Friday, August 29, 2014

Molly Harper (Author) ALS Ice Bucket Challenge



Answering the challenge of Maria C Garcia Sardinas, here is my ice bucket challenge, which I am doing with iced tea - because I can. 

I challenge Jeanette BattistaSherri Browning Erwin, Amanda Ronconi and Matt Harper. You have 24 hours!

Please go to http://www.alsa.org/donate/ to help the ALS Association fund research to diagnose and treat ALS.

Countdown to DRACULA UNTOLD: Recap: THE IMMORTALS

Once again, Jeanette Battista and Molly Harper devote our snarky attention to our favorite movies featuring Luke Evans and/or vampires in preparation for the release of DRACULA UNTOLD (Oct. 17). Today’s selection, THE IMMORTALS, is heavy on the Luke Evans, but not on the vampires. In fact, it’s only selling point is that Luke is basically running around in a gold mini-skirt diaper thing smoldering so hard, I felt sorry for his face muscles.

We open on what looks like an overdone piece of performance art in one of those galleries where you can’t sit on anything for fear that it’s an exhibit. A bunch of guys in weird gold fetish gear are trapped in a box, mouths clamped onto metal bars so they look like a life-size foosball table.  The music is very dramatic and they are growling, so you can tell that it’s an evil foosball table.

Someone shoots an electric bow and arrow into the foosball table and something explodes. A pretty lady (Freda Pinto) springs up from the futon she shares with three other women (which cannot be comfortable sleeping arrangements). It seems that the foosball table sequence is a vision. The futon dwellers are a multicultural band of vestal virgins/seers and they see that Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) wants a magical bow to set the foosball table full of Titans free.

John Hurt tells a vague and inaccurate version of how Zeus and the Greek pantheon rose to power over the Titans, trapping them in the foosball table. Once again, I’m thrilled there are so many movies being based on Greek mythology, I just wish the producers/screenwriters would read some freaking myths before they start writing. As a lifelong student of Greek myth, this was like a root canal.

Hyperion is mad at the Gods for whatever makes Mickey Rourke mad, possibly that he is running out of the slightly ridiculous  decorative masks his character has worn in success since the credits started. He plans to use the bow and the Titans to overthrow the Gods and rule the world. Because of reasons.

Meanwhile, shirtless Theseus (Henry Cavill) is chopping wood.

Just take time to appreciate the moment.

And apparently, his mom, worships a super-sized head statue filled with candles. Clearly, this movie’s art director is a frustrated sculptor with neo-classic weirdo leanings.

Joseph Morgan disappoints his VAMPIRE DIARIES fans by playing someone super-shady, but not in the charming Klaus fashion. Seriously, I don’t really understand who he is and why he’s doing what he’s doing, I just know it makes Henry Cavill sad. And to further disturb the Klaroline shippers, Hyperion stomps on his crotch for his treachery.

Ouch. Effective. But ouch.

Hyperion is being an a-hole again. Theseus whips off his cape to reveal his super-well-defined muscles and capri pants and messes the enemy army up something fierce. It’s hard to look badass in capri pants. And then Roarke kills his mom.  Hero’s wound, INSTALLED!

John Hurt is revealed not to be any ordinary old man, but Zeus! King of the Gods! Man of the hour! Luke Evans in a gold diaper/mini-skirt thing.  

You read that right. Luke Evans. Gold diaper.  The whole pantheon is covered in gold as far as the eye can see! It’s like a Versace ad and Joseph Campbell’s The Power of Myth had an oil-spritzed, photogenic baby. 

Zeus heads up this super-hot Justice League of gods, including TWILIGHT’s Kellan Lutz as Poseidon (also in a gold diaper) and TEEN WOLF’S Daniel Sharman as Ares (that’s right, gold diaper). The group also includes Heracles, which, not to be a know-it-all here, but Heracles was not a god. He was a demigod hero.  Too many hot actors, not enough Greek gods, I guess.

Adding to my frustration is that you can’t really tell which actor is which god or goddess. Poseidon has a trident and a weird wire head sculpture that sort of looks nautilus-shaped, but that’s our only clue. So I had to keep looking at imdb to figure out who was who. Also, Daniel Sharman’s insane Mohawk headgear was particularly distracting.

Zeus forbids his kids from intervening in any way with Hyperion’s dickery unless the Titans are let loose from the evil foosball table. Because of rules. And anybody who disobeys his edict will be killed. I would argue that’s difficult considering, you know, the title of the movie is IMMORTALS. But what do I know?

Freida Pinto’s Phaedra and her sisters happen on Theseus outside of salt mine. And when she brushes up against him, she sees all kinds of visions about his potential.  I would probably do the same thing if I ever brushed up against Henry Cavill. But I would never ever tell people what I saw. Stephen Dorff gives his best 90s idol flirt, but doesn’t seem to realize how outmatched he is.

More bad shit happens. Theseus, Phaedra and Stephen Dorff escape. Phaedra doesn’t seem all that upset that the women she shared her futon with are missing.

Oh, good God, I’m only 40 minutes into this movie.

I’ll spare you the details, but Theseus gets the magic twinkling bow.  He broods. Phaedra binds his wounds with bandages and easily predicted sex.

Hyperion and his weird crab/hyena hat attack the wall that protects the magic mountain housing the evil foosball table. Poor Joseph Morgan suffers indignity after indignity.  Phaedra’s sisters are stuck in brazen bulls.

Meanwhile, Ares and Athena intervene to save Theseus and Zeus pitches a big hissy fit over it.  He kills Ares with a whip made of fire (Dramatic much?) and yells at Theseus for things that aren’t his fault.  Noticeably, Athena is left out of this punishment, which makes me think she’s Zeus’s favorite.

Hyperion continues being super-weird.  The politicians behind the giant wall try to negotiate with him, which goes very badly.  Very, very badly.

Swordfight, swordfight, swordfight.

Theseus gives the Greek version of the Braveheart speech.

Let me just say that when fighting a well-armed army, it’s always a good idea to do it in a long, narrow, dark tunnel.

Also, I question the historical accuracy of the enormous dam that protects the magic mountain… and Stephen McHattie’s super-sparkly cape.

Theseus kills a bunch of people. Stephen Dorff wishes he’d quit smoking a long time before filming as he struggles to keep up.

Hyperion finds the evil foosball table in what looks like Joel Schumacher’s basement.  He sets the Titans free, which means the gloves are off and the Gods can step in. Meanwhile, Theseus has gone deaf and Stephen Dorff has multiple compound fractures.

No, wait. Dorff is dead.  Because the Titans are basically human-shaped jackals.

Zeus sends Theseus after Hyperion while he and the Gods take on the Titans with all of the ninja turtle weapons. Several of the Gods are killed. Not to be judge-y, but this is where having Ares, the god of WAR, would have been helpful, Zeus.  Just sayin.

Theseus and Hyperion fight in the scary, violent manner only Mickey Rourke can manage.

Athena is killed and, again, is the only one Zeus liked, because he only stops to mourn her. He climbs on top of the evil foosball table and does some crazy bicep curl to destroy the mountain over Titans’ cage. Hyperion gloats long enough over Theseus for him to kill Hyperion. Classic mistake.

Zeus zips back up to Olympus with Poseidon, the last of the Gods to survive.  The mountain collapses on the remaining Titans, just as Theseus is similarly zapped up to the heavens.

Years later, John Hurt is seen tutoring a boy who looks an awful lot like Theseus and Phaedra. He touches Theseus’s tomb (which is covered with disturbing and historically questionable scenes of naked Hyperion and Theseus wrestling) and sees a huge war going on in the sky between the Gods and yet more Titans. Theseus is there, helping out Zeus and the other Gods. It’s actually a neat image, but much like the rest of this movie, it’s so busy and over-detailed that I can’t understand much of it.

Not enough Luke Evans in this movie. And definitely not enough vampires.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Countdown to DRACULA UNTOLD: Recap 6: THE DEAD UNDEAD

Once again into the breach! In preparation for the release of DRACULA UNTOLD (Oct. 17), Jeanette Battista and Molly Harper are recapping our favorite movies involving Luke Evans and/or vampires.  Because we love Luke Evans and we love vampires.  So this movie officially hits the Molly/Jeanette obsession jackpot. We’ve covered THE RAVEN, BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, FAST 6, DRACULA 2000 and now, Molly recaps one of her favorite (but for all the wrong reasons) vampire movies, THE DEAD UNDEAD.
Molly: OK, so this is where I have a confession to make. I have a somewhat inappropriate, married lady crush on Luke Goss.  (Jeanette insists I’m simply obsessed with men name Luke, which is a plausible theory.) I have seen DEATH RACE 2 & 3 about twenty times each. I have actually based a few of my romance novel heroes off of Luke Goss’s appearance. Because I have a thing for lanky bald guys, just ask my husband.
And since THE DEAD UNDEAD combines Luke Goss and vampires, I am on board for this movie. And yes, BLADE 2, a movie with a much higher budget, also featured vampires and Luke Goss. But it was blue-tinged, resentful “lower face split apart by a weird vampire virus” Luke Goss, which was not as enjoyable.  So I’ll stick with a movie that vampirizes Luke Goss, but lets him keep that pretty face and throw on SWAT gear, thank you very much.
If you’re watching this movie on Netflix - and I hope you are - press play NOW.
We open with a classic “Camera on a super fast track demonstrating something’s POV as it runs through the forest.” It’s twilight – but not that kind of Twilight! – and some badass-looking soldier dudes are running through the woods after the unnamed thing, using every tactical stance the technical advisor showed them in rehearsal ALL AT ONCE.  There’s blaring, repetitive electric guitar music, so you know they mean business. 
And suddenly, daytime. A ominously rattling Jeep full of college kids on a road trip dies in front of the ubiquitously named “Lakeside Motel.”  There’s Dude 1 and Dude 2 - whose names I won’t remember because they’re going to die - plus three girls, in this photogenic posse.  One of the girls emerges as the bitchy brunette, which mean she’s probably going to die first.  On behalf of bitchy brunettes everywhere, I find this offensive.
Unfortunately, for this adorable, but stranded, group of students, the motel is completely unoccupied … in the middle of the day… during tourist season.  And this doesn’t strike any alarm bells for them. Oh, no! They go swim in the lake and wait for the motel clerk to show up!  
In the time it took to reach the “bikini reveals,” I came up with 42 potential and plausible reasons not to swim in a lake adjacent to an abandoned motel, including a giant mutant alligator, scary zombie hillbillies, flesh-eating algae, scary regular hillbillies, a rogue bull shark, an axe murderer and the possibility that the cast of Jersey Shore could show up.  
I believe the reason I’ve made it to my thirties is that I never went on a Spring Break road trip. Not because I was virtually penniless or had strict parents. I just didn’t want to be viciously murdered by a maniac or a mutant sea creature.
The kids complete their swim and return to the motel and surprise, it’s still empty. So they do what any sensible youngster would do - steal room keys and check themselves in, instead of maybe using the phone to call AAA and get them out of this backwoods death trap.
Summer, who is clearly the “nice blond who will survive,” based on her generally sweet demeanor and basic smarts, showers. Because of reasons.  Meanwhile, her friend, Megan, naps and wakes up to a creepy kid standing over her, drooling blood onto her forehead. Summer, who has managed to get dressed down to her tennis shoes while her friend is being creeped on, shoves the kid in to a shaft of sunlight and he starts smoking.
Megan flips her shit while Dude 2 yells, “It’s not your blood!” in her face, cause that’s super-helpful.  Megan runs to the shower and the camera pans to her mouth, where she is sucking in the creepy kid’s blood and shower water in her hysterics. This seems significant.
Shelly, the bitchy brunette, is drunk on smuggled wine, freaking out over a mouse and perceived slights, while the Dudes run pointlessly around the motel and strange, growly men wander up and down the motel hall, unnoticed.
Please, Summer, feed Shelly to those guys. It’s for the greater good.
Inexplicably, night has fallen in the five minutes since Summer shoved that kid into a super-bright shaft of mid-day sunlight. The Dudes fight off incredibly acrobatic people in tattered clothes who growl and bare their fangs.  They are vampires… or zombies… or zomb-pires! Super-fast parkour zomb-pires!  That’s a triple whammy!  
Back at the motel, Summer is throwing liquid soap on the floor and arming herself with a lamp. From now on, when I go to a motel, the first thing I’m checking is the potential weaponization of all lamps.
I kind of like how they don’t waste time in this movie on the “vampire zombies don’t exist!” debate. They just start shooting. More movie characters should do this.
Meanwhile, Megan doesn’t feel so good, which doesn’t bode well. 
Dude 2 is bitten while Dude 1 wastes his time shooting a zombie vampire who was crawling away from them. Also, all of the vampire zombies Dude 1 just shot are rising again, because he didn’t shoot them in the head.  Dude 1 is useless.
Cue the rolling screech of a classic 80s (windowless) panel van, complete with the same repetitive guitar music. The door swings open and a pair of combat boots stomp to the dusty ground with purpose. Could it be? 
IT IS!
It’s the SWAT team from earlier, lead by that hunk of tactical vampire goodness, Jack (Luke Goss), who is clearly in charge because he is the best-looking.  Also , there is a lady with biceps so developed, I’m pretty sure she could bench press me with one hand and the van with the other. The SWAT team unleashes a bunch of ammo on the sudden waves of zomb-pires pouring out of the woods surrounding the motel. 
Dude 1 gets his throat slashed by a vampire zombie and dies.  Why not Shelly? Why? This ruins my “bitchy girls die first” theory. Also, Shelly is annoying.
A random guy has managed to wander through the zomb-pire-infested woods, looking for his wife. And despite the fact that his name is Lance and he’s covered in blood, Aries, clearly the most gullible vampire alive, says, “You seem OK” and accepts him into the fold. I mean, his name is “Lance,” you know that mean’s he’s a douche.
Meanwhile, Summer disables Doc, the weakest member of the vampire SWAT team with her trusty soap and hair spray. Also, Viper, the beefiest member of the team, has issues with garden gnomes. (I can’t blame him.  Those things ARE creepy.) And zomb-pires. He freaking hates zomb-pires.
Realizing that pasty, sweaty Megan is infected, Doc ties her and Dude 2 to the motel beds with sheets, assuring Shelly and Summer that they’ll be fine, they just might start having uh, seizures! That’s right, seizures. Pay no attention to their pallor or developing fangs!
Summer overhears Doc tell Jack her friends are “done,” so she steals a handgun and runs into the motel to stop him. She points a gun at Jack’s head (Summer endangered Jack’s face! She has to go!) but Doc disarms her with a classic “Raising Arizona” reference.  Point of interest, Summer’s friends are now hissing, snarling zomb-pires.
The team takes this moment to explain that “ZVs” (I don’t care, I’m sticking with zomb-pires) have to be burned or put in the sun to die. Shooting them in the head disrupts their brain function for a few seconds, but they can keep going. Which begs the question, why is the vampire SWAT team shooting them?
I mean, that basically undoes the logic of the first thirty minutes of this movie… Because… Damn it, Luke Goss, stop biting your lip! And put your distracting accent away!
Meanwhile, Megan and Dude 2 are STILL snarling zomb-pires.  Dude 2 manages to break sheet bonds and bite Aries.  And despite knowing Aries is going to turn into a zomb-pire, the team lets him live because of loyalty and logistics and all that crap.
Shelly is still annoying. Also, she decides to steal the vampires’ van- always, a good idea – and wrecks it.  This may have disabled the only means of escape, but Shelly is dead, so it’s a tradeoff, really.
Summer is super-annoyed at having her vacation ruined and Jack hugs her, whispering comforting words against her hair. I wish this was the policy for all ruined vacations, because I’ve had some doozies, and attractive vampires murmuring sweet nonsense to me would have made things a lot better.
Viper and Doc are handling a mysterious box with care and debating whether “the stories” are true. Apparently, the box is like eternal life “insurance” for vampires. They carry a box of blood samples around from all of the vampires in their community, in the hope that someday, they’ll find a way to clone them and bring them back… or something. 
Something just exploded and I’m not sure why. Bicep Lady, who has been missing for the last twenty minutes, dispatches zomb-pires left and right.  Viper puts together a Giant Freaking Gun. And while that is impressive… remember that part about bullets not killing the zomb-pires?  Am I the only one who remembers that?
Aries starts screaming and thrashing, clearly overcome with his infection. Doc’s about to blow him up and suddenly, we’re in a flashback.  Dudes in ill-fitting medieval outfits are fighting in what… looks like the exact same woods we’re been hanging out in for the last forty minutes. Aries and Bicep Lady are fighting and clearly don’t like each other much. They kill each other, but make friends before their dying breaths. Fortunately, a cloaked vampire Jack happens upon them and turns them to keep them from dying. (It happens, in some of the best books, it happens.) 
Bicep Lady, who hasn’t been bitten or bled on, turns into a zomb-pire and the team dispatches her without blinking.
Lance proves his douche-ness and shoots out the tires on the van, reallydisabling it this time.
Summer and Lance are just now figuring out that the SWAT team is composed of vampires. Which lands them firmly in the “How are you still alive?” category of clueless.  Because there was a whole drill team waving “vampire red flags” and Summer and Lance missed ALL of them.  The vampires patiently explains that they’re from a peaceful settlement of vegetarian vampires – but not like Twilight, oh no, nothing like that – and they’re a little sensitive about the whole “humans wanting to kill vampires” thing.  Also, they don’t like the Goth movement. Feeding on cow’s blood instead of human has left them weaker than their natural state. This weakness is making it harder for them to fight the zomb-pires, their former vampire neighbors who fell ill with mad cow disease and started rampaging across the countryside.
Jack, clearly trying to emotionally distance himself after hugging Summer before, is mean to everyone.  But Lance is still douchier.
Viper has a vampire origin flashback involving the Vietnam War. Clearly, Vampire Jack really got around in the old days.
Lance uses his daytime mobility advantage to replace the van tire, but instead of maybe driving to a sporting goods store, calling the national guard, or at least getting Summer to safety, they just hang around the motel waiting for the vampires to wake up.
The zomb-pires are sleeping in a bunch of abandoned mines during the day. (Why do companies abandon mines? Nothing good ever comes of it.)  So the team sets a bunch of traps for them. Jack tries to make up for his earlier meanness by suggestively helping Summer carve sticks into stakes and being all charming.
And… cue Doc’s Old West origin flashback about tolerance and anti-vampire discrimination. My only regret is not getting to see Vampire Jack in a cowboy hat.
Lance sees his wife silhouetted against the moonlight, which of course means, that he can’t see her vampire-zombie face and she eats him.  I will admit that the idea of my zomb-pire spouse tracking me down and killing me is pretty terrifying.  I’m just glad Lance is dead.
Jack and Summer are the last ones standing and Jack is super-broody about the whole lonely vampire thing.  They drive the van – again, the last available mode of transportation – to the mines to blow them up. The bombing doesn’t go as planned, of course, and the van gets disabled… again.
Summer hurts her ankle, a long-standing tradition amongst horror/action heroines, much like the Hero’s Shoulder Wound. She and Jack are stuck in the flipped van, during the day, and Jack isn’t doing so well without his cow’s blood provisions.
Summer snuggles up to Jack and offers her neck, which is the most realistic moment in this entire movie. Because that is exactly what I would do if I was trapped in a van with a vampirized Luke Goss. 
No seriously, just ask Jeanette.
Jack gets all growly and “You don’t know what you’re asking!” but ultimately, Summer rips off her hemp necklace and Jack drinks the hell out of her.  There’s symbolism there, but I’m unwilling to explore it. 
Having consumed real human blood (laced with the cumulative effects of every Red Bull that Summer ever drank), Jack is a one-vampire fighting force, dispatching zomb-pires with prejudice while the electric guitar wail.  Suddenly, a posse of vampires shows up, and shoots the zomb-pires. (Again, am I the only one who remembers the ineffectiveness of shooting zomb-pires?)
The posse’s likeable leader, Raleigh, disparages Jack’s veggie lifestyle and flirts with Summer.  Her new hinted vampirism seems to have cured her ankle owie.  Raleigh hints that Jack’s magic box full of blood samples may actually be able to resurrect his buddies, if he brings the box to some exotic location known only to Raleigh. Jack’s all, “Hey, sweetie, I bit you and you can’t really go home now that you know all of our vampire-y secrets.  Wanna try for a better vacation, in which some of the hotels have employees present?” And Summer is on board, because… honestly, I shouldn’t have to explain why at this point.
Raleigh and Jack laugh and shake hands in a manly fashion. Freeze frame. Dramatic music. Shelly and Lance are dead. All is right with the world.
Ultimately, DEAD UNDEAD is not an awesome movie. But it is a very earnest movie and there are a few pretty excellent action sequences and solid one-liners. It’s not the first movie to use the “oh, crap vampires just got more dangerous because now they’re zombies” concept. But I think the producers had the most fun with it.  And that’s what matters most.
Also, vampire Luke Goss. So there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cover Reveal and Pre-Order! THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE


Look what's available for Pre-Order! THE DANGERS OF DATING A REBOUND VAMPIRE explores Gigi's story, started in I'M DREAMING OF AN UNDEAD CHRISTMAS. It will be available in print, ebook and audio from your favorite retailers in March 2015.

It's available for pre-order now at Amazon.