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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘The Frankenstein Theory’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “The Frankenstein Theory” from 2013, starring Kris Lemche, Joe Egender, Timothy V. Murphy, Eric Zuckerman, and Heather Stevens. Written by Vlady Pildysh and Andrew Weiner. Directed by Andrew Weiner.

From IMDB.com: From the makers of The Last Exorcism comes a boldly original vision of horror. What if the most chilling novel of all time was actually based on a true account of a horrific experiment gone awry? When he is suspended from his university job for his outlandish ideas, Professor John Venkenheim leads a documentary film crew to the rim of the Arctic Circle in a desperate effort to vindicate his academic reputation. His theory: Mary Shelley’s ghastly story, “Frankenstein,” is, in fact, a work of non-fiction disguised as fantasy. In the vast, frozen wilderness, Venkenheim and his team search for the legendary monster, a creature mired in mystery and drenched in blood. What they find is an unspeakable truth more terrifying than any fiction…a nightmare from which there is no waking.

The Frankenstein Theory Cover

My Review: The biggest thing that I enjoyed about this movie was the concept. It’s another “mock-umentary” style, because many horror movies (at least lower budgeted/independent ones, in particular) are, but it works. “Frankenstein” being a favorite of mine in classic literature, the idea of this movie that it’s based on real events is a lot of fun to me. So, I liked what they did with it.

Overall, the make-up of the characters, the basic writing and dialog are all decent. The acting is also fine. There is a reasonable escalation of the suspense when they hit the wilderness, and I did particularly like the character of Karl. And their understated use of The Monster was very good, I felt.

Beyond that, however, I struggled with the other characters. While they had no glaring flaws off hand, they didn’t have anything else that made me really attach to any of them and thus when we moved towards the end, I didn’t care all that much about what happens to them and that’s a big problem in this type of movie.

The last fifteen minutes, which was the climatic sequence, just felt too rushed and lost its suspense for me. Yet aside from not caring about the characters, I saw no distinguishable flaws to point out. And others may attach more to the characters than I did, so others might enjoy this more.

I probably would’ve given this a 2 but for the Frankenstein angle, which gets it a 3.

3 Smiley: Not Too Terrible

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Creature’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Creature” from 2011, starring Mechad Brooks, Serinda Swan, Amanda Fuller, Dillon Casey, Lauren Schneider, Aaron Hill, Daniel Bernhardt, and Sid Haig. Written by Fred Andrews and Tracy Morse. Directed by Fred Andrews.

From IMDB.com: In the back country of Louisiana, a group of friends unearth a terrible secret that unleashes a monster from the depths of the swamp.

Creature Cover

My Review: For some reason, this doesn’t apply to me with alien movies, but when it comes to creature features where the monster is from our own lore (like Sasquatch, or in this movie, “Lock-jaw”), I don’t like to see much of the creature. When I do, I’m usually disappointed by the goofiness of it. And it’s rare when I’m good with a movie that does it, but I was okay on this one. And we see quite a bit of this beast.

There was quite the crazy factor and “ick” factor here, but not enough to put you too far off the movie. (Unless it’s something you particularly dislike in your movies.)

And one of the things I really liked is that our “hero” of the day made sense. So many horror movies have their heroes and heroines turn into ninjas and weapon-masters when trouble arises, but with no background to explain how. This one, however, had a Navy Seal, a young man who had only recently resigned his commission. So he had the background to be so kick-ass, and was still in great shape to be able to do it.

Further, this ultimately felt like a romance. Our hero had to save his girl, and in the scenes with her, he became very tender. Brooks flowed between those two roles very well.

It’s a fairly standard creature feature in many ways, right down to the group of young people stuck in the woods, but the back-story to it made it stand out a little. And once you suspend your disbelief over the concept, the writing was fairly decent and the acting was good as well. Certainly compared to some others of its genre.

4 Smileys: Surprisingly Good

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Entity’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This review is about “Entity” from 2012, starring Dervla Kirwan, Charlotte Riley, Branko Tomovic, Rupert Hill, Oliver Jackson & Michael David Worden. [Top Billed] Written and Directed by Steve Stone.

From IMDB.com: In 1998, thirty four unidentified bodies were found in shallow graves in a remote Siberian forest. After subsequent investigations, no official explanation by the Russian authorities was ever offered about the circumstances of the deaths. The case was closed. In 2010, a small English TV crew from the show ‘Darkest Secrets’ set out for the Siberian forest. ‘Darkest Secrets’ focuses on revisiting the sites of unsolved crimes and they employ the gifts of a psychic whose extraordinary powers may help shed new light on cold cases. The last communication to their production office in London stated that they were approaching the Siberian region where the bodies were found. Nothing was heard from them again. ‘Entity’ is the story of what happened to them. The forest was only the beginning…

Entity Cover

My Review: This movie started out interesting in that it was a mix of the “mock-umentary” style and your regular movie filming, like we were seeing it from the inside and the outside at the same time. Mock-umentary is pretty common for horror movies, like writing a book in First Person or epistle fashion. (And no, ‘Blair Witch Project’ did not birth the idea.)

I thought that this one was pretty decent. It held its creepy atmosphere throughout with the use of a lot of auditory effects while minimizing the visual ones. It felt kind of like an episode of “Ghost Hunters” gone horribly wrong for the hunters, but it worked for the topic. And the fact that it was set in Russia but with English-speaking characters (mostly) was also an nice touch because it meant that they were hearing and seeing things that they didn’t understand even the language of.

Kirwan portrayed the psychic role well in not overdoing it. There were no strange hand gestures and overly dramatic reactions. It was quiet and intrinsic, like she was indeed seeing and hearing things outside this realm, so to speak, but just trying to understand them. And it exhausted and frightened her, but with no hysterics. I appreciated that.

Over all, while there was violence and gore, it was pretty understated compared to most of your horror movies these days. Again, it added to a general atmosphere of creepiness rather than just splashing blood on your screen and hoping you jump. The ending was both surprising and not, while ending on the same understated horrific note that the movie carried itself on.

4 Smileys: Surprisingly Good

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H. D. Gordon is Visiting!

Santa’s Little Helper

“Santa’s Little Helper” by H. D. Gordon

Published on… 31 October 2014
Published as… Horror

H. D. Gordon’s Guest Post

I’ve spent all my life living in really old, really big houses. The kind of houses with dank, cement-walled basements and rusty hinges. The kind of houses a child could spend hours playing and hiding in, discovering strange new things in dark corners and crevices that gave pause upon approach.

The rooms were deep, but not tall. The sunlight that filtered through the windows in contained rectangles always seemed somehow dustier, floating with tiny specks that made you hold your breath, so as not to breathe them in, as you passed through.

If you’ve ever lived in one of these places, you know that the very walls, the ceiling and the floorboards are constantly singing out to their occupants; groaning and creaking and “settling”–as my mother liked to call it– all around you. To me, the sounds always reminded me of a complaining stomach, and I couldn’t help but feel as though I was the undigested meal inside it.

Yes, I had an imagination. A tendency to envision impossible possibilities. And boy, was it a source of pain for me when I was younger.

I remember one night in particular. I was an embarrassing thirteen years of age, and just then trying my darnedest to sleep in my own room, with the lights off. (I spent a long time sleeping in my mother’s or sister’s room, secretly hoping that when the monsters showed up–because I was certain they would show up–they would eat the other person first, leaving me with a chance to escape.)

I was lying there, telling myself there was nothing to be afraid of, when I heard it. The tiniest of noises, the slightest of “settlings”, and my body went board-stiff in the bed.

It was Chucky! That evil, hideous doll from Child’s Play! I was certain! And there! There! Did I hear correctly?! Dear LORD, please tell that wasn’t the pitter-pattering of his little plastic shoes crossing my bedroom floor, huge knife in hand!

Dear Reader, you may be laughing now, but I was frozen with terror. I tried to scream. For the love of GOD, I tried with all my will to scream my head off, but I was so scared that I’d lost control of my vocals!

That was the only time in my life–save for the occasional nightmare– when I literally had my voice snatched from me by fear. I can tell you, it was not a pleasant feeling.

What happened, you wonder? Well, after what seemed like an eternally long moment of sweat-chilling terror, I finally regained control over my body, and bolted out of the black room, barking my shin on the dresser and somehow escaping with my life.

By the time I worked my courage up to return to the room–standing with my body out in the hallway and searching the inside wall blindly for the light switch–Chucky had hidden from sight.

The point I hope I’m making is, I’m no stranger to terror. Specifically, the kind of terror only an over-imaginative child can feel. And if you were like me, and would like me to take you back there, back to that time when you used to lie staring into the shadows, shivering under the covers, just take my hand, and I’ll lead you there.

I’ve got a little buddy named Santa’s Little Helper, and he’s just dying to meet you.

About the Book

He shows up in a white box, with a bright red book under his arm… He wears a jolly grin and hat, a suit with gold bells and green yarn… He watches you for Santa, or so his red book claims… But though his grin is jolly, he’s not here for fun and games…

The children have been chosen, such precious little souls they are… And may the Gods be with them, if they wish to make it very far… For Santa’s Little Helper does not say, but knows important things… He knows when you’ve been bad or good, and what monsters stalk your dreams… He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…He’s picking out his presents…He’s got some souls to take.

Buy the Book at Amazon

About the Author

H. D. Gordon Author Photo
H. D. Gordon is the bestselling author of THE ALEXA MONTGOMERY SAGA, THE JOE KNOWE SERIES, and THE SURAH STORMSONG NOVELS. She is a lifelong reader and writer, a true lover of words. When she is not reading and writing, she is busy raising her two daughters and keeping the world’s zombie population under control.

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Shakma’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Shakma” from 1990, starring Christopher Atkins, Amanda Wyss and Ari Meyers.. Written by Roger Engle. Directed by Hugh Parks and Tom Logan.

From IMDB.com: A wild animal attacks people trapped in a large tower.

Shakma Cover

My Review: This movie was 1990 with a vengeance. The hair, the clothes, the music, the technology… It was just so ’90s.

Beyond that, however, I did like the D&D/LARP game premise. Even though a computer and smart phone user of 2014 like myself couldn’t watch their computers and giant walkie-talkies without wincing and giggling.

They had to ascend the building floors by finding the right clues and get little helps, trying to reach the top floor to save the princess, while an enemy lurked among the rooms. There was a teacher involved in the fun, which was cool. Being a geek, I liked that.

However, aside from that… The writing was bad. The acting was bad, most especially our lead actor. His finale sequence was just amazingly, remarkably over-acted. It was filled with your classic ’90s horror movie cliché bad choices.

The effects to portray the killer baboon were as good as they could be for the time and budget, I imagine, but the jumps between what I think was a stuffed animal acting violent and the well-trained baboon following instructions were just hysterical.

The geek in me gives it a boost but I can’t give it much more of a rating. It was so bad that there were funny parts, but mostly, it was just kind of cringe-worthy.

2 Smileys: Not Too Terrible

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Netflixian Horror: Review of ‘Jug Face’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Jug Face” from 2013, starring Lauren Ashley Carter. Written and directed by Chad Crawford Kinkle.

From IMDB.com: Jug Face tells the story of a pregnant teen trying to escape a backwoods community when she discovers that she may be sacrificed to a creature in a pit.

Jug Face Cover

My Review: Every now and then, I watch a movie and wonder, “Why did I just watch that?” Despite the great wealth of bad horror I enjoy watching, this doesn’t happen often. This movie managed to do it, though.

I was drawn in mainly because of the ‘creature’ in the pit angle, so I expected an actual creature feature/monster movie, but we never see anything. Whatever is in the pit does kill people and tear them to actual pieces, but it could be any sort of homicidal thing. If this had been the only problem, it wouldn’t have been a problem, however. I’ve watched plenty of horror that didn’t have creatures in it, but this felt misleading.

The “ick” factor on this one is high. We have backwards backwoods community of people who live rough and don’t look like they bathe too often; forced marriage; incest; a mother who visually checks her daughter’s menstrual flow and internal workings to see if she’s still a virgin; emotional and physical abuse; bodies being torn to pieces and blood and offal strewn about; ritual sacrifice…

And yet! This is not even what bothered me most about the movie.

There felt like there was no point at all. The movie is billed as a girl trying to escape, but the escape attempt takes up all of ten or fifteen minutes. The girl in question is not really any more likeable or relatable than any other character, and even her contrition at the end doesn’t make up for the rest of it.

In fact, only one character is at all sympathetic and makes you give a damn. And the movie doesn’t seem to have a point. By the end, nothing changes but the body count. In movies, even if there’s symbolism in the full circle concept, you still want to see that something has changed; that the plot had a reason. This one just didn’t feel like it had anything of that.

Maybe there was allegory, but it was buried under the weight of its own drama, gore factor, and how gross can we make this community…

1 Smiley: Awful

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Darren Gallagher is Visiting!

Strings

“Strings” by Darren Gallagher

Published on… August 13, 2014
Published as… Horror

Darren Gallagher’s Guest Post

Why did you choose to write horror?
Basically, I chose to write horror because I grew up around it. There was always someone telling a ghost story, or trying to scare you as a kid. Then when I broke into my teenage years, my brother was reading Stephen King — I think it was Nightmares and Dreamscapes. He would tell me about the stories he read, saying how great they were, and in turn that made me pick up the book and start reading. I got so into it that when he wanted to read the book he had to wait until I was finished whatever story I was reading. Finally he had enough and bought me The Shining, and from then on everything I’ve read, watching, played(computer games), it has all revolved around horror.

There are many different story lines and themes in “Strings” two of the stories however started out the same way. I attend a writing class every week, and on one of the nights the tutor gave us a trigger, it was ‘Red Alert’. Two little words and I let my imagination run wild. At first I liked the way the words sounded together but something pulled me away from them and led me to write ‘Ruby Red Soldiers’ the first story in the book.

Those two words however kept repeating in my mind and then one night I sat down and wrote the story ‘Red Alert’ (you can find an excerpt below) and in turn gave me one of my favorite stories in the book.

Both stories have a little vial or red liquid in common, but that’s it. Each story however will leave you craving for more, even a little vial of your own.

About the Book

33 dark tales; the invisible bindings that tie us all together.

Within this book you will find terrifying tales from catastrophic celebrations, to freaky family funerals…

Beware the supernatural, Beware the weather…

Beware the strings.

Buy the Book at Amazon

About the Author

Darren Gallagher Author Photo
Darren Gallagher was born and currently lives in Co. Donegal, Ireland. Having dropped out of school at fourteen, he decided in 2008 to finally pluck up the courage and follow a dream that had been haunting him since childhood. Receiving a Diploma in Creative Writing from Kilroy’s College in Dublin was the first step in re-learning the English that he’d forgotten, and that he never knew.
A natural night owl, when everyone else is sleeping, he hears the bumps and the creaks, captures them, and turns them into stories to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Strings, is his first collection. His second collection is finished, and his first Novella is due for release February 2015.

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Netflixian Horror: A Review of ‘Grabbers’

“Netflixian Horror” will be a series of reviews of horror movies that I found while cruising Netflix. I tend to enjoy horror and monster movies that are generally considered “bad,” but I know lots of people enjoy them as I do so I’ll be reviewing them. However, my grading scale will be different, since I won’t be comparing them to all movies but to the genre itself.

This is a review of “Grabbers” from 2012, starring Richard Coyle and Ruth Bradley. Written by Kevin Lehane. Directed by Jon Wright.

From IMDB.com: When an island off the coast of Ireland is invaded by bloodsucking aliens, the heroes discover that getting drunk is the only way to survive.

Grabbers Cover

My Review: I will admit that after reading the description, I had expected more slapstick humor and goofy creature happenings. That didn’t happen so much, but it still worked. It was of course still humorous and it had many amusing moments, including some scenes with baby monsters that makes one giggle, but it wasn’t so over the top.

Nolan and O’Shea were not quite the mostly uniquely drawn characters–in their own words, “an alcoholic and a workaholic,” but the actors made them very endearing and you’re really rooting for them. Bradley is absolutely adorable as Garda Nolan and very funny towards the latter sequences, while Coyle’s Garda O’Shea grows more charming to the audience as we get to know him. They play their roles with subtlety.

But that’s not to say that the rest of the cast of characters is full of slouches. They paint an entertaining picture of their little Irish village as they “face off” against the “grabbers,” even the name of which makes for a nicely underplayed string of humor.

4 Smileys: Surprisingly Good

 

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Natasha Troop is Visiting! [Tour Stop]

Lakebridge: Autumn

“Lakebridge: Autumn (The Lakebridge Cycle, Vol. 3)” by Natasha Troop

Published on…17 March 2014
Published as…Horror Fantasy

Natasha Troop’s Guest Post

Why did you choose to write about a town in New England?

I have two answers to this question: the Literary and the Actual.

Literary:

My first horror writer was Stephen King. I read The Shining when I was 9 and it gave me that rush of lasting fright that still lingers to this day when I walk into a bathroom and the shower curtain is completely drawn and part of me knows for certain that the woman is there waiting for me. I kept reading King’s work and learned that the scariest things all seemed to reside or happen in small, New England towns. I developed a general phobia of the entire region as a result, knowing that if I ever traveled there, I would become the victim of some centuries old curse or strange detour into a place I wouldn’t have encountered if I just had the good sense to stay in Los Angeles (because nothing bad ever happens here).

Not too long after becoming a fan of all things horror, I discovered Lovecraft and learned that not only was the small New England town home to King’s intimate, character driven horror, greater, cosmic evils resided there as well. Much like King, not all of Lovecraft’s work happened in New England. But the stories that did created such a sense of dread about the place and the people who live there that I couldn’t think of any good reason to travel there…except in their wonderful stories.

Over time, however, the region became very appealing to me. I wanted to go to college in Boston (didn’t…UCLA was the cheaper, better choice) and even honeymooned there, traveling through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine on our way to Salem for Halloween. In my travels there, I found beauty, culture and wonderful history. Every place had a story, sometimes very old and often loaded with eerie charm.

As a writer of horror, there was no question as to where my story about a town with a covered bridge could best take place. The kind of story I am telling is New England horror, both intimate and character driven and concerned with greater, cosmic evils.

Actual:

Towards the end of the 20th century, I was involved in a small film company. We were brainstorming ideas and came up with something about a small town with eccentric characters and covered bridge. At that time, it could have happened anywhere in the Northeast. It wasn’t even a horror story at that point. It was more of a dramedy and almost nothing at all like the story that exists today. One of my partners had relatives in Vermont and was interested in shooting a project there to take advantage of the proximity to his relatives and incentives the Vermont film commission was offering. So he asked if there was any reason why the story couldn’t take place in Vermont. I couldn’t think of one, so the story landed there.

Over time, I could never find a good way to tell the story as a screenplay. It just didn’t work for me. Additionally, the more I worked on the idea, the more my feelings about New England and horror began to take over the piece. In that way, while my Literary answer above is not the reason I initially chose to write a story about a New England town, it is the reason that my story exists as it does. It is the reason that Stansbury, Vemont is such a scary place for me (and hopefully my readers).

About the Book

The town of Stansbury, Vermont has survived over four hundred years of tragic events. The town survived because the otherworldly beings and powerful humans that have always controlled the lives of the people willed them to forget each terrible event. As the bloody conflict between those forces has been raging, the people have stopped forgetting. Fear and grief have replaced peaceful ignorance and the powers that be no longer care. In Lakebridge: Autumn, Stansbury will fall.

Buy the Book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

About the Author

Natasha Troop
Natasha grew up in Southern California and currently lives in the Los Angeles area with her spouse, son, daughter and menagerie of pets, including a Basset named Moose and a very overprotective collie dog. What currently surprises her more than anything about her life is how much of it is just sitting there on Google, there for the taking. This scares her more than anything. The Internet never forgets.

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Review: “Dark Messages” by Daniel J. Weber

“Dark Messages” by Daniel J. Weber

 

Available on: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Smashwords
Released on: 31 October 2013

I received this book free in exchange for an honest review.

Description: Tune your ears to the darkness, hearing the messages therein. Turn your eyes to the pages. Watch darkened words as they seep through those cavities in your skull, fill every pore of your skin, and enliven your heart with Dark Messages. Life can be full of fear, but the emotion does not have to live in vain. Consider the messages skulking behind each dark, horrific story in this collection.

Review: This was a collection of short stories by the same author. I’m going to review each story individually, and then have some final thoughts on the collection as a whole.

Undying Memories
This was interesting and had the feeling of allegory. It felt a little overwritten and repetitive, however, which made it hard for me to sympathize entirely with the mother character, despite my usual penchant to get too much into stories of this nature. (It was a tough topic and one that I usually struggle with.)

A Mile in My Shoes
This one I found to have a rather fascinating premise. Despite the colloquialism that is the title, people never think about the shoes. And then there was the circle in the story, which I liked.

A Storm is Coming
It was very short–flash fiction, really–but I’m a big fan of anthropomorphism and personification, so I really like that. A short but cool story.

Master of Death
Again with both the personification and the circles, but as they are both things I like, it worked for me. It had a very surreal feeling to its style, and that made it a little convoluted at points. But still intriguing.

Know Not What They Do
This one I didn’t really like. Not *because* it was religious, but because of what it did in that frame. The demons made it a sort of “cop out,” I found, and removed the human involvement and responsbility that I think is integral to the biblical story. That, and the removal of the women at the tomb annoyed me, but that’s a pet peeve, if you will.

Infinity
Another story with a slightly heavier handed feeling of allegory, a little too much for me, so this wasn’t my favorite in the group although the theme of infinity and what goes around, comes around, is a theme through out the whole collection and so it was still a fitting tale to end on.

Over all… Themes that I enjoy, as mentioned above, were recurrent in the stories and I did like that.

One interesting thing I noticed after I finished was the feeling of a sort of…removal from the narrators. It made it feel like the readers are observers rather than participants. The stories are dark and emotional, yet it lacks the feeling of emotional involvement to the reader. At least as much as one might think there would be.

Even so, the surrealistic feeling to the prose’s style made me feel like the removal was intentional. That we were meant to be observers to these stories, and as such, it was a goal that was achieved and did work for the collection. Thus what in other stories would be a detriment, makes something of a benefit here.

The stories do involve many dark elements–suicide (of a sort), murder, abuse, destruction on various levels and of various types–so it’s not a collection that would be for everyone, but if you can handle these elements and want to look at them from this step back, you’d probably enjoy it.

Apparently my reviews lately are brought to you by the number four… 4 Fireballs. The observation effect worked for the collection, but for me, I have to be more emotionally involved for a higher rating.

4 Fireballs

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