Your source for retro horror movie and book reviews

Latest

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

tcm

Starring: Marilyn Burns, Allen Danziger, Paul A. Partain, William Vail, Teri McMinn, Edwin Neal, Jim Siedow, John Dugan, and Gunnar Hansen as Leatherface.

Written By: Kim Henkel and Tobe Hooper

Directed By: Tobe Hooper

Synopsis: A brother and sister set out with their friends to check on the grave of their grandfather after hearing about instances of grave robbing and vandalism. After taking a detour to their family’s old farmhouse, they discover and soon become victims to a family of crazed, murderous cannibals.  Continue Reading

Advertisements

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: The Collector (2009)

Related image

After making a splash with their major studio debut, Feast, and shouldering the burden of continuing the formidable Saw series from the third entry on, screenwriters Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton came into their own with the release of The Collector in 2009. Dunstan directed the film from a script co-written with Melton that was originally pitched as a Saw prequel. The end result was a horror movie similar to the Saw films in its levels and methods of violence and gore, but with a chillingly different breed of killer.

And in the annals of horror, he and the film he dominantes are barely a footnote.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: Friday the 13th (1980), part III

Image result for friday the 13th 1980

These holidays (F13) are so few and far between, I couldn’t resist saying a few words about one of my all time favorite horror movie franchises. As a younger fan of the slasher genre, I watched more of Nightmare on Elm Street. In a way, i think that’s because Freddy is more “kid stuff,” especially the flicks starting with part 3, aka Dream Warriors. It became more and more of a build up to those sweet one-liners, such as: “Wanna suck face?” or “How’s this for a wet dream?” or “Welcome to prime time bitch!” and then breaking into that cackling laughter whilst the soon to be dispatched teen flees for however many seconds of life they have left. Good times. But i think it was around 1994-95 when my allegiances changed when Jason Goes to Hell released to VHS. Somehow, one of my buddies (Matt) was able to get his hands on a copy. Fangoria was still really popular back then too and they had done a full spread on the movie. Needless to say, from that moment forward, my slasher heart belonged to Jason Voorhees.   Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review: Friday The 13th (1980), part two

Related image

As today is Friday, the Thirteenth, we had a moral and ethical obligation to pay homage to one of the biggest slasher films of all time. So of course we had more than  one angle on the issue.

What scares me?

That’s a big question, one that I would have a hard time capturing in one essay. So in the context of this review, what originally scared me when I was introduced to this horror genre in which I now reside?

Horror has had a long and storied history in the cinema, dating back over a hundred years of style, mood and atmosphere. And I was lucky enough to board the ship right in the middle of one of the renaissances of the genre.

What scared the hell out of me was the realism of movies in the late seventies and eighties. Check out the work of George Romero and Wes Craven and you can see what I’m talking about.  These films weren’t about the beautiful fantasy and magic of Hollywood. This was about making you feel like you stumbled across a crime in progress and you don’t dare move, lest you be spotted yourself. This is about being placed in front of something that you can’t bring yourself to turn away from.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Friday The 13th (1980), part one

F13 4Tonight we take a look at one of the big four.  I mean, really, when one hears the word SLASHER, four characters jump to mind, right? Freddy Krueger, Michael Meyers, Leatherface and of course, Jason Voorhees.

There are countless other stalker killers out there, but for some reason, these four are synonymous with the word slasher.  It doesn’t seem to matter that there were slashers before and after these classics were made, these are the Grandaddies of the slasher family. Take it or leave it.  One might make a case for Chucky, The Firefly Clan and others, and while terrifying and time-tested, in my opinion, Chucky has become a lampoon of himself and The Fireflys were only in two(?) movies.  That’s not to say that Jason and Freddy haven’t become parodies either, but that’s a topic for another day.  Today we talk about the birth of all things Camp Crystal Lake and why teenagers of the 80’s didn’t want to go to camp.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: Child’s Play (1988)

Related image

Starring: Brad Dourif, Alex Vincent, Chris Sarandon, Catherine Hicks

Directed by: Tom Holland

Written by: Don Mancini, John Lafia, Tom Holland

What begins like a crime thriller quickly escalates into a bizarre horror about a dying murderer who manages to use black magic to transfer his consciousness into a ‘Good Guys’ doll. ‘Chucky’ finds a home with 6-year-old Andy, initially befriending and manipulating him into helping him commit more murders, and then Andy himself becomes the target as Chucky plans to transfer his consciousness into him before he can be killed in his doll form.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Bay Of Blood (1971)

bay

Fans of Bava’s films know they are more about style than plot. The revolutionary use of color and framing create mood and atmosphere that leave a deep impression.  A BAY OF BLOOD is loose and sometimes confusing, but it set the tone for many important films to come after it. The main film is, of course, Sean Cunningham’s FRIDAY THE 13th.

A BAY OF BLOOD centers around the inhabitants of a small bay. Countess Frida, (Isa Miranda,) is murdered by her husband, who is then himself murdered. The murders set off a chaotic chain of events as neighbors and family members fight and back stab each other for control of the bay. Among them is Simon, (Claudio Camaso,) the Countess’s illegitimate son; Renata (Claudine Auger),  his step sister, and her husband Albert (Luigi Pistilli); Frank (Chris Avram,) a greedy businessman and his secretary Laura (Anna Maria Rosati), and card reader Anna (Laura Betti), spreading doom and gloom with her insect loving husband. There is also a side story of two young couples camping out in one of the empty houses and falling prey to the killer. The ending involving Renata and Albert’s children also makes no real sense.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

 

[ blahblahblah Spoilers Probably yaddayaddayadda ]

This is a weird one, you guys. Not in a deliberate, fun way. More in a… I-have-no-idea-what-the-director-was-thinking-half-the-time kind of way. I’m going to keep myself to the format I’ve been using for the most part and not get too far ahead of myself this time. I’ll just say this one might be a little less meaty than my usual review as I’m not sure how much I can say about this one. We’ll see what happens as I get further down this cuppa (Joe)…  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Related image

Rob Zombie knows movies, and he takes his knowledge of and passion for film and applies it to his own projects.  Sometimes he is successful in his execution, sometimes he isn’t.  It all boils down to personal preference.  When it comes to The Devil’s Rejects, I believe he was successful.

This film came out in 2005 and is the follow-up to House of 1000 Corpses.  It follows the Firefly family as they attempt to escape the law.  The film is a mash up of different genres, including crime films and sexploitation, drawing heavily from slasher films with murder and gore to beat the band.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: SCHRAMM (1993)

 

Related image

[65 minutes. Unrated. Director: Jorg Buttgereit]

Sometimes – okay, a lot of the time – I question the logic that drives my physical-media collection. Why are some DVDs more disposable and trade-worthy than others? Why are others as immovable as Stonehenge? There are films that sit on my shelves, never leaving the shrink-wrap; and others that are so mood-specific, I only re-watch after a passage of years. Salo is a great film, no question about it, but two hours of feel-good vibes it most certainly ain’t.

The same applies to the work of director Jorg Buttgereit.

After a string of shorts, his career began proper with the worldwide-controversial Video Nasty Nekromantik, which took a semi-comedic approach to a young couple’s desire to bring a rotting corpse into the bedroom. While a fine showcase for Buttgereit’s low-budget ingenuity (including some sick – and sick-funny – practical gore effects), the film was little more than the sum of its shock value (and I liked its labored, cheap-looking sequel even less).

The director fared much better with two other efforts: 1990’s actively oppressive Der Todesking (English translation: The Death King), which follows a group of unfortunate souls who fall victim to a lethal chain letter over the course of a week. The film is devoid of hope, and its experimental nature (more anthology than conventional narrative) creates a detachment from the characters that is deliberately cold. One can imagine Buttgereit’s intent: “This is humanity with the forced pleasantries and rule of law removed – see it and weep.”  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Scream (1996) DOUBLE FEATURE part 2

kinopoisk.ruFor a significant number of years, the concept of slasher movies fell away. The major horror franchises of Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm St. and Halloween found themselves struggling to stay relevant with the demographic that made them classics. Meanwhile, in 1996, a single question stirred a new generation:

Do you like scary movies? 

Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Scream (1996) DOUBLE FEATURE part 1

ScreamIn 1996, the cinematic world was introduced to the first of what would be one of the more successful new horror franchise of the modern era. And interestingly enough, it would spring forth from the mind of one Wes Craven, already responsible for one of the most popular monsters in movie history.

At the time this came out, I was in college and without going into a lot of details, I was going through a difficult time in my life. School was not going well and I had personal issues that were leading to some fairly severe depression and anxiety. I was on break at my father’s house and decided one night to take a spin with a video rental, a new movie release that I had seen advertised but knew very little about.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: Hannibal (2001)

Related image

The mad genius may be an over played trope, but it is still entertaining to watch. I have to wonder though if the character in question on today’s installment of Slashers & Serial Killers would fit into the mold of “mad genius.” Is Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter truly mad? Is he insane, mentally ill, certifiable, deranged, demented, or otherwise of unsound mind? Honestly, that’s a tall order. What he does is shocking, sure enough. I think we can at the very least say for certain that he is a genius. You don’t become a physician and practicing psychologist speaking fluently in several languages with perfect memorization and dictation of countless works of art and poetry, not to mention an obsessive culinary skill, without the moniker of said genius. Mad though…that begs the question.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

silence posterSilence Of The Lambs marked a monumental moment in film history. For me, it was one of those transitions as a teenager where I saw first hand how gripping a story could be and how the villain of a story can be developed just as much, if not more than the hero. Silence Of The Lambs would also lead to a number of unfortunate side effects down the road, something that was completely out of their control and that I will touch on later.

This film made household names out of both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. And while Foster certainly deserves the credit she receives for her work, the role of Clarice Starling is almost a throwaway for me. You can’t have a movie without a protagonist and she fits that bill just fine. We have a young, talented FBI agent-in-training, one with a bright future, but also with a past just dark enough to be exploited by one Hannibal Lector.  Continue Reading

Theatre of Blood (1973) w/ author Roger Keen

Related image

I had the basic plot idea for Literary Stalker – a bad writer with grudges who takes revenge on selected colleagues – many years before I wrote the novel, but it remained on the back burner because it seemed too simplistic. Then I had the further idea of making the work a pastiche, with showcased references to films and other novels, very much in the style of Quentin Tarantino. Having fun developing this, one film in particular popped into my mind – one I hadn’t actually viewed for decades, but which I remembered fondly from way back in the 1970s and ’80s. It was Theatre of Blood, and I got the DVD and re-watched it, several times. The rest, as they say, is history.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 DREAM WARRIORS (1987)

Image result for nightmare on elm street 3

Well, here we are.  Six years after Nancy defeated(?) Freddy, and a new batch of crazy(!) teenagers for our favorite undead serial killer to torment when their eyes close. Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon reprise their roles as Nancy and Lt. Thompson (from ANOES) and we find that Nancy has gone to school to become a psychiatrist making groundbreaking work in “Pattern nightmares.” This was the directorial debut of Chuck Russell, who would go on to direct the cult favorite The Blob remake, as well as Jim Carrey’s comedy The Mask.  Based on a story by Wes Craven and Bruce Wagner, the screenplay was written by Wagner, Craven, Russell and a young upstart writer named Frank Darabont (I hope I don’t need to remind this crowd who HE is, do I?)

As I said, there is a new cast of teenagers to be led to slaughter by Freddy, including Kristen (Patricia Arquette), Kincaid (Ken Sagoes), Joey (Rodney Eastman), Taryn (Jennifer Rubin), Phillip (Bradley Gregg), Will (Ira Heiden), and Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow).  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Monster (2003)

Image result for monster 2003

EDITOR’S NOTE – Monster was a movie that had a huge impact on me and I think this is one example of, while the story of a film might not be as memorable, the performance elevates it into something extraordinary. I think Charlize Theron is one of the most exciting actors of our time. I’ve been a fan of hers from the day I saw her steal practically every scene she graced in Devil’s Advocate. I think she has a unique ability to completely occupy the space of a character. With many legendary actors, when it comes down to it, you still feel like you are seeing a variation on that person. I watch DeNiro’s films and for the most part, I still feel like I’m seeing Robert DeNiro, or Russell Crowe or whomever. Charlize Theron is a rare example where I feel like she becomes something completely different with each role.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: PEEPING TOM (1960)

Related image

Starring: Karl Bohm and Anna Massey

Directed by: Michael Powell

Written by: Leo Marks

This review is spoiler-heavy.

Peeping Tom has a lot going for it. It’s widely accepted to be the first ever ‘slasher’ film, released months before Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960. It is also the first horror film to show us scenes from the killer’s perspective, a technique that has since become somewhat of a genre trope (John Carpenter’s Halloween 1978, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 1981, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining 1980, to name but a few).

The acting performances are great and the directing is superb. The story is original, the script is competent, and the movie is generally well paced and atmospheric. So it may come to many as a surprise that upon its theatrical release, Peeping Tom was critically reviled and it was detested by the public, so much so that the film was pulled from distribution, its cinema run was cut short, and it was banned. It practically disappeared until Martin Scorsese revived it in the late 1970s. It’s generally acknowledged as the film that ended (director) Michael Powell’s career. Powell’s previous work included A Matter of Life and Death (AKA Stairway to Heaven) (1946), A Canterbury Tale (1944), and The Red Shoes (1948). He was a beloved and highly acclaimed filmmaker, until he released Peeping Tom. After this, he was able to get some film work, mostly abroad, but then his career tragically died, much like several of his Peeping Tom characters.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers In Review : Natural Born Killers (1994)

Only Love Can Kill The Demon

Kit Power on Natural Born Killers

nbk1

 

SPOILER ALERT! I will assume you’ve seen the film, and talk accordingly. If this is not the case and you don’t want to be spoiled, go, now, and watch this damn movie. You should, anyway, because it’s awesome.

In 1994, Oliver Stone was right in the middle of his imperial phase, as a filmmaker. Following the Oscar success of Platoon in 1987 (where it unfairly beat RoboCop, which admittedly hadn’t actually been nominated, but still, UNFAIR I say!), he went on to make Wall Street, Born on the Fourth of July, and The Doors, among others – any of which could support at least a slim volume worth of essay material in their own right (albeit not, probably, in a series about slashers and serial killers). Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: HALLOWEEN (2007)

Related image

Imitation is often seen as a tribute to an artist; other times it is seen as a mockery and a laughable attempt to establish, oneself, in a world of other artists.  A question that should be asked, what separates the good imitations from the worst?

The answer is a little more underlying.

A work of imitation can branch off and become something different, something appreciated by others.  The difference is—Appreciation for the original work and artist—nothing more.

In 1978, John Carpenter set out and defined the slasher genre.  Many fans were introduced to their first masked serial killers: Michael Myers.  The original story was enough to send millions of fans into a terror filled adventure, murder and mayhem a-plenty.  Man escapes mental institution after murdering his sister twenty years prior and begins slashing and stabbing his way through Haddonfield, IL.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review : THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2 (1986)

TCM1

Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2: A favorite in Slaughter town

As little girls our mother allowed us to watch the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre, being all of maybe nine years old we were terrified (and, yes, probably too young to watch it but our mom’s awesome like that). The thoughts of some psycho cannibal family living in an old farm house in Texas, hacking unsuspecting people to death and then consuming them definitely reached a higher level on the horror meter than some of the classics we had been previously exposed to and yet there was an element to it that really drew us in. That man behind the skin mask, not speaking a word yet saying so much to us, he won our hearts forever.

Flash forward a few years when we are on the cusp of becoming teenagers, the precious years when other girls are like totally concerned with regular girl things like makeup and stylish clothing, it was then that the young Sisters of Slaughter were reintroduced to a certain family of cannibals in the form of a sequel, a horror comedy that helped shape their twisted senses of humor, one that is celebrated in Slaughter Town like a national holiday.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: ALONE IN THE DARK (1982)

Image result for alone in the dark 1982

The Eighties are often thought of as the Golden Age of Slasher movies. And why not? We had Jason and Freddy and Michael roaming around movie screens, dispatching hormone-addled teenagers in creative ways. It all became a bit formulaic, but with pretty naked people and bucketfuls of the red, red kroovy, who cared? The horror algorithm was simple back then, and anybody who could get funding from family or a cabal of local medical professionals could follow the formula, shoot a movie in a couple weeks, and potentially get a lucrative distribution deal.

With an audience hankering for knives and nubiles, other horror movies got lost in the shuffle. That’s why most people have probably never heard of Alone in the Dark, a terrific movie from 1982 with no nudity, little bloodshed, and no young’uns traipsing through the forest, tripping over tree roots in the dark.  Continue Reading

My Judgement on Hellraiser: Judgement (2018)

Related image

Not very often we review a horror movie that’s been out less than a decade. And for good reason perhaps. Not to say that there are no good modern horror movies. I believe Get Out and Conjuring prove that decent horror is still making its way to theaters and into our living rooms. Yet, as a whole, the horror community clings to the hey-day, so to speak, of better times. Due to this habit, it feels like some movie makers get the notion that all we want to see are rehashed classics. While i have no problem digging deeper into an already established horror universe, but i’d much rather see something new than something old with a new wig, if you catch my meaning. Case in point, last night’s screening of Hellraiser: Judgement (2018).  Continue Reading

SLASHERS & SERIAL KILLERS IN REVIEW : HENRY : PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER 1986

Henry1In June 1983, drifter Henry Lee Lucas was convicted of 11 murders. Later, he confessed to over 3,000, but retracted many of these over time. Today, most believe that Lucas was responsible for about 40 separate killings, including his sex worker mother, and Becky Powell, the intellectually-impaired 15-year-old niece of his close friend and lover, Ottis Toole.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986) is as much a biopic and crime drama as it is a horror film. It is as far from the territory of Jason, Michael and Freddy as an 80s serial killer movie can be, and its uncompromising violence and dread-soaked atmosphere ensured controversy and a release plagued with censorship issues. These problems set its American release back by 4 or so years, while in the UK, the uncut version of Henry was only made available in 2003, a full 17 years after it was made.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972)

Image result for last house on the left 1972

If a friend asked me, “Hey, Tommy, can you recommend a good slasher movie?” Off the cuff, I’d typically guide said friend to one of the many wondrous titles under the Friday the 13th franchise or Nightmare on Elm Street. If they wanted obscure but tasteful, I’d most likely say The Prowler or The Burning. Those looking for something for date night, I’d recommend Scream or perhaps Silence of the Lambs. If I wanted to sound like an intellectual or one of those real classic film guys, I’d suggest Psycho. But if I were really brave…if i wanted to take the risk, if not in losing a friend and all credibility in recommending slasher movies, but also risk being looked at (at worse) like some weirdo pervert, well…if i didn’t care about that, then I would totally recommend THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972).

This isn’t to say that THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (TLHOTL) is a horrid movie. Its not. Its actually quite amazing. Raw. Brutal. Shocking. And truth be told, not entirely that fun of a film. Just how slasher flicks really ought to aspire. TLHOTL doesn’t wear a mask to scare you, it removes the mask, and in so doing is utterly terrifying. There is no pleasure in the depravity, except for perhaps towards the end when the protagonists’ parents exact revenge (more on that later). In Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street or even Halloween, we’re (mostly) rooting for the killer, “Yeah! Murder those dumb stupid teenagers!” But in TLHOTL, those very scenes are sickening and uncomfortable to watch.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: The Strangers (2008)

oStrangers1

On one hand, I think that The Strangers typifies what can be the brightest and most brilliant executions of the horror genre. On the other, I also think that The Strangers is a perfect example of some of the worst kind of tropes that are pounded to death like so many coffin nails.

Let’s start with the positive because it’s a new year and I’m trying to focus on such things. The premise for the film is as simple as can be which, as an aside I think is actually essential for great horror. The films and books that perform the best for me are about creating a visceral experience for the reader and the characters. If you need to draw a flow chart in order to find the horror, you might not be doing it right.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: American Psycho (2000)

Image result for american psycho 2000 poster

American Psycho is a satirical novel written by Bret Easton Ellis and published in 1991. It is an unreliable first person narrative, in the present tense, given by the main character, Patrick Bateman, who is a yuppieliving in 1980s New York City. It is an extremely controversial novel, given its depiction of increasingly brutal violence against women; this issue led many feminists to protest the novel.

movie version was made in 2000, the screenplay written by Guinevere Turner and Mary Harron (the latter also being the director), and starring Christian Bale in the lead role. The movie removed or mitigated the novel’s violence, and rearranged much of the material: apart from that, the film was reasonably faithfulContinue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: Halloween (1978)

halloweenStarring: Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, and Nancy Loomis. With Nick Castle and Tony Moran portraying Michael Myers.

Written By: Debra Hill and John Carpenter

Directed By: John Carpenter

Synopsis: On Halloween night of 1963, six year old Michael Myers brutally murders his seventeen year old sister, Judith. He was sentenced to a mental hospital but on October 30, 1978 he escapes and a string of murders begin in his hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois.

Halloween isn’t just a good story; it’s a film that demonstrates an unprecedented understanding of it’s very media. It’s a story that could only be told cinematically, a true folktale for the 20th century and beyond. Light, shadow, silence and good sound form into an experience both tangible and transcendent. It’s a wholly immersive work of art, a rare instance of pure cinema. Like it’s antagonist, it will never die.” -Stef Hutchinson, taken from the 35th anniversary Blu-Ray.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Image result for nightmare on elm street 1984

I wish to start my review by saying that while I was alive in 1984, I led a mostly sheltered life (read: my parents were NOT going to let me as a tender 12-year-old go see a HORROR (gasp!!) movie.)  So, I didn’t see A Nightmare on Elm Street until I was late into my teens. That being said, there are movies that transcend the era in which they first appeared.  Dracula, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein despite being made in the 1930’s still hold sway over generations not even considered then.  Night of The Living Dead, Rosemary’s Baby and dozen’s more still thrill us fifty or more years later.  For every Jigsaw (2017) there must be a Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).   My point is that even though it was not a current or hot movie when I saw it, it still held as big a punch for me as if I were a starry-eyed tweenager in 1984.  Continue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: The Burning (1981)

The Burning

Starring: Brian Matthews, Lou David, Leah Ayres, Brian Backer, Larry Joshua, Fisher Stevens, Ned Eisenberg, and Jason Alexander

Written By: Bob Weinstein, and Peter Lawrence

Directed By: Tony Maylam

Synopsis: After a prank goes wrong, setting the caretaker of Camp Blackfoot on fire and leaving him horribly scarred, a group of teen campers begin to be picked off one by one.

divider

The 1980’s, what an amazing and glorious decade for the horror genre. Specifically, slasher films were on the rise during this time. Chances are fairly high that if you are reading this review, you grew up on the films of this decade or are actively seeking out reviews for films to watch from this amazing time in the genre. Whether you are in the mood for some good practical gore effects and deaths, or are seeking out some of the films that helped to shape the slasher film, Tony Maylam’s The Burning is a classic film that helped set the stage and hone the elements that are now considered staples in the horror genre. I recently had the pleasure of giving this classic flick another watch and these are my thoughts on The BurningContinue Reading

Slashers & Serial Killers in Review: JASON GOES TO HELL (1993)

Image result for jason goes to hell: the final friday

WELCOME friends to a new year of “In Review.” As you no doubt have guessed, this year we’re running the gauntlet with Slashers & Serial Killers. To say we’ve got our work cut out for us would be an understatement. Thus far the review count looks to be well over 150 different movie reviews all spread throughout 2018 with our usual break in observance of the holiest of horror holidays, Freight Fest. Why such a high review count? There’s the love of course…the utter romanticism of this particular horror sub-genre–knowing the killer in us all by living vicariously through onscreen murderers and villains. Beginning as early as Psycho in 1960 and continuing on all the way into 2018, slasher and serial killer movies are alive then as they are today with hundreds of different movies to choice from. To kick things off, my movie of choice may seem a bit odd…allow me to explain.  Continue Reading

[REVIEW] Day of the Dead: Bloodline (2018)

Related image

What’s the worst that can happen? That is what I had said last night before renting the yet to be released remake of George A. Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD (1985). Deep down, I knew…I knew it wasn’t going to be good, and yet there I was, pushing select and paying $6 despite my better judgement. I try to be fair. I know I am very particular about zombie movies. Deep prejudices, you might say. Being a Romero-purist makes it really hard to get into anything other than Romero. I understand that the late great grandfather of the zombie genre wasn’t perfect, we need only look at Survival of the Dead to realize that, but still…there has to be something. Story. Acting. Gore. The trifecta, no, the algorithm to making a solid zombie movie. So, did Day of the Dead: Bloodline make the cut?  Continue Reading

We did it AND other thoughts on 2017

This final wrap up post for 2017 isn’t about one individual or even two, this is about our collective achievement. Machine Mean may have started with one nerdy guy talking about horror, history, politics, and whatever else crossed his mind, but it has GROWN way beyond that. From guest posts and interviews to a full on partnership between myself and Chad Clark, we have watched this little horror movie and book review site flourish. In 2017, we had over 17,000 readers, leaving over 200 comments, drawn in from all over the world–predominately in the United States, the UK, Canada, and France. Our most popular post was Chad’s article The Dark Tower And Toxicity in Modern Nerd Culture, ringing in nearly 2,000 reads. In 2017, we posted 137 articles totally nearly 190,000 words. But we couldn’t have done this alone. We’ve had a lot of help from some 31 really awesome contributors.  Continue Reading

Thomas’s Top Reads: 2017

Now, I’ve never claimed to be a world champ reader. Truth is, i’m probably the world’s slowest reader. I have no shame at being slow, at least i’m reading, right? Any how. As we near the end of 2017, I thought it would be fun to share some of the books I’ve read throughout the year, not including some titles such as Salem’s Lot that I re-read every year. Being a fan of both fiction and non-fiction/history, you ought to find a great assortment here to look through. I’ve been trying to be more diverse in the genres I digest. Maybe that can be a goal for 2018, to read more of everything, not just horror. I’ll also include a short review of each book from myself. Well then, lets get this started shall we?  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Related image

The eighties were weird time in cinematic history. Teenage werewolves who’ve found the need to fit in and become all-star athletes, a transgender serial killer who has a disdain for camping and boating, lastly, a man wearing a fedora who finds enjoyment by tormenting teens through their dreams, a weird time for films. And if you could take one of those films and use it to describe the cinema from that particular era—The Toxic Avenger, would be your best bet.

A lot of questions can be raised, in regards, to what makes The Toxic Avenger a great movie. Is it the story? No.  Is it the special effects that will make Predator shake in shame? Not necessarily.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: The Relic (1997)

Related image

I was a freshman in college when The Relic came out, and I remember sitting in the theater with my friends watching the film.  I have a special place in my heart for creature features.  I just love how creative and awesome some of the creatures turn out to be.  I’m a huge fan of creatures created by Stan Winston, so I just had to see this film.

The Relic is still one of my all-time favorite creature features.  Apparently my memory was a bit hazy and I didn’t remember that the audience saw as much of the creature as they did.  I remember it being shown in bits in pieces in the dark, but it gets shown in all its glory—albeit in the dark, but that just adds to its awesomeness.  It deserves its time on the screen.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Gremlins (1984)

Image result for gremlins movie poster

There are only three rules.

Any time a character is told something like that in the movie, it’s pretty much always a recipe for disaster. It’s right up there along with, here take this ancient book but don’t ever read anything out of it. It’s pretty much a guarantee that no matter what, something is going to go wrong and it’s going to be because somebody didn’t follow the rules.

This isn’t exactly a new narrative device. We are all pretty familiar with it, but I identify one movie as being the original, the best and shining example of this type of story.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Day of the Animals (1977)

Image result for day of the animals 1977

The Seventies were packed to the brim with animal attack movies. Name your critter. Snakes, bears, earthworms; all creatures, great and small, had their own chance at cinematic revenge against the human race for mucking up the environment. Film lovers had a tendency to root for the animals, which was justified. We were destroying the planet with Aqua Net fumes and pollution. We were killing ourselves, never mind the woodland creatures around us. Hell, the Cuyahoga River caught fire and the response from those responsible was a resounding, “Well, that’s weird.” The eco-horror genre was always meant to hammer out a warning about the dangers of botching the biosphere. However, using just one kind of animal wasn’t hitting a wide enough audience. If you lived in a high-rise, then you weren’t going to be too worried about chemically imbalanced grizzly bears mauling you on the eightieth floor on your way home after work.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Trollhunter (2010)

Related image

Like the slasher sub-genre of the late 70s and early 1980s, the found footage style was a formula that required little expenditure for vast returns. 1999’s The Blair Witch brought the fledgling sub-genre to the attention of the mainstream, and importantly, to film producers.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Spring (2014)

Image result for spring 2014

What is the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime love worth? Is it worth the embrace of a monster, or death? SPRING is not just any monster movie, no typical vampires or werewolves here. What remains is the inescapable drive for connection that goes beyond emotional need.

SPRING, directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Morehead and written by Benson, is the story of Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci,) a young man who has just lost his mother and his job. His life has been on hold, taking care of his dying mother and his father who has also passed. He is an adult orphan, alone in the world with no direction. He makes an impulsive decision to head to Italy, a trip he and his father always talked about. He arrives with no clear idea of what he is looking to find.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Swamp Thing (1982)

Image result for swamp thing 1982

Swamp Thing

Starring:  Ray Wise; Adrienne Barbeau;

Louis Jordan; Dick Durock

Written and Directed by Wes Craven

One of the great joys of being a cinephile is that moment when an entertaining film quietly emerges as a great one.  In Wes Craven’s 1982 cinematic adaptation of the classic DC comic Swamp Thing,  that moment occurs about a half an hour into the proceedings.  More on that in a moment.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)

Related image

The Blob, but with clowns. That will get you close to understanding what this film has in store if you haven’t seen it yet, but it doesn’t quite cover it. In fact, despite the Chiodo brothers’ stated intent to pay homage to The Blob, as well as the 50s alien invasion film in general, chalking it up to a simple homage would be a disservice. Killer Klowns from Outer Space is such a great movie in so many ways, but one of its most important features is its originality.  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Castle Freak (1995)

Related image

Today’s offering borderlines what we’d define as a “creature feature.” The monster isn’t some radiated beast nor is it (he) cosmic or multidimensional. Castle Freak is without a shadow of a doubt human. Not subhuman nor extraordinary. He’s not unkillable (such as Jason or Freddy) or super strong. But I wouldn’t categorize Castle Freak as a slasher or serial killer or mass murderer either. In fact, when researching some info on Castle Freak I was shocked to find that it was labeled as a mystery slasher film. I think perhaps that’s because the people doing the “labeling” didn’t understand what it was they were looking at. The “monster” in Castle Freak isn’t out for revenge or to score a high kill count, in fact, there’s not a heck of a lot of death in this movie, not if it were indeed a slasher flick. No. Castle Freak isn’t a slasher, its a creature feature, and I’ll tell you why…  Continue Reading

Creature Features in Review: Species (1995)

Image result for Species (1995) poster

We’re back with a brand new review for our soon to be concluded “In Review” series, Creature Features. We put the monsters on hold last month for Fright Fest as the zombie horde took center stage. But as the saying goes, the show must go on. And what an odd 90s movie to begin our trek. Species as I an recall was among those last great VHS rentals at Blockbuster. I remember really liking it back then because of…well…the nudity. Seriously, come on, its a super hot alien hybrid looking for a man to mate with. Of course, this was teenager me thinking about few things other than boobs. As a great disappointment (I’m sure) few things have changed. Still…as an adult now enjoying the boobs is honestly highly important, but perhaps there’s something else going on behind the film. We all know what hormones does to a teenage boy, but what about the ladies? Species makes me wonder, the way it was written, is it perhaps allegory for femininity gone wild?  Continue Reading

Fright Fest: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

Related image

Francine Parker: They’re still here. 
Stephen: They’re after us. They know we’re still in here. 
Peter: They’re after the place. They don’t know why; they just remember. Remember that they want to be in here. 
Francine Parker: What the hell are they? 
Peter: They’re us, that’s all, when there’s no more room in hell. 
Stephen: What? 
Peter: Something my granddad used to tell us. You know Macumba? Vodou. My granddad was a priest in Trinidad. He used to tell us, “When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth.” 

Dawn of the Dead is among many things a very quotable movie. The scene above is probably everyone’s favorite, and for some there are more selective scenes to nibble on. Scientists arguing on what remains of the news broadcast. The SWAT incursion of the Philadelphia apartment building. The refueling scene, the dock scene, the shopping montage. The raiders and ensuing firefight. There are plenty. And if you were to ask me, I can’t really say if I personally have an all-time favorite scene, I mean let’s be honest here, there are so many to choose from. From the very beginning, Dawn of the Dead lures you in and keeps your attention rooted into the story. The pacing couldn’t be more perfect.  Continue Reading

Fright Fest: Burial Ground, The Nights of Terror (1981)

Image result for Burial Ground 1981

Zombie fans come from every walk of life and every zombie fan has their own tastes when it comes to zombie movies. In fact, you could say that there are even sub-genres within the sub-genre of flesh eaters. Just this month alone during this year’s Fright Fest we have seen a wide variety of zombie flicks (saving the best for last, which will be tomorrows review). The only sub-genre within the sub-genre we did not allow into the mix were voodoo curses and “anger” viruses, like 28 Days Later which is not technically a “zombie” movie at all, just like The Crazies were not zombies, they’re “mad, insane, and otherwise still living.” Feeling very much like a bouncer at some classy (or not so classy actually) nightclub, we’ve allowed in a certain clientele. “Are you dead and are you eating the flesh of the living? Yes. Okay. You’re cool, come on in.” That’s right folks, we’ve got standards at this joint.

Be that as it may, even folks who consider themselves “fans” of flesh eating walking corpses are not necessarily all that well versed when it comes to the cabinet of zombie movies. Nowadays I’d say that’s a fair statement given the popularity of The Walking Dead and Z-Nation (not sure if that’s still popular, but I tossed it up anyway). There are some zombie fans who watch TWD and that’s about all she wrote. And there are others who delve into the Romero films, such as Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, and I shall’t not name that dreadfully last one made. And some Romero fans haven’t even seen all the named and unnamed movies. And then there are the truly indoctrinated flesh eating fan, those who’ve peered into the depths of foreign film and came back to tell the tale. You think only the Americans have zombies in the bag, well…you are sadly mistaken. As Winston Zeddmore so aptly put it, “I have seen shit that’ll turn you white!”  Continue Reading

Fright Fest: Land of the Dead (2005)

Related image

In 2005, my interest in the undead had officially been reclassified as ‘Mildly Addicted’, due in no small part to the Romero trinity of Night, Dawn and Day. By now I had branched out, and was working my way through any zombie film I could get my distended claws into. Then the news broke that Romero was making a new zombie film, Land of the Dead. To say I was a little excited would be an understatement. I remember watching it at the time and whilst I enjoyed it, it was not a patch on the originals, or most of the films I had been watching during that period.

So, looking at it objectively now and giving it another (overdue) viewing, has my opinion changed? Well…get comfortable, and I’ll begin.  Continue Reading

Fright Fest: [REC] (2007)

Related image

[REC] (2007)

Directors: Jaume BalagueróPaco Plaza

Writers: Jaume Balagueró (screenplay), Luiso Berdejo

Release Date: 23 November 2007 (Spain)

Since its release back in 2007, REC has since become something of a modern horror classic, and is no doubt destined to be in the pantheon of greats in the many years to come. Like it’s found footage forebear The Blair Witch Project it elevates its limitations to enormous strengths – creating a building and palpable tension throughout that will have you creeping closer, and closer to the edge of your seat as it reaches its horrifying conclusion.

Co-written and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, REC presents itself as ‘real’ footage recorded when a local TV reporter Angela Vidal (Manuela Velasco) and her cameraman Pablo (Pablo Rosso) cover a fire crew about their day-to-day lives, and join them when they respond to a vague emergency call about an elderly lady in a local apartment building.  Continue Reading

Fright Fest: Train to Busan (2016)

Related image

Let me start off by saying that the film cover for “Train to Busan” is so eye-catching that it made me want to watch it, even if it is a zombie movie. I wanted it NOT to be a zombie movie, because frankly, I hate zombie movies. I love trains though, and couple that with a thriller or horror movie, you’ve enticed me right there. I was happy to sign up for another year of this October Fright Fest and review a film, but silly me, I thought it would be something classic. I freaked out after I signed up, when Thomas, the host, said the theme was zombies. CRAP! What kind of zombie movie am I going to be able to watch? The only one I had seen before was “World War Z,” which wasn’t bad, but it may have been the eye candy.  Continue Reading

Fright Fest: Invisible Invaders (1959)

Related image

From another planet comes the Invisible Invaders!

How can you stop what you don’t see?

The dead will destroy all the living!

The living dead threaten all life on earth!

I know, Invisible Invaders? you say. Aliens, you must be joking. Certainly, Tommy, anything Romero-esque would be post 1968 and here you have a review for Fright Fest: Zombies with a film released back in 1959. What gives? Well, I’ll tell you. Yes, the rules still apply, though truth be told this one does kinda skirt the line a bit. The reason I wanted to include Invisible Invaders is due to the ambiance of the film and how obscure it has become in recent years despite its obviously forgotten importance to the history of zombie lore. As per the “rules” and as per the formula of Romero films, the zombies or ghouls or walking dead are not living persons controlled through magic or voodoo, though I do enjoy that variation, it doesn’t quite fit within the spectrum of Romeroism. The rule is simple enough, a person dies, they get up and attack the living, that living person dies and they get up and attack the living, etc. etc.  Continue Reading

For Tom

I hope you will forgive me the indulgence of sharing some personal thoughts with you this week. Don’t worry, it won’t be long before we return to the blood and guts as normal.

This past week, an old friend of mine passed away after a long struggle with an illness. I don’t want to use his full name out of respect for his privacy so I’m just going to call him Tom, enough that family and friends of mine should know who I’m talking about.

I found out this past Friday that he had passed the night before and it was a pretty tough gut shot to hear. Obviously, when someone has been sick for some time, the end shouldn’t come as a shock on an intellectual level. Still, when the moment passes you are inevitably left with the feelings of depressive regret for all the things you wish you had done differently, as if fate grabs you by the head and wrenches it around backward, forcing you to devote all your attention to what is behind, now gone forever.

Essentially, the exact opposite of what I suspect Tom would have wanted from us.

I worked closely with Tom, starting in the mid-nineties. He came into my life in that informative phase, when you are just starting to get some legs under you and figuring out what the hell the world is (as an adult). I think for most of us, if you cast back, you can come across certain key people in your life who, maybe without their knowing it, had a profound effect on your development. Not in the same way children grow but in the sense that you float about in the world, striving for examples of what you think you would want to be seen as, in the prime of your adulthood.

I wanted to have Tom’s mind. He had one of the sharpest, most intuitive intellects I think I have ever had the luck to come across. He could carry on an informed discussion on just about everything. His knowledge of wine and food was unmatched in my experience as well as his passion for culture. He could talk about philosophy or he could talk about sports. What I remember learning the most from Tom is that it can be cool to be smart. And he carried his intellect with an equal weight of humility. I don’t think I ever felt a sense from him that he thought he was special or above anyone else.

I wanted to have Tom’s books. He was an avid reader and I always saw him with a book in his hands, whether it be at work or when he was out and about, walking from point A to point B (in all the time I knew him, Tom never owned a car. Or if he did, he never used it). Tom was well read and well spoken. I saw in tribute that compared him to Bukowski and I think it’s actually a pretty astute comparison. This was a man who struck out into the world and made it his, in turn introducing all of us to the person that could only ever be him. I never had the guts to show Tom any of my writing, mostly because I was sure he would call it out for the unparalleled, putrid shit that it really was. Because if there was one thing that described Tom to the letter, it’s that he was honest. If he thought something, he would tell you.

I wanted to have Tom’s music collection. Before I met him, Tom worked at one of the respected indie music stores in town and I can only imagine how extensive and eclectic his collection might have been. I have always held the belief that flipping through Tom’s records would be like taking a walking tour of rock and blues, probably some country and jazz, most of which I would not have ever heard of. I always thirsted for Tom’s knowledge and awareness of music and on more than one occasion, I tried to pick his brain to get some tips on the cool bands to check out.

I wanted to have Tom’s wine collection. This is the big one because I’m willing to bet those that knew him would agree that there would be some pretty phenomenal bottles in there. He practically built the wine department at our store single-handed, building a network of loyal customers, many of which are still with us to this day. He blazed out with a refined palate and built things of greatness.

Nothing in our life is permanent. We all know this, and we get reminders of it all the time. I can still remember the last conversation I had with Tom, mostly for the triviality of our encounter, more than anything else. How much I would like to drop down into myself in that moment and really tell him how I felt, how important of a friend I had always considered him to be.

I never had that chance, obviously. So, I do the best I can with what has been left behind, to earn the life I have and to enjoy the things which Tom no longer can. I always held Tom in the highest regard and respect. I consider myself privileged to have been able to spend time with him and to take away some of that vast bank vault of wisdom and knowledge contained in that head of his. He was an individual who dared to be himself in a world that often seems to worship normality, a reminder that sometimes it’s important to question things and think about things.

Thank you, Tom. May whatever waters you now sail across be forever a source of peace and comfort to you. Thank you for being a part of our lives. Yours is a mark that will stay with me for a long time to come.

Thank you.

D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page

Winward, Chapter One

Chad A. Clark’s newest novella is now available for sale. Take an exclusive look at the first chapter. Follow the link below to get your copy today!

WINWARD COVER

Dianne sprinted through the front door. Her gaze fell on the outline of her car in the dark but before she could fish her keys out of her pocket, she tripped and pitched forward. The rotting wood of the steps splintered, and her arms ripped over exposed nails, drawing blood in deep gashes. The impact at the bottom caused her to bite down hard on her tongue, followed by the rusty taste of blood filling her mouth. She wanted to curl up on the ground, beg for sympathy that she knew would not be offered.

But she had to keep moving.

Gripping the keys tightly in her hand, she pushed herself to her feet and staggered to the car. It took several stabs before she scraped the key in, shoving it home as she finally lined it up.

Something was in the lock.

Dianne stared at it, shaking her head. This was the exact same thing she did every day when she left for work in the morning. Position the key, insert and turn. She didn’t understand what wasn’t working. Bending down, she peered into the tiny opening, squinting through the low light. She could just catch a reflection off of metal. Something had been jammed into the lock and snapped off. She ran around to the other side, only to find the lock filled there as well.

“God dammit!” she screamed, looking for anything on the ground she could use to smash the glass. A broken window in the grand scheme of things would be preferable if it meant she could get out of town and stay safe.

A popping sound rang out through the night, one she did not fully identify until she felt the impact. She blinked, suddenly on the ground and on her back as she heaved, trying to catch her breath. Pain flared out from her shoulder and she looked at the burned and collapsed flesh, now oozing darkened blood into her shirt. She reached over to touch the wound but before her fingers even made contact, her head filled with a high-pitched ringing and the pain made the world spin. She tried to move the arm, but the injured shoulder seemed to be blocking all signals as it proved to be unresponsive.

Dianne rolled over onto her good shoulder and pushed up, leaning against the car to struggle back to her feet. There wasn’t time. All she had left was to run. Gravel scraped under her feet as she shuffled towards the road, much slower than she had been running before. The pain flared with every step and she gritted her teeth to keep from screaming. If she could get away from the house, she would have a chance. She might be able to get away from this maniac.

She heard the engine revving before she felt the impact. Half turning, she had just enough time to see the car door swinging open to meet her, lifting her off her feet. She spun in the air, landing on her side. Rolling out of control, she began to tumble down the embankment. From somewhere within herself, she heard a snapping sound and wondered vaguely what she had broken.

On the road above her, she heard the sound of his car coming back. It crunched the rocks and debris as it came to a stop and the headlights speared out into the dark above her as she caught the sound of the door opening.

Broken bones or not, she had to get away. Lying there would only get her killed. She couldn’t just give up. Pain lanced up her leg when she tried to stand and she dropped back to the ground. She rolled over, grabbing fistfuls of grass and weeds as she tried to pull herself away. The will to live propelled her, even as she listened to the sound of his footsteps approaching.

“Son of a bitch.” She heard herself starting to cry. How had she ever thought she could get away from him in the first place? Even if she did elude him, she would likely just end up passing out somewhere.

A work boot came down on her shoulder and applied pressure. Pain surged through her as the wound pulled open. After several seconds, the foot let up, but just enough to hook underneath her arm and roll her over onto her back. She heard the dry click of a revolver.

“Please.”

She knew it was pointless, hated herself for being so weak, for giving him the satisfaction of seeing that weakness. But in the end, her panic forced her to grab for whatever straw she could think of. “Please. Please don’t, I—”

He knelt and brought the barrel of the gun down until she felt the cool metal against her forehead. Her pleading increased in pitch, rushing up towards panic.

“Please don’t do this. You don’t have to…you can’t—”

The single shot drowned out Dianne’s screams and silenced her forever.

divider

CLICK HERE

 

Winward is available for the Kindle and in paperback. It is also available to read for free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers. 

 

Routine Reports, by Chad A. Clark

Routine Reports

“I’m telling you, it was dead bodies.”

Larry looked up from the coffee, now halfway between the desktop and his mouth and decided to set it down.

“You’re going to have to run that one past me again, Gervais.”

“Dead bodies.”

“You mean like road kill? I guess you need permits to transport stuff like that, but I can tell you that stretch of road has been due for a cleanup since—”

“Not animals, you idiot. Human bodies. Flatbed trailer piled high with human bones.”

Larry dropped the pen onto the desk and took his glasses off. He looked around the mostly empty station, wondering why he had passed on the opportunity to go home early when it had been offered. No, he had to stick around for the shit-bird shift, because a few extra hours of crap pay would surely make it all worthwhile. He had taken some crazy complaints over the years, including one person who insisted that aliens had sucked his eyeballs out through his nose, to replace them with new ones that they had made out of melted jello. This was already shaping up to be one of the top five.

“Gervais, just…just go over it again for me, all right?”

Gervais rolled his eyes and shook his head, clearly never having been so put out as this. “I was driving south, down the I-ten. I’m workin’ that graveyard again, so I’m used to pretty much having the road to myself.”

“Okay, with you so far.”

“I had just passed that big, old oak tree, the one out Cider Lane? Anyway, I’m driving along when all of a sudden, this big ass truck is right next to me, weaving in and out of my lane. I almost pulled off onto the shoulder just to get away from the idiot.”

“Uh-huh.”

Big son of a bitch. The truck I mean. I couldn’t believe it could even go that fast.”

“Yeah, I bet.” Larry paused in the middle of the tiny sketch on his notepad long enough to write, “Big son of a bitch,” saying it out loud to satisfy Gervais.

“It was just a flatbed, no covered trailer and when it passed, I figured he was just hauling firewood or something. But I looked again, and I shit you not, that thing was covered in human bones.”

“Gervais—”

“Just shut up one damn minute. I’ve been hunting these woods my whole life. I know the God damned difference between animal and human bones.”

“Gervais, what are you expecting me to do here, really? I know for a fact that you were at Rusty’s Tap tonight.”

He put out a shaky finger as he spoke, “Hold those horses there, that got nothing to do with—”

“Now you’re telling me you were driving home, probably shit-faced, and that you saw a flatbed truck covered in human bones.”

“It’s what happened.”

Larry let out a sigh. “Gervais, I’m sure you actually believe that. But what do you think is going to happen if I were to put all of that in an official report? I end up eating government cheese and you end up sucking your meals through a straw.”

“I saw what I saw.”

“Can you at least tell me anything about the truck? Make and model? Any markings? Did you get a clear look at the driver? Any logos on the mud-flaps? Flag in the window? Did you catch the plate number?”

“No, but—”

Larry put his hand out again to stop him. “No, to which question?”

“Any of ‘em, I guess. I didn’t see anything else, otherwise I’d tell you about it.”

Larry closed the notepad and clicked the pen shut. He straightened his tie as he pushed back from the desk.

“Gervais, I’m going to do you a favor. I’m not taking this report. No one would believe whatever it is you have to say and to be honest, I don’t want my name attached to it. Go home, sleep it off. Trust me, you’ll thank me in the morning, if you even remember any of this.”

“If I’m even here in the morning,” he muttered.

“What?”

Gervais shook his head, gaze still dropped to the floor. “Don’t matter none.”

“Come on, it’s one thing to come in here, spouting off about seeing dead bodies on a truck, but now you’re saying someone is actually after you?”

“You don’t see something like that—”

“Gervais, you didn’t—”

“You don’t SEE something like that without getting yourself into some bad trouble in the long run, see? They won’t let me stick around, not after what I saw.”

“Who are you talking about?”

Gervais leaned in so close that Larry reflexively winced at the chariot of scotch fumes driven out of his mouth, with the stench of tobacco at the reins.

“Don’t matter who ‘they’ is, you dummy. It’s all the same in the end. As it stands, I’ll do what I can, head for home and grab whatever I need. Then I’m smackin’ pavement.”

“Gervais, don’t do anything stupid.”

“Stupid would be staying here. So, unless you’re planning on arresting me…” Larry shook his head and nodded towards the door. He frowned at the sight of Gervais struggling to stand up.

“Are you hurt?”

“Naw. God damned, son of a bitching prosthetic in my knee. Titanium, my ass. Might as well be made out of paper clips.”

Larry watched him stumble out of the station, fairly sure that it was the booze making him wobble, more than the prosthetic.

The rest of the night was boring, by comparison. More drunks, a few domestics, a dog attack. No trucks. No bodies. Not that he was expecting any.

It was late before he got onto the road, choosing to take the I-ten south to avoid the stoplights. For a change, there was no traffic for him to contend with as he made his way up to cruising speed. His autopilot had kicked in so strongly that he almost didn’t see the truck. He heard it before he saw it, the heavy sound of springs protesting, the flatbed jerking forward and clanking against the cab. He glanced to his left as the truck passed, rust glaring in the moonlight. Somehow, the truck was managing to accelerate past him and in a moment, he felt his jaw start to go slack and he immediately wished that he had taken the report more seriously.

The flatbed was covered in human remains.

Bones and skulls with bits of flesh and blood, clinging to what was left of the their former bodies. He had written off the whole thing as a joke, a drunken delusion and now he found himself having to focus well enough to keep his car on the road. Then, as the back end of the truck passed he saw, perched on the very top of a pile, wobbling as if it was about to fall off, what looked like a leg bone. It lay there, mocking him, polished to a near sheen. The lights from his high beams reflected back at him, off of the titanium prosthetic where the knee had once been.

divider

To see more short fiction like this, take a look at Chad’s collections, A Shade For Every Season and Two Bells At Dawn.

D3mini

Chad A. Clark is an author of horror and science fiction. For more information on his literary universe, check out his official website or take a peek at his Amazon author page

 

The Bloody Book Blogger

#SupportIndieHorror

Live. Laugh. Scream.

The works of horror author Thomas S. Flowers

Hunter Shea

The Official Website of Horror Writer Hunter Shea

TV Series Hub

Your home away from TV. We got you covered!

bloodshotbooks

READ UNTIL YOU BLEED!

The Horror Bookshelf

A blog dedicated to Dark Fiction

A Mom and a Book

Maintaining Sanity One Page at a Time

kitpowerwriter

Displacement activity is still activity: Writing about writing

Woman on the Ledge

Writer Girl/Contributor to 1428elm.com, cultfaction.com, tvserieshub.tv, vhsrevival

Into The Macabre

Horror Book Reviews