Friday, June 4, 2010

Editorial June 2010 issue #12: Our 1st Anniversary

Well, unfortunately, instead of the editorial I wanted to give our readers this month about the importance of hero comics to modern society, and their importance to my own childhood understanding of morals and ethics, we here at THE BLACK GLOVE find ourselves touched again by death this month. And not just one, but three artists which we all thought highly of, were inspired by, and admired and loved for many and varied reasons.

Ronnie James Dio
July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010
Most of his fans knew he had been fighting stomach cancer for several years, but it still came as a shock to learn of his death on May 16th.
Dio was the heart and soul of old school heavy metal music, a statesman for the music, who could always be seen meeting with his fans, and helping fellow musicians when they needed it.
Anyone who loves old metal music, knew the first time they heard Dio sing in RAINBOW that he was a force with which to be reckoned. With several hit songs under his belt, he left to become a living legend.
As the one time front man for the great metal gods BLACK SABBATH, he gave us the unforgettable hand symbol for metalheads everywhere, the 'horns', and music that will live forever in the minds and hearts of all true metal fans.
That alone would have been enough to make this man historically relevant to music, but he went on to a hugely successful and influential solo career as well, with such hits songs as LAST IN LINE and HOLY DIVER, in which he first wedded the Medieval sword and sorcery look to the Gothic and mystical pretensions of metal music.
Many years later, he once again joined ex-BLACK SABBATH band members to form another metal supergroup, HEAVEN AND HELL, and with them made one incredible live album and one tremendous studio album before his death.
Dio's importance to metal music cannot be underestimated. You have only to ask metal fans and musicians to understand the influence and passion he spread throughout his life.

DIO, this fan will always thank you for your music and the gentleness and kindness with which you shared your talent and life with the world.
May you rest in peace, man.

--Nickolas Cook

Paul Gray
(April 8, 1972 – May 24, 2010)

First news broke about the passing of Peter Steele, it was hard to believe but when word got around that it was actually true the rock community was silenced. Then news hit that rock legend Ronnie James Dio had lost his ongoing years long battle with stomach cancer. The rock community was brought to its knees. Now within a matter of weeks we have lost yet another rock icon, Paul Gray.
Gray was the bassist for the phenomenal multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning band Slipknot. His life was cut short at the mere age of 38. Gray was one of the original founding members of Slipknot which is a band that is still going strong with the original lineup after 15 years. With Gray's untimely passing he may have never reached the legend status that Peter Steele or Ronnie James Dio achieved but he will be forever remember as one of the pioneers of the nu-metal movement that Slipknot spearheaded in the late 90’s.
There is some controversy surrounding the cause of death but it’s important to not focus on how Gray died, but instead focus on how he lived. Regardless of the reason for death he joins the ranks of Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison as musician’s whose lives ended all too abruptly.
Paul leaves behind a wife and an unborn child.

Paul’s passing affected me greatly, as Slipknot has always been one of my favorite bands. Bassists such as Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath and Paul Gray were the reasons that I took up bass playing. I look up to these players and respect them for their musical abilities. It saddens me deeply that Paul passed at such a young age. My prayers go out to his family and his band mates.

--Steven M. Duarte

Frank Booth is Dead
Dennis Hopper
(May 17, 1936 – May 29, 2010)
When Frank Booth was killed at the end of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, the viewer most likely exhaled a huge sigh of relief. His reign of causing nightmarish anguish to his antagonists was finally over, straight with a “love letter” through his forehead. But the thing was, Frank Booth was never really dead. Dennis Hopper still lived and breathed amongst us as he continued to appear in films, television shows, and the Hollywood circuit.
Dennis Hopper’s career before Blue Velvet was illustrious. He began his film career alongside the legendary James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant and the two quickly became friends that lasted until Dean’s death. He also starred in Easy Riders (which he also directed), Apocalypse Now, and various television shows. Everything changed after Blue Velvet was released in 1986, with his portrayal of Frank Booth, which according to several unverified reports may have actually been a part of Hopper’s storied past than a creation of David Lynch’s surreal mind. Frank Booth was a drug-fueled sadist who raped and killed for the pure enjoyment and adrenaline of it. His dialogue was very memorable as was his overall look, complete with a gas-sniffing medical mask. The myth of Frank Booth never fully exited the repertoire of Dennis Hopper’s, even when you look back at his earlier film roles, one could see a slight glimmer of Frank Booth waiting to be expelled. Not that he was a one trick pony with Blue Velvet, but Frank Booth struck a nerve with audiences who felt that he was the archetype of what was wrong and evil with society, the character was even in the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list for being one of film’s greatest villains. For every Speed, Hoosiers or even the spiteful Super Mario Bros. adaptation, it was not uncommon for audiences to expect Hopper’s characters to suddenly exclaim, “Pabst Blue Ribbon!” or get emotionally deranged whenever they listened to a song as Booth did when Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” played. Frank Booth’s motives were never fully explained or developed as the film provides just a brief snapshot of his enigmatic world.
With the very unfortunate passing of Dennis Hopper, a true cinematic icon, the world can breathe a little easier knowing that Frank Booth is now really dead.

--JF Barraza
(The Black Glove wants to thank JF Barraza for his touching eulogy for one of the greatest actors/directors/producers/activists and art collectors of all time.)

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 upcoming first short story collection, 'ROUND MIDNIGHT AND OTHER TALES OF LOST SOULS, will be released September 2010 from Damnation Books, as well as his next novel from Dailey Swan Press, PAINT IT BLACK, which has been called "a hellish road trip across the American desert in the hands of a master storyteller".
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: The Horror Jazz and Blues Revue: Official Website of Author/Editor Nickolas Cook
Contact Info:

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 (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.

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 novella, THE LUCID DREAMING, was published in 2009 by Bad Moon Books, and her first novel, THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES, has received rave reviews since its release in early 2010 (by Gray Friar Press). She lives online at

Karen L. Newman lives in Kentucky where she's an active member of Horror Writers Association and edits Illumen and Afterburn SF. 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. She blogs for the Apex Book Company. Her poetry collections include EEKU (Sam’s Dot, 2005), ChemICKals (Naked Snake Press, 2007), and Toward Absolute Zero (Sam’s Dot, 2009), which can be purchased online at

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 1st Annual Black Glove Horrorhead Awards

To celebrate the first year of THE BLACK GLOVE, we picked what we consider the BEST of our first year in reviews for books, music, games and comics.
Who made the cut for the 1st Annual BLACK GLOVE's Horrorhead Awards?

Patient Zero
By Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Griffin/Press
Review by Nickolas Cook

This is the BEST zombie novel I’ve read to date.
It even knocks Brian Keene’s classic take on the undead, THE RISING, out of its top spot.
Starring Joe Ledger, Maberry’s badass antihero--part Spenser, part Jack Bauer and all superbad—PATIENT ZERO starts fast and nasty and doesn’t let up for 400 pages. It is a hell of a thrill ride, folks.
Ex-police officer Joe Ledger thinks he’s going to join the FBI, but he’s soon being quietly drawn into a super secret government agency that reports straight to the President. His new boss, Mr. Church, is a cipher, cold blooded, without emotion. He sets Ledger up with a team of trained special ops killers to take down a vicious terrorist organization set upon loosing a nasty zombie epidemic on the world in the name of their god.
Maberry even uses the same narrative pacing device as the hit show ‘24’ by keeping strict time of the events, which take place mostly within a three day time frame. Maberry keeps the chapters short and full of character development and forward narrative thrust. He gives us the science we need, when we need, and doesn’t allow its complexity drag down the most important thing in the story: saving the world from a super virus that makes infectious living dead who rise and make more undead with their bite or scratch. Smartly, he borrows just what he needs from Romero’s zombie rules, but doesn’t turn it into another rehash of Romero’s undead world. He does acknowledge the classics- both modern and old- of the undead genre: ’28 Days Later’, ‘Dawn of the Dead’, ‘Night of the Living Dead’, etc., etc. And if you’re a true blue zombie fan, you’ll catch them all.
Another great device Maberry uses to his advantage is the switching POVs, from 1st to 3rd to keep it moving along, giving us exposition without sacrificing excitement for details.
But he also does something that isn’t so easy in a book with this sort of breakneck pace. He makes characters that leap from the page, even the villains. No one is left feeling like a cardboard cutout. Any of them could be someone you know. Well, that is if you know people who work for top secret government agencies that deal with undead on a regular basis.
But most importantly, Maberry treats his people with humanity. He acknowledges the fact that violence leaves an emotional mark, no matter how Charlie Bronson you think you might be. What makes Joe Ledger stand out is the fact that he has to switch from being a caring, loving person to a cold blooded killer with the ability to destroy with the pull of his trigger or the flick of his wrist. And he does not take that lightly. It gets to him, even though he knows the people he is killing will kill innocent people if given the chance.
Maberry knows his martial arts and his weapons. He should. The guy’s background reads a little like his antihero, Joe Ledger. He’s got extensive martial arts and combative tactics experience, along with personal knowledge of the weapons he writes about in PATIENT ZERO. He knows the work of terrorists and the tactics used by antiterrorists to prevent their violence on others.
In a word: realistic is what you get with PATIENT ZERO. A scary realism that leaves you disturbed at times.

--Nickolas Cook

Martyrs and Monsters by Robert Dunbar
Review by Nickolas Cook
Dark Hart Press

Robert Dunbar is best known for that neo-classic of the late 80s, THE PINES (Leisure), so when he announced its sequel THE SHORE (Leisure) his fans were justifiably excited. With it, he once again proved he is the master of the quiet horror novel.
Now he returns to the horror fold with a superior collection of short stories in MARTYRS AND MONSTERS, proving he also knows how to craft short stories that are as effective as his longer narratives.
There is an old world sense to his writing that few modern horror writers can match- a carefully cadenced phrasing makes the difference in how the story unfolds. It’s imbued with a trademark Southern Gothic sensibility that most genre authors are unable to capture. His editing is clean, razored down, for maximum pacing and stylistic impact and plays a large part in how well his storytelling works. MARTYRS AND MONSTERS is filled with hauntingly sensual imagery that touches a primordial fear center not unlike King.
And this is not the first time (and one can guess, not the last time) Dunbar has been compared favorably to King, even to Koontz. And this collection clinches it. He deserves not only the critical comparisons, but also the success his two more well known peers have enjoyed. Every story hooks the reader, pulling him along some rather unsavory paths and realities, spiced with a creeping sense of the dark come home to roost.
One of the best qualities about Dunbar’s work (and one that most critics and readers pick up on right away) is that he does not hold with the modern day penchant for torture porn aesthetic and gore described in clinical detail. His violence is implied- forcefully- and tends to disturb on an emotional level that is far more effective than the transient visceral ‘gross out’ scenes we see too much of in what is termed ‘modern’ horror. It haunts more than disgusts, and sticks like cold blood to your soul.
Dunbar’s cast of characters come from the disenfranchised populace- minorities and criminals (sometimes both)- struggling to survive in a cold world that has cast them aside because they do not fit. And that is what horror does best: speak for the lost souls of the world. But through his misfit cast he does not strive to denounce the injustice of the universe. Instead, as he does so well in ‘High Rise’, he attempts to find a heroic sense of acceptance of that injustice and its vagaries, the universe’s unfeeling machine like quality that digest all equally. Just because the hero doesn’t always live, doesn’t make him a loser in this game.
Each story is memorably, but a few that will stick with this reviewer for a long time to come (as do the old masters’ stories) are:

‘Mal de Mer’ is disturbing, as if Edith Wharton’s supernatural fiction met Lovecraft, creating an unnerving erotic pleasure, maybe one of the best of its kind, and certainly one that deserves nomination for a Stoker.

With ‘The Folly’ Dunbar once again provokes Faulkner’s ghost to tell the clever tale of a debauched Southern family (all named for Greek mythical personalities) who discover their own ‘Jersey Devil’ creature living in their swamp. One gets the sense that the author is poking fun at the industry wide perpetuation (a mistaken one, by the way) of his ‘one hit’ success with THE PINES and he does so with tongue in cheek.

‘Explanations’ is one for the horror fanboys gone wrong, with a ‘sharp’ punch line. If you’ve ever been to a fanboy convention, then you’ve no doubt seen hundreds of Jimmys and Wagners plodding from table to table to gush at aging actors whom they cannot differentiate from their characters. And if you’ve ever wondered what these socially challenged folks live like in the ‘real’ world it ain’t pretty…and it smells funky, too!

‘Killing Billie’s Boys’ is a deceptively intense story of urban black magic and betrayal that plays a razor edge of eroticism against our expectations and leaves the reader feeling dirty and excited.

With ‘Gray Soil’ and ‘Red Soil’ he tackles the ever popular zombie sub-genre and makes it his own.

It’s safe to say that Robert Dunbar can write anything to which he sets his mind. We are lucky to have such a wordsmith in our midst. Collections like MARTYRS AND MONSTERS don’t come along often (buy it now, while you still can, before it becomes an outrageously expensive collector’s item). And writers like Robert Dunbar don’t materialize in the writing community everyday- certainly not in the horror community. Let us give thanks for his continued attempts to bring professionalism and craft back to an ailing genre, and hope he is more widely published in the future.

--Nickolas Cook

Starkweather Dreams
by Christopher Conlon;
Creative Guy Publishing, 2009;
77 pages; Paperback $9.95
Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate come alive in verse in Starkweather Dreams by Christopher Conlon. This outstanding poetry collection delves into the criminal mind of Starkweather and his fourteen-year-old accomplice with bare-bones horror. An example of the sharp, biting verse to illustrate Starkweather’s sharp, biting soul is best found in “Memory: Charlie”

He woke once to wind, to branches
clacking against the window
like the bones of dead men

Conlon uses both alliteration and consonance for the premonition of the staccato effect of a thrusting knife or a penetrating bullet. The visualization here is stunning as if the reader is there, under the covers, in the middle of a nightmare, the nightmare of Charlie. Conlon later uses this to explore Charlie’s sexuality in an effort to make him more than just a monster.

Caril Ann herself is portrayed as a sympathetic victim, a testament to Conlon’s immense talent. He accomplishes this by interweaving both Charlie’s and Caril’ stories and by exploring their dysfunctional relationship with each other and the outside world.

This book is history at its most interesting, especially if one compares today to the late fifties, the time of Starkweather’s serial killing. Today Caril wouldn’t have served that much jail time and perhaps school guidance counselors could have seen how troubled she was. Unfortunately, Charles Starkweather fits in, or sadly, isn’t as frightening as some serial killers now, yet Conlon still elicits real fear from the collection.

But what separates Starkweather Dreams from just another retelling is that some poems are from the victims’ points of view, thus adding to the overall terror, the best example being the poem “Countdown”

Or that in thirty-eight minutes
he’ll place the shotgun behind her head
and burst her brain like crushing an egg

This collection is dark historical poetry at its finest.

--Karen L. Newman

Zombieland (2009)
Review by Nickolas Cook

Director : Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard, Bill Murray

Horror comedies, for the most part, tend to fall apart for me. Sure, there have been some great exceptions to the rule (Return of the Living Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps), but sometimes Hollywood forgets what makes a horror film funny is a hard to get tension between truly horrific and outrageous behavior.
ZOMBIELAND easily makes the grade.
From it’s opening of 80s like video montage, Metallic’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” in the background, this movie knows what horror fans, especially zombie horror fans, love best. In some ways, ZOMBIELAND works like a teen version of The Zombie Survival Guide (, but with a great subtext of antisocial behavior in a society that leans ever more towards an isolationist mentality. Hell, even the main characters avoid using real names, instead they take on the name of the city they come from.
Woody Harrelson (who is amusingly comfortable in the middle of a cast that wasn’t even born when he was playing Woody on ‘Cheers’) plays Tallahassee, a cynical survivor of the zombie apocalypse who wants only one thing: a good supply of Twinkies. Jesse Eisenberg plays Columbus, a nerdy antisocial teenager who finds new life in the undead world. When they decide to band together for safety’s sake, they meet a couple of grafter sisters who make them look like morons…well, more than usual anyway.
Music is a big part of what makes the film so funny; it’s used in sly reference in key scenes, so make sure to listen to the background music. It’s the little jokes like that which work best. At times the broad stuff doesn’t come together quite so well.
And there is a surprise cameo from Bill Murray that keeps you laughing to the end.
Twinkies and Bill Murray? How can this love be wrong, you say.
If you want some solid laughs and lots of gore, make sure to catch ZOMBIELAND at a theater near you. Might want to make sure it’s in a mall, just in case you need to hunker down for the end.

--Nickolas Cook

Mastodon- Crack the Skye (2009)

When I accepted the task of choosing the best album of 2009 I thought it would be an easy choice. Once I actually sat down and pondered which album deserved this title I realized I was in over my head in thinking it would be an easy. In a year that saw high quality releases from Eminem, Jay Z, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs it was tough to pick only one standout album of the year. I finally decided on the awesome well composed album from Atlanta rockers Mastodon. Their album Crack the Skye was met with nothing but praise from the rock community. While their sound is progressive rock, Crack the Skye has enough for everyone to enjoy. It’s hard and heavy enough for the metal heads, has enough progressive time and temp changes for progressive fans and has a somewhat pop sound for the radio friendly crowd. It’s something special when a band can create an entire album that takes you on a journey from start to finish. The greats such as Pink Floyd, Alice in Chains and Tool have done it and now you can add Mastodon to that list.

---Steven M. Duarte

SILENT HILL: SHATTERED MEMORIES, by Konami and Climax Studios; 2009; Rated M; Wii, PlayStation 2

I love the Silent Hill series. No other games are continually as creepy, atmospheric, and nightmarish. Even the last game, HOMECOMING, which got a lot of flak for being way too combat oriented, was still a fun, spooky romp. But yes, even as much of a Silent Hill fanboy that I am I have to admit that combat is the last thing that makes horror games good. Oddly enough the folks over at Climax Studios must agree with that because in SHATTERED MEMORIES there is no combat. That’s right, no guns, knives, hell not even a stick to whack the monsters with. All you can do is run, hide, and hope the nightmarish freaks chasing you don’t catch up or find you. Are you scared yet? Well you should be.
SHATTERED MEMORIES is a remake, or in today’s Hollywood-ese, a “reimagining” of the very first game, but with enough new things (like a completely different story) added to make old fans of the original sit up and take notice. First there are the technical updates, such as improved graphics, and thankfully some better voiceover work, but that’s to be expected. What wasn’t expected is just how well the designers of this game made it fit the quirky controls of Nintendo’s Wii. The game is largely set in the third person perspective and with one hand you control a flashlight, often your only source of illumination, and the other you use to walk around and interact with the world. And that trademark Wii interaction is perhaps handled better in this game than in any other Wii title before it. Unlocking doors, picking up beer cans, and finding clues just feel right. The only minor complaint I had was that sometimes when running from the monsters were just a tad off, but even then the controls were tighter than most games I’ve played on the Wii. All in all the game handles very well.
Before I get to the best part of this game, let me hit the few down points SH:SM has. First it’s really short, but it also has tons of replay value (more on that in a moment) so that’s a wash. Perhaps my biggest gripes with this game come from the “other world”. In previous SILENT HILL games from time to time your character would leave the “normal” scary world of the small town of Silent Hill and enter a nightmarish, filthy, dark, rusted, and diseased world where the real horrors lurked. This other world was captivating in its disgusting horribleness and gave the SH games a signature look and feel. In SHATTERED MEMORIES, the other world is represented by extreme cold. Everything just gets covered in ice and snow. While this game should get credit for trying something new, I have to say it wasn’t very effectively implemented. Making everything look like a winter wonderland on steroids does impart a lonely, isolated feel, but it’s far from freaky or creepy. Then there are the monsters, or serious lack of them. Now this game is not a combat game, and that’s great, but after just a short time playing you’ll come to realize that the critters only ever appear when you are in the frozen other world. The effect of that is that it lessens the fear factor of the game considerably whenever you’re not in ice world. In the other SH games, while the other world was seriously creepy and dangerous, even the “real” world had threats and that put you on edge because you never knew when bad things would happen to you. That is sadly missing this time out. But really, are minor quibbles at best. If those are the worst things I can come up with then the rest of the game has to be pretty good, right?
Oh yeah it is, and that’s largely due to the mind games. Let me explain. Right from the start you see a bright red warning screen that tells you that as you play this game it is also playing you. Before you can think too deeply about that, you are dropped into a first person viewpoint and sitting before a psychologist. He’s here to help you and as you continue through the game you’ll keep coming back to this guy for “evaluation”. The first test you must pass is a true or false quiz, asking such personal questions as, “I make friends easily,” “I enjoy role-play during sex”, and “I have never cheated on a partner.” This odd test is but one part of a unique game mechanic where the game will alter its self depending upon your answers and your actions while playing it. Whether you explore a room thoroughly or just rush through it, if you search the women’s restroom before searching the men’s, and how you react to threats and strangers all go into creating a game experience that will be very different from one play through to the next. Characters, monsters, even the geography of Silent Hill will all change based on your actions. For example in one game you might encounter a nice, comforting cop in a diner, but the next time you play the diner may be frozen solid and you’ll encounter the same cop at the local bar, but this time she’ll be dressed completely different and be cold, if not downright hostile towards you. This ever changing and evolving game play is easily the best thing about the new SILENT HILL game. It is a trick I’d like to see more games utilize.
I give SILENT HILL: SHATTERED MEMORIES 4 frozen, faceless critters out of 5.

--Brian M. Sammons

The 1st Annual Black Glove Horrorhead Award for Best Comic\Graphic Novel goes to Crossed, published by Avatar Press, written by Garth Ennis (Preacher, Punisher), and art by Jacen Burrows. Why Crossed? Because it regularly succeeded at disturbing me, especially issue after issue when I’m trying to anticipate and prepare for it. Don’t let the blood and gore fool you, it’s a damn fine comic book. Honorable mentions go to Image’s The Walking Dead and Locke and Key.

--Jason Shayer

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror by Richard L. Tierney

Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror
Richard L. Tierney
Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Richard Tierney combines terror and fantasy in rhyme in his latest book, Savage Menace and Other Poems of Horror, published by P’rea Press in Sidney, Australia. This collection includes his poems from 1961 through 2009 and is divided into four sections, ‘Things of Menace and Dread: a fear cycle’, ‘A Mask of Thalia: a humorous cycle’, ‘The Doom of Hyboria: a poetry cycle’, and ‘One for the Road: a lasting cycle, and a farewell’.
Common themes in the collection include kings, graves, and fantastical beasts. The rhymes are well-done most of the time, but can be grating at times for a modern reader used to free verse. His more outstanding work delves into recent history. An outstanding speculative poem is “Apocalypse”. The first verse is as follows:
I stood upon a vast and crimson plain
And saw before me, like a monstrous sea,
A moiling tide of clamor, hate and pain—
The swell of humankind’s fecundity.
Then forth from Doom’s own darksome citadel
I saw the Horsemen of impending fate—
War, Famine, Plague and Death—burst through the Gate
And thunder from the echoing halls of Hell . . .
The words flow and his use of rhyme here is reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe. His utilization of consonance is superb.
However, the humorous section does not seem to fit well with the other poems, in my opinion. For many there are notes at the bottom saying the poem should be read using common tunes, something you wouldn’t expect from a master poet. The works in the section are corny and makes the reader want to stop reading.
The interior art by Andrew McKiernan is outstanding. He illustrates certain poems with great detail and each picture adds to the foreboding of the poem.
Both fans newcomers to Richard L. Tierney should pick up this book. It’s a good introduction to a great twentieth century poet.

-Karen L. Newman

Bloody Pages Book Reviews

"Black Country" by Joel Lane

"When the Door Closed, It Was Dark" by Alison Moore

Nightjar Press

reviews by Lisa Morton

Nightjar Press is a new British publisher dedicated to producing quality chapbooks of dark short fiction, and if their two recent releases from Joel Lane and Alison Moore are any indication, they have a fine preference for well-written, literate horror with unnerving ambiguities.
Strangely enough, both of their recent offerings – Lane’s “Black Country” and Moore’s “When the Door Closed, It Was Dark” – have nearly identical themes, both centering on a protagonist dealing with urban decay, unhappy children, and self-destructive tendencies that interfere with the performance of a job. In Lane’s tale, a middle-aged policeman is forced to confront his own difficult childhood when he’s assigned to investigate a rash of crimes committed by pre-pubescent perpetrators in an area that was once his hometown; now, decades after his family left the area, the town has been subsumed by redistricting and urban development. As the investigator (who narrates the story) drinks too much and at last essentially dreams the solution, he discovers that his own ties to these strange, petty crimes are uncomfortably close. Lane’s slightly elliptical style induces anxiety, and his description of the rotting suburb (“Cats or seagulls were crying somewhere in the night”) is always evocative.
Even more disturbing is Moore’s piece, in which a young nanny journeys to an unnamed foreign land to care for a baby whose mother has mysteriously vanished. The foreign country Tina finds herself in is never given a name, but its misogyny could be nearly anywhere. Tina is trapped in a family dominated by a stern “Grandmother” and two men (“Father” and “Uncle”) who treat her as little more than chattel; they take her money and passport, and casually mention her potential as a girlfriend while Grandmother sizes up her hips. As Tina grows increasingly anxious under the unwavering scrutiny of the family, she begins to make mistakes that grow from casual to catastrophic. Moore experiments with style throughout the brief story, moving back and forth from present to past tense to give the story an uncomfortable immediacy. The denouement is genuinely shocking.
Both stories are relatively light on gore (Moore’s does begin with the slaughter of a pig in the family’s bathroom), but drenched in atmosphere and dread. Nightjar is offering up these small (16-page) books in attractive and very reasonably priced signed and limited editions (contact publisher Nicholas Royle at to inquire about purchasing). After reading these two, I look forward to Nightjar’s future releases.

--Lisa Morton

By Joe R. Lansdale
Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 9781892391940
2010; $15.95

Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons

I am a huge fan of the weird, wild, and wonderful stories of Joe R. Lansdale so when it comes to a book called THE BEST OF JOE R. LANSDALE, I can make this one of the shortest reviews in history. So here it is: this book is amazing, get it, get it right now. No don’t wait to get it tomorrow. But since I am a professional, or at least I like to pretend to be, I guess I should give you more to go on than that. So hold on tight and get ready for an overdose of mojo, we’re off to Lansdale country.

Where to start with this collection of crazy, creepy, cool stories? Well how about the first story in book? “Godzilla’s Twelve-Step Program” gives us the titular big lizard and some of his other giant monster buddies trying to kick the habit of smashing cities flat. Highlights include Godzilla making little people out of soap so he can remember how it felt to squish them and King Kong coming to terms with his sexual proclivities. This is one of my favorite Lansdale stories, and that’s saying something.

Another masterpiece mash up of hilarity, horror, and just plain bizarre, is what could be now Joe’s most famous tale, “Bubba Ho-tep”. If you’ve never seen that movie starring genre favorite, Bruce Campbell, you really should as its wonderful, but first treat yourself and read this amazing story. What’s it about? Well it’s only about an elderly Elvis Presley and a black JFK teaming up to save a nursing home from a mummy in cowboy duds. Yeah, wrap your mind around that!

Speaking of the HO-TEP flick, the director of that movie also directed another short film based on a Lansdale tale for the short lived, and greatly missed, Showtime series, MASTERS OF HORROR. The hour long episode was both very good and faithful to the original, but like most things, the story is simply better. That tale is “Incident on and off a Mountain Road” and it’s about a woman pushed to the brink of survival as she is tormented on an isolated wooded mountain by a creepy, moon-faced killer.

Want to read a tiny tale that hasn’t been made into a movie? Then give “Fire Dog” a try. It’s not horror, it’s just…weird. It’s about a guy name Jim that applies for a job at the local fire station. Unfortunately the firefighters are only looking to replace their loyal Dalmatian mascot. Jim takes the gig, but then gets a little too into his work.

Want a more horrific story? Well they don’t get more icky, disturbing, and yet still chock full of classic Lansdale black humor than it does in the last story in this collection, “The Night They Missed the Horror Show.” It’s about a pair of creeps that skip the local drive-in showing of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and instead drag a dead dog from the back of their car for fun. When they run into a pair of bigger, meaner creeps that just happen to be dog lovers, well they end up staring in their own horror show.

Do you dig zombies? Want to see how a zombie story should be done right? Then read “On the Far Side of the Desert With the Dead Folks.” A great title for a great story. Set in the postmodern weird west with a bounty hunter, a bad man, a desert full of the classic Detroit autos, and yes, lots and lots of dead folks. This is one of the best, most original zombie stories ever.

Now I could go on and on about all the stories in this collection as there’s not a stinker in the bunch. Truly when this book says “best of” it means it. The only Lansdale tale that is missing from this book that I think really should have been in it is “Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back.” Man I love that story. But that one mysterious exclusion aside, this book collects 16 of Joe’s best, most bizarre stories, and with an author this talented and prolific, that means this is one hell of a book. I highly recommend it.

--Brian M. Sammons

13 Questions with MyMiserys: Nickolas Cook

Interview conducted by MyMiserys (aka Kimberly Cook)

1. How old were you when you wrote what you consider your first story?

Well, the first hand-written story that I can remember writing was at seven or eight years old, more a superhero comic book than anything else. I was a HUGE comic book fan for most of my early life, until they just got ridiculous expensive. In fact, the first job I ever got was at thirteen years of age and that was to pay for all the damn comics I had to have ever month. Man, did MARVEL make some money off me.
But that same year, for my birthday, my parents bought me a ROYAL typewriter, a beat-up old manual one, the kind that used those old red/black dual level ribbons. God, how I loved that old machine. I can still hear the 'clack-clack' of the keys if I try hard enough.
Anyway, the first real horror story I wrote on that heavy ass thing was about a bunch of werewolves who, in guise of humans, moved into a small suburban neighborhood, and used these underground tunnels they dug to kill their neighbors. They're discovered later by a couple of redneck good old boy carpenters and the end of the book becomes like a siege story, with the heroes and their wives shooting it out with the bad guys.

2. What inspired you to write it?

At that time my daddy was (and still is) a self-employed carpenter, so I got that part of my story from my hero worship of my father. The tunnel thing came from a Richard Laymon book you might have heard of: THE CELLER (one of the first horror novels I ever read, at the tender age of eight or so, I think.); and the werewolves came from the movie THE HOWLING, which I'd seen a couple of years before and it really stuck with me. God, I loved that movie!

3. What was the first book you wrote?

The first thing I wrote that could be considered a full length novel was back in 1998, shortly after moving from Orlando, FL., where I had hopes of becoming a pro screenwriter for Disney, to Tucson, AZ. to marry my wife. It was called something like THE BARGUEST BEAST, a total ripoff of JURASSIC PARK in that it was about a genetically re-created prehistoric wolf on a small island off the coast of CAPE VERDE. It gets loose and kills everyone, and the company that had bio-engineered it sends a group of scientists and mercenaries to find out what happened--of course, knowing full well what is on the island. There were the usual horror tropes mixed with an adventure style war with the giant bloodthirsty wolf thing.
Trust sounds way better than it turned out. It was a mess. I've never been able to make myself do the necessary work on it to make it work. Not sure it would be worth it.

4. Of all the books you've written, which is your favorite?

Without a doubt, BALEFUL EYE. It's about an aging hitman who finds an ancient artifact that's actually a key to a prison for the fallen angels. The angel, Samyaza, escapes and calls all his brethren together to battle God and his Archangels, with a handful of humans who get mixed up in this huge war for dominance of mankind. It was the book that I got to say a lot of things I'd been thinking about for years: my beliefs about religion and faith, good and evil, and love and honor. It was published back in 2006 with Publishing with absolutely NO attempt to promote it from the publisher. They recently released it to back to me and I'm shopping it around again, as we speak. In 2008, during an interview with CLIVE BARKER, he asked me to send him a copy because he loved the synopsis I gave him. So he still has it, I guess, and, with any luck, maybe one day he'll send me an email to tell me it's the best damned book he's ever read. HA!

5. Which book would you like to forget you wrote?

Well...I can't say I'd like to forget any of them, but if there was one I wish I could re-write as the more mature person I am at 40 it would be the as-of-yet unpublished KITTYWAMPUS. It's my coming of age story, about my young life in Cookville, the place where my father's side of the family had lived for almost a hundred years. It was deep in the woods, and for about five miles in any direction there were only Cooks. It was a total redneck environment, lots of drugs and drinking everywhere, lots of trouble with the law, fights, guns, just plain bad stuff for a kid to see. Fact is, if not for my great grandmother, who introduced me to books and had me reading by the time I was five, I'm not sure what would have happened to me. Anyway, the book deals with how I learned that my daddy was just a man, just as full of weaknesses as any human being, but full of other qualities which I hope have been passed down to me as a man. But, you know, the book is really about those woods and the sense of power and haunted-ness and love that they conveyed to me, even as a kid. And, of course, it's about the thing we all knew as The Kittywampus, which lived in the woods and could be seen and heard at times by plenty of witnesses. I could tell some pretty frightening stories about the Kittywampus, but I won't here. But, if anyone wants to hear them, catch me at a future World Horror Convention and we'll talk.

6. Who is the most influential person in your life?

Living? My wife, Kim. She is an amazing person. My best friend and the hottest, sexiest woman I have ever known. Smart as hell, too. And she keeps me honest. There is no bullshit in our relationship. But you already knew that, right? Everything I've written, and will write, is for her.

7. Who is your favorite author?

Just one?
No way.
Sorry, but I'm going to have to cheat...

In no particular order of importance:
Michael Moorcock
Robert E. Howard
J.R.R. Tolkien
E.M. Forster
Edith Wharton
Jorge Luis Borges
Edgar Allan Poe
H. P. Lovecraft
Alexandre Dumas
James Fenimore Cooper
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Louis L'Amore
Richard Matheson
Robert B. Parker
Charles L. Grant
Ramsey Campbell
Brian Hodge
Dan Simmons
Kenneth Roberts
Yukio Mashimo
Robert McCammon
Stephen King
Anne Rice
Clive Barker
Robert Dunbar
Brian Lumley
Marcel Proust
John Skipp and Craig Spector
Hunter S. Thompson
Poppy Z. Brite
Harlan Ellison
Richard Laymon
James Herbert
M. Cervantes
H.G. Wells
Jules Vernes
Victor Hugo
John Milton
John Donne
William Burroughs
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
M.R. James
Algernon Blackwood
Arthur Machen
and Robert Aickman

I could go on, but that's fairly representative of where I am right now. I can point to each of these folks and say, definitively, this book, story collection, or even essay, made me want to write, made me the man I am...for whatever that's worth.
Which is going to make the next question really tough. HA!

8. If you could only own one book, what would it be?

It'd be a tough call between THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and DON QUIXOTE by Cervantes. But if it can only be one, then I have to go with DON QUIXOTE. That book has so many layers, so much humor, so much human pathos, such sparkle and life that I never get tired of reading it.

9. When and where do you write?

When and where I can. I used to limit myself to one room, after 9 PM at night, but I found myself copping out too many times if those criteria weren't met. So I made myself stop finding excuses when I wanted to be lazy or if I was overwhelmed by a project. But I do think I write better at night, when the house is a bit quieter and there aren't so many distractions.

10. Do you have a "day job?"?

Well, some people reading this might have heard about my 'little injury' back about a year and half ago (Feb. 2009). During a KRAV MAGA martial arts drill (the same discipline which master horror author Brian Hodge studies) I took a step the wrong way and completely ruptured my right Achilles tendon. Just plain bad luck. Since then I've had multiple surgeries to correct it, tons of various complications, and now, unfortunately, it probably will never be completely healed. I won't go into gross detail (and there's plenty of them, believe me), but if you see me at a future WHC or Killercon, ask me and I'll show you what me and my wife affectionately refer to as my 'shark bite' leg. Because of the issues surrounding the healing, I've lost the ability to do many of the things that I loved. The physical stuff, like weight lifting, martial arts, running., etc., etc. For now, at least, I can't do any of those things. So, therefore, my "day job" has become going to various docs and therapist and trying to get my leg to work right again. But at least I've been smart enough to have used this crap time in my life to keep writing short stories, some novels, and I started this magazine and have kept it up and running for a little over a year now.

11. Do you have a "dream job?"

Yes. My 'dream job' would be to own and operate a drive-in, where I could show the movies I think are the best of the old horror classics. Not just the Universal stuff, but I mean the Euro-trash classics, the Giallos, anything that I wanted. And it would always be at least a triple feature every weekend night. Something like DEEP RED, TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD and ALIEN CONTAMINATION. You know, stuff that's just fun to watch and you can still get bad dubbing, blood and boobs for your buck. HA!

12. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Either New Orleans or somewhere in Oregon, where it rains five months out of the year, where there's freakin' green and water, and four seasons a year, instead of the two we have here in Tucson, AZ.: Hot and Fucking Ridiculous Hell Hot. People die in this place every year just because they didn't drink enough water that day or forgot to wear a hat! Seriously. I'm a Southern boy, born and raised. I miss the woods and the water with all my heart and soul.

13. What is your guilty pleasure?

Probably watching really bad Euro-trash/exploitation horror movies and finding something relevant in them and being very (way too) entertained. I mean, some really heinous crapola. But I love watching the bad stuff. Those movies had heart and soul, no matter how shitty their production values. You can feel it when you watch them Unlike the modern, big studio, "let's throw stuff at the screen and call it a movie" bad stuff. They're made for morons. They have no heart, no soul, and most of them you can't even call proper 'horror'. They're really just video games on the big screen, made for people who don't really care about the steady, depressing down slide of American horror cinema.
But don't get me started. HA!
Find me a convention and we'll discuss it.

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 three 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 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. And his forthcoming 2nd novel with Dailey Swan Publishing, PAINT IT BLACK, is due out in 2011. His work has been compared to the quiet horror masters of old, such as M.R. James, Algernon Blackwood and Robert Aickman, with a twist of bebop jazz for good measure. To contact the author, email


TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

THE RED RIGHT HAND by Joel Townsley Rogers

This is a murder mystery written in 1945, and there is very little in the way of horror in the book. It only superficially touches upon thriller elements, although it does try to use them to its advantage. The book wants to create tension, but the author isn’t completely successful.

All of that said, this could be the source material - with very few changes - for one of the best slasher flicks of all time.

You’ve got a body count of at least five people and a pet dog, and up to three more off camera. You’ve got a trepanning, a face removal and a severed arm. You’ve got a murderous hobo with sharpened teeth and mismatched limbs nicknamed “Corkscrew”. There’s an artist who wears leopard skins and feathers. You’ve got a Professor of Psychology who has authored the definitive book on “Psychopathology”. You’ve got a semi-rural setting, a lonesome house, and cut telephone lines.

And underneath it all, you’ve got a somewhat deceptive mystery with a few great moments, such as when a note is slipped under a desk blotter by a victim who realizes why the murders are happening… only to discover an earlier note under there, from a previous victim.

The story falls down in its construction. The author shifts in time too much, overusing flashbacks in what seems like a deliberate effort to distinguish his book from more traditionally linear works, eschewing chapter breaks and initially interjecting police interview transcripts but abandoning that practice less than halfway through the novel.

I can recommend the book, but I’m not going to be unusually forceful about that recommendation. Unless I’m speaking to a producer or director of slasher films, at which point I’m going to beg them to read this one.

Three stars out of five.


Avram Davidson won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1958 with the title story for this 1962 collection. The other stories in it vary in tone, subject, and length; Davidson would (and did) write equally well in fantasy, science fiction, and horror. He used whatever settings were appropriate… distant future, centuries past, near future, contemporaneous… and as often or not he produced superlative work.
Summerland, The Woman Who Thought She Could Read, and Up the Close and Down the Stair are all stories which should appeal to any horror fan, and many of the other stories included will satisfy the horror-minded reader.

What stands out for me in this collection is Davidson’s use of dialect. Attempting to insert accents into stories is a perilous decision for an author. It adds slightly to the effectiveness of the characterization when it works, and is very destructive to the flow of the story when it fails. And it typically fails. In Davidson’s stories, however, the man’s ear for dialogue and his eye for sentence construction combine to create something beautiful: stories which read as much like plays as they do traditional stories.

Davidson tosses convention aside when creating his work, and the reader is rewarded. More than simply providing interesting tales, Avram Davidson’s stories are rich in subtext and they encourage the reader to think. This collection is a wonderful introduction to this fine writer. Collections are, like anthologies, typically very uneven in story quality. Or All the Seas with Oysters breaks that mold.

Four stars out of five.

HELL HOUSE by Richard Matheson

Much has been made of the connections between this novel and The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Thankfully, both are considered masterworks and have seen multiple printings, and both are readily available in one form or another.

That doesn’t necessarily mean people are reading these stories, however. It’s pretty easy to get caught up in the buzz surrounding the newest offerings from one publisher or another and to forget that the classics are available.

If this describes you, I strongly encourage you to find a copy of Hell House.

The book is fairly short, clocking in at around 250 pages in its original paperback form. It is Matheson, though, and it is some of his mid-career work, from when he was scripting multiple movies each year. Those 250 pages contain more story content and character development than many 400 page novels.

We’re introduced to a group of four people who are going to ascertain if Hell House is truly haunted, in an effort to provide a dying industrialist some information about a possible afterlife.

Quickly we discover that the house is, in fact, haunted. From there, it is a matter of watching as each one of the four attempts to help pacify or eliminate the haunting spirits, while simultaneously dealing with spectral assaults.

The ghosts here are unusually effective, because of abilities both to affect material objects in a minor way and to induce visions and alter the mind a person… sometimes all the way up to full possession.

The four visitors interact. They aren’t simple caricatures; they don’t constantly fight and bicker, nor do they show absolute trust and love for each other. They have points of commonality and points of dissent, and it is through those dissensions - and the weakening of resolve that accompany them - that the spirits exert their strongest influences.

Many of the ideas in this story have been repeatedly used in future tales, to the point where they don’t seem as impressive as they truly were. Matheson is a great storyteller, but he was also an innovator, and this is as good a place as any to experience that.

Five stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

Movie vs. Book: Slayground


I have nobody to blame for this month’s choice but myself. Bill and I try to keep our eyes open for various book/movie contenders. One day at the video store I spotted Slayground, knowing nothing about it other than it was based on a Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) novel. The cover looked corny as all hell. The synopsis looked worse. Other than it being “based on a novel” I had no reason to hope for quality. And yet I still carried the DVD to him and asked, “You want to do a Westlake this month?”
We waited until he read the book then we settled down to watch the flick together. From what he tells me, this bears NO resemblance to the book. This is a good thing, because Westlake wrote some damn fine stories. The story of Slayground was not fine. Possibly damned, but far from fine.
Three criminals hold up an armed car, killing the driver and wounding the second guard. They take off with the cash, and while speeding away, sideswipe another car, causing it to flip over five or six times. Turns out the accident killed an adorable six year old daughter of a very rich man. The one halfway intelligent criminal, Stone (the stand-in for Parker*) feels horrible regret, stating, “I’ve never killed anyone before”…um, yeah, except for that armored car driver five minutes ago. But on with the story….
Rich dad hires the world’s greatest hit man to take out whoever was responsible for his daughter’s death. Never mind the fact that nobody saw the accident, let alone got the license plate or information about the criminals in their car. Within hours he has found the first guy, taken him out, found the second, killed him, and almost got Stone, except for a stroke of dumb luck.
Therein lies my first problem with the movie. Forget the character it was based on, but even as his own character, he’s not very good at what he does. He makes stupid choices, and seems to get out of every sticky situation with pure dumb luck. And somehow the dialogue is constantly referencing what a great criminal he is. In this alternate reality, either most people lie or the other criminals are just that crappy. But I digress….
Through his dumb luc—er, I mean, cunning skill, Stone manages to get away from the nameless, faceless, asthmatic (whenever he is on the scene, you can hear this strained, forced breathing) murderer and escape to London, where he tracks down an old buddy with an amusement park. Lucky for them, it’s the off season so there’s nobody there but them, the mobsters who want to buy the place, and Mr. Asthma Man. Makes it easier when there’s a climactic end scene where Stone is chased around the park by Mr. Asthma Man.
I have no problem with mindless action flicks. But to qualify there has to be “action”. This had very little other than “Something bad is going to happen. There, something bad happened. Next scene”. No tension, no suspense. As a horror, stalked by conscience-less killer flick, it fails epically. There is no reason to fear this killer, or even give half a damn if any of the characters make it out alive. The only thing remotely entertaining about this flick is watching it with a hardcore Donald Westlake/Parker fan, and watching them react to the miserable portrayal he gets in this flick. Mind you, if it’s somebody you actually like, you’ll feel really guilty by the end for ever wanting to put them through that in the first place (I speak from experience here).
I can only think of one group of people to recommend this movie for: people who do a lot of LSD. There is one sequence during the amusement park chase that looked like a disco remix of the worst scenes of Zardoz. Although I’ve never done acid myself, I can imagine that bit would be a hoot while stoned. Otherwise, forget you ever heard of it.
In closing, I would like to make a public apology. Bill, I am so sorry for making you sit through Slayground. I promise to never make you sit through it again.

(Sorry, but no trailer for 1984's SLAYGROUND exists.)


*According to, Westlake never allowed a character in one of his adaptations to be named “Parker” unless the producers agreed to make a series out of it.


What a great book. It’s a shame nobody ever turned it into a movie.

The story is simple enough: following a heist gone wrong, Parker, Donald E. Westlake’s violent, thieving antihero hops over a gate into an off-season amusement park in an effort to avoid police detection. Unfortunately, as he clambers into the closed park he is seen by two police officers and the two gangsters who are paying them off. Deciding to grab the loot for themselves the foursome temporarily split, with the police giving false information about the third thief getting away and the gangsters getting backup before entering the park to search for Parker.

Realizing that they can’t let him live if they intend to keep the money, Parker uses what time he has to familiarize himself with the park, setting traps and hiding weapons. When they finally enter the park to deal with Parker, Parker is ready to take them on under his own terms.

At this point, the book seems like it will be an attrition story: hero removes villains one by one, often getting wounded in the process. It’s been done dozens of times, sometimes famously well (many of the best-loved action movies follow this plotline.)

Not satisfied with that, Westlake plays to reality. After the thugs start losing numbers, they simply retreat and contact the local mob leaders for more men, so they can perform a more efficient operation. The tension increases, but the actions taken by each of the characters makes perfect sense within that character’s viewpoint. Simply put, it’s a masterful cross between a thriller and a crime novel.

You don’t need to have read the earlier Parker books. All of the stories are designed to be self-contained, and although there are often references to earlier books they are merely there to add additional pleasure for the series reader.

Five stars out of five.


Fresh Blood: New Releases In the World of Horror

In Book News:

An exciting new release from Ballatine Books, THE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin. Check out the book's web site here: and don't forget to stop by THE FIND SUBJECT ZERO website as well for videos and links for even more angles to the story and interviews with the author.

--Nickolas Cook

In Movie News:

Release date: June 04, 2010
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley,Delphine Chaneac
Genetic engineers attempt to play god by splicing human DNA with various animals to create new hybrids. This doesn’t work when one of their creations develops a mind of its own and wreaks havoc upon its creators.

The A-Team
Release date: June 11, 2010
Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson
The 1980’s TV show the A Team gets a fresh overhaul with new actors taking the reins over from Mr. T and the gang. I’m interested on how the director turned a TV show into a full feature length film with new actors at the helm.

Jonah Hex
Release date June 18, 2010
Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Michael Shannon
Josh Brolin stars in this comic book adaption of Jonah Hex who is a badass cowboy who has sworn to protect the innocent from the evils of the world. Megan Fox provides eye candy and the always excellent John Malkovich lends his acting abilities to round out this film.

Toy Story 3
Release date June 18, 2010
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Don Rickles, Wallace Shawn
After many years of the fans requesting it, Pixar is finally releasing Toy Story 3. The whole gang is back in a new adventure that has us following Woody and Buzz Lightyear dealing with full grown up Andy who is getting ready to leave home for college.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Release date June 30, 2010
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Billy Burke
Teenie boppers rejoice as a new Twilight movie will be released in June. Vampire Edward continues the fight against Jacob and his pack of werewolves all while trying to protect Bella from a bloodthirsty vampire.

--Steven M. Duarte

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews

The Human Centipede (2010)
Review written by Steven M. Duarte

The Human Centipede is one of those films that obtain coverage from the mainstream based of its controversial subject matter. Before the film even came out I would come across articles about it on casual blogs and websites who normally only cover mainstream movies and issues. It’s not too often that a foreign horror film obtains this much buzz ahead of its scheduled release. So does The Human Centipede live up to the hype?

The answer to that would be yes and no. I myself love foreign horror films and jump at the chance to see new ones as they are released. I am also a self proclaimed gore hound who enjoys some splatter with my films. I was disappointed with the final product that is The Human Centipede. If you can get passed the initial shock of the surgery that the doctor does you really don’t have much left. If you’re expecting shocking images of morbid surgery and gory scenes you are in for a bit of a letdown. Once the surgery is complete you really don’t see much. The gore shown in the film is on par with most American made horror films. I have learned to expect more from foreign horror films and was surprised when Centipede didn’t deliver. Gore does not make a film but when you feel like the film was being held back you can just ponder what could have been.

The story itself is fairly simple; it follows a crazy German surgeon who used to be the top specialist in separating conjoined twins. He decides that he wants to create a Human Centipede by joining 3 people together from ass to mouth. They would all share the same digestive system and the waste would pass from one person to the next. The doctor uses two American girls who are visiting Germany on vacation. The third is a Japanese man who doesn’t speak English.

The issue that I had with the story was that the surgery happened too quickly and before you knew it the people were joined together. With the exception of an attempted escape scene there wasn’t too much build up to the surgery. Once the surgery is done the movie kind of drags while the director tries to figure out what to do with the Human Centipede. We see glimpses of the Centipede being treated like the doctor’s pet but nothing that really furthers the story. It’s not until the Police show up that things get interesting.

What I did find entertaining was the performances by the actors. The centipede actors got the job done. The head centipede played by Japanese actor Akihiro Kitamura was a treat to watch as he displayed his hatred for the doctor. It was important to get a strong actor for the first centipede since the two behind him cannot talk with ass in their mouths. Once the surgery is done the two girls can only mumble and make limited movements. The doctor was also a joy to watch. While he was one dimensional at times he was creepy and demented at other times during the film. I really felt like we were missing a back story about the sadistic doctor. We never really find out why he wants to create a Human Centipede. As audiences all were given is the fact that he used to be a respected surgeon when it came to separating conjoined twins. It’s up to the audience to make up the correlation between the two.

Final Thoughts:

I believe that I looked too much into the film before I actually viewed it which in turned made me disappointed once I saw that final product. It lacked in gore and a fully fleshed out story but had decent acting and subject matter. It’s a film that makes me excited for the already announced sequel Full Sequence which should be out next year. If the director can build on the first one in every aspect possible we may have the film that the first was not.


--Steven M Duarte

Survival of the Dead (2010)
Review written by Steven M. Duarte

The horror maestro George A. Romero has bestowed upon us yet another zombie film titled Survival of the Dead. I was excited to view this film as I have enjoyed his zombie films up through Land of the Dead. Yes I know land wasn’t great but it got the job done. I was disappointed by Diary of the Dead and hoped that Romero had returned to his roots. Unfortunately I was let down again.
I really wanted to like Survival of the Dead. After the abysmal effort that was Diary of the Dead I wanted to give Romero another chance at zombie greatness. Survival of the Dead is only marginally better than Diary of the Dead. That’s not saying much considering Diary was a shitty film.
The story never really fleshes out well and were introduced to characters that we just don’t care about. The premise of the story is as follows, there two families that live on a secluded island, the O’flynns and the Muldoon’s. The two families are in a battle due to the Muldoon’s wanting to domesticate their zombie family members by having them eat animals instead of humans. The O’flynns just wanna Kill em all Metallica style. Romero’s reoccurring theme of the zombies who are learning rears its ugly decomposed head again with the story in Survival. The concept of the zombies learning was more fleshed out and complete in Land of the Dead. Survival focuses more on the feud between the families. Survival of the Dead also reintroduces to Sgt Nicotine Crocket from Diary of the Dead. The Sgt and a group of his soldiers end up traveling to the Island to find sanctuary.
The story has many elements that don’t make any sense. For one they have working laptops that can stream internet video. Apparently the internet is like a cockroach during a nuclear holocaust, it still survives. The majority of Romero’s previous Zombie films show the earth as a zombie wasteland that leaves humans in the minority. If the television stations went out during the zombie apocalypse in Dawn of the Dead why in the hell would internet still work during a zombie outbreak now? I bring this point up since the soldiers are seen viewing the internet through a laptop and an iphone. Apparently wireless carriers are still going strong during a zombie outbreak too. I know it’s just a movie but come on Romero at least make it somewhat believable.
The acting is poorly done and the film is plagued with cheap CGI effects. The acting by the two feuding Irish men is comical at times. Whatever happened to the Ken Foree’s and Joe Pilato’s of previous classic zombie films? Now we’re stuck with subpar actors reading from an amateur screenplay.

Final Thoughts:
With a heavy heart I can finally say that Romero has lost it. Land was passable and Diary was the one that made me worry now with Survival I have come to the conclusion that Romero should move on from the Zombie genre.


--Steven M. Duarte

Review written by Brian M. Sammons

Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley

This is the latest movie from Martin Scorsese, one of the greatest directors to ever put images on film. That alone should be enough of a reason for everyone to see this movie, but if you want more than that, then I can do that. This is also Scorsese’s latest team up with his newest, favorite actor (sorry Bobbie D., I guess you’re too old for Martin these days), Leonardo DiCaprio. While I initially dismissed Leo as a pretty boy getting by on his dreamboat status, and I’m not afraid to admit that I hated TITANTIC, I have come to learn over the years that he can really act his ass off. So when a director this good gets together with an actor this talented, very good things usually come from it. However since this a site all about horror goodies, is it safe to assume that this is a horror movie? Well no, it’s not really, but it is a twisty turvy thriller filled with mystery, murder, insanity, and some great nightmarish imagery. If you like being creeped out, constantly guessing what’s going on, and just love great movies, then you’ll enjoy this film no matter what section of the video store you find this flick in. Ha, video stores…those were the days. But I am not here to wax all nostalgic, so let’s begin our visit to SHUTTER ISLAND.
Leonardo plays a U.S. Marshal named Teddy who goes to an incredibly eerie island sanitarium with his partner, played by Mark Ruffalo. The pair is there to investigate the escape of a criminally insane patient who all but vanished mysteriously out of her cell one night. Set just some time after World War 2, Teddy is a vet with a horrible past and has got his share of haunts rattling around in his skull. Add to that some personal tragedy, plenty of very creepy environments, and having to interview many murderous maniacs, and is it any wonder that Teddy begins seeing things. Question is, is what he’s seeing real or imagined? Another good question would be this; is everyone at Shutter Island hiding something from him or worst yet, out to get him? From the head psychologist, played to uncanny perfection by Ben Kingsley, to the old German doctor who just might be a Nazi in hiding, played by the always wonderful Max von Sydow, to Ted (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) Levine as the warden of the prison, everyone seems to have secrets. The new Freddy Kruger, Jackie Earle Haley, also pops up in a memorable cameo as a scar faced inmate who just might be the man responsible for…well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Suffice to say that the twisting, turning story in this movie is a continual guessing game and even if you can puzzle out the final “a-ha” moment before the end as I did (yay for me, I am so smart) it still doesn’t take any of the enjoyment out of watching an amazing collection of great actors doing their thing. And again, this is Martin freaking Scorsese directing this film, the man doesn’t make bad movies. Ok, I wasn’t too keen on THE AVIATOR, but still…
Now let’s talk about the DVD, in a word; it SUCKS! It is the epitome of a bare bones disc and sorry Paramount, but I call bullshit on that. Now the Blu-ray has some special features. Not many, but some. But what, could they just not squeeze them onto the DVD? No, this is yet another movie company giving DVD owners the blatant middle finger and I just don’t understand the reasoning behind it. Chances are if you own a BD player and you want this movie, you’ll buy it on BD, so does Paramount actually think they’ll force a DVD owner into converting to the new format just because their DVD of SHUTTER ISLAND is missing two behind the scenes docs? That’s just silly, but it’s the only reason I can think of why they, and sadly plenty of other studios these days, would have for not including the extras on the DVD when there is clearly room. What, does leaving the laser that burns the info into the discs on for an extra ten seconds to transfer the extras REALLY cost that much? How many pennies, if any at all, is Paramount saving by screwing over a large percentage of home video market? This is a practice that pisses me off whenever I see it and yes, I have a Blue-ray player, but I still think it’s scummy and I’ll rail against it every time.
So, did I like the movie? Yes, I really did. Do I recommend buying the DVD? No, I really cannot. If Paramount is going to treat you like crap, the least you can do is not give them money for doing so. If you already own a Blu-ray player then go ahead and pick up this flick, I think you’ll like it, But for God’s sake, don’t switch up from DVD to BD just because of this, or any disc. Not that I think you would, I’m just saying.

--Brian M. Sammons