cheer for her (while winning Best Actress), or Ted Levine bringing a truly unnerving realism to the film’s main monster, the serial killer “Buffalo Bill,” or most of all, the legendary, award-winning (with the smallest amount of screentime) portrayal of the famed Dr. Hannibal Lecter by Anthony Hopkins.  I cannot forget how truly unnerved I was made by that performance.  Every tiny face muscle seemed to be giving its all for acting perfection as Lector first turned his head toward Clarice, and it just got better from there.  I had seen some truly exceptional films before, but to have one which such high caliber in every way was eye-opening to me.  I simply didn’t know that a film could be so flawless (after all, even my favorite film of all time, The Dark Knight has a number of elements that are imperfect).

So, by the time I finished the film I had come to the conclusion that I had gotten myself into something incredible.  I knew that there was more to be had of this Hannibal Lecter, and so I set to figuring out what direction I needed to go next to get the most out of pursuing the series further.

A cursory search on Wikipedia quickly revealed that the brilliant film I had just seen was adapted from a book, actually the second book in its series.  I wasn’t too surprised– after all, Hannibal is first seen in a cell– and I decided that before I watched any more Hannibal movies I would read the books.

I decided to start with what I was already familiar with– The Silence of the Lambs.  I was so enchanted with the film that I couldn’t resist.  I immediately plunged into the masterful writing of Thomas Harris that was just as tantalizing as the film that drew me to it.  Now, usually I prefer books to film adaptations (I mean, who doesn’t?) but this one was a rare exception to the rule.  The film wasn’t better than the book (though that does happen, and I’m sure it’ll make it onto this blog as a post eventually), but I felt like it was equal.  I found that the film was, essentially, a perfect adaptation of the novel, following the plot very well, even using much of the dialogue directly, and even capturing the very tone, the very essence of the base work.

In all of the Lecter novels, Thomas Harris writes in a way that is beautiful and dark, and the greatest strength is the way that he paints his characters in ways that are very real, very human– even (maybe especially) the monsters.  The serial killers– “The Tooth Fairy,” “Buffalo Bill,” and, of course, “Hannibal the Cannibal–” are the most fascinating element of his writing.  They are their own blends of crazy (well, is Hannibal crazy?  Can’t really say), but their internal logic is strong, and as you read the sections of the novels that get into their heads you can’t help but sympathize, a little, with them.  This was especially true for me as I read Red Dragon, the first Hannibal novel to be written.  My heart still aches a little for the titular “Red Dragon,” when, in the course of the novel, his more human side begins to have things go his way, just to have the monster inside of him rise up and take control of his life again.  It was one of the most emotionally evocative pieces of writing I have ever read.

I unfortunately think I read the Lecter novels in the worst order possible.  As I’ve already stated, I read The Silence of the Lambs first, which was really starting off with the best of the best, which made the others not quite as good as they may have seemed had I not been prone to compare them to it.  The second book I read is the most recently written, the prequel novel Hannibal Rising.hannibal rising  Now, it’s a good book, but it is extremely different from the rest of the series.  Instead of telling a relatively contemporary serial killer story, it follows a young Hannibal, surviving (in the most horrible of ways) World War II in Lithuania and afterward moving to France.  It’s a very strange story, filled with the dark context for Lecter becoming a monster, but failing to ever begin to tell the story that one expects from a story named Hannibal Rising.  I figured it was the story of how he got to be in the insane asylum that Clarice finds him in, and was a little disappointed that it was not.

It is a beautiful piece of writing, in spite of very peculiar thematic elements including cannibalism, not-quite incest, racism, war, survival, revenge, and more.  The imagery of young Hannibal making himself into a samurai of sorts was very evocative.

So, a good book, but one that I should have saved for last.

Next, I read Red Dragon.  It was extremely good, but once again I was disappointed to find that it was not the story of Hannibal’s serial murders.  I, as with The Silence of the Lambs, found Lecter sitting, a serene hurricane, in his asylum cell, contributing to the story as a strange consultant-of-sorts on another serial killer case.  The story was littered with hints of what had happened before, especially since its protagonist, Will Graham, was the man who had put Hannibal there, but I wasn’t satisfied.  That again didn’t keep me from being drawn into the dark world of the story’s main serial killer and the surprisingly equally dark man who was hunting him.  I really was fascinated with the character of Will and his incredibly strong empathy that allows him inside the mind of the man who was killing families and putting shards of mirror in their eyes.  I was haunted by Hannibal’s words to him, telling Graham that the reason he had caught his was that they were just alike.

This idea, and similar ones, have been teased out a number of times since Red Dragon— the popular Dexter series comes to mind– but none have come close to so interesting an execution as Harris managed in his first Hannibal novel.  I love that the idea is being brought out even more with the new TV series, which I’ll get to later.

I finally got to the remaining book– Hannibal— with a fervor, having ridden a wave of great, scary writing to it.  Maybe it was that I had just read the intense ending to Red Dragon, but as I started what I thought what would serve as the opus of the series– with the titular Hannibal finally escaped, free to resume his monstrosities– I immediately became bored.  Not with everything in the book, but I could definitely tell that Harris had again allowed himself to really dig into the story, which, unlike with his other novels, caused the pace to slow.  I felt distanced as a reader from the story, when I was used to being drawn into the world of Harris’ writing.  Finally, as murders began and the story moved forward, I felt a little more drawn in– but not as much as I expected.

There was one particularly interesting thing about the book– the way it described Hannibal’s mind.  Harris finally shows his audience the private, queerly beautiful thoughts of his pet monster.  He shows us how they are neatly ordered, that his very mind– not just his actions– screams of his genius.  We see hints of his awful childhood and his beloved late sister, Mischa, whose death plays such a key role in his shaping.

And yet, in spite of that inspired element of the book, there seemed to be abundant problems.  Harris seemed to be trying very hard to re-cast his protagonist as something that is less of a monster and more of a thing of beauty.  While I had been fascinated by the complexity of the character– he was even more dark and frightening and brilliant than the other killers that the series had showcased– I could not have undone what the other books in the series had done to me.  I had made up my mind that Hannibal was a monster.  Yes, a genius, cultured, gentleman monster (not unlike my perspective of Satan), but still a monster nonetheless.  The “villain” of the piece was another issue– a surviving victim of the original Lecter murders who is a disgusting, crippled, pedophilic troll.  It was immediately clear, upon  his introduction, that he was the one the reader was not supposed to like, while the handsome, clever Hannibal was to be the one you root for.  It is an interesting idea to set the story as a monster setting a trap for another monster, but everything moved too slowly.  There wasn’t the opportunity that the other books had to move things along– another fresh homicide scene to be appalled by, more clues to follow.  Instead, there is Lecter, who seems to be tamed from the necessity to hide (he’s still dangerous, but only when necessary), narrowly dodging trap after trap to find and catch him, and Mason Verger, whose scenes just seem to be either disgusting shows of what a horrible person he is, or scenes of him being pissed that he isn’t torturing Hannibal yet.  The only character I could find myself caring about was Clarice Starling, but she, too, seems comparatively lifeless in comparison to her role in The Silence of the Lambs.

And then there’s the biggest issue of all with the story– it’s ending.  [SPOILERS, DUH.]  The ending of the story, after Hannibal is saved by Clarice from Verger, then in turn saves her, is the problem.  He attempts to brainwash her in really weird ways into thinking she’s Mischa, or that he’s her dead father, or something like that.  I don’t really know, the writing style gets very purposely trippy to imitate the drug-haze and, unfortunately, ends up becoming near-unreadable.  And then, there isn’t even the payoff of a good ending.  Instead, Clarice breaks free of the haze and still maintains her identity– which seems good, right?– but then choses to submit to Hannibal as his accomplice and lover, and they eat some annoying jerk’s brains and run away together. [End spoilers.]

What the frick, right?

Instead of a brilliant conclusion to the story, the audience is presented with some high shock factor twist-ending bullcrap that feels totally untrue to the characters involved.  I put the book down, pissed off, declaring to all in the room, “That sucked.”

I wish I could end my discussion of the books in some other way.  Blame Thomas Harris for me ending the discussion of his writing on such a negative note.

Anyway, after that disappointment, and allowing myself a couple weeks to distance myself from how mad I was about it (it still elicits feelings of anger from me), I returned to the medium that had introduced me to Hannibal Lecter.

I quite enjoyed the film version of Red Dragon.  I thought that Edward Norton was a pretty good choice for Will Graham, and I liked Ralph Fiennes’s portrayal of Francis Dolarhyde as well (a much better performance than him as Voldemort– it’s refreshing to learn that he actually could act, even though he hid it so well in the disappointing Harry Potter films).  It was no surprise that Hopkins was still the star of the show, even still with a relatively minor role.  I don’t have too much to say about it other than it was a solid, quite faithful film adaptation, though it did not draw as strong an emotional reaction from me as the book did.  In other words, it was good, but it was definitely no The Silence of the Lambs film good.

It was with reluctance that I moved on to Ridley Scott’s Hannibal.  Hannibal_movie_posterAfter all, the other two Lecter-related films did such a solid job of closely following the source material and, frankly, I didn’t want this one to follow suite.

It didn’t.  Thank heaven.

It was a pretty okay movie.  I didn’t feel nearly as awed by Anthony Hopkins’ performance, but I suppose that even the best of actors can struggle a bit when they’re given material to work with that is not of the same caliber as their acting abilities.  Let’s be real, though– Anthony Hopkins at his worst is still better than many other actors at their best.  I liked Julianne Moore as Clarice, though I prefer Jodie Foster.

The story seemed to work better as a movie, though.  The pacing issues largely disappeared as, by virtue of being an entire piece in 131 minutes rather than that amount of time spent reading equaling pretty much nothing happening, it moved along at a brisk clip.

Oh, and they didn’t ruin the ending.  Did I mention that?  The ending went the direction that may have (partially) redeemed the book.  I finished the movie not wanting to throw things at the screen.  That helped out a lot.

Finally, I watched the Hannibal Rising movie.  I thought it was very visually striking and was a very entertaining adaptation of the book.  I liked the performance of Gaspard Ulliel as the young Lecter, though I felt it did struggle at times in that it occasionally slipped into mediocre imitation of Hopkins rather than standing on its own.  I understand that it was panned by critics, but I honestly don’t feel like any such negative press is warranted.

With that movie watched, I thought that I had a complete Hannibal Lecter experience (unless, that is, Thomas Harris ever gets around to finishing another Lecter book– which, based on his average of 7.75 years to finish a book, seems a due around now).  I didn’t think much on the character other than to show my wife The Silence of the Lambs.

But then I caught wind of an NBC TV series called Hannibal.  Of course, I was instantly intrigued.  Hannibal_key_artI looked up a teaser trailer on Youtube, but because I wasn’t instantly blown away by the 45 seconds of Mads Mikkelsen’s acting as the titular character, I forgot all about it for a few months.

I saw a blurb about the show on IMDb while looking up some actor or show or the like (something I spend way too much time doing) and decided to give it a shot.  If it sucked, I could always turn it off.  A cursory look at the character list on the page seemed to indicate Red Dragon to me, so I found it streaming online.

It was good.  Extremely good.  I watched four episodes that night.  I very quickly felt ashamed that I didn’t instantly recognize Mikkelsen’s performance as Hannibal for the brilliant performance (and more ethnically correct) it is.  Hugh Dancy is Will Graham to me.  The way that Graham’s mental process of getting into the mindset of murderers is portrayed is brilliant.

I’ve seen every episode to date (so, the entire first season) and every one of them immersed me into its fictional world.

It is quite dark and, at times, difficult to watch for its gruesome factor.  Fairly akin to the special effects of The Walking Dead.  Really cool, but messed up, stuff.  Like a human string instrument.

The series (so far) serves as the prequel to Red Dragon that I’ve long wanted.  Hannibal is a serial killer at large, though that serves more as a common thread through the episodes rather than the sole focus of the season.  From what I’ve read (on Wikipedia, the knower of all), the idea is to have 3 seasons before Red Dragon, then a season of each of the subsequent books in the series.  If the show continues to be as incredible as it thus has, that idea makes me very happy.  Well, the last season maybe not so much, but even still I expect good things.

It is of note that they make some changes to the established canon to make the show work.  The gender of several characters are changed (Dr. Bloom, Freddy Lounds) to allow for some romance and, I think, some general balance to the story.  Also, Lecter and Graham work together to solve serial killer cases instead of what is suggested by Red Dragon, which is that Graham meets Lecter when he interviews him about one of his dead patients and gets attacked by him.  But trust me, even though it deviates from the “real” story, this is much more compelling.

Just watch it.  I don’t want to spoil it.  I can’t wait for season 2 to start.

Looking up something on Wikipedia about the show, I discovered something interesting– I had missed a movie.  I learned that five years before The Silence of the Lambs would appear in theaters there was a film adaptation of Red DragonManhunter_michael_mann_film_poster called Manhunter.  Having seen and read everything else in the Hannibal Lecter universe, I decided to give it a shot.

This movie is the reason for the parenthetical face of Hannibal Lecktor.  They changed the spelling of his last name.  I hate it when things do this when adapting a story.

I don’t have too much to say about the movie.  Brian Cox’s performance is the least impressive of the four actors to play Hannibal.  It was interesting to see a young William Petersen (who I really only know from CSI) as Graham.  Tom Noonan did well with the role of Dolarhyde.  The movie does pretty well with the source material, not deviating in annoying ways.  I think I’d have enjoyed it more if it weren’t for the mediocre ’80s synth soundtrack and for the fact that the later film adaptation is overall better.  I felt like the pacing was a little off, and there were too many random scenes that just didn’t seem to contribute to the story as effectively as they could have.  I think my biggest issue with the film was how it mentioned Will Graham’s empathetic ability to get into the minds of killers, but did very little to show the audience that fact.

Wow, that was a veritable treatise on Hannibal Lecter.  I hope to get comments with all of your thoughts on all of these books and shows and movies.


P.S. This post has a sequel, discussing Hannibal season 2!

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