Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Top 13 Horror Movies of 2014 (Jack's Picks)

2014 was an interesting year for horror movies. A lot of the mainstream offerings, like Dracula Untold, Annabelle and Deliver Us From Evil simply did not grab me with their trailers and I skipped them. I have to admit, I also missed a few movies that I have heard good things about, like HoneymoonDead Snow 2, Exists and As Above, So Below. They are on my "to-do" list. However, I did see enough good horror movies to make this list… even if not all of them may be considered “horror” to a purist. I don’t care. This is my list and these movies are really good and worth watching.

Read this then c
heck out my Monster Men partner Hunter Shea's list over at his blog.

1. The Babadook

The boogieman is here and your mother may not be able to protect you. This movie is getting rave reviews and it deserves them. This well written, well-acted film draws its scares from both the terrifying title character and the real life fears of a single mother and her troubled child. It is a very intelligent and artistic horror movie. To be honest, The Babadook is not for everyone. If you are into CG heavy movies, jump scares and torture/gore fests, this might not be for you. It deals with depression, despair and isolation… as well as the monster hiding in your closet.  Not just a scary movie, The Babadook is a horror film.

2. Nightcrawler
This movie may not show up as a horror movie on a lot of lists, but it is showing up on a lot of Oscar prediction lists and it deals with some pretty frightening subject matter. A socially awkward loser finds his groove as a crime scene videographer with a knack for getting to the scene first and getting the money shot… no matter what it takes. It’s brutal, edgy and disturbing. Jake Gyllenhaal’s transformative performance as Louis Bloom is on par with Heath Ledger’s Joker. It could win him an Academy Award. He’s clever, dangerous, manipulative and creepy as hell. Not technically a horror movie, but I’d guess that horror fans will really like this film.

3. Nurse 3D

Okay, my top two movies are pretty intense and serious films. Now it’s time for some fun. Nurse 3D is a blood soaked blast. Paz de la Huerta and Katrina Bowden turn up the sex appeal to 11 in this romp about a demented (and horny) nurse that doles out punishment to cheating men, or anyone else that gets in her way. This movie is a blast.

4. Shock Value
I had heard a lot good things about this movie and I am glad I decided to check it out. The premise is that a horror movie director decides to blackmail a real serial in order to get him to play a serial killer in his low budget slasher film. This is a horror / dark comedy that derives a lot of its laughs from the conversations and reactions of the people in the film, rather than from gags. It’s a great movie that kicks into high gear in the third act. Stellar performances and great writing really take this movie to the next level. Don’t miss this one. 

5. Housebound
What happens when a troubled teen is placed under house arrest in her mother’s country home, when that house just may be haunted? Shawn of the Dead meets The Conjuring comes to mind. Housebound is an excellent horror comedy movie from New Zealand that is also an impressive murder mystery. It’s an extremely clever film that has moments of genuine suspense and horror along with plenty of laughs. This movie keeps you guessing, laughing and at the edge of your seat the whole time. 

6. Life After Beth
Life After Beth, the zombie movie with Aubrey Plaza from Parks and Recreation, is a very polarizing film. I’ve seen this movie on many best and worst horror film lists. As you can tell, I enjoyed it. More of a fresh, new twist on the zombie genre than a traditional horror movie, this film boasts an all-star cast and a twisted sense of humor. It’s not a flat out comedy, but it’s a very funny movie, even though many of the characters are playing it totally straight.  I happen to like Aubrey Plaza and I think she knocks it out of the park. I also think you’ll be astonished by the parade of familiar faces that grace this movie including Dane DeHaan, Molly Shannon, Matthew Gray Gubler, John C. Reilly and many more. A much better Zom-Rom-Com than Warm Bodies, in my opinion. 

7. Afflicted
Just like I enjoyed Life After Beth because it was a fresh take on zombies and I can say the same for Afflicted for vampires, as well as the found footage genre. Afflicted follows two friends on a trip across Europe and the aftermath of a strange encounter with a lovely, and toothy, young lady. The movie was actually able to do something original with a vampire story and also make a found footage movie that did not induce groans from its ridiculousness. It actually had a good third act and ending... that’s pretty rare for a found footage movie.

8. Snowpiercer
Again, not a classic horror movie, but a tremendous genre piece with plenty of horror elements. Chris Evans was in two of my favorite movies this year, as was Tilda Swinton. This one takes place in a world covered by deadly cold and snow thanks to a failed man-made global warming solution. The survivors live in a special train that circles the globe, with the wealthy and privileged in the front and the poor crowded in the rear. Don’t miss Snowpiercer, it’s a sci-fi movie with traces of horror throughout it. A terrific action movie with amazing writing and a great story.

9. Tusk
Kevin Smith’s walrus themed horror movie left me speechless. Imagine Clerks meets The Human Centipede. Now add a walrus, Canada and a podcaster. I am still not sure what I think of Tusk except that I think you need to see it. It is ridiculous, funny, disturbing and certainly original. And memorable. I’m not sure if it’s a “good” movie or not, but it’s a must see, just so you can talk about it. It seems destined to be a cult classic.

10. Only Lovers Left Alive
This is another movie that is more of a new spin on vampires than a bona fide horror movie. Still, makes my list because of its stellar cast and originality. Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton play two vampires/lovers who must deal with the burden and boredom of immortality along with an out of control sister who complicates and threatens everything. Have patience. The movie is more of a slow burn, but it is an interesting and entertaining look at the long life of a vampire in an ever-changing world. 

11. The Sacrament
It was a good year for found footage movies. The Sacrament was basically The Blair Witch Project in Jonestown. We are taken to a remote village by a documentary film crew where a community lives under the guidance of the Father, a leader clearly inspired by cults like Jim Jones and Heaven’s Gate. Naturally, the film crew’s visit happens to occur at a very inopportune time and we get to watch as all hell breaks loose. Ti West continues to produce quality horror films and is really making a name for himself in the genre. 

12. The Taking of Deborah Logan
Here’s another found footage movie that does something new and does it pretty well. This time the focus is on an Alzheimer’s Patient who is possessed. This a pretty cool approach to a possession movie and Jill Larson, who plays the title character, turns in a very courageous performance. It’s a fun movie and a perfect Netflix pick. 

13. All Cheerleaders Die
This is just a fun and silly horror movie that feels like it could have been made in the 80’s. Don’t think too much, just crack open a beer and enjoy the show. 

Honorable Mentions:
A few non-horror movies to check out.
First of all Guardians of the Galaxy was my favorite movie of the year. Action packed, spectacular and hilarious. The most fun I had at the movies all year and the best soundtrack by far. I AM GROOT!

Captain America: The Winter Solider
. Man, Marvel was on a roll this year. This movie rocked and it flipped the Marvel universe on its head. The inclusion of Black Widow and the introduction of the Falcon only helped elevate this movie. Hail Hydra!

The trailer is very deceiving, but this movie is an example of great film making and is filled with top notch performances and incredible cinematography. Michael Keaton is amazing. 

X-Men: Days of Future Past. A movie that attempts to fix the mistakes of the prior X-Men films. Ignore the continuity problems and enjoy one of the best X-Men films of them all. The Quicksilver scene alone is worth the price of admission.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Monster Men Halloween Special

Have you experienced the Third Annual Monster Men Halloween Special yet? Everything you need to get ready for the most haunted of seasons. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Your Halloween Beer Guide

As a public service, we have tasted a variety of pumpkin ales for you. It’s hard work, but someone had to do it. 

Monster Men Ep. 69: Pumpkin Ale Picks 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Vampires Done Right

VAMPIRES! That's how the Monster men like to kick-off Halloween season. We are talking about some of our favorite vampire films and books with special guest Jonathan Janz, author of the western vampire novel, Dust Devils.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Monster Men Meet the Monster Writers: Keith Rommel & Jonathan Janz

Keith Rommel
Cursed Men, Fallen Angels and the ever present shadow of death. On this new Monster Men we welcome back our buddy Keith Rommel, author and screenwriter. The movie of his book The Cursed Man is coming soon, and you won't want to miss his other novels; The Lurking Man, The Sinful Man and Among the People. Keep up with Keith Rommel at his website or Facebook page. 

Jonathan Janz
Follow the Exorcist Road! We are very excited to present this new Monster Men with our guest, the amazing horror author Jonathan Janz. Check out his must-read books: House of Skin, The Sorrows, Savage Species, Dust Devils and his latest, Exorcist Road. And check out the Jonathan Janz blog for more. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monster Men Ep. 65: To Rent or Not To Rent?

New Monster Men! 

Here's a few horror movie reviews for you on VOD and Netflix including Fright Night 2, The Returned and Twixt. Plus, a great zombie book: The Way of All Flesh

Please enjoy and don't be afraid to share the link with your Monster friends.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don't Like Facebook? Just Go.

Recently I have seen a lot of people announce that they are leaving Facebook. (On LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook, ironically.) They are sick of it, they spend too much time on it or maybe they just hate it. 

No problem. To each his own. If you feel Facebook is infringing on your time, you find yourself obsessed with it or you just don’t enjoy it… by all means, let it go. It’s not for everyone. 

I'm just sick of people making a big to-do about it. Instead of just leaving, they have to post something that usually comes off as condescending or smug. They complain about the Ice Bucket Challenge, selfies and how people don't have a real life because they spend so much time in the online one.

Selfie and Proud of It
Personally, I like Facebook. I have fun interacting with my friends and it has brought me closer to some people that would have remained casual acquaintances otherwise. I've also met a ton of new people through it.

I’m not there for serious debates or hard news. There are plenty of other places for that.

Sure, it’s not perfect. There are tons of narcissists, annoying posts and occasional fights… and maybe I do look at it a little more often that I should on certain days. But it’s not hindering me. I still have a real world social life. Actually, Facebook enhances my social life. Now when I run into people I may not have seen in a while, we have some common ground to talk about.

I recently took a trip to London and my friends loved the pictures I posted. And yes, they were selfies. I'm not ashamed of that. I had fun taking them and my friends had fun commenting on them.

It’s also a great way to connect with others for a shared experience… like during the Boston Marathon events or more recently with the death of Robin Williams. And I love the Ice Bucket Challenge. A ton of fun and raising a pile of cash for a great cause. It will be THE social media case study that people refer to for years.

And one more thing… there is nothing better than all the birthday wishes you get on Facebook. 

So if you don't want to do Facebook anymore, no problem. Just go. We'll miss you, but we don't need your drama or your lectures.

As for me, I’m staying. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Monster Men Live!

It's the MONSTER MEN show recorded live from the MONTAUK MONSTER book launch and signing event in Barnes & Noble, Yonkers, NY. We love doing the show in front of an audience and this event was a blast.

Thanks to everyone who came out to the show and especially to all of you who have bought a copy of the book. Let us know what you thought.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Recommended Summer Reading: The Montauk Monster

If JAWS made you think twice about going in the water, The Montauk Monster will make you skip the entire trip to the beach.

This is one of Hunter Shea's best novels, if not his best to date. This book is not just a fantastic summer read, it's a ton of fun and non-stop action thriller from cover to cover.

You ever see pictures of those strange animal carcasses that occasionally wash up on the beach, and no one can identify what they are? They seem to be hideous conglomerations of several animals. Well, Shea takes this real life phenomena and spins a hell of a tale with it. One that involves ravenous creatures, deadly pathogens, conspiracies and tons of bullets and blood.

One of Shea's trademarks is the crazy, "all hell's breaking loose" kind of finales to his stories. This book is no exception... AND HOW! The story takes very little time to get cooking and never let's up once it gets going.

I really enjoyed this one. Go get it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

24 Live Another Day: Ep 12. – 10 pm to 11 am

Samurai Jack

Let's call it a day.
Tonight may have been the last episode of the season for 24, but it was also a first for the show. For the first time ever, there was a time jump, skipping from 10:46 at night to 10:50 in the morning. I gotta be honest with you, I think the 12 episode format worked pretty well. Having fewer episodes meant there was much less filler and a much tighter storyline than the last couple of seasons. Let’s get to it.

Tonight we pick up right where we left off, with Audrey on the park bench, in the sights of Cheng’s sniper. Everyone else is dead, except her Chinese friend Cheryl, who is hurt badly. But when Audrey goes to help her, Cheryl gets the “double tap” from the sniper to be sure she’s dead. Obviously the shooter has seen Zombieland. (See below.)

Jack finds a hidden cell phone at the residence of the dead Russian and uses his fingerprint to unlock the phone. This tells him two things; where Chang is going and also that Audrey is in trouble. (Jack should have taken this opportunity to post some humorous things on the Russian’s Facebook page while he was logged in under his profile, like “I’m a big poopie-head and Jack Bauer is the coolest.”)

Jack decides it’s best if he goes after Cheng and Sexy Agent Morgan go save Audrey. At one point Mark Boudreau chastises Jack for not going after Audrey himself, especially since it’s obvious he loves her. To this Jack simply says “Shut up.” If this show was on HBO, I think there would have been an F Bomb dropped right there.

So Sexy Agent Morgan heads for Audrey, while Jack heads for Cheng at the docks and the Chinese warships head for the US bases in Japan. President Heller warns the Chinese President that if his ships cross the 12-mile line, he’ll be forced to fight. The Chinese Prez does not care. Unless Heller can produce proof of Cheng’s existence, along with the device, the Chinese will retaliate for their sunken carrier. This goes on for the rest of the episode.

On his way to the docks, Jack gets a call from Chloe, who has emerged from the woods and is picked up by a nice couple passing by. Jack does not trust Chloe since she was working with Cross, but Chloe assures him that Cross had deceived her and that she did everything she could to get the device from Cross. She also points out that she’s just about Jack’s only friend. That’s good enough for Jack and he picks her up. (Jack thinks Chloe looks pretty banged up, but he’s not sure if she has a black eye or if that’s just part of her whole goth thing.)

We add Belcheck to the team and we’ve got the whole band back together and they are ready to rock Cheng’s world. 

Meanwhile, Sexy Agent Morgan and her team sneak up to Audrey’s location and establish communication with her. They ask her to make a sudden move, betting that the sniper really doesn’t want to kill her. This seems like an enormous risk, and one that could have been avoided with the simple use of night vision scopes. But it works. The sniper makes a warning shot and gives away his position. Now the team just has to get him before he spots them.

Back at the docks, Chloe sees a DirecTV dish and with it is able to hack into everything in the area. She helps Jack and Belcheck navigate onto Cheng’s boat and tells them where to go and where to shoot. It’s like she’s playing the 24 video game on Nintendo. And with her help, Jack and Belcheck take out a ton of bad guys. But just when Chloe thinks she may get high score on the 24 game, Cheng’s men detect her hack. They are on to them! Chloe calls Sexy Agent Morgan and tells her to get Audrey out now, before Cheng can call the sniper and give the kill order.

The Fates of the Spinal Tap Drummers
Agent Morgan instructs Audrey to get the hell out of the way and they take out the sniper just as he’s about the take the shot. Then Kate lets Jack know they are all clear to move on Cheng. But shortly after that, more of Cheng’s men pull up and open fire on them. Sexy Agent Morgan returns fire and scares them off, but Audrey has been hit. She goes down and Sexy Agent Morgan tries to stabilize her, but it's no use. Another woman that Jack Bauer loves is gone. Being Jack Bauer’s love interest is the only job more deadly than being a drummer for Spinal Tap.

Farewell, Pretty Lady.
So we get one of the key ingredients for a 24 finale; the death of a major character. We go to commercial with the silent clock, as is the 24 tradition when there is a major death on the show. But when we come back, and Jack gets the news from Sexy Agent Morgan, we get something else that we love in a 24 finale- Angry Jack Bauer… and OH MAN, is he pissed. After almost breaking down into tears, Jack sucks in his anger and hate and goes berserk. It’s awesome. He screams, he shoots, he throws knives and he kicks everyone’s ass between him and Cheng.

Nice moves, Bauer.
Then he and Cheng battle it out and Cheng almost extinguishes Jack’s rage with a fire extinguisher, but not quite. After a short fight, Jack beats Cheng into submission and then Skypes the President so they can confirm Cheng’s identity with facial and vocal recognition software. Once that’s done, Jack chops off Cheng’s head with a freaking Samurai sword. Somewhere, Michonne from The Walking Dead is smiling.

So the crisis is averted, but Heller is so upset when he learns of Audrey’s fate that he collapses. Meanwhile, Jack goes to find Chloe, but she is not at her post. All he finds is some blood. Then he gets a mysterious call and agrees to a meeting. (Looks like Jack has to play "Find Goth Chloe" for real!)

That’s when the time jump happens.

Hey Cheng!
The next morning, Sexy Agent Morgan hands in her final report to Ritter and leaves her gun and badge on the table as she leaves the CIA. Probably for a modeling career that will pay her a ton more money and is a hell of a lot less dangerous.

Heller escorts Audrey’s casket onto Air Force One and tells the Prime Minister a story about how he is starting to lose his mind and soon enough he won’t even remember this pain or that he even had a daughter. It’s just about the most depressing thing I’ve ever heard.

Mark Boudreau is on his way back to the USA as well, but in handcuffs. Not a great day for this guy, huh?

Finally, we see Jack pull up to a remote location outside of London, where a helicopter has just landed. Snipers cover his every move. It’s the Russians. They’ve got Chloe and Jack is going to trade his freedom for hers. As they pass each other, Jack thanks her and confirms that she is in fact, his best friend. He boards the chopper, heading for certain torture and doom, but he’s smiling, because Chloe is safe.

Besides, what’s a little imprisonment and torture to Jack Bauer? 
It’s just another day.

Let’s close with a final round of FIND GOTH CHLOE. You know how it works. See if you can find our favorite black-eyed goth gal among these other photos. Good luck. 
Can you find Goth Chloe?

So that's it. Thanks for joining me each week. I hope you got a kick out of these recaps. Let me know your thoughts and feedback below and watch this blog for other stuff I write and do, like my Monster Men video podcast. And you can follow me on Twitter at @BackinJack.

And I’ll see you for the next season of 24… if there is one. 

The Double Tap

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

24 Live Another Day: Ep 11. – 9 pm to 10 pm

From Russia with Love

“It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

You know that saying? I wonder what Jack Bauer thinks of it. After all, he loses just about everything he loves. So I wonder, does he sometimes wish he had never loved and spared himself the pain? Or at the least, does he regret coming out of hiding this morning?

This week’s episode of 24 certainly does not paint an optimistic picture for Jack’s future happiness. Audrey, the woman he loves, is married to another man; the man who betrayed him to the Russians. Also, Cheng, the man who tortured both he and Audrey, and was long thought dead, is back and is about to start World War Three. But first, he may just kill Audrey.

This week started off with the Chinese carrier in flames, while Sexy Agent Morgan and Jack continue to shoot it out with the Russians. Heller ends up Skyping with the Chinese President, trying to explain that the attack on the ship was due to an attack by a dead man with a magical device that can penetrate any defense system. The Chinese President isn’t buying it. That seems absurd. I guess he’s never watched 24 before, because this kind of stuff happens all the time. Remember the year that Edgar died? (God rest his soul. Let’s drink a social for Edgar.) That year there was a device that could control every nuclear reactor. (Pronounced New-Clee-Yur if you work for the US military on this show.)

So the Heller has to provide proof of Cheng’s existence in order to prevent the Chinese from striking the US base in Okinawa. But he’d better hurry. The Chinese jets are in the air and get closer and closer with every commercial break.

What's hotter? Flaming propane tanks or me?
Back at the shootout, Sexy Agent Morgan and Jack are running low on ammo, but luckily the Russians take a position near a bunch of propane tanks. Sexy Agent Morgan shows that she’s not just a pretty face when she instructs Jack to shoot the tanks. BOOM! The tanks blow up, the Russians are on fire and CIA back-up units show up to subdue the rest of the bad guys. They reload and follow Jack’s tracker to the location where the magic override device, and Chloe, should be.

But Cheng leaves the scene with Chloe and the device in tow. Chloe tries to pull a fast one and sneak a cell phone into her goth glove, but Cheng always seems to know her moves. But in the truck, on their way to the docks, Chloe pulls a move that Cheng does not see coming. She grabs a pipe and goes medieval on Cheng’s ass… along with his goons. Then she leaps out of the speeding truck and tumbles through the woods like Wesley and Buttercup in Princess Bride. Even though it does not seem to be a slope.

Roll with it, baby.
Cheng’s men search for her, but they take-off after a brush with a British military patrol. Chloe lies unconscious in the woods. At this point I am hoping she is rescued by a group of seven dwarves.

We also learn that Cheng is in cahoots with Stolnavich, the sinister Russian that Mark Boudreau has been dealing with. But thanks to Ritter and the CIA computer nerd, Jack also figures out that Boudreau was the one that lead the Russians to him. Jack gets back to the residence and pulls a gun on Boudreau, while he explains to Heller what happened. Boudreau confesses and says he did it for Heller and the good of the United States. Heller’s not buying it and wants him arrested for treason, but Jack has a better idea. They can use him to track down Stolnavich and hopefully that leads them to Cheng. You see, Boudreau knows where the Russian lives.

So they outfit Boudreau with an ear piece and a webcam lapel pin and send him to the front gate to attempt to gain entry and to give the CIA hacker a look at the security system. I guess they never saw Zero Dark Thirty, because I think they could have just as easily sent a Seal team in there… but where’s the fun in that? Besides, Jack Bauer is a human Seal team.

Boudreau offers to sell secrets to the Russians if they give him asylum, so Stolnavich lets him in. This also enables the CIA to hack the security system and they can scope out the guard situation. Then Jack and Sexy Agent Morgan storm the residence while Boudreau and Stolnavich wrestle through some glass doors. Naturally, the Russian gets a shard of glass in his neck and dies without disclosing the whereabouts of Cheng.  DAMMIT!

Meanwhile, Audrey meets up with an old friend from the Chinese embassy and asks her to get some evidence of Cheng and the device to the Chinese President before the missiles start to fly. Her friend agrees, but of course, they decided to meet outside instead of in a Starbucks or a pub… so a sniper picks off the Chinese woman. Then all of Audrey’s secret service detail are taken out. It’s Cheng… who else? Now he’s got Audrey in his sites.

- Will Wesley, I mean Jack, come for his true love?
- Is Chloe "All Dead" or “Mostly dead"? And is she far from Miracle Max’s house?
- Will Heller make it through his last day in office?
- Will Indigo Montoya find the six-fingered man?
- Will Jack find Cheng?

Tune in next week. It’s the season finale!

Let’s close with another round of FIND GOTH CHLOE. You know how it works. See if you can find our favorite goth hacker among these other photos. Good luck. 

Can you find Goth Chloe?

As usual, your feedback and comments are welcome. And you can find me on Twitter at @BackinJack.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vampires, Zombies and the Jokers Wild! Horror Movie and Comic Book Picks

A new Monster Men is up. This time we review three movies you can watch either on Netflix or VOD. AFFLICTED, for the vampire fans, CONTRACTED for the zombie crowd and NURSE 3D for the... um, sexy, homicidal nurse enthusiasts out there.

Then we review a Batman comic book that will please both horror fans and super hero fans. DEATH OF THE FAMILY features a Joker like you have never seen before. Scarier and more threatening than you've ever seen before.

Enjoy the show and don't forget to let us know what you think. Join the conversation on the Monster Men Facebook page.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

24 Live Another Day: Ep 10. – 8 pm to 9 pm

Damn the Torpedoes

They didn't "train" me for this.
They may have trimmed down 24 to 12 episodes this year, but I think they packed about four shows worth into tonight’s installment. Holy cow, a lot happened. Let’s get started.

We start with Jack informing Sexy Agent Morgan about Navarro’s treachery. Meanwhile, Navarro is on the Dr. Claw phone, arranging a rendezvous with Adrian Cross at Liverpool Street station so he can trade the Override Device for assistance with his escape from London. Chloe quickly finds out that Cross is planning to get the device back so he can hatch a zany plot to hack into several countries military defenses and somehow make war obsolete. (Huh?)

Jack picks up Navarro’s trail and they exchange gunfire in the streets. Navarro, that heartless bastard, shoots some kegs of beer that Jack hides behind and before you know it, the streets are running gold with spilled lager. In a day filled with drone strikes and shootouts, this may be the worst casualty of them all. What a waste.

Cross gets Navarro to drop the device through a chute and takes possession of it. But then Cross double-crosses Navarro, and crosses the station towards the trains, while Jack closes in on Navarro. The double-cross makes Navarro very cross, but then when he tries to cross the street to escape, he is almost struck by a car and then is captured. He should have used the crosswalk. Thus Navarro learns that he should never cross wits with Jack Bauer. I guess that’s his cross to bear.

Did I get my point across in that last paragraph?

Don't hurt him, Jack.
So they take Navarro back to the CIA where they can get his shirt off and prepare him for integration… or possibly a Chippendale’s show.  Sexy Agent Morgan realizes that Navarro had actually framed her husband, who was sent to prison for life for selling secrets to the Chinese. He later took his own life, so you can imagine Kate’s a little pissed off at him. Ritter, who’s now in charge, has to have her separated from Navarro so she won't hurt him. But he will let Jack get near him in order to interrogate him. It’s funny, the Special Activities division clearly uses torture and other extreme measures to get information out of people, but instead of sending him down there they let Jack have at him, as long as he promises not to hurt Navarro. That’s like asking your dog not to eat a hamburger that you left on the floor while you run out to do some errands. 

Jack is not in there for five minutes before he has resorted to bashing Navarro’s hand to get him to talk. He obviously learned his interrogation technique from Batman in The Dark Knight, who tried a similar thing with the Joker. (See below.) But Navarro insists that he’ll only help them find Cross if he gets full immunity.

Stick 'em up, Navarro.
Heller and Boudreau start to have the paperwork drawn up, but the Sexy Agent Morgan storms into Navarro’s holding cell, overpowers the guards and threatens to shoot him in the head. Jack rushes in and tries to talk her down but she wants blood. In a panic, Navarro reveals the code to a tracking device he happened to attach to the device… but the jokes on him, because Jack and Kate planned this little stunt and tricked him into talking. So no immunity for Navarro and now they can track Cross.

Meanwhile, Chloe tries to steal the device from Cross but he catches her and they head for the Geek Squad headquarters, where the nerds are preparing some computer stuff for the device.

Back at the residence, Boudreau speaks to the shady Russian guy and gives him a way to locate Jack via his comm link. This way they can capture Jack and no one will ever know about his forgery. Boudreau is very down on Jack right now anyway and even calls out Audrey for her unresolved feelings for him. But can you blame her? A woman resisting Jack Bauer’s charm is like a dog resisting the urge to eat a hamburger that you left unguarded on the floor.  

So Cross and Chloe arrive at the Geek Squad hideout, but all the geeks are dead. It’s like Regula One, the space station in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, where Kirk and McCoy find most of the crew slaughtered by Khan, who is relentlessly pursuing the Genesis Device. But in this case, instead of finding Khan, Cross and Chloe are captured by CHANG.

Who the hell is Chang, you ask? His full name is PF Chang. He’s a Chinese operative. Years ago he captured and tortured Jack and then Audrey. He later went on to open a successful chain of Chinese restaurants with tasty food at a decent price and a fun atmosphere. But now he is relentlessly pursuing the Override Device.

He takes the device from Cross and tells them that he needs them to unlock it for him. Chloe refuses until Chang shoots Cross in the leg. Chloe agrees to decode it but attempts infect the device with a virus by clicking a link in a questionable email that she received about male enhancement. But Chang has read her playbook and has one of his guys watching her on a mirrored computer. So once she has unlocked the device, he pulls her off the laptop.

Cross, who knows his time is up, confesses to Chloe that Morris and Prescott where actually killed in an accident and that he lied to her in order to get her to help him. So she has been goth all this time under false pretenses. But she does not have much time to be mad at him because Chang shoots him in the head. So cross him off the list.

Meanwhile, Jack and Sexy Agent Morgan drive towards Chloe’s location while they trade stories of lost love, pain, death, revenge and perseverance. But their chat is interrupted when a truck full of angry Russians rams into them. Yet another shoot out breaks out and the Russians don’t stand a chance against Jack and Jill.

Back at the Geek Squad, Chang uses the device to hack into the USS Massachusetts, a nuclear submarine that loves the Sox and the Pats and is a lousy driver. (Note: In Mass they call it a sub, but in other parts of the country they call it a hero or a hoagie.)

Having seen Crimson Tide, Chang knows how to fake a launch code and he tricks the sub into shooting some torpedoes at a nearby Chinese carrier.

G-4! Hit! You sank my battleship! (Or carrier, in this case.) BOOM!

Has Chang just started World War Three?
What will go first? Heller’s mind or the western hemisphere?
Will Jack end up in the Jack Sack with Audrey before the day is done?
Will the dog eat the hamburger?

Tune in next week to find out.

 We close with yet another round of FIND GOTH CHLOE. Can you find our favorite blacked-eyed  computer hacker? 

Find Goth Chloe

Thoughts, comments, feedback? Leave a comment below. Or hit me up on Twitter at @backinjack. 

NEXT DAY NOTE: I just checked and Chang is actually spelled Cheng. Oh well. I write this thing in the middle of the night after the show. Who's got time for fact checking?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Great Summer Reading with a Dark Twist

Issue two of Dark Dossier magazine is out and this time it's got twice as many Monster Men.

Pick up this issue for an article from Hunter Shea about the Montauk Monster and my piece on why "Hannibal" is a show you should be devouring. Plus a ton of great, spooky content from an assortment of fine writers.

Please support this new publication. It's available in hard copy or electronic version. 

Details at:

Monday, June 23, 2014

24 Live Another Day: Ep 9. – 7 pm to 8 pm

Come to My Window

This week 24 begins at Wembley Stadium, where smoke is pouring out of the roof. Either someone has shot a missile at the field or KISS just finished their encore. It turns out the only ones rock and rolling all night are Margot Al-Harazi and her son Ian, who plan to party everyday because they think they have killed President Heller. OR DID THEY?

Ian spots a glitch in the recording and realizes they have been watching a video on loop.
 CHLOE!! That manic, goth vixen has done it again.

Poor Ian. I believe according to English law, since he missed Heller, he’s gotta kiss Heller.

So Heller is still alive… and Ian’s already dumped five out of six of their drones into the ocean. OOPS. Margot was a woman of her word it seems. Perhaps they were a little quick on the drone ditching, since they destroyed them about 30 seconds after the missile hit. Lucky for them they have one left, so they turn the last drone around and send it towards Waterloo Station. (Waterloo again? Margot must really hate ABBA.)

As the drone heads for London, Belcheck takes the President into hiding at Jack’s behest. Just don’t call him Belichick. He’s not the damn head coach of the Patriots. He does not even own a hoodie. It’s Belcheck. One word, like Madonna. Or Cher, or Machete, or Sting, or Bono, or Pele, or Prince, or Liberace or Charo. He’s also not an American, so he won’t take orders from the President. But he will take orders from Jack Bauer. (Little known fact, he’ll also take orders from Charo.)

Jack lets Audrey and the gang back at the residence know that Heller is alive, but there’s little time to celebrate as they’ve got to find Margot’s hideout. Chloe can get a general location, but she needs help from her buddy Adrian Cross in order to pinpoint the building. Jack heads to the location by chopper while Sexy Agent Morgan and Ritter drive over. Once there, they are met by Margot’s goons and a gun fight breaks out. Jack tells Sexy Agent Morgan to take out the fuse box because once the power is out, Chloe can tell them what floor Margot is on. So Sexy Agent Morgan, Yvonne Strahovski, “Chucks” a grenade and kills the power.

Hoochie Coochie!
Meanwhile, on the fifth floor, Ian decides it’s time to set the drones on autopilot and get the heck out of there. However, Mommy Dearest, who has not had anyone to abuse since Simone passed away, pulls a gun and tells him to get back here and finish the job. He agrees and Mommy gives him a peck on the cheek.

But the Al-Harazi love-fest is broken up when Ian spots the scariest thing he’s seen in a window since that little kid from Salem’s Lot. It’s Jack, who has landed on the roof and has repelled down the side of the building. It’s pretty cool, but it’s still not as cool as Machete’s window swing using a guy’s intestine. That still rules. (See below.)

Open the window, Ian.
Ian shoots out the window but when he takes a peek to see if he got Jack, Jack throws him out the window and he ends up taking the Bauer Express elevator to the ground floor. Then Jack climbs in, overpowers Margot and calls in to base. But the missile is about the hit Waterloo Station, so Chloe tells Jack to manually guide it with Ian’s controls. Ever the multi-tasker, Jack holds down Margot with one hand while working the joystick with the other. It’s the most impressive thing Margot’s seen since she saw Simone text and put on her make-up while driving earlier today… all without a pinky.

So the missile lands harmlessly in the water, only killing the Loch Ness Monster, who had it coming anyway. With her plans gone out the window, Margot tells Jack that thousands of people’s deaths will be on his hands because of this, but Jack insists that only her death will be on his hands and he chucks her out the window too. On 24 we call that Window Pain.

With the last drone destroyed and the President back with Audrey and the Prime Minister, it seems like all is well and it’s a happy ending. OR IS IT?

Sexy Agent Morgan gets a call and finds out that Jordan is dead. Navarro is pretty calm about the news until he finds out that the assassin’s body was also found. He can be traced back to Navarro thanks to some old government records and a ton of selfies they took together at a Madonna concert last year. They are all over Instagram.

So Navarro calls Cross on the Dr. Claw phone and Cross says he’ll help Navarro escape if he brings him the drone device. Navarro, who knows he only has limited time because Jack has called in a favor from a buddy at Langley to trace the assassin’s fingerprints so they can locate his Instagram account.

Jack has called this guy because Chloe has told him that she’s done, since the drone crisis is over. Now she’s in a car in front of a 7-11, playing tonsil hockey with Adrian Cross. But when she runs in for a Slush Puppy, Cross gets a call from Navarro. He’s choked a CIA agent and stuffed the device in a Navarro Sack and is one the run from Jack, who has found him out. Jack also has the Jack Sack on… which is so much cooler than the Navarro Sack and would beat the hell out of it in a sack race.

Navarro temporarily loses Jack and arranges to meet up with Cross, who has big plans for the device. They have reset the board as we head into the home stretch of the season.

Find Goth Chloe
We close with another round of FIND GOTH CHLOE. It’s a tough one this week. Good luck.

Thoughts, comments, feedback? Leave a comment below.

PS: Props to Brian Boyd who called the Heller thing immediately last week.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Story of the Montauk Monster

Hunter Shea, my good buddy and fellow Monster Man, has stopped by for a guest post about the awesome live event we held this past weekend to launch his new book, The Montauk Monster. You will love the story behind his thrilling new novel and it's a great primer for the next episode of Monster Men, when we will post the video from the show. Take it away Hunter...

In Search Of The Montauk Monster 
By Hunter Shea (Twitter @HunterShea1) 

Ah, the first day of summer. Here in New York it was 80 degrees and sunny with just a hint of clouds skimming across an azure sky.

What did the Monster Men do on this wonderful solstice? Were we at the beach, tanning our pasty flesh, choking on cold salt water as we dog paddled into the breakers? Did we take in a baseball game, stuffing our gullets with sausage and peppers, thrilling at the crack of the bat and the smell of a perfectly manicured outfield? Or maybe we went tandem-paragliding over rolling meadows.

Not a freakin’ chance.

Nope, we were in a bookstore kicking off The Montauk Monster book tour, talking about, you guessed it, monsters! I’m beginning to feel like the only author who comes to signings with more audio/video equipment than a roving news van. We brought it all this time: computers, large monitor, HD video camera and professional still photography. I don’t think I’ll ever be the guy who just comes with a pen and a bookmarked page in my book to read from. Monster love requires extra gear.

This time around, Jack and I went through how the book came to be, starting with the major influence Leonard Nimoy and In Search Of had on our impressionable little minds in the 70s. That led to a fascination with all things cryptid, ghostly and alien.

Being a beautiful summer day, I was concerned that we would be talking to each other in an empty bookstore. Thank you to my posse that came out as well as some new fans of monster madness. Even honorable Monster Man Tony Ventarola was there to give his support to a great cause – selling enough books and getting a movie deal so I can leave the 9-5 world behind and take my peeps with me to the Hunter Shea compound deep in the woods of an unnamed location. But I digress.

To prepare for the event, I threw a couple of dozen pics on a Powerpoint deck and didn’t reveal a thing to Jack. When you look up the definition of ‘winging it’ there’s a picture of Jack and I scribbling 2 lines on a piece of paper before filming an episode of the Monster Men. We’ve got mad skills, like Napoleon Dynamite with a bowstaff.

In the words of the great Borat, it was great success! Books were signed, pictures were taken, hugs and handshakes were doled out. And in the end, everyone there learned a lot about the scary truth behind my fictional book. Because let me tell you, the high strangeness that goes on in certain places of Long Island are far scarier than anything I can concoct.

Keep your eyes peeled when you’re on the beach this summer (hopefully reading The Montauk Monster while you tan). The waters are home to more than fish. Sometimes, things emerge from the salt water that just shouldn’t be. Pray you’re not around when they shake the sea off their fur, hungry for the day’s special – some unfortunate person on the beach!
Follow Hunter Shea at and later this week look for the live Monster Men show we recorded at Barnes and Noble at

Now go get a copy of The Montuak Monster!