Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Editorial May 2010 issue #11

R.I.P. Peter Steele
1/4/1962 - 4/14/2010

co-written by Nickolas Cook and Steven M. Duarte

The rock community took a great loss on April 14 when it was first announced that Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele had passed away. I did not believe it at first, as Steele had previously faked his own death with a stunt back in 2004. I also did not believe it as I had seen a recent interview where Steele talked about his sobriety and his new found lease on life. The truth of his passing was a tough thing for me, and everyone else in the rock community, to accept. It’s disheartening to know that another great rock icon is no longer with us. Steele and Type O Negative may have never reached mainstream stardom, but that’s what was so great about them. They played the music they wanted to play and wrote the lyrics they wanted to sing. They didn’t let corporate, or mainstream pressures, dictate their sound. Their dark humor helped them create what many people refer to as doom metal. Type O Negative created their own genre rather than playing an existing one.
With so many new shitty bands out there, it makes it that much harder to lose a great rock musician. Peter Steele brought so much to music and is leaving behind a great legacy. His deep tone and large hulking appearance while on stage will never be seen again, at least not in my lifetime. Peter is undoubtedly enjoying Halloween in Heaven. Hopefully Peter and Dimebag create a new metal band that we can enjoy when we move on into the next phase of our lives…

--Steven M Duarte

Being a horror fan, means also being a fan of dark music. I have a huge
collection of music. Not all of it's pitch black and Goth ridden gloom
tunes, but a great deal of it is bleak and dark. It fits my world view and my personality. I put a lot of stock into how music moves me, especially when it comes to writing. A lot of writers I know (in fact, most writers I know) use music to motivate themselves as they weld their craft.
In 1996, in Orlando, FL., I saw a band play live that was to change my view of metal music forever: TYPE-O NEGATIVE. I was less than ten feet from the stage and I have to say the leadsinger was one of the most impressive physical specimens I've ever seen. Peter Steele was a big man, standing at 6'8" he was a huge stage presence. But it was his voice that first drew my attention. He had the deepest darkest tone I've heard outside of a Leonard Cohen record. His sly sense of humor came through not only in their lyrics, but when he played live as well. It's obvious he enjoyed his job and he loved his fans.
I won't go through his whole history here: that stuff is easy enough to find on the internet. I just wanted to express how much this particular fan will miss a man whom he admired very much on and off stage.
Like Steve said above, there won't be another like Peter Steele in my lifetime. And this old world is a sadder place for his passing. Forty-eight is way too young to die, even for a rock star.

--Nickolas Cook

Enjoy some of their biggest hits:

Staff Profiles

Nickolas Cook (editor-in-chief)
Publishing Credits: 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 Shocklines.com for over four years. To date, his two published novels, THE BLACK BEAST OF ALGERNON WOOD (Dailey Swan Publishing), BALEFUL EYE (Stonegarden.net Publishing) and ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND from Coscom Entertainment, 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 upcoming all-original, novel length sequel to the hit, ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND, is ALICE AND THE QUEEN OF THE DEAD, soon to be released from Coscom Entertainment. His first short story collection, 'ROUND MIDNIGHT AND OTHER TALES OF LOST SOULS, will be released September 2010 from Damnation Books.
Personal Info: Nickolas lives in the beautiful Southwestern desert with his wife and three wonderful Chinese Pugs, who are worse than little children…the dogs, not the wife.
URL: MySpace
Contact Info: Nickolasecook@aol.com

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.
URL: MySpace

Steven M Duarte
Personal Info: I have always been interested in horror culture from a very young age. I enjoy all aspects of the genre from movies, video games, books to music. I have a soft spot for foreign horror films most notably Italian made ones. I especially enjoy zombie horror films and have made it my mission to try and view any and all movies involving zombies.
Favorite films: Day of the Dead, Suspiria, Zombi, The Beyond, City of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, and Deep Red, just to name a few.
I primarily listen to heavy metal but enjoy all different types of music. I have been a diehard Slipknot fan since the start and continue to be a supporter of the group. I also enjoy listening to horror soundtracks especially by the Italian group Goblin.

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter and the author of four non-fiction books, including THE CINEMA OF TSUI HARK. She is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker award, and has published over three dozen works of short fiction. Her first novella, THE LUCID DREAMING, was recently released to critical acclaim, and her first novel, THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES, is coming soon from Gray Friar Press. She lives online at

Karen L. Newman
Publishing Credits: Poetry Collections: Toward Absolute Zero (Sam's Dot, 2009), ChemICKals (Naked Snake Press, 2007) and EEKU (Sam's Dot, 2005); Anthologies: The 2009 Rhysling Anthology, Dead World: Undead Stories
Personal Info: I edit Afterburn SF and Illumen as well as serving as an assistant editor for two Sam's Dot Publishing limerick projects. In my spare time I take care of my three-legged cat and write reviews for Dark Discoveries Magazine and Tangent Online.
URL: http://home.zoomnet.net/~karennew
Fav Movies: SAW, Rocky Horror Picture Show
Contact Info: carynnaeNOSPAM@hotmail.com and leave out NOSPAM when contacting

Jason Shayer
Publishing Credits:“The Ranch” – Necrotic Tissue #6
“No Man’s Land” – Dead Science Anthology (Coscom Entertainment)
“The Toll” – Hideous Evermore Anthology (Shadowcity Press)
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 three year old daughter and three week old son the finer points of zombie lore.
URL: http://marvel1980s.blogspot.com/
Contact info: jshayer@yahoo.com

Brian Sammons has been writing reviews for years for such places as the magazines Cemetery Dance, Dark Wisdom, Shock Totem, and The Unspeakable Oath. His reviews have also appeared on many websites like The Black Seal, Bloody-Disgusting, and Horror World. 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, and Monstrous. Some of the magazines where you can find his twisted tales are Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, and Dark Animus. For more about this guy whose neighbors describe as “such nice, quiet man” go here: http://www.freewebs.com/brian_sammons/

Stabbed in Stanzas Feature: The Newest Professional Horror Poetry Markets (and Some Older Ones Too)

by Karen L. Newman

Okay, you’ve written the best horror poem since Edgar Allan Poe. Now, where do you place it? Several new horror poetry markets have opened for you to consider. Some of these are
Dark Moon Books: The Scary Poetry Contest 1st place is $50 and publication in Poems of Monsters, Mayhem and Madness: Poetry To Keep You Awake At Night! Deadline July 1, 2010.

Poe Little Thing $0.25 per line up to 50 lines Deadline September 1, 2010 Theme: IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM.

Some older markets open for submissions include
Chizine $10 per poem (professional pay if poem is 40 lines or less).

The Pedestal Magazine $40 per poem.

Asimov’s $1 per line, but poem has to be science fiction.

Strange Horizons $20 per poem that has to be speculative.

Aberrant Dreams $1 per line for supernatural horror.

Ideomancer $6 per poem that must be speculative (professional pay if poem is 24 lines or less).

Abandoned Towers $5 per poem (professional pay if poem is 20 lines or less).

Dreams and Nightmares $12 per poem (professional if poem is 48 lines or less).

Mythic Delirium $5 per poem (professional pay if poem is 20 lines or less).

Paper Crow $0.25 per line, $5 minimum.

Scheherezade’s Bequest $5 per poem that must be fairy tales (professional if poem is 20 lines or less).

Strong Verse $10 per poem (professional if poem is 40 lines or less).

So there you have it – professional payment for your poems, both for money and potential eligibility into Horror Writers Association (You need 10 professional poetry sales, ie. $0.25 per line, minimum 20 lines for active membership). So don’t just sit there. Write. Publish. And certainly don’t perish.

--Karen L. Newman

Bloody Pages Book Reviews

By Richard Laymon
Leisure Books
ISBN: 978-0-8439-6142-3
March 2010; $7.99

Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons

I have long been a fan of Mr. Laymon’s workmanlike style of telling very nasty, bloody horror stories. He doesn’t muss about, he’s got a tale to tell and he cuts to the chase like a scalpel through flesh. That doesn’t mean he skimps on the characterization, on the contrary, the people that populate Laymon’s books are some of the most memorable in fiction. Nor does he gloss over the blood, horror and sex. No Richard Laymon covered all that but he did it so well and effortlessly that his books often seemed like rollercoaster rides taken at breakneck speed. However as much as I am a fan of that style, his latest, and last before his untimely death, “novel” moves way too fast, tries to cover too much ground with too little, and really seems like a book left unfinished by the much missed author.
FRIDAY NIGHT starts off well with a lovesick teen named Mark finally mustering up the courage to ask the girl of his dreams out on a date. To his delighted surprise she says yes, but with one stipulation, she wants him to sneak them into Beast House. That titular house has been the setting for many of Laymon’s bloody romps (THE CELLAR, THE BEAST HOUSE and THE MIDNIGHT TOUR) and the series as a whole has been quite entertaining and one of my favorites. This time around, Beast House has become a tourist trap and the first 3/4th of this story is just about Mark sneaking into the house, trying to find a hiding space so that he can open the place up after it closes, and having sexual fantasies about any woman he sees. Mark’s date doesn’t arrive until just about 40 pages left in the story and the always lovable beast doesn’t pop up until nearly the very end. What that amounts to is a whole lot of foreplay, which is good and fun I will admit, but very little payoff or action at the climax.
Now if you were a clever reader you may have noticed in the first paragraph of this review my use of ironic quotation marks around the word novel. That is because this book is anything but that. First, let’s just look at it by the numbers. It is only 141 pages long, but with 21 chapters there are lots of blank chapter breaks eating away at that already meager page count. In a further attempt to pad out the size and justify this novella as a full fledged novel, the publisher chose to use a huge, almost large print style, font. Now as a bonus I guess, or perhaps just another ploy to have this book appear larger than it really is, BEAST HOUSE comes packaged with another Laymon novella called THE WILDS. That story is good in its own right and I enjoyed it, moreso then the story the book is named after, but damn it for a book with “Beast House” on its cover I wanted more Beast House in its pages.
My biggest gripe about BEAST HOUSE was just how unsatisfying it all was. It reads as if it was meant to be a longer tale but was left unfinished by Laymon’s passing and hurriedly wrapped up by some unseen hand to some sort of conclusion so that it could be published. While the first half of the story is good fun and classic Laymon, the last part feels rushed and incomplete. I almost would rather not to have read this book then to have this truncated tale be my final memories of both Richard Laymon and his very fun Beast House series. So you know what, I’m going to pretend my best that I never read FRIDAY NIGHT IN BEAST HOUSE and instead remember all the other wonderful books and stories Richard left us with. As such, and as sad as it is for me to say, I cannot recommend this book.

--Brian M. Sammons

How the West Went to Hell (2010)
by Eric S. Brown
Pillhill Press
Tradepaper/$10.99 (U.S.)

In my opinion there aren't enough western/horror stories out there. Razored Saddles, the classic western/horror anthology edited by none other than Joe R. Lansdale and Pat LoBrutto, still stands in my mind as the best of that sub-genre. When I found out that Eric S. Brown was tackling the western/horror sub-genre I was excited, to say the least. So it's with some misgivings that I give this review, and that's mostly not because of Brown's story, but the shoddy editing job that was done.
Unfortunately, with the advent of easy-to-afford publishing technology, it seems that just about anyone with a few bucks and some time to waste have decided to become publishers. Editing is not a priority with most of these small press companies. It seems as if no one is actually checking product for grammar and spelling mistakes in these places.
When did it become okay to shove shitty material onto the market, with no regard for professionalism and craft?
Some of that blame probably does fall on Brown's shoulder as well; after all, he should be going over his own material with a fine tooth comb before handing it over, especially in these days of lax editing jobs on otherwise decent books.
And 'How the West Went to Hell' is a decent read. Sure, it has a few narrative flaws (less than solid characters, a few jumpy sequences where the action isn't so clear, etc., etc). But let's be honest, we come to Brown, and his many published and forthcoming projects, for fun, not thematic or moralistic tales. He is not Peter Straub, and I daresay, he probably isn't trying to be. What Eric S. Brown is trying to be is great entertainment. And he does that fairly well with this homage to everything from Argento/Bava's Demons to Eastwood's Man With No Name. I do feel, however, that this was a bigger story than could fit into the less than one hundred pages of this novella, and I feel a little cheated because of that. He appends a short prologue and a tiny epilogue around the story of a band of newcomers to the small desert town of Reaper's Valley, where all Hell is about to break loose in the form of ancient demon who wants to destroy all mankind. Why? No one knows? Will anyone care? Probably not, because Brown keeps the pace moving with gory, violent demon kills against a once possessed and powerful human vessel in black, and his small group of demon destroyers.
No worries: I won't give away anymore than that.
So overlook the editing flaws and give 'How the West Went to Hell' a shot. If you like rousing tales of blood and death, you won't be disappointed.

--Nickolas Cook

13 Questions with MyMiserys: Simon Wood

Interview conducted by MyMiserys (aka Kimberly Cook)

1. How old were you when you wrote what you consider your first story?
I wrote in school, but it was essentially a chore and I don’t remember any of
those stories. I consider my first story to be the first story I wrote for
pleasure and I didn’t write that until I was 30.

2. What inspired you to write it?
I’ve always been a daydreamer with stories in my head, but I hadn’t had the
inclination or the time to write them down. I was busy with other pursuits. That
changed when I left England for the US. I had a lot of time on my hands because of
immigration restrictions, so I indulged myself. In the months leading up to my
move to America, ideas had been building up in my head, so I was raring to go once
I reached the US. I’m probably the only writer to ever say the Immigration and
Naturalization Service was my inspiration. :)

3. What was the first book you wrote?
My first book was ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN. This was also my first published
book. I’d gotten the idea for story the while watching 60 Minutes. They had a
short piece about people who traded life insurance policies on the living. I saw
that and knew I had an idea for a book.

4. Of all the books you've written, which is your favorite?
That’s mean. All my books are special. They are my children. I can’t have
favorites. They’ll get upset. However, as long as you promise not to tell my other
books, I would have to say, PAYING THE PIPER. It’s the one that gives me the most
satisfaction and think it’s a great tale. I’d also say I have strong feelings for
THE SCRUBS and ROAD RASH too. THE SCRUBS is the most vivid and wild story I’ve
written and ROAD RASH is exotic with an unexpected conclusion.

5. Which book would you like to forget you wrote?
Hand on heart, there isn’t a book I’d like to forget, but I have to admit that
with every book I’ve written I would like to take them all back and give them
another rewrite. The problem is that I see cracks and weaknesses in all of them
that I didn’t see at the time and I’d love the chance to make improvements. Then
again, I’ll never be totally satisfied with anything I write. It’ll never be

6. Who is the most influential person in your life?
I’d have to say my wife. She’s my partner when it comes to my writing. She’s my
first reader and sounding board. No one sees anything without her input.

7. Who is your favorite author?
That’s hard. I think it depends on the day. It’s a dogfight between James Herbert,
Richard Matheson, Reginald Hill and Raymond Chandler. One of these people wins out
only to lose the next day. I say these four people because they’ve each influenced
me as a writer and continue to inspire me.

8. If you could only own one book, what would it be?
Again, a hard one. Can there ever be just one book? I think my heart would say THE
LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler. Don’t ask me why, because I’ll change my mind
for something else.

9. When and where do you write?
I write in my home office with my dog, Royston, at my side in the “good” chair. I
treat writing like a day job and I start at nine and try to be finished by five,
but sometimes the boss in my head makes me stay late.

10. Do you have a "day job?"
Writing is my day job, but my background is engineering and I spent a lot of years
in the oil and gas industries.

11. Do you have a "dream job?"
My dream job would be a writer with more contracts than I could handle. I’d also
like to go back to my other love of motor racing.

12. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d love to live in Costa Rica. I’ve traveled extensively and Costa Rica is my
favorite country. I love Central America and Costa Rica is its jewel. I’d love to
live in the mountains or close to the ocean. I could be very happy there.

13. What is your guilty pleasure?
Cars. I know it’s not eco-friendly, but I love a fast car. I can’t resist
something with plenty of grunt under the hood and a chassis that can corner. There
is no substitute. I do recycle and conserve to make up for it. :-)

Simon Wood is an ex-racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private
investigator. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are
dominated by a longhaired dachshund and five cats. He's had over 150 stories and
articles published. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines
anthologies, such as Seattle Noir, Thriller 2 and Woman’s World. He's a frequent
contributor to Writer's Digest. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Working
Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper and We All Fall Down. As
Simon Janus, he's the author of The Scrubs and Road Rash. His latest books are the
thriller, Terminated, and the short story collection, Asking for Trouble. Curious
people can learn more at http://www.facebook.com/l/25c03;www.simonwood.net.


(The Black Glove thanks Simon for his time and effort)

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad


When this book was released in paperback in 1987 (original publication, 1985), I was working at a bookstore in a mall. I saw the cover, and immediately wanted to read the book. Unfortunately for me, the cover scene… a woman sitting on the edge of a bed in what appears at first glance to be a normal hotel room, but as the eyes scan right is revealed to be underwater with a drowning man trying to break the surface.… has nothing at all to do with the book. Fortunately for me, it didn’t matter. After reading the book, I put it on the short list of my ten favorite books.

Flash forward twenty-three years, and I’m rereading the book for this column. After finishing it, the book resumes its place as one of my ten favorite books. It’s that good.

The protagonist alone is enough to make a potential reader abandon the book as worthless. Robert Frederickson is a private detective, which is not unusual for a main character in a mystery novel. He’s also a dwarf. And a karate black belt. And a college professor. And an ex-circus star acrobat.

The fact that Chesbro found a way to make Mongo believable is a testament to his skill at characterization. In this novel, however, Chesbro decided to perform his juggling act not merely with characterization, but also with plot development. We’ve got parallels to The Lord of the Rings and Wagner’s Ring cycle. We’ve got intelligent gorillas. Death by rare wasp venom. Actual Damascus steel. Spontaneous devolution. Telepathic interrogation.

Somehow, the author managed to keep my interest and my disbelief suspended through all of this. I believe it was because during the ride, he was addressing matters of philosophy and religion as well as human and national relationships, and he was doing it in a way which was neither preachy nor simplistic.

It’s not enough to find that there is a fluid being perfected which should affect large segments of the human population when exposed. The question of why arises, and everyone has a different interpretation of what the fluid will actually do (render people obedient, diminish their intelligence, devolve them to the status of apes) based on their own prejudices and desires.

Underneath it all, there’s a fine action story with some strong suspense and horror elements. There are also some interesting technical work, both in sentence and paragraph construction and in the parallels to more famous works. It’s a wonderful, fun, book that shouldn’t merely be on any mystery, horror, or science fiction lover’s shelf but should also be high on their to be read pile.

Five stars out of five.


Remember all of the nice things I said about The Beasts of Valhalla, above? Invert them, and it’ll give you an idea of how bad this book is.

There are a few types of paranormal detective. The most popular version of the past involved a normal if brilliant detective who happened to know all sorts of mythic lore, who would intervene in odd cases and either eliminate a supernatural or otherwise uncanny menace or expose a supposed weird mystery to its mundane roots. The most popular today involves an investigator who possesses one or more paranormal abilities and uses them to foil occult plots and crimes. There are others, however. In the Teddy London books by C.J. Henderson, for example, or the Kolchak stories initiated by Jeff Rice and Richard Matheson we are given an example of the investigator who happens to fall into cases which have supernatural elements.

And then there is The Satan Sleuth. This character falls into the subset of investigators who debunks the supernatural. Consider them a cross between a private detective and James Randi. They were never the most popular of the supernatural detectives, but there were far more of them in the past. I suspect one reason for their decline may have been this book. It was published in 1974, and thankfully was never reprinted.

People, it’s really terrible. The dialogue alternates between wooden and preposterous. Characters are lucky when they’re elevated to having two dimensions. The mystery, if approached from the position of knowing there will be a mundane explanation, is both predictable and stupid. The main character puts Doc Savage to shame… brilliant, heroic, incredibly strong, astonishingly handsome, experienced; all women are enthralled by him and all men envious of him. He is among the most famous men in the world. Yet he can don a disguise consisting of differing clothes, a mild limp, and a false name and be completely unrecognizable.

If anyone wishes to perform Mystery Science Theater 3000 for audio books, this series needs to be recorded. Mockery is the only reason I can come up with for reading it.

One star out of five.

LADY SATIVA by Frank Lauria

I judge books by their covers. It’s a reasonable thing to do, at least initially. I can’t judge a book by its content prior to reading it, so for the initial determination of whether I might be interested in a book the cover is a significant factor. Other things include recommendations, reviews, and reading a sample of the work.

The cover for this book is completely deceptive. Not merely the cover, in fact, but also the title: Lady Sativa. While the title character is undoubtedly important to the story, she is at best a character of suspicion, not the key antagonist. Instead, she falls into a love affair with the protagonist who is uncertain of her loyalties.

Would Ian Fleming have titled “Goldfinger” as “Pussy Galore”? Of course not. Worse, then, is the decision to hype in title and cover copy a character who may not even be working against the hero.

And what a hero it is. Dr. Owen Orient: Scientist, Psychiatrist, Psychic Researcher, Master of the Occult, and Telepath Extraordinaire. One thing he is not, as he reminds people a few times throughout the novel, is a detective. A more accurate statement would be that he is not a particularly good detective. By the seventh chapter he is also not a particularly good werewolf.

What is surprising here is how solid the mystery is. The setup is contrived, there is at least one explicit sex scene, much of the novel is taken up with Orient failing to decipher an obvious clue (after immediately recognizing deeply obscure clues) or alienating his few confidantes by excluding them from his efforts to rid himself of lycanthropy. With all of this going against the book there is no expectation of a good mystery. The author gives us one anyway.

This 1973 novel would have made an strong novella, but it suffers from unbelievable angst and dubious decision-making which reads as if the author were trying to pad the story for word count.

Three stars out of five.

THE DEVIL IN VELVET by John Dickson Carr

John Dickson Carr is a legend, but not for his horror or suspense work. The man is one of the key figures in mystery and detective fiction. He is generally acknowledged as the master of the locked room mystery, and many of the known “solutions” to the locked room format were invented by Carr. When I saw that he had a supernatural detective story, I had to read it.

This was a mistake. Not because the novel was bad; it wasn’t. Not because there was no supernatural element; there was. It was a mistake because both the mystery and the supernatural element of this story are merely window dressing for what is an elegantly prepared and presented historical novel, originally published in 1951.

The protagonist is a collegiate professor who sells his soul to the devil for a chance to go back in time a few centuries and prevent a murder. The devil agrees to the bargain and Nicholas Fenton soon awakes in Restoration era London. Armed with his knowledge of the period and his contemporary learning, he strives to prevent the death by poisoning of a woman he has grown to adore from painted images of the time.

The mystery element is an engaging puzzle and the supernatural element is undeniable. Of particular interest in that regard is the effort to explain how people are only able to comprehend the devil within the boundaries of their own perceptions. Still, the star of the book is Restoration-era London, from the local places and personages to the linguistic differences between modern and historical England to the finer points of fencing.

If you enjoy a good historical novel, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you’re not, and you’re looking for a more traditional horror novel, you should probably pass this one by.

Four stars out of five.


This is a collection of nine stories, collected for publication in 1920, which were written by the creator of Fu Manchu. They involve Moris Klaw, an early example of a supernatural detective who possesses paranormal abilities. In this case, however, the paranormal ability is unusually minor: he possesses the ability to gather images left by strong emotions at a crime scene by sleeping there on a specially cleansed pillow.

While this is a unique plot device, it is still somewhat effective, mostly because Rohmer had his finger on the pulse of what worked within many pulp stories. Klaw was unbelievable but was outrageously so, owning a small curio shop from which he would venture only to take on truly unusual cases, being accompanied by his incredibly beautiful and devoted daughter everywhere he went, and having a tendency toward speaking in hyperbole and abnormal phrases.

The saving grace for the stories is that others find him as unbelievable as the reader does, which adds a nice touch of pseudo-realism. Of course, the other characters quickly come around to his way of thinking, often being mesmerized by the depth and brilliance of a character who consistently speaks grotesquely foolish things… but with authority!

When Klaw gains a mental picture, it is inevitably key to solving the crime. When he selects a crime to investigate, it is typically because of a rare artifact involved in the crime’s commission. Klaw believes that crimes happen in cycles, repeating generally every few hundred years with similar circumstances when associated by historical treasures.

Moris Klaw is ridiculous in his theory and his presentation, and some of the stories border on the offensive with their racial, commercial and sexual stereotyping. But as classic pulp fiction, they are a lot of fun.

Three stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

Movie vs. Book: Time After Time

The movie, Time After Time (1979), is not a horror story. Sure, you have women being slaughtered, dismemberment, stalking, terror. You have Jack the Ripper in one of his most chilling portrayals. But when you get down to the meat of the matter, it is not a horror story. It is a love story.
The plot begins with H.G. Wells, in 1898, having a dinner party to unveil a new invention—a time machine. During the dinner party, Scotland Yard investigators come looking for Jack the Ripper, and find him as one of the party’s guests…who immediately disappears in Wells’ machine. Wells must then chase after him into the future. They both arrive in 1979 San Francisco where Jack continues his killing spree and Wells must find him and put a stop once and for all to the murders.
That is the base for this story and the whole reason for the plot to exist. Yet, that does not the movie as a whole. When first in 1979, Wells is learning about life in the future where some of his predictions have come true (such as technology and women’s liberation) and some have not (world peace, Utopia). As fascinating as this part is, again that sense of discovery really isn’t what the movie is about.
Time After Time finds its identity when Wells meets Amy Robbins, a banker and thoroughly modern woman. While rather sudden, the two fall in love in a matter of days, come to terms with the reality of Wells’ situation, and must find a way to stop The Ripper, especially once Amy comes in his murderous sights.
This plot could easily become a contrived bit of fluff. The actors are what make this movie work. David Warner puts in a chillingly amoral and very real turn as Jack the Ripper. However, Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen as Wells and Amy are what make this a great movie. The honesty and vulnerability in their performances and the chemistry of their screen time together is fantastic, and rare. As unrealistic as it is that two people would fall so deeply so quickly, the way the two work together on screen make you forget your doubts within moments. In real life, Steenburgen and McDowell were married after filming this, so perhaps the chemistry wasn’t so much of an acting stretch.
There are other fun aspects to the movie. The special effects are top of the line…for 1979. By today’s standards, they’re laughable. But if you keep in mind when this was made, it’s easy to overlook the cheese factor and enjoy the psychedelic ride of the time travel. Also of note—watch for an extremely young Corey Feldman’s screen debut.
While this is a love story, this is by no means a “chick flick”. There is enough action and suspense with the Ripper factor to keep you interested, and aside from one gratuitous use of violin scoring, the love story keeps from getting saccharine-sappy. I completely and totally recommend this movie, as long as you know going in you are in for a frightfest, but a story about falling in love with a little horror in the background.

- Jen

BOOK: Time After Time by Karl Alexander

If there’s anything more appropriate than reviewing a book and movie with significant romantic elements shortly after getting married, it’s probably when the person doing the other half of the review is your new spouse. So, the choice in this case was perfect.

The book, unlike the movie, is not primarily a romance. Instead it is a look at the difference between idealistic visions: one, the utopian vision of H.G. Wells, presented as believing that scientific progress would bring a socialist paradise of equality, peace and riches for all and the base expectations of Jack the Ripper, presented here as a sociopath who believes that all of mankind is in a constant battle for dominance and supremacy as represented through violence.

Wells in the book is fundamentally spiritual, though not religious, and also fundamentally libertarian although grounded in his Victorian-era morality. There are minor discrepancies between the Wells of the novel and the Wells of reality, but these are easily attributable to dramatic license, used to further the analytical difference between the primary characters.

There are many parts of the book which are shaved or combined to make the movie, but the writer/director did a wonderful job in keeping most of the key elements present. This is, as a book, a love story. It is also a suspense thriller and is filled with commentary about the nature of humanity.

The earliest third of the book is concerned with how the time travelers react to the world around them, with H.G. Wells alternately thrilled with the scientific wonders, pleased with their use to benefit humanity, and dismayed by the treatment of people by other people. The author effectively uses the visitor to our time (or at least the time of 1979) to illustrate some of what he considers the best and the worst of our society. You may not agree with his conclusions, but you’ll enjoy the trip and you’ll be presented with thoughtful commentary.

Five stars out of five.


Fresh Blood: New Releases In the World of Horror

Compiled by Steven M. Duarte

In Movie News this month...

The sequel to Iron Man will grace the screens this month while George A. Romero releases his newest zombie flick.

Iron Man 2
Release date: May 07, 2010
Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle
Were back following Tony Stark and his exploits as the mighty Iron Man. This time War Machine is along for the ride in addition to comic book baddie Whiplash. The addition of Mickey Rourke should make for an even better time than the previous Iron Man.

Best Worst Movie
Release date: May 14, 2010
Starring: Michael Stephenson, George Hardy, Darren Ewing
This documentary reunites the cast of the awesome film Troll 2. Okay I take that back let me try this again, This documentary reunites the cast of one of the shittiest horror films made….Troll 2. The film really takes a look at how silly the film was and how much it wasn’t a sequel to the original Troll. The interviews with the original cast members are done in a fashion where they join in on the fun. Check local listings as the theatrical run is limited.

Survival of the Dead
Release date: May 28, 2010
Starring: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Walsh, Devon Bostick
Romero has brought us zombies in an army base, mall, farmhouse, and city now he brings us a story of survivors stuck on an island with their zombie relatives. The non zombie humans have to try to find a way to cure their zombie kin or destroy them.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Release date: May 28, 2010
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley,Gemma Arterton
Video game brought to life follows Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead role of the game to film adaptation of Prince of Persia. The games have found new popularity in recent years and this film is sure to add to that.

--Steven M. Duarte

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

Review written by Brian M. Sammons

Director: James McTeigue
Cast: Rain, Naomie Harris, Sho Kosugi

As a red blooded American boy growing up in the eighties I fell in love with all the ninja movies that came out at the local mom and pop video stores during that time. No, they weren’t great cinema, and the stories were so similar as to be interchangeable, not to mention that I’ll be the first to admit that some of the movies were just downright cheesy as hell, but man talk about sword swinging, arterial blood spraying across the room, guy in black pajamas disappearing in a puff of smoke fun. The late seventies to mid eighties were a great time for fans of ninja flicks, a subgenre of martial arts films that didn’t exist before then and have sadly seems to have vanished since. Sure the deadly dudes in black will sometime pop up in a modern film or videogame, but usually they’re just there to be the butt of jokes, or oddly enough to fight pirates for some reason. Luckily for all of us that like our ninjas more lethal killers and less wisecracking turtles, a group of like-minded men got together and made one of the most bloody, ass-kicking, ninja flicks to come out in a long time. NINJA ASSASSIN is that movie and despite having one of the most redundant titles ever, it ranks up there with Cop Policeman, it was a trip of a flick to see. So grab your swords, shuriken, and sais and let’s jump into the shadows with NINJA ASSASSIN.

As I said, no one watches these FILMS for the stories and this one is no different. This movie is about a young ninja named Raizo who was raised in a brutal orphanage to become one of the infamous shadow warriors. One of the best things about this movie is the man who plays the cruel leader of the ninja clan, veteran actor Sho Kosugi who made his bones in a ton of the best ninja films from the eighties including the seminal ENTER THE NINJA and REVENGE OF THE NINJA. If you are going to do a first rate ninja movie, you have to get Sho to do it and he does an amazing job here despite being over sixty. Anyway, back to our titular assassin, Raizo. Being tortured repeatedly and having his girlfriend murdered before his eyes by his ninja schoolmates really sours Raizo on the whole murder for hire business, so Raizo kills a bunch of his clanmates, cuts out one of Sho’s eyes, and then vanishes into the night. However some years later, just like Pacino in GODFATHER 3, he gets pulled back in just when he thought he was out. So naturally that means a whole bunch of people are going to have to die in spectacular, bloody, over the top ways and that is easily the best thing this movie has going for it; it’s unabashed “Oh you want action? Well how do you like this?” attitude. Nothing is even remotely realistic but man, is the cool factor cracked up to eleven. Ninja’s come out of shadows like ghosts, shuriken are thrown so fast and in such quantity that they appear to have been fired out of machineguns, people are beheaded, sliced in half, and quartered so easily that you would swear they were made out of soft cheddar, and above all else, the ninjas are just the epitome of ultra cool badasses.

Other highlights of the film is the lovely Naomie Harris playing an Interpol agent who’s been chasing the ninja legend for years, and some guy named Rain (no, really) who I guess it a pop singer or something in Japan, but despite that he does a more than competent job at delivering the chop socky goods. Further the special effects are top notch, with the exception of some of the CGI gore that looks a bit too cartoonish. But again, and I can’t stress it enough, this movie is all about the action, action, action. If you are an action film fan and feel that today’s movies are sorely lacking in that department then this is the movie for you and then some.

Now as great as the film is, the DVD is surprisingly sparse with the extras. There are a few additional scenes and that’s it. In a truly crappy movie, The Blu-ray offers a few more extras that the DVD does not and I must say that I am NOT a fan of that. If you can’t add the extras due to the space constraints of DVDs then that’s fine, but if you’re just not doing it as a way to goose people into updating their format then that’s pretty scummy. So if extras are not that big of a deal to you then by all means snap up the DVD. If you got a BD player and a few extra bucks then you might as well get it on Blu-ray, although I hate the idea of rewarding Warner Brothers for their scumbag marketing gimmicks. Ok enough of my soapboxing, ninja fans rejoice, at long last we’ve got another great action packed, weird, wild, and fun flick.

I give NINJA ASSASSIN 4 machinegun-fired shuriken out of 5.

--Brian M. Sammons


Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons

Director: Guy Richie
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Rachel McAdams, Mark Strong.

Sherlock Holmes, while never being completely part of the horror genre, has flirted and dabbled with it for a very long time. From the mysterious THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, to the campy and 80s-riffic flick, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, to the excellent Lovecraft meets Doyle collection SHADOWS OVER BAKER STREET and the most recent anthology THE IMPROBABLE ADVENTURERS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (these last two are books that you really should read if you haven’t already), Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson have always had one foot in the land of the supernatural, if only to logically dismiss it at the end of an adventure. So it is with the newest movie based around the world’s most famous detective, this one simply called SHERLOCK HOLMES.

Now at first glance this movie will not look like your father’s Sherlock Holmes, and that maybe true, but it will in fact be a lot closer to your grandfather’s, or great grandfather’s, Holmes. Gone is the deerstalker cap and the stuffiness, in is the ass-kicking martial arts, shabby clothes, hard drinking, and eccentric behavior. While this may shock you if all you know of Holmes you learned from the old black and white movies, this is actually pretty much how Sir Doyle wrote the character back in the good old days. So this movie gets big points for making its Sherlock a lot more like the real Sherlock than he’s been in a long time.

More points are scored with the choice of the cast. Robert Downey Jr. is amazing as the brilliant, sometimes slightly mad, detective and Jude Law is equally entertaining as his oftentimes put upon, but highly capable best buddy, Dr. Watson. Mark Strong turns in a very diabolical performance as the film’s villain, Lord Blackwood. Furthermore, the entire supporting cast likewise hit all marks well, from Inspector Lestrade to the faithful housekeeper, Ms. Hudson, to the hulking henchman Dredger. The one light that simply doesn’t shine as bright as those around it would have to me the lovely Rachel McAdams. Her character, the love interest and often antagonist of Holmes, Irene Adler really just didn’t do much for me. However maybe that was a flaw with how her character was written and what she had to do in the film. If she returns for the sequel, and I’m sure there will be a sequel, I’ll give her another look with an open mind.

Still even more points are awarded for both the film’s direction and the story. Guy Richie, who started off strong as a filmmaker with LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS and SNATCH, knocked out a couple of duds with his last few films before this one, returns to true form and masterminds one hell of a interesting, engaging, and good looking movie. As for the story, it’s a classic, supernatural-tinged, Holmesian mystery of the first order. Holmes and Watson stop the vile Lord Blackwood who was one a murder spree with serious black magic overtones. The would be wizard is taken to the gallows and put to death some time later. Or was he? Before meeting the hangman he told Holmes that his work wasn’t done and now, after Blackwood’s body apparently gets up and walks out of the graveyard more people are dying in mystical ways. Could Holmes and Watson be in over their heads against an undying villain able to summon the powers of darkness or will there be a logical explanation for these amazing events? Who knows, it might be a bit of both.

SHERLOCK HOLMES was a fun, fast, entertaining, and mysterious film that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. It is one of the few movies that I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to the any sequel it spawns, as long as the same creators and stars are involved. I can highly recommend this movie…but sadly not on DVD. There is only one special feature to be found here, a documentary on how director and star reinterpreted the famous sleuth. So once again Warner Brothers is giving DVD owners the finger and saving the vast majority of the extras for the Blu-ray version of the movie. I’ve said before how detestable I think that is, so I won’t go into it again here. It is a shame, if extras matter to you and all you have is a DVD player then this otherwise great disc is taken down a few pegs by a crass marketing ploy. Ah well, that being said, the movie is still very good. If you already have Blu-ray then definitely get this one. If you still watch DVDs, then maybe get it.

--Brian M. Sammons


Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons

Director: Lucio Fulci
Staring: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, Cinzia Monreale.

This piece of surreal cinema comes from Italian horror maestro Lucio Fulci and easily finds a spot in the top three Favorite Fulci Fright Flicks list I keep in my head. While on one blood stained hand many people write this one off as a zombie movie, and in that regard it succeeds perfectly, it is more than simply that. Just like Dr. Frankenstein’s pet project, this move is more than a sum of its parts. Yes there are shuffling killer corpses that die (again) if bullet meets brain, but there is also black magic, doorways to hell, undying warlocks, creepy blind people, eerie paintings that foretell a frightening future, the mother of all chain-whippings, cute puppy dogs, acid melting off faces, a big book of evil that H. P. Lovecraft would have approved of, and man I could go on like this for a good long while. But again sum > parts so lets hold hands, perhaps pack a pistol just in case, and head down south to Louisiana for a little vacation. Don’t worry; I know the perfect, quaint hotel we can stay in.

Unfortunately for all involved that secluded hotel just happens to have been built over one of the seven doors to hell. That is also the spot where years past an artists accused of black magic was whipped with a flesh-tearing chain, nailed to a wall, had acidic plaster poured over his face and head, and then walled up alive…well alive-ish at any rate. Man, was a simple witch burning not fun enough for these virtuous vigilantes? Flash forward to the modern day of 1981 and a young woman inherits the hotel and hires some handymen to start renovating it. Can you guess that might not have been a good idea? Well during some basement repair the corpse of the warlock is discovered, but naturally the rotting body isn’t totally dead, and soon people are being torn apart in the amazingly stylish and gruesome fashion that made Fulci a legend in the horror world. There’s a face clawing that rips a guy’s eye out, a woman that gets her head dissolved by acid while her daughter watches (who then goes instantly blind afterward), a horde of flesh-eating tarantulas, and a host of other disgusting delights. As the bodies begin to pile up and more corpses begin to saunter and slay, it is up to the hotel’s new owner and her sort of love interest, the town’s local pathologist who’s also begun to notice that something strange is going on, to uncover the deadly mystery that links the hotel, a tome of magic called the Book of Eibon, and all the horrible murders. Can the two, with some help from a blind prophetess, save the day before the door to hell is thrown wide open and the whole world is lost? Well if you know Fulci films then you probably already know the answer to that.

THE BEYOND is Italian splatter cinema at its finest. It’s got great gore galore, an amazingly eerie soundtrack, and so much style that it should be walking down a runway in Paris. Yes at times the story doesn’t quiet make sense, and that goes for the film’s final scene as well, but that just adds to the movie’s overall surreal and nightmarish feel. If you want to watch a true horror movie that’s creepy and icky as all hell, and don’t mind suspending your disbelief a little, then THE BEYOND is the flick for you. There is a reason this movie is considered by most horrorheads to be modern classic.

Now in addition to a great movie this DVD, which was brought out by the fear fanatics over at Grindhouse Releasing, is top rate in every way. The picture quality is great, as is the sound, but more so for what you get to see and hear as opposed to just how pretty it looks. This version of the movie is uncut for the first time in a long time and as mentioned before there are some simply amazing splatter shots to be savored here. If you’re a gorehound then this movie will give you a titanium hard-on like few others will. Additionally the DVD comes crammed with extras. There’s an audio commentary with stars Catriona MacColl and David Warbeck, and Catriona even supplies a video intro to the film. There’s a feature called “Images From Beyond” which is a lengthy making of and behind the scenes documentary, and another one called “Voices From Beyond” where cast and crew talk fondly about their time working for director Lucio Fulci. Speaking of Fulci, there’s even a rare on set interview with the late director. Rounding out the goodies are three trailers, a slightly different pre-credit sequence originally used in the German version of the movie, and a music video by the death metal group Necrophagia for the song, “And You Will Live in Terror.” Grindhouse even spared no expense with the packaging of the movie and included a mini poster, liner notes by the late, great Chas. Balun, and even a complete list of Fulci’s films on the reverse side of the DVD’s cover art.

In every way this DVD is a winner and a must have for serious fright fans. If you don’t have this film in your collection then you are missing out. Do yourself a favor and rectify that immediately. You’ll be glad you did.
If you would like to get a copy of this excellent version of THE BEYOND you can order one from Grindhouse Releasing here: Grindhouse Releasing

--Brian M. Sammons

Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Director: Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Josh Stewart, Michael Reilly Burke, Andrea Roth

Hey boys and girls, ever wonder what would happen if Jigsaw from the SAW films booby trapped an entire house? Ok, yes that’s already been done in SAW 2, and in pretty much every SAW movie, but hey how about another movie with a new killer in a creepy/cool leather mask? Yes, that’s pretty much the entire story behind THE COLLECTOR. So if you want a mini-review here it is: if you like the SAW movies then you’ll like this one as it is from, and I quote; “the twisted minds behind SAW IV, V, and VI”. I guess if slashers can have their own subgenre then torture porn with traps can have one too. Or at least it looks like these “twisted minds” are trying like hell to make one up. However if you hate the SAW films then you’ll hate this one as well as it is essentially the same movie, with a few minor differences.

The story, such as it is, of this movie is about a young man named Arkin breaking into a house of a family he was working for as a handyman to make some quick cash. Too bad it is the aspiring burglars’ incredibly bad luck to do the B&E on the exact same night that a psychotic masked super genius trap maker also invaded the family’s home and literally crammed it full of lethal devices. Now exactly how this guy did this unnoticed, as it would have taken hours and hours for a single guy to lay this many traps, is never addressed but hey why let logic get in the way of the “story”. Once Arkin finds out what is going on and sees the masked killer murder the father of the family that was nice to him and imprison the mother, which begs the question, who are the countless traps for if the bad guy already has the family in his clutches, his conscious gets the better of him and he tires his best to save the surviving family members. What follows is lots of admittedly cool traps, lots of people suffering lots of pain, and that’s about it. When all is said and done with this movie, and the appropriate downbeat ending has happened, nothing is resolved and no questions are answered. Can you say heavy handed attempt to set things up for a sequel? I knew you could.

Now for the recorded, I am not totally against these types of movies. I really liked both of the original SAW and HOSTEL flicks, but that is because both of those films had more to them then just gore, pain, torture, and traps. THE COLLECTOR does not. So once again, if you are still and loyal fan of the SAW films even after six, soon to be seven, of them then you’ll dig this flick. If not, then you should probably just skip this movie.

--Brian M. Sammons

Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Directors: Daniel Farrands & Andrew Kasch
Starring: Robert Englund, Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp

The best thing, perhaps the only good thing, about all the horror classics from the 80s getting the modern remake treatment is that when the new movie comes out, a new documentary about the original films also comes out. There was one for HALLOWEEN, one for FRIDAY THE 13TH, and now with the new NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake hitting theaters, comes this documentary about all the Freddy flicks. So how does this doc stack up against the others and does it do the monumental horror series justice? Well five, six, grab your crucifix and lets dive into dreamland.

NEVER SLEEP AGAIN starts off where it should with a lengthy and in depth look at the first NoES. Wes Craven, Robert Englund, and nearly all of the actors from the first NIGHTMARE are present for interviews. Ok, Johnny Depp has become too much of a big shot to be bothered to say a few kind words about the movie that started his career, but pretty much everyone else shows up. Additionally there are comments from the producers that risked everything to bring Wes’ nightmare to life, the special effects wizards that made the dreamscapes so frightening, and other crewmembers who were there wading in blood or turning rooms upside-down. Missing are any fans or critics commenting on the film, but with seven NIGHTMARE films to cover, not to mention the FREDDY VS. JASON flick, the short lived FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES TV show, an interview with the 80s metal group Dokken, and a look at the House the Freddy Built (that’s New Line Cinema to you and me), this documentary is not short on material. In fact, it’s so overflowing that it had to be put on to two discs. But more on that later.

Everything Freddy is covered in incredible detail. While you might expect that from a documentary, what this one does is goes far beyond the call of duty. Remember the girl in the hallway who asked Nancy for her pass? Well they found her for this. How about the guy reading the creepy poem in class? Nah, me neither, but they dug him up too. Want the inside poop you normally don’t ever hear from the people in Hollywood? Well how about Wes Craven’s thoughts on the sequels to his movie and the problems he had with New Line Cinema over the years. Want to know if NIGHTMARE 2 really was meant to be as gay as it seemed to be? Ever wonder why Kane Hodder (the fan favorite Jason from the FRODAY THE 13TH films) didn’t make it into FREDDY VS. JASON? Those and may more insider scoops can be found here. How much more, you ask? Well the actual documentary runs 240 minutes. That long enough for you? Oh, and that’s not including the stuff on the second disc that I mentioned before. That is likewise packed till bursting with content. There are extended interviews with nearly everyone they talked to for the doc and some interviews with people that were cut from the main movie probably in a desperate attempt not to stretch the runtime out any more. There’s a featurette on the famous Freddy glove, one about the old Nintendo NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET game, another that’s a Horror’s Hallowed Grounds segment on the locations from the first film, still another about the diehard Freddy fans, a sneak peak at another behind the scenes documentary covering Elm Street from a different perspective called I AM NANCY, and I could really go on and on and on. So when I tell you that this documentary has it all, you should really believe me on that. The only thing that it was missing was any info about the new remake, and that was fine with me.

Simply put, if you are a fan of the NIGHTMARE films then you MUST get this documentary. Of all of the recent 80s slasher retrospectives this movie is one of the best, most thorough, and easily the longest. To paraphrase a famous line; don’t…fall…asleep…before getting yourself a copy of this DVD, because missing out on this one would truly be a nightmare.

--Brian M. Sammons

Foreign Fears: Kansen (Infection) 2004

This month’s recommended Foreign Fears Feature jumps back to Asia with the J-Horror title Infection. It’s hard to believe that the director of this film was also responsible for the shitty American remake of shutter. Before he was making bad remakes he was creating dark creepy atmospheric films such as Infection. The film follows various doctors who are dealing with a budget crisis. They cannot afford to buy supplies and even turn away those in need of immediate medical attention. One day an ambulance shows up with a person who is displaying signs of a contagious infection. The doctors turn away the patient and ambulance workers only to find that the patient has been left in their care. Infection really feels like a silent hill video game with a J-Horror twist. The film has a twist ending that can be figured out if you pay attention to the details.

--Steven M. Duarte

Nosferatu: The First Horror Hero

written by Brenda Hineman

Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees... these horror legends have helped to define the modern era of horror. Before all of them - hell, even before movies had sound - there was the original bogeyman: Count Orlok.

From the horror classic - Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens - comes Count Orlok. Played by the extremely creepy Max Schreck, Count Orlok is a very thinly disguised Count Dracula. In fact, Nosferatu is an interpretation of Dracula that was just different enough to avoid a lawsuit from the estate of Bram Stoker.

While there are a handful of Dracula films that have come out over the years, perhaps none are more compelling than Nosferatu. Director, F.W. Murnau, worked what we know refer to as the German Expressionist style to its fullest potential. The style of film direction lent itself personally to a Dracula film. Whereas modern horror films rely heavily on special effects and talented makeup departments, Nosferatu was created using the most basic effect of horror: darkness and light. The black and white filming, if used today, would be considered a stroke of brilliance, when other films are racing for IMAX and 3D.

Further, Stoker's original Dracula is very well-suited to a silent film. Told largely in journal entries, it is short on dialogue and big on observations. To his credit, Murnau recognized the potential of a Dracula screen adaptation in the infancy of motion pictures. Potential alone, however, does not make for a masterpiece. Indeed, every horror flick needs a convincing performance from its lead actor; enter Max Schreck.

At the time he took the roll of Count Orlok in Nosferatu, Schreck was still early in his career. His secondary roles in films like Der Richter von Zalamea and Der zeugende Tod paled in scope compared to the role of Orlok. Still, Schreck's early years on the stage prepared him wonderfully. Schreck's use of body language, whether creeping through the castle or rising from a coffin define spooky. His facial expressions walk the line between human and animal - between mortal and immortal.

The combination of Schreck's acting and Murnau's artistic direction really come to life, however, against the filming location. Rather than building elaborate sets to exacting standards, Murnau did was nearly unthinkable at the time: he filmed on location. Moving the entire filming operation to the same Carpathian Mountains that Stoker's original story was set in proved to be the perfect choice. In that respect, the mountains proved to be another character in their own right.

In total, what Nosferatu teaches us more than 80 years after its initial release is that the elements of horror are more organic than we may have come to believe. With no gore, no computer generated graphics, and very little makeup, Nosferatu stands as one of the most powerful horror films ever made.

--Brenda Hineman

(Brenda Hineman is a horror movie fanatic. When she's not having the bejeebers scared out of her, she writes about Halloween Costumes at StarCostumes.com.

Hi-Def Blood Movie Reviews

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD (1980) Blu-ray review

By Brian M. Sammons

Director: Lucio Fulci
Starring: Christopher George, Catriona MacColl, Carlo De Mejo

CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, also known by some as THE GATES OF HELL, is a masterpiece of horror cinema in many ways. It is one of Italian horror and gore maestro, Lucio Fulci’s zombie flicks and that alone makes calling it a masterpiece easy. It is also considered by some to be Fulci’s best movie, and while I don’t agree with that 100%, I can see the reasons why people would think that and I would say that it is easily one of the top three horror movies Lucio ever directed. It also has some of the most original and memorable gore gags in all of horror film history. Let me repeat that last part so that it really sinks in; in ALL of horror film history. How memorable? Well here’s a teaser, a woman literally vomits her guts out. Intestines, stomach, liver and other assorted organs come spraying out of her mouth in full view of the camera. So if that little tidbit has just put you off your lunch, then this CITY may not be a place you want to visit. However if reading that made you grin, say “oh my God, what?”, or fondly remember seeing this movie on VHS back in the 80s like I do, then this most certainly is right movie for you.

The story starts off on the right foot by showing a priest hanging himself in the small town of Dunwich. Despite its name, this little berg, and this film, has nothing whatsoever to do with H.P. Lovecraft, sorry Cthulhuheads. The holy man’s suicide causes the gates of hell to crack open and soon the ghost, or something, of the priest starts popping up all over town giving people the evil eye which causes folks to go crazy or to die in really horrible ways. See the aforementioned gut puking scene for a good example of “really horrible”. Additionally a few corpses get up to join in on the thrill kill fun, however if you are expecting zombiefests like Fulci’s ZOMBIE or THE BEYOND then you might be a little disappointed in the undead turnout. There are really not that many zombies to be found here, however those that do show up are very creepy and are some of the best shuffling stiffs ever captured on film. Into this nightmare are thrust a brave newspaper reporter and a female psychic (Fulci seems to love psychics almost as much as he loves zombies) who team up to save the world before All Saints Day when the gates to hell will fly all the way open and the world of man will be irretrievably lost. Can the pair save the day and avoid the deadly glare of the phantom priest, the brain squishing zombies, the crazies that like to stick people’s heads into drill presses, and the rains of maggots? Only time, and having the never to watch this movie, will tell.

In addition to having lots of great splatter moments and truly terrifying zombies, Fulci is a master at creating weird atmosphere and building up the dead, and in CITY those talents are in top form. There is a eerie, ickiness that begins with the priest’s hanging and continues all the way through the film to its rather bizarre ending. Along the way actors Christopher George and Catriona MacColl, as the reporter and psychic investigators, portray their characters believably and well and are backed up by a solid supporting cast. The direction, as usual for Fulci in this era, is superb and is a wonderful example of a master of horror at the top of his game. The music always sets the right creepy mood, the locations are well lit and sinister, and the gore effects, well I’ve gone on enough about the special makeup in this movie, so I’ll just say one last word about them: wow.

This new Blu-ray edition of the film is from the genre lovers at Blue Underground and as typical for most of the recent BU releases, CITY comes packed with tasty extras for you to sink your teeth into, or drill through the head, as the case may be. There’s a 32 minute making of documentary that pretty much talks to ton of people who worked on or acted in the movie. There are two feature interviews with actors Catriona MacColl at 11 minutes and Giovanni Lombardo at 10 minutes. There is also a featurette called Memories of the Maestro where cast and crew recount tales of working with director Fulci. Rounding things out are a number of trailers, radio spots, and a poster and still gallery. Together all these goodies clock in at well over an hour of extra content. Add to this three different audio tracks, one in 7.1 DTS, another in 5.1 surround EX, and the original mono soundtrack and you have one well endowed Blu-ray.

If you are a zombie fan, a gore fan, a Fulci fan, an Italian surreal cinema fan, or just a horror fan then this is a must have disc. CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD has never looked or sounded this good, and it’s not likely to get any better than this any time soon. So if you’ve been waiting for the definitive copy of this Fulci classic, then the good news is that your wait is over. I highly recommend this movie to all serious horrorheads.
To get your own copy of CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, or any of the other fine fright flicks Blue Underground offers, go here: Blue Underground

--Brian M. Sammons

I SELL THE DEAD (2008) Blu-ray review
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons
Director: Glenn McQuaid
Starring: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Larry Fessenden, Angus Scrimm

This movie is a throwback comedic mash up of EC Comics and a Hammer Studios flick. Not familiar with EC or Hammer? Then you need to brush up on your horror classics. Suffice to say, this film is funny, groovy, perhaps a tad bit silly at times, and above all else, it’s fun. If you don’t take your horror too seriously, and like your movies to do the same, then this might be the perfect move for you.

The story begins with Dominic Monaghan (of LORD OF THE RINGS and LOST fame) as grave robber Arthur Blake imprisoned in a 19th century English dungeon. Just hours till his execution a monk, played by genre great Ron Perlman, comes into his cell take his confession. With nothing better to do to pass the time, Arthur agrees to tell his life’s story, and what a weird story it is to.

Arthur began his ghoulish career as a young lad, apprenticed to an older grave robber named Willie Grimes played by Larry Fessenden, and actor perhaps best known as a producer and director of chilly horror films WENDIGO and THE LAST WINTER. From the start the two were busy scrounging up cadavers for the nefarious Dr. Quint, played to creepy perfection by Angus Scrimm, who was the nefarious Tall Man in the PHANTASM films. Then one night they accidentally dug something that wasn’t quite dead. Surviving that encounter, the pair discovered that digging up and selling undead things were a lot more profitable than selling the normal dead things. As the years pass the two have plenty of eerie adventures, fall in love (no, not with each other), and run afoul of a bigger and badder bunch of grave robbers called the House of Murphy.

Now as said before, I SELL THE DEAD is chock full of ghoulish, gothic fun. It is told more as a series of vignettes, such as “I remember the time we dug up a vampire” and “there was this one time Willie and I dug up an alien” rather then in a linear, normal way. This may turn some people off, but I liked it fine. I also thought it was well directed, acted, and the effects walked the fine line between cheesy and cool. There are some nice twists along the way, not to mention plenty of twisted characters, and a quite enjoyable ending.

The Blu-ray, brought out by IFC Films, offers quite a few extras in addition to a crisp, clear picture. There are two commentary tracks, a funny one with stars Monaghan and Fessenden, and a more serious one with the director. Likewise there are two featurettes, a smaller one focusing on the visual effects and a meaty one coming in at roughly sixty minutes that’s the usual making of and behind the scenes thing. Lastly there’s also a nice surprise to be found in the box in the form of a little comic book. All in all the entire things is a nicely done package.

I enjoyed I SELL THE DEAD a lot and I can give it a high recommendation. If you like off kilter horror comedies then I think you’ll dig (ha, get it?) this movie.

--Brian M. Sammons