[READING REVIEW] “Drive” & “Driven” by James Sallis

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

Let me start by saying I firmly believe the Nicolas Winding Refn film: “DRIVE (2011)” is one of the best films of the twenty-first century. So, receiving both the novel: “DRIVE” which the film was based on as well as the sequel novel: “DRIVEN” this past Christmas was a treat.

Written by author James Sallis, both books try for that old, pulpy styling in the prose. Sort of a modern Raymond Chandler feel, but not as hypnotic and lyrical.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s take this one book at a time…

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[FLICK REVIEW] “Prince Of Darkness (1987)”

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

To mark prolific director John Carpenter’s 70th birthday watching one of his classics was a must. In my case a classic I’d yet to see. This year brought me to: “PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)“, the second part of the unofficial “Apocalypse Trilogy”, which features “THE THING (1982)” before it and “IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS (1994)” after it.

After watching this in what I can best describe as shock I have to ask, why isn’t this film brought up more when discussing Carpenter’s filmography? Sure I see it in top ten lists of his work, but it always seems to get the shortest discussion. Perhaps it confused too many people to get full recognition? This is fully understandable considering the plot.

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[READING REVIEW] “The Reading Buddy” by Bryce Gibson

Posted in Book Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

Well this book was full of surprises!

Awhile back when I announced my transition from film making into writing books I stared getting followed on Twitter by various authors and book related sites. One of these authors to follow me was Bryce Gibson, a southern author based in South Carolina. After a quick glance at his material I quickly followed him back. His work focuses on darker stories set in the South. I live in {and like} the South and I like darker stories, sounds like a winner.

His newest work: “THE READING BUDDY” became my first piece to read. Its description of being a throwback to teen horror novels from the 1990s just screamed READ ME!

That’s when the surprises started.


  • It’s well written.
    So, as a throwback to ’90s horror it reads accurately. Even being set modern day the dialogue and tone feels like the classic Fear Street books. This isn’t an easy tone to achieve so hat’s off to Mr. Gibson! As a person who likes older media it’s exciting to find newer work that drips in old school.
  • It was a fast read.
    I usually do my reading at night before bed. I start and read until I’m tired. Most of my recent reading has taken a week or more due to only reading 10 pages or less before needing a good night’s rest.
    I read The Reading Buddy in three sittings.
    The longest being the final night where I burned through the final 100 pages unable to put it down! Now these particular 100 pages were a surprise that lead into my next point-
  • It jumped genre in a great way!
    Overall the book is indeed a throwback, but not entirely to ’90s teen horror. I’m not sure if Mr. Gibson did this intentionally, but it sure reads like he did. You see as I hit the last 100 pages it changed from teen horror into Italian Giallo!
    Several plot points which developed kicked my Giallo loving legs out from under me, I was not expecting the plot elements that were introduced at all. To be honest after reading several negative reviews I understand their confusion with this book. They saw this switch and couldn’t roll with it, but for me as a junkie for both types of horror I was more than giddy for what it brought me. I won’t spoil these elements here, just trust me when I say they are great and surprising to see in an American teen horror novel. Please keep this up Mr. Gibson!


  • A main plot point didn’t matter.
    There is something in this book that was advertised as a main point that ended up not meaning…anything? I guess it’s there as a red herring, but doesn’t really work for me because of how little it matters. To make it one step worse it tries to be a final “Gotcha!” moment which…didn’t work for me.


Heck yeah I’d recommend it! If you like horror/teen horror/Giallo/southern fiction it will appeal to you. It sucks you in from cover to cover. This book that will make a great movie someday. And for sure Bryce Gibson is an author to keep your eye on.

If you wish to buy a copy of “The Reading Buddy” CLICK HERE!


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22

M.H. Smith’s 2018 Manifesto

Posted in Life Events, Many Subjects!, Message(s), Project News!, Updates with tags , , , on January 1, 2018 by theporkchopexpress

So yeah 2017 didn’t go the way I expected. In fact I’d say it was a year of lazy failure on my part. Taking this into account, I’ve drafted my manifesto for 2018.

~On A Professional Level~

  • Complete My Assassin Short Film
    In 2017 Chris Widdop and I were able to complete filming on an assassin projected we started in 2016. The editing is well underway and by years end: IT WILL BE RELEASED!
  • Complete My Giallo Web Series
    By the end of January the two remaining scenes will be shot and I can begin work on the audio. The audio work is extensive and will take the longest to complete, but I’m confident for a 2018 release. More info is coming soon in a Giallo Update.
  • Continue Podcasting
    Podcasting is fun and I’ve got several episodes recorded that I plan on finishing. If I can get other people’s schedules to line up several more will be recorded. Once my film load dies down a consistent podcast schedule is very possible.
  • Publish Short Stories
    I’ve been slowly working on several short stories which are now in various drafts of completion. By Christmas at least one will be available for the world to read!

~On A Personal Level~

  • Read
    I was able to read several books in 2017, but I need to read more. This requires time, time which I plan to give this year! My hope is for one a week, but we’ll see how that goes…
  • Watch
    My wife and I have amassed a large backlog of movies in our collection that we haven’t seen. Like books I plan on crossing off as many as I can in the coming days.

These are my main goals for the year of 2018. It’s possible I’ll be able to add things throughout the year, but that will require success in what I’ve already listed.

Time to get to work!


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22

My Top 10 Movies Of 2017!

Posted in Many Subjects!, Movie Reviews, Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2017 by theporkchopexpress

Another year done, and yet a top ten list from me! Here are my ten favorite movies of the year:

Here is the review I did for it back in May.

Here is the review I did back in March.

After seeing this film twice I believe I’ve locked in my opinion on this entry in the Star Wars saga. It’s good; better than “THE FORCE AWAKENS (2015)“, but not the greatest. Too long and featuring some of the largest plot holes in the franchise. That being said, any Star Wars is better than no Star Wars, even at its weakest. Although its weakness is why it ranks so low this year.

Good Thrillers are rare these day, so this film was a delight to see. Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen make a great partnership and both firmly become great actors.

This film was a surprise. While I usually don’t like horror comedies, the concept carried this into something special. I mean it’s “HALLOWEEN H2O (1998)” meets “GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)” how can one not enjoy this?

5: “IT
I don’t have much to say here aside from it’s a remake done right!

Here is my review I did back in July.

If you want pure, pulp sci-fi joy in cinematic form, this is the film for you!

Here is my review from March.

My review from August.

I look forward to whatever cinematic delights await in 2018!


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22

[FLICK REVIEW] “Justice League (2017)”

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2017 by theporkchopexpress

As a DC Comics fan I’ve waited a long time for this movie. And I’m not going to lie: I’m VERY pleased with the results!

Knowing the troubled production, plus the hatred towards the other DCEU films and the obvious comparison to Marvel films how do I describe “JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)“? It’s a fun movie. As fun as pre-Avengers ’12 Marvel films and far more fun than post-Avengers ’12 Marvel films!

In contrast to the rest of the DCEU films it finds a very specific spot. It’s not near as deep a film thematically as: “BATMAN v SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)” or even: “MAN OF STEEL (2013)“. It’s more coherent than: “SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)” and has easier re-watch potential than: “WONDER WOMAN (2017)“. To draw an ironic comic book comparison, Justice League is like a solid one issue story arc of a JLA comic. In 24 pages {or 2 hours here} you get a fun, exciting read that you’re glad you read, but will probably bag, board and store away for a few years.

The real irony here is that since Man of Steel critics have put down DC films for not being fun little movies like Marvel. DC has been trying to make real “films” here that will last and have stuff to say, not popcorn crunching “movies”. Now that DC has delivered a better “movie” than recent Marvel the complaints are it’s not a real film?

Bias anyone?

As a person who needs a cinematic diet of both movies and films I was fine with each company being their own way, but now we’re all just playing dress up…ok I can roll with it.

The team works well together. Batman is a reluctant leader, Wonder Woman the advising second, Flash as the eager new guy who’s just happy to be there, Cyborg the brooding responsibility accepting one, and Aquaman the “I’m too cool for these fools, but they need me” guy!

Oh and Superman comes back…boy does he come back. If you know me you know I’m not a Superman fan. I find him to be too overpowered to enjoy fully. Like Goku in “DRAGON BALL Z“. That being said for the first time in the history of ever, I was excited to see Superman on screen!

In reviews I keep hearing the tone is off here. That it’s obvious two directors were involved. And to a degree I can see that, but not in a negative way. Joss Whedon CLEARLY had a hand in the dialogue. Everything else though still oozes Zack Snyder and that’s the way it should be. Yes it’s a lighter tone, but Snyder has been saying since BvS the DCEU would slowly shift that way. And while I have a feeling critics and the suits at WB pushed for it to happen earlier than Snyder would have wanted, it works very well in Justice League. In a way it feels like the characters have come home.

Another plus for me was Danny Elfman’s score. I forgot how much I enjoy his music to Superhero films. Not to mention the {what I’m sure will be nitpicked} return of his classic Batman theme and the John Williams Superman theme. Both themes, while never played fully are clearly worked in and both made me smile at hearing them.

The look of the movie is different for a Snyder picture. This is partially due to a new cinematographer being used, but I feel there is more at play here. This is an aspect I’m sure was taken away from Snyder. It’s bright and flat in places where it didn’t feel right to be….it made it look like a Marvel flick.

Speaking of look, the effects weren’t near as bad as reviews would lead you to believe. Do some shots look a little green screened? Sure I’ll confess I was able to pick out of backgrounds. Honestly the most jarring effect is Superman’s photoshopped out mustache from the re-shoots! Overall I thought the effects were pretty good considering 95% of movies released these days are CGI heavy. It helped tell the story, so I’m fine.

The story itself was serviceable. There are a few points of question for me. Mostly in continuity, but nothing to break the experience. One thing in particular I can already see CinemaSins pointing out when this gets the “Everything Wrong With” treatment next year.


Justice League is a great movie. Everything one could want in a superhero team-up flick. There is no reason to not enjoy it. Zack Snyder {and to an extent Joss Whedon} brought the DCEU’s versions of these characters together in a satisfying way. Would I like the future DC movies to be a bit less Marvel? For sure, but I highly doubt the heads at WB will listen to that. But I have been wrong before, so who knows.


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22

[FLICK REVIEW] “Blade Runner 2049 (2017)”

Posted in Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2017 by theporkchopexpress

I hated this movie. I didn’t want to, believe me I really didn’t. I went in with high hopes that Hollywood was about to work a miracle and produce a good sequel 35 years after the original. Boy was I in for a surprise!

Before I explain what I guarantee will be an unpleasant review let me give the couple of things I liked:

  • Overall, the special effects looked fine.
  • I liked Ryan Gosling’s hologram wife/girlfriend.

During the movie and afterwards as I reflected on the utter disaster I’d just witnessed for nearly 3 hours, a series of words and thoughts stemming from them. Allow me to share them…


-The first thing here that leaps out is the score…if you can even call it a score.
Hollywood’s favorite composer Hans Zimmer and a guy I’m not familiar with Mr. Benjamin Wallfisch attempted to “recreate” the feel of the original Vangelis score. All to end up utilizing what sounded like a motorcycle revving? The rest sounding so bloody generic it could’ve been used in anything.

-The pacing is agonizingly slow.
And I say that as a person who digs slow builds, but here it was a false slow to make the material seem more substantial than it was. Seriously, did this really need “world building” time? I don’t think it did… the original film covered all the same themes and concepts this resource waste does, but in under 2 hours!

-And while I’m on visuals let me talk about my disappointment with Roger Deakins.
Mr. Deakins, a man who should have shelves of Oscars from all his Coen Brothers work and for the masterpiece that was “SKYFALL (2012)” let me down here. Not for the generic sci-fi vistas in the wide shots, {those suckers are so CGI’d these days it calls into question the term “live action”} but for the actual scenes of emotion.

Look I’m all for mood and the cyberpunk aesthetic, but when the time comes for Harrison Ford to actually cry on camera in a scene that should evoke matching emotion from me, covering his face with total shadow while the background glows in clean light isn’t just wrong, it’s an insult to very principle of visual storytelling!
And this happens EVERY TIME something important was happening. I do blame someone else higher than Mr. Deakins…

-The direction is flaming garbage!
This is my first film from hot, new director Denis Villeneuve. I cannot express how much praise I’ve heard about this director and how he is the new visionary of film. You know, I go back and forth on if Auteur theory is true, but Mr. Villeneuve has convinced me it is!

Ridley Scott has a glorious vision and Denis Villeneuve is cross-eyed.

There is no vision here, only standard issue repackaging, but hailed as art from an artist beyond measure. Talent fraud is all I saw and I have no desire to ever watch another film he’s directed.

-The writing is the core issue.
Philip K. Dick’s original story is rather different from the 1982 classic, but the core themes are preserved from what I can tell. I’ve yet to read any Dick, but he is on my list. However, both the original ground breaker and this replicant share a screenwriter by the name of Hampton Fancher. Mr. Fancher is widely known for disagreeing with Ridley Scott’s vision for the original film and this new movie reflects that fully.

Not to mention the weak attempt to drown the audience in pseudo intellectual speeches hoping to cloud your mind into believing depth exists on a flat plain. I hoped co-writer Michael Green who gave us the excellent “LOGAN (2017)” and the vastly underrated “GREEN LANTERN (2011)” could reign the audacious tripe in a little, but alas…


-So the visual spectacle of 2049’s LA is….stolen. From another cyberpunk adaptation FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR!
I speak of course of the vastly superior: {you know I’m right about this} “GHOST IN THE SHELL (2017)“, which I reviewed here. It kills me that this movie is being praised for its visual design, when it steals and uses the very giant holograms that GITS was hated for! Insanity!

-Scenes are straight up ripped from older work.
One scene I keep seeing reviews fawn over is a “three way” sex scene between Ryan Gosling, a human hooker and a hologram. First I find it hard to call this a three way since two of the participants aren’t real, but I digress…
As soon as this scene started I remembered I’d seen it before. In the Patrick Swayze film “GHOST (1990)“! Seriously, a film being dubbed the return of sci-fi for grown ups is stealing from a cheesy romantic thriller?

Cash Grab:

The overall shock to me is that “BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)” is everything people complain about in sequels and remakes. From the lazy recreation of iconic looks and fan service characters to the watered down retreading of themes and ideas covered better in original. This movie was made not out of story continuation need, but from pure desire to make a fast buck off the name of a classic. Every frame oozes its lust of dollars; dollars it could have had by not being made!


A major problem with the writing in contrast to the original is in the use of dialogue. The original’s ideas were felt in subtext and the world was expressed without context allowing the audience to fall into it. Actually having to think about what they saw and heard to understand. 2049 goes out of its way to spoon feed you its stolen ideas every step of the way. Going so far as to flash back plot points from not too far back in the story…you know in case you missed it if you fell asleep, or forgot it in your boredom.

For a film that’s suppose to be a thought provoker I felt extremely talked down to.

Electric Sheep:

The real tragedy here are the critics and movie goers who will try and defend this. Some fans will truly love this film and to them I say: “I don’t get it, but lots of luck to you and yours!” No, the tragic folks I speak of are the ones who know better.

2049 falls into a category of films made to be praised and adored by the in crowd. The film “elite” as they think of themselves. And I fear the vast majority of people who will voice defense are doing so because they are “suppose to”. Not because they liked it, or found something true in it, but to impress who they believe are the “right people”. This fits the critics and filmmakers who want to be taken seriously. It’s a delusion. Like…tears in rain.


Follow Me on Twitter: @MHSmith22