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review 2018-07-23 21:25
A bad movie, a nail in the coffin of John Bellairs
The House With a Clock in Its Walls - John Bellairs

I felt compelled to reread this after seeing the godawful trailer for the new film. I ended up reading it aloud to my husband over the course of a few nights. The book is still wonderful. I've linked to book reviews for the Lewis Barnavelt Trilogy at the bottom.

I thought I was over getting nerdrage at bad book to film translations, but those trailers made me see red. 'A House with a Clock in It's Walls' is a meandering book about a lonely, scared boy finding a place for himself in his new family after his parent's death, and, above all, learning about true courage and friendship.

Tonally, aesthetically, and factually this movie has missed the mark. I know its only a trailer, but trailers these days seem to show the whole damn film. The casting is terrible. Lewis is some Hollywood kid instead of the weepy (his parents are DEAD, remember?), overweight bookish loner. Jack Black is all crazy googly-eyed as Uncle Jonathan. Mrs. Zimmerman instead of being the "wrinkliest" woman Lewis has ever seen, all smile lines, is played by Cate Blanchett with a silver wig. What a missed opportunity to bring back some great actress with a meaty role for an elderly woman.

Aesthetically, some effort seems to have been made to put it in early postwar America, but the CGI effects are plastered over everything and used for cheap laughs - complimented by bad dialogue.

Tonally, this was a book filled with gentle humor balanced with atmospheric dread and real scares. How can there be any balance in this movie?

John Bellairs books are in danger of going out of print - 'Figure in the Shadows' and 'The Letter, the Witch, and The Ring' are already gone. The book and the movie are so different that no kid who liked the movie is going to enjoy the book, creating NO demand for those sequels, and any kid with the sense to hate the movie is going to avoid the book thinking they share some similarities. More bad news: when this movie fails some asinine executive is going to think kids don't like fantasy or scary movies, when they only don't like bullshit.

The Lewis Barnavelt Trilogy:

The House with a Clock in It's Walls

The Figure in the Shadows

The Letter, The Witch, and The Ring

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video 2018-07-19 05:03
The House with a Clock in Its Walls - John Bellairs

I am furious and sad. This trailer shows me a goofy, CGI-riddled mess. I was so excited when I heard about this movie, John Bellairs' books are starting to go out of print and I was hoping this would encourage kids to read them again. No kid who likes the movie is going to like the book. Period. The book was about Lewis learning a valuable lesson about who real friends are and facing fears, the book had positive adult role-models. A film could have been made that was funny, atmospheric and spooky that would honor Bellairs gothic inspirations and the Edward Gorey illustrations.

 

This is more than being upset about book vs. movie translation. This is, to borrow my husband's phrase, a book turned into a Universal Studios ride.

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review 2018-07-14 23:58
X-Files: Night Lights, Book # 4 by John Rozum
Night Lights - John Rozum

Of the two X-Files comic collections I picked up, this was the stronger. I feel like these three stories pushed the boundaries of what the X-Files could do. Network television, especially in the 90s, was limited in what it could and could not do. Rozum seems to have caught on that, while he couldn't make canonical changes to the series, he could definitely do some weird shit.

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review 2018-07-13 03:23
X-Files: Haunted, Book #3 by Stefan Petrucha
The X-Files: The Haunting - Stefan Petrucha

We've been rewatching the X-Files for the last few months, and have been really enjoying it. It has its ups and downs, but for every clunker there's an absolute gem that obscenely never seemed to make it to syndication. I saw this and "Night Lights" at one of the flea markets this spring and couldn't pass them up.

Tie-ins are always dicey, because they have to fit into the canon of the show, but being sidelines, they can't make any permanent change to the status quo. You can't have Scully showing off a new tattoo without explanation. 20th century TV was bad enough at continuity most of the time, no one wants to worry about what happened in the comic book.

'The Haunting' was pretty good. In my memory they're already taking shape as actual episodes. Mercifully eliminating some of the rushed art. The stories themselves were solid. Hicks and aliens, classic combo.

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review 2018-07-12 03:45
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys by Carole Kismaric
The Mysterious Case of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys - Carole Kismaric,Marvin Heiferman

I picked this up because of my recent re-attachment to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novels. I've been curious about what the original books would have been like ever since I discovered they were re-written starting in the late 1950s. I recently had re-read the revised first volume of each series and was under-whelmed enough to do a combo review, and then I began finding early editions. They are sooo much better you guys! Problematic, but not dull!

I haven't reviewed them yet, because I've got stuff going on all the time like no one else on the planet. When I do, you can check my totes-sleuthy shelf....If I don't change that shelf's name. Jeepers. Anyway this book:

This was a fan-letter about Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys with good layouts and illustrations. The content was often repetitive and a trifle biased towards boy detectives. There were musings on other product lines inspired by the series, successful and not-so adaptations for film and TV (this is 1998 so that aughts film didn't get consideration...which is a good thing). The book does provide a nice pocket history of the development of the juvenile series market though the Strathmeyer Syndicate, and how they invented the ghostwriter as we know it today. There are better and much more comprehensive books on the subject: for Nancy Drew there is "Girl Sleuth" by Melanie Rehak, and for the Hardy Boys try "The Secret of the Hardy Boys" by Marilyn S. Greenwald, which focuses on the first ghostwriter for the series.

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