Saturday, December 4, 2010

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 for over four years. To date, his two published novels, THE BLACK BEAST OF ALGERNON WOOD (Dailey Swan Publishing), BALEFUL EYE ( 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 first short story collection, 'ROUND MIDNIGHT AND OTHER TALES OF LOST SOULS was recently released from Damnation Books.. He also has two new releases forthcoming: PAINT IT BLACK (early 2011 from Dailey Swan Press) and another new mashup novel from Coscom Entertainment called TREASURE ISLAND OF THE DEAD, based on Robert Louis Stevenson's original classic of pirates and treasure.

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.
Visit me at my official website, THE HORROR JAZZ AND BLUES REVUE
Or email me at

Steven M. Duarte (Co-Editor)
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.

Shaun Anderson has spent many years researching and writing about different aspects of horror culture and entertainment. This interest led him to a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Film Studies, with the ever present spectre of a possible doctorate in the future shadowing his current movements. His major film interests include the Italian giallo, British horror (especially the productions of Hammer and Amicus), Asian horror, Cult film and European exploitation. His film reviews can be located on his own regularly updated blog The Celluloid Highway.

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

Carey Copeland has worked in television, radio and film. He's been a special effects artist on several film productions through The Joe Blasco Makeup Academy and helped design dark ride exhibits across the country, including the E.T. ride at Universal Studios Florida. He's been a horror fan since the early age of 8, when he first saw a rerun of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter and the author of four non-fiction books, including THE CINEMA OF TSUI HARK. She is a three-time winner of the Bram Stoker award, a recipient of the Black Quill Award, and has published over three dozen works of short fiction. Her first novel, THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES, has received rave reviews since its release in early 2010 (by Gray Friar Press), and her newest novella, THE SAMHANACH, is a Halloween treat from Bad Moon Books. She lives online at

Karen L. Newman lives in Kentucky where she's an active member of "Horror Writers Association" and edits "Illumen" and "Cosmic Crime Stories". She edited the online magazine, "Afterburn SF" for over four years before the market closed. Over three hundred of her short stories and poems have been published both online and in print in places such as "Dark Tales of Terror", "Dead Worlds: Undead Stories", and "The Pedestal Magazine". Her poetry collections include EEKU (Sam’s Dot, 2005), ChemICKals (SMASHWORDS, 2010), and Toward Absolute Zero (Sam’s Dot, 2009). She blogs for the Apex Book Company. Her poetry collections include EEKU (Sam’s Dot, 2005), and Toward Absolute Zero (Sam’s Dot, 2009), which can be purchased online at or
She won the 2005 Kentucky Mary Jane Barnes Award and two of her poems received honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. She's been nominated for a Rhysling Award, James B. Baker Award, and twice nominated for a Dwarf Star Award.
Please visit her online at:
Contact Info: and leave out NOSPAM when contacting
Fav Movies: SAW, Rocky Horror Picture Show

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:

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.
Contact info:

The Eye of Time (An All Original Serial Novel)

Frank Menser and Nickolas Cook

Part I—
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Chapter 6—

“Look at that,” Kiram said, as he watched the rioting on shore. The ship had arrived at the small town of Pera which was just across the straits men called The Golden Horn from Constantinople. “The soldiers are running amuck.”
“So that’s our port,” Ashta said.
“What’s left of it. The Sultan’s troops must have taken it, finally.”
“The Sultan isn’t going to have much of a town left, when the rioting stops. Look at those burning buildings.”
“One of the benefits of serving under Allah’s favored son,” Kiram said. “Mehmed will allow his irregular troops, the Bashi-Bazouks to loot for three days before he restores order. It will be even worse when the main city is taken.”
As the craft moored at an empty pier, several dozen rioters charged in their direction seeking whatever they could steal. Within seconds, the ‘would be pirates’ swarmed aboard the ship, and started to make off with the cargo. However, this proved to be a difficult task as the captain and crew grabbed their own weapons and attempted to expel the boarders. A virtual tug of war ensued over the wares stored on deck with the outnumbered crew taking the worst of it.
Ashta and Kiram watched the melee from the forecastle indifferently. The goods aboard were not theirs, so it wasn’t their fight. Only when some of the boarders attempted to attack them, did they respond with sword and club, cracking a few skulls before the sound of bugles made them pause.
“Here come the Janissaries,” Kiram said as he dropped the looter he was throttling. A column of soldiers with odd red caps marched down the pier and attacked the looters; beating them back with spear butts and the flat sides of their swords. Faced with this new threat the looters broke and ran, several being thrown overboard in the process. The officer in charge began to argue with the captain as his men collected the remaining cargo.
“By the prophet’s beard,” Kiram said as he grabbed his few belongings at headed for the gangplank, “”Did you hear what the captain said to that officer?”
“No, said Ashta as he followed.
“That cargo we have been travelling with is Naphtha.”
“It’s an ingredient of Greek Fire. Friend, we have been sitting on a powder keg for the last few days. No wonder the captain was so tight lipped about it. He was intending to sell it to the Byzantines and didn’t count on Pera being overrun by Mehmed’s men. It is certain that all aboard will be arrested and executed.”
“Praise Allah,” the ancient Imam said as they passed. Ashta glared at him as he strode down the gangplank. Within seconds they disappeared into the crowded streets.
“Well this will have to do,” Ashta said, as he pulled a sleeping Muslim from his cot and booted him out the door of the small room they had commandeered at an inn facing the harbor. Kiram entered dragging with him a cringing Byzantine, who apparently was the owner of the inn. “This will be our room,” Kiram said jovially, “Keep all others from it or your head will decorate our window.”
The innkeeper nodded. Ashta looked at the man and growled. “He will no doubt rob us blind on the first opportunity.”
“Bring us wine, man.” Kiram said. Then noticing the innkeeper’s helpless stare he added, “Wine …and some food, the stuff you have been hiding from this rabble.” The Byzantine smiled nervously and then retreated from the room.
“I still don’t know how you are going to access the city,” Kiram said. “Close to a hundred thousand of Mehmed’s men have been trying to for weeks and they haven’t managed, and this Greek—”
“Giorgio Carrisone.”
“How will you find him in this melee? I fear if we enter Constantinople with the troops, his head will be all you find. There are many pikes here, and I think his skull might adorn one of them before too long.”
“Perhaps,” Ashta said, his gaze focused on the harbor. “But I dream each night of that gem the Berber stole. It haunts me. I must reach him before the city falls.”
Constantinople has been assaulted many times and still stands.”
In the distance, Ashta saw several galleys moored side by side. They supported a great chain the Byzantines had placed across the harbor to block the Sultan’s fleet. “Then the defenses might last till I find a way in.”
A vibrant roar shook the building. Ashta ducked, Kiram dove under the cot. “What was that?” the Turk cursed as the innkeeper entered with some wine and something that smelled like old goat cheese.
“That is the Basilica.” It fires about seven times each day.”
A cannon?”
“Yes, one Mehmed purchased from some Hungarian named Urban. I heard some of the soldiers talking about it. The cannon is longer than five men and hurls boulders weighing near six hundred pounds.”
“What are pounds?”
“A measure of weight some infidels use,” Kiram said as he emerged from under the cot, “About 272 kilograms.”
“By the—they can hurl such amounts? The walls won’t last long if they concentrate their fire.”
Ashta sat down on the cot and took the wine jug from the innkeeper. The wine tasted sour when he drank it, but he didn’t care. Ashta was beginning to learn that the world was a much larger place than he realized. What other wonders were out there? More importantly, how could he use them to his advantage?
Kiram handed him a chunk of cheese and sat on the other cot in the room. We have much to discuss, my friend. I will go amongst the troops when things are quieter. There will be booty that our gold will purchase cheap. I will find a warehouse where we can secure that for shipping later.”
“I think I shall go and see the battle. Perhaps there I will find a way to enter the city.”
“Just watch your head my friend,” Kiram said. “As tall as you are, you make a good target for the defenders.”
If it weren’t for the screams of the wounded and dying and the sound of weapons engaged in their grizzly tasks, Ashta felt he could be walking amidst a massive construction project rather than a war. The Muslim army—which engaged men from a score of races worked industriously at their tasks—each designed to pull down the walls before them and slaughter the infidels above them. Ashta saw sappers inspecting the walls in hopes of placing mines under a hail of arrows. Others were wheeling great machines towards the defenders in hopes of shattering those walls or providing platforms to be used when the main assault came.
The defenders were just as ambitious as their foes. Flights of arrows shot from the walls slew dozens. Cauldrons of boiling oils rained down on any who ventured too close. But it was the Greek fire that was the most devastating. Dropped in clay pots or sprayed by pressurized siphons on the attacking machines; it burned wood and men alike with impunity, stuck to clothing and skin, and water would not put the fire out. Only sand, salt, or urine seemed to retard the flames.
“Cursed be me, if I were to catch aflame and have to tolerate someone pissing on me,” Ashta cursed. “May Allah will that I be killed outright—rather than suffer that.”
Ashta ducked behind a canon as the soldier next to him fell with an arrow through his right eye, and bumped into its operator, knocking him off his feet. Ashta lifted him up and salaamed. An arrow glanced off the canon, landing at the Turk’s feet. He picked it up and examined it. “Foul weather you have here,” he said.
“The battle goes poorly,” the gunner replied. “These dogs fight like demons. They slay us like we were rats swarming below them. If you chose to venture here, best you, keep your head down and find a shield.”
“It’s a bitter price for what little you accomplish,” Ashta said.
“Aye, I have lost two assistants this day, and four the last eight days we’ve hammered these walls.”
“All that and not one breach?”
“I’ve been working on a soft spot near that gate over there. Rumor has it that Mehmed will keep us at it for at least a few days more. He is hoping to gain some kind of hole he can squeeze troops through.”
The gunner turned to the men near him. “Get another ball in there,” and ram that in solid. I don’t want a misfire.” The men scurried to their tasks under his watchful eye. The gunner turned to Ashta. “I am Banar, of our sultan’s artillery corps. He salaamed with a bold gesture and then flinched. An arrow lodged in his chain mail at the shoulder joint. “That’s the second one today,” he laughed. There’s one sour Greek up there that has been trying to slay me for three days. See there, he is shooting again.”
An arrow whisked by Ashta, barely missing the gunner. The portly man bit his thumb at the Greek and was rewarded by a stream of curses. Banar hefted a wine sack squirting a generous quantity down his throat. As he did, several more arrows flitted by with no effect. The gunner tossed the sack to Ashta. “The task grows dull here without some refreshment to clean out the smoke. I offer good wine for hard workers; would you care to be my new assistant?”
“I think the Prophet has better use for me elsewhere—despite the quality of your beverage.” Ashta turned and strode away from the gun..
Banar called out, “Remember to keep your head—”
Ashta looked back. The gunner lay dead across his cannon with an arrow lodged in the back of his neck.
The few days that Banar mentioned proved prophetic. On the twelfth day of bombardment a narrow breach was opened in the walls. Mehmed order a full assault and was humiliated as over 200 men laid their corpses in the breach without a single loss to the defenders. Then on the 20th, three Genoese ships accompanied by a Byzantine vessel brought fresh troops and supplies to the besieged city. The sultan’s fleet proved unable to stop them. The two setbacks were grumbled over in the wine shops of Pera.
“These Greeks are proving too costly for my liking,” a large one eyed Saudi said clutching his cup unsteadily. “I’m near out of loot to spend on wine and women. What good is the fight with naught to fill the empty hours between battles?”
“Paugh, you spend too much time in the rear to collect booty,” a Scythian said. “We are lucky the tavern keeper is so generous with his stock.”
The keeper, a short nervous looking man nodded as he passed, and then quickly ducked downstairs to get more wine from his casks. That his wife and daughter were being held by the drunken rabble may well have been the source of his generosity.
Ashta sat quietly in the corner listening. Strong drink had loosened many a tongue in the tavern. He knew such conversations could contain tidbits of useful information; or at the very least, an opportunity to relieve some drunken warrior of his coin.
The Scythian spoke again. “Indeed, what you say has merit though, Balzar. They must breed healthy rats in Constantinople. The way the Byzantines fight, they must feast well on them. Remind me to check the sewers to see if any fat ones come our way.”
The men laughed at his jest save one, whom Ashta recognized as the Imam who had been on the boat. “Mehmed, who is blessed by Allah, says to not use that name. It’s Istanbul—not Constantinople now.”
“Not till his banner flies above Saint Sophia’s pulpits, and last I looked, the only flags over the city were Byzantine.”
“And soon those very banners will choke the gutters you speak of.”
Ashta almost stood up in his chair. That’s it. The way into the city that would be least guarded would be the sewers! Ashta forced himself to conceal his excitement. Finally after weeks of waiting, he had the way to enter the city and find the man he was looking for. “Allah be praised for strong liquor and weak men,” he whispered as he left the tavern.
The waters of the Golden horn felt cold. Ashta shivered as he slipped out of the boat he and Kiram had commandeered. They had been lucky to this point; the small craft had managed to slip past the sentry boats and the great chain that blocked the harbor. Ashta—being dessert born was not a swimmer, so Kiram had tied a few wine skins together to create a makeshift float for him to cling to. Ashta placed some gold, dry clothing and a pry bar atop of it and—per Kiram’s advice—frog kicked his way towards the city, being careful to keep his legs underwater so to keep from splashing and making noise. Ashta imagined all kinds of perils lurking in the dark waters around him, waiting to drag him down into a watery hell. Though no such monsters appeared, it did little to relieve the Turk’s anxiety.
When he reached the city wall, Ashta worked his way along it till he found what he was looking for. Runoff formed a flat stream that trickled from a round metal grate that was blocking an opening in the wall slightly wider than a man. From the smell it was apparent that this was a sewer outlet. Ashta dashed up the beach and took the pry bar and began digging at the masonry around the iron bars. The water soaked stone broke easily. A few minutes work was rewarded by the grate suddenly breaking free. Before he could stop it, the heavy grate fell. Ashta froze in place and listened. Above him on the wall, two men were conversing in what sounded to him like Italian. While he did not speak the Roman tongue, he guessed from the sound of their voices that they had not heard him.
Ashta slung the bundle of clothing on his back and climbed inside the drain which tunneled into the wall for several yards. He crawled on his hands and knees till he saw an opening just ahead. Ashta raised himself up and looked through the opening …and stared right into the face of a guard
Giorgio Carrisione fingered his purse nervously, his eyes trying to avoid the bauble that hung from the neck of the Berber who stood before him. It was a simple copper amulet mounted on a chain. Nothing much to it at face value, he thought. But it was the stone that sat in it. Amber. It glowed with a golden orange heat that compelled him to forget his reserve and stare into its depths.
“This thing, it haunts me,” Balksid said. “I was told by a woman in Amasya, that you are a man who understands such magic’s.”
“It is true that though the mysteries of the Kabala and many other secret texts fill my library, I am but a student. Who was this woman?”
“She was dark, but not like me; and beautiful, as one who could steal the soul of any mortal she met. She asked me to keep it safe,” he said clutching the amulet by its cord. “She said fate and its master would come for it, but I must seek you out for it to happen.”
Giorgio shivered, despite his pretense of calm. There could only be one woman who could have sent the Berber to him. Unfortunately, that woman was a bitter enemy. Anyone this witch sent to him must have no purpose save his death. “Might I examine the bauble?”
The Berber tightened his grip on the amulet. “”Aye, you may, but it does not leave my neck.”
“So be it,” Giorgio said. “But before I do, might I offer you some warm wine? We are not down to eating rats here yet, but there are few places left in Constantinople that can offer a draught of this quality. Sit friend, and let us sup.”
The Greek walked over to a cabinet behind the Berber. The man’s eyes never left him. From its recesses he produced a wine jug and a mug. These the Greek placed in front of the Berber. “Pour your cup full, Balksid. I can get more.”
The Berber grunted and relaxed a little, as he picked up the wine jug. As he did the amulet’s chain suddenly tightened around his neck. Giorgio pulled hard till the Berber stopped kicking and his strangled corpse slumped in his chair. “Guards,” he yelled out the window to the soldiers passing below. “I have found a Turkish spy in my rooms.” He tossed a key down to the soldiers who ran for the door. “Make no haste, for I have slain him.”
Giorgio turned his attention back to his victim. He laughed as he removed the amulet from Balksid’s bruised neck. Fate and its master would be me, Nephilette. But I think that’s not what you intended. Oh, I know you witch, and the curse that you are.
Ashta stared up into the face of the Byzantine guard and then shrunk back in horror. The man’s dead bloated face was covered in sores. It was the plague. Ashta drew back from the opening. Allah preserve me from the unclean …Ashta shrank against the far wall of the drain and worked his way several yard further up. Rats scurried by, as he felt his way. Rats, Ashta knew, carried the disease. Several feet further on, Ashta found another opening and quickly crawled out onto a dark cobbled street. By good fortune no one was near. With no concern for modesty, Ashta disrobed and threw his soiled garments back into the sewer. Then he dressed in his clean clothing, thus assuming the appearance of a Slavic merchant. Ashta climbed up the side of the nearest building, found a dark corner and fell asleep.
The world looked strange; familiar—yet different in ways Ashta could not fathom. In the sky there were no birds and the grass beneath his feet felt somehow coarser than what he knew. There were trees; pines, but not the pines of his Mediterranean home. The air smelled sweet. Ashta walked along a narrow road till he saw a tower. It was tall and looked almost like it was made of black glass. From a window in that tower shone a light of red amber. Ashta felt drawn to that light though his senses warned him that to embrace who ever held it was to embrace death.
On the seventh of May 1453, Mehmed finally attacked the city walls with 25,000 troops. For more than three hours he hammered the defenders before his warriors were driven off. Several times in the following weeks the silence of the city was shattered by the sounds of combat, the screams of the wounded and dying, the bustle of not only men machines but also the carnal house cries of the makeshift medical shelters for the injured and the lamentations of those whose loved one fell defending the city. The air grew thick with the smell of mass funeral pyres as the number of fallen grew too large for more ceremonial burials.
Ashta—now Jussack the Slav, rose from his cramped hiding place. It was well into the day. He shook off the stiffness and then lowered himself to the street.
For the next several days he walked the streets and marketplaces trying to locate the Greek, Giorgio Carrisione. He coordinated his search from a room he had found close to Saint Sophia, the great cathedral of Constantinople; the easiest landmark for him to remember. From there he worked each neighborhood in a roughly circular pattern, listening in the shops and markets for any word that might point him in the right direction. After a couple weeks, the search proved fruitless. Ashta began to feel frustrated.
“…and, as he said to me, the fiend jumped him as he lay asleep, wielding a large dagger. By our patron saint, he was lucky as the first blow missed. He was able to block the next with a pillow.”
The children crowded around the ancient, who sat on the stone steps of the Acropolis in the afternoon sun. They reveled in the story he told: tugging at his sleeves in excitement. Then as he neared the climax of his tale, a tall man approached and saluted him. A few of the children scowled at the stranger for interrupting the story, one gestured for him to sit down. Only the old man seemed to not notice the man before him.
“Then, the Greek, Giorgio Carrisione—I believe his name to be. Seized the devil and throttled him to death—” his words were cut short by a firm hand which grasped him hard by the shoulder. A face with long drooping red mustaches stared at him from just inches away.
“Did you speak the name, Giorgio Carrisione?”
“Uh, yes …”
“And where was this fight you mentioned?”
“Why Sir, it was in his home they say. I believe it to be a tavern that overlooks the Harbor of Theodosius,” the old man said.
“Can you take me there?” Ashta pulled the purse from his belt and shook it so the remaining coin he had within jingled. “I have business with this Greek, and I have sought long to buy the wares he holds for me.”
“Sadly,” the ancient said as he struggled to his feet, “my old bones will not ferry me well this day—for they protest—as old peoples oft do. But this boy,” he said pointing at a curly haired youngster, “knows the way and will cost you less for the trip.”
“I thank you for your kindness and wisdom, old man.” Ashta placed a gold sovereign in his hand. Then following the boy’s lead, he took off to find the elusive Greek.
The ancient watched the tall stranger leave with the boy. As he did, the years seemed to melt from him so that within seconds, he appeared to be a much younger man. The children stared at him in amazement, several crossing themselves.
“Here now, have you not heard of magic?” He smiled and produced a napkin containing sweetmeats from his pocket—tossing it on the ground before him. As the children scrambled for the treats, Giorgio Carrisione disappeared into the crowd.
The boy led Ashta down the dusty streets towards the south. In the distance he could hear the sound of fighting to the east at the military gates. Ashta was not so sure that the prediction of his friend Kiram, that the city would survive the siege was that accurate. The defenders he passed looked tired and some of the people had taken to gathering in or near the churches as if proximity to the edifices might save them from what seemed more and more like an inevitable doom. There was no time to waste. If the city fell before he found the Greek, he might miss the only opportunity to catch up with the Berber and retrieve his amulet. Ashta hurried his steps towards the Harbor.
Suddenly the boy leading him stopped and pointed at a well kept building overlooking the sea. “There Sire, the second window above the door is where the man lives.”
Ashta tossed the boy a coin and strode over to the building which looked like an inn. As he reached for the door, a pair of men rushed up behind him. Before he could turn, something struck him on the head and all went black.

--End installment of The Eye of Time--

(For links to all previous chapters in order of appearance, please see above this newest installment.)

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: The Filmmaker’s Book of the Dead...

The Filmmaker’s Book of the Dead: How to Make Your Own Heart-Racing Horror Movie by Danny Draven-- Focal Press (January 5, 2010)

Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Back several years ago, there was a reality show competition of amateurs making movies. I can’t recall the program’s name, but the show made making movies seem easy. The Filmmaker’s Book of the Dead: How to Make Your Own Heart-Racing Horror Movie by Danny Draven illustrates that that’s not true. This book is a treasure-trove of information for anyone interested in making a horror movie. These principles can also be utilized for the making of any genre of movie.
The book is well organized. The reader can look up any topic at will, or follow the book in chronological order. Draven gives out detailed examples throughout the movie-making process, along with recommended films to view for each topic. He includes interviews of people in the film industry and even has a segment by H.P. Lovecraft on writing weird fiction. He also lists websites that a filmmaker would find useful.
Color photographs are spread out throughout the book, as well as spreadsheets including budgeting, shooting schedule, and script writing. Draven gives hiring tips, information on distribution contracts, and how to avoid pitfalls. He doesn’t bog the book down with useless information or wordy segments. This is one of the most concise of books of its kind that I’ve ever seen. I’d recommend this book as a must buy for anyone considering making films or wanting learn more about the filmmaking process.

-Karen L. Newman

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

DARK CONTINUUM by John E. Muller


Dark Continuum was published by Badger Books in the UK. It was SF #104, which places it as one of their earliest titles, published in 1960. It was not, however, written by John E. Muller. That was a house name. It was, instead, almost certainly written by Lionel Fanthorpe or John Glasby, the two authors who produced nearly the entire run of Badger Books.

The cover is promising. First, there's the title, Dark Continuum. Especially in the sf of the 1950s and 1960s, "Dark" was often a flag that the author was going to put in some horror elements. Then there's the back cover copy: it includes lines like "The menace from Beyond continued to encroach on the civilized planets as it headed steadily earthwards..." (Yes, the publisher capitalized beyond but didn't bother with Earth.) and "Were men fighting a Cosmic Accident or an enormous intelligence from out there...?"

Lastly, there is the cover image. It shows a young woman's head, eyes closed in what appears to be mild pain, being threatened by a floating egg-shaped eye a little smaller than her fist.

It had me at the floating eye.

I'm a sucker for odd monsters. If an author wants to lure me into buying his book, an odd monster is an easy way to do it. Whether it's Richard Lee Byers using Circe as his villain or Don D'Ammassa using a killer gargoyle, it's fun to visit with dangers outside of the typical Universal Monsters headliners, nature gone wild, witches and zombies. A floating eye certainly counts in the odd creature category.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't even remotely live up to the premise. It is pulp stuff - and not the good pulp-era material that betrays its origins with too-perfect heroes and too-awful villains but rather the bad pulp-era material that believes adding "space-" before titles, elements as descriptive adjectives and including unnecessary measurements will add believability to a science fiction story. In other words, it's a typical Badger book.

Badger produced a slew of lousy books, with a bare handful rising to the "better than average" range. They were, in their way, the all-genre opposite of the early days of the Dell Abyss line; rather than take chances and publish with as much of an eye toward the style of writing or the idea behind the story, they'd crank out boilerplate books and market them with interesting covers.

In this case, the story involved odd incidents like electromagnetic waves being altered remotely and thought projection, until finally the mental images of a giant eye shift to the arrival of an actual giant eye in the solar system.

Against this, we have a space-captain, a young woman scientist, and a rabbitlike creature found on the surface of Jupiter. The rabbit is actually a descendant of colonists from a spacefaring alien race and it possesses incredible mental powers, being both telepathic and superintelligent.

The plot is rather tightly and logically structured. This is the only place where the book succeeds. The characters act irrationally as required to further the plot in a specific direction, the motivations of the characters make no objective sense, and for a science fiction book with a partial focus on that subject there is remarkably little that can be called anything but pseudo-science. Even the cover, which made me suspect that egg-shaped floating eyes were on the attack, is deceptive.

I started this review by referencing an old internet meme, the badger song. I'll close it with a newer one. Fail book.

One star out of five.


I'm not a fan of wine. I recognize its magnificent aspects... the subtleties of flavor involved in a vintage, the different tastes available from different originating grapes, the marriage with certain foods, its ability to cleanse a palate, its mild health benefits and of course its alcohol content. But I've never enjoyed it.

Similar credits can be granted fine cheeses, which I do like. It would be an abomination to compare Tanith Lee's work with cheese, however; it is wine, of the literary sort.

This Arkham House collection harkens from 1986, when AH was well into its modern phase and publishing not only horror but also science fiction and fantasy. As such, this collection includes a spread of Lee's work across all three of those related fields. This is part of the book's majesty but it introduces a risk to the reader. The stories are all beautifully constructed, but Lee's attractive writing style, which seems like a modernization of the classic fantasy structure, colors everything. On the positive side, it seems like what William Morris would be trying to write like were he alive today. On the negative side, her colorful imagery and character-heavy storytelling result in a perceived similarity of setting. Her science fiction sounds like her imaginative fantasy, and even her modern stories like the beautiful and award-winning "The Gorgon".

Here the analogy continues. Just as a great bottle of wine should not be consumed at a single sitting but rather enjoyed with a multitude of diverse meals, these stories should not be read at a single sitting, but rather interspersed between other readings. Read sequentially, later stories lose some of their delicate strength.

Five stars out of five.

DR. DEATH - 12 MUST DIE by Zorro

This column started with a house name; it ends with a pen name. "Zorro" was actually Harold Ward, an accomplished but not exemplary pulp author whose primary fiction of note was published in Weird Tales during the Twenties and Thirties. In 1935 he created Dr. Death for an eponymous magazine.

The character was utterly unbelievable in the vein of the best pulp stars - a maniacal scientist who has decided that the world is too industrialized and is attempting to return humanity to a primitive state. To this end he has become the world's greatest occultists (a bit of a shift from being one of the world's preeminent scientists) and is using zombis (no e), elementals, and other mystical servants in association with his scientific discoveries to bend the United States to his will.

Unfortunately for Ward, the pulp-reading public was not particularly interested in a combination of Dr. Fu Manchu and the Unabomber. It might have been the concept - while the maniacal mastermind stories were successful at the time, there was a surfeit of such stories both intended as continuing series and stand-alone tales. In this case, the character, while distinctive, was not particularly appealing and the character motivation was disjointed.

Here's an example. From the titular character to the hero of the piece, in Chapter Six:

""God gave us a world on which to live - a beautiful world. He made it perfect. And we, His creatures, have presumed to improve upon His work! Millions of men have died fighting for a principle; nations have gone to war over a scrap of paper. Think you then that the deaths of a dozen -yea, even a hundred men - will be counted against one who seeks to bring the world back to its original state?"

Pretty aggressive, but reasonable for a would-be dominator of the world. Pretty high on his own religious sanctimony, though. Which is surprising considering his quote from the next short chapter: "You see, the Almighty's plan has gone wrong. The devil and I have a better one. My mind possesses the power to raise the dead. You have seen it demonstrated."

So... he's the ultimate Holy Roller who just happens to be a Satanist. This is typical for the book. It seems like it was written in pieces in between other works by the author, and considering how many stories many of the pulp writers typically juggled at once, that may be exactly what happened.

With proper editing, it might have been a better story. Instead this story, which first appeared in magazine format in 1935 and was reissued by Corinth in 1966, is a qualified failure.

Two out of five stars.

--Bill Lindblad

Movie vs. Book: GRAND TOUR


They say you can never go back in time. I understand that, and yet I wanted to do a little bit of that myself. Back when I was a nineteen year old beginning genre and movie buff, I saw a movie on TV. I’d only seen it once, but the story and movie stuck with me and I would, now and then, talk about Grand Tour: Disaster in Time with great fondness. While at the used video store, I stumbled across a cheap copy paired as a triple feature disc with Prayer for the Rollerboys and Maniac Cop III. I snatched it up and giggled to myself with glee. I was even more thrilled when I found it was based on a C.L. Moore book because I knew Bill would be willing to do a “Book vs. Movie” on it.

I remembered the basic plot of Grand Tour (called Timescapes outside the US) rather clearly. An innkeeper finds out his latest guests are tourists from the future who travel back in time to visit the sights of great disasters, like most people would watch television. Armed with this knowledge, the innkeeper must figure out a: what the disaster is and b: can he stop it from happening. As a young fangirl, that was a new concept for me. As a seasoned fan, it’s a tale that gets told over and over again, but that didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the flick. I think a big part of that is the writing and the performances. You get so sucked into the story and the lives of these people that you don’t think about how other writers or directors have approached the idea. Instead, you go with the flow.

I don’t think this movie could have worked as well as it did if it weren’t for Jeff Daniels. He played the innkeeper, and he was so good at being completely believable in the most unbelievable of circumstances. A lesser actor couldn’t, upon travelling back in time and having a conversation with himself, couldn’t pull off the line, “Fuck the physics, just get us out of here!” Even though this movie is played as a melodrama (the good guys are very good and the bad guys are very bad) he stays true as a flawed and fantastic human being.

There are downsides to this movie, like the abovementioned melodrama. I found a few moments to be eye-roll worthy, but luckily those were few, and never pulled me too far out of the story. And there are the times where I stopped and thought “Wait, that could never happen the way they say it does.” At least they kept the pacing going so well I didn’t have time to stop and realize the absurdities.

There are a lot of horror fans that will hate this movie. There is minimal gore (although that made the few moments where it did happen more effective), and very little death happens on-screen. But fans of quiet horror will definitely dig it. Also, if you’re looking for a movie to show that friend of yours who says, “I don’t watch horror movies” then this one is perfect. It doesn’t have any monsters or splatterpunk moments of spurting blood that the general public normally associates with horror movies. But it does have the tension and the nervous moments that good horror delivers.

I can never go back to being that nineteen year old girl who first saw Grand Tour: Disaster in Time, the one who thought this was a near perfect movie. Instead, I am a thirty seven year old woman who can see the flaws. Luckily, both versions of me still get a kick out of this grand tour of a movie.

--Jenny Orosel

BOOK: "Vintage Season" novella by Henry Kuttner and Catherine L. Moore (under the joint pseudonym "Lawrence O'Donnell")- 1946

There's a line in the first episode of the cartoon Invader Zim in which one character, a demented robot named Gir, says, "I'm going to sing the doom song now!" He then proceeds to repeat "doom, doom, doom" in a variety of pitches, speeds, and tones in a manner reminiscent of any child making up a song.
There is little of the lighthearted nature of Gir in this story. There is a whole lot of doom, though.
It is because of stories like this that it is worthwhile for horror enthusiasts to read through older science fiction stories. Most of those which lay claim to horror elements are basic thrillers, but sometimes...
Moore & Kuttner present the story of an average man. He is somewhat venal, although he is pushed into duplicity only by the insistence of his wife. He is tempted by a beautiful woman, but cheats on his wife only when seduced and does little or nothing to initiate the seduction. Basically, he is a flawed yet likeable protagonist.
As the story progresses, he learns through hints that his boarders are abnormal, and the veteran sf reader immediately knows that they are either dimensional travelers, time travelers, or aliens. The reader is correct, but part of the brilliance of the story's construction is that the authors knew what options would be in the mind of the reader and played to them, setting up surprises for experienced readers in the story construction itself. Foreshadowing words and events are used in ways which are completely technically accurate, but which are quite apart from that which a reader would suspect.
That, combined with a story concept which is interesting and original, and combined again with a narrative which starts strong and does not lapse at any point and intricate characterization results in a wonderful piece of short fiction. The fact that doom is omnipresent is what makes it a wonderful piece of short horror fiction.
And doom is all around. The visitors, who have lost so much of themselves that they barely qualify as human, are as much the walking dead in their way as are the antagonists in any Romero zombie flick. The townspeople are doomed by a disaster unsuspected. The protagonist is doomed by that same disaster, suspected but impossible to avert. The only person in the story who is not condemned to a bleak ending is, of all people, a symphonic composer whose musical form is the intermingling of screams of pain and fear amongst thousands of devastated lives. When the person who is composing an orchestral movement based on despair is the person with the happiest ending, you know the story is going to be bleak.
And it is. But it's also fantastic.

Five stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

Fresh Blood: New Releases In the World of Horror

In Movie News:

Season of The Witch
Release date: Jan 7, 2011
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Claire Foy, Robbie Sheehan
Not too much buzz surrounds Nic Cage’s next film “Season of The Witch.” Buzz is not always needed for success but with a name as big as Cage one has to wonder if he has lost some of his star power. The film follows two knights who are given the task of transporting a suspected which to an abbey. The witch is to participate in a ritual to end the black plague of the 14th century.

The Green Hornet
Release date: Jan 14, 2011
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz, Tom Wilkinson
Seth Rogan is taking a crack at a more serious action role which is a departure from his usual comedy films. The Green Hornet is being resurrected for the big screen after initially having radio and television runs during the 1930’s and 1960’s

--Steven M. Duarte

THEATRE OF BLOOD #1: Hammer in 2010

written by Shaun Anderson

Welcome to the first edition of Theatre of Blood, a monthly column in which I will explore the misty gothic terrain of yesteryear as a sobering remedy to contemporary horror’s graphic excesses. When it comes to the horror genre, I prefer to spend my hours in the company of the archives. Horror is one of the best genre’s to approach from an historical perspective, and the history is so rich that is entirely possibly to lose oneself in the foreboding spaces that are inhabited by vampires, zombies, werewolves and the myriad monsters that make up the cultural imprint of horror. This issue I will be taking a brief look at what I consider to be the highlights for Hammer Film Productions in the last twelve months. The year 2010 established something of a landmark moment when the newly resurgent Hammer Film Productions saw their remake of Tomas Alfredson’s Let the Right One In (2008) released theatrically under the title of Let Me In. This was the first horror film from Hammer to enjoy this method of distribution since 1976, and the first Vampire film since The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) to hit cinema screens. It was a statement of intent which will be supported in 2011 with the release of an adaptation of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black. Although these Hammer films will lack the distinctive visual style, repertoire of actors, and technical personnel that maintained continuity in the past, one can only hope that horror fans will support their endeavours.

2010 also saw the release of a number of impressive books on Hammer. The most notable of which is Marcus Hearn’s lavishly illustrated The Art of Hammer (Titan Books, 2010), a 192 page large format hardback book which makes an excellent companion piece to Hearn’s previous books Hammer Glamour (Titan Books, 2009) and The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films (Titan Books, 2007) which he co-wrote with Alan Barnes. The Art of Hammer is comprised of hundreds of promotional posters from the Hammer archives and offers an hitherto unseen glimpse into Hammer’s promotional strategies for different territories. Perhaps most interesting though are the posters for Hammer’s non-horror product. The images are supported by occasional contextual insights from Hearn, but this book generally allows the brilliant artwork to speak for itself. I have yet to purchase Wayne Kinsey’s latest volume Hammer Films - The Unsung Heroes: The Team Behind the Legend (Tomahawk Press, 2010), but I have it on good authority that this is another vital addition to the Hammer library from Mr. Kinsey. Earlier in the year Hammer scholar Bruce G. Hallenbeck (a regular scribe for Little Shoppe of Horrors) saw his The Hammer Vampire (Hemlock Books, May 2010) claw its way out of the crypt. In it Hallenback explores with lucidity, humour and an ever present affection how Hammer adapted and revitalised the Vampire film. Hallenbeck will be following this next year with the eagerly anticipated Hammer - Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Also available through Hemlock Books is Glen Davies’ two volume Last Bus to Bray which examines those Hammer film projects which were destined to remain on the drawing board.

In April 2010 Sony Pictures released a superb three disc Region 1 collection entitled Icons of Suspense: Hammer Films. The set comprised six unreleased gems from the vaults including The Snorkel (1958), Stop Me Before I Kill (1960), Never Take Candy from a Stranger (1960), Cash on Demand (1963), Maniac (1963) and These are the Damned (1963). Each film is presented beautifully, with pristine prints and correct aspect ratios. In October the UK enjoyed a large batch of Hammer films taking their bow on DVD for the first time. These included The Camp on Blood Island (1958), The Damned (1963), Yesterday’s Enemy (1959), Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Gorgon (1964), Taste of Fear (1961), and The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960). In July Hammer finally found its way onto Blu Ray thanks to Eureka Entertainment, and the film in question was the Freddie Francis directed Paranoiac (1963) featuring Oliver Reed. An unusual choice perhaps for Hammer’s first worldwide Blu Ray release, but I’ve yet to read a negative word about the presentation of this little seen monochrome psychological thriller. Perhaps the release of the year though came in December with the Synapse Blu Ray/DVD combination package of Vampire Circus (1974). What separates this release is the supplementary features which includes three documentaries and contributions from numerous experts.


The Satanic Rites of Dracula was Hammer’s seventh outing for the cape wearing fiend Count Dracula, and the last to feature Christopher Lee in the role. The Count would appear for one final time in a Hammer film in 1974 when John Forbes-Robertson put in the fangs for The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. This particular entry is a direct sequel to the risible cinematic disaster Dracula A. D. 1972 (1972), and I’m relieved to say is a vast improvement on that embarrassing offal. In the main the same team were retained from A.D. 1972, with Alan Gibson directing and Don Houghton writing the screenplay. It beggars belief that they were given a second chance, but fortunately this time the filmmakers manage to concoct an enjoyable and tightly paced film. However as a finale to Hammer’s series of Dracula films it is something of a feeble and half-hearted whimper and does not bear any kind of comparison to some of the earlier films. The producers were clearly determined at this point to make Count Dracula succeed in a contemporary setting, and in large part here they do well. The failure of A. D. 1972 is that Dracula is not allowed too engage with modernity and spends the whole of the film within the gothic walls of a deconsecrated church. In Satanic Rites, Dracula has utilised capitalism and property development in order to create a smokescreen in front of his real identity. He has acquired the resources and influence in order to put forward a more coherent plan of vengeance, and is able to manipulate greed and avarice to control those disciples he needs to carry out his plan. In many ways Dracula is more like a Bond villain here, and although the character features little in the running time, he is still given far more than in the previous entry.

The film opens unpromisingly with a rather pathetic satanic ritual (an aspect of the plot that is largely overlooked, but included in order to take advantage of a vogue in films dealing with Satanic themes at the time), and introduces representatives from the British Secret Service. This is obviously a department suffering from government cutbacks, we glimpse a total of three members of staff, operating out of a sparse office. The country estate Pelham House where the ritual takes place has been under surveillance and the spies have happened upon a major conspiracy which could have a devastating affect on the fabric of British society. The patriarchs who lick their slavering lips at the sight of a nude babe being sacrificed include high ranking representatives of the government and the military, an expert in biology, and a powerful property magnate. The ritual is presided over by a mysterious Chinese woman, all bitches to the nightmarish figure that lurks in the background and goes under the name D. D. Denham. One leftover from A. D. 1972 that makes a welcome return is the Scotland Yard flatfoot Inspector Murray (Michael Coles) who is drafted in to work in conjunction with Torrence (William Franklyn) of the Secret Service. It isn’t long before Murray is calling upon that cadaverous expert in the esoteric Van Helsing.

These moments of static dialogue delivery (lightened of course by the magnificent and dignified presence of Peter Cushing) are punctuated by one or two moments of well mounted action. Much of it is generated by Afghan clad bikers, nattily attired thugs who are also pretty good snipers. Where Count Dracula recruited these goons from is unclear, but this is another indicator of The Count embracing a variety of avenues too achieve his nefarious aims. In addition to the chase scenes, there are several good fights, and a particular highlight is an encounter in the cellar of Pelham house between the forces of good and hot vampire women, whose power is somewhat diminished by the chains that bind them to walls or coffins. The best moment of the film however comes when Van Helsing arranges a meeting with Denham on the site of the old church where Dracula perished in the last adventure. On this occasion the Howard Hughes type recluse Denham is more than happy to grant an audience, little knowing his guest has come armed with a silver bullet. It turns out that Dracula plans to destroy humanity with a new and virulent strain of the plague developed by one of his cohorts Dr. Julian Keeley (a typically flaky turn by Freddie Jones). But not before he has allowed Van Helsing to watch impotently as he makes Jessica his vampire bride.

The whole thing ends with a predictable conflagration at Pelham House, and a very controversial demise for Dracula which sees him cut to ribbons by a Hawthorne bush before being staked through the heart. Fans have always been highly dissatisfied with this conclusion, and also no doubt the manner in which the vampire women are despatched. In fact they have generally been highly dissatisfied with this film as a whole, but conceptually the film holds together remarkably well. The espionage elements of the plot are novel, Dracula does adapt rather well to the modern world, the themes of biological warfare, corruption at the heart of government and big business, and the ease with which The Count can manipulate the vanity of man and shape it too his own ends gives the production a unique flavour. My major criticism however is that this is perhaps the most visually bland Dracula film of them all, and the soundtrack by John Cacavas is equally staid and unmemorable. Within the environs of its own running time, this is a solid and enjoyable variation on a theme, as the final Dracula film produced by Hammer it is underwhelming to say the least.

First published on The Celluloid Highway - 18/12/2010

The Solitary Corner Under the Stairs... and thoughts on horror by Carey Copeland


Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Clay Dalton, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao and David Paymer

It starts off in Pasadena, California in 1969; a young Mexican couple frantically rushes their young son to the home of a medium. Their son had stolen jewelry from a group of Gypsies three days earlier, and since then, has been seeing and hearing things. The medium tries to help the boy and during a séance, she and the boy's parents can only watch as the boy is thrown from a balcony by an invisible force. After hitting the ground the boy is pulled down by demonic hands straight into HELL. The medium swears she will meet this demon again one day.
Forty years later, enter Christine Brown. Christine is a loans officer at a bank and is in competition with her asshole colleague for an assistant manager position. On her lunch break, Christine visits her boyfriend, in his office. She gives him a rare coin she found at the office in circulation. Her boyfriend puts it in an envelope and puts it in his bag. Christine's boss tells her that the position has come down to her and the new guy. He advises her that she needs to demonstrate that she can make tough decisions when she needs to. Worried about what her boss thinks of her, she refuses an extension on a loan to an old woman, Mrs. Ganush. Facing foreclosure and the loss of her house, in retaliation, Christine is stalked and assaulted by the old woman but her coat button is removed, after a smack down is laid down on her ass, a curse is placed on Christine which will take her to hell in a few days’ time . The old woman even gets stapled in the head and eye as well as gnawing on Christine’s bottom jaw during the fight. After the fight and the police have investigated, Christine calls her boyfriend (The Apple guy, Justin Long) to take her home. On the way home, Christine hears a strange whispering and tells her boyfriend she wants to get her fortune told. Christine enlists the help of a psychic to try to make sense of what is going on. Christine is visited by the Lamia and is thrown around and tormented. While the Lamia doesn’t immediately take Christine to hell, he lets her know that he is coming to take her away. It’s a classic case of seeing and hearing things that other people don’t. Her boyfriend is trying to help her the best he can, but not experiencing what she is talking about makes things hard to grasp. The rest of the movie is Christine trying to stay one step ahead of this demon and trying to redeem her soul. There are a lot of twists and a lot of gross outs.
The movie is classic Raimi. It has a feel of “The evil dead.” There are a lot of gags such as blood and pus spewing, eyeballs flying and cake with an eyeball being impaled. These are things that made “The evil dead” memorable. Although it is a Sam Raimi movie, there is no cameo or even a mention of Bruce “the chin” Campbell. The camera angles and the overall feel is Raimi. I like the way he has the actors in field and then has them react to a noise off camera. If that doesn’t say ASH, I don’t know what does. I noticed that the old lady is driving Raimi’s car that was in evil dead. While this movie isn’t “The evil dead”, it does kind of fill the void until Raimi and Campbell make “evil dead 4”. I like the movie and would suggest it to friends and anybody that loves the dead trilogy or Bruce Campbell. Surprisingly the movie won some awards and nominations.


Writer/Director: Jay Lee

Cast: Jenna Jameson, Robert Englund, Roxy Saint, Penny Drake, Whitney Anderson and Jennifer Holland

In a near future, President George Bush has been just elected for the fourth time with his vice Arnold Schwarzenegger and the USA is in war against many nations, among them Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Venezuela, France and Alaska. To make up for the loss of troops the government is creating a virus to reanimate dead soldiers and reactivate their brains, to build an army of undead. The virus effects men and women differently and gets released in a Sartre, Nebraska lab. The men turn to mindless zombies and the women turn into lucid zombies and a special containment team of badasses, The Z Squad, must take care of the viral outbreak. Once again, it sounds like Resident Evil and the awesome Steven Seagal movie, Against the dark. One of the badasses, the soldier Byrdflough, is bitten by a zombie and afraid of being killed, he escapes to the underground Brademus strip-club owned by Ian Esco. This guy is starting to look bad and dies due to the virus. Guess what happens? Wait for it. Wait for it. He becomes a zombie!!! This zombie takes a chunk out of the star of the club, Kat. She becomes a lucid, thinking zombie. A zombie stripper. Kat spreads the virus, turning her colleagues into zombies and eating the flesh of their clients. The whole time this is going on, Ian is still running a strip club. The clients are now dying to see the “zombie strippers.” The strippers are ravenous for the attention and begin fighting amongst each other for their tips. As the clients are turned into mindless zombies, the ladies take them down to a holding cell. I’m not going to tell you how the zombies escape or even how they are subdued, I will tell you that this movies isn’t as bad as the name implies. I actually enjoyed the movie because of it having Robert Englund and getting to see Tito Ortiz run off like a little bitch. Check the movie out, it’s worth watching on cable or free on demand. This movie was even nominated for an award in 2008, The Golden Trailer Award for the “Trashiest Trailer”.

--Carey Copeland

Foreign Fears: The Good, The Bad, The Weird (South Korea) (2008)

review by Steven M. Duarte

This month is a bit of a departure from our usual foreign horror films spot light as I focus on a foreign spaghetti western from South Korea. The film stars Kang-ho Song who you might remember from The Thirst and The Host. The basic premise of the film follows three main characters who are referred to as the Good the Bad and you guessed it the Weird. The character known as the weird is a thief who comes across a treasure map while robbing a train. Not knowing what he has he ends up pursued by both the good and the bad who know about the map. As a homage to the Italian Spaghetti Westerns of the 60’s the films is full of long shootouts, stand offs and close ups of the characters eyes. The character the Weird provides some comedic relief while the bad truly comes off as being a ruthless bad ass.
The film is said to have one of the highest budgets used for a South Korean film and the production really shows. The gunfights are well done and the battle towards the end if full of big explosions that were used to seeing in American action films. One lure that the film has going for it is its reluctance to let the viewer know just what the treasure is. The contents or type of treasure is not revealed until the very last scene. Is it a room full of gold or a useless trinket from a lost civilization? I recommend this film for fans of westerns or just fans of foreign films in general.

--Steven M. Duarte

Brian Sammons Hi-Def Horror Hoedown!

THE TWILIGHT ZONE SEASON 2 –Blu-ray (1960-1961)

Created by: Rod Serling

Here are 29 complete episodes of the original and classic TWILIGHT ZONE, on Blu-ray for the first time ever, with tons of goodies and extras. Go get it.

What, you still here? Do you really need more than that to convince you to get this new BD set from Image Entertainment? Really? It’s the freaking TWILIGHT ZONE! Some things sell themselves and should be “no brainers” when deciding if you want them. If someone offers you some pizza, you say, “yes, thank you” because as the old saying goes, even when it’s bad, pizza is still pretty damn good. Well that goes double for THE TWILIGHT ZONE. Sure not every episode is a winner but I honestly can’t think of any that are bad. More to the point, there are quite a few great episodes here in Season 2. “The Howling Man”, “The Odyssey of Flight 33”, “Will the Real Martians Please Stand Up?”, “The Invaders”, “Nick of Time”, and perhaps the most famous TZ episode ever, “The Eye of the Beholder”. If these titles don’t fill you with fond, shuddery memories then you desperately need to watch more TWILIGHT ZONE. Great stuff doesn’t even begin to describe these episodes. If you are a fan of horror, sci-fi, or the weird and you haven’t seen these episodes, then you’re just not really a fan. That’s like saying you like classical music and you’ve never bothered to listen to Mozart.

Ok, so the show is great, that’s a given, but how about this new Blu-ray set, is it worth getting? Well all the episodes have been digitally buffed and polished to look great. Each comes with their original audio soundtrack or a new remastered one. 15 of the episodes have been done as fully produced radio dramas with sound effects, music, and recognizable actors such as Jane Seymour, Michael York, Jason Alexander, Ed Begley Jr., Fred Willard, and one interesting surprise to this old punk rock fan; Henry Rollins. There are a bunch of vintage audio interviews with the director of photography, the makeup artists, and a few of the actors from various episodes. 25 out of the 29 episodes found here have audio commentaries by a whole slew of authors, actors, writers, and film historians. There are quite the collection of photos and 22 music scores if you just want to jam to the Twilight tunes. Some of the real neat extras that I really dug was an episode form a completely different TV show called SUSPENSE that was written by Rod Serling called “Nightmare at Ground Zero” that seems liked a “lost” TWILIGHT ZONE episode. Then there were the vintage commercials and Mr. Serling hosting a “next week’s show” promos for upcoming episodes. As I wasn’t yet alive when this show originally aired, I got a kick out of the glimpses of TV days gone by. There are other goodies to be found here, but I’ll leave you to discover them for yourself.

Here’s the final praise I can give to this new TZ set; I am the proud owner of the complete Gold Edition of THE TWILIGHT ZONE on DVD and these new Blu-rays are clear improvements. I eagerly await the next season and the one after that as long as Image Entertainment keeps the quality so high. So even if you already have all the TWILIGHT ZONES at home, these BDs are worth upgrading to.

INCEPTION – Blu-ray (2010)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page

If you have yet to see this move STOP READING! This film works best the less you know about it in advance. So take my word for it; if you like trippy, mind-bending sci-fi with lots of big gun, loud explosion action, a great story, and first rate direction and action then give this flick a spin. There. For the purest entertainment experience, take that as your review.

Still want more? Ok, here’s a little bit as spoiler free as I can make it. One of my favorite directors takes a break from the Batman flicks to do another tightly written, twisty turvy movie similar to his MEMENTO and THE PRESTIGE. In it, Leo once again shows off his amazing acting chops playing a corporate spy who is very specialized. What makes him so special? Well he can go into the dreams of others to steal their secrets from their subconscious minds. Pretty cool huh? Well yeah, it’s very cool because as you might expect, dreamland plays by a vastly different set of rules than the waking world. Invading people’s dreams is not without dangers, so you can expect some jaw-dropping action set pieces. However unlike many special effect powerhouse films, INCEPTION has a hell of a story every bit as impressive as the audio and visual wizardry on display.

Leo and his group of sleepy time spies is hired to not steal someone’s thoughts, but implant a thought into the subconscious of a man and have him think that he thought it up all by himself. This requires going deeper into dreamland than ever before and therefore the danger is ratcheted up. However less you think this film is all bang, bang, boom and nothing more, there a wonderful little mystery behind Leo’s character and a heaping helping of drama and pathos that goes a long way to prove that not only does this sci-fi flick have brains, but it’s got heart too. But I will not go into such things here. Again; GO SEE THIS FILM.

Now a quick word of disappointment. While there are some truly amazing and breathtaking special effects, I thought the total “anything goes” aspect of dreams was very underutilized. Come on, they’re dreams, people! My tamest dreams are much weirder than anything shown in this movie…maybe that just says something about how twisted I am? Sure there are some OMG moments, the famous city folding scene you’ve seen on all the trailers is a good example of that, but the whole rubber reality of dreams and nightmares done so well in THE MATRIX and some of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films is sadly mostly missing here.

The Blu-ray brought out by Warner Brothers is the way to see this film outside of a big theater. This movie looks amazing. With all the eye candy this movie has to offer, do yourself a big favor and get the sweetest taste of this flick as possible. And hey, if you don’t have a Blu-ray player don’t worry, this package also comes with the movie on DVD and a digital copy for your portable viewing pleasure. In addition to looking great, the BD has a very nice (dare I say “dreamy”) collection of special features. There’s the complete soundtrack in 5.1, the usual collection of trailers, TV spots, and art galleries. Highlights on this disc include an animated 15 minuet prologue called “The Cobol Job”. There’s a 45 minuet documentary all about dreams hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt about what real world scientists are discovering about dreams and the subconscious. Last but not least there’s “Extraction Mode” which is basically a collection of behind the scenes featurettes that you can either watch separately, choosing what subjects you want to learn more about, or as and running adjunct to the movie that will pop up from time to time as you watch the feature film. Things like this are what makes Blu-ray unique and I just eat them up. However, like other Christopher Nolan films, don’t expect any commentary tracks. Nolan just doesn’t roll that way.

INCEPTION was a top rate movie in all regards. It was enjoyable, smart, stylish, well acted and directed. It had lots of action to keep you both interested and amazed and a great story to feed your brain while your eyes are happy. It is also one of the rare films that you can watch multiple times and pick up on new things every time you do. Because of that, and everything else, it is mandatory to have this movie in your home library. Consider this one very highly recommended.

AVATAR (extended collector’s edition) - Blu-ray (2009)

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

What can I say about this, the biggest movie of all time, that hasn’t already been said? I mean is there anyone out there who hasn’t seen this film yet that wants to? That means you have either decided to skip this one, or you’ve already seen it and made up your mind about it by now. So there’s nothing I can say to change your opinion, not that I would try to do such a thing. But I can tell you about this newest, super-duper Blu-ray release and let you know if it’s worth your hard earned scratch. But first, a bit of truth and a word of warning.

Now I’m nothing if not honest and I must say that I think this release is part of a one-two-three punch. You know, an attempt to not double, but triple dip into the wallets of the AVATAR fans. Because lord knows, this poor little movie just hasn’t made enough money. I mean, first they release this film on DVD & BD in a version so bare bones it should have been hanging in a high school biology class. (psst, that’s a skeleton joke). Now there is this deluxe, wiz-bang edition and that’s fine as long as it stops here. As I’m about to make abundantly clear, this is all you need even if you are the most diehard Navi lover. But I have a sinking feeling that in a few months, maybe a year at the most, there will be a third edition of this movie to capitalize on the 3D TV market. Because after all, this is the movie that started the whole “let’s make everything 3D” crazy and convinced electronics companies to try and shove 3D TVs down our throats. Gee, thanks a lot, Mr. Cameron. Anyway, if that turns out not to be the case, then I apologize in advance, but if I’m right then shame, shame, and more shame on everyone involved. Who do you think you are, AVATAR, releasing so many versions of yourself so quickly? I mean, you’re not the EVIL DEAD movies, so what gives?

Ok, that bit of silly finger wagging aside, I must confess that this Blu-ray release of AVATAR is simply amazing. It looks fantastic and I have never seen a movie look better than this one. If you like bright, shiny eye-candy then this movie will send you into a diabetic coma. Good looks aside, this three Blu-ray set also has all the bells and whistles, with a sizable chunk of kitchen sink tossed in for good measure.

First there are three version of this film. There’s the original theatrical release, the special edition re-release that was just in theaters a little while back with an extra 8 minutes, and now the never before seen collector’s extended cut with 16 minutes of extra content. Or as I like to call it, the “Don’t make any plans and bring a lunch if you’re going to watch this in one sitting” edition. Yeah, it’s a damn long movie but does it add anything good or is it just fluff? Well I was quite surprised to discover that yes; the extra moments were pretty darn good. The bulk of the extra footage is used for a different beginning to the movie that shows the overcrowded, dirty future Earth and explores a bit more of the sad plight of our wheelchair-bound hero. There are also some more bits once the action moves to the alien world of Pandora, but such additions are pretty quick and spread out.

In addition to the extended cut, this package comes with a spaceship full of extras. How much additional goodness, you ask? Well as amazing as it sounds, all three versions of movie are on the first Blu-ray. That leaves two more Blu-rays just chockfull of bonus material. There is a four part, one hour and forty minuet making of documentary, an informative, eco-friendly 20 minuet doc about how we humans are royally messing up the rainforests, a collection of 14 odds and ends, such as screen tests, FX tests, art reels, a speech by Cameron, and so much more all bundled together under the title, “Production Materials”. Do you dig deleted scenes? Well this baby has dozens and dozens of them. Are you a fan of featurettes? Well you’ll find 17 here ranging from speaking Navi, to the stunts in the film, to the plants of Pandora, the cool robo-suits , how they did the groundbreaking 3D, and everything else imaginable. There are photo galleries galore, theatrical trailers, the original scrip in its entirety, an interactive “Pandorapedia”, a collection of Pandora inspired songs in both English and Navi, and a ton more of neat-o stuff. A favorite of mine was a neat scene deconstruction application where you can watch all the different layers of technical wizardry used to bring this movie alive. It’s always good for a laugh, watching the actors run around in motion capture suites, acting to nothing. I especially like the scene when Jake went to tame his own flying raptor thing and in reality it was just a bunch of extras hissing and flapping their arms at him.

If you want to have AVATAR in your home, then this is definitely THE Blu-ray set to get. Beauty and brains, all wrapped up in a great package. What’s not to love?

NIGHT OF THE DEMONS – Blu-ray (2009)

Director: Adam Gierasch
Stars: Shannon Elizabeth, Monica Keena, Bobbi Sue Luther, Diora Baird, Edward Furlong

The original 1988 NIGHT OF THE DEMONS is one of my favorite campy fright flicks of all time. Now I’m not wearing blinders, I’m fully aware that my love of 80’s horror movies could just be because I grew up watching them, but in all honesty they just seem better than the horror films that come out now. It’s an ethereal quality, but something about Regan era horrors just appeals to me much more than the vast majority of modern genre films. Hey, maybe that’s because back then, say what you want about them, but the horror flicks were at least original stories. Today they only seem interested in making remake after disappointing remake. Will this latest reimagining of a campy cult classic be one of the few exceptions and actually turn out to be good? Well put on your Halloween mask and grab your bowl of fuck (cool points to those that get that), we’re find out.

This 2009 remake has a few good things going for it. The director of the original movie, Kevin Tenney, is a producer on this one and lovely Linnea Quigley has a cameo, still sporting her pink tutu (and still with a pretty fine ass). The basics of the story remain; a cute creepy girl (Shannon Elizabeth) is throwing a party at a haunted house. Some people show up, a few demons get out, and mayhem ensues. Really, that’s about it. There’s a bit more back story this time out in regards to why the demons are in the house and what they ultimately want. Also a few things are changed in the story. Gone is the funeral home and in its place is a New Orleans mansion of a lovesick woman who meddled with things she really shouldn’t have. Further checks in the “good” column include some really cute girls and a few naughty nudie bits for the guys, which being a guy always makes me happy, and some gooey gory bits for everyone else. Speaking of gore, the special effects are pretty darn good and on average are better than what was in the original. Most notable, the demon makeup is much improved. Also the infamous lipstick scene makes a return, this time taken to a whole new, gross level. Last but not least, it has a groovy soundtrack that I would definitely pick up on its own, if just for 45 Grave’s “Night of the Demons” tune.

Now for the checks in the “bad” column, and there are a few. First the male lead is Edward Furlong and while he was once a pretty good actor, I liked him a lot in AMERICAN HISTORY X, here he just looks sleepy or…well I’ll just say “out of it”, and his performance is so phoned in it should have been sponsored by Verizon. The characters are a bit samey; none of them stand out from the pack. While the first DEMONS had some great memorable characters, this movie just has “cute girl” one through four, a few “dumb ass guys” and Furlong’s “drug dealer with a heart of gold”. Not one of them has the gravitas of Hal Havins’ Stooge or Linnea Quigley’s Suzanne from the 80s flick. The best of the new bunch is probably Shannon Elizabeth and she’s the first to get demon possessed and afterwards she’s pretty much just snarling and hissing. There are also some silly bits, like demons hating rusting metal…uhm, ok.

To further keep the balance between buying and not buying this movie as even as possible is the Blu-ray by Entertainment One. Sure it has amazing picture quality, but that’s to be expected. Sadly it only a few, somewhat brief extras, but they are done well. There’s a commentary track with the directors and some of the cast, a kind of short “behind the scenes” featurette that’s largely a collection of cast and crew interviews, and a short intro to the movie that was filmed at Comic-Con. And…that’s it. While that it perfectly fine, and better than a bare bones release, there could have been more goodies here. Don’t tell me they ran out of space on the Blu-ray.

So when the both the good and bad columns are tallied the end result is kind of a wash. That means this remake drives squarely down middle of the road. It’s not bad, and if you’ve never seen the original movie then you might like this remake a bit more than I did. However if you are a child of the 80s and you fondly remember the first NotD then this one will undoubtedly fall short time and time again. It’s worth a watch, even from us “old school” horror fans, but it might be a rental instead of a purchase.


Director: Júlíus Kemp
Stars: Pihla Viitala, Nae, Terence Anderson

Originally released as REYKJAVIK WHALE WATCHING MASSACRE, the first movie I thought of when hearing this title was…well take a guess. That’s right, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSARE. Upon watching this film, I came to realize that this was more than just a coincidence and that’s not just because Gunnar Hansen is given top billing. Oh, and here’s a little hint, don’t believe the hype. Gunnar has basically what amounts to a cameo in this film and worst yet, he’s not the one doing the massacring. No the man who was the original, and best, Leatherface plays the captain of a ship which goes out to sea with a group of international clichés on a whale watching expedition. There’s the stereotypical gay man, the drunken Frenchman, the Japanese tourists with cameras, and more. The boat breaks down and this group of cardboard cutouts calls for help. Unfortunately when a ship comes to their “rescue” the horror has just begun.

What they first mistake as their savors turns out to be a psychotic family mad at the world because their way of life and their livelihood has been changed against their will. Where as in the TEXAS film that meant the automation of the local slaughterhouse, in HARPOON it means the outlawing of the family’s floating slaughterhouse. By that I mean all the environmentalists coming out against whaling, the family’s traditional way of life. So this weird family is off to kill anyone they come across, and yes often a harpoon is used. Yeah it’s not quite as cool as a chainsaw, but it can do quite a bit of damage. I mean, it kills whales, right?

Starting with the good, this movie does have a few good gore scenes and juicy kills for the splatter fans. Furthermore the effects are practical, that is, they use fake blood and latex as opposed to the vastly overused, and often horrible looking, CGI. Also it’s cool to see slasher films from parts of the world you normally don’t see them. I always think of them as sort of National Geographic documentaries with gore gags. Lastly this movie tries to walk the fine line between horror and humor and it did make me laugh a few times, so good on it for that.

Unfortunately the items in the “bad column” are far more numerous than those in the good. First there are the afore mentioned clichéd characters. The acting is abysmal, the dialog is laughable even when it’s not trying to be funny, and the number of really stupid decisions they make in order to just advance the story is mindboggling. Really, since a movie is only as good as the people in front of the camera, this film can be excruciating to watch at times. To make matters worse, the plot advances at a glacial pace, and yes I’ll resist the urge to make an Iceland joke about it.

To further not entice anyone to buy this movie on the new Blu-ray just released by Image Entertainment, the disc is pretty bare bones. There is a short behind the scenes featurette with Gunnar Hansen and that’s it. What, does the phrase “bonus features” not translate into Icelandic?

So when the scorecard is tallied you have an unoriginal story taking place in new location (referring to both Iceland and whaling vessels). The gore is pretty good but the acting and writing is downright bad. Lastly either some better direction, editing or both, could have been used to speed things along a little better. This means this movie was as middle of the road as a dotted white line. So if you’re looking for something a little different then you might want to give HARPOON a shot. But if you want something more than a little different then you might want to give it a pass.

--Brian M. Sammons