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#SundayReview Halloween Film Time!

Frankie Av

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Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeen! Thought I’d pop in one of my 20 pairs of special FX contact lenses and make myself up for the occassion! It’s Halloween time again and when better a time to have a review of my favorite Halloween movies?!
I like clever things and funny things and super spoooooky scary things, but when it comes to Halloween movies, I am definitely not a horror or gore lover. Which is why this list doesn’t have the usual slasher movies or the likes. What I do have, is a choice of movies that I often watch at this time of year.

10) Beetlejuice

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Despite being made in 1988, Beetlejuice has not lost any of its spooky magic. I absolutely love this movie! It’s funny, daft, has great cast, a great story and brilliant atmosphere!
A couple who died in a car crash find themselves haunting their own home. When people move into their *vacant* home, they take steps to frighten them away! In comes Michael Keaton in the form of Beetlejuice; a devious ghostie who says he can get rid of the new guests–but is his help worth the trouble?!

9) The Frighteners

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The 1996 Michael J Fox movie has long been one of our favourites. It has just the right amount of comedy, spookiness, and cleverness to make this into my top ten. After the death of his wife in a car crash, a man claims he can communicate with the dead. But things get too real when supernatural events begin to happen around him!

8) The Lost Boys

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Kiefer Sutherland did for The Lost Boys what Robert Pattinson did for Twilight. But, The Lost Boys is a far better film and concept! The 1987 film revolves around two brothers who move to a new town, only to discover the place is infested with vampires! MUAHAHAHAHA!!

7) Alien Quadrilogy

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Yes it is four films in one spot, but they deserve to be watched in a marathon! Alien has to be one of the most freakiest movies of all time. The quadrilogy began in 1979 and freaked the f**k out of me and many others worldwide. With the tagline; “In space, no one can hear you scream!” it was always set up to be a terrifying experience. I once had a nightmare where I was chased by a Xenomorph! The Alien movies get so deep under your skin, you remember them for a very, very long time!

6) Spirited Away

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Perhaps an odd choice for Halloween, I think that Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away should be included in any Halloween movie list! A ten year old child sees her parents turned into pigs then is forced to serve all kinds of things in the spirit world? Yeah, that is spooky enough for me! XD It is entertaining, fascinating, funny and cute, with darker things to munch over as you watch the amazing animation skill of one of the greatest animes ever!

5) The Shining

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Many times over the years I have suffered writer’s block. Many times I’ve thought about retreating somewhere to help it pass. But in the 1980 film, Jack Nicholson’s character finds more than relief of writer’s block! He finds all kinds of crazy shit and descends into a psychotic episode which is remembered most for the phrase; “Heeeeeeeeeere’s JOHNNY!” One of the most atmospheric and psychologically terrifying movies of all time!

4) Shaun of the Dead

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No Halloween movie list would be complete without a mention of the 2004 comedy horror, Shaun of the Dead. I’m a huge fan of Frost and Pegg and this movie was simply sublime. The laughs, the choice of music, the gore, the utter stupidity. Shaun has to be in a top ten list, because Shaun is one of the best zombie apocalypse of all time. And I hate zombie movies, so that’s saying a lot!

3) Nightmare Before Christmas

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Tim Burton’s 1993 movie can be confusing to categorize. Is it for Christmas or Halloween?! I like to watch it during both times. It is satisfyingly spooky while also being endearing and charming. The Pumpkin King, Jack, discovers Christmas and wishes to take part in the celebrations at the cost of Christmas itself! One of my all time favourite animations, Nightmare is one of the best Tim Burton has ever made!

2) Queen of the Damned.

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I was always going to be conflicted over the number one slot. In the end I had to decide which of these two films made the biggest impact on me. To be honest, both did and both deserve to be in the number one slot. But if we speak of things which have affected me the most, I’d have to place Queen of the Damned at number two.
To me, this movie–while slated by the readers of the original books– is one of the best vampire movies of all time. I never read the books, I’m more of an action reader than a spooky/horror reader. But when it comes to films, this is one movie which I could watch every day of the week and never get bored.
Released in 2002, is follows the legendary vampire Lestat, and his rebirth into the world as a rock band vocalist. His music reawakens the queen of vampires, Akasha, and one of the most beautiful vampires I’ve ever seen. Akasha is played by the beautiful Aaliyah, who tragically died in 2001. It is Aaliyah’s portrayal of Akasha which made me fall in love with this movie. So sensual so cold and indifferent, so fucking beautiful in her cruelty. This movie is so brilliantly filmed and has scenes of such intensity that it begs for more attention than it was initially given. I think it shameful that the movie was given such a beating, although I understand why lovers of the book might be angry over it. But as a stand alone movie which is how I watched it, it is phenomenal.

1) Donnie Darko

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This 2001 film is one film which has stayed with me since I first saw it when it first came out. It is very intelligent, so much so it puzzled many a viewer into slating it. But Donnie Darko has become a cult classic because of that intelligence. For those with little imagination, the film can seem confusing and often perplexing. But what DD does is open the mind to things outwith our own reality, to alternate timelines or even timeline divergence. It makes you think, makes you question things. The story follows Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Donnie, as he looks for answers to his visions of the end of the world. There is a huge creepy-assed bunny called Frank, who haunts Donnie throughout the film, strange and unnerving. If ever there was a movie which made you think more after watching it than trying to figure it out during it, Donnie Darko is the one. It makes you question reality and your perceptions of reality. I love this movie so much I actually made and wore a costume of Frank the Bunny!

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As for television shows to watch during the Halloween period, there is the usual Supernatural and such. But, consider the less well known BBC series; Sea of Souls. This was a program created back in 2004 with a three series run. While the characters never outright tell you that something particularly supernatural is happening, as a viewer you get to see things and make your own mind up. Very clever, often spooky and well worth a watch! I have the DVDs and often rewatch, although season 3 was never released on DVD 😦

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And there you have it, the Dragon’s Halloween movie list. This week sees the start of NaNoWriMo, so I wont be around as much as usual. I plan to get Emergence finished for the end of Nano, but I will update the blog as often as I can. To all taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, good luck!!

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

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#WeCreate Robogirl

Frankie Av

I finished this illustration last night and uploaded it during a period of low self esteem, therefore my imagination completely failed me when it came to giving it a name. There is more to the story of this digital illustration and perhaps I will go back one day and update her backstory. As it stands, she is merely Robogirl, tied to her own insecurities and perceptions, an echo of her creator.

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Created on Wacom Cintiq and Artrage.

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi  MALEVOLENCE

#WhateverWednesday Fullmetal Alchemist!

Hi all! I think it is fair to say that everyone knows I love manga and anime. I have a fair few favourites and discover new ones all the time. From the magic of Studio Ghibli, to basketball teams slogging it out on the court, there is a manga for anime for everyone. 

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Created by Hiromu Arakawa and originally released as a manga in 2001, Fullmetal Alchemist is one of my very favorites in both the manga and anime versions. I’ve read the manga so often, I’m pretty sure I will have to replace it soon. There are two versions of the anime; Fullmetal Alchemist the tv series, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. I have only seen Brotherhood and chose to watch it as it was said to be based on the manga I loved, while the other version apparently occurs after the manga.

The story revolves around two brothers, Edward and Alphonse Elric and their quest to reclaim their bodies after a terrible incident when they were young. Raised primarily by their mother, Trisha, the brothers learn the scientific skills of Alchemy and follow in the footsteps of their mostly absent father, Hoenheim. When Trisha tragically dies from an awful illness, the boys are left pretty much alone and learn all that they can about Alchemy with the hopes of bringing their mother back to life.

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Edward and Alphonse painstakingly learn and gather together all the ingredients contained within the human body for the alchemic technique of Human Transmutation. While at first it appears that they might succeed in reviving their dead mother, things go tragically wrong when Alphonse is sucked into a portal within the alchemy circle and disappears as a result of the law of Equivalent Exchange: something of equal value must be given in exchange.

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Edward, having also lost his leg and terrified of what just happened, gives his right arm so that he can pull Alphonse back through the portal. He is only able to bring back his brother’s soul, and so binds to to a giant suit of armour. In the aftermath, the boys are taken in by a family friend whose granddaughter makes Edward replacement limbs in the form of automail; robotic limbs attached to the central nervous system of the body to allow full and natural control. When Edward is invited to become a State Alchemist-skilled alchemist working for the government- he and Alphonse seize the opportunity to find a way to get their bodies back. They hoped to do with with the help of The Philosophers Stone, a rare item which the antagonists of the story possess.

I could go further into the complex story, but if you are not interested by now, it is likely this is not the manga/anime for you. But, if this caught your attention, I will explain why this particular story gets to be the first Whatever Wednesday special.

The art in the manga is clean and skillfully detailed. The facial features of the brothers are often depicted with varied expressions in which their emotions are clear and easily read. Even Alphonse, and he is essentially just a suit of metal armour! There are fun depictions of them throughout, which inject some much needed humour in what is a rather dark and sorrowful story. The art is not lost in the transfer to anime, it is a pleasure to watch for this reason alone.

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The antagonists are varied and interesting. They are Homunculi; artificial humans created by main antagonist, Father, and each given a character to match the seven deadly sins. While they are obviously monstrous villains, they are so well defined that you can not help but feel for them, and at certain times even cheer them on–Greed in particular. They are pretty much indestructible and some of the fight scenes are especially satisfying. If I was to choose a favourite of the Homunculi, I would have to say Greed and Envy. Both are raving lunatics, but they also have qualities that come through more than most of the others. Humour being one they both have in large quantities.

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The themes throughout Fullmetal Alchemist have to be the most interesting part. Even if you took the magical of Alchemy out of the equation, you are still left with a tale including a wealth of interesting characters and a back story which keeps you wanting to know more. The story includes brutality, discrimination, regret, politics, war, racism as well as an exploration of what it is to be human. The indomitable spirits of both Edward and Alphonse keep you reading and watching, cheering them on and crying for them as they go to extreme lengths to protect and save each other.

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There is so much going on in Fullmetal Alchemist that by the time it’s finished, it feels as if you lost something. Which is probably the reason I revisit it often.

The manga is available in 27 volumes and also in a 3-in-1 format. The Brotherhood anime is available as dvd boxset. I have yet to look into the tv series version. If you are looking to get into a new manga/anime and have not seen or read Fullmetal Alchemist yet, get out there and find it now! You won’t regret it.

F.R. Donaldson lives in scenic Scotland. She is the author of the psychological sci-fi MALEVOLENCE 

The Scientist’s Daughter, now only 99p!

To celebrate the publishing of Malevolence, with a revamped trailer, I have put the price of my novella, The Scientist’s Daughter, down to 99p! Sale price only on Amazon at this link: http://amzn.to/1UaVPzE
If you enjoyed the short tale, please leave a review! Also, look out for my new book Malevolence. A dark psychological Sci-Fi thriller.
Help me out! Share the video and book page around! 😀