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Cheesy 80’s Movie Review — “Terrorvision”

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Not too much news on the personal or professional front this week.  Still plugging away on the writing and audio book fronts, and work continues on the house for a move in a few months.  We are looking forward to the bigger space and quietness of small town life again.  More updates are forthcoming as they develop.

For this month’s cheesy 80’s horror movie, I decided to check out a movie I started watching as a kid when visiting my father.  “Terrorvision” is about a creature thought to have been destroyed, but turned into energy and shot off into space.  It is picked up by a family’s overpowered satellite dish, where it changes between solid and energy states.  The family is a collection of misfit members.  The parents are swingers who make their house into an exaggerated “Pleasure Palace”.  The daughter is the stereotypical MTV teenager with multicolored hair and Madonna style clothing.  The grandfather is an eccentric military vet whose influence is clearly seen in his grandson, also a military nut with a love for horror movies.

As the creature makes it’s ways through the family and other unlucky victims, the movie just gets cheesier and cheesier.  There are plenty of hinted at sexuality throughout, and a view of children as obnoxious, bratty, and to be ignored if it interferes with their fun.  I liked the movie better from my memories compared to watching it now with a more refined taste.  If you want a reminder of the 80’s to watch passively, this movie is for you.  There are, however, much better movies, even in the cheesy category.

Until next time…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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Book Review — “Follow You Home” by Mark Edwards

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

I have been keeping busy with audiobook work (it’s finally almost completed, yay!!!), working on the first draft of one novel while also writing a 2nd draft of another, and fixing up our new home. Add to that a part-time job and time with family, and you find a very busy person. Out baby is now ten months old and doing remarkably well. You can’t really tell that he was born two months premature, which we are very proud of. Being busy like this is fun, but also tremendously challenging at the same time. There are some “less than pleasant” things also going on, but the less said about all of that, the better right now. I’m hoping to have a better second half of the year, complete with news of published works. Fingers crossed.

This week, we return to book reviews with a look at “Follow You Home” by Mark Edwards. The story follows Daniel and Laura on the tail end of a vacation tour of continental Europe. They plan on getting married and starting a family, and wanted take one last adventure together before doing so. On a train ride to Romania, their passports and some personal items are stolen while they are sleeping. They, along with a friend they made on the trip, are subsequently removed from the train and left in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night while the train continued on. As they make their way through a dark forest to the next train station, something terrible happens that changes Daniel and Laura. The incident isn’t revealed until the third act, but it is bad enough to split the once happy couple. That is only the beginning of their troubles as strange things begin to happen and people they confide their story with end up dead.

It is hard to give an opinion reason for this story without going into spoilers. I expected the story to go one way, but it swerved about midway in the story. There is a certain level of predictability in the story for the first half, but the reveal on what happened in the Romanian forest is a complete surprise. It is a horrendous thing, and you feel for the Daniel and Laura once you find out what happens. It is well worth finishing reading the book for the ultimate payoff in the story. I rate this book a 4 out of 5.

I should be back again next week with another review, and hopefully some additional news on everything going on. Until then…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Movie Review — Chopping Mall

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

A couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d wax nostalgic and check out an 80’s horror flick.  After flipping through the choices on the streaming services, I finally settled on “Chopping Mall”.

The movie opens with a demonstration of a new mall security system, robots that patrol the common areas of the mall.  Any criminals they find are taken down with non-lethal weapons.  It seems like a good idea for the safety of the stores.  That changes when the main computer system is struck by lightning, and the machines become murderous.  Of course, it wouldn’t be an 80s slasher flick without teenagers staying after the mall closes to drink, smoke pot, and have plenty of sex inside one of the stores.  Without them, there would be no movie or body count.

While this fits everything about 1980s slasher flicks, even down to the cheesiness, I thought it was an okay movie.  The special effects and acting aren’t the very best, and the only well-known actor, Dick Miller — a/k/a Mr. Futterman from the Gremlin movies, is on-screen for about five minutes before being killed off.  Overall, the movie is a good one if you want one to just veg out to or poke fun at, but not one for hardcore horror movie fans.

Until next time, patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book review — “The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences: Phoenix Rising”

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

This week, I thought we’d take a little trip into the realm of steam punk. Join me as we take a peek into the first book in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, “Phoenix Rising”, written by the husband and wife combo of Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine.

First, for those who do not know what steam punk is, it is a writing genre that takes place in Victorian times, but with steam-powered versions of technology we have nowadays. An example to give a rough idea is the movie and television series, “Wild Wild West”. While I’m not totally sure the time frame fits, the contraptions used in both fit the bill.

“Phoenix Rising” opens up with a bang, literally, with New Zealand Ministry agent Eliza D. Braun on a mission to extricate Wellington Books. Books is an archivist within the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, and his capture is of grave concern since he is privy to practically everything known to the organization. Case files, powerful mystical pieces, and information hidden away from the general public for their, the Queen’s, and the Empire’s safeties. Needless to say, Agent Braun is a woman of action who loves things that shoot or go boom. After successfully rescuing the archivist, she is assigned to the Archives to learn humility. Instead, she discovers details regarding her former partner’s last case, the one that ended with him confined to a mental institution. Before long, both Books and Braun are investigating the case and are drawn into a giant conspiracy against the Crown and Empire.

I reviewed the second book in the series, “The Janus Affair”, a couple of years ago, and found the book an excellent read by itself, but having read the first, I appreciate the overall story much more. The ideas for the technology are ingenious, and the story reads much like the classics of the similar genres. You really get a good feel of fire that burns inside Eliza, and see the kind heart she has. It is also a bit steamier than one might expect from a story taking place in Great Britain during the Victorian era. I give this story a solid 4 out of 5 and can’t wait to read more in the series.

Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — “Once Upon a Scream”

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Casa!

Apologies for being away from the blog for so long. Changes in my family and professional dynamics have occurred, which I will go more into in a future post. In the meantime, I’m trying to get myself back into a regular deadline schedule. What better way to do so than starting work on my backlog of book reviews. This week’s offering is “Once Upon a Scream”, a collection of fairy tale themed horror stories edited by Dan Shaurette.

Traditionally, fairy tales have usually contained dark themes and ride the line between horror and non-horror. The stories included in this collection take the step over that line and directly into the horror realm. Although I enjoyed all of the stories, my favorites were “The Black Undeath” (a zombie version of Rumpelstiltskin), “The Godmother’s Bargain” (a twisted version of Cinderella), “Curse of the Elves” (think “The Shoemaker and the Elves” crossed with “Sweeney Todd”), and Mr. Shingles (a troll under the bridge story). Overall, I give this collection a 4.75 our of 5, definitely a must read if you love horror or fairy tales.

Until next week…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Updates for 2017

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

It has been a short while since we last talked, and there have certainly been some changes since then.  It would be easy and tempting to delve into the elephant in the room (pun not intended), the new president, but there is enough heated vitriol out there about it.  The Casa will remain neutral ground and a place for people to escape the real world for a short period of time.  My hope is to provide that for you and, perhaps, make good suggestions for other entertainment to catch your attention.  As Heath Ledger so aptly asked in “The Dark Knight”, why so serious?

Updates:  Our son, Little Man as we call him, has been home since October. and turned five months old today.  Since he was a preemie, he was on oxygen for a couple of months, but I’m proud to say that he’s been breathing all by himself since just before Christmas.  He is doing very well and sends his greetings to you all, as well as thank you to all who prayed for him and sent their positive thoughts and energy.  He is truly a miracle baby for my wife and I.

With the birth of our son came more changes than just now being parents of seven children collectively (5 months through 22 years old).  Once he came home, I took time off from work to take care of him while my wife returned to work and daycare wasn’t an option since he was a special needs child.  During that time away from my day job, we looked at our situation and decided that daycare still wasn’t something we wanted to do.  I left the company I’d been working at for the past ten years, but not just because of Little Man.  Over the course of my last year there, I found myself unhappy with where I was professionally and dealing with a lot of anxiety and frustrations.  Now that I am away from that company and working on my own writing and audiobook recording business, I am much happier.  I am eternally grateful to my wife for allowing me this opportunity, and I promise  not to squander or take it for granted.

I already have sent some short stories out for possible anthologies, and continue to work on more as we speak.  I also am nearing completion on an audiobook I’ve been recording for another author and look forward to do more recording in the near future, including some of my own tales.  I have also stepped away from my staff position with HorrorAddicts.net, but so I can compete in the writing contest they are offering this year.  You can find details regarding this contest at The Next Great Horror Writer Contest page.  More news to come as it happens.

Well, that is all of the news I have for this week.  Look for a review of  “Once Upon a Scream” next week.  If you have any suggestions of books and movies to check out, please let me know.  I’m also available to lend my voice and writing talents to whatever story or project you may need.  The links for my social media accounts are available on the home page, or you can leave me a note below.

Until next time, loyal patrons…

D.J. Pitsiladis

Book Review — “Mile 81” by Stephen King

Hello ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the Casa!

Apologies for my short hiatus the past two weeks.  Between getting a knee injury checked out, bringing my son home from the hospital, and adjusting to being an at home dad, time has been a little tight.  I am now ready and willing to bring a new post to you this week, a review of “Mile 81” by Stephen King.

Imagine you are driving by an abandoned rest stop and you see a car parked whose driver looks to be in some sort of distress.  Would you stop and help, or continue on your merry way?  Suppose you stop and approach the car to investigate, but don’t find a driver anywhere.  You might place your hand on the open car door to both brace you enough to look inside and pull back if there is trouble.  To your shock and horror, you find your hand stuck fast to the door.  The pain kicks in when your hand disappears into the door, literally.  That is precisely what happens to some very unlucky Samaritans in “Mile 81”.

Originally released as an e-book in 2011, it was later included in Stephen’s short story collection, “Bazaar of Bad Dreams”, released in 2015.  As with most of his later works, the story itself grabs you shortly after the beginning, and doesn’t let go.  The way he described what happened to the victims was very detailed without going into ultra gory.  I enjoyed the novella a lot, at least until the ending.  Unfortunately, as with many of his later works, the ending seemed almost rushed and felt like he didn’t really know just how it should end.  Until that point, I loved the story.  My rating is a 3.75 out of 5.

Now it is time for me to scat off to bed for another day of writing, recording, editing, and, most important of all, taking care of my youngest son.  Next week’s review will be a review of the audiobook, “Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword” by Tee Morris.  Until then…

D.J. Pitsiladis

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