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Posts tagged “J.R. Park

Fright Fest: Nightmare City (1980)

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Nightmare City

Director: Umberto Lenzi

Also Known As: City of the Walking Dead

Runtime: 

Are you bored of zombies yet? I am. I am thoroughly fed up of them. Sick to death. If a zombie horde wanted to kill us, they could just wander around and re-enact parts of 90% of the zombie films released in the last 10 years. We’d die of brain fatigue, being forced to watch the same troupes re-trod time and time and time again. I’m not saying all new zombie material is terrible, it’s just that the sub-genre is so flooded it’s harder to find.  Continue Reading

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Book Featurette: The Exchange

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

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justinpark

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.


Upon Waking: book in review

uponwaking

There’s something to be said about realism in horror. The late great Wes Craven often spoke about hard truths during many of his interviews, even if said piece or film he was working on had supernatural elements, the story in itself was ultimately real. Raw. Not an untruth. Recently, I had the pleasure of reading J.R. Park’s newest adventure, Upon Waking. And I was reminded very much of what Craven had said, about how the most terrifying things are real and how people used to ask him how he could live with himself (and I’m paraphrasing a lot here) putting these “evil” thoughts and imaginations out there (“out there” being the “real world”). And I adore his response, Craven is like, “What world do you live in? Cause it sounds really nice. I think I’d like to live there.” This particular segment during his interview in Nightmares in the Red, White, and Blue stroke a cord with me. Because he’s right. Horror, those terrifying words of macabre, are not aimed to be untruths, to create something that could never exist; but rather, quite the opposite.

What Mr. Park has created here with his new novel, Upon Waking, is very much a truth, as squeamish as some of his scenes are. Cassie, our villain in this story (and there’s no spoiler there) isn’t some mythical monster, she’s real, horrifying so. She’s a next door neighbor. The woman you pass on the street without so much as a second glance. You don’t see her. She blends in the crowd. But she’s watching. Perhaps you. And it that’s the case, well…I’ll pray for you. Cassie has a house. It is very much a house of horrors, but it is also decorated in the mundane, almost banal in its sterility. This isn’t the house of H.H. Holmes, with all the mazes and hidden compartments and traps and such. This isn’t a funhouse. There are rooms, most of which you’ll find locked until Mr. Park is ready to show you the nightmare held within. Once he does open the door, everything is on full gruesome display.

When I first started reading Upon Waking, I was almost lulled by the style and chosen format of his book. Its almost like poetry, in form and prose. But its a trick. A fantastically disgusting trick. And when you’re finished witPrinth this 160 or so pages read, you’ll need to look back at some of the “chapters.” Notice the quotations around chapters? Well…the author here didn’t really use chapters per say, instead (with a stroke of genius, I must say) of chapters he gives us moments. Moments of characters that have or interact with Cassie and her horrible plain-Jane house.

 

And there’s more. I think one of the more mesmerizing things in this book is the how J.R. Park was able to write some of these grizzly scenes in very candid detail whilst maintaining this sense of un-urgency. He takes his time. Slow. Methodical. So much so you almost miss the plot of the story. Walking, or tip-toeing more like, through the halls of Cassie’s house, I nearly forgot about Gary and his search for his missing son. As one reviewer has already pointed out, Upon Waking deserves a re-read, despite as much as you probably don’t want to, for fear of losing your lunch or spoiling dessert. You’ll need too. Because there is a devilish twist at the end, leaving the reading pondering “was she…is she…?”

If you’re looking for a short but gut punching read, you’ll want to check out J.R. Park’s Upon Waking. Its like a cross between Madame LaLaurie and The People Under the Stairs. You’ll squirm. You may even gag. You might need to look away. But for those depraved enough, you’ll take it, and you’ll probably enjoy it too, you sick sick puppies.

Get can get your copy of Upon Waking here.

My Rating: 4/5


Opus Questions with J.R. Park

Next on our insidious list of horror writers is none other than J.R. Park. If you do recall, we’ve been traveling down this macabre road to discover what tickles the underbelly for horror writers, that is, what kinds of books do dark and unusual wordsmiths keep on their shelves? When it comes to writing, one must read. It is a necessity for the trade in which we like to keep. Reading other works helps showcase a range of talent by not only reading our own genre of choice but also other genres. And when it comes to horror writers, we are often found to have a wide assortment of favorite books we like to keep close-by. And because we are “prolific readers”  we can reach into a deep chasm of knowledge and information that helps shape and adds depth to our own stories. So, in keeping things interesting and to be a bit villainess on my part, I’ve asked my guests to tell us what their two favorite books are and why. That’s right. You heard me. Only two!!! (laughs manically) So, without further ado, here is… J.R. Park:

The crafty author of Reinheit asked me to nominate and write about two of my favourite books.  Since he extended the invitation I have been pondering over exactly which two to choose.  Whilst I make it no secret that the books of Guy N Smith was the spark that ignited my motivation to finally sit down and write I didn’t want to repeat myself.  Nor did I want to write about classics that you have read about countless times.  Whilst I have a big love and admiration for Alice In Wonderland, The Picture Of Dorian Gray and The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, these books have been discussed often. So instead I thought about my horror influences and the books that guided me on to that shadowy path from an early age. My first selection would be House Of Hell by Steve Jackson.  This was book number 10 in the Fighting Fantasy series: a collection of choose your own adventure books with a combat gaming system involved.  Most of the series was set in a fantasy world with the usual goblins, dwarves and elves as well as a breath-takingly imaginative menagerie of original creations.  House of Hell was the odd one out in that it was set in modern times.

House of Hell, Steve Jackson, 1984

House of Hell, Steve Jackson, 1984

In the book you are the central character and after driving through a storm and crashing into a ditch you spy an old house and decide to take shelter.  From this moment the choice of the story is in your hands and you can either knock on the door or wander round the side of the house and investigate this potential place of refuge. Once inside the house things get real nasty quickly.  Wandering through the corridors and different floors you encounter zombies, a hunch back, devil worshippers, fire sprites, severed heads, scary ass demons and more.  At the young age of seven this was spooky fun, made even more creepy by having the submersive element of being able to decide what to do next.  I was so scared of turning the wrong corner that I’d keep my fingers in previous pages so I could quickly go back. Unfortunately this would end up with me marking six or seven sections, running out of fingers and make turning the next page an impossibility. I still have my original book from 1985, horded like a piece of treasure and still love to look over the stunning artwork inside. To this day I never completed the book and vanquished the House Of Hell, but I’ll keep trying. My second horrific piece of prose is the sensual and genre breaking work that is Cabal by Clive Barker.  It was 1990 and although still young I was beginning to read more adult books.  Nightbreed was coming out as a movie and I remember seeing it being written about in computer game magazines of the time.

Cabal, Clive Barker, 1988

Cabal, Clive Barker, 1988

Intrigued by this, but knowing I was far too young to be allowed to watch the film I tracked down the book, discovering it to be called Cabal.  Reading this book I realised horror could be much more than the adaptation of Stephen King stories I had seen played late night on the TV.  Barker offered an intellectualism that I had not encountered in the genre mixed with an eroticism that seeped through the text on the page. I read the first few chapters in my mum’s car as she drove me back from the neighbouring city where I had bought my copy.  By the time we had arrived home I had already been witness to a man losing his mind, overdosing on meds and trying to kill himself by jumping in front of truck, only to end up in a hospital with a lunatic that spouted about monsters before tearing his own face off. The speed of the action was wonderful.  Within a short space of time we had gore, horror and the building of an imaginative mythology. The imagination only flourished from there.  A wave of monstrous outcasts, rejects from society, filled the pages as they banded together for survival.  This was a very poignant sentiment for my young teenage mind at the time. I have read this book more times than any other and the beautiful thing is that I keep reading different interpretations. It was only last year I read that Cabal was considered the first openly gay horror story, an allegory I had not thought of before.  But it fits with the ‘Breed being an underground culture persecuted by the Church, the Police and Psychiatry (something very true for the gay community in the 1980s/ early 90s). Another comment and viewpoint came from the author himself, explaining how it was a reaction of the old, fantastical horror of myth and beasts vs the new horror of hack and slash, human killers. I won’t labour the point any more, but this book has hidden depths, deeper than the 268 pages it is printed on. With a restoration of the ‘directors cut’ of the film and a TV series currently being worked on I suggest you take a look at the source material and read this wonderful novella.

jrpark I want to thank J.R. Park for taking the time to sit with us and discuss the two books that have helped shape how he sees and understands horror. I’ve seen Nightbreed but have yet to read Cabal. I think I’ll be adding a new book to my reading list. Thanks! J.R. Park is the author of horror fiction and strange tales, including both Punch and Terror Byte. Mr. Park is also contributing to a horror anthology titled The Black Room Manuscripts to be released later this year. You can keep up with J.R. Park on his website and follow him on Twitter.