Vampires are a staple of Halloween and one of the most famous horror icons around. So I figured reading a vampire tale for Hallow-Reads was as good an idea as any. That’s when I was presented with The Line by Rob Ferreri, a self-published novel about a team of vampire hunters.
The Line tells the story of Alexander, an immortal ex-vampire and his mission to hide an ancient amulet from Dorian, his ex-master. When the amulet is discovered in present day New York, Alexander assembles a team to help him combat the vampire threat and protect the amulet. The team, which he dubs “the Line” are chosen ones, people who come from a long line of vampire slayers. The plot boils down to Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Avengers and works in many ways. However, there are quite a few ways that it just falls flat.
The book opens with a scene of our Alexander being healed of his vampirism and turning against his former brethren. It’s an interesting concept, one that doesn’t get explored often in pop culture, but it also doesn’t get explored much here, either. We know Alexander had a history as a vampire and worked with Dorian, but Ferreri never delves into that. There’s no back story showing us how Alexander became a vampire or what regrets he may have. We’re only told he was a vampire, isn’t any more, and now wants to rid the world of vampires.
The dialogue tags were the most tedious part of the book. Dialogue tags should be straightforward as the most effective ones are a simple “she said” or “he asked.” Sure, it’s great to mix them up a bit for some exclaiming, questioning, or accusing. But The Line makes them all as homogenous as possible. Every dialogue tag follows all of the dialogue. Every time. Now, this isn’t how most authors handle it; in scenes with two characters, for example, it’s generally easy to follow the flow of the dialogue, making the need for a tag each time unnecessary. But Ferreri uses them for every line and it gets very distracting.
From my understanding, The Line was originally written as a screenplay, and after reading it, that’s fairly obvious. The dialogue tags, for example, reminded me of slugs, the character name that precedes each line of dialogue, making it easy for the actor to know which lines are theirs and which belong to their costars. Sure, Ferreri punches up his dialogue with adverbs, but these are little more than parentheticals, the stage direction used to indicate how the actor should deliver the line.
This isn’t the only similarity The Line as a novel has to a screenplay. The book focuses a lot on the action; every few pages, a new action scene occurs. Whether it’s a showdown between the protagonists and the bad guys or some sort of training exercise, action scenes take precedence. Which makes sense considering The Line is a vampire based action adventure more than anything else. However, this focus detracts from any sort of character development, of which there is very little.
The Line is straight forward, to the point, and exactly what one could expect from a ninety minute action flick.
Does a novel need chapters of deep backstory to be enjoyable? No, not at all, but unlike movies, novels aren’t constrained by a certain length. There’s no hard and fast rule that a novel should be a set number of pages. In that sense, novels have an advantage over films when it comes to character development.
The Line implements a sort of ticking clock, yet another action movie trope. Alexander and Co must stop Dorian from getting the other half of the artifact before the next lunar eclipse or the world will suffer. Because of this, the plot moves at hyperspeed. Characters are introduced, destinies explained, trainings held, and lots of fight. There’s no time to get to know the cast. We see them put through the wringers of training a total of one time before they accept their fate. They trust each other implicitly after knowing each other for at most a couple of days. There’s very little internal conflict and it gets resolved in a page or two, which diminishes the stakes.
The parallel between The Line as a novel versus a screenplay makes sense when you look at author Rob Ferreri’s history. He’s worked on a few full-length feature films, most of which were made prior to the publication of The Line. He clearly has a strong grasp of writing, but it seems that scripting is a difficult habit to shake. Novels and screenplays are two different creatures and what works in one doesn’t necessarily work in the other. I don’t feel that his writing style is bad; just that it’s not the ideal approach for a novel.
Don’t get me wrong; there are quite a few good parts about The Line, most notably the character introductions. When we meet each of the characters, they get the spotlight in their own little vignette of a story. Detective Jay Hong is ambushed during one of the biggest cases of his career. The Blades brothers, Diego and Julian, are career criminals and we first see them during a high-octane car theft and eventual chase. Lena Somnianti is a sophisticated artist and fencer, a well-travelled and intelligent woman. They all make grand entrances, yet don’t really live up to their promise. Sure, they’re competent enough in their own right but none of them ever feel fleshed out besides what we learn at the outset.
This is really the fatal flaw of The Line. It never really lives up to its own story. It’s complete, has a plot and a diverse cast, but that’s the bare minimum when dealing with a novel. As a film, The Line would have been magnificent fun. More Underworld than Anne Rice, it didn’t quite fit into my idea of “horror” so it probably wasn’t the best entry for Hallow-Reads, but I still found myself engrossed in the tale as it unfolded.
Nestled against the Hudson River at the far end of the Tappan Zee Bridge lies the small hamlet of Tarrytown. A quiet village, it has a large history, most notably as the setting for the classic story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Though these days, Sleepy Hollow is its own entity, having broken apart from Tarrytown in 1996. Why is any of this relevant? Because it’s one of literature’s most famous towns and is the perfect spot for a Halloween getaway.
Recently I spent a weekend in Tarrytown. Well, Irvington to be exact but it’s yet another town dedicated to the memory of Washington Irving, the writer of Sleepy Hollow as well as Rip Van Winkle. In case it wasn’t obvious, Irvington is named after Washington Irving, and a statue of Rip Van Winkle sits outside of the town hall in honor of him.
Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow both offer a number of attractions for spook seekers, a few of which I was able to experience for myself. On Saturday, my wife, our friends and I visited the Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, an area slightly north of Sleepy Hollow, for the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze. Featuring massive displays of carved pumpkins amazingly posed and lit, the Blaze was definitely a sight. One of the first things we saw was a rendering of the Tappan Zee Bridge, all in pumpkins, dubbed the Pumpkin Zee Bridge. Things only got better from there.
A Jurassic Park, a Circus Train, even a Pumpkin Planetarium featuring shooting stars and supernovas are bound to astonish even the most jaded visitor. After all, they wowed me and I’m mostly anhedonic.
Following up the Jack O’Lantern Blaze, we visited the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to join one of their many walking tours. We signed up for “Murder and Mayhem,” an evening walking tour. They provided us with kerosene lanterns to light our way and brought us around to some of the creepier plots in the cemetery.
A few of the stops included a woman who was dubbed “the wickedest woman in New York,” the victims of what was called “the Sleepy Hollow Massacre” and Leona Helmsley. It was a two-hour tour, so definitely worth the price of admission given everything that we saw.
Oh, and we also made a stop at the cross that was used by the Ramones for their Pet Sematary music video.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get many decent pictures, what with the pitch darkness and everything, but the few I did snap came out pretty good (I think, at least).
There are many other attractions (is attractions the right word for the graves of famous dead people?) hidden in the cemetery, like Washington Irving’s plot (duh), Andrew Carnegie’s resting place and the William Rockefeller mausoleum. The cemetery also allows free, self-guided tours so you can visit during the day and check out the sights without fear of running into the Headless Horseman.
Just kidding. The Headless Horseman shows up during the day, too.
That’s all that we had time to experience while in Sleepy Hollow but there’s plenty of other things to check out. Like the Horseman’s Hollow, a haunted house event that takes place in the historic Phillipsburg Manor. Though I wanted to experience Horseman’s Hollow, I was outvoted by my travelling companions so I had to make do with taking pictures of the effigies hanging in the parking lot. If you’re into haunted houses and being scared out of your gourd, check out the Hollow. (In fact, let me know how it is, too!)
Do also visit the Headless Horsemen monuments right across the street. The marble carving is an elegant tribute to the classic tale but the iron statue in the middle of the roadway is an amazing sight. Believe it or not, we almost missed it when we visited the area during the day. (No, I have no idea how we overlooked something so large.)
There’s also Sunnyside, a tour of Washington Irving’s home. The tour features a number of artworks inspired by The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as well as a look at the space where Irving wrote his famous stories. Sunnyside is named after the town as it was called during Irving’s day.
You can also check out a short performance of the Legend in the Old Dutch Church, which is a spit and a stone’s throw from the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Tickets for the show are $25 and it only lasts for about 45 minutes. Not having seen it myself, I can’t say the cost is justified, but I’d think any kind of live performance of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is worth it, especially during the Halloween season.
Even though I only experienced a fraction of what Sleepy Hollow boasts, I still had a great time. All in all, the town is a great choice for a spooky, Halloween filled getaway, second only to Salem, MA. If you’re looking for an inexpensive jaunt out of town and want to fill it with as many family-friendly creeps as you can, Spooky Hollow is a great choice. But you may need to plan on next year; it’s a little close to Halloween to go now.
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Besides all of the cute decorations, cooler weather and delicious special edition food and candy, it’s also the time to plant oneself in front of the television and binge watch scary movies. But what does one do when movies get boring? Turning to books is usually a good idea. Thankfully there’s a subset of writers who focus on telling spooky, scary, or downright grisly tales that are best enjoyed during Halloween. I had the chance to check out one of these tales, Grim, Volume I: Teen Spirit, by Nicholas Meece.
Teen Spirit starts with a grisly murder outside of a nightclub in a small town before transitioning to the story of Steve, a teenager and budding writer, and his best friend, Jen. They share a passion for filmmaking and horror movies, so when Steve tells Jen about the murder and convinces her to investigate it with him, she’s all in. The murders don’t stop there, though, as the Reaper, as he’s known, tears through the town, killing people very close to Steve’s and Jen’s houses.
While I enjoyed Teen Spirit, I do have to say it’s full of missed potential. There are a lot of great moments in it, such as the opening prologue with the murder, which sets the tone for the horror-themed story. However, once our main characters are introduced, a lot just seems to get lost along the way. We meet Steve and find his passion for writing leads him to lock himself in his bedroom for hours on end to finish a work in progress. He’s secretive about his hobby, not allowing anyone to read his stories until he feels they are perfect. He’s in love with his best friend Jen and wants their relationship to blossom into more than just friendship, but they also plan on moving to California and living together, which is slightly weird but at least makes some sort of sense.
Steve gets the most depth while, unfortunately, Jen is more of a one-note character. We know she’s interested in filmmaking and wants to move to California. She likes Steve’s company but doesn’t see him romantically like he sees her. That is, until she’s told that she does see him romantically by a mutual friend. It’s an odd exchange and one that doesn’t really feel natural. In fact, most of the women in the book come off as caricatures, more like plot devices than real women. The exchanges between Jen and her friend Angela feel forced and stilted. There are so few of them that they’re easy to overlook, but the book is so short that these exchanges are huge chunks of the word count.
I thought the story started to pick up around the time Steve convinces Jen to investigate the murder with him. This could have made for an interesting tale and was the thread that I was most looking forward to; two teenagers struggling to use second hand knowledge of police procedurals and figure out who committed a grisly murder would have made for an intriguing tale. Couple that with the twist ending and Steve’s true agenda could have made it even more engaging. It soon becomes apparent, though, that their sleuthing isn’t the purpose of the tale. Meece is taking his love for horror movies and creating a slasher story. However, with a little fleshing out, he could have blended the two genres and created something with a little more meat on the bone.
That’s not to say Teen Spirit isn’t entertaining. It’s just heavily bogged down in horror movie tropes. A couple of fresh out of school kids in their sexual prime. An alcohol-fueled house party that swells out of control. The caring, housewife who’s concerned for the wellbeing of her taciturn son. The inclusion of all of these seem intentional based on Meece’s love of horror. After reading through Teen Spirit, I didn’t quite make this connection and the tropes bothered me. However, I dwelled on the story for a few days before starting writing this and I developed a deeper appreciation for it.
It’s hard for me to go into depth for a review of Teen Spirit only because of how short the story is. I read it entirely in a single train ride of only about an hour, which isn’t a lot of time for a “book.” That’s why my biggest disappointment with Teen Spirit is its length. As I mentioned earlier, there were plenty of areas that Meece could have elaborated on the story, delving deeper into character histories and motivations and actually following through with Steve and Jen’s intentions of tracking the killer. I assume he didn’t do this because he intended to write a short and sweet slasher tale which, if that is the case, he at least succeeded in doing. One benefit Teen Spirit does have is its cliffhanger ending, hinting at a much larger story looming in the distance. As of the time I’m writing this, there has not been a release of Grim, Volume 2, which is slightly disappointing. Hopefully, that’s still on Meece’s “To Do” list and hasn’t been abandoned completely.
All in all, I would recommend Grim, Volume I: Teen Spirit if you’re bored with horror movies on Netflix and are just looking for a change of pace. While it’s not as deep as a Stephen King novel, it provides a quick dose of horror-fueled entertainment. Not too long to get boring, but just long enough to create a creepy, slasher atmosphere. And if you crave more, you can always check out Meece’s non-fiction and movie reviews over at www.morbidmuch.com. He’s definitely a proponent of horror and a voice that adds to the genre.
With Halloween around the corner, we dove into our closets and skimmed the surface of the internet to find quick and easy costumes to please all manner of costume and cosplay enthusiasts! Our focus today is on the rock steady Terra from Teen Titans!
Take a black turtleneck from the back of your closet and cut off the midriff. Or, alternatively, grab one from Amazon, where we found all of our items to put this costume together. If yellow shorts aren’t usually a staple in your own wardrobe, you can find them online or Forever 21. The boots are actually adorable and incredibly priced if you don’t have a comparable pair for daily wear.
For accessories, most garages will yield work gloves of questionable origin for free. We also found a basic utility belt on Amazon and paired it with a long blonde wig. Any shade of blonde will work to make this costume recognizable as long as its straight with no bangs.
Terra, like the rest of us, was growing up as a member of the Teen Titans before the availability of YouTube makeup tutorials. As a result, she fell into the same teenage practice most of us did. Eyeliner. Lots of eyeliner. Any eyeliner in your drawer will do, however we like Tarte’s Double Take as it includes both a pencil and a liquid for the price of one. Add some bronzer and a swipe of nude lipstick and youre good to go!
Take costume to the next level by convincing a friend to accompany you as Beast Boy! Or Slade, if you’re more into older men. Now go do horrible things and have absolutely no regrets!
Planning on making this costume? Doing some other DIY awesome? Want to check out the rest of our Halloween Costumes From Your Closet ideas? Show me all your spook-tacular creations with the hashtag #SCaryMonth on Twitter and Instagram!
Looking for a new spooky game?
Just in time for the Halloween season, Bigmoon Entertainment and Camel 101 announced today that their new space survival horror title, Syndrome, is available on select systems. Syndrome traps players aboard a desolate scientific spaceship full of terrifying monstrosities creeping around every corner, with only stealth and evasion to trust while they unravel the deep mystery surrounding the deaths of fellow crewmen. Check out the release trailer below!
“It’s been a truly long-awaited milestone to bring Syndrome to console players, and we are excited to offer the game on virtual reality platforms as well”, said Paulo J. Games, Game Director of Bigmoon Entertainment. “With VR, the sinister atmosphere and blood-curdling suspense is as real as it gets. We can’t wait to hear the feedback from players and hope that it was worth the wait.”
Syndrome takes the horror genre back to its terrifying roots as players wake up on a deserted and adrift spaceship, dazed and confused from a deep cryosleep, only to discover that most of the crew are dead, or… changed. In order to survive the horrors that lurk in the shadows, players must explore the eerie confines of the ship in search of the last few weapons aboard, moving as stealthily as possible to evade direct enemy combat. Amidst numerous reactive adversaries awaiting close by, players interact with keypads and computer consoles to find clues as to what happened aboard and how to escape the deadly syndrome alive.
After completing the first chapter of the main “Story” mode, players can unlock an Endless Survival game mode specifically created to experience Syndrome in Virtual Reality. In the Endless Survival mode, players are trapped in a part of the spaceship where they scavenge surroundings for weapons and supplies, facing wave after wave of enemies set on destroying and dismembering everything in sight.
Syndrome has been nominated for several awards, including AMG’s Best Graphics Award and Reboot Develop’s Best Indie Award. Syndrome is now available on Sony Playstation 4 and PC with a game mode compatible for PS VR, HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Find out more about Syndrome at their Official Website!
Looking for Family Friendly Halloween films? We get it. You have kids. Or you’re scared of the dark, or whatever. Here’s ten movies for you and your tinies for when you’re ready to take a break from the Hocus Pocus marathon playing on ABC’s Freeform!
The Scooby Doo movie is perfect. That’s all there is to it. It’s a wonderful, lovely, hilarious movie that DEFINITELY deserved a sequel. Using “Who Let the Dogs Out” by The Baha Men in the soundtrack was a subtle, nuanced choice that just exemplifies the tact behind every other decision made while filming. The cartoon characters are ACTUALLY brought to life – literally, not figuratively – by the cast. Plus, it’s where Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinz Jr. fell in love. Probably. Which makes it a classic of the early 2000s.
Throw a dart at a list of Tim Burton movies and any one of them could fit right into a Halloween list. Of all of Burton’s creations, Edward Scissorhands is one of the most recognizable, but also one that fans don’t find time to watch very often. It’s a beautiful film about a young Johnny Depp and Winona Rider falling in love over snowflakes, before things turned upside down. Along the way, Johnny Depp gives some suburban housewives much better hairstyles and Nick Carter makes a cameo. And that’s all I’d like to say about that.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY
Everyone’s family is a little weird, except for the Addams family. The Addams Family takes you back to a time when Angelica Houston still had movement in her face and no need to use it. Though tiny Christina Ricci’s portrayal of Wednesday Addams as displeased with the sun and pretty much everything else in the universe is brilliantly sadistic, Lurch is the clear winner of best character by a landslide. Or a Lurch. There’s a pun there.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
You knew we’d mention it at some point. Is it a Christmas movie? Is it a Halloween movie? Who knows. Throw away your preconceived notions and your Hot Topic fingerless gloves and just put the movie in already. Because there are few who deny at what it does it is the best and its talents are renowned far and wide. When it comes to surprises in the moonlit night this film excels without ever even trying. With the slightest little effort of its ghost-like charms it has seen grown men give out a shriek. With the wave of its hand and a well-placed moan it has swept the very bravest (toddlers) off their feet.
HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
Harry Potter is the best movie for all holidays, and yet it seems the most appropriate on Halloween and Christmas. It might be the only thing (besides both being on this list) that Sorcerer’s Stone and Nightmare Before Christmas have in common, besides a plethora of products at, you guessed it, Hot Topic. Keep an eye out for trolls and the inevitable eight part movie marathons.
IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN
Linus Van Pelt proves he’s not just a philosophy spouting mouthpiece but a kid after all as he believes in The Great Pumpkin; an Easter-Bunny-meets-Santa-Claus rip-off that only Linus seems to believe in. If you see someone wearing a ghost sheet with multiple eye holes all over, it’s from this. Or if you’re in need of a simple, last minute Halloween costume.
International film star Rick Moranis blows audiences away in another of his classic roles, as the guy who lives down the hall from Sigourney Weaver. Don’t cross the streams, and also don’t think about the stay puft marshmallow man. And also if someone asks if you’re a god, you say yes, Ray. You say yes. Can you believe this movie is 30 years old?
While Beetlejuice is a great movie to get into the Halloween spirit, this entry might be better suited for your older tinies. The scariest part of this movie is how Alec Baldwin looks NOW compared to how he looked in 1988. Seriously. Ghosts are the cutest and Michael Keaton is the cutest and Winona Rider makes her second appearance on this list! Win-win-win!
Speaking of second appearances. Christina Ricci graces our list once again in the 1995 classic Casper, and 90s babies swooned everywhere when the tiniest Devon Sawa uttered his most famous and not at all creepy line, “Can I keep you?” Even if you aren’t introducing your kids to it, this movie is definitely worth a rewatch for nostalgia’s sake alone.
Kid talks to dead people. Puritains were bonkers. Classic pun name. Don’t live in New England. Moral of the story? Bullying isn’t nice.
Need some more adult oriented Halloween ideas for once the kiddos are lulled into a candy coma? We’ve got you covered! Check out our lists for Ten and Five Games