Excerpts from “Fire Cop”

My conceptual humor piece, “Excerpts from ‘Fire Cop'” is available in the newest issue of the Corvidae Courier! You can read it here!

Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: The Cop Baby Almost Lives Up to It’s Hilarious Premise

Buddy cop comedies are a staple of American media. From Starsky and Hutch, to Lethal Weapon the movies series, to Lethal Weapon the TV series where Clayne Crawford is being replaced by Seann William Scott for its third season. They’re fun because the old-cop-who’s-about-to-retire and the young-cop-who-doesn’t-play-by-the-rules dynamic works. It leads to friction, and in the end, an unbreakable friendship. Russian director Aleksandr Andryuschenko and writer Andrey Zolotarev get that, but they sensed that something was missing. Or maybe that it had become too familiar. Or maybe it wasn’t Russian enough. So they decided that buddy cop movies would work better if the older officer was a baby. Thus, The Cop Baby was born.

It opens with a prison exit interview. Katya (Liza Arzamasova) is assessing whether Khromov (Sergey Garmash) is rehabilitated enough to be allowed back on the streets. She doesn’t know that he’s a cop who has gone undercover for the last year to gain the trust of the elusive drug lord, the Dragon. He doesn’t know that in the next fifteen minutes of film he’ll trade bodies with the baby she’s pregnant with. He insults her husband, his soon-to-be father, calling him a loser who ruined her career.

Continue reading at Wicked Horror!

S1, E3 “Mr. Denton on Doomsday”

The Twilight Zone makes a misstep with “Mr. Denton on Doomsday.” Al Denton is an alcoholic, a disaster drinker who’s willing to slurp from a broken bottle as the liquor tinkles out, not caring about the glass that might come with it. It ends much like James Frey’s fabricated autobiography A Million Little Pieces, with the protagonist kicking his addiction to the curb without help. Alcoholism, a disease which one of eight Americans suffers from, isn’t something people can easily walk away from, as Frey and “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” seem to believe. No one walks away unscathed.

If you’re going to write about something that affects other people’s live but not your own, do the research. This is something I talked about John Landis not doing enough for in “Beyond the Cabin in the Woods: The Twilight Zone Movie” too. If you want to write about identity issues, you may. Your characters can be a different race, a different gender, a different orientation, a different religion, a different anything than you. But you need to do the work to get it right. If you half ass it, you’re doing a great disservice to the people you’re misrepresenting. Don’t be that writer.

And before you go any further, ask yourself: What about me and my experiences qualifies me to write this character at this time? Make sure you have a good answer and that you’re spending time and money on traditionally underrepresented characters created by traditionally underrepresented characters.

Here are some resources for how to write from a point of view other than your own respectfully and realistically:

-“12 Fundamentals of Writing the Other” by Daniel José Older

-“Heroes and Heroin — Writing A Character Who has an Addiction” by Roz Morris

-“Writing With Color” (Blog)

-“Writing Gay Characters” by Megan Rose Gedris

– “Before You Write About a Trans Character, Read This” by Casey Plett

-“The Dos and Don’ts of Writing About the Disable” by Nicola Griffith

-“What to Consider When Writing Mental Illness” by Robert Wood

Cinepocalypse 2018 Review: Satan’s Slaves is a Must See

The characters in bad horror films miss the easy opportunities to solve their problems. They stay the night in haunted houses on the anniversary of someone’s violent death when they damn well know about AirBnB. They investigate that noise in the dark attic where the killer is lurking when they could stay downstairs and finish their beer. They refuse to see that the puncture wounds on their anemic friends neck might be caused by vampires and don’t go out for Italian food. If the characters found those easy ways out, the movies wouldn’t be any fun. It puts horror storytellers in a hard place. They need the characters to do stupid things to advance the plot, but need the characters to be smart enough that the audience identifies with them. It’s a challenge that director and writer Joko Anwar navigates superbly in Satan’s Slaves.

The movie starts with Rini (Tara Basro), negotiating with a record company executive. Her mother (Ayu Laksmi) was a pop star before her illness. The family can’t afford the mother’s medical bills, but the executive won’t budge, leaving Rini to go home with next to nothing. Her brother Tony (Endy Arfian) sells his motorcycle. Her father (Bront Palarae) has mortgaged the house and can’t afford to pay the phone bill.

Read more at Wicked Horror!

Graphic Novel Review: The Beautiful Death is Depressing and Gorgeous

Mathieu Bablet’s graphic novel The Beautiful Death combines the desolation of Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend with the bleak pessimism of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. It starts following an unnamed young man, who’s internally reciting a poem that ends each stanza with, “For I am the last man on Earth.” After fifteen or so pages, it switches to the protagonists. Wayne, Jeremiah, and Soham are young men who survived the apocalypse. They spend their days traveling an unnamed city, scavenging for supplies. Wayne points out that the expiration date on the can is their expiration date too.

His and Soham’s spirits are broken. That’s precisely why Jeremiah is such a breath of fresh air. While Wayne and Soham wax poetic on the meaning of life after the apocalypse (“Do we have a duty to survive for all those who died?” Wayne asks through tears on page 73), Jeremiah builds snowmen. He maintains a sense of play, and a story this dark needs the light of hope to see everything else that’s going on.

Continue reading at Wicked Horror!

Advance Comic Review: She Could Fly #1 Is a Realistic Portrayal of Mental Illness

Luna is beginning her sophomore year of high school and, very early on in Dark Horse’s She Could Fly #1, shows her neuroses. When her school therapist asks her if she’s excited to drive, we see Luna’s fears drawn out. “You will kill someone,” her internal monologue tells her. We see her engaging in different pattern behaviors to keep people safe. It feels very true to my experiences as someone with anxiety, and I love seeing it.

I’m not sure when I started suffering from mental illness. I know that I was diagnosed in October 2016, most of the way through grad school, though I’d been dealing with symptoms since I was kid. It’s something I’ve written about for Wicked Horror before. I love horror, but the genre frequently gets mental health wrong. There are the movies that portray the mentally ill as dangerous, which is the exact opposite of true and there are the movies that end with mentally ill characters finding a magical cure at the end. She Could Fly #1 by Christopher Cantwell and Martín Morazzo has, through one issue, avoided both of these pitfalls while doing a spectacular job portraying fifteen-year-old Luna’s anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

Read more at Wicked Horror!

Blu-Ray Review: The Endless Will Entertain and Challenge You For Endless Viewings

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead are big horror fans, and it shows in their third co-directed feature film, The Endless. They also star, playing brothers Justin and Aaron, who escaped what Justin called “a UFO death cult.” They’re in deprogramming, which they’ve attended in the ten years since they got out, but their lives are a mess. They’ve got no friends. Their car’s battery is dying and they have to choose between replacing it and affording ramen for lunch. They clean other people’s houses for a living. And in the midst of this, they get a tape of Anna (Callie Hernandez) talking about the ascension arriving.

Aaron doesn’t remember as much as Justin does, but he’s had a crush on Anna since he was a teenager. He manages to convince Justin to go to the cult’s homebase, Camp Arcadia, for a day. But when they arrive, the day sprawls in more ways than one. And of course, odd things start happening. No one at the camp remembers sending them any tape. No one has aged since they left. And there’s a third-person point of view that the movie never offers a clear-cut explanation for what is watching everyone there and sending them photos of what it’s looking at.

Read more at Wicked Horror!