A new era at Machine Mean
You may have noticed that a new name has been added to the banner of the Machine Mean site. I thought this would be as good a time as any to introduce myself. My name is Chad Clark, indie author of horror and science fiction. I have accepted the gracious invitation from the talented Mr. Flowers to join on as a partner on the Machine Mean blog.
I have been writing for most of my life, a passion which was forged in the incredible popular culture of the 1980’s. Whether it was the magic of Spielberg and Lucas or the grit of Stephen King and George Romero, I was quickly hooked on the art of storytelling. I was an avid reader from an early age and was fortunate enough to have parents who were willing to give me room to explore the areas that interested me.
After high school and as I got into college, I took some time away from writing as my passions went elsewhere. As was likely inevitable though, I found my way back to books, both to read and to write. After re-dedicating myself to the craft, I would have the honor to publish my first book in 2014, a collection of shorter stories titled, Borrowed Time : And Other Tales.
In 2013, I also launched my first blog, The Baked Scribe. The blog would start with featuring new short stories every week and as it grew, would also add essays on the craft of writing as well as book reviews. The Baked Scribe would last for several years and total two hundred stories before closing its doors earlier this year. In addition to my initial book, I have published a novel, Behind Our Walls, two novellas, Down The Beaten Path and Yesterday, When We Died and two collections of flash fiction, A Shade For Every Season and Two Bells At Dawn (due to be released on July 26). My short stories have been featured in various anthologies as well as on Amazon. In 2016, I also took on a position as a reviewer for the book blog, Confessions Of A Reviewer.
So that brings us to Machine Mean.
What will I be doing for the site? In addition to assisting Thomas with some behind the scenes stuff, I will be posting book reviews every other Wednesday. On the off weeks, I will post a piece of original short fiction. These will be either new stories or will be classic issues brought back from the Baked Scribe. I will also be sharing posts from my other online project, Tracing The Trails, an examination of the works of Stephen King as I read every one of his books in order and review each one along the way.
I am looking forward to this opportunity to work with Thomas on the site and to bring you more of the great content you have come to expect. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or comments. If you are interested in seeing more of my work, you can click here to check out my official website and here for my Amazon author page. You can also follow me on Facebook. Look for the page for Chad A. Clark.
Thanks for your attention and for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here!
July 19, 2017 | Categories: Local Happenings | Tags: amwriting, books, dark fiction, Fantasy, fiction, Horror, indie, indie author, indie fiction, science fiction, writing | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Hunting Witches
Mark and Nika Pendleton have just moved into the small town of Elders Keep. But the presence of the newcomers has awakened the evil that lives in the forest. Now, the Pendletons are in more danger than they’ve ever known as forces beyond their comprehension conspire against them. Pray for the Pendletons before it’s too late.
What readers are saying about Hunting Witches:
“An old time witch hunting story reminiscent of times in ancient history with a modern feel to it. It has scary parts and humorous parts. It has plenty of blood and guts when you want it. It is filled with emotion and a tale that will totally draw you into every printed word.” -Confessions of a Reviewer
“Elder’s Keep is the type of town you’d like to pass on by and never look back. Yet, some of us, including myself, can’t wait to return. In “Hunting Witches,” we meet Mark and Nika Pendleton, a modern couple who can’t wait to buy their old-fashioned, southern dream-home in Elder’s Keep- a seemingly sleepy town with a turbulent undercurrent. Familiar characters return, as the sheriff of the Keep struggles to maintain the balance between personal and professional, and struggles between the dark and the even darker forces at work in the Keep. References to witchcraft, folklore, Christian, Pagan, and even Satanic tradition, are woven throughout the work and are a pleasant surprise to scholars of folklore and/or religion. Five is a number oft-repeated … This is an engaging work, part of a series that I hope will continue. We get yet another glimpse into the mythology of the town of Elder’s Keep, and I hope that we get to dig in further.” -Lydian Faust
“I’m not usually a fan of horror but this story really captures some of the mysterious and creepy feelings that permeate the landscape and culture of West Tennessee. The romantic relationships are fun to read and entirely believable. Hope there is a sequel!” -Amazon Reviewer
“When a young couple moves to an idyllic Tennessee town, happiness ensues, right? This is a novel with roots in a collection of short stories by the same author. You’ve likely read the synopsis, and telling anymore would inevitably bring spoilers, and I will not do that. You must get this book, and help out an indie author who has a seriously twisted, and often humorous voice. It is speaking loud and needs to get louder.” -Chuck Knight
“King has Derry, Martin has the Keep. We all give things a second thought when they go “bump”. Read the anthologies for character backgrounds and just because they are great. Definitely worth the wait.” -Amazon Reviewer
You can get YOUR copy of Hunting Witches for $4.99!!
Jeffery X. Martin is the published author of several stories that are sure to shock, including those in the Elders Keep universe. He also published a fantastic tale in The Black Room Manuscripts. You can find his work, including his latest novel, Hunting Witches, on Amazon’s blood-soaked altar. When Mr. X is not writing creepy mind-benders, he’s the host and/or contributor to several podcasts and review sites, including but not limited to, Popshifter, Kiss the Goat, and the Cinema Beef Podcast. He is a frequent contributor to Machine Mean, reviewing for us The Wolf Man (1941), The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944), Revenge of the Creature (1955), and Squirm (1976).
December 30, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: American Dream, book boost, Book Review, books, creepy, cults, dark fiction, fiction, Hunting Witches, indie, indie author, indie fiction, Jeffery X Martin, novel, podcaster, podcasts, publish, racism, religion, Reviews, shock, small towns, Supernatural, Tennessee, thriller, tragedy, witches | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Hexagram
Their lands plagued by invaders, the Inca resort to an ancient ritual. By harvesting star dust from people, they hope to accumulate enough to raise the sun god, Inti, and reclaim their lands. Yet when the collection is interrupted, it sets in motion events which will rattle human history. Six stories. Six different time periods. One outcome.
We are all made of stars.
When an ancient Inca ritual is interrupted, it sets in motion a series of events that will echo through five hundred years of human history. Many seek to use the arcane knowledge for their own ends, from a survivor of a shipwreck, through to a suicide cult.
Yet…the most unlikeliest of them all will succeed.
What readers are saying about Hexagram:
“A rip-roaring boy’s own adventure yarn. This novel contains multitudes, and the sheer scale and breadth of the story is exhilarating. A glorious unhinged thrill ride.” – Kit Power, author of GodBomb!
“Hexagram is a visceral journey through the dark nooks and crannies of human history. Lovecraftian terror merges with blood sacrifice, suicide cults and body horror as Bradshaw weaves an intricate plot into an epic tale of apocalyptic dread.” – Rich Hawkins, author of The Last Plague trilogy
“In an interweaving of horror, science fiction, metaphysics, and mystery, readers travel a path convoluted and purposeful, from the era of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire, through the cleaning-up post-conquest (loading the gold and delivering it to Spain), pausing at the American Civil War, the Whitechapel murders of 1888, and continuing to the present, where the path and its purpose collide and all is revealed. Lest a potential reader might think that this novel is only science fiction, or perhaps New Age, I assure that horror resides as well on every single page, and the gore content is high and mighty.” -The Haunted Reading Room
“…a novel following various groups of people as they all try and achieve one goal across many centuries. A scary concept that could have delivered more for me on the horror front but makes up for that with the blood and literal guts. Either way, it’s Duncan P Bradshaw. You need to read it.” -Confessions of a Reviewer
“…an ambitious novel that jumps around a lot and because of this it could become Bradshaw’s Vegemite novel, meaning you either like it or you don’t. I did like it, a lot. The pacing is very good and I felt the short stories intertwined well, whilst being long enough without outstaying their welcome. The witty dialogue was enjoyable and there were some great scenes of gore. I read it in two sessions so it’s a thumbs up from me. Extra points to Bradshaw for mentioning the cricket, too!” -Adrian Shotbolt
You can get YOUR copy of Hexagram for the low-low price of $2.99!!!
Living in a hollowed out pumpkin, Duncan P. Bradshaw finds October the most troublesome of months, as people become intent on sticking flaming candles into the midst of his happy abode. In fact, the only good thing to come about from it is the copious amount of candy that he steals from passers-by. When they have all sodded right off, he retires to the tip of the stalk, which affords him excellent views of the neighbourhood. As the rest of the street slumbers, he writes down the weird and wonderful thoughts that have built up during the day, like the plaque. Find out what he writes down, by checking out his website http://duncanpbradshaw.co.uk/ or follow him on Facebook, where he does all manner of things https://www.facebook.com/duncanpbradshaw/
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking on the image below to receive updates on sales and new releases, and also the latest horror news.
December 23, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: Action, adventure, American History, apocalyptic fiction, book reviews, books, Civil War, Duncan Bradshaw, English History, fiction, gold, Gore, Guest author, Hexagram, historical fiction, History, Horror, Inca Empire, indie, indie author, indie authors, indie fiction, invaders, metaphysics, Mystery, novels, Reviews, ritual, science fiction, Small Press, Spain, Spanish, Spanish history, star dust, stars, thriller | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Killer Moves (Horror High Series Book 3)
After last year’s tragedy, life at Horror High should go back to normal…
Winter Addams has always loved to cheer and she’s ready to finally focus on the squad and their upcoming competition. But when a suspicious note is found on the body of a dead cheerleader, everyone immediately fears the worst. Is the real killer still out there?
Ready. Set. Stay alive…
Winter and the squad head out to a national competition, determined to reestablish themselves and clean up the school’s reputation. But danger follows Horror High everywhere, and another cheerleader ends up in the hospital. With half a squad, and a killer on the loose, Winter and her friends fear it may be time to give up cheer for good.
Quitting won’t save them now…
The sociopath behind the murders has it out for the squad, and all their lives are at stake. Not everyone will survive the final season of…
What readers are saying about Killer Moves:
“This is the 3rd book in this series and please grab and read the 1st two books in the series. So here we are another year at horror high, The cheerleaders have been stalk, and killed by a sociopath, and just when they think it finally over, it’s not. These poor cheerleader, wow there is a sentence I never thought I would write. I loved reading this series, made me glad I was a band geek, lol. Anywho I will not give any spoilers… So go grab these books! Find out how KILLER these cheerleaders are. Fantastic Job Carissa. I would recommend this series to any horror loving YA readers.” -Amazon Reviewer
“I love this book!!! Carissa knows how to suck you in, and keep you guessing! The psycho is finally revealed and it’s a shocker!! Me Likey the Book!” -Me Likey The Books
“This is a great wrap up to an amazing series. This author always keeps me on my toes- this is the 6th book of hers I’ve read- and Killer Moves was no exception. I was enthralled, and couldn’t put it down until I reached the end. And the end was amazing! I had no idea….never even crossed my mind to suspect… I love it when I can find books that keep me guessing and Carissa Ann Lynch never disappoints. Great book, great series. 5 stars.” -Wendy
“Being a longtime fan of Carissa Lynch, I always get super excited whenever her new book hits the shelves because I know that she’ll take me on a wild ride of suspense, mind games and my fruitless attempts to figure out who the murderer is. ‘Killer Moves,’ a third book in the ‘Horror High’ series, was exactly what I was so anxiously waiting for, and even more. The mood and atmosphere in this one is even darker and more ominous, and the intrigue is masterfully built up until it reaches its boiling point in the final scene where the killer finally reveals…themselves (I’m not going to spoil you the ending, so I’ll just admit that I suspected both boys and girls!). The Harrow – or Horror – High (as the name for this high school is very well deserved by now) cheerleading team is off to the cheerleading competitions, but that’s where the Sociopath strikes again, threatening the team with more bloodshed if they keep pursuing the championship. Throw in the mix a rival school’s team, more suspicions that fall onto yesterday’s friends, two girls fighting for a boy’s attention, and you have yourself a perfect thriller that you won’t be able to put down. I’d love to give ten stars to this brilliant conclusion of the “Horror High” series, and I already can’t wait for a new thrilling ride from the talented Ms. Lynch. Amazing, as always!” -Amazon Reviewer
You can get YOUR copy of Killer Moves (Horror High Series Book 3) for the mere price of $3.99!!!
Carissa Ann Lynch is the author of the Flocksdale Files trilogy, Horror High series, Grayson’s Ridge, This Is Not About Love, 13: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction, and Dark Legends: A Collection of 20 Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Novels. She resides in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with her husband and three children. Besides her family, her greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, smelling them…well, you get the idea.
Connect with Carissa by following her and checking out her work on the following places:
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/chb46z
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2bKQCyz
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking on the image below to receive updates on new book sales and releases, and also the latest and greatest horror movie and book reviews.
December 22, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book reviews, book series, books, Carissa Ann Lynch, cheerleader, cheerleading, cheerleading horror, fiction, high school, high school murder, Horror, Horror High, indie, indie author, indie fiction, Killer Moves, Limitless Publishing, novels, psycho, Reviews, serial killer, series, sociopath, thriller, YA, young adult | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Into Fear
22 tales of despair and dread. Zombies, Godless beasts, Eldritch horrors, serial killers and more lurk between its pages in wait to lure you into dreams, into nightmares, Into Fear! Featuring a Foreword by Tim Dedopolus, author and co-owner of Ghostwoods Books. 22 stories – Dreadmill, Gamarada Rock, Be Nimble, A Class of their Own, The Heartstone, Ball of Thread, Isophase Light, Le Ciel De Chocolat, Yo-Ho-Oh-No!, Daryl Duncan, Head Librarian, In the Bleak Midwinter, Continuity and Permanence, Good Morning, Mr. Murray, Bait Box, Conductive Salts, Zabobon, Titanomachy, The Beast of Bowline Moor, Shunned Stew House Special, The Ring of Karnak and The Royal. Afterword by critically acclaimed author Thomas S. Flowers.
What readers are saying about Into Fear:
“This is an excellent collection of stories- an eclectic mix of dark humor, gothic/classic horror, folklore, fantasy, and sci-fi tinged tales. One of my favorite tales is “Daryl Duncan,” about a man without a memory who awakes to find a copy of “Metamorphosis” and blood dripping from the ceiling. Fans of grim humor will find much to love in Into Fear.” -Amazon Reviewer
“This is quite an eclectic mix of stories and genres. I think the tagline for the book of ‘tales of dread and despair’ is spot on, rather than calling this an out and out horror story book. Don’t get me wrong, it is horrific in many parts, but the overriding feeling in the book is exactly what it says on the tin; dread and despair.” Nev Murray, Confessions of a Reviewer (read Nev’s full review here.)
“Some of the best short stories I’ve read in years, and definitely one of the top ten single-author collections I’ve read ever. Chant has put together something special here – a mix of stories from dark fantasy to pastiche, atmospheric dread to full-on horror, and literary mashups. Do yourself a favor and grab this book!” -Duncan Ralston
You can get YOUR copy of Into Fear for $2.99
Daniel Marc Chant is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean. He has reviewed for us both The Mummy (1932) and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956), as well as Eli Roth’s strange horror flick Clown (2014). Mr. Chant is the published author of several terrifying tales, including Maldicion, Burning House, and his venture into feline horror, Mr. Robespierre. Daniel is also one of the founders of The Sinister Horror Company, the publishing team that brought us such frights as, The Black Room Manuscripts Vol 1 & Vol 2, and God Bomb!. You can follow Daniel on his blog, here. And you can read his review on Mummy here.
December 20, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book boost, Book Review, books, Collection, collections, Daniel Marc Chant, dark fiction, dread, fear, fiction, Guest author, Horror, horror books, indie, indie authors, indie fiction, indie horror, Into Fear, must reads, novels, prose, short stories, Sinister Horror Company, strange, strange fiction | Leave a comment
Do not adjust your transmission: The Last Knock
According to the website, “Join Billy Crash and Jonny Numb as they discuss their take on horror films. Intelligent thoughts on the making of movies, dissemination of plot twists, and provoking debate on the good, the bad, and the truly horrific.” And according to listeners such as myself, few podcasts go in-depth as The Last Knock does while not descending into the drone of becoming tedious. And not only that, but the show runs just about every week, new episodes releasing typically during the weekend. They do themes and sometimes straight up movie reviews, from Silent Era flicks and German Expressionism to the latest, such as It Follows and Neon Demon. Basically, if you’re a fan of horror and horror movies, you need to check out The Last Knock.
One-half of The Last Knock:
William D. Prystuak, who is no stranger to Machine Mean. Will has reviewed for us Dracula’s Daughter (1936) during our Universal Monsters in Review series. Professor Prystuak is also an award-winning screenwriter, film producer, and teacher in higher education, as well as a published poet, and essayist. His crime thriller, BLOODLETTING, has been adapted from his script of the same name, and he is currently working on a horror series. William also co-hosts THE LAST KNOCK podcast as Billy Crash with his good buddy, Jonny Numb, and currently, has thousands of listeners in 120 countries. You can find more about horror and William on his Crash Palace Productions site. As an Assistant Professor of English at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, William teaches business writing and public relations. You can find more about William at any of these fantastic sites: Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Fu9PHS Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1GhclaJ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23365977-bloodletting BLOODLETTING Book Trailer One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVNji_G-tSI BLOODLETTING Book Trailer Two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glK9DiVIHT8 IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5464477/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1 Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/william-d-prystauk/10/9a1/a55 Horror Podcast: THE LAST KNOCK on iTunes Twitter: @crashpalace. You can read Professor Prystuak’s review of Drac’s Daughter here.
Second-half of The Last Knock:
Jon Weidler, who also is no stranger to Machine Mean. He has reviewed for us Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy (1955) AND Clean, Shaven for our Fright Fest month back in October. Mr. Weidler works for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by day but is a podcast superhero by night. He co-hosts THE LAST KNOCK horror podcast under the moniker “Jonny Numb,” and is a regular contributor to the Crash Palace Productions and Loud Green Bird websites. His archived movie reviews can be found at numbviews.livejournal.com, and his social media handle is @JonnyNumb (Twitter & Letterboxd). You can read his review of A&C Meet Mummy here.
December 19, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: bloggers, blogging, dark fiction, fiction, film review, genre, Horror, horror podcasts, horror shows, indie, Jon Weidler, modern film, movie reviews, Movies, podcast, podcasting, podcasts, radio, Reviews, shows, The Last Knock, The Silent Era, voice, William D. Prystauk, writing | 1 Comment
Book Featurette: Behind Our Walls
The world has fallen to ash.
Governments have collapsed, police and armies no longer exist and the people of the world have been left behind to fend for themselves in the midst of escalating violence and nuclear fallout.
One community of survivors find each other, come together and try to rebuild, to start over. Confronting the threats from without and within, they do everything necessary to find the only thing left, the most scarce resource of all.
What readers are saying about Behind Our Walls:
“I read Chad A. Clark’s short story collection, Borrowed Time, a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. So, when I learned that he was expanding one of those stories into a novel, I was excited to get to read it. You don’t need to have read the short story first, and the story is included at the end of the novel, since the novel is a sort of prequel to that story, laying out the what happened before ‘Tomorrow’s Memory.’ Behind Our Walls is a unique take on post-apocalyptic fiction. There are no zombies, no dictatorships, no aliens. The threats are not external and easy to unite against. The world has simply fallen apart and we are watching it reform around Sophie, our young protagonist. Many of the themes popular in post-apocalyptic fiction are present here–extreme situations bringing out the worst and best in people, trust as a limited commodity, resource management for survival. But I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel before that focused on “what happens now” so fully. Backstories and causes of the downfall of the world take a serious backseat to grappling with how society will reform in the new reality. The novel begins with Sophie on the run in the company of her parents, her sister Corrine, her sister’s fiance Adam, and a man named Rowen. Without getting too spoilery, I think it safe to tell you that they meet other travelers and that people are lost, new alliances are made, and betrayals happen. I was engaged by the story and cared about the characters throughout. There good tension and suspense regarding what decisions different characters might make and what struggles they would face. I recommend the book for those who enjoy post-apocalyptic or survival stories but are looking for something a little different in that genre.” – Samantha Dunaway Bryant
“An excellent debut novel by Chad A. Clark for fans of postapocalyptic fiction. The characters and their actions are believable and each is well-defined. Behind Our Walls is a quick read and does what most excellent stories do — leaves you wanting more. Looking forward to future works from Mr. Clark.” -Amazon Reviewer
“I would say that the story has a young adult feel to it, but be warned there are some dark moments, albeit not so explicitly described as to make this 18+ (in my view). As a self-published work the formatting sometimes reveals the odd typo, but nothing too numerous or jarring to shake the reader out of the story. I would recommend this book to those who love post-apocalyptic scenarios but are looking for rich character interaction as opposed to violent gore or horror elements. It was an engaging read and I think we’re going to be seeing some more first class output from Chad Clark in the future.” -Amazon Reviewer
“The interesting thing about post-apocalyptic fiction is that it becomes a sort of character study. You’d think we’d want to know more about “how” the world ends, a virus, flesh-eating zombies, alien invasion the likes of War of the Worlds, something. But sometimes, the best apocalyptic stories are stories about us. Stories about what we do when faced with uncertainty. When the warm fuzzy blanket of banality falls to a cold stone floor, what will you do? This is my first foray into the mind of Chad A. Clark, and it won’t be my last. The work here was very daring. While most writers focus on the Hollywood action of ‘how-it-all-happened,’ Clark focuses on ‘what to do we do now?’ Now that the wall has fallen, do we rebuild another? I find it interesting that while most would indeed write a book with a modern definition of ‘apocalypse,’ being the end of the world, humanity, etc. etc., instead, Clark gives us a story that defines the original Greek definition of ‘apocalypse,’ which means a disclosure of knowledge, an unveiling, a revelation. And he presents his revelation in a tradition mode of storytelling, delivering both suspense and drama, around the family unit.” -Thomas S. Flowers (me)
You can get your copy of Behind Our Walls for the low-low price of $0.99!!!
Chad Clark is a frequent flyer here on Machine Mean. He has reviewed for us before with commentary on House of Dracula (1945) and House of 1000 Corpses. Mr. Clark is a midwestern author of horror and science fiction. His artistic roots can be traced back to the golden era of horror literature, Stephen King, and Robert McCammon being large influences. His love for horror began as well in the classic horror franchises of the eighties. He resides in Iowa with his wife and two sons. Clark’s debut novel, Borrowed Time, was published in 2014. His second novel, A Shade for Every Season was released in 2015, and in 2016 Clark published Behind Our Walls, a dark look at the human condition set in a post-apocalyptic world. His latest book, Down the Beaten Path, released in September 2016. You can keep up with all of Mr. Clark’s works by following him on Amazon here.
December 16, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: apocalypse, apocalyptic fiction, Behind Our Walls, Book Review, books, Chad Clark, characterization, characters, dark, dark fiction, downfall, end of the world, end times, fiction, horror stories, humanity, indie, indie author, indie fiction, novels, Parents, review, science fiction stories, Small Press, survival, walls | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: The Exchange
Unemployed and out of ideas, Jake and his friends head into town for something to do. But before long they are in over their heads. Determined to get their friend back from the clutches of a lethal and shadowy group, the teenagers find themselves in possession of an object with mysterious powers. With their sanity crumbling amidst a warping reality, the gang is cornered on a wasteland in the middle of the city, caught in a bloodthirsty battle between criminal underlords, religious sects, and sadistic maniacs. Nightmares become reality as the stakes begin to rise. Who will have the upper hand and who will survive this deadly encounter as they bargain for their lives in this most deadly exchange.
What readers are saying about The Exchange:
“The Exchange is the stuff of nightmares. J.R. Park takes us on a fast-paced ride of warring factions in competition for the most coveted prize in existence. We are thrust in and out of fantastically hellish realms, as the protagonists struggle to survive the exchange. An engaging story that will leave you in wonder– highly recommended.” -Lydian Faust
“This book had a lot of action. I felt it was almost like a run-on sentence, seemed to me the action was running at full speed with no end in site. But overall good book.” -Thomas Hobbs
“The Exchange thrusts the reader into the heart of the action from the first page. Our story begins with two groups facing off against each other in an abandoned building site, each holding something the other group wants. As I was reading I kept waiting for the ‘6 hours earlier’, ’12 hours earlier’ or ’24 hours earlier’ flashback that would delve into everyone’s backstories explaining who they were and how they all got into this mess. Wisely, the book NEVER does this. You get a few lines here and there helping to fill in the blanks, but you’re never yanked away from the action as more and more characters with their own motivations drop in to complicate things further, never letting the plot get onto an even keel. As a result, it can be discombobulating and perplexing. There’s a cosmic puzzle at the heart of The Exchange and occasionally it feels like the author is going far out of his way to deny the reader all the pieces. Thankfully, the action surrounding the central mystery is fantastic. The book is at its best when people are dying in extraordinarily gruesome ways, being tormented by fantastical visions or being transformed into monsters. There’s a level of detail and originality in the descriptions that sets the writing apart from that of others in the current horror field. There were certain inconsistencies in the final pages, along with a conclusion that felt more like a set-up for a future book, that kept this from being a 5-star work for me, but even so, it’s still the most purely entertaining horror novel I’ve read this year. And it has unicorns! (N.B. The book has its own soundtrack, listed in the opening pages. I wasn’t able to listen to it all, but I played it along with the first few chapters and it’s pretty good. I recommend it.)” -Amazon Reviewer
“Park is a much-needed shot in the arm for gritty pulp horror.” – DLS Reviews
You can get YOUR copy of The Exchange on Amazon for $2.99
Justin Park is no stranger to Machine Mean. He has reviewed for us both Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), Werewolf in London (1935), and The Beyond (1981). Mr. Park draws from the crazy worlds of exploitation cinema and pulp literature for his literary inspiration. His family are both equally proud and disturbed by his literary output dragged from a mind they helped to cultivate. He resides on the outskirts of Bristol in the UK and hopes one day they’ll let him in. Mr. Park is the author of several twisted tales of morbid doom, including Upon Waking and Terror Byte and Punch. He was also featured with a horrifyingly wonderful short in the horror anthology The Black Room Manuscripts. Besides giving his readers terrifying nightmares, Mr. Park is also one of the founding members of the up and coming UK Publishing team, The Sinister Horror Company, active in promoting other writers and attending numerous conventions. You can read his review on A&C Meet Frank here.
December 15, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: Action, book boost, book reviews, books, Comedy, dark fiction, extreme, extreme horror, Fantasy, fiction, gang, gangs, Guest author, Horror, horror books, horror fiction, indie, indie author, indie fiction, indie horror, J.R. Park, Justin Park, nightmares, Novella, novels, Reviews, scary, Sinister Horror Company, The Exchange, The Sinister Horror Company, twisted | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Breaking Point
BREAKING POINT – THE LIFELINE TRILOGY
A Cyclist is knocked unconscious on his way home and wakes up in a nightmare…
A devoted husband begins to suspect all is not well with his marriage…
A desperate family man, running out of time and options, turns to an old schoolmate from the wrong side of the tracks – looking for work – any work…
A young man’s world is thrown into chaos as his father is abducted…
Four tales of people pushed to BREAKING POINT.
What readers are saying about Breaking Point:
“Power gets splatterpunk in a way that few do.” – Bracken MacLeod
“One of the best novellas I’ve had the pleasure to read.” – Duncan Ralston
“This is my second book by Kit Power. I loved it as much as I loved GODBOMB. This collection of 4 short stories are well written and full of suspense. Each one will keep you on the edge of your seat and just about leave you breathless by the last page. Move this to the top of your to be read pile!! You won’t be sorry.” -Tina Marie.
“WOW! This book of short tales by the talented Kit Power is a stunning read. Like the famous book on anti-gravity, I couldn’t put it down. Genesis, the prequel to his superb novel GodBomb, blew me away with its emotional power and brutality. The Lifeline Trilogy consisting of ‘The Loving Husband and the Faithful Wife’, ‘The Debt’ and ‘Lifeline’ are extremely dark and made even more terrifying due to the fact that Kit Power has steered away from the realms of fantasy, and lingered uncomfortably within the domain of the feasible. Intense, and sinister is a great combination and Kit Power nails it yet again.” -Amazon Reviewer
You can get your copy of Breaking Point on Amazon for $2.99!
Kit Power lives in the UK and writes fiction that lurks at the boundaries of the horror, fantasy, and thriller genres, trying to bum a smoke or hitch a ride from the unwary. In his secret alter ego of Kit Gonzo, he also performs as the frontman (and occasionally blogs) for death cult and popular beat combo The Disciples Of Gonzo, http://www.disciplesofgonzo.com. Kit is no stranger to Machine Mean, you can read his phenomenal essay on Bride of Frankenstein here. And you can keep up with all his publications here.
December 14, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book reviews, books, Breaking Point, collections, dark, dark fiction, fiction, Gonzo, Guest author, Horror, horror reviews, indie, indie author, indie fiction, Kit Power, novels, Reviews, short stories, Sinister Horror Company, Small Press, thriller, writer, writing | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Final Review
Warning: Some Scenes May Disturb. Every author knows that paying too much attention to bad reviews will only lead to trouble, and Emma’s about to find this out the hard way, thanks to her boyfriend, Wade. After the success and praise received from her first book, the two that followed haven’t done so well, and the less than shining reviews have disheartened Emma to the point where she considers pulling her books and perhaps even giving up writing altogether. Wade will have none of that, however. When Emma tells Wade reviewers are calling her books “unrealistic,” Wade sets out to teach Emma how to add realism to her horror stories. Just how “real” things get goes far beyond Emma’s expectations.
What readers are saying about Final Review:
“DC + JL’s ‘Final Review’ is a train-wreck of a story, and I mean that in the nicest possible way. You stop, you stare, you gape. Eventually, you realize there will be no order to the chaos and destruction and watch with one eye closed and jaw clenched tight. To brave this well-written but totally insane journey through the rigors of human hell (kidnapping, torture, rape, murder etc.) is a trip that will never be forgotten. Read at your own peril. You may just get thrown under the train.” -Amazon Reviewer.
“Another great extreme horror story from Dawn. She is one of the best authors of this type of story. I look daily for her new books and was sure worth the wait from her last book. I hope we get another great extreme story sooner than later. This was sad but a great story.” -Amazon Reviewer
“Speaking of bad reviews, here’s mine. I absolutely hated this story. Had I known there was so much sex in it, I wouldn’t have got it. I love horror, but not erotic, torture horror. I kept reading because I adore Dawn Cano’s writing, and there’s usually a kicker at the end. I should have just stopped. The only reason I gave this tale 3 stars is because it was well written, and most people who like extreme horror will probably like this also. I’ll be back for Dawn’s next story, but I should’ve passed on this one.” -Lisa
“Oh boy, just when you think Dawn Cano hasn’t had enough wine after cooking babies, endearing hit men, here comes Final Review. A bats**it crazy writer (but not Dawn, ok are we clear?) who goes on a ‘let’s create a story from experience’ adventure with her boyfriend. Just when you think you cannot possibly get more disturbed, Dawn Cano is your answer. obviously more wine has to head your way!” -Colleen Cassidy
You can get your copy of Final Review for $0.99!!!
Dawn Cano, aka The Queen of Extreme, is the author of Final Review(w/ John Ledger), Cash Out, Violent Delights (w/ Lewis Duncan), and several other extreme horror stories. Her latest project, editor for VS: US Vs. UK, which is a horror anthology that is currently a top seller on Amazon, pulling several up and coming authors. She also writes reviews for The Ginger Nuts of Horror. You can keep up with her work here.
December 13, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: Amazon, amazon kindle, book reviews, books, dark, dark fiction, Dawn Cano, disturbed, erotica, extreme, extreme horror, fiction, grim, Grindhouse, Guest author, Horror, indie, indie author, indie authors, indie horror, John Ledger, rape, Reviews, sex, short stories, torture | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Copper Veins (The Copper Legacy Series)
Sara’s pretty sure her life is perfect. Not only are she and Micah finally married, her father, who’d been missing since the Magic Wars, has been found. Actually, he just strode up to the manor’s front door, but whatever. Sara knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth. But Baudoin Corbeau isn’t content to return to family life. He’s decided that he will be the force of change in the Mundane world, and lead the Elemental resistance to victory with his children at his side. What’s worse, Baudoin doesn’t approve of Sara’s marriage and makes every attempt to separate her from Micah. After a visit to the Mundane realm leaves Sara, Max, and Sadie imprisoned by the Peacekeepers, Sara’s doubts creep to the surface. Is her father right? Does she belong in the Mundane realm, not the Otherworld? Is Micah really the right man–make that elf–for her? Was marrying him a mistake?
What readers are saying about Copper Veins:
“This author reignited my love of fantasy – something I lost for a very long time since I was a little girl. I slowly read my way through this novel, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I didn’t want it to end. I love all the romance between Sara and Micah, and the tight family bonds between Sara and her family. In this installment, Sara and Micah are married. Life is perfect… or so it seems. Why doesn’t Sara’s father not approve of her husband? And why does her father seem like a stranger? Sara struggles with these issues and when she eventually learns the truth, it shocks her to her very core. I was rather surprised too, and the plot twist was anything but predictable. I recommend this series to fans of romance and urban fantasy – if you like both genres, all the better!” -April L. Wood
“I love this series! I thoroughly enjoy reading what these characters are up to and can’t wait for the next book!!” -Katherine
“It’s been so long since I Read the last book, I didn’t know if I would remember the storylines… But as soon as I started to read Copper Veins, I fell right back in love with Micah and Sara’s many adventures… And when they thought her father came back only to find her Married, I hated you for stopping it there… But as the many months ticked by while waiting for the next book. I understand why you did and I forgave you !!I don’t really hate you. But I am waiting for a book about Micah and Sara’s life with kid’s in the mix..how long do we have to wait this time??” -Amazon Reviewer
“There are surprises, secrets and the reappearance of old enemies. There are still many dangers ahead but they will have to wait for book four.” – Paranormal Romance Guild
You can get your copy of Copper Veins (Copper Legacy Book 3) for $4.99
Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs, and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and read every book in the local library by the age of twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction. You can keep up with Jennifer’s work here.
December 13, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book reviews, books, Copper Veins, Fantasy, fiction, fiction reviews, Guest author, indie, indie author, Jennifer Allis Provost, novel, novels, paranormal fantasy, paranormal romance, Reviews, romance, supernatual, The Copper Legacy Series | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Life After the Undead
Seventeen-year-old Krista must quickly figure out how she’s going to survive in the zombie-destroyed world. The one advantage humans have is that the zombies hate humid environments, so they’re migrating west to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors plan to construct a wall at North Platte to keep the undead out, and Krista has come to Nebraska to start a new life. Zombies aren’t the only creatures she has to be cautious of—the other survivors have a dark side. Krista must fight not only to live but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately, those she loves. Join Krista in her quest to survive in this thrilling apocalyptic novel by Pembroke Sinclair.
What readers are saying about Life After the Undead:
“I bonded with Krista quickly because of her curiosity, the need to know why the zombies do what they do and we head to Florida, traveling through the grisly horror with the excellent writing and storyline, including a laugh or two along the way.” -Amazon Reviewer
” A young adult zombie tale that more mature adults will love as well. If you want a good clean tale, then this is the one for you. Plenty of perfectly paced writing that will grip you and keep you to the end.” -Confessions of a Reviewer.
“This was a really great zombie story. The characters were relatable and it had plenty of action to keep it riveting and suspenseful. I am really glad there is a second book so I can see where the storyline goes. If you like zombie stories, pick this one up and you’ll be hooked too.” -Amazon Reviewer
“This book was enjoyable. The world building was great and believable. The characters have the right amount of depth to make the reader feel a connection. There is an adequate number of characters. The premise was well done and the pacing was perfect. Superb book. I look forward to reading the next one.” -Allie Sumner
“I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series. Yes, there is zombies but the real drama is the fight for control over what was left after the zombies killed over 80% of humanity. The characters are easy to get to know and I was drawn to the lead female character as she grew throughout the novel and became a leader. Borrow it on KU or buy it today but read it!” -Linda C.
“I really believe that this story deserves five stars. I love The Walking Dead, so of course—I figured that I would like this book. This story portrays an accurate description of what I see in my mind if something like this were ever to happen. Not only a zombocalypse but any virus or disease of sorts that could decimate nearly an entire population. I truly sympathized with Krista and the things that she had to endure—mostly because she was alone. The originality and creativity is spectacular, the character development is superb. I am very impressed with this author’s writing style, quick pace and ability to hold me at the edge of my seat waiting to find out who will die and who will survive to see another day. I look forward to reading more by this author in the future, but would really love to read more about Krista’s continued journey with building the wall.” -Lauren Jones.
You can get your copy of Life After the Undead on Amazon for the lower price of $2.99
Pembroke Sinclair is a literary jack of all trades, playing her hand at multiple genres. She has written an eclectic mix of fiction ranging from horror to sci-fi and even some westerns. Born in Rock Springs, Wyoming–the home of 56 nationalities–it is no wonder Pembroke ended up so creatively diverse. Her fascination with the notions of good and evil, demons and angels, and how the lines blur have inspired her writing. Pembroke lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband, two spirited boys, a black lab named Ryder, and a rescue kitty named Alia, who happens to be the sweetest, most adorable kitty in the world! She cannot say no to dessert, orange soda, or cinnamon. She loves rats and tatts and rock and roll and wants to be an alien queen when she grows up.
You can learn more about Pembroke Sinclair by visiting her at:
December 9, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book boost, book release, book reviews, books, Christmas, Christmas shopping, feature, fiction, guest authors, horror novels, indie, indie author, life, novel, Pembroke Sinclair, promote, Reviews, terror, The Walking Dead, thriller, TWD, undead, young adult, zombies | 2 Comments
Book Featurette: Roulette
A young man pushed to the edge. A barrel in his mouth–one last time to reflect on his life.
What reviewers are saying about Roulette:
“I initially gave this 4 stars, but the more I thought about it, I think this short vignette deserves a full 5 because this is one that really sticks with you. I can’t really talk much about the text without giving away the whole thing, but the protagonist/narrator starts off in a very dark place but experiences a sort of rebirth and redemption. I see that this is the author’s first publication, and he’s come out of the gate really strongly. I very much look forward to watching the author as he progresses. If this is any indication, he’s going to go far.” -Geordon Vantassle“Amazingly written!!! I was immediately hooked from the first to the last sentence! I can’t wait to see more from Kurt Thingvold!!!” -Amazon Reviewer.“The juxtaposition of one man’s heaven and hell, combined with the elegance and realism of the writing makes this a definite page turner!” -Amazon Reviewer.
“Dark and twisted, triumphant yet mournful. The author manages to capture an entire lifetime worth of haunted memories in just a few pages. This is a suspenseful short story that will have you rapidly turning from page to page.” -Light Seeker
You can get your copy of Roulette for less than a cup of coffee, $0.99 cents!
December 8, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror, Reviews | Tags: book, book reviews, books, dark fiction, fiction, Guest author, haunted, haunted past, Horror, indie, indie author, indie horror, Kurt Thingvold, novel, novels, realism, Reviews, Roulette, short stories, Short Story, veteran, Veteran Writers | Leave a comment
Book Featurette: Blood Moon Big Top
When Kendrick the drifter joins a circus and becomes Marbles the Clown, he discovers the art of transformation; an escape from the woes of his everyday life. An unfortunate encounter with a feral child in the woods, as the Full Moon prepares to meet the approaching dawn, sets off a gradual transformation beyond anything Marbles could imagine. His deterioration over the following two weeks leads to his apparent death and the circus moves on. Waking up in the morgue a few days later, the slow transformation of Marbles the Clown begins. In a desperate bid to catch up with the circus as it travels from town to town, city to city, Marbles embarks on a two-week journey of nightmare carnage and unconquerable insanity, finally reaching his destination in time for the real and terrifying transformation to take hold.
Blood Moon Big Top, according to reviewers:
“…a fast-paced, engaging werewolf novella recounting the story of Marbles the Clown, a loner who finally finds a place for himself performing in a family circus. One of the fascinations of the book is the emphasis on the transformation itself and the sensations that Marbles undergoes. It is not at all a smooth ride, involving both physical suffering and psychological trauma. Marbles tries to resist the increasingly compelling drive to hunt, kill and eat human victims, even trying to limit his diet to creatures of the forest. Slowly his resistance is overwhelmed as he evolves from a human afflicted with lycanthropic urges to a soulless ravening beast. Another intriguing element is the care and attention provided to him by the members of his circus family. Marbles himself was a loner before he joined the circus and he stuck to himself, but he still gained the friendship and allegiance of the circus fraternity. Even in the depths of his transformation into a werewolf, there are touching scenes of support and camaraderie. The one human instinct that remains with Marbles is his desire to rejoin the circus that left him behind during the depths of his illness. And that, in fact, is where the book’s tumultuous climax occurs – inside the Big Top. Don’t get me wrong, Blood Moon Big Top is a rip-roaring page-turner, but it also finds time to explore the human side of the horrific transformation from a man into a beast. The writing is rich and lush, with just the right amount of description to establish atmosphere. Toneye Eyenot possesses strong narrative storytelling skills, which are very much in evidence in this classic werewolf tale. Highly recommended!”
“What a bloody good read, I received this book for an honest review. And I gotta say Toneye does not disappoint, it had everything , clowns, werewolves , murder , and cannibalism, I recommend to all fan’s of modern horror”
“Eyenot weaves a brutal lycanthropic tale about a man who becomes a beast. The mingling of clown horror with some truly epic werewolf savagery makes this a unique horror read. I read this in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. This writer is one of my favorites.”
“Most people are terrified of clowns, and werewolves is old legends. This was a very interesting twist on the 2 combined.”
You can purchase YOUR copy of Blood Moon Big Top…………..
Toneye Eyenot hails from The Blue Mountains in Australia. Although writing horrible tales for the better part of 25 years, 2014 has seen his first published work in REJECTED For Content – Splattergore, through J. Ellington Ashton Press, an anthology showcasing alongside many other esteemed authors of the bloodsoaked word. BLOOD MOON BIG TOP is his latest release (Oct. 7, 2016) from J. Ellington Ashton Press. A werewolf/clown Horror novella. His first extended story, in the form of a Dark Fantasy/Horror novella, THE SCARLETT CURSE is book one in the Sacred Blade Of Profanity series, released through J. Ellington Ashton Press and available now in print and on Kindle. Book II in the series- JOSHUA’S FOLLY has also just been released through JEA Mar.13, 2016. Book III in the Sacred Blade Of Profanity series is currently being conjured. With more anthology appearances in both, REJECTED FOR CONTENT 2-Aberrant Menagerie and REJECTED FOR CONTENT 3-Vicious Vengeance, also Doorway To Death, Jeapers Creepers and Lost Gods And Forgotten Cities, and more in Cellar Door III – Animals/Hell II – Citizens by James Ward Kirk Fiction, as well as The Grays by James Ward Kirk fiction and more anthologies awaiting publication. Eyenot is also the editor for a werewolf themed anthology-FULL MOON SLAUGHTER.
Visit Toneye at his website: http://toneyeeyenot.weebly.com/
Connect with Toneye on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Toneye-Eyenot-Dark-Author-Musician-1128293857187537/
December 2, 2016 | Categories: Book Review, Horror | Tags: authors, Blood Moon Big Top, books, circus, clowns, dark fiction, evil clowns, Horror, indie, indie authors, lycanthropy, Murder, Novella, novellas, novels, Reviews, terror, Toneye Eyenot, transformation, werewolf, Werewolf lore, werewolves | Leave a comment
Fright Fest: Squirm (1976)
Jeff Leiberman’s killer worm movie from the Seventies, Squirm, is more than your basic eco-horror film. It’s a taut Southern gothic tale, filled with sexual tension and bizarre symbolism, making it more than worth your time to watch. Squirm isn’t really a “nature gone mad” flick. It’s more like a “nature extremely irritated” movie. When a tremendous storm hits the isolated rural town of Fly Creek, GA, downed power lines send bazillions of volts of electricity into the ground. This shocking turn of events takes its toll on the underground population of bloodworms, a grosser-than-normal kind of tubular critter that has the ability to bite. Nobody is safe from the killer nightcrawlers, but the biting bait functions more as a symbol than a mindless mass of slimy flesh-eaters. Yeah, it’s disgusting, and there are a couple of scenes in this movie that will give you bad dreams. It’s legitimately scary, but underneath the millions of worms lies a story of repressed passions and unfulfilled promise.
Our heroine, Geri (Patricia Pearcy), has invited her friend Mick (Don Scardino) down from New York City to stay the weekend. Geri lives with her sister and her widowed mother. Since the power is off, the whole place is hotter and moister than usual. The entrance of Mick into this situation sets strange events in motion.
Mama hasn’t had a man since Big Daddy died and having Mick roam around the house shirtless activates her nethers in a way she hasn’t known for decades. The same things are happening to young Geri, who follows Mick around like that old cartoon character with red pigtails and a gingham dress, eyes bulging out and steam flying out of her ears, screaming “A MAY-UNNN!”
Mick’s arrival also sets off the competitive nature in local man Roger (R. A. Dow), the simpleton son of a worm farmer who has his eye on Geri. To be fair, Geri does use her feminine wiles to get Roger to do things for her. Let me borrow your truck, Roger. Bait my fishing hook, Roger. He’s just a poor puppy dog, hoping to get his belly scratched. This does not happen.
There’s so much pining in this movie, it may as well have been filmed in the fjords.
And where do the worms come in? Besides being naturally phallic-shaped, embodying all the slippery sexual tension in the family, they also represent what’s been called the New South. This is a South that has gotten past the Civil War, embraced the Industrial Revolution and tries to fit in with the rest of the country without a chip on its shoulder. Mama represents the Old South, especially as far as etiquette goes. She hates Mick for disrupting her small matriarchy with the threat of Penis, his sexuality being another form of Northern aggression, and yet she can’t help but stare at him longingly. Her eyes travel him up and down in a delightful reverse of the male gaze. She can’t admit it, but Mama is ready to fraternize with the enemy.
The worms, as the New South, attack from all sides. They rise up from the ground, like the ghosts of Confederate soldiers. They devour the citizens. They invade the homes. Eventually, they destroy Mama’s house with her in it. She has no choice but to succumb. It’s no coincidence that much like Atlanta after Sherman’s March, they’re going to have to rebuild.
The person who fights hardest against the invading worms is poor dumb Roger, who works on a worm farm! He’s been raising these things, and they turn against him in the most horrific of ways, like ungrateful children. Imagine being a die-hard Yellow Dog Democrat all your life, then finding out your kids voted for the godforsaken, quasi-Communist Green Party. Betrayal! Obi-Wan and Anakin level betrayal!
They used to call stories like this “pot-boilers,” simmering with sex and heat and passions that must not be spoken aloud. This one also happens to have killer bloodworms that scream like sodomized baboons. Believe me, if you want the gross-out factor, it’s here. Just the shot of worms oozing their way out of a showerhead is enough to give me the heebie-jeebies from hell to breakfast.
But Squirm is a great example of horror being the genre where you can explore anything. You can’t explore the lingering effects of the aftermath of the Civil War and misplaced, toxic sexual desire and repression in a romantic comedy. How would the audience react to Christina Applegate getting the meat stripped off her bones by thousands of insane electrified bloodworms after her first awkward date with Paul Rudd?
Squirm is a B-movie treasure, loaded with winning performances and subtext out the O-ring. Not only is it a tremendous movie, it’s a great film deserving of greater appreciation.
Jeffery X. Martin is no stranger to Machine Mean. After reviewing for us The Wolf Man (1941) and The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) and Revenge of the Creature (1955), Mr. X has brought us to a new level of terror with Squirm. When he isn’t being pestered by me to write movie reviews, he also writes books and is an avid podcaster. Mr. X has published several stories that are sure to shock, including those in the Elder’s Keep universe and Tarotsphere. He also has a fantastic tale in The Black Room Manuscripts Vol 1. His latest novel, Hunting Witches, is now available on Amazon’s blood-soaked altar. You can find his work on Amazon. When Mr. X is not writing creep mind-benders, he’s the host and/or contributor to several podcasts and blogs, including, but not limited to, Pop Shiftier and Kiss the Goat. You can read his previous review on Wolf Man here.
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the FREE BOOK image below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.
October 27, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 1976, bio, bio-horror, dark, Don Scardino, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, Grindhouse, gritty, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, Horror, horror reviews, indie, Jean Sullivan, Jeff Lieberman, Jeffery X Martin, low budget, movie reviews, Patricia Pearcy, phallic, Reviews, Squirm, William Newman | 2 Comments
Fright Fest: Clean, Shaven (1993)
The trailer for Clean, Shaven is brilliant – clocking in at a little over a minute, only a fleeting few seconds are devoted to footage from the film (choosing an extremely powerful moment near the end). It’s built up to with a string of critical accolades (red font against a black background), while an unsettling score drones. It bears noting that the critics’ blurbs state nothing about the plot. In an era where movies are regularly spoiled by their trailers – this summer’s Don’t Breathe being a recent example – the curiosity sparked by Clean, Shaven’s is not only a testament to its craftiness but the ambiguous mystery lurking at the film’s core. It alludes to a cinematic experience that will force the viewer to consider things from a different perspective.
But to discuss the mystery would lead into spoiler territory. (I realize I sort of shot myself in the foot with this one.)
When Thomas put out the call for reviews for his October Fright Fest, a couple titles crossed my mind, but Clean, Shaven sprung to the forefront. It’s a film that uses subjectivity not only as a character perspective, but as one of its core themes, as it chronicles an institutionalized schizophrenic’s release into the outside world, and the search for his estranged daughter juxtaposed against a detective’s pursuit of a child killer.
It’s also a film that – despite its glowing critical appraisal and inclusion in the Criterion Collection – I feel many are unaware of.
Writer-director Lodge Kerrigan approaches the story as subjectivity shaping structure, instead of relying on a three-act thriller formula. Clean, Shaven doesn’t engender “excitement” in the traditional escapist sense – the intersections of characters and events are almost dream-like in their logic (or lack thereof), and the film creates a mood that feels paradoxically detached from reality, while simultaneously feeling “real” in a manner that many films do not.
Peter Winter (Peter Greene – Training Day) is first seen huddled in the corner of a concrete cell with a high ceiling, arms pressed against his head as the invasive, overwhelming crackle of power lines sizzle and pop nearby; when he is released from the institution (with no narrative explanation given), he is plagued by overtly hostile voices on the radio; the glares of passerby; and the persecuting eyes of reflective surfaces (which he covers in newspaper). He scrubs himself clean with steel wool, and the act of everyday grooming – shaving and cutting hair – is rendered unsettling due to the severity of Winter’s condition.
And perhaps that’s where the fear and horror of Clean, Shaven comes into play.
In hewing as closely as possible to Peter’s perception, the machinations of the plot are left to speculation, and part of the dread comes from not knowing the outcome. This creates an atmosphere of uncertainty that stems from a very true-to-life place. That we have no choice but to engage with the character is an invitation to discomfort, but also revealing of glimmers of truth that most filmmakers try to obfuscate with sentimentality or uplifting music. Hollywood often focuses on the rehabilitation or martyrdom aspect of iconic figures with mental illness, and the fact that Peter is an Everyman following his own internal compass makes him deliberately difficult to connect with.
Locations that could be considered bland – a library; a cheap motel room; a blue-collar bar – are transformed into places of potential danger; seemingly innocuous pictures in books become the stuff of nightmares; and a child’s swingset draws up queasy connotations to backyard abductions (which also ties into a recurring motif of missing children on milk cartons). The editing is sometimes abrupt, but – as with everything else in Clean, Shaven – serves a function that is synchronous to Peter’s state of being. For example, a seemingly out-of-nowhere sequence has him speeding down a dirt road, police sirens trailing behind; a face full of dread as he looks out the rear windshield, all the viewer sees is a thick cloud of dust. Is the police siren a mere invention of his troubled mind, amplifying feelings of unarticulated guilt?
In a Noir context, an antihero’s first-person perspective can possess traits of both heroism and villainy, depending on the circumstances. With the introduction of detective Jack McNally (Robert Albert), Kerrigan creates a puzzling wrinkle in the plot; while determined, confident, and skilled in his work, McNally is also not beneath sleeping with the adoptive mother to Peter’s daughter, Nicole (Jennifer MacDonald). The question of whether this is malicious, sleazy, or containing ulterior motives is left as ambivalent as everything else in Clean, Shaven – as viewers, we are unable to “judge” based on the backgrounds and perspectives of the characters. That the individuals populating this world are so impenetrable speaks to the skill of Kerrigan’s script and direction.
Greene deserves high praise for his immersive performance. An underrated character actor best known for playing heavies in a string of well-loved ‘90s films (Pulp Fiction; The Usual Suspects; The Mask), it’s a testament to his ability that he is able to imbue Peter with such a sense of authenticity. For those who only know him as the shady, scene-stealing criminal, his acting here mines for depth in a brilliantly intuitive way.
Clean, Shaven approaches a level of intensity that makes for an appropriately unsettling, sometimes horrifying experience. It doesn’t keep the viewer at arm’s-length; nor does it use a John Williams orchestral score to “lead” the viewer into a particular way of feeling. Kerrigan doesn’t politely invite us to visit the mind of a schizophrenic; he aggressively foists it upon us from the very start, in as much as film can capture such an internalized state of being.
8 out of 10 stars
No stranger to Machine Mean, Jon Weidler (aka Jonny Numb) works for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania by day and co-hosts THE LAST KNOCK horror podcast by night. His reviews can also be found at Crash Palace Productions (crashpalaceproductions.com) and Loud Green Bird (loudgreenbird.com). Seek him on social media @JonnyNumb (Twitter & Letterboxd), if you dare. You can check out his previous review on Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy (1955) here.
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our mailing list by clicking on the FREE BOOK image below where you will not only receive updates on articles and new book releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.
October 20, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 1993, Clean Shaven, Crash Palace Productions, Criterion Collection, dark, eerie, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, Horror, indie, Jennifer MacDonald, Jon Weidler, low budget, movie reviews, Peter Greene, Reviews, Robert Albert, The Last Knock, thriller, thriller reviews | Leave a comment
Fright Fest: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974)
My review comes from two viewpoints: first, there is me—ten years old, watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for the first time, and then there’s me—thirty-something years old, re-watching with a fresh pair of modern, adult eyes. I have no problem remembering the first time I saw this movie, even though it was a long time ago. If you waited until almost 2am then tiptoed upstairs, you could adjust the rabbit ears on my parents’ awesome 32-inch box TV, flip it to channel 6, and get a fuzzy view of the Showtime channel. The best part about sneaking TV at 2am on an “adult” channel, was that you never knew what you were going to get, like a prize at the bottom of a cereal box (only much, much better). At 3am (on a school night, mind you), following a bizarre clown movie called Blood Harvest, I was just drifting off to sleep when I heard and saw these words: “The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths…”
Immediately, I was glued to the screen, watching a movie called the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and I wholeheartedly believed what I was watching was true. It didn’t help that the opening credits had these creepy flashes of what appeared to be crime scene photos, either. I watched the movie from beginning to end, not moving from my spot, and hiding my eyes at least a dozen times. I was HORRIFIED by it. Permanently scarred. And for the record, I don’t advocate watching this movie until you are at least a teen.
After my first viewing of it, I secretly checked the TV guide in the newspaper every single Sunday to see if, and when, it was coming on again.
Anytime it was on, I would write down the time and date in my diary, then stay up as late as I had to on the designated day in order to watch it, even if it meant not sleeping at all before I caught the bus the next morning. And each time I watched it, I dared myself not to close my eyes. And here’s a funny side note—one day on the school bus I overheard some older kids talking about how it was “banned”, and for a while, I wondered if the police would bust in and steal my TV set. But I digress…
Now, fast forward twenty years…I’ve seen bits and pieces of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre since my childhood obsession, and I’ve seen the sequel and most of the modern reboot versions of it. But now I’m watching it with a critical eye, because I knew I had to write this, and just like old times, I’m sneaking around in the dark at 2am to do it, only, this time, I’m trying to hide my movie choice from my own kids.
I expected to be unimpressed this time. I expected to fall asleep. I expected to have some bad stuff to say about it…
Instead, I’m shocked by how fabulous this movie still is. Unlike modern horror films with tons of bad language, impressive stunts, special effects, nudity, known actors, and lots of gore—this one is simply brilliant because all it does is scare the bejesus out of you. No tricks, no flashy stars…just pure terror.
The fact that it’s low budget and gritty lends to the scare factor and the whole “true story” facade, in my opinion. No wonder I believed it was real as a kid—some of the filming looks like a jerky, homemade movie. And the sound effects—random camera shutter sounds (you know what I’m talking about—that bizarre flash bulb sound that has been recreated in haunted houses everywhere) and the amateurish banging of cymbals or drums in a serene, calm section of the movie, are ridiculously effective, for some reason.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is loosely based on Ed Gein, who did, in fact, wear human skin on his face like Leatherface did in the movie. But that’s where most of the similarities end. The people were just actors, the details filled in…but the effect is still the same.
If you haven’t seen it (first of all: what’s wrong with you?) here is the general gist:
Five hippie teens are driving in rural Texas in the seventies. They like to smoke pot and talk about astrology. Their goal? To check on some family property after Sally and her disabled brother, Franklin, find out that their grandfather’s gravesite may have been desecrated. The whole purpose of the trip is a little vague and turns out to be of little importance once they get there, honestly. Things get creepy when they pass by a slaughterhouse, have a discussion about the delectability of “head cheese”, and then pick up a psycho hitchhiker. The guy has a knife and is bat shit crazy, and they finally throw him out of the van. Sally, Franklin, and three of Sally’s friends (I say SALLY’s friends because although they seem to tolerate Franklin, they don’t seem to like him much), make their way to the family’s homestead, low on gas and supplies. The relationship between Sally and Franklin is strange. When she’s around her boyfriend or friends, she’s a total jerk to him. But she seems to soften when they are alone, and it’s obvious that he thinks of her as a mother figure.
I can remember the first time I watched this movie, thinking that Franklin was whiny and obnoxious, but I felt sorry for him this time. The property isn’t wheelchair friendly, and while all the attractive, self-absorbed teens race up and down the stairs, and talk about going for a midday swim, he’s stuck downstairs all alone, panting as he tries to finagle his wheelchair around. This time around, I was totally rooting for the guy to be the sole survivor of what’s to come.
Franklin also seems to be the only one with any sense—while the other teens treat the visit as a fun retreat, he’s the only one still worried about the psycho hitchhiker and what happened near his grandfather’s gravesite.
Now enter a family of cannibals next door, and a creepy guy with jacked up teeth and a creepy skin mask, and oh yeah—he’s wielding a chainsaw. And beauty is made!
The sheer sound of the chainsaw and the first scene when Leatherface comes running out of the room in that initially quiet scene was just as shocking as the first time I saw it.
I didn’t know it the first time I saw this, but this film cost almost nothing to make and these actors were inexperienced. Maybe it is for that exact reason that the movie seems so terrifying. It looks and feels like something that could happen in your own backyard to everyday-looking people. Plus, living in a small town myself…crazy killers in a seemingly quiet, rural setting using everyday power tools to kill people makes it that much more shocking. And the kids on the bus were right about one thing—the movie was initially banned in countless theaters.
Surprisingly, the acting is pretty good, in my opinion. Their fear and shock seemed genuine, the scenes unrehearsed and random.
This movie is brilliant and the things that happen to the teens are so unexpected and horrifying that this movie will never lose its horror appeal in my opinion. If anything, its age just makes it that much creepier now.
This movie is a cult classic and inspired a new breed of slasher films, and horror as a genre in general. Let’s face it—everybody knows that the haunted houses without chainsaws in them suck. And most bad guys in books and movies will always be second best to the chainsaw wielding psycho we know and love.
To this day, I run in the house when I hear a neighbor start up a chainsaw. The sound itself triggers an uncontrollable fear reaction from me, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Unfortunately, seeing it at a young age sort of dulled my senses and ruined subsequent movies that I normally would have found frightening. While I’m at it, I also blame the movie for my crazy horror obsessions AND my chronic insomnia that started at an early age.
But one thing is certain…it was all worth it. And watching it again just confirmed what I already knew—this movie is the gold standard of horror and slasher flicks. And critics can say all they want about it—it’s untouchable in terms of criticism, in my book.
Carissa Ann Lynch is the author of the Flocksdale Files trilogy, Horror High series, Grayson’s Ridge, This Is Not About Love, 13: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction, and Dark Legends: A Collection of 20 Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Novels. She resides in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with her husband and three children. Besides her family, her greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, smelling them…well, you get the idea.
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October 19, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 1974, Carissa Ann Lynch, chain saw, dark, depression, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, gritty, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, Horror, horror reviews, indie, indie film, movie reviews, realism, Reviews, Savage Cinema, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Tobe Hopper | 3 Comments
Fright Fest: Pieces (1982)
It’s trashy. It’s slashy. It’s PIECES!
The movie Pieces begins in the 1940s when a young boy is putting together a puzzle of a naked lady. His mother catches him and expressed her moral indignation—he responds by hacking her to bits. After a police investigation remarkable for its ineptness takes place, the poor murderous child is sent off. Apparently, the severed head in the closet did not make an impression on the detectives.
Fast forward forty years later, and our story moves to Boston (they producers go out of their way to make the location Not Spain, by way of prominently displayed American flags and portraits of Ronald Regan). Our villain decides to recreate his favorite puzzle from so long ago (why he waited four decades is a mystery) and he starts hacking up the local coeds. Enter the detective, who decides to send a coworker undercover as a tennis instructor in order to ferret out the killer. Meanwhile, our villain uses his chainsaw with abandon, divesting his victims of limbs and heads.
Now don’t get me wrong, because Pieces is thoroughly entertaining. You’ve got gore, topless coeds, and a random ninja to boot. How is that not the ingredients for an epic slasher film? Best of all, neither the film nor the actors take themselves too seriously. It’s a cheesy, campy, bloody bucket of fun, and a great way to while away a chilly October night. Just don’t bust out the 1000 piece puzzles, mmkay?
PIECES: You don’t have to go to Texas for a chainsaw massacre!
Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and had read every book in the local library by age twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction. Connect with her online at http://authorjenniferallisprovost.com
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the “FREE BOOK” image below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases and articles on Machine Mean, but also a eBook copy of a free anthology of dark fiction.
October 17, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 1982, chain saw, dark, dismemberment, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, Horror, horror reviews, indie, Jennifer Allis Provost, low budget, movie reviews, Pieces, Reviews, Savage Cinema, slasher | 1 Comment
Fright Fest: Wer (2013)
Straight from the outset, you just know this movie is gonna be good. Opening with a victim in the hospital, recalling the encounter her family endured, it skips to a harrowing and savage ‘found footage’ scene of her husband being slaughtered and her son being eaten alive. The incident takes place in Lyon, France, and the police arrest a suspect in the killing. A stooping giant of a man named Talan Gwynek is taken into custody and is represented by Defense Attorney Kate Moore and her partners, Eric and Gavin.
Here’s a quick synopsis from the always impressive IMDb:
“A defense attorney begins to suspect that there might be more to her client, who is charged with the murders of a vacationing family than meets the eye.”
There are not many werewolf movies which explore the condition known as porphyria, an affliction with some symptoms similar to lycanthropy – Excessive hair on the head and body, receding gums which give the appearance of larger teeth or even fangs, violent outbursts. Other, more debilitating symptoms such as joint pain, muscle weakness, nerve damage and even seizures correspond with Talan’s condition, placing doubt on whether he’d even be physically capable of committing this crime. Talan agrees to undergo tests.
The tests prove disastrous to their case. It’s my favourite scene in the whole movie. Talan escapes and the hunt is on.
Brian Scott O’Connor, who plays the role of Talan Gwynek is a riveting actor. His sheer size looks menacing, but his demeanour seems so passive and gentle, which just adds to his imposing presence on the screen. In the beginning, you’ll think, yeah, he did it. At several points in the film, though, they convincingly present a strong case in favour of Talan, and you really grow to like the bloke; like and pity him. Solid performances from all the actors, brilliant film work, and an intriguing and well thought out plotline, this really struck a chord in my werewolf heart. The transformation scenes and the beast which emerges are ingeniously kept within the realms of possibility, while at the same time, gets your blood racing and the adrenaline flowing. Nothing as spectacular as say, the iconic transformation scene from the classic, American Werewolf In London, or a lot of these more recent movies which engulf their effects in CGI, but there is something more realistic, more organic in the way it is portrayed.
Out of the several dozen werewolf movies eye own, Wer is among my favourite top five werewolf movies of all time (that’s counting the Ginger Snaps trilogy as one movie haha). Released in 2013, it is one of the freshest takes on the werewolf theme and stands out amongst the many werewolf movies that have been coming out in recent years. There are two definite camps in the debate over whether or not werewolves, vampires, zombies etc. have been done to death. Wer is one werewolf movie which will appeal to both sides of that debate. It’ll satisfy the avid werewolf aficionado as well as the ones who think they’ve seen about as much of werewolves as they care to handle. That’s five howls from me! Aaaarrrrooooooooooooooooooyeah!
Toneye Eyenot writes tales of horror and dark fantasy which have appeared in numerous anthologies over the past two years. He is the author of a clown/werewolf novella titled BLOOD MOON BIG TOP just released with JEA Press, plus the ongoing SACRED BLADE OF PROFANITY series with two books, THE SCARLETT CURSE and JOSHUA’S FOLLY, published through J. Ellington Ashton Press and a third currently in the works. He is the editor of the soon to be unleashed FULL MOON SLAUGHTER werewolf anthology, also with JEA. Toneye lurks in the Blue Mountains in NSW Australia, with the myriad voices who tear the horrors from his mind and splatter them onto the page. You can most easily connect with Toneye through his Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Toneye-Eyenot-Dark-Author-Musician-1128293857187537/?ref=bookmarks Or website – http://toneyeeyenot.weebly.com/ Find his books here – https://www.amazon.com/Toneye-Eyenot/e/B00NVVMHVA/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473283520&sr=1-2-ent
October 12, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 2013, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, full moon, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, Horror, horror reviews, indie, indie film, low budget, movie reviews, realism, Reviews, Toneye Eyenot, Wer, werewolf, werewolves | Leave a comment