Monday, October 17, 2016

Horrors Quiet, Horrors Loud

The Thief of Broken Toys (2011) by Tim Lebbon: This lovely, lonely, haunting short novel is a thing of disturbing beauty from Tim Lebbon. There's a Ray Bradbury quality to some of the story elements (especially that eponymous being). But it's the leaner Bradbury of the 1940's, the one capable of horror. 

The loss of a son to an undiagnosed genetic disorder has left the novel's protagonist, the boy's father, in an emotional purgatory as The Thief of Broken Toys begins. His wife struggles to move on -- in part by having left him. He stays at home, for the most part, where he's been for the most part of a year. And then, on one of his nightly walks on the English sea coast, he encounters the eponymous being -- an old man who offers him the ability to heal. Beware strangers bearing supernatural gifts, no matter how seemingly benign!

I don't know that all of the elements work. The occasionally intruding narration speaks to larger things outside the events of the novel, but it never entirely convinced me, or at least convinced me that it was necessary to the tragedy and horror of the story itself. Nonetheless, this is stellar work from Lebbon. 

Technically this is 'quiet horror,' but it's horror nonetheless. And the final catastrophe horrifies without any blood being spilled or tentacled monster making an appearance. Actually, a tentacled monster would probably have been comforting. Highly recommended.

The Keep (1981) by F. Paul Wilson: F. Paul Wilson's first 'big' novel is also his best. A dreadful movie adaptation in the mid-1980's, directed by Michael Mann, got pretty much everything wrong about Wilson's original. The Keep is a clever synthesis of vampire novel, cosmic horror, and high fantasy, though that last bit doesn't become evident until the last 50 pages or so. Its best horror moments come in its first half, while the full nature of the adversary remains hidden from reader and characters alike.

The Keep would soon be folded into Wilson's 'Adversary Cycle,' a six-novel arc that is itself part of a much larger body of work dubbed 'The Secret History of the World' that includes Wilson's multi-volume Repairman Jack series. My version of The Keep ends without any sort of cliffhanger or 'stinger' ending, but this may not be true of later editions of the novel. Wilson rewrote a number of novels to eradicate inconsistencies within both the Cycle and the Secret History.

The genius of The Keep lies in its use of the Nazis as foils to the greater evil growing inside the Keep. It's 1941. Much of the action occurs in an isolated part of Romania where German infantry have been entrusted with taking control of that mysterious Keep. The name itself is a misnomer -- there was never a castle surrounding the structure, and the name was simply attached as a matter of convenience. Why are there unusually designed crosses embedded in the walls of the Keep? Why does anyone who tries to sleep there awake from nightmares of confinement? Who's been paying to maintain the Keep with a long line of well-recompensed villagers from an adjacent village for the last 500 years? And why has the German Army Captain in charge of the Keep telegrammed High Command to ask for help because "something is killing my men"?

Well, there's the novel. Wilson's strongest character work involves the fraught relationship between the German Army Captain and the SS Major sent to deal with the problem. The Captain hates the Nazis, but he's also a loyal soldier. The SS Major is a coward and a sadist who dreams of the money to be made once he takes control of Nazi preparations in Ploesti for the coming Romanian Holocaust. As problems at the Keep continue despite the SS presence, they agree to summon a Romanian-Jewish scholar who's the world's only known authority on the Keep. As the scholar has been crippled by a wasting disease, along with him comes his bright, unmarried daughter.

Props where props are due: that daughter makes for an interesting and unusual character in a horror novel written by a young man in the late 1970's and early 1980's. She becomes the focus of the third-person narrative, and Wilson makes her a compelling figure who wants a life of intellectual achievement in a world where both her gender and her ethnicity stand against any such achievement. While this character is put in jeopardy on numerous occasions, Wilson never makes her a stereotypical female victim. By the climax of the novel, she's one of the two most important characters in terms of opposing the ancient dark force inside the Keep.

As noted, the strongest moments of horror come in the first half, as a mysterious, unseen force stalks the Keep. But the revelation of the horror doesn't immediately deflate the narrative of its mystery: the creature explains what it is, but there are odd gaps and curiosities in its story. And the discovery of a cache of Lovecraftian banned texts points the way towards an explanation that has nothing to do with vampires or werewolves or ghosts. And they are literally Lovecraftian texts, the Necronomicon and a number of other fictional 'banned' books mentioned by H.P. Lovecraft and his fellow Cthulhuists over the years in a nod by Wilson to his American horror forerunners.

Once the novel passes that midway point, elements of a more conventional thriller begin to blend with elements of both dark and high fantasy. There are even riffs on the sort of material made popular by The Lord of the Rings and Robert E. Howard's Conan series. But Wilson also keeps things rooted in the historical setting of 1941 Eastern Europe, with the seemingly unstoppable Nazis about to embark on their betrayal of the Soviet Union. It's a relatively long novel, but it's briskly told in Wilson's competent, unflashy prose.  To nod to an old chestnut, if you read one novel by F. Paul Wilson, it should be this one. Highly recommended.

Very English Horrors

The Black Country (2013) by Alex Grecian: Enjoyable mystery set in England's coal country in 1890. The characters are engaging, though the central mystery will be familiar to anyone who has read The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective (2008) by Kate Summerscale. Grecian adds a second mystery to the mix, albeit one linked to the first. Apparently not finding the generally well-portrayed oddities of the coal-mining town and its superstitions to be diverting enough, he also throws in several sections set at the horrifying Andersonville POW camp run with murderous efficiency by the Confederacy in one of those historical foreshadowings of the Holocaust. 

Just to lighten things up, Grecian adds a lot of low-level comedy to the relationship of the two Scotland Yard detectives sent to the coal town. He even throws in a lovable, mentally handicapped giant. And a scar-faced mystery man. And an abandoned baby magpie which first one detective and then the giant try to nurse back to health. And village superstitions attached to a mythical monster called Rawhead and Bloody Bones. And a mysterious disease sweeping the village. And a cinematic climax, first above and then below the ground in the village as it is wracked by subsidence caused by over-mining. 

We even get a final few lines that will remind the reader of either the forced comedy that seemed to end every 1960's and 1970's American TV drama no matter how dire the preceding events -- or the parodic endings of every episode of Police Squad (a.k.a. the TV show that the Naked Gun movie series continued). It's a diverting novel, though the setting seems under-served by the novel's pedestrian yet over-stuffed ambitions. Lightly recommended.

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic – and How it Changed Science, Cities and the Modern World (2006) by Steven Berlin Johnson: Engaging, sweeping examination of England's last major cholera outbreak in London's Broad Street neighbourhood near Soho in 1854, and how two men ensured that England would never suffer from a cholera outbreak again. Medical Doctor John Snow and Anglican curate Henry Whitehead, both of whom lived near the outbreak, would form a somewhat unlikely Dynamic Duo whose detective work and scientific acumen would convince the medical and civil authorities of London that cholera was a disease spread by contaminated water and not, as then-standard wisdom had it, by 'miasmic' gases.

Much of the book is marvelous and humane, explaining the rise of cholera to being one of the world's great killers over the course of the last 200 years. Along the way, The Ghost Map also delves into the development of epidemiology, safe sewer and water-supply systems, and the toxic Social Darwinism that helped blind Victorian England to the true cause of cholera in its cities. The book also offers a tour through London's underground economy of night-soil men and cat-meat men and coster-mongers and 'pure' collectors (pure was a euphemism for dog shit), and their roles in keeping the 'above-ground' world running.

You'll also visit the horrifying cess-pits and cesspools and streets of 1854 London. You'll discover why alcohol, tea, and coffee were all integral to the urbanization of the world. But mostly you'll deal with these two heroes of science and rationality, Snow and Whitehead, as they individually and then dually seek an answer to the Broad Street Outbreak. 

Only in the last 20 pages or so does Johnson waver, as he suddenly takes the book so wide as to attempt to convince the reader that the world will be a better, more environmentally friendly place when everyone lives in cities (not suburbs -- cities proper). It feels like the beginning of a different book, one whose enthusiasm for urban living and disdain for rural living comes gushing straight out of its author and onto the page. All it really lacks is the line, "Since the beginning of time, man has longed to evacuate the countryside!".

But other than the writer's book-derailing, evangelical rant about the Great Goodness of Cities, The Ghost Map is terrific, informative, sad, and hopeful. Lift your glass of clean drinking water to Snow and Whitehead, who defeated an invisible enemy 30 years before humanity could reliably find cholera under a microscope. Highly recommended.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Oscar Monsters

The Revenant (2015): adapted by Alejandro Inarritu and Mark L. Smith from the novel by Michael Punke; directed by Alejandro Inarritu; starring Leonardo DiCaprio (Hugh Glass); Tom Hardy (John Fitzgerald); and Domhnall Gleason (Captain Henry): Set in early 19th-century Montana and South Dakota, The Revenant is an odyssey of survival and revenge for guide Hugh Glass, played almost silently by Leonardo DiCaprio in a role that won him his first Best Actor Oscar. 

There's nothing wrong with that acting -- boy, does Glass suffer, and boy is he covered in filth and wounds for most of the movie! Alejandro Inarritu won his second straight directorial Oscar (the first was for Birdman), and he certainly puts on a grimy, Sublime, haunting show of photography. Vaguely based on a true story, The Revenant is the Western as horror movie with more than a hint of a Republic serial re-imagined as being deadly serious yet, through the sheer accumulation of unfortunate events, almost comic as it reaches its end. 

Glass is a Beckett character, crawling through the muck, transforming into the vengeful 'dead' man of the title. Tom Hardy has never been better as pragmatic trapper Fitzgerald, Glass' nemesis in the movie (though not in real life). Some trimming might have helped -- by the time Glass and the horse go over a cliff, my suspension of disbelief had been exhausted. Recommended.

The Thing (1982): adapted by Bill Lancaster from the novella "Who Goes There?" (1938) by John W. Campbell Jr.; directed by John Carpenter; starring Kurt Russell (MacReady); Wilford Brimley (Blair), Keith David (Childs), Richard Dysart (Copper), and Donald Moffat (Garry): Alien (1979) was a great screech of cosmic horror mingled with body horror in the best Lovecraftian tradition. The Thing is its thematic sequel, taking fears of bodily invasion and transformation and making them even more horrifying and goopy. 

The Thing was adapted previously by Christian Nyby and Howard Hawks in the 1950's as a sort-of Cold War paranoia thriller with an evil carrot rather than an evil, well, disease. This version is truer to John W. Campbell Jr.'s 1938 novella in terms of location (Antarctica, not the Arctic of the 1950's version) and monster (a body-invading, endlessly replicating Thing rather than a vampiric, Frankensteinian Creature). The Hawks film was much truer to the character dynamics of Campbell's novella, where manly, competent men met a terrible threat with overwhelming, intelligent, manly camaraderie.

Here, our heroes are fractious as per the model of the Nostromo's crew in Alien. Given that the Thing could be any one of them (or even all of them -- it's just that invasive!), their paranoia is understandable. But they still team up to battle an alien invasion. One of the things that makes The Thing stand out even more now is the lack of references to the characters' lives outside Antarctica: one imagines that, remade today, there would have to be some motivations assigned to the characters for their resistance to the invasion. 

Because people don't do things in NuHollywood unless there's a wife or child involved. This lack of 'personal motivation' makes The Thing bracing in my estimation -- the men are trying to save the world with no possible hope of rescue or survival. And even the most grumpy among them realize the scope of the Thing's danger and set to work. It's almost like people can do things for the common good without specific personal motivation!

The actors (what a cast!) are great, the creature effects still chilling and awful, the scenery still Sublime, the whole thing still rousing and disturbing. What's weird is that The Thing is hopeful about humanity in a way few horror movies allow themselves to be. But avoid the dopey 2011 prequel! Highly recommended.

Misery (1990): adapted by William Goldman from the novel by Stephen King; directed by Rob Reiner; starring Kathy Bates (Annie Wilkes); James Caan (Paul Sheldon); Richard Farnsworth (Sheriff Buster), Frances Sternhagen (Deputy Virginia), and Lauren Bacall (Paul's Agent): Kathy Bates deservedly won a Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Annie Wilkes, self-proclaimed "number-one fan" of historical romance writer Paul Sheldon. And James Caan is really good as Sheldon in a role that confines him to bed and wheelchair for much of Misery's running time. 

This is one of a handful of the sharpest adaptations of a novel by Stephen King, alternately funny and horrifying in a way that replicates King's prose. King signed off on Rob Reiner directing after the success of Reiner's previous King adaptation, Stand by Me, the movie from the novella that gave a name to Reiner's production company (Castle Rock). William Goldman and Rob Reiner tone down some of the novel's more gruesomely baroque moments (bye-bye lawnmower!), but there's still lots of body horror to go around. Bates' Wilkes is a menacing but at times oddly sympathetic character -- it seems at times that she's fully aware of what a monster she is. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Death and the Batman

Batman: Gothic (Deluxe Edition) (1990/ Collected 2015): written by Grant Morrison; illustrated by Klaus Janson: Writer Grant Morrison's second major foray into the world of Batman (after 1989's Arkham Asylum) hurls the Dark Knight into a literary hellscape of nods to Faustus, Don Giovanni, Lord Byron's Manfred, Fritz Lang's M., Lewis's The Monk, Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer, and a host of other horrific antecedents. There's even an exquisitely detailed, Rube Goldbergesque death trap for Batman to escape.

Batman faces an enemy from his past -- his past as a schoolboy at a private school, that is, in the days before Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered and Bruce's journey towards being Batman began. But the enemy threatens Gotham's major mobsters as well, whom this old enemy hunts for revenge. Klaus Janson supplies lots of moodiness and doom as artist. It's one of Batman's most nightmarish adventures, even with the typical splash of Morrisonian postmodernism. This would make a terrific Batman movie, live-action or animated. Come on, DC! Highly recommended.

Death: The Deluxe Edition (1989-2003/ Collected 2014): written by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Chris Bachalo, Mark Buckingham, Mark Pennington, Mike Dringenberg, Malcolm Jones III, Dave McKean, Jeffrey Jones, P. Craig Russell, Colleen Doran, and others: Neil Gaiman's goth-chick Death gets her solo adventures from The Sandman, two miniseries, and several other places collected here in over-sized hardcover. 

I'd read them all before, but it's nice to catch up with Death, the friendly and understanding embodiment of, well, Death, one of Gaiman's seven Endless personifications of natural forces (the others being Dream, Destiny, Desire, Delirium (nee Delight), Despair, and Destruction because the universe speaks English and enjoys alliteration). 

The bulk of the volume is occupied by two three-part miniseries, Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life. I'm partial to the first above all others in this volume, playing as it does with the form of the 'quest' and possessed as it is of a grumpy, teen-aged protagonist saddled with the name Sexton Furnival who goes out one day to commit suicide, instead falls into some garbage, and is rescued by the human avatar Death creates for one day every century so as to experience life among the living. It's one of Gaiman's finest pieces of writing, amplified by the lovely, slightly twee artwork of Chris Bachalo and Mark Buckingham.

The other stories are fine as well, though Bachalo disappears halfway through the second Death miniseries, leaving Mark Buckingham and Mark Pennington to finish up the job without moving too jarringly away from Bachalo's style. That miniseries reunites us with several characters from The Sandman arc "A Game of You" a few years down the road. It's solid as well, though Death is much more of a supporting player this time around. Death's answer to one character's enquiry about The Problem of Evil is glib and shallow, but that may be the point -- she's trying to comfort somebody who isn't very bright, not offer a comprehensive solution to theodicy. 

The volume also includes Death's first appearance in The Sandman, in which she tries to cheer up her mopey Byronic brother Dream, and a standalone issue in which Death is called upon by a very minor DC superhero (Element Woman, or possibly Element Girl) who doesn't know how to die. 

A handful of stories (including one in which Death and John Constantine talk about safe sex!) and a length series of illustrations by various artists round out the volume. There's also an oblique introduction from Tori Amos, reprinted from a 1994 collection: one of the oddities of most of DC's new Deluxe editions is that they contain very little 'new' material. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Hell Above, Hell Below

Hellboy in Hell Volume 1: The Descent (2015-2016/Collected 2016): written and illustrated by Mike Mignola: Mike Mignola's Hellboy series moves inexorably towards its conclusion in this, what may be the penultimate volume in the long-running series. The end of the last book saw Hellboy dead on Earth and plummeting into Hell. And now we open, on the borderlands of Hell.

Hellboy is his usual acerbic self as he fights an assortment of demons and, well, more demons. Some have personal grudges against him as he sent them back to Hell during his heroic, monster-fighting career above-ground. Meanwhile, Hell's capital city of Pandemonium is strangely empty, and Satan himself is asleep in a basement. Hellboy has help in Hell, but will it be enough to see his mission through -- if there is a mission?

Well, that's the question. Hellboy in Hell marked the return of Mignola to drawing Hellboy as well as writing it after several years of having Duncan Fegredo handle the art duties. It's a welcome return. Mignola has simplified his line, his shapes, and pretty much everything about his style. It's a marvelous, evocative evolution of cartooning that can attain startling effects both comic and horrific. 

Hellboy's purpose in Hell seems a bit vague, but some of that reflects Hellboy's own rejection of the 'destiny' the first couple of years of Hellboy set up. He's not going to usher in the final act of the Apocalypse, having rejected his demonic heritage. Why, then, does he not remember committing a major act of violence in this volume?

If you've never read Hellboy, this is not the place to start. If you have been following Hellboy, this is pretty much essential as we approach the end of a remarkable horror/fantasy epic. Highly recommended.

BPRD: Hell on Earth Volume 4: The Devil's Engine & The Long Death (2012/ Collected 2012): written by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi; illustrated by Tyler Crook, James Harren, and Dave Stewart: The eruption of Hell onto Earth-Hellboy continues in this collection of two miniseries dealing with Hellboy's former unit, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence. Things are grim. Monsters are everywhere. This volume contains two 'snapshots' of the ongoing conflict/apocalypse, nicely scripted by John Arcudi and possessed of a number of fine visualizations of those monsters by Tyler Crook and James Harren. 

An unusual, freaky, and disturbingly visualized Wendigo seems to owe at least some of its visual debt to Jack Kirby's white monkey of fear from his 1970's series The Demon by way of Steve Bissette and John Totleben's visual reimagining of the character early in Alan Moore's 1980's run on Swamp Thing. It's all enjoyable, though a bit light on the textual side of things. Recommended.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Horrors at Home and Abroad

Hitchcock/ Truffaut (2015): written by Kent Jones and Serge Toubiana; directed by Kent Jones; narrated by Bob Balaban: It's too short and it doesn't name the directors who discuss Hitchcock throughout the documentary until the end credits. But it's still great to revisit the monumental Hitchcock/Truffaut book, initially compiled and published in 1966 from a series of interviews Francois Truffaut conducted via translator with Alfred Hitchcock in 1962. Young (Wes Anderson) and old (Martin Scorsese) alike hold both the book and Hitch himself in monumental regard. 

The movie introduces the viewer to several key moments in the text, with special attention paid to Notorious, The Birds, Psycho, and Vertigo. It might help to read the book either immediately before or after seeing the documentary. It's impossible to imagine any contemporary, commercial film-maker being as visually and thematically complex as Hitchcock turned out to be over his 50-year film-making career. He's the Great White Whale of movies, the immensely popular and complex artist. Highly recommended.

Black Sabbath (I tre volti della paura) (1963): adapted from works by Ivan Chekhov, F.G. Snyder, and Aleksei Tolstoy by Mario Bava, Alberto Bevilacqua, and Marcello Fondato; starring Boris Karloff (Gorca/Narrator) and others: Something of a stinker of an Italian anthology horror film from the early 1960's, redubbed for English-speaking audiences. Boris Karloff is fine as both frame narrator and Vourdalak in the third segment. 

The first segment actually goes pretty well until the film-makers unwisely over-use their initially effective Dead Witch Dummy (TM). The second sequence sucks. The third sequence, in which a vampire-like Vourdalak terrorizes a travelling nobleman and a family of peasants, is utterly ridiculous in its plot. It's like a training film on what not to do when menaced by the Undead. Or a cautionary tale about the plague of narcolepsy that ravaged Eastern Europe in the early 19th century. Not recommended.

Don't Breathe (2016): written by Fede Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues; directed by Fede Alvarez; starring Stephen Lang (The Blind Man), Jane Levy (Rocky), Dylan Minnette (Alex), and Daniel Zovatto (Money): Admirably tense, terse thriller set in the post-apocalyptic wasteland of present-day Detroit. The creative minds behind the solid remake of Evil Dead go with a bit less gore and grue here, though more than one scene is Not For The Squeamish

The young actors are good as three sympathetic burglars who pick the wrong house, while Stephen Lang (Avatar's nutty Colonel) is extraordinarily menacing as the blind, buff homeowner whose house our unfortunate trio break into in search of a hidden cache of Get Out of Detroit cash. The movie may invert the central premise of classic 1960's thriller Wait Until Dark, but it's also a horrifying reimagining of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. Brutal but never exploitative. Highly recommended.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Thing That Wouldn't Leave

Crimson (2002) by Gord Rollo: Things start off promisingly in Canadian horror writer Gord Rollo's Crimson. Four boys in a small town (Dunnville, Ontario, to be exact) stumble across an ancient evil. Things get bad, fast. The novel jumps from 1977 to 1986 to the mid-2000's. The increasingly 'and-the-kitchen-sink' approach to the supernatural involves a certain number of homages to such superior 'children vs. ancient evil' novels as Stephen King's It (giant spider! kid wants to be a writer!), Dan Simmons' Summer of Night (evil scarecrow! kid wants to be a writer!), and Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (the evil returns periodically!).

Rollo's time-jumps move the novel away from It and company and unfortunately into the realm of 'Why research anything when you can just fake it?'.  This is a novel set in small-town Canada in its first two sections, though there's nothing particularly Canadian about anything. Alas, section two involves a police investigation that starts off laughable and rapidly becomes completely ridiculous. 

Poor old Dunnville is left to fend for itself, except for the loan of eight officers from other towns, as a serial killer racks up a double-digit murder total in a couple of weeks. Really? It's 1986. Are there no TV stations, no newspapers that aren't local? Given the small size of Dunnville, one might think the province -- and the Ontario Provincial Police -- would be sent in to help. One would be wrong. Hoo boy. 

Then we jump to the mid-2000's, and an absurd prison sequence. Someone gets sent to a Toronto penitentiary for murders he didn't commit. And what a penitentiary! Not only is it worse than Shawshank Prison and the Turkish prison in Midnight Express put together, it's got an overall prisoner death rate that clocks in at about ten times the national average for that time period. Possibly 100X. Alas. Hey, there's an attempted prison break that involves a sewer pipe! There's an electric chair scene! Yes, Canada has brought back the death penalty because I'm not going to spoil how and why that happened! Rita Hayworth is on the Green Mile with It!

Section three also gives us a lengthy Basil Exposition sequence in which the terrible monster explains its entire life history and its cunning plan to its victim. Then, as the monster's supernatural powers consist of Whatever the Novel Needs Right Now, it hangs around to intermittently taunt our death-row prisoner for several years. 

It floats. 

Not down there, but up by the ceiling, invisible and inaudible and, given its decayed condition, presumably unsmellable to all but our hero. As its pointless electric chair plot moves to its climax, it's just hanging around laughing and laughing. It even steals our protagonist's last meal! Quel horreur! This is the greatest monster in human history!

The novel climaxes with a twist that doesn't make much sense even when it's explained a chapter after that twist. Prior to that, we also get a explanation of What Hell is Really Like that reads like something Todd Macfarlane rejected for his Spawn comic, and which destroys all remaining shreds of the suspension of disbelief the novel has left. 

Some of the loopier supernatural elements might work in a novel that paid much, much more attention to the verisimilitude of its police and prison sequences. Though the villain, a centuries-old being who talks like an annoying bully in an episode of Buffy, becomes less and less interesting the more he talks. 

And talks. 

And talks. 

There's even a point at which the monster notes that it was known as Baron Bloodshed. This would make a lot more sense if it weren't known as Baron Bloodshed in Eastern Europe in the 14th century. If nothing else, the protagonist misses a chance for a real zinger by not asking if Baron Bloodshed is alliterative in whatever non-English tongue the monster was speaking at the time. 

Not all the problems are the writer's. A good editor should have suggested changes, especially to the second and third parts. And presumably suggested that a monster that never stops talking isn't a monster, it's just a bad room-mate. Not recommended.