Saturday, September 4, 2010

Editorial September 2010 e-issue #15

By Nickolas Cook
The Black Glove Magazine

You know, these editorials sometimes turn into nothing more than rants. I sit here and pretty much bitch about the state of horror cinema in America, how it's going down the tubes, turning into sparkly vampires and PG13 non-horror, listless excuses for entertainment puked up by big studios who not only don't know how to make a horror film, but probably couldn't even correctly define a real horror movie if they had to do so.
But this month...well, this month is going to be a little different. This time I'm calling bullshit on so-called horror fans who think it's uber-cool to sit in a crowded theater and make loud remarks about the movie, as if they're in the their living room or something. But, worse, this is about a disturbing trend in these moron free-for-alls which has me re-considering the entire genre and its fanbase.
There was an editorial I wrote back in April 2010 (issue #10) in which I ranted about the state of the industry, had some choice words about idiot producers such as Michael Bay, Hollywood's latest moron-du-jour, and how movies like the Twilight Saga are basically turning American horror cinema into a huge joke. I made some rather disparaging comments about the age of the average Twilight Saga fan and how their mentality was hardly something to be too concerned with when making any movie- i.e., none too sharp, with an emotional palette of...well...a teenager.
Well, as if the gods themselves had to prove how terrible this mentality has become, how far reaching this insidious "Dumb and Dumber-Beevis and Butthead-MST3K" movie viewing experience has become, I attended an annual event here in Tucson that really brought it home how bad things have become for intelligent horror fans.
Every year our local art house theater, The Loft, puts together their All-Nite Scream-O-Rama. They usually find the original 35MM prints of classic horror films from the 70s and 80s, put together some fun trivia, give away prizes, get a guest from one of the movies, etc., etc.
Now, this is something my wife and I have tried to do every year, with the exception of last year, when I was healing up from a nasty surgery to my Achilles tendon (I've had 4 of them now; if you see me at a convention, ask me and I'll show you my 'shark bite' leg). Most years, the festival goes on for over 12 hours, and we're exhausted by the time its all done, but we have a good time.
We attended the 2008 Scream-O-Rama, and even then I noticed that there was a certain amount of irritating yacky-yack going on during the first couple of movies. I figured it was just the fringe crowd, casual horror fans who were looking for a place to hang out for a few hours, the ones that had no intention of sticking it out for the whole event. I was correct in 2008; the fringe folks were gone by the time The Gate (1987) hit the screen around 11PM or so.

We had a good time the rest of the night, enjoyed the experience. It felt like when I was a kid again, watching the old stuff, feeling some of the old feelings. Even the popcorn tasted the same.
This year...well, this year was a completely different experience altogether. There was the usual amount of playfulness and yacky-yack that started during the first movie, "The Howling" (1981).

One might argue it's supposed to be, at least in part, a dark comedy. And while that might be true, what these people were laughing at weren't the clever injokes and dialogue with which screenwriter John Sayles and director Joe Dante had peppered the film. They were laughing at the 80s hairstyles, the music, even the cars (?!) used in certain scenes. They most definitely weren't the type of true-blue horror fans who were getting the real jokes meant for horror fans. They even laughed, mind you, during the opening credits when Slim Pickens' name appeared.
Come on!
You've never heard of this guy?
I expected what happened in 2008 to happen again, so I sat there patiently waiting, rolling my eyes, grinding my teeth, whenever these yahoos made a joke out of something that wasn't meant to be funny. But unfortunately what I had taken as the fringe folks didn't go away this year. They stuck it out through the whole night.
That's over 12 hours of listening to snarky Beavis and Butthead comments, and the multiple running MST3K style commentaries through every fucking movie.
Now, of course, some of the movies were meant to be funny on various levels. Like "The Howling" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II" (1986).

I'm not an idiot. I get that. I appreciate those as well.
But some, like David Cronenberg's "The Brood" (1979), were clearly NOT meant to be funny.
If you've never seen it, there isn't a spot of humor to "The Brood". It's basically about a mentally disturbed mother who creates evil little monsters, birthing them from her body like ripe tumors, sending them forth to exact revenge on anyone she feels has made her unhappy in her life. She's even so hellbent on vengeance against her ex-husband that she's willing to have these ugly little child-sized creatures kill her young child than allow him to keep the little girl. It's a film that examines the mental and emotional damage done upon children by adults. It goes deeper than that, of course, but even that aspect of the film deserves some serious examination while viewing it.

That's not what this film or the others got from this crowd of numbnuts.
What it got was snickering, oh-so-ironic-for-irony laughter during scenes that, to me, as an adult, were quite frankly disturbing to watch. Even the performances were spoton for harsh emotional takes on these characters that were tearing one another apart. Again, during even the most disturbing monologues, what we got was childish snickering, at times, even outright guffaws at such 'hilarious' things as the pants the lead actor wore during one scene, the vicious death of a young woman by violent bludgeoning in front of elementary school children, the teary diatribe of a mentally disturbed man. These were all things this jaded, cynical too-cool-for-school audience of 20 and 30 somethings found so hilarious they could not observe even a modicum of social politeness and shut the fuck up!
A friend who was with us that night put it best when he described it as a bunch of kids snickering during a sex education class. Emotionally, they just didn't know how to respond to what they were seeing and feeling, so instead of an honest discomfort, anxiety, or whatever an emotionally mature adult feels during moments like that, these fucking morons laughed because they didn't want their peers to see their confusion or anxiety.
So this went on through every movie we sat through that night. And I have to be honest, by the end of "The Brood" I was so disgusted by it all that I packed it in and we left. Now, you've got to understand how much I look forward to this thing every year. I talk about it for months before, plan every detail out- where we're going to eat, which movies we can skip to take a break- it's a huge deal to me. I am a Horrorhead, so of course, this is a huge deal. I really look forward to being around people like myself, Horrorheads, who love the classics (both good and bad), respect them and live for the chance to see them on the big screen again. It's my chance to have a good time with like-minded people.
I may not attend the next one.
That's how disgusted I was--am--by the experience.
These weren't Horrorheads. These assholes were a bunch of slack ass, bored losers who were just looking for something to do. They didn't care about the movies; they hadn't been there for the original releases. The Loft could have shown them on DVD projectors and it wouldn't have made a fucking difference to them. They didn't get why the original 35MM prints were cool as hell.
So you're probably saying to yourself: "Why doesn't this guy just chill out? So don't go next year! What's the big deal?"
And in part, I agree. Why should I get so bothered by it?
The most important reason for me is that I see this as symptomatic of a larger problem within the movie going public. Because this sort of childish behavior has been allowed, and in the case of The Loft, even encouraged to a certain degree. It's now become the social standard to make comments during the films, to turn it into your own private version of MST3K.

This experience really got me to thinking.
Why bother trying to make quality horror films? Why bother trying to write a book that adds something to that particular part of The Great Conversation which is part of the horror culture and community, its history? Is this why I've been working my ass since I was 13 years old to learn my craft, to become a horror writer of note? Are these the fuckwads I want to impress with my work?
I've got to be honest: if these are the people who now make up the majority of the horror fan base, I want nothing to do with horror. I'd rather never write another horror novel in my life than give these douchebags something to snicker at and giggle over while they text and play XBOX.
So who cares, right? No one is holding a gun to my head to make me do it, right?
Well, just think about this: If I feel that way about it, think about the hundreds, maybe thousands, of horror filmmakers and writers out there who feel exactly the same way and have decided to go in a different direction. Think about the next Stephen King seeing how the idiots react to a movie like "The Brood", an intelligent, emotionally complex, brilliantly made horror film, and he/she decides not to write the next "The Shining" (1977) or "Interview With the Vampire" (1976). Why bother? These assholes aren't going to get it. They aren't going to appreciate it.
That's pretty much how I see it. And since that night, my view on writing horror has changed drastically.

There's got to be more horror professionals out there- both newbies and old hands- who say 'fuck it' and go in a different direction. So that next big horror revolution/evolution takes another twenty years, instead of ten.
Or maybe it just never happens again.
Is this what we've come to as a culture? A bunch of emotionally stunted Beavis and Buttheads who can't identify with adult themed horror movies or novels?
I realize my disgust for, and plea against, such behavior, this inevitable cultural shift, is like trying to combat a tsunami with an umbrella. It's going to happen whether I like it or not. As the old song goes, "One monkey don't stop no show". But it leaves me feeling sad for the old days when exploitation cinema shook us emotionally and physically, left us disturbed and sickened. As it should.
People (if you want to call them such) laughed during "Cannibal Holocaust" (1980)...

What the fuck is wrong with a group of people that can laugh during one of the most horrific films ever made? We're talking about watching real animals being tortured and killed on screen for your entertainment, not even counting the very real special effects used to portray sickening cannibalism and human torture and death.
To me, that's the real horror, here.
What have we become when this sort of thing doesn't shock, doesn't sicken, as it was clearly meant to do, and instead elicits laughter?
I hope someone has a better answer than me. Because my answer isn't very nice.

--Nickolas Cook
The Black Glove Magazine

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, will be released September 2010 from Damnation Books.
Personal Info: Nickolas lives in the beautiful Southwestern desert with his wife and three wonderful Chinese Pugs, who are worse than little children…the dogs, not the wife.
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

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 Eye of Time (An All Original Serial Novel)

Frank Menser and Nickolas Cook

Part I—

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Chapter 3—

Captain Drake woke to darkness. At first the darkness was so complete, he wasn’t even sure his eyes were open until he physical felt his lashes brushing against one another. It was a sensation that did not lie and put paid the notion that he was still unconscious. He lay for a moment, worried that he might have permanently damaged himself, and not wanting to cause himself anymore harm by moving too prematurely. But a slow careful check of his extremities left him confident that he’d not broken anything too important. There was a dull throbbing ache on his left side, right below his armpit, but he knew he had to start moving sooner or later and he couldn’t let that stop him.
He had to find out where the hell he was and how he could get out.
How far had he fallen? It couldn’t have been too far, or else he would surely have done himself more harm.
Drake sat up slowly and felt the world he could not see spinning around him. A few bright stars erupted before his eyes and he gave a low groan in the dark. The sound seemed to echo around him. Was he in some sort of underground chamber?
After he was sure he wasn’t going to vomit, he rummaged through his shirt pockets until he found what he was looking for. Thank the Lord he hadn’t lost them during his headlong tumble into space.
The match struck against his nail with a sharp snap and a sudden burst of light exploded before his eyes. Drake winced against it and took a good look around.
His stomach went cold with terror.
Pure darkness. The match’s radius of orange light touched nothing on any side but more chilly night.
Logic. Use logic.
He had to have fallen from somewhere, right?
So that ‘somewhere’ had to close by his current position.
Drake felt the match burn down to his finger. Just as he was waving it out with a frustrated curse of pain, a burning red glimmer to his right caught his eye.
Feeling a sudden terror grip his heart, he scampered for another match, tugging at his sweat soaked coat, tasting dust and fear at the back of his throat. What was down here with him? What had eyes that could burn like red hot coals in the dark?
Quickly he snapped another small flame into existence. The night drew slowly back from its meager power. Drake peered past the wavering light.
The red light shimmered again, like scarlet lightning in the blackness.
Drake waited for the thing to move, but as he moved the match back and forth, the crimson spark didn’t seem to care one way or the other.
He took a chance and tossed the match at the glow.
The tiny fire flared for a second and then he was cast back into darkness again.
Drake found another match and struck it to life. He began to crawl towards the small red glowing object, knowing now—whatever it was—that it wasn’t a living thing.
The air, still and icy, seemed to envelope him as he moved closer to the thing. The match’s small fire danced in the small object as he got nearer.
It was some kind of jewel.
He needed more light!
Drake snagged part of his dirty, torn uniform shirt and ripped off a long strip of it, and wound it around the metallic knife sheath he kept tucked under his left pant leg. Then he used the failing flame to set the cloth afire. The small glow soon grew into a tiny blaze, and Drake held the flaming makeshift brand aloft.
He gasped at what the meager light revealed.
It was a small adobe city. Man sized rounded clay huts collected on all sides of him. They were ancient; he could see that by the collected patina of dust and dead cobwebs that lined every available curve and aperture. Even without such visual evidence, however, he felt the weight of their age pushing against his senses. It had been hundreds, maybe thousands, of years since man had set eyes upon these primitive dwellings. The people who’d once called this place home were long dust and memory.
A thicker part of the cloth caught fire and brighter light flared throughout the strange collection of domiciles, giving Drake a chance to see that some of the adobes had weird symbols scrawled along their walls. They were unlike anything he’d ever seen before. What long ago hand had painted them, he could only guess.
Some of the symbols resembled hieroglyphics, words from some ancient dead culture, but others were clearly pictographs, and were obviously meant to convey animals, maybe even meant to tell a story. Beasts with flapping wings. Huge man shaped creatures striding over smaller man shaped creatures. Blazing weapons held aloft. Strangely thin shapes that seemed to his eye to be made up of man and beast sat next to other man shaped pictures. Rough as they were, Drake was sure there was a story to each of them, even if he could not read it.
He felt the compulsion to investigate the adobes and their compelling symbols and pictures at closer range, but the call of the jewel was stronger. He turned his attention back to the darkly glimmering gem a few inches from him.
Hesitantly, Drake reached forward to touch it.
The jewel gave a pulse, sending a sudden blazing heartbeat of crimson light throughout the seemingly endless chamber.
Drake gave an involuntary gasp and drew back to examined the strange gem more closely. It was almost as if the thing had known he was about to touch it. A warning, perhaps? Or more like a sense of anticipation?
What was such a thing doing buried in the earth?
Could the gem be the thing which the old Pima Indian, Kokoho, meant to show him?
The gem was teardrop shaped, shining darkly in the dwindling light of the match. Its depths were an infinite dark red, like a frozen blood drop. It was encased in a burnished copper cage, thin lines of ancient metal holding it in place. Trailing out behind it was a chain made of the same wiry copper stuff. The chain was covered in a layer of gray dust, as if it hadn’t been touched by human hands in centuries.
The match went out and Drake found another, struck it to life. He was getting low on them, so he had to be careful of their usage. The jewel, as beguiling as it was, would hardly get him out of his present predicament. He still needed to find some escape from this underground deathtrap. Hopefully, his men were already working towards that same goal, so he wouldn’t be alone in his endeavor.
He moved the match closer to the strange gem again, waiting for the thing to flare with life once more, but it remained cold and dead. Now he could make out odd etchings on the jewel’s otherwise smooth surface. Some sort of hieroglyphics, no doubt, but nothing he’d ever seen before. Might as well have been Mandarin Chinese for all he could tell what it said.
He stared into its depths, feeling a strange tug at his mind.
Someone was speaking to him in a language he’d never heard before. A singsong woman’s voice, almost like a song. What was she saying? Or was it a song?
Drake pulled his gaze away from the teardrop gem and peered around the fathomless cave. No walls, no ceiling, no end…
“Hello? Is someone there?”
His voice echoed far away into places his small flame could not penetrate and his mind didn’t dare to think upon those unseen miles of rock around and over him, imprisoning him in the stomach of the earth. But no one answered his query. Not a breeze stirred the chilly air.
He waited for more sounds, but nothing.
The match was burning low, so he leaned in closer to make out the gem’s odd carvings. His breath blew out warm condensation across the jewel’s surface. Moisture filled in the small etchings, making their characters clearer: thin slashes, like miniature claw marks, in a definite semblance of order.
And, again, the closer he got, the woman’s singsong began to waft from the gem like a foreign word/scent, creating strange pictures in his mind.
Drake felt himself reel; the world seemed to spin around him. A bizarre red fog crawled from his peripheral vision, engulfing him in a swirling warm crimson smoke.
Suddenly, before him in the uncanny fog, appeared a woman’s cruel dark face, beautiful…full of evil. She smiled at someone he couldn’t see. He felt the terrible bloodlust oozing from her, such as could be found in the lioness’ as she pounces upon the crippled fawn, the toothy joy of a crocodile as she attacks the staggered buffalo calf, the blazing hunger of the deadly falcon as she snatches the terrified hare from its lair.
A flash!
And now another woman’s face appeared: bright green eyes, slim, deeply carved cheeks, full red lips, long, luscious scarlet hair cascading down her milky white shoulders.
Drake felt a kinship with this woman. Had he known her before? Long ago?
Before he could decide, the scene flickered and dissipated.
Another face appeared. A man’s this time. Seamed, deeply tanned, ancient dark eyes that seemed to see him across this unearthly void. He recognized the old Pima Indian almost immediately, despite the fact that this man was many years younger than the Kokoho he had met earlier.
How could this be?
That singsong voice rose in power and that mental tug grabbed hold of him again and Drake felt himself falling into the gem. Distantly, he felt the match finally burn down to the flesh of his fingers, but the pain was like a far away star that made no difference to the light of the sun.
Falling, falling…
Drake reached out to touch the gem.
The faces he’d seen before—the evil dark woman, the beautiful redhaired woman, and the sober faced man—all appeared again, followed by dozens more he felt he should know, but couldn’t possibly.
His hand finally wrapped around the cold crimson jewel, but instead of ice, he found a bloodlike warmth.
Falling, falling, falling…
And he landed within a bright hot light; landed painfully on some unseen rocky terrain; landed inside the raucous uproar that could only be combat; horses and men screamed and cried in victory and agony; swords clashed.
Drake opened his unbelieving eyes to find himself in the middle of a bloody battle.
A thunderous roar sounded above him. Drake snapped his head around in time to see a giant of a man swinging a great blood dripping battleaxe down towards his head.
The Captain automatically reached for his pistol, but found he no longer possessed a pistol. In fact, there was no longer even a holster for his missing pistol; and no leather belt for the holster. But there was a sword near his hand. And before he could even think how strange such a thing was, Drake was bringing the gleaming gore soaked weapon up in time to slip the battleaxe off to his right side. But the violence of the blow was enough to make his arm go numb. The roaring giant wasted no time. He swung the axe around again for another killing stroke.
Drake waited for the man’s arms to lift high over his broad shoulders and then he kicked out at his knees. It was like kicking a tree trunk, but Drake’s attack had been enough to stagger the man back a few steps.
“You dare to strike Lord Balto!?” The snarling visage looked familiar to Drake, even through the blood and dirt. Where had he seen this man’s face before? In nightmares of death, perhaps? No, he was sure he’d recently seen his face. But where? The surety was a nagging thing at the back of his mind like a half remembered song heard on the wind.
The absolute rage in the man’s dark eyes felt almost like a palpable force emanating from him. “For that, you die, pig!” He raised the battleaxe high over his head again. But this time Drake had gained his footing well enough to stand against his attack. The newly discovered sword which he held uncertainly in his thickly muscled hands felt at the same time familiar and alien as he hefted it to meet the deadly swing of the axe. The terrific force behind the blow sent him staggering back. Lord Balto’s sooty face sprouted a sneer of derision. “I see you knew not the might of Lord Balto, young one. You will not live to appreciate the lesson learned.”
Another mighty swing whistled through the smoky, blood stinking air.
But Drake had learned his lesson. The huge giant of a man who stood before him with a battleaxe that easily stretched the length of his whole body was too strong to fight head on. No, this fight would require brains and brawn. Something he hoped with which Lord Balto wasn’t so blessed. The way he swung that axe, Drake could see he was putting his whole body into it. If only he could get the giant to commit on the next attack…
Drake waited for the roaring monster of a man to attack once more; when he saw the great muscles on Lord Balto’s legs bunch forward, Drake slipped under the swinging blade and stabbed upwards. The sword’s keen tooth bit into the thick layers of leather which made up Lord Balto’s armor. At first Drake was unsure if he’d actually hit his opponent, but then the big man staggered backwards and looked in disbelief down at the rent in his leather armor. Blood began to seep from beneath the sweat soaked armor.
Unfortunately, the wound seemed only to infuriate the giant even more.
The stunned Lord Balto turned his furious gaze upon Drake. “I will make your death most painful for that, little one.”
Drake felt a sense of dread. How could he hope to battle such a thing that felt no pain? Was this man—if man he was—invincible?
No, that was ridiculous, of course. For he had obviously damaged him with his counterattack: the blood that still spilled from his body attested to that. But he hadn’t done enough damage; that was also obvious.
Drake forced the fear away and raised the great sword, readying himself for a final fight to the death with this angry and bloodthirsty giant.
But before the two could meet in the middle of the few yards of muddy, blood soaked ground that separated them, a trio of shouting warriors in gore smeared steel armor raced on horseback between them. Their screaming frightened horses, slathered in sweat and battle gore, bucked and kicked, and between the terrified dancing mounts, Drake caught snatches of Lord Balto as he fought desperately to drive the trio of attacking warriors out of his way so he could get at Drake.
Drake’s fury had gotten the best of him as well. Hot blooded now, he wanted to get at the giant man as much as the man wanted to kill him. As far as Drake was concerned, only one of them was walking off this battlefield this day. Drake’s muscles trembled with the bloodfury; he would chop that smugness right of the giant’s countenance.
But the trio of screeching warriors and their flailing horses had other plans.
Before he could stop them, two of the warriors had maneuvered themselves in position on either side of the furious Drake, and reached down to snatch him away. Somehow they managed to keep him between their galloping horses as they raced him away from the raging Lord Balto. Drake could hear the giant’s frustrated bellows for miles. The third mounted warrior in steel brought up the rear, protecting Drake from other dangers, such as stray sword strokes, or bolts fired from passing crossbows on high.
For the first time since his strange and inexplicable appearance, Drake finally had a moment to really see his surroundings. Although he had no idea where he was, it was easy enough to ascertain that he had somehow appeared in the middle of a large skirmish between at least two vast armies. What seemed like thousands of steel armored men flashed dully in smoke obscured midday sun. They fought in small knots or singly against thousands more leather armor clad men that seemed as large as giants to him. They were all dressed in the same thick layered leather as Lord Balto.
“Draco,” the warrior riding behind them called to Drake, “what in The Great Eye’s name are you doing upon the battlefield in such strange dress?”
At first Drake wasn’t sure who he was addressing, but the young man’s confused eyes were on him and no other. Before he could reply or question what he meant, the warrior holding him aloft on his left side replied instead, “Perhaps Draco thought to destroy Lord Balto and his minions without the benefit of armor.” At that the trio of steel clad warriors laughed loudly. They galloped for a few minutes more, then without a word spoken between them, they came to a sudden stop and let a stunned Drake fall to the ground. They had left the raging battlefield behind a good mile or more, although the sounds of clashes and the screams of both men and mounts could still be heard. Great columns of black smoke rose for miles around, portending the horrendous destruction being wrought by the two bands of fighters.
Drake looked from one grimly grinning face to the other, waiting for an explanation. But when none was forthcoming, he finally broke and near screamed, “Where the blue blazes am I? Who are you people?”
The three men looked at one another for a silent bewildered moment. Drake was able to see them clearly for the first time.
The rider who’d been behind them during their escape from the battlefield was a dark haired youth, no older than Tellers back in his…own place and time? A youthful face, full of untried years, a half innocent grin that showed his lack of experience, but his eyes glittered with willingness to learn everything that the world had to offer—be it good or bad.
“He looks at you strangely, Killian, does he not?” To his right, the man in a beaten steel chest plate and worn helmet, threw back his steel helmet and stared down at Drake in concern. “Mayhaps he hit his head during the brief skirmish with that Hellspawn creature, Balto.”
Drake watched him as he leaned down from his saddle perch to examine Drake with the eye of a wise warrior who had seen many battles and many wounds. His face was burnished dark as pitch and his wiry hair was braided down his broad muscled back. One eye had been taken, most likely in battle, and so he wore a black leather patch over the empty socket.
Killian ordered his horse nearer to the shaking, uncertain Drake. “Samhien, I like not his eyes. There is a great terror in them. I’ve never seen such fear in Draco’s eyes before this day.” He looked at the man on Drake’s left. “What say you, Warson?”
The man on Drake’s left quickly dismounted his horse and stepped close to him, staring into his wide eyes. “Fear? I see only confusion. Mayhap Samhien speaks true. But I see no damage to his head.”
Drake swallowed the thickness in his throat. “I wasn’t harmed by the giant, if that’s what you mean.”
Killian got down from his horse as well, stood next to Warson, stared at Drake.
“I’m fine. I’m not hurt.”
Both men continued to stare at him, their mouths hanging slightly agape now. Now Drake’s confusion was giving way to aggravation. What were they staring at?
“I said I’m fine.” He looked between them angrily. “What?”
“Mayhaps it is your voice that gives them pause, Draco,” said Samhien, still sitting proudly upon his sweating, tremblingly exhausted black horse. His one good eye examined Drake cautiously. “You do not sound like yourself this day, sire.”
“What do you mean? I sound like I always sound. But I still want to know where the hell I am.”
Samhien’s brow furrowed. “Where? Sire, do you jest? Is this mayhaps one of your roguish tricks to entertain your best warriors?”
Drake felt his emotions tugging back and forth. On the one hand, he was terrified by the implication of this man’s strange words and speech patterns. On the other, he was furious that he had been thrust into such an incomprehensible situation by some force beyond him.
The last thing he remembered before finding himself in the middle of almost being murdered by some deranged, oversized bloodthirsty man was the woman’s singsong voice echoing in that crimson fog, and reaching out to touch the teardrop shaped gem, and then feeling as if he was falling into emptiness and forever. How had he gotten to this…place? More importantly, how in blazes was he going to get back to his own…place? And time?
The notion made him feel as if the ground might disappear from under his feet. The strange sensation must have passed across his face because one of the men stepped forward and gently grabbed his arm.
“I think we should get him back to the castle, Samhien, and under the ministrations of the good Lady Bethany,” said the man called Warson. His thin face was sober now; his blue eyes glittered with unspoken concern for Drake, or the man he called Draco.
Before Drake could think how best to get an understanding of what had happened to him, he was being swept upon a waiting horse. Then he and the others were hurrying into the stinking smoke, past the violence and cacophony of the battlefield. In the distance, a vast stone edifice rose out of the roiling clouds of black and gray. Strangely, he felt as if he’d seen the castle in dreams.

End Chapter 3 of The Eye of Time

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: Monsters and Victims by Charlie Bondhus

Monsters and Victims
Charlie Bondhus
Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Works about serial killers are somewhat common in today’s horror literature and, for the most part, are formulaic, but not Monsters and Victims by Charlie Bondhus, released by Gothic Press. This novella is not a straight narrative. Instead the author utilizes the premise of a found manuscript to tell the story. The book contains two separate electronic documents generated by two fictional writers, one initially known as Victor Bensenkein and the other by someone unknown whose identity is revealed at the end, even though the reader should have determined whom he or she is before then. This approach adds to the story’s tension as well as aiding in holding the reader’s interest.
In the book Victor and fellow college student Darryl Martin form an unsanctioned school organization called the Society of Dominant Hermeneutics where they and a few other students discuss man’s evolution. Here the story loses some credibility since I believe that most students outside class are more interested in sex, alcohol, or other nonacademic pursuits. However, the formation of the group itself showcases the offbeat nature of these two main characters. Darryl is obsessed with a local serial killer known in the media as The Snuff Killer and shares his fascination with the group. Then his relationship in regards to the other members is explored. The plot is unpredictable most of the time and Bondhus builds suspense well throughout.
Monsters and Victims is an interesting read. An old topic is new again because of a thought-provoking theme of evolution and man’s desire for ultimate power over others in a destructive manner.

--Karen L. Newman
(Visit Charlie Bondhus' Facebook here)

Bloody Pages Book Reviews

20th Century Ghosts
by Joe Hill
review by Shaun Anderson

One of the major challenges for any author attempting to write a collection of short stories is to maintain a consistent level of quality. Too many collections (and this includes edited anthologies) contain stories that feel like fillers, half baked and amateurish rubbish which steals forty minutes of your life. Either that or yet another dull spastic attempt to emulate and copy H. P. Lovecraft. Joe Hill makes reference to this mindless and moronic debasement of Lovecraft’s legacy in his opening story Best New Horror. I was immediately on Hill’s side. Although Hill is incredibly post-modern in the manner in which he borrows from other cultural ephemera, the way in which he does it is always witty and with love and enthusiasm. This opening tale is a self reflexive and illuminating account of the thought processes behind modern horror publishing, and more specifically the horror anthology. It’s clear from this story that Hill has suffered many rejections from such collections, and perhaps the temptation to dip his toe into the stagnant and retarded pond of Lovecraftian fan fiction was something he seriously considered at one time. Fortunately Hill is a writer with ideas and I for one am glad he was able to share them in this collection. The subtle shift in Best New Horror into the clammy rural horror territory of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) is the earliest indication of the centrality cinema will play in Hill’s skewed fictional universe.

The second tale 20th Century Ghost is located within a haunted cinema, and offers a nostalgic but ultimately chilling view of a means of film exhibition that is all to rare nowadays. The idea of a haunted picture house is a very symbolic metaphor of the nature of capturing on screen the image of long dead people. Hill also develops alongside this the importance of childhood in the creation of a mythology around cinema. In Pop Art Hill takes his first major descent into childhood. He creates a harsh and dangerous world in which parental figures are largely ignorant and self absorbed, or are quite simply callous and mean spirited. The notion of an inflatable boy might seem utter nonsense, but Hill invests in his characters an emotional core, a fierce loyalty to one another, and a fragility that soon makes us forget that one of the central characters is an inflatable. This is a touching and poignant tale and the horror lies in a vision of childhood which sees teenagers displaced and alienated. In You Will Hear the Locust Sing Hill takes his second detour into the rich tapestry of images associated with cinema. In this case science-fiction films of the 1950’s. With its desolate desert setting, atomic tests, and an insect obsessed boy who awakes one morning as a giant cockroach Hill concocts an affection tribute to such films as Them! (1953) and Tarantula! (1955).

Further intertextual fun is had in Abraham’s Boy’s which explores life growing up with Professor Van Helsing as your father. Once again childhood is a place of violence and cruelty, one of hard knocks and hard decisions. Hill creates a palpable sense of evil around the vampire concept, but leaves the purest sense of evil for the cruel patriarch at the heart of a highly dysfunctional family. Hill cleverly subverts our expectations to show that monstrousness comes in many forms - and one of the most damaging examples of it is a father blinded by a zealous extremism that excludes any room for normal relationships or the normal upbringing these children require. Better than Home is one of several departures Hill takes beyond the remit of fantasy/horror. Despite a shift in tenor, tone, and genre, this is another tale dealing with the relationship between father and son. This is a complete flip side to the previous tale, and offers a soothing antidote to the brutal form of patriarchy exercised by Van Helsing. In this story the father (a successful baseball player and manager) is the only one capable of fully understanding and empathising with his mentally disturbed son. Hill creates a discombobulated and fractured world view for the child, which is only pierced by the love and understanding of a father who has also had to deal with social reactions to his tics and eccentricities. Like Pop Art Hill proves that perhaps his greatest talents lie beyond the horror genre.

The Black Phone and In the Rundown are weaker stories, the former lacking the pace and originality that had so far marked the book and the latter feeling ill formed and embryonic. The Cape is a cruel and unusual tale which manages to distil the open minded belief of children and show the manner in which that belief can be subverted to cruelty in adulthood. Bobby Conroy Comes Back From the Dead will undoubtedly please fans of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978), but I found on this occasion that Hill’s intertextual cross referencing begin to irritate rather than impress. The setting is completely peripheral to the grist of the tale, so one wonders why Hill opted to locate it on the set of Romero’s film at all (aside from the obvious cult credentials such an approach would gain). The last major story in the book is also the last story - Voluntary Committal. Here once again Hill shows he is on firmer ground when dealing with damaged children in a world in which parents are virtually absent.

There is no doubt that this is a major debut for Joe Hill. That his first release is a collection of short stories is rare, but the strength of the tales and the style of their delivery hints that there is much more to come from him. His highly post-modern approach could alienate some readers, but I found that on the whole he was able to keep this in balance, despite one or two moments of exaggerated intertextual nonsense. Hill shows his greatest talent when dealing with realistic subjects of childhood outside the generic signifiers of horror and fantasy. I’ve yet to read any more of his works, but I would predict he has a major ‘coming of age’ tale in him somewhere, and I look forward to seeing it appear in the years to come.

--Shaun Anderson

La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo
by Mikel J. Koven
PUBLISHER: Scarecrow Press

review by Shaun Anderson

Despite ever greater prominence in the age of DVD popular Italian cinema from the 1960’s 70’s and 80’s has still received relatively sparse coverage in the literary world. With the continued rise in the study of cult film (and its acceptability within academic circles) this is an oversight that needs redressing. Aside from a handful of articles (one particularly important one is Leon Hunt’s A (sadistic) Night at the Opera: Notes on the Italian Horror Film from a 1992 edition of Velvet Light Trap) gialli have mostly found themselves discussed as part of auteur driven studies of the most visible directors of the form. But I have long believed that this durable cycle of films is deserving of a multitude of critical approaches, and to file them away as part of some half assed fan worship auteur nonsense does them a great disservice. Mikel J. Koven’s study is important for a variety of reasons. It represents the first occasion that gialli have been treated to a book length study in the English language and Koven’s thesis concerns itself as much with the audience of these films as it does with the formal properties that make the films so distinctive in the first place.

I have to admit I’m not much of an enthusiast for audience research. I find it to be a tedious and boring practise which limits an imaginative use of language and comes to conclusions which are hardly earth shattering. I’m interested in the films, not the people who go to see them. Therefore I find Koven’s central argument that gialli films were aimed at a rural working class audience with a low attention span to add nothing to my enjoyment of say The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970). Koven uses the term ‘vernacular’ to describe this regional audience whose only interest it seems is in sex, violence, and unsophisticated narratives. Although this may account for the popularity of gialli in Italy, it doesn’t really address the fact that these films crossed borders and played to different nationalities, languages, and cultures. This is a device which removes any notions of the artistic from the films and places them in a sphere of reception quite different to the art cinema for which Italy was internationally known. But the influence of art cinema on these films is very noticeable and to simply say these films were a formal reflection of a certain type of audience is too simplistic.

I found the book to come alive when Koven moved away from his concept of a vernacular audience. The chapter that explores the relationship between gialli and modernity is excellent - especially his discussion of two of my favourite gialli Don’t Torture a Duckling (1972) and House With Laughing Windows (1976). He also explores to good effect the role of the detective. I felt a chapter dealing with the relationship between gialli and slasher films to be misplaced, but is nevertheless an area which could merit a book of its own. Unfortunately the central thesis of the text (I’m sure partly an academic device to gain interest, funding, etc) never truly vanishes, but Koven writes in such an enjoyable and imaginative way that one ultimately forgives him his academic hubris. Koven’s discussion of the set piece is interesting and seems to contradict his earlier disavowal of the practices of art cinema. His suggestion that the set piece, which lasts far beyond its narrative justification, eventually enters a realm that is very close to Pasolini’s concept of a poetic cinema. To suddenly start arguing for these films within the terms of one of Italy’s most influential exponents of socially and politically committed art cinema seems an odd move.

If one forgets the vernacular audience nonsense this book by Mikel J. Koven is an excellent starting point for discovering gialli. Koven refers to numerous titles, offering perceptive and illuminating textual analysis which genuinely does add to the enjoyment and understanding of the example. His cataloguing of the conventions and formal attributes of gialli has been done just as effectively elsewhere, but its nice to have it all contained in one attractive looking volume. My only surprise is that in the four years since this book saw the light of day there hasn’t been several more in its wake. Koven has certainly provided much which can be contested. One can only hope with the continual visibility of these films we will see more intriguing and interesting studies such as this.

--Shaun Anderson

The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror
edited by Stephen Jones
RELEASE DATE: 25/03/10

review by Shaun Anderson

Despite being hamstrung by a tongue twisting title this anthology of horror short stories is an important landmark in the history of British horror publishing. It brings together twenty distinctive tales of terror from twenty years of The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. This important anthology first emerged in 1989 as Best New Horror (it would be several years later that publisher Robinson would place it in the range of books prefixed with the title The Mammoth Book of…). From 1989 to 1994 it was edited by Stephen Jones and veteran author Ramsey Campbell. When Campbell departed after Volume 5 Jones was left to hold the reins, and fifteen volumes later he is still doing it. I’m sure Jones never expected to find himself two decades on being asked to select twenty stories for a celebratory release such as this, but it is a testament to Jones’s love of the horror short story that he has stuck with the task and not being debilitated by the reams and reams of mediocrity that undoubtedly comes before his eyes every year. Jones has steadily carved himself a niche as a reliable and insightful anthologist with collections dedicated to Frankenstein, Vampires, Zombies, Count Dracula and Wolf Men among his numerous editorial credits. His one weakness is an obvious bias towards the stories of his bosom buddies Ramsey Campbell and Kim Newman (these two have appeared far too often over the years.)

The book opens with a foreword by Jones which adds little to the proceedings, and this is followed by an enthusiastic and enjoyable introduction by Ramsey Campbell. I did find that Jones’ brief introductions too each story totally unnecessary - perhaps he’s turning into Peter Haining? Two of the first three stories are set on the Greek Islands and successfully delve into the fears of individuals who find themselves far from home and at the mercy of the locals and local myths and history. The more accomplished and tense is Brian Lumley’s No Sharks in the Med, but Ramsey Campbell’s The Same in Any Language offers subtle chills from the perspective of a child. Both of those stories are upstaged however by Michael Marshall Smith’s haunting The Man Who Drew Cats. A disturbing tale for anyone who doesn’t take art seriously.

Another clutch of stories are deeply informed by other forms of popular culture such as cinema. The first is Christopher Fowler’s accomplished Norman Wisdom and the Angel of Death. Fandom is exposed here as a solitary act of obssession, one which ultimately leads to psychopathic behaviour. The second is Paul J. McCauley’s The Temptation of Dr. Stein an affectionate tribute to the character of Dr. Pretorious from James Whale’s The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Both these stories keep the excesses of their intertextuality in check but the same cannot be said for Kim Newman’s The Other Side of Midnight. Newman’s story overflows with pop references to this that and the next thing, unfortunately to such an extent that it totally destabilises the narrative. Newman’s ideas for an alternative universe are intriguing and have supported several novels and short stories, but this particular tale feels like the literary equivalent of a poor Tarantino movie…I almost expected Newman to tell us what obscure cult film music was playing to each scene. The fourth tale that is directly inspired by cinema is Joe Hill’s brilliantly queasy 20th Century Ghost. Hill conjures up an evocative world of cinematic nostalgia, timelessness and lost innocence in a beautifully structured manner which suggests a long future in the genre.

If your interest is in more substantial stories Jones caters for this with several very good novellas. The most impressive are Peter Straub’s Bartleby inspired Mr. Club and Mr. Cuff and Tim Lebbon’s apocalyptic tale of Lovecraftian inspired terror White. The former is a jaunty and humorous piece which effortlessly switches to the brutal and merciless discussion of torture strategies beneath a backdrop of Wall Street accountancy. The latter achieves much through its eerie landscape of permanent and oppressive snowfall, claustrophobic setting, and enigmatic and unknowable monsters. Less successful is Terry Lamsley’s insipid and morose The Break, and despite an excellent twist ending Harlan Ellison’s Mefisto in Onyx left me unimpressed.

In addition to Peter Straub there are contributions from two other horror heavyweights; Stephen King and Clive Barker. King’s only entry in the twenty volumes of this anthology came last year with the trite and uninteresting The New York Times at Bargain Prices. My disillusion with the works of King have continued unabated since the publication of Dreamcatcher and this short story fails to stop the rot. Its inclusion here is perfunctory and simply an aid to promoting the book. Barker weighs in with a rare return to the gory terrain we were able to wallow in with the publication of The Books of Blood. Although failing to hit the highs of that collection Haeckel’s Tale is a solid story which deserved better than the lukewarm adaptation it received in the television series Masters of Horror. In places this anthology is patchy and poor, but when the criteria is the purely subjective choice of Stephen Jones, one should expect that on occasion his wont chime with your own. Importantly though each story is worth visiting at least once (some are worthy of repeat reads), and even Kim Newman’s entry is deserving of a read…just!! This is a vital addition to those unfamiliar with The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror and a nice celebratory volume for those who are.

--Shaun Anderson

13 Questions with MyMiserys: Lucy A. Snyder

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

I was in my early teens. I don't remember the title; however, the first story I decided I would stick with and keep revising until I sold it was a story that eventually became "Soul Searching", which appears in my collection Sparks and Shadows and also provides the antagonist for my second novel, Shotgun
Sorceress. The finished version bears very little resemblance to the story I first wrote (thank God).

2. What inspired you to write it?

That's a very good question! As I recall, part of it came from a dream, and the rest came from that first part.

3. What was the first book you wrote?

If by book you mean novel, as opposed to story collection, the first novel I started and finished was my novel Spellbent, which was released by Del Rey late last December. I had started other novels before then that I abandoned in varying stages of completeness.

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

Probably Spellbent, because it represents the achievement of my long-held goal to have a novel released by a major publisher.

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

None. I'm proud of all my books.

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

My husband, Gary A. Braunbeck. He's been a tremendous influence and also tremendously supportive of my writing career.

7. Who is your favorite author?

Neil Gaiman - he hooked me with the Sandman graphic novel series.

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

I would keep my signed, inscribed copy of Gary Braunbeck's Things Left Behind.

9. When and where do you write?

I mostly write at my desk in my home office, either in mid-morning or late at night.

10. Do you have a "day job?"

I'm a computer systems specialist for The Ohio State University.

11. Do you have a "dream job?"

I'd rather be a full-time novelist. Although I really enjoy coordinating writing workshops, which is my volunteer job for the Context convention. The two are certainly not mutually exclusive!

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

I don't have a specific place picked out, but if money were no object, the Isle of Capri would be really nice (that Caligula, he knew a good thing!). But on the other hand I like living in the US, so someplace with both the ocean and mountains. I'd say Oregon but I haven't spent enough time there to know if the climate suits me.

13. What is your guilty pleasure?

My guiltiest pleasure is the games (Scrabble, Lexulous, etc.) on Facebook.

--MyMiserys (aka Kimberly Cook)
(The Black Glove thanks Lucy A. Snyder for her time and effort. Visit her website at

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad


What a difference ten years makes.

The Time Dissolver was written by Jerry Sohl, an underappreciated author who is primarily known today as a side note about Twilight Zone screenwriters, one of the names that crops up after Serling, Matheson, Beaumont and Johnson.

This is sad for me. When someone is great at their work, they should be remembered for it. Jerry Sohl could be wonderful. The Time Dissolver is not wonderful, but it is above average. Unfortunately, it’s above average science fiction of the 1950s.

In the 1950s, science fiction was arguably the most upbeat, positive style of writing. While material geared toward young adults was unsurprisingly hopeful and light, most stories being written for adults were similarly oriented. The difference was the complexity of the plots, the writing styles, and the depth of characterization. Ultimately, good would still win the day and the hero would get the girl in nearly all of the work of that time. Darkness was starting to creep into science fiction, but it remained at the fringes.

In The Time Dissolver, Sohl creates a wonderful scenario for generating anxiety and even horror: a man wakes up next to a woman he doesn’t recognize, and shortly comes to realize that he has somehow lost eleven years of his life. He went to sleep one night and woke up more than a decade later in a different city and state, with a different name.

This is a great hook for a story, and Sohl has a reasonable hypothesis based on science of the day to explain the situation when the time comes for the reveal. But remember: this is 1957. The hero is a model of self-reliance who would make Heinlein’s protagonists proud. Without dealing too much with messy emotions or distracting theories, he does his best at verifying his sanity, then pursues his past as well as any trained detective might. It’s a satisfying story well told, but at no point does the reader worry about anyone in the story or confront existential points of dread.

THE KILLER THING by Kate Wilhelm

The Killer Thing was written in 1967, one decade after The Time Dissolver.

Following the successful growth of the New Wave of science fiction, Kate Wilhelm was able to let loose with a novel far darker than Sohl’s. Dystopias were selling, anti-establishment novels were selling, and authors were being encouraged by the success of others to produce work which spoke about the baser attributes of humanity.

Wilhelm did an excellent job at producing a story in this format which still works today. By avoiding the obvious temptation to parallel an anti-war story to the Vietnamese conflict or to parallel negatives about imperialism with the anti-Westernization movement of the day, she managed to keep the story focus broader and consistently timely. Ultimately, it is a characterization piece, and there is where it both succeeds and fails most. The main character is shallow, not through any real fault of his own but because of his upbringing and the disincentives he has faced throughout his life to develop or hone his humanity. Wilhelm explores this with an adept hand.

Despite this, the ending seemed arranged; not forced, but structured with the realization that only with this exact type of character could the “perfect” ending be achieved. Also, Wilhelm made the soldier atypical in an effort to give some sense of association to the reader, but in so doing made his representation in the story unusual enough to diminish the strength of the tale.

Overall, two better-than-average short novels each representing their time period nicely.

Four stars out of five for both as science fiction; as psychological horror, four stars out of five for The Killer Thing and one out of five for The Time Dissolver.

FERAL by Berton Roueche

If this book gets reissued, I want it to be retitled “Nom nom nom.” I think the Lolcat sites are getting to me. I know I had enough time to read this book and still breeze through pages of I Can Haz Cheezburger with the two hours scheduled.

Feral runs to 123 pages in the paperback version. Of that, at least five pages are lost to large chapter separations. The result is a book that feels like half of the manuscript was accidentally left out of the final publication.

The decision was almost certainly an artistic one, and there are times when it works. Shortly after the reader hears about a person attacked by a cat and the toxic reaction she suffers due to bacteria in the bite, the action shifts forward to another key scene and as a reasonable aside we learn that the character died as a result of the bite. For every time it works, however, there are many where the result is simply a loss of any character or plot development. The most obvious example of this comes when the couple is boxed in their house with hordes of cats outside, some trying to find ways inside. In the original story of The Birds, a similar situation was presented to memorable effect. In Feral, the story jumps from the characters realizing they’re trapped and calling for help to a half hour later when help arrives… completely ignoring the chance to spend a half hour with these trapped people as claws work free shingles and shred the wooden edges of windows and doors.

It is an enjoyable diversion, but unlike many books which feel padded, this one desperately calls for the addition of a hundred pages or so.

Three stars out of five.


Finishing Touches is a brilliantly written novel about…


Honestly, I had a hard time figuring out how I’d rate this book. The writing was evocative and engaging, drawing me into the mind of Dr. Tom Sutherland and making me interested in his life. The story built slowly but methodically, and it progresses logically.

The effectiveness of the book hinges upon two aspects: how much the reader can identify with the mind of Dr. Sutherland, and how well the novel stays with the reader afterward. I can honestly say that, while I didn’t agree with the decisions the doctor makes, I can understand how someone in those situations might rationally pursue the same courses of action. That alone is enough to produce a lingering disturbance which, I imagine, was one of the hoped-for effects by the writer.

The failure of the book, where there is failure, comes from the dust jacket. It teases the reader with just enough knowledge to encourage an expectation of nightmarish brutality; while there is violence in the story, it is violence which is overshadowed today by the butcher’s shop sadism of the modern torture porn and which was overshadowed back then by the rise of splatter punk.

Still, that is a minor concern in a story which is ultimately about the failures of absolute adoration. Or about the frailty of man. Or about the loss of self which may accompany the loss of personal history.

I’m still not sure what the novel was about, or at least not sure which of the multiple themes the author might have been trying to portray most prominently. I do know, however, that I liked it.

Five stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

Movie vs. Book: The Sentinel

The Movie:

I think every religion should come with a cheat sheet for movies. Seriously. Those of us raised outside the religion will either miss the cultural references in flicks, or see them when they aren’t there. The latter was the case for The Sentinel. It was the second movie in a week I saw where a priest’s suicide attempt was connected to the portal to hell. So I watched it with that in mind, wondering how someone raised Catholic might react to the horrors presented. Then I talked to a Catholic and asked him about the Sentinels. The only ones he knew of were the TV show. Turns out there isn’t something in the Catholic faith that says suicidal priests get to guard the gate of Hell.

Go figure.

So now I get to judge The Sentinel from a totally secular standpoint. It wasn’t a horrible movie. Not the greatest in the world, but had just enough bits of random oddity to make it worth my while. The plot—a suicidal supermodel moves into an old apartment building, with strange and creepy neighbors and an even more creepy mute blind priest living on the top floor. But something terribly wrong MUST be going on…and it is.
There isn’t much in the story to set it apart from other 1977 flicks. But the cast includes some very early work from Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Walken (whose presence automatically makes a movie half a notch cooler) and Beverly D’Angelo as a psychotic masturbating lesbian. It was such a bizarre experience to watch her playing with herself, all the while thinking “And this is the woman who will one day become Mrs. Griswold.” Burgess Meredeth always shines in evil roles, and he was a fun treat to watch.

There are certain movie moments that I call “cow clips”; the one thing that saved Twister from being one of the worst movies of the year was the fact the cow mooed as it was being swept up in a tornado. The Sentinel was filled with “cow clips”. Our main character accidentally wanders in on her father’s birthday celebration, including overweight hookers and cake. The abovementioned extended masturbation scene, a birthday party for a cat with dialogue that would make Lynch and Jodorowsky scratch their heads. And then there is the infamous end scene, controversial for its use of deformed people as minions of hell. You just don’t see stuff like that in movies all that often.

As a whole, The Sentinel is much lesser than its individual parts. However, if you look at it bit by bit, those moments of weirdness and trivia of “holy crap, I didn’t know (fill in the blank) was in this!” then it will be a fun thing to sit through. Beverage refreshment might help. I suggest Mike’s Hard Pink Lemonade. Not that I had any experience with that…
- Jenny

The Book:

The best thing I can say about The Sentinel by Jeffrey Konvitz is that it was made in the 1970s. 1974, to be precise.

I hope the book was an attempt to cash in on the popularity of The Exorcist. That, at least, would make the story development and subject matter more understandable. Members of the Catholic clergy appear throughout the book, often in ways that make the reader uncertain as to whether they’re good or evil. It might have more of an impact if anything in the book was presented as a certainty; instead, literally every character can be interpreted in multiple ways until the very end of the book. While the massive ambiguity of motivation neatly fosters a feeling of persecution the lack of any stable core prevents any underlying fear on the part of the reader; it’s all too easy to relegate Allison to a position of potential paranoid.

Then, at the end of the book, all is explained and everyone’s role is specifically defined. This shifts the story immediately from being too obtuse to being overly simplistic, and it does so with a speed that jars the reader from the story. It is, simply, a story inexpertly told.

But remember what I said earlier about 1974?

This book was released at a time when gothics were only finally fading as the most popular form of horror or suspense, and when oddity was a new art form in horror as opposed to inspiring its own bizarre subgenre.

The fact is that this book is ploddingly average when compared to the typical zebra, leisure or pinnacle book lines of the 1980s… and the fact is that while those book lines produced some wonderful books by excellent authors, they also published an amazing quantity of drek.

If I’m feeling generous, then, I might give this book three stars because it was, if not a true trailblazer, at least one of the earlier examples of this style of novel.

Unfortunately, this style of novel is pretty bad, and I’m not feeling particularly generous.

Two stars out of five.

- Bill

Fresh Blood: New Releases In the World of Horror

compiled by Nickolas Cook and Steven M. Duarte

In Book News...

Of course, the biggest news we have this month is that the currently largest of the NYC Publishers Row companies that still produce horror novels has decided to go trade paperback and electronic only on most of their genre titles, including their horror titles. For details and some nifty corp-speak, see here.
So what does this mean for horror fiction fans?
Well, essentially Dorchester finally came the same realization that most of us came to a few years ago, when they began to publish mostly shite books that were poorly written and poorly promoted: the small press is basically the only real avenue print horror fans can go to these days for quality fiction.
It looks as if the cost of putting so many books into production and into distribution has pretty much driven Dorchester to the point of bankruptcy. This move feels like one of desperation and may very well spell the end of at least their horror line of books.
We'll see.
I've been wrong before. After all, I was the one that said the Abyss line of books from Dell Publishing would be the greatest horror line ever produced.

Meanwhile, from our good friends at Northern Frights Publishing several new titles and new author signings

NFP to publish Wormfood Island by Ken La Salle
Northern Frights Publishing has signed a contract with Author Ken La Salle to publish his Zombie/Romance novel Wormfood Island slated for Summer 2011. This marks NFP's first foray into single author projects.
Wormfood Island is the story of a family on the verge of collapse who win a trip to a hedonism resort. Hoping for a chance to save their marriage, they instead must deal with an infestation of parasitic worms that cause the infected to gain monstrous sexual appetites...which quickly turns to an appetite for living flesh.
According to author Ken La Salle, part of the reason the book was written was to add to the origins of zombie literature.
"One thing that always bugged me about zombie stories was how the infection was spread," said La Salle. "It’s usually explained as a type of viral infection or sometimes a curse. Outside of movies like 28 Days Later, which had a great disease to explain it with, it gets pretty vague. So, what I wanted to bring to the genre was a new zombie “origin” while respecting such elements as Romero’s zombie logic."
While Wormfood Island has something new to fans of zombie fiction, it also has a load of great action, gore, and suspense that are hallmarks of the survival horror genre. It is a zombie book that has a little something for everyone.
"The best zombie tales use the plague as a backdrop for a larger story and, I think, Wormfood Island does this very well," said La Salle. "It takes the story of a family on the brink of survival, the connection between a father and son, and what it means to have to fight for that. Wormfood Island brings a great combination of action, gore, and sex. In Wormfood Island, people spread the infection like an STD and it ramps up their appetites until they are feasting on human flesh."
The book will be released in summer 2011, in hardcover, trade paperback, and digitally. Wormfood Island is part of NFP's move from an anthology-only press in its first year to a more robust product line in its second.
"I’m obviously very excited to sign with Northern Frights Publishing for publication of Wormfood Island," said La Salle."It’s a strange irony that in the present economical situation everyone faces, I’ve found this opportunity to bring this passion that I’ve followed for that past thirty years to the next level."
Ken La Salle is an author from Anaheim, California. His blog can be seen here:

Vince Churchill Signs Two Book Deal with Northern Frights Publishing

Northern Frights Publishing has announced a two-book deal with noted Indie horror writer Vince Churchill. NFP will be re-releasing Churchill's The Blackest Heart in 2011 and then the highly anticipated sequel Pandora later that year.

The Blackest Heart is a space western hybrid tale that follows a man named Marshall Thane Bishop as he seeks revenge against the most brutal gang of hoods in the galaxy. Pandora will continue the story of Thane Bishop in a brand new adventure involving a faceless lunatic corporation and their monstrous experiments.

"With The Blackest Heart, readers can expect a dark, revenge driven western set in outer space," said Churchill. "The book is my ode to High Plains Drifter, Spawn, and The Crow. A retired Star Marshal is murdered and his family brutalized by the galaxies' most notorious criminals, Yardon Wrath and The Plague. But Marshal Thane Bishop is resurrected by an otherworld entity and given a chance for revenge. When a man returns from the grave there's no limit to what he is willing to do to even the score."

In Pandora, Thane Bishop returns to do battle with a corrupt corporation creating monsters for the sake of their own evil agenda.

"Where The Blackest Heart is very dark western populated with a villain and his vicious gang, Pandora is a monster book," said Churchill. "The sequel sets a lawless corporation and freakish genetic experiments against the fastest gun in the galaxy. On the planet Pandora, humans are at the bottom of the food chain. Can Thane Bishop's powers of darkness save an entire colony? With both books readers are going to get adult themed action starring a flawed hero and villains equal to the task of destroying him. Thane Bishop is the Wyatt Warp of a far flung future who doesn't need a Doc Holiday to stand at his side."

Vince Churchill has three published novels to his credit. His first novel, The Dead Shall Inherit the Earth, was featured in Xbox Magazine's ZOMBIES! Collector's Edition as one of the 37 Greatest Zombie Triumphs. He is the second author to sign on with Northern Frights Publishing as they move from an anthology-only press in its first year to a more robust product line in its second.

"Signing with Northern Frights offers a great opportunity with a wonderful up and coming press. JW [Schnarr] has demonstrated a great eye for projects, and I'm really jazzed to be a part of Northern Frights [Publishing's] future. I was looking for a publisher who shared the same level of passion and commitment, and I couldn't have found a better home for my books. Can't wait to get this party started!"

"And I'm very excited to see both The Blackest Heart and Pandora share the same publishing year," he added. "2011 is going to serious fun!"

Vince Churchill has three published novels: The Dead Shall Inherit The Earth, The Blackest Heart, and The Butcher Bride. The Dead Shall Inherit The Earth was featured in XBOX Magazine’s ZOMBIES! Collector’s Edition as one of The 37 Greatest Zombie Triumphs.

Vince has a bi-weekly column in The Source newspaper, and his “Splatter Pattern” column appears regularly for The Hacker’s Source magazine. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies such as The Undead, The Undead II, The Horror Library - Volume One, The Beast Within, and the recent Midnight Walk. He was also a list contributor in the Book of Lists: Horror. Vince’s latest novella, “Condemned”, anchors the Butcher Shop Quartet II anthology published by Cutting Block Press.

Vince has two books in the works: an end-of-the world thriller, Good Night, My Sweet, and a dark superhero project called Open Casket. He invites you to visit his website:

From Uninvited Books, a new release from the old masters of literary horror:

“To think of shadows is a serious thing.”
~ Victor Hugo

SHADOWS: Supernatural Tales by Masters of Modern Literature, edited and with an introduction by Robert Dunbar, features terrifying explorations of the dark by D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Edith Wharton, Henry James, Willa Cather and many of the other great writers who revolutionized dark fiction. These may be the finest, most evocative ghost stories ever written.

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow.
~ T. S. Eliot

From the Introduction by Robert Dunbar:
Abandoned houses seldom turn out to be as empty as they appear. Voices fade, but echoes linger in the dimness, and sometimes figures emerge from those shadows, if only in dreams. What could be more profoundly idiosyncratic than a nightmare? Always, there has been something intensely personal about ghost stories. How surprising can it be that so many concern writers in torment? With styles gravitating toward the ambiguous and the existential, the artists who revolutionized Gothic horror did so by bringing it into the modern world, away from all those castle battlements and dreary moors, replacing superstitious dread with psychological sophistication ...

“Life itself is but the shadow of death,
and souls departed but the shadows of the living.”
~ Thomas Browne

In paperback ~ available for preorder at the Horror Mall.
Release Date: October, 18, 2010
320 pages, $14.95

For more information, visit


Coscom Entertainment

Coscom Entertainment Signs on with Hughes Capital Entertainment to Develop its Properties to TV, Film and Video Games

Winnipeg, MB: Indie monster and superhero publisher Coscom Entertainment signs on with LA-based firm to develop its line of monster and superhero books to TV, film and video games
Leading independent horror, zombie mash up and superhero fiction publisher, Coscom Entertainment ( has signed a Management and Production Deal with Hughes Capital Entertainment and newly formed, Management Period. The focus of the relationship is to integrate the Canadian-based Publishing company into mainstream entertainment via motion picture, interactive/videogame, and television mediums. Some of Coscom’s flagship titles such as The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies by H.G Wells and Eric S. Brown and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim by Mark Twain and W. Bill Czolgosz are coming out under Simon and Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint later this fall. Standout titles like Alice in Zombieland and World War of the Dead will be the immediate focus of the HCE development team.
Hughes Capital Entertainment is currently negotiating a DVD deal for some of the titles, developing some as larger features, and focusing on top seller Zombie Fight Night as the break out video game title. “What’s better than playing a first person fighter where zombies, werewolves, vampires, samurai, kick boxers, robots, and superheroes like Axiom-man all battle it out to the death?” says HCE President/Producer Patrick Hughes.
Coscom joins HCE and Management Period’s already impressive talent and corporate list of clients which includes best-selling authors, top screenwriters, show creators, top musicians, and directors.

More from Coscom:
Leading independent horror, zombie mash up and superhero fiction publisher, Coscom Entertainment ( has signed a Management and Production Deal with Hughes Capital Entertainment and newly formed, Management Period. The focus of the relationship is to integrate the Canadian-based Publishing company into mainstream entertainment via motion picture, interactive/videogame, and television mediums. Some of Coscom’s flagship titles such as The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies by H.G Wells and Eric S. Brown and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim by Mark Twain and W. Bill Czolgosz are coming out under Simon and Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint later this fall. Standout titles like Alice in Zombieland and World War of the Dead will be the immediate focus of the HCE development team.
Hughes Capital Entertainment is currently negotiating a DVD deal for some of the titles, developing some as larger features, and focusing on top seller Zombie Fight Night as the break out video game title. “What’s better than playing a first person fighter where zombies, werewolves, vampires, samurai, kick boxers, robots, and superheroes like Axiom-man all battle it out to the death?” says HCE President/Producer Patrick Hughes.
Coscom joins HCE and Management Period’s already impressive talent and corporate list of clients which includes best-selling authors, top screenwriters, show creators, top musicians, and directors.

A.P. Fuchs
Publisher and Author
Coscom Entertainment

* Zombie, Werewolf, Vampire, Mashup and Superhero Kindle Books for Under $3 -

* Andrew has what he calls "The Power of Resurrection," and he wields it like a toy wand. In another part of the country, Lindy possesses a power that threatens both her health and her sanity. Year by year, each child becomes more aware of the other and the inevitable confrontation that is approaching, especially when the dead begin to walk. Who will honor the living, and who will Praise the Dead? Find out in this new novel by underground favorite, Gina Ranalli.

* The Magic Man can heal your broken heart and make your dreams come true . . . for a price. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why must your payment be in blood? A.P. Fuchs brings you over 15 chilling tales of nightmares, monsters, torture and mayhem in his new book, Magic Man Plus 15 Tales of Terror. Go here to read the collection 10 years in the making.

* Bigfoot lives in Eric S. Brown's new sasquatch book, BIGFOOT WAR. The small town of Babble Creek fights for its life as a tribe of sasquatches descend from the forests and hills into the streets, filling them with blood.



Author Scott Nicholson and Amazon are giving away two Kindles as part of his fall book blog tour from September through November. A Kindle DX will be given away through the participating blogs, and a Kindle 3 will be given away through the tour newsletter at A Pandora's Box of free ebooks will be given away through Nicholson's hauntedcomputer Twitter

Nicholson is author of 12 novels, including The Skull Ring and Speed Dating with the Dead, as well as five story collections, four comics series, and six screenplays. A freelance editor and journalist, he lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

As a bonus, if Nicholson hits the Top 100 in the U.S. or U.K. Kindle Store during the tour between Sept. 1 and Nov. 30, he will give away an extra Kindle 3 through the blogs. No purchase necessary, and the contest is international. Co-sponsored by Kindle Nation Daily and Dellaster Design. Details at


An exciting announcement from They've recently offered some lucky student a chance at the 1st Star Costumes Horror Scholarship. It is a $1,000 scholarship for students who are going to school for a career in the horror movie industry. More details can be found here


In Film News...

Pretty slow month for horror movies but that will be corrected next month when a slew of horror films hits the big screen, just in time for Halloween.

Release date: Sept 3, 2010
Starring: Danny Trejo, Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez
That awesome faux movie trailer from the Grindhouse double feature is now finally a reality. Robert Rodriguez is bringing the fans what they want with Machete. This star filled cast includes such notable names as Robert De Niro and Jessica Alba. The crazy babysitter twins are back as well.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: See our review here)

Resident Evil: Afterlife
Release date: Sept 10, 2010
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta
The fourth installement in the Resident Evil movie series the film is shot entirely in 3D. Not a surprise since majority of new films are in 3D now. This film includes elements from the newer Resident Evil games such as the executioner from Resident Evil 5 and the split open mouth zombies that Resident Evil 4 made famous.

Release date: Sept 17, 2010
Starring: Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Logan Marshall-Green, Bojana Novakovic, Jenny O'Hara
People stuck in an elevator and apparently one of them is the actual devil. Could be good, but then I noticed M. Night Shyamalan was involved in its production which left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

--Steven M. Duarte