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Posts tagged “thrillers

Lovecraft Country: book in review

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The critically acclaimed cult novelist makes visceral the terrors of life in Jim Crow America and its lingering effects in this brilliant and wondrous work of the imagination that melds historical fiction, pulp noir, and Lovecraftian horror and fantasy.

Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, 22-year-old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned one of Atticus’s ancestors—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.  Continue Reading

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Creature Features in Review: Piranha (1978)

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I remember back in the late eighties, a school friend of mine let me borrow a pirate VHS tape he had.  He wanted to borrow my copy of Robocop and so was offering his tape in exchange.  I loved horror as a kid (no shocker there) and back in the days before people really paid attention to the certification in shops etc., I used to frequent my local newsagent to rent videos (for a whopping 50p a go!) which going by the often gory and bloody cover art I was far too young to be watching. Nonetheless, I rented video nasties without issue and so at that point I had seen a lot of films already, but the two on this tape were new to me, even if initially I thought it was a single film.

Piranha slugs? Never heard of it,’ I said, looking at the handwritten scrawl on the label.  Continue Reading


Book Featurette: Mayan Blue

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Xibalba, home of torture and sacrifice, is the kingdom of the lord of death. He stalked the night in the guise of a putrefied corpse, with the head of an owl and adorned with a necklace of disembodied eyes that hung from nerve cords. He commanded legions of shapeshifting creatures, spectral shamans, and corpses hungry for the flesh of the living. The Mayans feared him and his realm of horror. He sat atop his pyramid temple surrounded by his demon kings and demanded sacrifices of blood and beating hearts as a tribute to him and his ghostly world. These legends, along with those that lived in fear of them, have been dead and gone for centuries. Yet now, a doorway has been opened in Georgia. A group of college students seek their missing professor, a man who has secretly uncovered the answer to one of history’s greatest mysteries. However, what they find is more than the evidence of a hidden civilization. It’s also a gateway to a world of living nightmares.

Mayan Blue according to reviewers:

“Mayan Blue is my first exposure the authors, who seem to have built up their reputation far prior to my reading of this. Frankly, I’m kicking myself in the butt for it. I’m not sure if anyone has seen the Fred Olen Ray film SCALPS, but if that film had been made with some artistic ability, 20 times the budget and production value…I am pretty sure we would have Mayan Blue. This is a very, very good thing. I love the hell out of this book, and if you’re a fan of the gorier, faster-paced stuff, I’m pretty sure you will too. Subtle and gentle horror? It’s not for you. For me, MAYAN BLUE has me anxiously awaiting the sister’s next book!” -Brandon St. Pierre

“I thoroughly enjoyed Mayan Blue, the debut novel from sisters Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason. This fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride is guaranteed to entertain and scare readers. The characters are well-developed and relatable, especially Wes. His desire to protect Alissa is heartfelt and compelling. I loved the detail and effort put into creating the mythos and creatures. The gory details are what make horror lovers like me smile. I can’t wait for their next release” -Amazon Reviewer.

“Let me start off by saying, this book is bonkers. And I mean that in the best possible way. Quick synopsis: A small group of students search for their missing professor, who has opened a portal to the Mayan Underworld somewhere in Georgia. Mayan Blue is a lot of things. It’s horror, dark fantasy, and adventure all rolled into one kick-ass, balls-to-the-wall action story. It’s like if Tomb Raider and The Ruins got frisky with Nightbreed and the three of them had a baby. If there’s one thing you need to know going in, note that it’s a bloodbath. You’d think the Sisters of Slaughter would be a dead giveaway, but just when you think there can’t possibly be more blood to spill, these authors find away to cut and slice, rip and mutilate. While the story borrows some cheesy 80’s slasher cliches (which I love), the book manages to stay fresh and imaginative, and that’s due to the writers’ keen eye for world-building. I loved the way they painted the Mayan underworld, Xibalba, with such detail. Rich descriptive narratives and beautiful dark prose elevate what could have been a very routine, gore-reliant killfest into one of the most impressive debut novels I’ve read in quite some time. Debut novels often sport flaws, and while Mayan Blue isn’t perfect, it’s a damn fine story with great pacing, perfect for killing off an afternoon or two. I enjoyed Mayan Blue and recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of old-school Brian Keene novels, horror that goes for the throat instead of chills. There’s not many lulls between the action. Bloody entertaining. I can’t wait to see what the Sisters of Slaughter come up with next. So, in all – READ THIS BOOK. Just remember to bring a barf bag. You might need it. This book is metal” -Tim Meyer. 

You can purchase your copy of Mayan Blue for the low price of $2.99.

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Michelle is from Arizona. She writes alongside her twin sister, Melissa Lason. They have been dubbed The Sisters of Slaughter. They write horror, science fiction and dark fantasy. Their work has been featured in FRESH MEAT by Sinister Grin Press, WISHFUL THINKING by fireside press, WIDOWMAKERS a benefit anthology of dark fiction and Michelle had a poem included in the POETRY SHOWCASE VOLUME ONE put out by the HWA. They have stories soon to be released in anthologies by JEA, including REJECTED FOR CONTENT 3, FATA ARCANA and MALES VS FEMALES.

Universal Monsters in review: Werewolf of London (1935)

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Diving deeper into the chambers of Universal Classic Monsters, today we bring to you a strange and unusual tale of a botanist who, while researching a mysterious flower in Tibet, is bitten by a cursed and lowly creature. Coming from last weeks dreadful The Mummy’s Hand, I’m pleased to once again find myself pulled into a movie with directors, producers, and actors that’ve taken a story so fantastic as the Werewolf of London and created something phenomenal. Much as many of the Universal classics, and unlike the famed 1941 The Wolfman, we are torn into a battle between the supernatural and the discoveries of modern science. A reoccurring theme, I think, especially among these earlier films. Fears of the things man dabbles in, and the repercussions of progress and so-called modernity. I found Werewolf of London a wonderful film and wish I’d seen it sooner. I’m a fan of werewolf tales, as much as our guest writer I think. With Werewolf of London, its interesting to see a take on the lore set within the confines of science. Very interesting. But enough of that. Let us see what our esteemed guest has to say!

Werewolf Of London

A look back at a Universal Classic

By: JR Park

Werewolves have always held a fascination for me.  At the tender age of six I watched Michael Jackson scream “Go Away” to Ola Ray in the Thriller video as he transformed with excruciating detail into a monster.  It terrified and excited me.  Thirty years later and I have still not recovered.

Vampires, ghosts, zombies and undead serial killers have all provided me with horrific delights since I was bitten by the horror bug all those years ago, but no monster has held the same intrigue to me as the werewolf.  The development of cinematic lycanthropes have certainly been a rapid one in the hundred years since they’ve appeared on film, and as we look back to their origins we find a creature oh so similar, and yet very different from the beast that stalks the moonlit world of the modern era.

WEREWOLF OF LONDON, Warner Oland, Henry Hull, 1935, strangle

Werewolf of London was Universal’s first werewolf film, released in 1935, six years before the much more successful and remembered Wolf Man.  The critical reaction was unfavourable at the time, calling it out dated, and given unflattering comparatives to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a film that had been released only a few years before and became a hit.

The plot to Werewolf of London involves a British botanist venturing to Tibet in search of a flower that grows and blooms only under moonlight, known as the mariphasa.  Keeping to the horror film standard for which we all know well today, the good botanist, Wilfred Glendon and his companion are warned against his quest.  ‘Somethings are best not to bother with,’ is the vague caution they are offered, as they causally ignore the rumours of demons in the valley.  It’s not long into their descent down said valley before they encounter the strange bloom.  And it’s not long again after that that a snarling wolf-like beast attacks the doctor, leaving him wounded and scarred.

Back in London and Wilfred has managed to bring home a specimen of the plant, but is irritated that the fake moonlight he projects onto the bloom causes it no reaction.  Then it’s a cut to a party scene with laboriously long dialogue that doesn’t seem to go anywhere until we meet fellow botanist Dr Yogami who seems to know an awful lot about werewolves.

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From the knowledge of Dr Yogami, and Wilfred’s diligence research in text books, we encounter the mythos for this film’s lycanthrope sufferers, and the driving plot of the film: 1) a person bitten by a werewolf will turn into a werewolf themselves during the full moon, 2) the plant, mariphasa, is not a complete cure, but is an antidote to stop each transformation, 3) the werewolf must kill at least one person per night of the full moon or become permanently afflicted.

We got that so far?  To make matters worse we are left with the lingering words from Dr Yogami, ‘The werewolf instinctively seeks to kill the thing it loves the best.’  Bummer.

Eventually the first transformation scene comes around, and let’s be honest, that’s the bit everyone’s waiting for in any werewolf movie.  The scene is handled well with Wilfred stumbling through his laboratory passing pillars as he goes.  Each pillar he passes, he comes out the other side more horrific.  It’s nicely handled and a good piece of drama that doesn’t disappoint.

But what of the monster itself?

This is a very different design to the snarling, furry faced Lon Chaney Jr of the Wolf Man.  Although both sets of makeup were created by the same man, Jack Pierce, his original design was toned down, the studio asking him to make it more human in appearance.

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But it’s not just its physical form that makes the creature in this film more human that its savage successor.  This monster has the decency to pick up its hat and coat before it begins prowling the dark streets of the city; and even manages to speak in the final act of its death throes.

The influence of Jekyll and Hyde is apparent in these scenes, and it’s interesting to think that this monster would only become popular when it shook free of the chains of another creation and fully relished in its own monstrous mythos.

But back to the plot:  Wilfred, now as a werewolf runs to the plant, knowing it will cure him, but as he stands over the strange flower a memory of his wife pops into his head.  The monster takes over, filling him with the desire to kill the thing he loves the most (remember the words from Dr Yogami?). This attack fails and so he satisfies his bloodlust with a random woman wondering the streets.

 

Ashamed of his actions, Wilfred rents a room in an Inn to hide away. This is the first time we get to see the wolf man as a tragic figure, something we’ll see a lot more of in the films that follow.  But the four walls provide no prison and he’s back out again, killing, this time in a zoo.  There’s a fun little twist in the movie that I won’t spoil, but ultimately the monster sets himself upon his wife before being shot.  Mortally wounded, Wilfred rolls to face the policeman holding the gun and thanks him for the bullet, before apologising to his wife (how very British of him).

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So is the film any good?  The werewolf make up is okay, and the transformations are pretty effective; the first one handled well and the rest being made of dissolving stills, which is something us modern viewers would expect from a Universal werewolf movie.  Its major problem is the long periods of dialogue, which in themselves would be okay if they were handled well, but sadly the acting is poor.  To begin with I blamed the time period, but a shining light in the film not only gave me some much needed entertainment, but it also highlighted as a comparative, how starch-like stiff the other actors were.

During the scene where Wilfred looks to rent a room he enters a pub and meets two ladies with whom to rent from.  These two characters had fast, snappy dialogue, were forever drunk or drinking, and played with a comic melodrama that stole the show.  In fact the performance of these two were so strong that I’d recommend watching the movie just for these two, despite how fleeting their appearances are.  Good acting is good acting, no matter which period the film is made; just as funny is always funny.

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So Werewolf of London helped birth the cinematic werewolf we know of today.  It had the changing by moonlight, the tragedy of the affliction and the fascination of the transformation.  And although it in itself is not a great movie, it helped pave the way for something far, far better.  To quote a line from the opening scenes of the film, ‘Without fools there would be no wisdom.’

And I got through the whole thing without mentioning Warren Zevon.  Almost.

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JR 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, includingUpon 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.


what the heck is EMERGING (Subdue Book 2)?

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With the recent release of Emerging, book 2 in The Subdue Series, I thought it would be a nifty idea to talk a little bit about what the book is about. Nearly a year ago, I dreamed up this magnum opus of sorts for what I deemed to be a telling of “my war experience.” But not just my own experience, my inference of war and what it can do to people, how war changes people as traumatic experiences typically do. When I had finished, I ended up with a massive 150,000 or so manuscript. Initially, I wanted to keep the series together as one book. I had shopped the book around to several publishers. Without turning this into some long publishing story, suffice to say I had stumbled upon Limitless Publishing, LLC, through a writer resource page. I heard back from LP about a month after submitting my book. And…not to brag or anything; they loved the story. The only problem was that it was too long. Most publishing houses, if not all, try to keep books to a 100K maximum. This has nothing really to do with the author in so much as it has to do with marketing/publication costs. If you’re a big time writer, like Stephen King, you can write whatever or however long you want! For me, I had to go smaller. Instead of deleting parts in the book, I agreed to turn Subdue into a series, thus Dwelling (book 1) and Emerging (book 2) were born. As luck would have it, Subdue had a natural split in the middle of the story. Book 1 (Dwelling) was a character focus book, where I spent most of my time letting my readers get to know the characters and their wounds and motivation, if any. And because there are four central protagonists, I pretty much needed to take up an entire book just to talk about them! So, if Dwelling is a character focused story, what’s Emerging about?

Great question!

Emerging is a situational focused story. With Dwelling you were able to get to know the cast; with Emerging you’ll get to see what happens to them. Characterization is still key. With anything I write, I focus on characters. I believe, as I was brought up reading the likes of King and Barker and Bradbury, if you can create believable characters and make people care about them, you’ll create one hell of a book. Even if what happens is totally implausible. So long as the characters are human being, as in real humanity motivational type stuff, everything else is fair game. The Subdue Series is fictional, paranormal, perhaps maybe even a little horrific, or dear me, do I even suggest…literary? I’d like to think so. But I’ll let me readers be the judge of that! Because book 2 is situationally driven, the pace I think is faster. The book is longer, but I doubt it feel that way. Or at least not in my own head.

As Dwelling ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, Emerging picks up a few months after the events at the end in book 1. Without spoiling anything, I can say that a majority of the focus is with the house in Jotham and the characters interaction with the house that drive the plot in this second Subdue book. I’ve received some positive comments regarding some of the “flashback” characters. Don’t worry, Augustus and the Fetcher family make a minor appearance in the continuation. Questions about the house are answered, to a degree. Some mysteries are better left unsaid. You might also catch a Lovecraftian vibe in book 2. As with situation, I delved a bit more in mythology creation and mood. For those readers who’ve read Dwelling and have commented on how much you have come to love those characters, I cannot promise not to break your heart. As with life and war, some damages are unchangeable.  There is an apparent theme about suicide, and I hope as you read you find some of those motivations or justifications. I’ll say nothing more on the subject.

Yes. Emerging was equally hard to write. Both books were. But aren’t the best stories worth sharing difficult to write? Consider H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, “The Outsider,” as a superb self-examination of personal fears and anxieties of how the “outside” world sees us. Or consider up and coming author Duncan Ralston’s debut novel, “Salvage,” a classic ghost story that doubles as an examination of depression and overcoming fears of not only our place in society, but of our past. Or even Clive Barker’s excellent novella, “Cabal,” where he talked thru mythos, his fears of how society views and too often mistreats homosexuality as some monstrous thing. I’m not saying mine is as good as these, but I think it fits within the same category. Below you’ll find some more info about Emerging, including Synopsis and purchase (wink wink) links.

EMERGING by Thomas S. Flowers | @machinemeannow

Publisher: Limitless Publishing | @limitlessbooks

Subdue Series, Book #2

Release Date: Dec. 15, 2015

= = SYNOPSIS = =

Traumatized by war, friends gather for a reluctant reunion…

A historic house in Jotham, Texas harbors a malevolent force, and as her fear grows, widow Maggie Smith pleads with three lifelong friends to gather in her home. But will their presence combat the darkness…or feed it?

Minister Jake Williams fears Maggie has had a breakdown…

Feeling he has no choice, Jake locates the other intended guest, Bobby Weeks, who agrees to go with him but struggles with keeping his lycanthropic curse hidden.

Jonathan Steele, a wounded veteran battling PTSD, arrives with his disgruntled wife. After drinking too much at dinner, Jonathan insults the homeless Bobby, and Bobby is missing from the house the next morning.

The dark past of Maggie’s home awakens in the present…

Jake, whose faith is in doubt, confides in a local priest while he and Jonathan search for Bobby, and Ricky’s ghost makes another visit to Jonathan, causing him to become fixated on saving Maggie from the evil that surrounds her.

As the danger intensifies, trust is elusive, and betrayal is certain…

Maggie might be lost, Bobby confronts a terrible choice, and Jake and Jonathan fight to save them all—before they become more victims of the horror emerging beneath the deadly house in Jotham.

= = #OneClick = =

KINDLE: http://amzn.to/1Ov63qK

Check out book 1 in the Subdue Series, DWELLING: http://amzn.to/1Ov68Ld


Post Halloween Movie Wrap up

For horror enthusiasts, our scary movie indulgences are not limited to one day a year; however, Halloween does mark at least for most a month or season of special focus. The reason for the season, as some might say, pulls us to frequent terrifying haunts more than any other time of the year.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share some of my horror selects for this years concentration of spooky movies! A majority on my list are first time screenings, so this year, for me, has widened my own personal horror experience. Obviously, as a horror fanatic, this post would be too long if I listed all the horror themed movies, but this list comes close.

I feel like this year a lot of intent was focused on demonic possession type movies, such as: The Conjuring, Deliver us from Evil, Insidious 2, The Possession, all of which were first time screenings. Also old favorites like Hellraiser 1-3, The Exorcist, and Evil Dead 1-2.

Along with these, I also dabbled in some old classics, including: The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Cat and the Canary, Re-Animator, Day of the Dead, Dawn of the Dead (both versions), Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Brood, American Psycho, The Serpent of the Rainbow, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Freaks (Tod Brownings), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (original and 1970’s version), The Thing (1982) Frankenstein (1931) American Werewolf in London,and many other classics!

Halloween Favorites! Let’s see, so many to choose from. Its hard to pick just one. But I think I’ll pick from first time screenings that really impressed me. This year, I’ve got two. The Sacrament and The Conjuring were both amazing horror films that actually gave me the chills! The Conjuring was an excellent supernatural that made me jump once or twice…okay maybe more than that! The Sacrament was realistic, which made it even more believable and haunting. Only regular folk were monsters in this flick, and that was enough. The movie most certainly chilled me to the bone.

What were some of your horror movies favorites this year?

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