“We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far.”


Review: Happy Death Day (2017)

The premise of Happy Death Day intrigued me – I’d heard it described as Groundhog Day meets Scream, and while that description is reasonably apt, it also does an injustice to the film, which happy-death-day-moviemanages to be better than the ‘high concept’ pitch makes it sound. This is partly due to the production and direction team – produced by Jason Blum (of horror juggernaut Blumhouse-  who really know how to put out and market professionally made low to medium budget horror movies), and directed by Christopher B. Landon, the director of several ‘Paranormal Activity’ movies (which I haven’t seen, as the first PA movie left me cold) and ‘Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocolypse’, which I greatly enjoyed.

But on with HDD. It begins with Theresa “Tree” Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) waking up in the dorm room of nerdy fellow student Carter Davis (Israel Broussard) after a heavy night of drinking and then undertaking the ‘walk of shame’ back to her sorority house. As the day goes on, we learn several things about Tree – she’s not a very nice person, she drinks, she fools around with a friend’s boyfriend, she’s having an affair with a married professor at her university, she’s rude, arrogant and selfish. It’s also her birthday, and she doesn’t really want anyone to know about it. That evening, on the way to a party, she is brutally murdered by a hoodie wearing figure in a sinister ‘baby-face’ mask.

maskShe then wakes in Carter’s dorm room again, and the day begins once more.

This movie has several strengths; it presents an interesting line-up of supporting characters who all might want Tree dead, which makes it almost like an Agatha Christie-esque murder-mystery. It layers on the scares as effectively as a PG-13 horror can, including a section featuring a wonderfully disturbing musical ornament, and another with a sinister birthday card. The masked figure is both creepy and, amusingly, slightly incompetent (which is where the Scream comparisons come in, I think – also the baby-face mask was created by the same person who made Scream’s Ghostface mask). The script is witty, the action well paced. Jessica Rothe is also a huge strength of the film, convincingly portraying a variety of emotions; fear, shock, understanding and wry amusement at her situation. I particularly enjoyed the way Tree tries to proactively solve her own murder before it happens, while at the same time realising the kind of person she is and resolving to change. In fact, the arc of Tree’s character evolving even as the world stays forever the same is one of the most satisfying aspects of the film. There is also a clever bit of plotting that brings in a bit more tension – meaning Tree doesn’t have unlimited attempts to deal with her recurring murder issue.

In terms of weaknesses – there are a few plot-holes (although some things that appear to be plot-holes are explained away by the end of the film), some of the twists are reasonably easy to figure out if you’re paying attention (although there a few clever swerves the script takes to continuously make you uncertain) and due to its PG-13 rating it’s a bit bloodless.

All in all, though, it’s a satisfying, entertaining romp that doesn’t outstay its welcome and showcases a young star that could, based on the success of this film, definitely break through into the mainstream.

(Up Next: I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House.)



Writing Again!

I’m writing again! I’m thrilled to announce that I’m currently working on the fourth Cogkneys story, which will probably be novella length. So, basically, the longest one so far. It will contain roughly the same level of innuendo, Carry On-esque humour and general filth as the other three. Consistency!


This time I will be be ripping off paying homagto H. G. Wells’s seminal First Men in the Moon. It will be entitled ‘Cogkneys in the Moon’ (creative, right?) and should be done – oooooo – early 2018?

This is marking my first excursion into science-fiction (or as Arthur calls it, fictionscience), as opposed to horror. Which is appropriate I suppose, as that will make it more steampunk? I am happy to provide a mock-up of the cover, as I’ve already designed it because my priorities are all wrong. Perhaps, however, this will force me to ensure I finish it! Ahahaha! Hmmmm.

Haven’t read any of my other Cogkneys stories? Lawks, but are you missing out! (It is my opinion you are, that was a rhetorical question.) Fear not, however, as you can purchase all three previous stories in a compact and handsome (like me) softcover book from Lulu! You can also buy it from Amazon (on Prime!) but I make less money that way so, like, don’t. (I jest, I don’t mind where you purchase it from.)



Wonder Woman

I had a date with a Wonder Woman today. I refer, of course, to my beautiful wife, but we also checked the boys in to Nana Day Care and had a husband and wife date to see the movie Wonder Woman.  It was ace because it featured actual hot drinks that were drunk while they were hot, snacks that no one nicked off us and sitting down for more than ten minutes before someone needed a drink/the toilet/a toy finding/misc.

But what of the film, you cry? Or not, I don’t know.

Well. I have been a fan of Wonder Woman since I was a child (my feelings for Lynda Carter became less and less pure* as I got older, I’m slightly ashamed to say) and so I have been looking forward to a Wonder Woman movie for a long time. I was heartened by the fact that Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was a bright spot in the overlong, over serious and terribly confusing (in so many ways) Batman Vs. Superman. A whole movie, however? Would I enjoy that?

Yes, is the answer. Yes, very much. 

Gal Gadot is perfectly cast as WW. Exotic, athletic and yet possessing of a mixture of wide-eyed naiveté and compassionate strength, goodness radiates out of her. The film in general is very well and interestingly cast. Chris Pine is playing the sort of character he can play in his sleep, but still he does it with wit and charm and provides comedy and heroism without stepping on Gal’s toes. Robin Wright is fantastic and gloriously tough and steals much of the beginning of the film. Wonder Woman’s sidekicks are a diverse and interesting bunch, and Lucy Davis as Etta Candy creates a lot of fun in her scenes. More Lucy Davis, please.

The story is rather generic but the performances and the settings help to make the film feel original. The villains are a touch underwritten and bland but the actors do their best to make them more interesting and for the most part succeed. The scenes set in the trenches and towns of Belgium are fantastic and the movie really shines here. The action sequence set in No Man’s Land (featured heavily in the trailers) is a fantastic highlight of the film. The attention to detail is very good (speaking as someone with a very strong interest in The Great War) and I spotted very few errors in the historical sections (apart a sound effect of a trouser zipper which made me grit my teeth slightly). Really, given WW’s PG13/12A rating the war scenes were about as hard-hitting as they could be given the restrictions of the rating.

The opening of the film is perhaps a touch too long but does serve to introduce the characters well, everything at the end resolves in a satisfying way and there were moments where I felt quite emotional, which is always a good sign. (Although I cried at the end of Dragonheart, so perhaps my emotional state is a bit to delicate to really use as a guide!)

So yes. I loved it. A movie and actress worthy of Wonder Woman, the best DC film since The Dark Knight, a superhero film that managed to avoid a lot of the things that make superhero movies feel a bit samey, and an uplifting, enjoyable experience. Is it a bit cheesy to say it was ‘wonderful’?

I suppose so, yeah. But it was, so there.

*Lynda Carter was one of my three great loves as a boy becoming a man, the other two are Kate Bush (the Babushka video) and Madeline Smith (Up Pompeii). I am actually not ashamed, it turns out. An honourable mention also goes to Janet (Blue Peter and mother of Sophie Ellis-Bextor) Ellis.


So, it’s been a while. Most of this relates to the fact that last year we successfully adopted two little boys. We’re actually coming up to the sixth month anniversary of them moving in!
The six months previous to that were a hotbed of activity too. There were adoption panels, meetings, family finding (a brutal and draining process that pretty much took over our lives for three months) and, once matched, a further approval panel and many, many meetings.

This, unsurprisingly, eats into reading and writing time. Not that I mind! However, my mind has still been burbling, coming up with vague ideas. I’ve been rolling around the notion of another Cogkneys story (Cogkneys in Space?). I’d love to do a deluxe collected edition of the Ribald For Your Pleasure books, possibly fully illustrated by me. (With the Cogkneys stories added? I’ve not decided.) That might be something I do as a Kickstarter in the future. I’ve also been considering a podcast set in a whole new world, the world of Grimmswich. I have started scripting that, with assistance from Andrea. Trying to decide if I will do it solo or bring in other people. I’d really like to start reviewing things again too, just to re-sharpen both my writing skills and my critical faculties.

Hopefully, then more writing will happen in the future. Mind you, I’ve said that before!

Ribald for your Pleasure.

So… There will be a NEW Ribald For Your Pleasure – the third in the series. Aiming to have it out in 2016…

Here’s a mock up of what the cover may well look like…


New book! Welcome to the world, Trilogy of Terror…

I have produced a new(ish) book for your delectation! Over the last couple of years I’ve produced three comedy horror chapbooks featuring the fictionalized versions of my performance alter-ego Arthur Foot III.

The first was Cogkneys vs Zombies, and featured Arthur and his delightful performance partner Tilly Maydme fighting zombies in an uprising of the undead in old London town.

The second was The Shadow Over Camber Sands, inspired by the works of Lovecraft (specifically The Shadow Over Innsmouth, as if the title wasn’t a giveaway).

The third (and final, so far) is Curse of the Wamphyr, set in Whitby and heavily inspired by Stoker and Le Fanu.

Now all three little books are bound together in a rather lovely looking (if I do say so myself) pocket paperback.

It’s available from amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Cogkneys-Trilogy-Karl-Burnett/dp/1291867538

also lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/karl-burnett/the-cogkneys-trilogy-of-terror/paperback/product-21623363.html

It’s on Goodreads too: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22467837-the-cogkneys-in-trilogy-of-terror

and here’s the cover-



My Books!

Actual physical books what I have written (or written part of) actually available. To buy. 

Ribald For Your Pleasure

Cogkneys vs Zombies

The Shadow Over Camber Sands

Tales From The Asylum

Ebooks available on Kindle

Cogkneys vs Zombies


The Shadow Over Camber Sands