Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Editorial April 2012 and e-issue #34

Guest Editorial By Bill Lindblad

There's an established principle of polite conversation that suggests three topics should be carefully avoided: politics, sports, and religion. Horror is not one of those topics, and there's a very good reason for that. Horror is like many other interests; it tends to separate most people into two categories: those who enjoy it, and those who don't.

There are, inevitably, those who are offended by it and will wage campaigns against it, but such people are rare. For the most part there is very little "us vs. them" involved in horror, and that is beneficial for both the industry professionals and fandom. The typical response to a horror fan by a non-horror fan is dismissal, not revulsion. How many times has any horror fan heard the reply, "Oh, I don't [read/watch] that stuff." (Often from people with Dean Koontz paperbacks on their bedside table and Stephen King movies in their DVD collections.) The respondent is not issuing judgment on the horror fan, they're simply internalizing the concept and declaring their lack of interest.

I could argue that any such response is false, that every human being enjoys horror and/or thriller elements in one format or another. More important to me, though, is the existing community.

We are the people who don't disclaim the darker side of fiction. We may have different views on what constitutes an enjoyable trek through the shadows... some enjoy short pieces, some longer; some enjoy graphic violence and some prefer none; some prefer movies, books, music, games... but when the crux of the matter is examined we all find pleasure in horror fiction.

Just because someone has a different set of priorities doesn't mean they're wrong, and it doesn't mean they're right; it means only that they have different priorities. As with any conflicting viewpoint, the parties involved can focus on the differences of they can focus on the similarities. The results of the first are generally grudges, feuds and anger. The results of the second are discussions, friendships and parties.

I prefer the parties.

This is especially relevant today because much of the world is heading toward contentious elections, energizing political debates. Simultaneously, athiests and theists alike are feeling oppressed and are striking back at their perceived enemies. In the midst of all of that, sports seasons continue, igniting local pride and rivalries.

Remember above: politics, sports, and religion?

These are principles which help define people's self-perception, and which they feel galvanizes their world toward right or wrong. There's going to be a lot of emotion tied up in these things, and it's easy to allow our differences to create wedges.

But the later analysis holds. Differences of opinion are simply that, and just because you perceive something as fact doesn't preclude an equally educated, equally intelligent person from perceiving it as not only opinion, but incorrect opinion.

There are enough things diminishing the horror community. We don't need sniping and grudges undermining us from within. Yes, we have differences; heartfelt, firmly held differences. But amidst all of that, we share a common love of a particular style of entertainment. We can focus on what pushes us apart or we can focus on what brings us together.

It's horror, and I want to welcome everyone to the party.

--Bill Lindblad
(Thanks to Bill for his timely and wise editorial.)

Staff Profiles

Nickolas Cook (editor-in-chief)

Nickolas has had dozens of short stories and non-fiction reviews and articles published in print and electronic formats. He has been the fiction moderator for for over four years. To date, his two published novels, THE BLACK BEAST OF ALGERNON WOOD (Dailey Swan Publishing), BALEFUL EYE (currently in pre-production with new publisher) and ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND 2nd Edition with Sourcebooks 2011, all of which have received several positive reviews and he’s been said to display a true craftsmanship missing in much of modern horror. His first short story collection, 'ROUND MIDNIGHT AND OTHER TALES OF LOST SOULS was recently released from Damnation Books.. He also has several new releases forthcoming from various publishers. Stay tuned for more news on his official website and his Facebook Page as listed below Personal Info: Nickolas lives in the beautiful Southwestern desert with his wife and four wonderful Chinese Pugs, who are worse than little children…the dogs, not the wife. Visit me at my official website, THE HORROR JAZZ AND BLUES REVUE He also has a very active Facebook page Or email him at

Co-Editor: Brian M. Sammons has been writing reviews on all things horror for more years than he'd care to admit. Wanting to give other critics the chance to ravage his work for a change, Brian has also penned a few short stories that have appeared in such anthologies as Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, and Dead but Dreaming 2. Some of the magazines where you can find his twisted tales are Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, and Dark Animus. He co-edited the upcoming anthology Cthulhu Unbound 3, has his first novella coming out called The R'lyeh Singularity, co-written with David Conyers, and is currently editing other fright collections, including the soon to be release Undead & Unbound. For more about this guy whose neighbors describe as "such nice, quiet man" you can check out his very infrequently updated webpage here:

Bill Breedlove is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in publications such as RedEye, Chicago Tribune, Metazen, InSider, The Fortune News, Encyclopedia of Actuarial Science, Bluefood, and Playboy Online. Some of his stories can be found in the books TALES OF FORBIDDEN PASSION, STRANGE CREATURES, TAILS FROM THE PET SHOP, BOOK OF DEAD THINGS, CTHULHU & THE COEDs and BLOOD AND DONUTS. He is also the editor of the anthologies CANDY IN THE DUMPSTER, WAITING FOR OCTOBER, LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO, MIGHTY UNCLEAN, WHEN THE NIGHT COMES DOWN and (with John Everson) SWALLOWED BY THE CRACKS. He lives in Chicago.

MyMiserys (aka Kim Cook) Personal Info: Kim lives in the Arizona desert with her husband, Nickolas Cook, and a pack of Pugs. She met Nick in 1997 in an old AOL Horror chat room and they married a year later on Halloween 1998. She has had a passion for horror novels since the tender age of 12, when she read The Exorcist (before it was made into a movie). Her favorite author, other than Nick, is Stephen King, and she truly considers herself his “Number One Fan”. She has been reading and collecting King’s books since “Carrie” was first published. When she is not reading, Kim bakes …and bakes and bakes. You can see pictures of her wonderful cakes on her MySpace page and Facebook. Each month Kim asks a featured author “13 Questions” so Black Glove readers can get to know a little about the person behind the books. Guilty pleasure? MeatLoaf...the man...not the entrée. Facebook Page

Bill Lindblad has been a bookseller specializing in horror and other genre fiction for roughly fifteen years. He is a regular contributor to the writing blog Storytellers Unplugged and has been a staple at conventions for almost a quarter of a century (as an attendee, dealer, panelist, auctioneer and convention staff.) Bill is an unrepentant fan and has taken this out on the pets... as ferrets Mughi (Dirty Pair) and Boingo, cats Gamera and Shane (after Shane MacGowan) and black labrador Grue (Dying Earth and Infocom games) could attest were they able to talk. His wife makes him watch too many strange movies.
Jenny Orosel has been published in fiction and nonfiction for the past nine years. She is also an avid baker and candy-maker (having only set a kitchen on fire once). She has also appeared in numerous game shows, worked on two feature films, and won an award for her first animated short film (also including fire, this time on purpose). When not writing or making sugary treats, she is forcing Bill to sit through some of the strangest movies he’s ever seen.

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter and the author of four non-fiction books, including THE CINEMA OF TSUI HARK. She is a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker award, a recipient of the Black Quill Award, and has published fifty works of short fiction. Her first novel, THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES, was released by Gray Friar Press in 2010 (Gray Friar Press) and her first collection, MONSTERS OF L.A., will be published by Bad Moon Books for Halloween 2011. She lives online at

JW Schnarr is a horror writer originally from Calgary, Alberta Canada. He is the author of the novel Alice & Dorothy as well as the short fiction collection Things Falling Apart. A member of the HWA and SF Canada, he can be seen lurking in places such as Best New Zombie Tales Volume II (Books of the Dead Press) where Rue Morgue magazine dubbed his story "Freshest Tale" of the anthology. He's also been spotted in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and will also be found in Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books) alongside the likes of Ramsey Campbell and Jack Ketchum. Schnarr has a space at Black Glove Magazine where he writes a monthly editorial titled The Hand That Reads. By day he works as a reporter and photographer for the Claresholm Local Press in Claresholm, Alberta. Look him up on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads, or check out his blog at

Anthony Servante is a retired college professor with post-graduate studies in the field of the Grotesque and Horror in the Romantic Age, where vampires and Frankenstein monsters were born. It was a dream subject in his studies—to follow and write academically about monsters. He exhorts the academics of horror in his column, Servante of Darkness. He has since begun his nonprofit project: “Read THIS! Scaring Up Readers”, a book giveaway Program that donates books in the fields of Horror, Fantasy, Mystery, and Science Fiction to college-bound students to enjoy the genres Anthony has read and enjoyed since he was a kid. He critically respects old school Horror writers and encourages new schoolers in his reviews. In retirement, he hopes to push for publication of his short stories, continue to write on trends in horror, and review books, movies, and music.

Jason Shayer Recent publishing credits: Necrotic Tissue #6, the Dead Science and Through the Eyes of the Undead anthologies, and Arcane magazine. He's also a regular contributor to Back Issue! magazine, a comic book magazine spotlighting the 1970s and 1980s. Personal Info: Jason Shayer's 12-year-old mind frame has given more than a few people a reason to raise an eyebrow, most often his wife. When he’s not writing or reading, he’s teaching his kids the finer points of zombie lore. URL: Contact info:

Wanna Write for The Black Glove?

If you're interested in writing your very own column, or just want to write reviews for your favorite horror movies and/or books, send me an email at While we can't pay for the content, I can promise horror fans around the world will read your stuff.

Stabbed In Stanzas: The Poetry of Darkness and Horror

--compiled by Anthony Servante

In the poetry of Horror, subjects can range from the visceral to the metaphorical, depending on the theme. Some tell a story, some set a scene or mood, others prefer to repulse. I’ve gathered an assortment of Dark Poetry from Indie authors from today’s Horror scene. The mundane, the strange, and the macabre in the commonplace are drawn on here for access to the shadowy recesses of waking conscience. So, step away from the light for a few minutes and follow the trail of crumbs left by Mr. Kurtz as he travelled into the heart of darkness to find the horror.

the bleeding heart
by Lori R. Lopez
A blackish knight by lantern light
Strode 'cross the murky moordred peat
With soggen gait did he frustrate
The trackers after his brusque feet

Alone he trekked and did reflect
On how he came to be so cruel
The lives he claimed who were unnamed
Would deem him nothing less a ghoul

He'd swiped the heads of all his deads
But for the sake of victory
An empty taunt, a heart to vaunt
Their lives were squandered for his glee

The kingdom next to leave bevexed
Would host a tournament renowned
Without his steed he was in need
So snatched a farm horse that he found

This blackest soul would play the role
Of suitor to Princess Portend
Whose honor knights would joust for rights
To woo and troth at tourney's end

Sir Anvil in rode drenched with sin
But to the court's immense surprise
Removing helm, did overwhelm
By teardrops rolling from his eyes

"I weep for love's elusive dove
For never knowing such a treat
My heart lies bare for you to share
Dear Lady, with the face so sweet!"

Spoke he these words, gone still the birds
And every ear was raptly tuned
For there was more that did outpour
A song of love his lips they crooned

"My Lady fair, if you could care
For such a wretched blasphemy
I'd give my heart, we'd never part
The beast subdued inside of me!"

The princess learned if he was spurned
That all would suffer his defeat
"I'll sack and waste in utmost haste
Till not a single breast should beat!"

Sir Anvil waited; she hesitated
The crown announced as his decree
"You shall contend for my Portend —
But fair is how the match shall be!"

The rules were set that must be met
Each man a valentine should bring
The strongest heart would stand apart
And give the lady thus his ring

That day a dark knight rode away
To contemplate what he could offer
Then back he came with his best game
The largest ruby from his coffer

"A jewel is cold and cannot hold
The endless love you promised, sir!
This will not do, be off with you!"
The princess ordered to the cur

Bleak Anvil drew a blade with rue
Yet he did not the lady stab
His own chest cleaved, the core was heaved
"There is your valentine!" his jab

"I give my heart pierced by your dart —
I've nothing more than that to give!
It's black and bloody, a little muddy
Accept it and I'll let you live."

His bleeding gist the princess kissed
That heartless knight she promptly wed
The realm would thrive with all alive
Except her spouse, who was quite dead.


The Gracken
by Lori R. Lopez

Six grackles on a limb once sat
To have a raucous bird-brained chat
Like magpie gossips they did sport
Then snoozed a bit with a sneerful snort
When just below them from the soil
A wickedness began to roil
And writhing upwards out of smirch
A peckish dauntling climbt the birch
This heathen gathered mass and crept
Up bark and branch to where they slept
The smudge begrudged them their sweet nap
And plucked most up in quite a flap
Drooling for these fickle bites
He gulped them down and set his sights
Upon the last who woke to glean
Himself alone, his pals unseen
And a monster they had conjured forth
Through gabbiness from malish pour’th
Of vicious rumors, slandrous spewl
These spouters summoned a pentaghoul
Five scowls he wore; five eyeballs glared
Five arms, five legs; five faces stared
Five birds he ate with fervent glee
The sixth, dessert would surely be
Licking lips, he reached a paw
To plunge the fowl down a single maw
This gracken had a case of greed
And six was more than he did need
The final bird held up a wing
To make him pause for one small thing:
“We made you mad, we made you mean
We made you brown and orange and green
We didn’t make you such a glutton
And we forgot a shut-off button
So if you won’t mind, I think I’ll leave!”
The blackbird flew, to the gracken’s peeve
And the monster slunk back in the dirt
His belly full but his feelings hurt.


american gothic
by Lori R. Lopez

The day they posed for the painter
Is engraved in a nation’s history
Yet what transpired when he packed his tools
And trundled off is a mystery
Though the artist later told the world
They were only models, not a pair
The house was true and so were they
On the farmer’s grave I swear

If you ever wondered why she frowned
Or at what she stared with pensive scorn
Though no grain of proof survived the years
I believe it wasn’t corn
What went on up to that point in time
Inside one Iowa farmer’s house
We can only guess and speculate
There’s no witness, not even a mouse!

In her enigmatic visage hides
The words she was afraid to utter
In those days such knowledge was best unknown
It would churn up folks like butter
So the daughter held her pose, her tongue
And never spoke but glared a storm
You could see the feelings trapped within
The bitter pain of her rigid form

As the artist’s carriage grew quite small
In the hazy distance of a straight flat road
A father to the daughter scowled
To get back in their plain abode
Upstairs she hiked, her blue eyes glazed
Upon her bed she placed an apron
That matched the curtains of her room
The attic tower of her desecration

Another scenario springs to mind
A second possibility
The hard man killed her mother
Whose broach she wears, you see
Cold and cruel, a stern provider
He smacked his spouse when he was drunk
And must have broke some thing inside her
For she didn’t have the daughter’s spunk

Or did that precious cameo
Symbolize a boyfriend’s gift?
Perhaps her domineering dad
Was selfish in his thrift
The man she loved was chased away
With that pitchfork or he disappeared
As she waited for her suitor’s call
Maybe this is what she feared

Now she changed her Sunday dress as well
Into a frock of beige, once white
Then stood before the Gothic window
And contemplated her sorry plight
The old man summoned her to the kitchen
Which planted the seed of his demise
A cameo brooch clutched in her fist
She descended to halt his lies

The pitchfork stood upon the porch
She pushed the screen-door, dropped the pin
Hand leaking, grasped the threefold spear
Content to do him in
How upright sat this proper man
Whose neighbors saw him as a friend
Without a word she screamed and gored
Her only thought to rend

The farmer stumbled from his chair
Gaunt features shocked and torso grisly
Scarlet rain dripped from the tines
As she faced his staggering misery
Her father tried to steal the trident
A gurgle rising in his throat
She met him with a second thrust
No longer would he dote

A moon shone high as she spaded earth
And buried him in an empty field
By the time they noticed he was gone
The scarred patch would be healed
He went to visit kin, she claimed
And left the fields overgrown and wild
As if a widow, she stayed alone
No husband and no child

Her temper never disappeared
She howled some nights as if it hurt
To reside alone, her life in tatters
For the secret in the dirt
There could be no happy ever after
In a crumbling home once neat and clean
In a town where none could understand
Why she sat in her room unseen.

(This is a fictional interpretation based on the American masterpiece by Grant Wood.)

by Aline S. Iniestra
Crooked She

Towards the door she was creeping;
Ragged dress and a stained face;
Hurt knees and twisted wrists.
Tried to smile but she showed just a smirk.

Head inclined and eyes far gone;
Dark the room, dark her soul.
A creature so unknown,
Lonely and disturbed.

She got to the door,
All tired and worn.
Laid on the floor and though:
“This is too much!”

She grabbed a paper
And there she wrote:

“My mind is twisted,
My body is crooked,
Darkness surrounds me,
No one will find me.

Here they have left me.
Pain’s all I feel.
How long will I this live?
I cannot die!
I cannot live!
Fear is around!
Crawl’s all I do!

Creature of darkness
With no name attached.
Someday I’ll smile
Be happy at last...

I hope...


by Aline S. Iniestra
Living doll

She is a doll and lives all alone,
Dumped in the woods, covered by worms,
Eyes nonexistent, owner grown up.

Dirt and time have made her creepy
When she used to be so pretty;
What a sad scene … I see her melancholy.

I took her with me, but never tried to fix her;
I feel something when I touch her worn out hands
And look into her empty eyes.

Never cleaned her up: dirt and cracks are part of her whole;
She sits by the window and yet she glows
With the sun, with the moon, but more with her own inner gloom.

She reminds me of my dead daughter
Who was just as pretty and small,
With a similar doll, with a charm of her own.

She died in my arms three years ago.
Perhaps that is why I love this little doll.
I’ve missed her since; I’ve felt lonely and lost.

I am a man with an ancient sad doll,
Who wanders around in his lonesome house,
Feeling just as the doll looks on the outside.

It’s not only that she reminds me of my little Hania.
It’s just that my eyes lack a soul,
It’s just that my hands are dry for missing her touch,
It’s just that my heart feels wounded and old,
It’s just that this doll is my portrait: she depicts my inner look.

I’m like a doll that lives all alone,
Dumped in the woods, covered by worms,
Soul nonexistent, grown up, a fool.


by Aline S. Iniestra
I’ll be there

The mud is so cold and is feeding my veins;
I’m laying here, eyes wide open, the moon witnessing my pain.

“Where have you left me?
Why am I bleeding?
Can someone please help me?
I think no one can hear me”

Leaves are falling and covering my body,
Mixing with my heart’s blood, infecting my agony.

“Is there a hand I could hold if I die?
Is it death that ray in the sky?
I feel like burning, like ashes inside;
Am I really going to die?”

I see black, I bleed red,
I feel blue, everything’s grey.

“Now I remember your face,
You smashing my life,
Looking at me sadly,
Saying it was my time”

The wind blows harder freezing my eyes;
My soul’s getting restless, it wants to fly.

“I fight for my life, but how much is there left?
These are only my thoughts, I don’t know my name.
You called me a demon, and stabbed me in the heart,
You said it was evil and I had to die.

Well this is the end, I’ve lost all hope.
The wind is taking my soul. But somehow I know…

I’ll go back to you. If I am a demon, I’ll be there for you.
Mud is my blood now, wind is my transport…

Revenge is my aim, and you are in my game.”


by Lori R. Lopez and Aline S. Iniestra

A bilious darkness came, out of a billowous cloud obscuring the sky
A cold breeze was felt on his face, it was freezing his soul inside
Touched by the inky depth, gripped by the night that should be day
Terror that built worlds in his head, worlds of distress.

How could he feel so alone, walking what seemed an endless road?
What was now to come? He couldn't do but spill his blood
For in his path lay sacrifice, and blood-filled footsteps in his wake
There, he had no choice but to breathe death and swallow souls

It was the black-veined consequence of what he in his torment had become
Forever he'd be the shadow of what he's hated for so long
But aren't we all on the outside less visible to ourselves than within?
Dark monsters were slashing his soul, they were coming for him.

Out of the raven cumulous, pouring from the blinded eyes of wrath
He screamed as he was losing his mind . . . he was dying. No escape this time.
Far back into the folds of eternity, his thoughts traveled to make sense of madness
But madness was creeping inside, and he had no more control over his senses.

Once upon a lifetime there was love, carefree laughter, his heart illuminated
Heartbeats with the rhythm of joy. Now it's a dry heart turning into stone
A silent heart devoid of words and feelings. Cold, unmoving as a block of marble
But don't marvel at this darkened creature. It is evil, charming, and he'll kill you.

Her life transformed him to a fragile giving man. Her death created a monstrous void
Nothing could fill his tattered soul, but the blood of innocents that believed in love
An abominable thirst which would not be sated. Like a desert, his arid emotionless core
And indeed he parted to accomplish his chore, and drink his first victim . . . Charlotte.

For her he raged as he glutted and gorged, yet even this blood could not satisfy
But she was to blame for his hate towards love. It was his mother he was eager to find.
The woman who raised him to be special: half human, the other half depraved
It was her who had this thought of "oh, he'll live happy from the dead".

He had only wanted to be himself, no more, no less, and spurned that creature's lessons
It was time to feed again. Gabriel, his companion, was a lady already dead
He came across her body, discarded by the road, the victim of another fiend
Her corpse he cut into pieces. This crooked cold woman would feed him till the end.

How he fought to restrain the impulses rising within, towards she who killed his love
He couldn't take it anymore, insane urges started to unleash
Instinct, the bond of blood, led him to a mother who had never been sweet
Screaming and howling her name through the night, he would find that mad woman at last.

The creature stood with her back turned, yet all of her senses aware of his approach
Step by step and breathing like a beast, he started to run frenzied, ready to kill
"I asked for one thing!" he screeched. "To love Charlotte! And you took her away!"
"You'll suffer for the scars I have!" All of a sudden, her throat was pierced by a knife.

The crimson blade clattered. With bare hands he tore her apart, succumbing at last
But he didn't feel relieved. His rage still had so much to be revealed
A storm of emotions released, a dire burden he had borne from childhood
A growing pain made of him a haunting shadow. Rotten souls had to be swallowed

Now there was no sanity or reality, only a trace of a man who must do one thing right
If killing was right, he had more bodies to leave dry. So on his gory journey, he stopped at a dreamy park
Innocent specters watched, lining the fringes, while he chose victims — the worst of humanity
A trembling boy, a crying girl, the twins screaming, the two-year-old fainting . . . it all was ready.

They had been shorn of life, fed to sustain his dreadful existence. This was for their sake!
One by one he smelled the dark ones, who left the children to die again, bite by bite
Responsible for their deaths by indifference or intent, and their second demises at his teeth
Bones cracking, blood scattered, screams echoing. The killing was for justice, but was his soul at peace?

November 19, 2010
by Tina Marlene Goodman

In that haggard, horrid house
at the corner there
survives the long-suffering spouse.
But where has her
worse-than-worst-half gone?
Has she finally thrown him out?
Does she have it in her?
Has he run off again for a
bit of fun with one
of his floozy drugging girlies
or his boozy drinking buddies?
No, his rust bucket truck is parked askew
on the front lawn
and he would never just up and abandon
his only and best true love,
his loyal mixed-mutt dog.

Last night, that poor forsaken dog
was digging through her telling trash,
so she lit the can on fire.
She must have had a restless night
'cause this morning I see,
'though her arm is still in a sling,
she planted a long row of New Hope roses.
Now that dog keeps digging, digging
deep down into hope's mound.
In vain, she tries to shoo him away;
but she would never strike that hound.
On the dirty, evidential bed he stays,
howling like a siren and
digging up the filthy roots,
embedded, entwined with his master's remains.


November 9, 2010
by Tina Marlene Goodman


If you chance upon a body in a field,
first, stop.
Calm down!
Think, think, think!
Were you seen?
If so, shout, “Somebody call 911!”
If not, keep calm, sniff the air.
Do you smell any sickly-sweet decomp? No.
What do you hear?
A moan, a groan? Yes!
Don't use your knife, it's too messy.
Casually approach the body.
Look out at the distance.
Place your boot on its throat.
Don't let it scream!
Keep calm, remain calm.
Again, don't let it scream!
Don't look down!
Did you hear the bones crack?
Good, it's done.
Now walk away.
Leave the same way you came.
Remember, no matter how strong the urge,
never return to the scene

But what about your boot mark?
The diamond shaped treads?
The trace evidence that fell from the crack in your boot.
The bloody bits that same boot picked up.
Your shoe size,
your height, your weight?
Your gender. Your age.
The insects crawling in and out of
the body.
The time of day. The temperature.
Your fibers and hair and dander and skin cells
and any vegetation that dropped from your clothes?
The shrub that scratched your arm?
The DNA that dripped in the sweat from your brow?
Your stomach ache. Your vomit.
That neon GUILTY sign flashing across your face?

November 13, 2010
by Tina Marlene Goodman


Thank you for your late night visit!
I admit, at first I was a bit upset
to see Tiffy placed like that,
crumbled up on my doorstep.

But now I realize
it was probably for the best.
I should never have grown attached
to his purrs and softness.

I barely even noticed your
shoe prints and cigarette butts
ground into the dirt
outside my bedroom window.


by Kendra Saunders
They Know A Secret

I see my coworkers
Upright, cruel birds
They know a secret

Their faces are skeletal
wide open, souls on display
They point, bony fingers
They chirp and hobble
together, best of friends

Lunch partners

They long to rip my skin
drain away my blood
until I’m black charcoaled
remains like them

Until my nose is a triangle bone
my eyes are missing
Until I paste the feathers
of the dead
across myself as adornment
and hobble with them

Down By the River
by Rob M. Miller

My long lost Sherry, my heart of hearts, how do I miss?
Our long hours of love, walking hand in hand,
Your loving, funny stories, our humorous moments, being your man.
I sorrow for your now gone beauty, your laughter, your bliss.
Your smile so sweet, your skin so soft, your voice … a sparrow’s sweet song.
I’ve looked since your passing, no other t’ever compare,
With your elegance, your spirit—no one but you my soul to bare.
My heart breaks for you with longing; my shame t’will never be gone.
How did I fail you? Where did I miss the mark?
You left me; you shamed me; or so I felt at the time.
I couldn’t bear it … the sorrow, the loss, a love lost, a love’s crime.
Can’t make up for the wrongs; the guilt, ne’er to be undone, a stain forever stark.
I weep, for your passing, for all you could’ve been, your world-brightening grin.
Now I cower in love-spurned dark corners, in black wells of impassioned hate.
First for you; then I did evil; now for myself, and my own condemned fate.
To’ve stabbed-sliced-buried a life so glad, I now so cry—marked by so dire a sin.
I long to atone, pay, to account; but my fear remains—a throbbing, hobbling sliver.
Will I be found out, will you be uncovered, will I ever be brought before all?
How long will I suffer, before my tortured soul is punished in justice’s maw?
Should I take that pitiful step, for some slight form of redemption, to confess to where I did lay you, all alone in pieces … in plastic bags
… down by the river.


Failing Lament
by Rob M. Miller

In the night, instead of happy dreams,
Eyes open in Hell, and I hear the screams.
Questions arise as to why I’m there,
My soul is flayed, my fears laid bare.
Deep within I recognize the sin,
But instead of sorrow, my face does grin.
In the night, instead of happy dreams,
Eyes open in Hell, and I hear the screams.
The sum of a life, bloated with deeds,
hungers and passions, unhallowed greeds.
With due recompense, this state’s been won,
mocking right living, justice now done.
In the night, instead of happy dreams,
Eyes open in Hell, and I hear the screams.
Whose voices do wail with such shrill and plea?
Realization slams hard:
It’s me,
and me,
and me….


Halloween Trip to Daddy
by Rob M. Miller

Little girl Annabelle looked out her rain-washed window,
Longing for her daddy, she decided to go solo.
“I’m off, dear mother, to see my father beyond the wood.”
“Wait, fair daughter, remember the tale of Lil’ Red Riding Hood?”

“There’s things that do bump, that do boo, and do scare,
And I’m a’feared for your safety; scaries do desire one so fair.”
“Oh, mother, do not be wary, for I’m not a’feared of anything ferocious…
Nor of anything bumping, or boo-ing, or flapping, or atrocious.”

So off went the lass, into the wood, and down the path,
Travelling by fir, and shrubs, and thick, dark wild grass.
And things did abound, she could hear them quite clear…
Boo-ing and flapping and scraping, she did hear from her ears.

Brownies and dark fairies, wolves, sprites, and gnomes,
Beasties and wild things, through the dark wood did roam.
Quite hungry, on the prowl, a’hunting and scheming they did go,
Howling, hooping and hollering, perhaps led by a dread forest troll.

But long through the dark, and under somber, path-covering limbs,
Young Annabelle did laugh, felt no fear, no worry, or thoughts that were grim.
“I’m going to see my daddy, and no matter what I face along the way,
Nothing will stop, or a’fear me … not a tad or a bit, on this, my daddy-visiting day.”

Then on to the path came cougars and bears and three-legged snapping things,
Scary and ready to gobble, hair standing and spikey, the stuff of bad dreams.
But Annabelle kept skipping, as if on a stroll down a lane, singing away,
Knowing nothing could touch her … going to her daddy, evil would be held at bay.

So the monsters tipped their hats, waved hello, and gave up trying to fright,
Having realized their yippings, growlings, and yappings would not stop the little girl,

Not on this particular Halloween night.

by Michael H. Hanson

I've seen you, in town, supplejack in hand,
tolerated by walker, bike, and bus
a tragic vessel of hopeless yearnings,
oblivious to tears of rain and snow.
Assaulted by the screams of auto horns,
resisting rivers of humanity;
trapped in the cinema of cecity --
crippled shadow puppet encased by light.
The eerie magnetism of your soul
clutches my heart with brutal tenderness.
(Two dark jewels in lovely pale aspect.
I can't look away...I can't turn from you...)

No, not even the stars have such sad eyes.

I Am Climbing
by Michael H. Hanson

I am climbing out of a deep, dark void,
a yawning, vertical, depthless chasm.
Shadowy tendrils of doubt flail at me,
pitilessly dislodging my handholds
and footholds, hampering my departure
as my limbs weaken and my soul withers.

Looking upwards I am blinded by the
wild, incandescent possibilities
of a surface life, among denizens
of purity and pretty perfections,
successful sneers, and harmonized hair styles –
a land, never promised, yet within reach.

Dark songs of shaming recriminations
blare upward from beneath, rising, rising,
growing in volume and pitch, billowing,
feral, rushing, oily, miasmic waves,
boiling, soon on the verge of engulfing
me, lapping at my back, draining my hope...


The Forgotten
by Michael H. Hanson

Does anyone at all see us,
we apparitions of failure,
pale ghosts of broken marriages
and shadows of love’s harsh defeat?
Does anyone at all hear us
wounded, passionless refugees,
walking laments to life’s backlash;
echoes of once jubilant glee?
Does anyone at all feel us,
feather light with timid touches;
fearful to express our own will,
wispy, tenuous, hollow things


AUTHORS RETAIN ALL COPYRIGHTS TO THEIR WORK. All poems will take “one time publication rights here.” --compiled by Anthony Servante (The Black Glove wishes to thank all of the participating poets for this Cinco De Mayo special feature)

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

by Bill Lindblad

THE DAIN CURSE by Dashiell Hammett (1929)

Call it antihorror. This is a mystery story involving, among other things, multiple gruesome murders, a ghost, a cult, and a supernatural curse. Under any normal circumstance, a pulp author would have played up those aspects in an effort to lend an air of weird menace to the story. In Hammett's hands, however, the trappings are wasted. The detective in charge of the case does not believe in the supernatural, and it comes across as authoritative even through casual conversation. Even at a point where the detective, attempting to brawl with the ghost and failing, questions his own skepticism the reader is never encouraged to do so because of the way the story is written. This is not merely a case of horror tropes being poorly handled. It is a situation where those tropes are handled perfectly for a story that is not intended to be horror. Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op serves as the progenitor for Joe Friday on Dragnet while simultaneously channeling Hercule Poirot. He is all business, while simultaneously capable of brilliant and intuitive deductions. The story is cohesive and reasonable, while still managing to surprise the reader at many turns. It remains in print after more than eighty years, despite some of the conversations and grammatical choices aging poorly, because of how brilliantly constructed the mystery is. It is amazing that something so expertly crafted, steeped in the supernatural and death, could bypass any and all emotions of horror. But it does.

As a horror novel: one star out of five
As a non-horror novel: five stars out of five

SKULL-FACE by Robert E. Howard (1978)

Skull-Face and Others is one of the legendary titles of Arkham House, but the 1978 Berkley edition of Skull-face is the first book to assemble the various related Howard "evil mastermind" works together. The book begins with an introduction by Richard Lupoff, providing a background on not merely Skull-Face but also the various related stories. He explains the similarity in tone between these stories and the Fu Manchu stories of Sax Rohmer. He also provides an explanation for the connections between the novellas in the book and is the author who completed the final work in the collection, Taverel Manor. Scholarly introduction aside, the book contains four short novels by Robert E. Howard. They provide his entries into the mad genius subgenre of pulp fiction, although they maintained their distinctive Howard flair even as he emulated the successful formula honed by the Fu Manchu stories. Howard was unwilling to relegate his protagonists to the role of throwaway hero. While most Rohmer clones made their leads into everyman and focused on the villain, Howard makes his characters distinctive. A hero may be abnormally strong, for example, or be crossed by an unusually gifted woman. The stories aren't as groundbreaking as Rohmer's, but they're a dozen times better than most other imitators.

Four stars out of five.

SPAWN OF THE WINDS by Brian Lumley (1978)

Brian Lumley has been roundly criticized in some circles for deviating far astray from Lovecraft's source material when writing his Mythos fiction. This is for a good reason; Lumley's Mythos work bears more resemblance to action thrillers than it does classic Lovecraftean stories. Personally, I don't see the problem. Yes, much of the effect of incomprehensible horror is lost when the Mythos gods (here reduced to a simple acronym, like the KGB... the CCD, Cthulhu Cycle Dieties) are presented as anti-humanity monsters instead of creatures whose motivations and views are beyond our understanding. But the stories themselves are consistently strong supernatural thrillers. Lumley's protagonists are action heroes of the best sort. They're strong, they're intelligent, but they're not infallible and they can be emotionally vulnerable. The women in the stories are usually equally strong. These are not the tense academics of traditional Lovecraftean lore, nor are they Doc Savage, but by incorporating the Mythos so heavily they have resulted in disappointment and vilification from those who demand fealty to the established story principles in their Lovecraftean work. They don't need the same storylines, or so they claim; but if someone is going to lay claim to the beings of Lovecraft he should work to ensure that the beings his action heroes encounter are representative of the cosmic horrors and not watered down versions who work within the traditional human understanding of good and evil. I appreciate that argument. I also appreciate the best action-fantasy treatment of the Mythos since Conan killed a shoggoth. These are entertaining books with both horror and fantasy elements, and this one, Spawn of the Winds, may be the most blatant example of both sides of the argument. It could be summed up as: "A rough-and-tumble adventurer from Earth fights Ithaqua, the Wind Walker - with only a barbarian princess and her army to help!" It delivers on what you'd want from such a book, and if that is a warning or promise depends entirely upon your point of view.

Four stars out of five

--Bill Lindblad

Servante of Darkness #8: Magic Realism in Horror

by Lori R. Lopez

Reviewed by Anthony Servante

Welcome back, dear readers for my 8th venture into the literary workings of Horror today. This month, we will discuss the tradition of Magic Realism, from art to literature, and examine the anthology of horror stories by Lori R. Lopez in terms of the magically real approach, as compared to the supernatural and fantastic works of the South American writers who solidified the literary movement in the 80s. We want to see how Horror has been affected by the use of the hyper-realistic. The German art critic Franz Roh first used the phrase in 1925 to refer to an artistic style also known as The New Objectivity, a form of surrealism. Early in the art movement, surreal paintings dealt with fantastic aspects and landscapes, (think Salvador Dali’s melting clocks); later they focused on psychological subjects such as the realistic depiction of bureaucratic anxieties, as in the works of George Tooker.

This shift from unreal to real led to exaggerations in the mundane, a long line of people waiting for a bank teller, pedestrians crowding a crosswalk, or a mother smothering a child with her enormous arms. Literature of the magical realist began to utilize elements of the surreal and the ordinary to make further comments on social and government bureaucracies. Jorge Leal Amado de Faria (August 10, 1912 — August 6, 2001), a Brazilian author, was one of the first Latino writers to use this combination of artistic forms in his novel, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos) in 1978. In the novel, Dona Flor marries a philanderer of a man who satisfies her sexually, but he soon passes away, and later she marries an honest man of good social standing who cannot satisfy her in bed. In the second half of the book, the ghost of her former lover begins to seduce her, thus fulfilling her needs both physically and socially. “There is no justification for enlisting magic realism unless there is a larger truth which cannot be reached but for distortion of ordinary social realism,” says Joan Mellen, a modern literary critic. “Magic realism at its best relies not upon flights of fantasy but on particular fusion of fact and fantasy in the service of a quest for meaning” (Mellen, J. 2000). By this, she wants us to understand that literature of this genre exaggerates the real in order to provoke a response on the thematic target. So, per Mellen, Tooker’s surreal bureaucracies are comments on the ineffectiveness of government services (think the clichéd long lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles). Therefore, Dona Flor by Amado is a criticism on marriage. Some marry for social status, some for sexual pleasure, but the perfect marriage includes both. Since this perfection is not attainable in real life, Amado incorporates the supernatural element of lust to the natural marriage of Dona Flor to realize a perfect union.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his work, One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien Años de Soledad, 1967) also utilizes the supernatural in the form of ghosts to tell the history of a town and its founders cursed to repeat the same mistakes generation after generation that lead to the destruction of their home. José Arcadio Buendía founds "Macondo", a city of mirrors that reflected the world in and about it, after dreaming of a utopic village. But by building a real city based on an unreal dream, he dooms his future families. “At the end of the story, a Buendía man deciphers an encrypted cipher that generations of Buendía family men had failed to decipher. The secret message informed the recipient of every fortune and misfortune lived by the Buendía Family generations” (Wiki). Throughout the novel the characters are visited by ghosts. "The ghosts are symbols of the past and the haunting nature it has over Macondo. The ghosts and the displaced repetition that they evoke are, in fact, firmly grounded in the particular development of Latin American history" (Wiki). This supernatural element reminds the reader that the town is an illusion, or a false hope that when one builds on dreams, failure is inevitable, just as death is inevitable when we build on life. Our children inherit the illusion and thereby sustain its appearance of success. It is a real history based on the fantastic, life and death living side by side, generation after generation. “The author employing magic realism searches out hidden potential in the natural world or in human actions, and often describes the commonplace as mysterious. Reality seems to be deformed, but the reader perceives essential truths as a result of this distortion” (Mellen, J. 2000).

(Note in the cover to the Marquez novel that the city rests partly on a solid rock and partly on its cliff, seemingly about to fall, symbolizing the painting’s comment on the nature of the town.) In CHOCOLATE COVERED EYES (2011) Lori R. Lopez combines the real and the fantastic to create her own blend of magic realism. First off, this book is a collection of one poem and six stories, a confectionaire’s sampling of candied horrors. We saw in the Latino novels the blending of ghosts and the living to create a statement on social mores and government inefficiencies. Here we see Lopez comment on social conventions with her incorporation of horror and normal life. In the first story, HEARTBEAT, the realism of a fifties era family is set against a zombie infestation, where the government is under the illusion that they are in charge while the zombies have become just another facet of the neighborhood where the kids establish the rules for zombie/human interaction (a comment on gangs, perhaps?). As Lori puts it, “Always too much red tape and rights to consider. [The government] still think[s] they’re in charge, and they don’t want to risk provoking riots on top of everything else, as the so-called civilized world clings by a thread to an illusion of Normal.” This seems to be a social comment on single parenting set against the hardships of growing up in an impoverished neighborhood. Its poignant ending shows the government’s inadequacy to protect the single parent.

In a language usually reserved for poetry, our second candy of horror, NUANCE, places the “Normal” within the freaks and fiends of a carnival, the ever reliable symbol for the life of a gypsy, or transitory existence. The governing of a sideshow life is established by the carnies, and thus we have a microcosm of a city. Even the dreams of one boy reflect the hopes of such a morose existence: “The only chance of salvation was to believe in a boy who could fly, traverse walls, render magical feats.” Within the existence of the noncorformist life, dreams are your only salvation and the carrot on the stick that death proudly holds up for you. The fantastic in normalcy is that we all share the same fate. In UNLEASHED: TAIL ONE, Lori blends the normal with the fantastic by use of perspectives. The reader switches from the point of view of a detective, a dog, and a cat. Our world is askew—but only because we can perceive of other ways of seeing things, “real” things, depending on your point of view. We have seen some combination of these narratives in others works, such as James Herbert’s FLUKE, but without the magic realism. The use of such a narrative style comments on a cold government, one-sided in its decisions, versus the empathetic view that incorporates even opposing visions. BEYOND THE STUMP also combines various perspectives in a magic realism approach. The narrator describes it as, “Most people I’ve observed while walking on two limbs exist in a fantasy realm composed of past and future. They view little of the world around them, always focused somewhere else, ignoring what is there though scarcely noticed. The ordinary details. I cling to those details, endeavoring to not look back or ahead, for the present is all I have. All I can endure.” We think back to the ghosts of Marquez in the city of Macondo where past and present and future are trapped in the family curse. The narrator of Stump hangs in a similar time trap, between madness and reality, striding social strata. We forget how we saw the world from the height of our childhood. Lopez reminds us of this point of view with horrific results. BEDEVILED strides two worlds as well—that of the cats and that of the humans, at once ordinary pets and owners, and witch and familiar. In the author’s words, “’You cannot forget the sun that departs but is always there.’ Lonely and sad, the boy repeated this often to wring some droplet of wisdom which could heal his sorrow. The words tattered, dulled, lost all significance. He remembered darkness—shared only insects and spiders. A friend taught him to look between the shadows.” The time trap of magic realism here lies in the exaggeration of time as represented by the sunrise and sunset, and all time in between. The horror comes from the “ear goblin” that resides in dark madness. It is real in a surreal narrative. Where does the dark begin and the light begin?

In MACABRE, ghosts and the living reside together. The Murther Mill and the neighboring house are specters of a bygone time, “they endured as shabby blights on the sterile landscape, a flat expanse of scantily inhabited terrain—unremarkable; unmemorable; contradicted solely by fenceposts and telephone poles, an occasional tree.” These were grim reminders of the “curse”; even the shadows meant bad luck if they touched you. The supernatural clings to the ordinary old fixtures by way of rumors and gossip by those who fear these ancient presences. In the dust of the modern buildings that sit atop the land that held these antique structures are the spirits of the past, spirits that someday will return to dust. Lori R. Lopez uses magic realism in a modernistic approach, blending elements of poetry and horror to mead out narratives that both amaze and attract readers. As Marquez and Amado combined the real with the unreal, the natural with the supernatural, and the ordinary with the odd, in order to take the reader to a moral plateau of didactic proportions, so too does Lopez traverse a merger of extremes in her stories, not only to teach but to terrorize the reader. If the writing seems a bit heavy-handed at times, it is intentional in order for you to get inside the narrator’s frame of mind and view his surroundings through his ordinary madness. Worth a second and third reading, these stories by Lori R. Lopez demand at least a single read. Thank you, dear readers for joining us on this Cinco de Mayo literary festival for a discussion of magic realism in the horror of Chocolate-Covered Eyes: A Sampler of Horror. For more from Ms. Lopez, see also her guest blog in this issue. We shall see you again next month, faithful horrorheads. Until then, let the candle flame burn away the darkness, and ignore the scratching of the shadows against the walls.

--Anthony Servante

BLOODLINES: Serial Horror in Fiction #10 : Bureau 13 by Nick Pollotta

(Author Nick Pollotta)
by Bill Lindblad

I've lost count of how many times I've recommended this series over the years. It is a horror series; it is also a fantasy series, action/adventure, humor, and sometimes mystery series. It offers something for many types of fan, and because of that lends itself easily to recommendation.

Even better, it's successful at delivering what is promised. Nick Pollotta takes the RPG setting of Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic and crafts novels around it for this series. The fairly obscure game is a horror/action role playing game designed with an eye toward lighter gameplay; the players take on the roles of agents for a secret government agency tasked with eliminating monsters, demons, enemy cultists and more. Pollotta takes the basic idea and toys with it, sending a team of specialists to handle extraordinary foes and situations. Along the way he finds the opportunity to elicit humor from various sources familiar to the reader, from soul-sucking swords to various types of werecreature.

Two things make the books distinctive; the first is the humor, which is remarkably well handled. There is a range shown in the comedic side of the storytelling, generally focusing on wit but occasionally sidling into broad farce as a mechanism to control the pace of the action. The second is the uncertainty associated with the characters. Having taken the time to develop each character's personality, the author does not hesitate to kill or maim them as the story requires. What results are action stories which are a cut above normal, where the reader experiences actual suspense as they follow a favorite hero or heroine into any given conflict... and, being adventure stories at their core, there are a stream of conflicts in each book. In keeping with the horror aspect of the books, innocence is no guarantor of survival and success rarely comes without a bloody price. The author uses rapid pacing to keep the reader off-balance, maximizing the effect of both the humor and horror elements. He also takes an intentionally casual tone in his writing, which works well for the style of stories being told.

BUREAU 13 (also released as JUDGMENT NIGHT)

Short fiction: "Upgrading", "The Collar" and "Initiation"

(Visit Nick Pollota at his official Amazon page)

--Bill Lindblad

Movie vs. Book: THE 10TH VICTIM


THE 10TH VICTIM (1965)

Do you ever make it to the end credits of a movie and wonder, “What just happened here?” If you not only have, but enjoy it, then THE 10TH VICTIM (1965) is for you. This movie was loosely based on a Robert Sheckley short story. I say “loosely” even though I have yet to read the story. However, I doubt there is ever a point in the story where it says, “And random farm animals appear in the background.” The movie is based on the notion that, in the not so distant future, homicidal individuals are given the chance to compete in “The Hunt” where they alternate being the hunter or hunted. Two people enter the challenge, only one can survive. If they can survive ten rounds on both sides, they win respect. And a million dollars. Ursula Andress plays Caroline, a nine time winner and audience favorite. A tea company offers to sponsor her championship kill, as long as she makes it filmable and pretty, so they can use it in a commercial. Marcello Mastrioanni plays Marchello, the victim in the hunt. Caroline tries to lure him in, posing as a journalist. Marcello appears to be falling in love with her. Or does he know her true identity as his hunter, and is just using her as part of a plan? And is she falling for him, or is that part of her bigger plan? And what were those farm animals doing in the background there?

Like so many other Italian movies from the sixties, THE 10TH VICTIM is all about style. The story provides little more than a framework for the wild visuals, costumes, music. And, like many of its counterparts from that era, it’s certainly a joy to look at. And that’s really all I can judge it on. Absurdity seemed to be director Elio Petri’s only concern. Sure, the performances weren’t realistic, but they weren’t supposed to be. For most of the movie, the story held up well enough to support the wild style. However, Petri kept upping the ante throughout the movie so, by the time it got to the end, he had to go so far afield that it not only made no sense, but I even stopped asking, “What’s going on here?”, shrugged, and let the movie be what it was.

I’m sure somebody, somewhere could make a realistic, darkly humorous adaptation of THE 10TH VICTIM story. Not to say that this was a bad movie. It wasn’t—it was the movie it set out to be, and a whole lot of fun to look at. However, the story inside the movie had so many possibilities, none of which were achieved. But for visual candy, THE 10TH VICTIM did deliver. Greatly.



THE 10TH VICTIM by Robert Sheckley (1965)

This is an oddity, as it is almost a novelization. The novel would never have been written were it not for the movie, and it incorporates many elements of the screenplay. The screenplay, however, was inspired by the shorter work "The Seventh Victim" by Robert Sheckley, and had incorporated many elements of the short fiction into the screenplay. The book lies somewhere between novelization and expansion of The Seventh Victim. I suspect Sheckley would have enjoyed the confusion. He was a man of deep artistic knowledge armed with a deft wit and a philosophical perception. He spent much of his literary career illuminating the absurd within daily life, and that effort is shown here to great effect. In this future world, life has little value. People play hunter/killer games in public areas both as a means to further themselves financially and legally but also to amuse the general public. Sheckley takes a hard look at personal freedom and creates an interesting extrapolation: in order to eliminate the murderous impulses from society, a central authority is created to allow violent people to kill each other under guidance of a carefully arranged and equitable set of rules. Sheckley takes the opportunity to skewer everything from social engineering (the attempt to eliminate murderous citizens merely exacerbates the situation) to law and order extremists (the penalty for littering is public impalement) to romantic relationships to ethnic slurs to... well, just about anything that pops into his fertile mind. Instead of being overly restricted by the screenwriter's modifications to his original story, Sheckley merely further modifies it again, using the tools available to him as an author to create a cohesive narrative. The book is like a learner's swimming pool: as shallow or as deep as any user might wish, and capable of functioning perfectly in multiple capacities. It does suffer very slightly from having to follow the general progression of the movie, but for the most part the book excels.

Four stars out of five


Is This The Future of Online Horror?

by Nickolas Cook

Recently, I spent some time online doing some research for a book I'm writing. Now, I don't know how many of you guys have ever spent a good deal of time online doing any kind of research for anything--my guess is, these days, most everybody has to spend at least some time online researching just about anything we do in our lives. It is, after all, where the most amount of information can be found in the quickest possible manner.

One of the things I have been researching for this particular novel is the way horror fiction has begun to appear online. With books, we have the printed page and our imagination is the driving force behind how the scares reach us. An author can spend hours of his/her life writing a particular scene just the way they see it in their head, but it really comes down to two things: How well did the author make his/her scene come alive through words? And how receptive was the reader to that description? With film, of course, it's a bit different. The filmmaker has more than just a story to worry about; there's the actual imagery that has to work with the story to scare the viewer.

So what happens when you have a medium which allows you to do both of those things? What can a master of horror do with a medium that allows you to write your story and gives you the means to place your imagery within the narrative to help tell that story?

I said 'master of horror' above, but let me go back to what we've come to think of as a 'master of horror'. Well, in most cases, it's been who has the ability to get their books published and in the most bookstores, for the most readers to buy and share the experience, or the person who gets their movies made and on the big screen for the most people to see and share that experience. In days past, it's been the likes of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and other bestselling writers of dark fiction who have been considered 'masters of horror' in the printed word. And in in film, it's been the masters like John Carpenter and Wes Craven who have been able to scare millions of new and old horror fans with their particular horrific visions. But I submit to you that things have changed. And they are continuing to change ever more rapidly with each new wave of people interested in bringing their particular dark visions to a mass audience. Because these days people who really want to scare the be-jesus out of millions of people don't necessarily have to rely on getting their books published via the old standard means of NYC Publisher Row companies (which for the past twenty years or more have come to resemble more closely your heartless, soulless corporate-minded KMARTS and WALMARTS than what we used to think of as book publishers, who seemed to care about their authors and their product over the bottom line) and they don't have to depend upon getting their horror films made and distributed via the normal big studios (which, again, have come to resemble those same heartless, soulless corporations...and apparently dull as well).

The internet has allowed thousands of writers and filmmakers to get their books and movies online for little to no cost, as compared to the thousands or millions of dollars usually involved in the past in getting anything into the world for others to read or watch.

Now, I know there are literally thousands or examples of such online for me to point out to you guys, but I'm going to highlight the ones which I have recently come across that actually scared me, creeped me out and even leeft me with some nasty goddamned nightmares.

No, seriously. No joke.

These three items below actually scared me. And I actually had nightmares about the goddamned "Slender Man" after watching the 60 part movie on YouTube.

The first thing I ran across during my researches online was a little website called CREEPYPASTA WIKIA , a site for all intents and purposes seems to be created to do one thing and that's creep you out. There are several different sections to peruse on CREEPYPASTA WIKIA, such as creepy pictures, creepy stories and so on. It's the combination of the two--the stories and the pictures--in which the creep factor becomes almost unbearable. And let me reiterate this: THESE ARE ALL WRITTEN, POSTED AND MAINTAINED BY NORMAL FOLKS WHO JUST WANT TO SCARE EACH OTHER. That is so exciting in terms of how the horror genre is changing because it's become much more organic than it was before when it was being controlled and dessiminated by people with money and the means to do so. Now anyone can do so. CREEPYPASTA WIKIA has a whole list of guidelines by which anyone can submit their own creepy pics and/or stories--most of which really are more like an organic, multi-authored, meme-faux urban legend project that keeps growing as more and more people add their own little dark slants of creativity to the website. But some of you might still be confused by the site's name and ultimate function. So just what exactly is "Creepypasta"? A "Creepypasta" is a short story, posted on the internet, that's designed to unnerve and shock the reader. Apparently their goal is "to have a fairly well stocked library of creepypasta, including very obscure and rarely posted, to original content". And they definitely did "unnerve and shock" this new reader. In fact, here's a video which I first found on the site, which can also be found on YouTube, that disturbed right off the bat. THE GRIFTER

(the original version)

And, by the way...don't underestimate the scare-factor of the infamous "smile dog jpeg".

But, let's move on, shall we?

By reading through the various creepy items on the above site, I ran across another site that really gave me a shiver. It was a strange site, with a very misleading name, "normalpornfornormalpeople" , which has a buline in its logo that reads as the following: "A Website Dedicated To the Eradication of Abnormal Sexuality".

Now, given that byline and the title, one would think this might be some sort of softcore or "normal" porn site for those who don't like their dirty porn quite so dirty. But that's where you're wrong. Because from what I can gleen from the information I was able to find about this website--which has now been shut down for an indefinite period and by some nebulous agency that may or may not have been for real--this site catered to the darkest and weirdest videos I've ever heard of. There was some porn, apparently, but not very much and it was mostly the run-of-the-mill kind of stuff that you can find on just about any online porn site.

The videos I found descriptions of by people who claimed to have been to the site before it was shut down included such things as women who were tied to chairs and being yelled at by off camera people, who may or may not have een physically abusing them off camera as well. One video supposedly included closed-circuit camera footage of a washing machine repairman working on a broken machine; when he has finished with his job, he packs his tools and leaves the scene; shortly, a man appears on camera who is apparently the machine's owner, who then spends the remaining seven minutes of the short film LICKING THE WASHING MACHINE where the repairman has touched it. Another film that people claimed was on this site was of a woman being made to dance until she sobs and breaks down. But the one that probably got the site closed down--if any of this is actually even real, by the way--was the supposed film of a tied down woman who is berated off camera and then is attacked by a SHAVED CHIMP THAT FINALLY RIPS PIECES OF THE WOMAN'S FLESH OFF AND EATS IT!

Now, is any of this for real? Did this site actually exist? Or is this some sort of online urban legend?

During my researches online, I was able to find several people who claimed to have seen some of the videos and even claimed to have downloaded them to their personal harddrives. There were a few people who also claimed to have tried to upload these found films to other websites, only to have them deleted by an unknown agency. And this happened no matter where or when they attempted to do so. this for real? Who knows? I do know the idea that it might be scares the hell out of me. I actually found a channel on YouTube that actually has tons of the videos which were purported to have been included on the site. It is under the name "shirtfag's channel", otherwise known as "creepytube":

The last online future of horror I 'discovered' actually came from a fellow horror author and friend, GARY MCMAHON who pointed me towards it. The name of the movie is MARBLE HORNETS, which is the working title of a supposed student film being made by a college film student named ALEX. Alex has apparently become the target of a supernatural entity called "The Slender Man", who keeps appearing in the background of the film as it's being shot. It soon becomes obvious that this terrifying entity has attached itself to Alex and over the course of the film's shooting gets closer and closer to Alex, until...

Well, I think it would be best if you watch the 60 parts (as of 3 days ago, the genuis filmmakers have that many snippet parts uploaded to YouTube) for yourself to see what happens to Alex, and eventually the unnamed person who is uploading these snippets instead of Alex, who has apparently moved away and hasn't been seen for years.

This is the MARBLE HORNETS CHANNEL on YouTube. Do yourself a favor and do not watch this at night, alone. It will seriously freak you out and I can almost guarantee you'll think that "The Slender Man" is watching you from the shadows.

(Here's the first installment to begin your MARBLE HORNETS adventure...)

Enjoy the nightmares, folks...

The cool thing about this whole project, which has been finding more and more fans with every new snippet post on YouTube is that the filmmakers seem to have created what is possible the first ever internet urban legend monster. Their creation "The Slender Man" seems to be a monster that keeps finding itself in other people's projects and even in their nightmares, as well. That is an extraordinary thing, when you think about it. Because we all know deep down that the entity is really a tall man in a suit, whose face is generally always in shadow or smeared by various in-camera techniques. And yet...the damned thing is terrifying. And perhaps it's because we never really know this is a man in a suit, and maybe a small part of us wants to believe this might just be a supernatural evil entity in funereal garb, who haunts the shadows and the darkest parts of the woods.

For someone like me who has spent years learning to write horror with any amount of craft, this is tremendously exciting to see. It means that there are still things that scare our post-modern, uber-materialistic, techno-phile society. A tall man, in a dark suit, that never speaks, and even though we never see him doing anything evil, we know he is exactly that: evil. "The Slender Man" Mythos has grown to include his own wiki page, which seems to have even more background than the young filmmakers have been able to slip into their film, several fan run websites with thousands of members, and an online following for the MARBLE HORNETS film that is almost impossible to least until you watch the various installments. Once you see them, you can easily understand why so many people are making such a big deal out of this little homemade YouTube horror sensation.

There's even a very good documentary about the mythical horror known as "The Slender Man". Actually, there's more than one. Check online for others.

It seems this may be the entity which also appeared in the classic 2000 debut horror novel, THE HOUSE OF LEAVES by cult writer Mark Z. Danielewski--which was also another highpoint in what the power of the internet can do for the genre and I can guarantee you've never read a book like it in your life. Much of the narrative was an ongoing internet project that grew organically over a period of years, until it was eventually "finished" enough to publish.

But the "Slender Man" is only one a small component of the tangled and complex narrative, and possibly not one that will be completely recognizable to everyone who reads the book. I could go on about the "Slender Man" phenomena, but I'll stop there and let you guys find more on your own.

But don't forget to watch the "response videos" from the mysterious person known only as "totheark" (here is the channel with all of the videos uploaded so far by this person: totheark --many of them have been layered with visual and/or audio messages and clues that have to be extracted from the messages using simple to sophisticated video and audio programs to do so. Most of the them have been deciphered by other helpful, and more tech savvy fans, so there won't be any problems finding out what the videos have hidden within them.

Again, this is well worth your time. Hell, it's almost addictive watching all the tangential stuff involved with this new mythos.

So, there are three items that I think represent the future of horror as an online power with whcih to be reckoned. I think in the next few years, we're going to see more and more of these online ventures that continued to grow organically and maybe even take over where the big budget Hollywood studios have dropped the ball. Because, honestly, I cannot think of a film since 1999's "The Blair Witch Project" that has scared me so much as the above examples.

--Nickolas Cook


by Bill Breedlove

How exciting! Another “top ten” list on the Internet! But, before we get to all that excitement, by way of background, let’s take a really, really long detour to see how we arrived here: Last year, 2011, I was irrationally excited for two motion pictures.

One was the prequel/remake/reboot of John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece, THE THING (cleverly also titled "THE THING"). Each year that goes by raises the stature of the Carpenter version, which suffered a totally unjustified pasting back during its original release. From the moment the 2011 THING was announced, it seemed all everyone on the Internet could do was bash it for one thing or another (see what I did there?). Sure, I was filled with trepidation as well (Who, exactly, was the genius who watched the 1982 film and said, "Boy, is it just me or does everybody wonder what the heck happened before this picture started?"), and given how the Carpenter film does start, it sorta ruins the whole "suspense of the ending" kind of thing for the prequel/remake/reboot. (see, i just did it again! this is comedy gold!) But, in spite of that--and the increasingly desperate pleas of the cast, crew and studio executives that "We didn't make a crappy movie!" (perhaps the greatest red flag there is--imagine if you lived with a roommate and one day when you got home, the first thing (I promise I will stop) the roommate said to you when you walked in the door was "I swear to god I have no idea where that mysterious stain on your bed came from but it certainly was not me!" Hmmmm.) I could still not squelch the excitement as I sat down to watch the movie. And, boy did it suck ass.

I am sure that all parties involved in making the film had only the best intentions, but I cannot for the life of me think of even one thi--...erm...component of the new version that was AS GOOD AS--let alone better--than the 1982 version. The cast? Not even close. Keith David! Wilford Brimley! Kurt Effing Russell! Even Donald " I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!" Moffat is better than anyone in the new version. 

It doesn't help that the majority of the people at the research station in this one are non-english speaking Nordic looking actors with beards. Except the one guy in the previews whose face is shown shifting while he is riding in the helicopter--since he is the only guy in the movie with black hair and a beard, and kinda reminds me of a low-rent Javier Bardiem, as soon as he showed up, it destroyed what little suspense already existed.

How about the iconic "blood test?" No, in this one they used the fact that THE THING cannot thing-ize non-organic materials when becoming something else. So, instead of the Petrie dish hot metal test, we have the chick from Scott Pilgrim shining a flashlight into everyones' molars' to check who doesn't have any fillings. (And, several lovingly long close ups of one character's $5 Claire's stud earring. Huh. I wonder if that will come into play later?
No, of course not. This is 2011, the brain trust at Universal Studios could not possibly think any collective audience is that stupid. Oh, never mind.)

Well, at least the special effects should be amazing! Way back in the "dark ages" of 1982, they had to actually use latex, and hoses and armatures and stuff, so with the CGI effects that are available now, there should be hella great Thing action!
But, not exactly. 
Sure, there are interesting effects--there's a lady who splits into a giant fang mouth with tentacles, there's the Javier Bardiem guy/thing in the helicopter, there's the upside-down semi-merged two people (which will become the burned out semi-merged body found by the 1982 scientists) that walks like XTRO, and, finally, there's the "spaceship Thing" which has the Bad-Doctor-Who-Started-All-This-Mess's face and head (looking about as real as the same sort of effect did in FROM BEYOND) and 10,000 tentacles with sharp teeth and a huge Vagina Dentata sideways mouth that opens and stays obligingly open long enough for the Scott Pilgrim girl to toss a grenade in it ala JAWS (another Universal picture, natch).

There are two problems here: 1) While surely the very best 2011 has to offer, the SFX aren't engaging because we both don't care (really) about any of the characters (except maybe the Scott Pilgrim girl and the helicopter pilot guy), so while the rest of the characters were THINGing out, it was hard to keep track of who was what; and 2) there weren't any "Wow!" moments. In the 1982 version, when Dr. Copper is giving the electronic CPR paddles to Norris, and Norris' chest opens up into shark jaws and bites his arms off, it is a shocking moment. Then, while the audience is going "WTF?" (or, whatever served as "WTF?" back in 1982), the scene continues as they use a flamethrower to burn the increasingly tentacled Norris, but of course, his neck stretches extra long and eventually ruptures, causing his head to fall to the ground, which causes a whiplike tongue to grab a desk corner and pull the headTHING out of harm's way, whereupon spider legs pop out of the sides (making a PERFECT skittering sound on the floor) and then two large eye stalks come up--all this from an upside down severed head. The head, with the legs and stalks, hides under a desk and peeks out cautiously to see if it is safe.


Right fucking there!

At that moment, after the audience has been tenderized by the previous minute's carnage, they are looking at this...THING...and it seems like a living, breathing THING, not a mess of special effects. When the human are all turned looking at the burning corpse of NorrisThing, the headthing tries scuttling out of the room (again with the perfect sound design), leading to Palmer turing to follow it with disbelieving eyes and uttering PRECISELY what the audience has been thinking "You gotta be fucking kidding!" which is a laugh line releasing the tension. In the 2011 THING, there is no comparable moment. It's just all tentacles, and teeth and people splitting open to show interior tentacles and teeth.

And, since we're on that subject, that's even more annoying. The whole premise of THE THING (and its source material, the great John W. Campbell, Jr. story "Who Goes There?") is that the THING is a chameleon, that it does not EVER want to show itself, it has adapted the incredible trick of being able to mimic its prey perfectly. In the 1982 movie, the only time the THING revealed itself was when it was forced to BECAUSE IT WANTED TO HIDE. That is the entire basis of its successful evolution--to not be seen. In the 2011 version, the THING just randomly bursts out of its human disguise at the machinations of the plot. And, again, the whole point of the THING being successful is replicating its victims as quietly as possible, so others do not know what is happening, and attempting to survive at all costs. Remember that "headTHING" dragging itself by the tongue to safety and then attempting to skitter away when nobody was looking?

Contrast that with the 2011 THING where there are four passengers in a helicopter. One of them is a THING. After (AFTER!) the helicopter is high in the air, it stands up and bursts open, all teeth and tentacles. Why? By doing this, it (of course) causes the helicopter to crash, thereby killing itself. And so on and so on. The 2011 THING just explodes from human to fangs/tentacles/fanged tentacles for no apparent reason, alerting all the other humans around because it is making a whole heck of a lot of racket, with all those swishing tentacles and chomping fanged mouths. Finally, the movie is not in the slightest bit scary. If you had seen the 1982 THING (and, if you have not, why would you be interested in going to see this one? So, they had to figure most of their audience already knew the source film), you already know how this is going to end.

SPOILER ALERT: In the 1982 THING, there were only two Norwegians left alive, and they were chasing the huskyTHING which ran to the American camp, while the Norwegians shot at it from a helicopter. Quickly, both of those Norwegians were dispatched, meaning the only survivor of the "prequel" would be the huskyTHING. Thus, everyone in the film is going to die! From the first minute! It is not a question of who will die, but when.

Of course, we know Scott Pilgrim Girl and Helicopter Pilot guy will be close to the last two humans left. Now that "suspense" has been removed, are there any frightening or creepy moments in the film? Alas, no. Not a one. Again, to unfavorably compare 1982 to 2011, look at this scene from the earlier version, when everyone discovers "the problem with Bennings"

It is weird, creepy and (oddly) moving, especially the THINGscream at the 1:32 mark. You really get the sense there IS a THING and it IS from another world. All that, with a decent actor, two rubber monster hands and a ADR scream. Nothing--nothing--in the 2011 comes remotely close to that. Needless to say, I was a little bit bummed after that.

Fortunately, the other movie I was really looking forward to was the remake of a flick that had scared the bejesus out of my as a kid--DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. And, this was being "created" (but not directed, per se) by Guillmero del Toro, who a) makes great movies; b) loves monsters; and c) wanted to modernize DBAOTD because--wait for it--it scared the bejesus out of him as a kid. Yowza! What could possibly go wrong? Guy Pearce—between L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, RAVENOUS, THE PROPOSITION and his new starring cameo as “Peter Weyland”—is reliably awesome. Katie Holmes is…well, remember Guy Pearce is in this movie! Anyway, on with the DVD, and wow, does this sure look promising. The house is absolutely terrifying, the atmosphere (per del Toro, as usual) is amazing, and the dread just oozes from the frame.

The story has been slightly changed. In the original DBAOTD, the young wife (played by Kim Darby—she had an interesting 2010, with probably her two most well-know roles—this one and “Hattie” in True Grit—being remade. While she probably was wondering why her, at least it probably sparked renewed interest in the originals) is the one who discovers and ultimately becomes the target of the little homunculi—and in this version there is a little girl who becomes the focal point of the little monsters.
I watched this entire movie closely, and I have to say, it looked great, the acting was very good (even Katie Holmes!), and the special effects were exceptionally well done. That said, this was less significantly less frightening than an episode of “Hoarders.” Of course, we need to get the big caveat out in the open right away: I am not a little kid now, as I was the first time I watched DBAOTD, so that should be taken into account. However, given that pretty much EVERYTHING in this version is far superior to the original, what happened? Aside from my “adulthood” (which no doubt my wife would have some comment on), I think the bigger problem is that the monsters were definitely creepy, but ultimately not very scary.

I am going to reference something film critic Gene Siskel said back somewhere in the 1980s. I believe he was talking about the highly interesting Stuart Gordon film DOLLS (1987), but I am far too lazy to go scour the internet for this particular clip. In any event, what he was referring to is movie monsters that are little. He said that it is very difficult for filmmakers to make little monsters scary, since people can just sort of brush them off. (Of course, I do not recall him utilizing this same line of thought when ARACHAPHOBIA (1990) came out…) I also want to believe he referenced the Xenomorph from ALIEN (1979) in a more appropriately frightening sized creature. (Stay tuned, I will have an even better and more appropriate bit I nicked from Gene Siskel later in this column).

And that is part of the problem here. Sure, the little gnomes have knives and scissors and other weapons, but they still are awfully small and frail looking. At the climax, one of them even gets flattened nicely, and one has to wonder why the characters did not take this method of problem-solving into account sooner. But, that is irrelevant, really, as things were similar in the original version (with FAR inferior special effects)—and the twin propositions of fear—one, that monsters will get you when the lights go out; and two, no matter what you say, no one will believe you—worked just fine then.
So, we have one wretched remake, and one that was very well made but not really an improvement on the original, and that led me to wonder—why even have remakes at all? Everybody has an opinion on remakes like the Rob Zombie HALLOWEENs and the endless FRIDAY THE 13th and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET reboots/reshoots/reimagining of which I think everybody is also in agreement that exactly none of them improve upon the original source material. Even the lamentable--and excoriated—I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, probably the least likely candidate for a “remake” ever got the treatment in 2010.
What is it then that makes horror films seemingly irresistible for studios to redo them—ALL of them?
I mean, honestly, was anyone really clamoring for a FRIGHT NIGHT remake? Who are these people?
With all this in mind, I sat down to try and think of horror movies that I would like to see remade—you know, ones that improved technology, a bigger budget, better actors and crew would actually make BETTER. In doing this, the only real rule I had was that any potential remake candidate had to be at least 25 years old. That sounds like a long time, until you realize that means films made as late as 1987 apply. I know that all the fans of KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTERSPACE (1988) and PUMPKINHEAD (1988) will be bitterly disappointed, but, hey, it’s my column, my rules.

Remember about 1,237 paragraphs ago when I mentioned film critic Gene Siskel? And said he had another point that would be useful in this discussion? Well, we have arrived at that point. Back in another one of his early shows with Roger Ebert (“Sneak Previews,” I think), he made a startling remark of such epic common sense it has remained with me all these years. In the context of discussing yet another terrible remake (and this was back in the 1980s probably—terrible remakes are clearly not a new phenomenon), he said (again, paraphrasing): “Why do they remake all the good movies? Those films were already good! Why don’t they remake some of the crappy ones!”

He has a great point. Aside from the factor of being able to guarantee name-recognition, why do they always remake movies that were perfectly well done the first time around? Why not take a film that made a huge crucial mistake somewhere along the way, fix that mistake and then see how it would play out? I suppose that makes too much sense for Hollywood. And, I have to admit, I did not entirely follow that advice faithfully in compiling my list. Some of the films were indeed terrible as originally made, but also some were perfectly serviceable, but also could be supremely improved with a remake using 20/20 hindsight. With that in mind, let’s look—in reverse order, counting down to number one—at the Top Ten Horror Films That Should Be Remade:

10. GHOST STORY (1981)

This might be the biggest no-brainer on this list. GHOST STORY, the novel by Peter Straub, is one of the great masterpieces of gothic horror literature. And, by “gothic” I mean a very densely-constructed plot with wheels within wheels within wheels, where characters, their relatives and other selves intersect and go spinning off into stories of their own and so on and so on. And, yet, Straub maintains all those spinning plates perfectly, and by the end of the book, all those seemingly random threads begin to come together to a satisfying conclusion. Alas, the film version pretty much scotches all that. It takes the dominant plot—that of four old men (“the Chowder Society”) and the secret they harbor which eventually manifests enough to destroy them and their quaint winter-bound village of Milburn. Granted, it would be exceedingly difficult in the span of a two hour film to cover—let alone do justice to—all of Straub’s characters, ghouls and beasties—that would probably better be served in a mini-series (a CABLE miniseries) for a lot of the same reasons ‘SALEM’S LOT has always been adapted that way.

But, another great failing of the film version of GHOST STORY has to do with the time and place in which it was made. On one hand, there is an obvious love and reverence for the cast of distinguished actors who portray the Chowder Society (Fred Astaire! Doulgas Fairbanks, Jr.! Melvyn Douglas! The great John Houseman!), but that is also part of the problem. The gents seem very frail at this stage of their careers, and so most of their roles consist of speaking to each other, in a somewhat stylized way reminiscent of a play. Which is all well and good…if you’re watching a play. And, that would not even be a serious problem if the two younger “good guys” in the book were available to provide a counterpoint. Young Peter Barnes from the novel is completely abandoned in the film version, and the role of Donald Wanderly is filled by the less-than-arresting Craig Wasson. (And, honestly, what blackmail photos did Wasson have on the Hollywood community in the 1980s? Between this role and his headliner in Brian DePalma’s BODY DOUBLE he very nearly manages to wreck two movies single-handedly. The only thing I can think of is both directors hired him for his ability to look really baffled and frightened—which he excels at in both films.)

Finally, there is the production values, which, again, are a thing of the time this film was made. At times, it looks like it was shot on the old Universal backlot, complete with the stock heavy-on-the-strings orchestral score. Generously, we can give them the benefit of the doubt as far as special effects are concerned, so you know that would be improved, oh, say, like 10,000% in the second decade of the 21st century. Aside from the performances of the 4 leads (sorry, Mr. Wasson), which perhaps are more sentimental favorites than for the actual performances in this film, there is NOTHING in the film version of GHOST STORY that could no be improved with a remake. Most of all, the hugely anti-climatic ending of the film—which has absolutely nothing to do with the novel—involves Fred Astaire flagging down the police to pull a car from a lake, while, at the same time, our good friend Craig Wasson sits immobilized while a ghost/Eva Galli/Alma Mobley walks exceptionally slloooooowwwwlllllyyyy down a hall and descends a staircase before disappearing into a puff of smoke when the car is pulled form the lake and the rubber skeleton tumbles onto the ground. Really? Really? We can do better!

9. THE 7 FACES OF DR. LAO (1964)

If you have not seen this film, I encourage you to stop reading and go watch it. It may be somewhat difficult to track down a copy, but it is well worth it. This is one of those pictures that seems to have sort of fallen through the cracks in movie buffs discussions. It is based (extremely loosely) on a Charles Finley novel. The film itself was directed by the great George Pal. The plot involves a strange traveling circus which comes to a small town and shows some of the residents particular insights. In a way, the circus is the opposite of the dark carnival in Bradbury’s SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. Instead of wanting to destroy the townspeople, ala the evil Mr. Dark, this traveling show wants to help them, as evidenced by the many faces of the proprietor, the kindly Mr. Lao. And, what a piece of work this Mr. Lao is—over the course of the film he assumes many shapes, including Medusa, Merlin and Pan. He is revealed to be a 7,000+ year-old wise man who seems Asian but wears a sombrero. For this expansive role, the producers selected none other than Tony Randall(!). While known to most people these days as the fussy Felix Unger from the television series version of Neil Simon’s THE ODD COUPLE, Mr. Randall may not seem to be the first choice to portray, say, the suave and insinuating satyr Pan. But, to his credit, he is very good in this film, although frequently buried under enormous amounts of latex and makeup.

Even better, there are a few stop-motion sequences created by a very young Jim Danforth, including a very Willis O’Brien-esque “Loch Ness Monster” which clearly references the master’s Brontosaurus from the original LOST WORLD. So why remake this obscure and perfectly pleasant (as is) little film? First, with the advances in special effects and make-up, the various creatures and scenarios created by Mr. Lao would certainly be eye-candy. But, also, the film’s not-so-subtle but upbeat message would be a welcome addition to a movieplex that is often highly cynical. This material is perfect for a big-budget showy, 3-D remake! Plus, did I mention Medusa? The Loch Ness Monster? Even the Abominable Snowman makes a cameo!


Speaking of our old friend, the Abominable Snowman (or his cousin, the Yeti), we come to the first truly, truly awful film on the list. This movie has gotten some ongoing attention, largely from proponents of “bad movie” websites, and from people who lump it into the “so bad it’s good” (also known as the “watch this while you’re stoned, it’s HILARIOUS) category. It’s probably debatable whether the intentions of the filmmakers were to make a “serious” horror film, or whether this is all intended as a sort of goof (as evidenced by the last line of the film). What is not really debatable is how poorly made this film actually is. The directing, the acting, the cinematography – all of which could be listed with ironic quotes – are just bad, bad, bad. (Even by the DIY standards of the early 1970s). The “special effects” (couldn’t resist)—forget about it. So, why on earth would anyone in his or her right mind even consider remaking this stinker? Well, somewhat surprisingly, there is…something…about this film that is unnerving.

Plot spoilers aside, a movie about a bunch of students who travel with their slightly daffy professor to an island in search of the Yeti—even after being told in vivid detail about what happened to the Professor’s ill-fated last student expedition—is a pretty good hook. And, with a great title like “Shriek of the Mutilated” we know some serious Yeti action is bound to go down. To its credit, the film even had one of those now-commonplace seeming “shocking” climaxes that would probably still work today, for the few kids who didn’t go to Wikipedia and spoil the ending. With “professional” actors, a similarly-inclined crew, a talented director—c’mon David Fincher, you know you could do wonders with this material!—a sprucing up of the script, and perhaps some new sound FX to replace the present questionable utterances of the Yeti, and we would definitely have a winner. (Or, another idea for an interesting film could be a version of the real life couple behind this film: Michael and Roberta Findlay. Really.)


This one really leaves me torn, because on one hand, is it not sacrilege to consider remaking a film that (once again) pitted Christopher Lee against Peter Cushing in a atmospheric English chiller directed by Freddie Franics – with the inevitable Michael Ripper cameo? On the other hand, this is not just a “monster” movie, but also delves into some really interesting issues about the nature, as it were, of “evil.” While this is not, technically, a “Hammer” film, it seems like it has all the traits: Aside from the two most famous actors associated with the studio, the most frequent director of the “classic” Hammer films, and the ubiquitous—and gloriously monikered—Mr. Ripper, it has two insanely competitive brothers; one who has apparently constructed Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory and the other who just happens to run an insane asylum; a mother with insanity and a daughter who is terrified of the heredity aspects of insanity; oh, and a giant fucking skeleton that may or may not be alive. Whew! What’s even more interesting in this picture is that, in one of those rare cases, Chris Lee is not the “evil” one. The case can be made that either neither, or both, of the brothers is equally benign or equally evil. Lee locks his sister-in-law, his daughter-in-law and (eventually) his own brother away in his questionably-run laughing academy. And, perhaps most important to the arc of this particular story, he also attempts to steal his brother’s prized discovery—that giant fucking skeleton.

But, Cushing’s character is no saint. Aside from ignoring everyone and everything in the face of his expeditions and discoveries—his daughter desperately tries again and again to engage him to show even this slightest bit of paternal care, he also conducts highly ethically-dubious “experiments” to test his theories—including injecting his own daughter with the magically regenerated blood of the aforementioned giant fucking skeleton which not only may or may not be alive, but is certainly malevolent. Nice guy. So, aside from all the hand-wringing about who is going to be next to be forcibly admitted to Uncle James’ asylum, the screenwriter decides to add a wonderful twist to the old Chekov saw about the gun in the first act. To paraphrase: when someone in a monster movie discovers that the giant possibly alive fucking skeleton in his possession seemingly starts to regenerate whenever water touches its bones in Act One, Act Three will certainly involve his brother trying to abscond with same skeleton—in the middle of a pouring thunderstorm. It is at this point that Cushing’s character—as well as the uneasy audience—starts to reconsider the cavalier way he snipped off one of the skeleton’s fingers just to make a point. (pun not intended). As is the case with so many movies on this list, there is so much here to make a great movie, and yet somehow it just misses. Part of the problem is the long-winded contemplations about the nature of evil—and if evil is a living “organism” like a virus. We get that, but it does go on and on a bit. A little bit of streamlining of the screenplay would help out a lot.

And then there’s the case of the skeleton. It’s a doozy of a monster, even more so for sitting there front and center for large chunks of the movie. Amazingly, one really does start to get creeped out by the thing. It really does look like it is wicked. And, of course, as water is slowly added to it and flesh starts to sprout as it regenerates…well, imagine 2012 technology handling that transformation. But, most importantly, at the end, when the big fella is up and walking around, it really looks very fake—the monster is supposed to be fearsomely tall, but all it looks like is someone is wearing a creature costume balanced—precariously, very precariously—on his head as he unsteadily mounts the stairs outside the Professor’s house. A bit more time and expense on the fully fleshed out big fucking skeleton would make this a GREAT film. Perhaps recruit some of the wonderful Brit actors who have lost their cushy Harry Potter cameos—perhaps Tom Wilkinson and Alan Rickman?—to chew some of this tasty scenery? You know you’d plunk down $12 for that.

6. SHOCK WAVES (1977)

Speaking of Peter Cushing, he shows up in our next feature as well, although this time he does not have the fancy Victorian laboratory or his old buddy Christopher Lee to spar with. No, this time he is smack in the middle of one of the single greatest horror exploitation ideas EVER. That’s right—the ISLAND OF NAZI ZOMBIES!!! Ken Weiderhorn, the director and one of the three(!) credited writers should be teaching a master class in both film pitching and how not to fuck up the perfect idea. You want to hear a perfect pitch? Here it is: “A two couples charter a shady captain and his barely floating tub of a ship, which promptly gets grounded on a island in the middle of nowhere. On this island JUST HAPPENS TO BE a crazed old Nazi scientist who was in charge of a super-secret program to create fearsome Nazi stormtroopers who were neither dead or alive—the “Death Corps”—and who just exist to kill and kill and kill…with their bare hands. Somehow those Death Corps guys’ boat got sunk (on purpose) and they are just sitting there on the bottom of the sea…except they are not. Here they come, and let’s have at it!” If your eyes do not like up at that irresistible premise, then you, my friend, are definitely reading the wrong column. Now, the icing on the cake is that not one but two greats of the genre are here: John Carradine, playing the disreputable ship’s captain, and, even most astonishing, Peter Cushing, portraying the mad scientist. Remember, this movie was made in 1977—the same year Peter Cushing was also starring as Grand Moff Tarkin in a little indie flick called STAR WARS. Now, THAT’S a productive year!

But, what really makes this film—as it exists now—a true winner is something very common to 70s and early 80s horror movies—that, no matter how ridiculous or banal the premise, no matter how low the budget, no matter how cheap the monster might look, these films played it totally seriously. This whole “nice folks suddenly stranded on a mysterious island suddenly crawling with suddenly awakened Nazi zombies” –which admittedly genius—is also a very shaky premise: one arched eyebrow by one of the actors, one line in the script that lets the audiences know that everyone making the movie is in on the big joke, and the whole effect of the film would be ruined. But, in true 70s fashion, they play this strictly straight the whole way—from the first ominous bits on Carradine’s boat right through the standard downbeat 70s ending. And, somehow, it all works. Much should be said for the “Death Corps” themselves—eight zombie actors wearing makeup, SS uniforms and crusty sea goggles. Their best scenes are when they are unhurriedly strolling along the ocean floor, and then slowly surfacing. They never speak, never deviate from their “mission”—to kill everyone they see. Apparently, their only weakness is removing their steampunk-y swim goggle, because then they act all blind and flail around, but otherwise they are exceptionally fearsome, and, like all good zombies, unrelenting in their pursuit. So, fast forward to 2012. Can you imagine what could be done with this material? Not in a Joss-Weadon-Kevin-Williamson smirky way, but in a straightforward play it by the numbers way? Maybe get Abel Ferrara to direct it? Or how about Lars Von Trier—we know he at least finds Nazis interesting, and is definitely dour enough for the story. This could be EPIC!


For my money, H.P. Lovecraft’s short story “The Dunwich Horror” is his best tale. Perhaps not coincidentally because he “borrowed” huge chunks from one of his favorite authors (and, a true titan of horror fiction), Arthur Machen. In fact, Lovecraft actually name checks “The Great God Pan” in the text of the story. That would be akin to me writing a vampire story set in Maine and referencing the town of Jersualem’s Lot along the way. And, for once, one does not have a story that is dictated by a crazed narrator who dies in the end. This is pretty much an traditional “monster on the loose” story as Lovecraft would ever write. Best of all, it even has a kicker for the “twist” (SPOILER ALERT), when the eponymous “horror” is revealed, in fact, to be Wilbur Whatley’s “twin” brother, except, in the immortal words of HPL: he/it “looked more like the father than Wilbur did.” Yowza! Plus, as an added bonus for the legions of Lovecraft fans, this has not only actual mentions of Yog-Sothoth and the Necrocomicon, but also a cameo appearance by everyone’s favorite institute of higher learning, Miskatonic University! To quote William Hurt’s character in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, “How you could fuck that up?” Well, they did. Granted in was 1970 (still, sorta the swinging 60s, but with more drugs and less joy). Take a look at this poster for your first clue: Poster sent in separate email**

While it is quite exceptional—and you have to love that decidedly politically incorrect tagline: “A few years ago in Dunwich, a half-witted girl bore illegitimate twins. One of them was almost human!” And, then there is the illo—a woman cowering from some sort of leering demon with many tentacles coming out of his head, some of which apparently include a Triffid, a parrot, and King Ghidorah. From that alone, you could almost tell they were going to shit the bed making the movie. Still, it seems they honestly TRIED to get a creepy HPL vibe going. Dean Stockwell—who is a very enjoyable actor—overacts way beyond anything he would later do in either DUNE or BLUE VELVET—and the horribly miscast Sandra Dee—Sandra Dee??? In an H.P. Lovecraft “classic tale of terror and the supernatural??? Really?—does her best as Elder God rape-bait, but this production was sunk from the beginning, and then we get to the problem that has plagued every single movie based on the works of HPL since day one—what to do about visualizing those Outer Ones, those Elder Gods, you know, the ones who it is repeatedly hammered home to us that to even consider glimpsing one writhing hair on their heads would instantly send us past the outer realms of darkest insanity? You know, those guys. While the illustration on the poster certainly gives one hope, alas, what we are left with is seemingly Dean Stockwell in carny makeup and a terrifying porn ‘stache, and, as his brother, what appears to be a group of furiously shaking springs shot through a red filter. Springs. Red springs. Crazily shaking red springs.

That’s what the unspeakable horror of Dunwich is reduced to in the 1970 movie. (reference point: there was a version of The Dunwich Horror released in 2009, starring Jeffrey Combs and featuring Dean Stockwell—this time on the side of humanity—but it is so poor and insipid—their first move was to inexplicably change the location of Dunwich from New England to…Louisiana—that we will just be kind and pretend it never happened). The bigger question here is this: When was the last time a (honestly) good H.P. Lovecraft Mythos movie was made? I would posit this: never. The few “mainstream” films are all pretty rotten (even IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, which tries so, so hard, is still pretty bad), and the “indie” ones are even worse. (For all you folks howling about Stuart Gordon’s RE-ANIMATOR and FROM BEYOND, I am not counting those as true “mythos” tales, but RE-ANIMATOR is excellent). Maybe DAGON is the best of a bad lot? Terrible CGI effects, though. The point is, there never really has been one. Now, part of the problem is, in all fairness, not too many of HPL’s tales lend themselves to a three-act, big-budget, happy ending, Hollywood formula. In HPL’s hands, the “hero’s journey” usually leads to a manuscript left behind by an author who was either eaten or driven mad. I know some other folks will say that much of Guillermo del Toro’s work touches upon the Mythos, and I will not argue the point. But, there is a big difference in many-tentacled monsters running amok in one of the HELLBOY flicks, and an honest-to-goodness HPL movie. And, yes, I am well aware of the fate that befell AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS.

But, see, what makes The Dunwich Horror so perfect is it in SO cinematic. You have a (sort of) love story (ewwww), a race against time, a definitive hero and villain, and—best of all—a monster in a locked room (or barn) that eventually gets loose and starts eating the population. Maybe the powers that be at Universal and del Toro can agree to meet in the middle, and start out doing this somewhat less expansive HPL tale, and, if it finds an audience, then move onto those irresistible MOUNTAINS….

4. VAMPYR (1932)

This one is pretty simple, although it breaks my rule about not remaking movies that were masterpieces to begin with fairly solidly. VAMPYR is probably the greatest “vampire” movie ever made. Props have to go to director (Carl) Theodor Dreyer, for creating one of the most surreal, hallucinatory experiences ever recorded onto film. While at first glance, it may seem as if linear plot has been abandoned in favor of mood and style, VAMPYR is actually based –partly—on a very famous vampire tale, “Camilla,” one story in Sheridan Le Fanu’s remarkable collection IN A GLASS DARKLY from 1872. (and, if you consider yourself a horror fan and have not read IN A GLASS DARKLY, you owe it to yourself to get a copy ASAP—the bizarrely terrifying story “Green Tea” is worth the price of admission alone, and when you read “Camilla” you will notice some striking similarities in it and a certain epistolary novel by one Bram Stoker…)

One of the more interesting choices in this film is to have the actual vampire (‘vampyr”) manifest in the form of an old hag. Yet, it is this coffin-bound elderly woman who controls the entire action of the film, and whose powers hold the film’s evil human minions in her sway. Also interesting is a hero’s discovery of the way to defeat the “vampyr” is to pound an iron bar—not a wooden stake—through its heart, which they of course do. Yet another reminder of how much of what we take as “gospel” of vampire lore is really just from the movies. But, two things really set VAMPYR apart from not only other vampire films made during that period—including Tod Browning’s DRACULA with Bela Lugosi—but virtually every other horror film ever made. One is the oddly disconcerting shift in narrative as provided by the movie’s technical “protagonist,” Gray. As the horrific events begin to pile on one another, Gray becomes confused about what exactly is reality (also donating a huge amount of blood helps fuzzy his focus) and what is dreamtime. This, in turn, influences how the audience sees what is transpiring on screen. There is an entire brauva sequence where Gray is seemingly buried alive—which all turns out to be a dream—but not in the cheesy “but it was all a dream” Hollywood way.

The other involves the spectacular end of the film’s main villain, the town doctor, who does the bidding of the evil Vampyr and causes no end of trouble for Gray and the other characters. In a move that would be successfully appropriated many years later by Peter Weir’s great film WITNESS to a corn silo, the wicked doctor is buried—smothered—in the tons of flour released onto him in an old mill. Again, while there is in fact a coherent plot, much of what makes VAMPYR so memorable are the surreal and very threatening images which seem to bombard the viewer with increasingly frequency as the film speeds toward its climax. With the sad influx of vampires played for laughs—or, even worse, “sparkly”—in movies these days, isn’t it time for a real, frightening vampire movie to be made? Wouldn’t this dreamy/nightmarish tale of evil doings and things most foul be the perfect candidate to retake the vampire from the realm of schlock writing and moviemaking and return it to its rightful place as a horror staple? I think you know the answer. (NOTE: THIS IS THE COMPLETE GERMAN FILM WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES)


In the liner notes for the band R.E.M.’s 1986 album release of B-sides and assorted cover tracks, guitarist Peter Buck wrote, by way of explanation for including their cover of Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic” that “if you grew up in the 1970s, you liked Aerosmith.” I would paraphrase that statement somewhat to say that if you were a kid who liked monster movies growing up in the 70s, you liked Godzilla. Maybe not the Godzilla form the original, terrifying GOJIRA (or the crappy Americanized version with a spliced-in Raymond Burr), and maybe not even the reformatted cartoonish children’s character from stinkers like REVENGE OF GODZILLA, and maybe most of all not the nadir of Godzilladom, those terrible no-budget crapfests like GODZILLA VS MEGALON or GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA where there was shit like a flying robot called “Jet Jaguar” and a completely goofy faux-lion going by the moniker of “King Seesar.” King Seesar photo. I mean, really, WTF? The Godzilla I think most kids identified with was the one who made a string of films that, while overall not very good, still were what folks in my demographic would call the Big Guy’s “prime”—films like GODZILLA VS THE THING, KING KONG VS GODZILLA, GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER, GHIDORAH THE THREE HEADED MONSTER and, of course, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. (Maybe SON OF GODZILLA and GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER can be included, too.)

This list is not meant to be seen as from one particular iteration of Godzilla or another—just like there are several different versions of The Doctor in “Dr. Who,” there are several recognized “versions” of Godzilla—but instead represent the films that were most popular in the United States and aired with incredible frequency on TV during the 1970s. Aside from the first two films on that list, what is most notable is that, in the remainder of those movies, Godzilla is sorta a good guy defender of the earth, or, perhaps more accurately, more appealing than the clearly wicked monsters he vanquished. Perhaps one of my all time favorite cinematic memories occurs in the climax of GHIDORAH, where the tiny twin faires (shobijn) helpfully translate a heated three-way argument between Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra, the jist of which is Mothra tells them that the only way they can defeat the fearsome three-headed dragon is to “team up,” to which Rodan laughs and Godzilla asks (pointedly) why the monsters would want to save the human race that so often has tried to destroy them? Apparently the giant imago’s reasoning is compelling, because in the final battle, they do in fact work together—the caterpillar Mothra hitching a ride on Rodan’s back to strafe Ghidorah’s heads with sticky coccon material, neutralizing their ability to produce lightning bolts and allowing Godzilla to grab, punch and stomp the heads one at a time until big bad Ghidorah retreats with (both) its tails between its legs, back to outer space where it came from (only to return shortly in DESTROY ALL MONSTERS). It should not be difficult to explain the tremendous appeal the idea of three of my favorite monsters working together to defeat a common enemy. Four monsters! One movie! How could things get any better….

Well, in 1968, Toho answered that question in game-ending fashion with DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. For anyone who thinks the “nerdgasm” greeting the release of Marvel’s AVENGERS movie is unprecedented, allow me to point you toward the original one-sheet for the US release of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. Under the “starring” list, it has such starpower as Mothra (inexplicably with top billing), Godzilla, Rodan and Manda. The only thing lacking is an “…and King Ghidorah as himself” at the end. Just about everybody in Toho’s huge stable of Kaiju makes an appearance, from second tier creatures like Varan (the Unbelievable!) and Baragon (the only dinosaur I know, other than GORGO, with large, floppy ears) to a big name-above-the-title talent like Manda(?) to deep, deep backbenchers such as Gorosaurus. The plot is genius simplicity itself: in the far-flung future of 1999(!), all of Earth’s monsters have been gathered together (I would have like to see a movie of this) to live peacefully on an island called—what else?—“MonsterLand.” (Hmmmm….an isolated island. Giant monsters live there. Supposedly impenetrable security monitoring the beasts. What could possibly go wrong? You tell me, Michael Crichton, you tell me….) Quicker than you can say “What could possibly go wrong?” hissing yellow gas comes seeping under the doors in the control center, and, more importantly, all over MonsterLand, KO-ing Godzilla, and causing Rodan to tumble drunkenly out of his nest right onto Anguirus. Immediately after, we are treated to various “news reports” of monsters attacking every major city—Rodan blowing up onion domes in Moscow, a different Baragon than the one seen in FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD flattens the Arc de Triomphe, Mothra derails a tot train set outside Peking, and Godzilla attacks the harbor in New York City.

This is destruction on an unprecedented scale, yet when the mob of reporters converge on the scientists, they respond by saying, “we don’t want you to cause a panic.” Someone also alertly notices that EVERY major city in the world is under siege, except Tokyo. Since, seemingly, MonsterLand is owned and operated by the Japanese, one would think the other world leaders would tell Japan they have some ‘splain’ to do, but that is tabled for the moment. Because—and try to follow along—the guys flying around at the moonbase are called home without explanation and instructed to immediately go to MonsterLand Island. When they arrive, they fail to notice the distinct lack of monsters there, and then run into the head scientist and the hero pilot of the moonship’s girlfriend, who are acting really weird and show the stunned astronauts how they seemingly are dictating the monsters’ rampage with remote control. This leads to the introduction of the true villain of the film, a hot spacechick dressed in a sort of chainmail-sequin hoodie, who has a severe case of the giggles as she informs everyone that they have “nothing to fear” but will have to be “slaves” to her race, the Killiaks. It is those pesky Killiaks who have invented the remote control devices to cause the monsters to run amok, and who threaten the human race with total destruction unless everyone surrenders immediately. (Not sure how that would work logistically, but it sounds good.) Eventually, the good guys figure out that the aliens have established their base under Mt. Fuji (hence the reason Tokyo was not attacked), and are controlling the monsters from their main headquarters on the moon. In no time, our intrepid hero flies to the moon and blows up the base, liberating the monster-controlling device, so no us earthlings can control the monsters. Naturally, we instruct the monsters to crush the aliens, and more mayhem ensues, including the aliens revealing their ace up the sleeve—their own monster, King Ghidorah.

Apparently King Ghidorah forgot about the ass-kicking he received from the trio of Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra in GHIDORAH, THE THREE HEADED MONSTER, and decides to take on EVERY one of the earth monsters at the same time. Poor Angruis (whose monster cry always sounds a tad mournful) gets the worst of it initially—being dropped from a great height to cause a landslide, then stomped by the rather tubby Ghidorah, and having his face rubbed in the dirt for good measure. Fortunately, his pals quickly come to the rescue, and old Angrius shakes off his bumps and bruises and rejoins the fight. Each one of our monsters has a hand in opening up a can of Planet Earth Whup-Ass on the poor outnumbered dragon, and, after Baragon/Gorgosaurus lands a somewhat-dirty-but-who’s-counting kick in the back, Godzilla stomps his heads to death, and, for good measure Baby Godzilla lofts a lethal smoke ring that kills Ghidorah as dead as a doornail. And, here is what is really interesting about DAM—once the monsters are released from being controlled by either side, one would think they would either continue destroying cities—since that is what they usually do anyway—or else slink away to somewhere quieter for a nap. However, the monsters do neither. In fact, they seek out and destroy the remaining Killiak base! Meaning, as is pointed out, that the monsters know who their REAL enemy is—and it is not mankind after all. It is the sequined group of hot spacechicks, their flaming flying saucer and pet monster King Ghidorah. You might this would be more than enough excitement for any one motion picture, but there is still more, as the aliens have their aforementioned flaming flying saucer (sadly, animated), which then proceeds to zip around, incinerating everything in its path. Fortunately, the earth guys still have that moon ship from way back at the beginning, and the pilot is able to catch up to the cartoon fireball and finish off the threat from beyond the stars. The conclusion shows all the monsters, each getting his own cameo, back happily hanging out together at MonsterLand, smiling and waving at the camera, sorta like the credit sequence from the old LOVE BOAT.

Now, you tell me: would a remake of this not be the most epic movie in the history of the world? What, THE AVENGERS has, what, SIX superheroes and everyone is going geek nuts? You think people cheer when Loki says “I have an army!” and Tony Stark replies “We have a HULK”? What do you think the response would be if instead someone said, “We have a GODZILLA!”. Also, by remaking this classic, perhaps the US of A could finally, definitively erase the stink that was the 1998 GODZILLA debacle. I know, too, there is a GODZILLA reboot underway even as we speak, but, come on, who wouldn’t want to go see a major battle royale with every single freakin’ kaiju involved? The box office for this would make AVATAR look like ISHTAR. Sony could retake the lead over Apple in net worth. I am telling you, someone is going to do this and someone is going to become very, very, rich.


Sadly, the beginning of 2012 brought the news that the English director Robert Fuest had passed away. Among his credits include episodes of the great Brit TV show THE AVENGERS, an adaptation of WUTHERING HEIGHTS, a sequel to THE STEPFORD WIVES, and THE BIG STUFFED DOG. He was known as having an especially keen and stylish eye for production design, and his pictures were always directed with a certain amount of flair. Undoubtedly, the one he will most be remembered for is the 1971 horror/comedy THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (as well as its less successful sequel, DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN). Presumably you all know this premise of this movie—Vincent Price plays brilliant polymath Dr. Anton Phibes, who is thought long-dead as a result of a car crash when he was speeding to his wife’s side in the hospital. Alas, she did not survive, either. Some time later, folks begin to die in extremely grisly and extremely creative ways. The stalwart members of Scotland Yard eventually tip to the fact that all the deceased folks were a part of the unsuccessful surgical team who tried to save Mrs. Phibes. Then they tumble to the fact that each victim is being done in by one of the ten curses Egypt was afflicted with in the Old Testament story of Moses. And, from that point forward, it is a game of cat and mouse as the detectives try (in vain) to save the remaining members of the surgical team from becoming victims, and the puns, stylish murder methods and macabre organ playing commence in full.

While neither a straightforward horror flick, or an out-and-out comedy, PHIBES is one of the most enjoyable films of the early 70s. The sets are outlandish, the murders are preposterously sly, and every actor from Phibes’ mute (but very lethal), beautiful assistant Vulnavia(!) to the great British character actors who play most of the victims to the long-suffering detective on the case to—of all people—the typically serious Joseph Cotton who plays the head of the surgical team and the chief target of Phibes’ wrath. Perhaps best of all is the magnificent performance turned in by Vincent Price, clearly having a ball here. With facial injuries that have resulted him in wearing a (very lifelike) mask, and a tube in his neck where both his scientifically-recreated voice comes from and his liquid nourishment goes in, Price camps it up just enough to make the film work, while also playing off his image as “the king of horror”. At this point, it would be perfectly logical for you to say, “Well, if the movie was so good and so much fun in the first place, why remake it?” To which, I would respond it would be amazing to see a PHIBES for our time.

The original PHIBES is a very strange and eccentric film—Phibes himself has a massive set of clockwork figurines (including an orchestra), most of the sets have a very art deco feel to them, yet the movie is clearly set in the “swinging” London of the early 70s. As Hannibal Lecter, Anthony Hopkins has already illustrated the public’s affinity for well-written, principled “villains.” The gadgets and elaborate machinations involved in bringing the plagues of Egypt to life would be interesting, and who wouldn’t want to see the latest incarnation of Vulnavia? A director of quirky, ensemble pieces—yes, I am looking at you, Steven Soderbergh—would be great at this type of project. And, since he is such good buddies with George Clooney, imagine how much fun Clooney could have with the role of Phibes? Think of all their pals who could sign on for plummy victim roles! I think this would be one of the most incredibly great remakes in film history.


OK, OK, bear with me a moment before you scoff. Look at this from a dispassionate point of view. First of all, the things that are pluses: One, the title has GREAT name recognition—always important from a remake standpoint. Secondly, the plot (as it is) is actually pretty cool—aliens have been trying to figure out a way to attack the earth and get the attention of mankind. They don’t want to lay waste to the planet, so they need something better than just bombing everything or melting everything with lasers. Thus far, the first eight plans they have come up with have been nonstarters. Then, someone in the alien planning group decides to really think out of the box—specifically the box buried six feet underground—and proposes reanimating all the dead people to make war on the living. Wait. This is a zombie movie??? A zombie movie COMBINED with an alien attack movie??? For the last few years, anything with the word “zombie” (or “ghoul” or “infected” or “walker”) in it has been a license to print money. Alien attack movies….eh, not so much. But a combination of those two could be AWESOME.

Lastly—and maybe the most important part—the fact that this was a pretty cool idea, and even for a low-budget monster flick it still turned out terrible says a lot (and has already been said ad nauseum) about Ed Wood, his talent, and his travails in finishing this project. Now, suppose you take a gonzo-type filmmaker—say Robert Rodriguez—who has that guerilla ethos, and you let him off the leash to take this material and run. Just tell him to make a wild, fun genre movie. Can you imagine? Zombies! Flying saucers! Alien invaders!

With a script updated to reflect today’s sensibilities, some knowing humor, a little skin, a lotta gore and a budget of more than $1.20, this could be the greatest remake EVER. You know I am right.

--Bill Breedlove