Slayground (Richard Stark)

This is the fourteenth entry in Richard Stark’s (the writer’s real name Was Donald E Westlake) excellent series about Parker, the amoral criminal whose carefully-laid plans almost always come undone because of some unforeseen accident or because of an act of carelessness by one of the other crooks involved in the plan. In this case, it’s the getaway driver who screws everything up. This is not the driver that Parker would have preferred, but it’s the driver that Parker had to settle for. And it’s Parker who will now have to pay the price. [Read more…]

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961 United Kingdom)

Remember when Britain produced really great motion pictures? OK, no one is that old who would visit this blog. Lucky for us there is dvd-blu ray to enjoy these hoary relics. Anyway, this was made decades before millions hated and distrusted the lame stream’s media lies that pass for “news.”  It is very rare that a film manages to capture the sweat, stress and panic of the newsroom (ho ho! – alright, I’ll reign in my cynicism for the duration of this post) where the workers gather round for quick meetings and discussions before frantically typing up a new story and making those all – important phone calls. And the decision to tell the whole story from the viewpoint of the Daily Express workers is a refreshing and exciting one. [Read more…]

The Train (1964 France/USA)

The concept of an ‘action’ film is the most curious, as many examples of the genre seem very static – even today where it seems that anything can be shown. A fight, car crash, explosion, etc is rehearsed, staged, simultaneously photographed and edited in a certain way that brings out and sometimes enhances the action. But, as the event is meticulously planned, rigorously controlled, sometimes or always re-shot, spontaneity cannot be part of the action, or plays a small part. The action may be impressive, but still seems unreal, too chaotic, the sense that the action is not integrated into the story and maybe even more importantly, the attitude and motivation of the characters. Most action films are far from achieving all this. [Read more…]

The Thirteenth Tale (Diane Setterfield)

A gothic suspense novel with echoes from several Victorian novels. The familiar device of a “story within a story” is employed, and sometimes it even contains another story. This story-telling tradition strongly reminds the reader of earlier classic tales. In fact the “rule of threes” goes throughout this book echoing its fairytale feel. There is the structure of the book itself, “Beginnings, Middles and Endings”. There are three generations in the earlier saga. This is the author’s first novel, and promises well if she stops being so rooted in the gothic canon and makes a bold leap into the unknown and the supernatural she is clearly so drawn to.   [Read more…]

A Short Story Of Mine

joanne-hale-trials It was later than usual when Joanne Hale awoke on a fine Tuesday in June. She didn’t want to though. She was in a deliciously deep sleep where no dreams could touch her awareness. “Mum!..mum! Wake up! The shop!” a familiar voice accompanied an urgent hand pushing into her upper right shoulder.

“Uh? Wha?” her deep-voiced tones reassured the adolescent boy leaning across the large woman tangled up in the bedclothes. She held his hand and squeezed it briefly. She rolled over with some difficulty, the green duvet weighing on her before she could orientate her eyes to the physical world again. “OK love, let mamma get dressed. You have opened up for me?” [Read more…]

Tales Of The Unexpected (Roald Dahl)

dahltalesunexpectedIn sixteen short stories the reader is both enthralled and appalled at the depths to which some of the characters sink to when placed in various predicaments. This book is an absolute pleasure to read due to the fabulous writing and narrative skills of the author. Bold, unapologetic, devious, dark, and simultaneously lighthearted. [Read more…]

North By Northwest (USA 1959)

nbnwestIf anyone has doubts about the power of mistaken identity and its place in fiction, look no further than here. The many takes on it through the years have diminished its real power as a storytelling device. As a comedy trick, it is cheap and dull. But as a dramatic trick… there is real force behind it. Everyone dreads being alone in a time of crisis, not having anyone believe them and feeling like they are sinking further into a pit that’s growing ever deeper. [Read more…]

The Firm (1993 USA)

The-Firm-1993-tom-cruise-27898687-500-336An early shooting script for this ended with Mitchell McDeere (Tom Cruise) blowing away all the partners in a restaurant with an AK-47. Thank goodness they didn’t run with that idea. It made me appreciate the re-write by David Rayfiel and Robert Towne. Moving on…in the early 1990’s, movies based on lawyers and law were the fashion, so it’s no surprise that many of John Grisham’s books were adapted onto the big screen during this time. And I imagine that dude was totally stoked by all the success and accolades he received. [Read more…]

The Night Strangler (1973 USA)

nightstranglercsGet this straight, dear reader. No carnival or hooplah tactics will be tolerated in this review. This isn’t Funtown USA. I have standards here at highteadreams. I will mind my Ps and Qs on this one. I will hue precisely to the mark. Or I will be banished to Puyallup to live out the rest of my days as a daffodil. Failure to live up to this may result in yours truly going schizoid. He will be wearing robes and a crown soon! Fans of this Kolchak classic will recognize some of the preceding phrases as dialogue from The Night Strangler. [Read more…]

Psycho (1960 USA)

psycho5Imagine it is July 1960. You’ve just paid your thirty pieces of silver to the pharisees that own the movie theatre. You are shut in with all the other well dressed patrons. Not one tattoo amongst them, no mobile phones, no cries of “Shaniqua, move beeyatch!” or hip hop muzak to disturb the ambience. The lights go down. And then the screaming starts! Just ignore those kids to your left rioting over a pair of sneakers and keep your eyes on that screen up there. This here is the inspiration for many future classics like Eaten Alive. Show some respect! [Read more…]

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