Posts Tagged ‘horror’

Prominent authors contribute original, mainly horror-tinged tales to ‘McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories’

September 13, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Sept. 13, 2014

McSweeney’s Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories is a 2004 anthology edited by Michael Chabon with a notable bent toward horror-tinged tales of the supernatural. The book’s stories, all original, are penned by an impressive list of authors, but I found their quality to be a bit uneven.

Margaret Atwood contributes the first story, “Lusus Naturae,” narrated by a deformed young woman whose family fakes her death in order to mitigate their shame in her existence. (The title is a Latin phrase for “freak of nature.”) The tale is short, and its plot relatively unimaginative, but it generates sympathy for the shunned protagonist. Atwood also strikes an enjoyable sardonic note in the final paragraph.

“What You Do Not Know You Want,” by David Mitchell, is a mystery with supernatural elements. The narrator, a memorabilia dealer, is visiting Hawaii in order to locate the dagger his partner had acquired just before killing himself. The protagonist is disaffected — he’s engaged to be married but notably unenthusiastic about his fiancée. The story’s tone is naturalistic, but it ends with a disturbing otherworldly killing.

“Vivian Relf” is a curious short offering by Jonathan Lethem about a man who meets a woman a few times. Nothing happens between them, even though their lives seem to be intertwined in mysterious, indefinable ways.

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No need to stalk ‘Screamers: The Hunting’

September 30, 2012

I’ve not seen the 1995 film Screamers, but apparently it’s considered a minor classic of the science fiction/horror genre. Based on a Philip K. Dick story, “Second Variety,” it is set on the planet Sirius 6B, where killer robots designed to help one side vanquish its foes are now targeting all humans.

The 2009 sequel, Screamers: The Hunting, was apparently released direct to video; I watched it the other night. Directed by Sheldon Wilson and written by Tom Berry and Miguel Tejada-Flores, it is an acceptable but hardly wonderful B-movie.

The plot is set in motion when a human transmits a distress signal, leading to the dispatch of a seven-person crew aboard the Alliance Central ship Medusa. Their mission: Find and rescue any remaining humans on the planet, which was abandoned years ago and was thought to be lifeless.

Commander Sexton and his team are operating on a strict timeline. Six days from the time they land, some kind of space storm will wipe out all life on Sirius 6B. (The wonderful SF/horror/fantasy movie review site moria.co.nz describes the phenomenon as a Magellanic storm, although I never seemed to hear the term clearly.)

Things start going badly when the team first contacts the screamers — so named because of the terrifying noises some models emit; two crew members are soon killed. Worse yet, a screamer has entered the ship and drained its power supply, stranding it on the planet unless the team can locate more fuel cells. (Oddly, no thought ever seems to be given to discovering how the screamer boarded Medusa or determining whether it is still aboard.)

Having discovered a dormant screamers factory and made an unsuccessful attempt to parlay with a band of human survivors, the team returns to where they had seen the humans. The competent Lt. Victoria Burke (Gina Holden) convinces a paranoid woman named Hannah to lead the group into the settlement. There, a survivor named Guy slices open Burke’s hand and tastes her blood in order to verify her humanity. Screamers, you see, now emulate people… Read the rest of this entry »

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