Monday, June 27, 2011

Editorial June 2011 e-issue #24

By Nickolas Cook
The Black Glove Magazine

Another year of posting the electronic version of The Black Glove Magazine has come and gone and I still haven’t seen “The Great Pumpkin”.
Most importantly, I never thought I’d be able to sustain this thing for two years (and counting, since we’ve already started work on issue #25 for July 2011, as of this posting). Of course, anyone who takes a look at the Staff Profiles page each month knows I ain’t doing this by myself. Not by a long shot. There are some very talented people who are writing for this e-magazine. Some of them have won various genre awards for their works, both fiction and otherwise. All of them are highly regarded in the industry by their peers and fans alike.

And they’re doing for the love of the genre.

Now I can hear some of the more mercenary writers out there: “Write for FREE? HA! No way! I get paid for my time and talent.”

Hey, no arguments from this guy. Besides, I've had them with too many folks over the years, on different industry frequented message boards.
I love to get paid for my writing. It doesn’t happen often enough for my tastes, but I make out okay for the amount of energy I put into it. To tell the truth, it's probably more than I deserve in some cases. But I won’t argue with a royalty check, no matter how guilty I might feel for the hours that I may or may not have put into a story, novel or review. I figure it all works out in the end. And since I do an awful lot of FREE writing for this magazine and for others, I figure some all knowing, accounting Karmic force is giving me a little back, here and there.
Because I do write for the love of the genre. I'm no different than the fine people on staff, we all have a passion for what we write about; we want to pass on those passions for certain aspects of the genre—whether that be books, poetry, films, games, graphic novels/comics or whatever. These guys and gals deserve to make bank for their time and energy, but they, also like me, probably are well aware that in a world where internet writings are as plentiful as mosquitoes in a summer swamp, that sometimes, if you have something you really do love and want others to love as well…well, sometimes, you do it for FREE.

Every person on staff may have their own reasons for doing what they do every month, but I’m betting that’s at least some of the reason why they work their little arses off each month. They want to be sure that Horrorheads from all over the world get a chance to learn about those books, those films, those games, those comics, etc., etc, and from someone who knows what they’re talking about. Because it is their passion. And in a world where there’s so much horror fare to choose from (most of it pure shite), they want to make damned sure that the things they love don’t get lost in the rumble tumble of the ever expanding, but intellectually dwindling, genre.

So what does it mean to write for the love of it?

For me, it means sitting through hours upon hours of some really terrible movies that should never have been made by people who don’t know how to make a real horror film; it means reading pages upon pages of some truly abysmal books by people who had no right to ever see the light of day when it comes to publishing; and then pointing the way to the stuff I think is worth the time and effort.

Now, some of you who’ve read some of my reviews are probably asking how the hell I can find something as seemingly irredeemably pedestrian and forgettable as that great “Jaws” (1975) ripoff “Grizzly” (1976) aka "Killer Grizzly", from the late, great Southern genre director William Girdler (visit his official website here) to write so passionately about. Most people who watch the film see a boring, less than spectacular low budget movie; but I see a memory of a late night summer drive-in, sitting in the humid darkness with my family, the smells of beer, pizza, popcorn and corn dogs wafting through the whining-buzzing mosquito thick air.
But beyond that, I see this film’s place in the history of horror films. What social pressures made someone go out into the Georgia backwoods, with a fairly big name 70s cast, and a live Grizzly (remember a time before CGI, when if you needed a bear, it had to be a real one?) and shoot this low budget rip-off?

Clearly, profit is the number one driving force.

But beyond the fact that some people sat down in a meeting room in a studio one day after seeing “Jaws” and said ‘let’s go make out own version of that and make some money off of it’, what exactly made them choose a bear, what made them choose a burned out forest ranger, a Vietnam veteran helicopter pilot and a natural conservationist wildlife researcher as their main characters?

It’s all in the history books, man. Because, let's face it, what makes any silly horror film turn into a cult classic has a lot to do with its place in human history at the time it's unleashed upon its audience.

First off, someone had to know about the place where the bear is killing and about the bears, so we have Christopher George in one of his many genre roles (one day, I swear I’m going to do a Top 13 Christopher George Horror Films in the magazine. HA!), playing the embittered park ranger who butts heads with the establishment—which was another big trend you see in smaller budget films at that point.

In 1976, bears were a big topic in the place where I come from, the South. People were hunting them damn near to extinction because no one was being very careful with the environment in general back then. People were just beginning to sit up and take a close look at the world and ask themselves, ‘if we continue to allow this sort of rampant uncontrolled drain on our natural resources, what will become of future generations, when the population will be even larger and, therefore, so will the drain on those resources?’

Vietnam was still a fresh wound in this country’s collective memory and you see a lot of Vietnam vets in lots of films from the early 70s to the late 90s (not as much now, because we have that nasty old desert we’ve been pouring another kind of natural resource into for the last 20 something years, right?).

Most the time the vet has to have a speech about how rough it was over there, which you do get in “Grizzly” –just not as abrasive as in some other films of that period, where the vet is downright nuts (see another low budget, almost horror film, “To Kill a Clown” (1972), starring Alan Alda as a nutso crippled vet who uses his specially trained Dobermans to keep a couple hostage so he can spout about how rough it was over there and that’s why he needs to kill some people; it makes for a horrifying tribute to what we as a culture thought of the young men which we forced to go over and kill people for us- the blatant disrespect and lack of empathy we had for them back then).

So that explains the how, who and why of that little surprise summer drive-in hit from a cultural and historical standpoint, right?
But why the bear?

Well, if you’ve ever lived in the real woods, like I did, then you’d understand why an 18-foot tall prehistoric throwback Grizzly Bear would be as frightening as a big ass Great White shark would be to someone who lived on the New England coast. In many ways, to a good old boy, living in the South, back then bears were the sharks of the forest.

Growing up, I heard my fair share of legends about bears, some of them brutally realistic, others obviously fables which had been passed down from the Seminoles to white settlers over the years, and you sure as hell were glad those weren’t true stories.

Hell, I’m still scared of bears.

They pretty much eat anything that doesn’t eat them first, if they’re hungry enough.

Man included.

Don’t believe me?

Google “bear attacks in the 70s in Florida and Georgia” and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of old newspaper and anecdotal accounts of bloody encounters between man and bear.

I recently got the chance to see “Grizzly” on the big screen again at a local arthouse movie theater here in Tucson called The Loft. At age 41, I didn’t expect that the movie would mean as much to me as it did back when I was 6-going-on7-years old. But it all came back to me in that moment, when the first scene of the vast Georgia wilderness takes over the screen and that helicopter comes screaming out of nowhere to startle the viewer. That late summer night, with my family, a unit which has since then basically split apart to the point which I barely know them anymore; that sense of safety with my parents, the love and caring, all came back. Those smells came back—the popcorn, the beer, the dill pickles, the pizza, the corndogs, the humid pines and just cut grass smells. As did the, then, familiar sounds of buzzing mosquitoes on the summer air, the sounds of other families in their cars near us, the sound of the traffic outside the drive-in, beeping their horns, revving engines as they came or left the place.

So there are times when I write stuff for this magazine and I have to ask myself: which part am I trying to sell these readers- the memories or the historical significance?

How about both?

Because I believe for a true Horrorhead, a person who loves horror as much as you and I do, we cannot easily separate the two. Your memories of the film or book or game or whatever means something special to you. You want to reach out into that vast gray world, where we don’t really know anyone anymore, and you want to connect with other people; you want to touch them where it counts, that special place inside us where we eat, live and breathe this stuff. And you want to know their memories as much as you want them to know yours, right?

For instance, you want to see someone light up? Ask a person, who saw George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead” (1978) during its original summer run at their local drive-in, what it felt like to be willfully emotionally brutalized by such over-the-top zombie violence, to watch the world crumble on the big screen as dead people ripped open living, screaming victims to eat their stomachs or their brains.

There isn’t a person I know around my age, who had the opportunity to see this movie all those years ago, who doesn’t get that look on their face.
We almost don’t need words…but we gush it all out anyway, don’t we?
For a horror fan, those moments, when we get hit with a “Phantasm” or a “Dawn of the Dead”, or by a book like “The Shining” by Stephen King (1977), for the first time, those are the moments that hold meaning for us.

So maybe I’m doing for that reason, too.

Maybe even more for that reason.

Maybe all of us here at The Black Glove are just trying to reach out into that cold gray beyond, into that vast and voidy nothing which seems to be what you have to face as you get older and less connected with the people around you, maybe we’re all reaching into that and seeing if we can feel anything reaching out to touch us back.

Hell, if that turns out to be the only reason I’ve been doing this for so long, and for all the years (hopefully) to come, then maybe that’s not so bad a reason.

It’s just got to mean something to someone else, if it means something to you, right?

I’m going to keep reaching out, Horrorheads. Feel free to do so, too. Share the memories with us. It sure can make that vast voidy gray nothing feel less lonely and intimidating when you do.

--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 (currently in pre-production with new publisher) and ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND 2nd Edition with Sourcebooks 2011, all of which have received several positive reviews and he’s been said to display a true craftsmanship missing in much of modern horror. His first short story collection, 'ROUND MIDNIGHT AND OTHER TALES OF LOST SOULS was recently released from Damnation Books.. He also has two new releases forthcoming: PAINT IT BLACK (late 2011 from Dailey Swan Press).

Personal Info: Nickolas lives in the beautiful Southwestern desert with his wife and four wonderful Chinese Pugs, who are worse than little children…the dogs, not the wife.
Visit me at my official website, THE HORROR JAZZ AND BLUES REVUE
He also has a very active Facebook page
Or email him at

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.

Bill Breedlove: In addition to his short fiction collection Most Curious, his work has appeared in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, RedEye, InSider, The Fortune News, Restaurants & Institutions, Encyclopedia of Actuarial Science, and Playboy Online. His stories can also be found in the books Tales of Forbidden Passion, Strange Creatures, Tails from the Pet Shop, Book of Dead Things, Cthulhu and the Coeds and Blood and Donuts.
In 2006, Bill founded the small press Dark Arts Books with co-publisher John Everson. The mission of Dark Arts Books is to create affordable trade paperback collections featuring multiple stories by four authors each. We publish sampler anthologies of some of the finest writers in modern horror. Dark Arts Books’ titles include: Candy in the Dumpster, Waiting for October, Sins of the Sirens, Like a Chinese Tattoo, Mighty Unclean and When The Night Comes Down.
In 2009, LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology.
Bill’s horror film screenplay Last of the True Believers won a competition sponsored by DAILY VARIETY where the prize was a trip to the Cannes Film Festival to meet with Hollywood producers and executives.

He lives in Chicago with his wife and Maestro the Dog and Sophie the Pigeon.

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

Bill Lindblad has been a bookseller specializing in horror and other genre fiction for roughly fifteen years. He is a regular contributor to the writing blog Storytellers Unplugged and has been a staple at conventions for almost a quarter of a century (as an attendee, dealer, panelist, auctioneer and convention staff.) Bill is an unrepentant fan and has taken this out on the pets... as ferrets Mughi (Dirty Pair) and Boingo, cats Gamera and Shane (after Shane MacGowan) and black labrador Grue (Dying Earth and Infocom games) could attest were they able to talk. His wife makes him watch too many strange movies.

Jenny Orosel has been published in fiction and nonfiction for the past nine years. She is also an avid baker and candy-maker (having only set a kitchen on fire once). She has also appeared in numerous game shows, worked on two feature films, and won an award for her first animated short film (also including fire, this time on purpose). When not writing or making sugary treats, she is forcing Bill to sit through some of the strangest movies he’s ever seen.

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

Karen L. Newman lives in Kentucky where she's a Kentucky Colonel and an active member of Horror Writers Association. She edits the magazines Illumen and Cosmic Crime Stories. She’s also a book editor for Morrigan Books. She’s been named Chair of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award jury for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection and is the 2011-2012 East Regional Director for the Kentucky State Poetry Society. She edited the online magazine, Afterburn SF for over four years before the market closed. Over four hundred of her short stories and poems have been published both online and in print in places such as Dark Tales of Terror, Kentucky Monthly, and The Pedestal Magazine. Her poetry collections include EEKU (Sam’s Dot, 2005), ChemICKals (Naked Snake Press, 2007), Toward Absolute Zero (Sam’s Dot, 2009), and ChemICKal Reactions (Naked Snake Press, 2010). 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

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

The 2nd Annual Black Glove Horrorhead Awards: The Best of 2010

It's been a hell of a year for the genre. There have been some releases in fiction, which I think may actually go on to considered by fans as classic stuff in later years. I haven't been able to say that for about ten years now. At least not in the stuff that I was unfortunate enough to read in 2010. 2011 is looking up, but there was some really bad fiction, mostly from small press and e-publishers who still think self publication is the most awesome thing they could ever do for themselves and the horror genre.

I wish they'd stop.

They really are dragging the whole horror genre into a place that we may not ever be able to pull it again, as an industry and as fans. But trying to get these assholes to use good judgement in plaguing the world, to get them to look past their own HUGE egos for a moment, and think that maybe, just maybe, there's a reason why no one is publishing them.

Of course, it didn't help a big publisher like "LEISURE/DORCHESTER" completely fucked over its entire list of genre authors by stealing their books and NOT paying the authors. I'm still stunned that a company as respected as this actually did something so low and illegal. I mean, if we cannot trust the 'gatekeepers' of the industry, then who the hell are we supposed to trust? It's just one more thing that makes me lose faith in the entire industry, as a writer and a fan.

But back to our Horrorheads...our first winner for this year's Horrorhead is for Peter Straub's incredible homage to Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon", A DARK MATTER.

As with Straub's other works, this novel is literate, smart and existentially terrifying. What if magic was real and you could summon a real demon into your life? No other author could answer that question like Straub. Now, if you're looking for a breakneck pace and a video game minded wham!bam! rollercoaster ride, this is not the book for you. But if you want something that will haunt you long after turning the last page, then do yourself a favor and read this book.

There was one other book we all felt was a definite close call runner-up:
HORNS by Joe Hill

In the short story collection/anthology category there were a few which got several votes but only one can win. This year's Horrorhead goes to:
FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King. In this four novella collection on the theme of retribution, human and othewise, King again gives us a superior collection of fiction that I believe will eventually become known as one of his best later works.

We had many more runners up in this area than novels:
NEVER AGAIN, edited by Allyson Bird and Joel Lane
BLOOD AND GRISTLE by Michael Louis Calvillo
LITTLE THINGS by John R. Little

For poetry, this year's Horrorhead goes to:
Wild Hunt of the Stars by Ann K. Schwader

In film, there were only a few movies we thought deserved serious consideration. The Horrorhead for film clearly has to go to a surprisingly great remake of an original George Romero movie of the same name:

(For a full review of this film, see mine in this month's CELLULOID HORRORS section here.)

The runners up include:
SHUTTER ISLAND, reviewed last year in our June 2010 issue hereTHE LAST EXORCISM, reviewed in our January issue hereLET ME IN, another remake from the new redux of HAMMER STUDIOS, renamed from the foriegn horror hit LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. It was reviewed here in our February 2011 issueDREAM HOME, reviewed in January 2011's issue here

In music, there were a lot of great releases in 2010. But it was very easy to pick the Horrorhead winner; it's an album which has been discussed several times in our magazine since its release:

DIAMOND EYES by The Deftones, an album that is filled with songs that rock and sit heavy on the heart. The lyrics are some of the most mature this band has ever produced. The soundwork is layered, thoughtful, at once ambient and hard, a great combination. A full review can be found in our May 2010 issue here.

The runners up included:
THE RESISTANCE by Muse (see our review in June 2010 issue here)
HELIGOLAND by Massive Attack
HELLBILLY DELUXE 2 by Rob Zombie (see our review in March 2010 issue here)
SCREAMWORKS: LOVE IN THEORY AND PRACTICE BY H.I.M. (see our review in March 2010 issue here)
PLASTIC BEACH by Gorillaz (see our review in April 2010 issue here)
SLASH by Slash
THE BOOK OF ELI by Atticus Ross

In our game category, the Horrorhead winner is...

review written by Brian M. Sammons

2010 wasn’t a great year for horror gaming. A lackluster sequel to a truly great and spooky as hell game from a few years back, DEAD SPACE 2, started things off with a whimper and things mostly went downhill from there. However there was one pretty darn good horror game, but it was only on PC and I usually just use my PC for work anymore. However with everyone telling me how good it was I just had to try it out. So I did, and while it wasn’t a perfect game, it was a hell of a good one that actually succeeded at being scary instead of just giving the player a bunch of guns and telling them to go blast baddies in the face for six to eight hours. That game was AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT and if you haven’t heard about it yet, well once again, it was only on PC, and it also had a microscopic marketing campaign. Meanwhile games like “Modern Military Shooter part 9” had the GNP of a small country devoted to pushing them, where’s the justice in that? Anyway, for something completely different, you don’t even get a gun in AMNESIA, let alone a bunch of them. If a horrible, shuffling thing comes lurching at you out of the dark, the best thing for you to do is what you’d probably do in real life; run the hell away and hide like a little girl in a closet. Also, at its heart, this game is an old school exploration and adventure game set in dark and creepy places. So obviously it isn’t for everyone, the twitchy A.D.D. generation of gamers are sure to hate it, but if you’re actually looking for a creepy, atmospheric game instead of the usual run and gun shooters that call themselves “horror games”, then AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT is for you.

--Brian M. Sammons

In our comic/graphic novel section, we have a Horrorhead going to Stephen King's AMERICAN VAMPIRE. Click here to see Jason Shayer's review of this year's Horrorhead and the runners up.

Stabbed in Stanzas Book Review: Love Craft by Bryan D. Dietrich

Love Craft
Bryan D. Dietrich

Reviewed by Karen L. Newman

Remember the old adage of too much of a good thing? Let me refresh your memory: If you drink too much alcohol, you pass out, get sick, and have a hangover; if you eat too much candy, you get a tummy ache; if you read Love Craft (Finishing Line Press, 2010) by Bryan D. Dietrich, you get sick of poetry. Harsh, I know. There is so much alliteration and consonance that its usage seems forced and the work trite, as in an example from the poem “The Whisperer in Darkness”

Bewitched by Wacky Packs, by the Wonder
Bread creature card series, each with tormented taglines,
stats on the back, bewitched and transfixed

The poem borders on the ridiculous, and thus losing any serious message to the reader. Dietrich tries so hard that it appears he’s hiding a lack of talent, but that’s not true. A few poems are outstanding, such as “Necromancy”. The first stanza is

Okay, we love the dead. But when do they stop calling?
We left a message, yes, expecting at least a token
response, but not this, not the constant carillon, ring
tones axing us open, tearing us up, interrupting
what dreams we’ve been allowed, spilling sleep
like a thick sick. Stew of all we thought was gone.

Dietrich’s use of humor offsets the dark mood of the piece. Although he uses alliteration and consonance, the poem doesn’t lose meaning or effect, but contributes to the overall overuse of the poetic devices in the book.
The collection is divided into three parts, ‘The Tomb’, ‘The Temple’ and ‘The Book of the Dead’. Dietrich utilizes Lovecraftian ideals without the tentacles and transfers them to modern families. He tackles such subjects as divorce, mental illness, and childhood memories of watching television. The lives of these families are made the more pitiful with the memories indexed like a horror film. The reader almost feels sympathy.
Love Craft offers fresh representation of old ideals that doesn’t quite hit the mark.

--Karen L. Newman

Bram Stoker Award Winners: June 18th, 2010, Long Island, New York

THE BLACK GLOVE congratulates all of this year's BRAM STOKER WINNERS...

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL

A DARK MATTER by Peter Straub (Doubleday/Orion)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL (Tie)

BLACK AND ORANGE by Benjamin Kane Ethridge (Bad Moon Books)

THE CASTLE OF LOS ANGELES by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION

INVISIBLE FENCES by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION

"The Folding Man" by Joe R. Lansdale (from HAUNTED LEGENDS)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY

HAUNTED LEGENDS edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor)

Superior Achievement in a FICTION COLLECTION

FULL DARK, NO STARS by Stephen King (Simon and Schuster)

Superior Achievement in NON-FICTION

TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck (Apex Publications)

Superior Achievement in a POETRY COLLECTION

DARK MATTERS by Bruce Boston (Bad Moon Books)

HWA also presented its annual "Lifetime Achievement Awards".

Legendary genre editor and writer Ellen Datlow was on hand to accept her Lifetime Achievement Award, which she shared this year with comic book artist/editor/writer Al Feldstein, best known for his EC Comics work.

For more information, visit Horror Writers Association Official Website.

Pictures of the event are available at

--Nickolas Cook

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

TO LOVE A VAMPIRE by Nigel Fleming (1980)

In the 1960s, Playboy magazine started a book line called, appropriately enough, Playboy Press. It published everything from nonfiction to science fiction, and some of the books were impressive. For horror, just as examples, the first editions of The Fury and All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By by John Farris were released by them, as were four of the Charles L. Grant anthologies.
In 1979, one of Playboy's competitors, Hustler, started its own book line. It was not as successful as Playboy Press; the books had very low distribution and the line shut down inside of two years. They have since become sought by collectors of "adult" paperbacks and typically fetch high prices when they come to market.
To Love a Vampire is a typical example from Hustler. It is, arguably, the worst book I have ever had the displeasure of reading. The cover features a blond-haired vampire with black eyebrows and moustache fondling a topless young woman whose neck is as long as the rest of her head. The editing is terrible; examples of the poor quality include questionable punctuation (Yes, something was wrong. But what!), faulty spacing ("AllHonolulucould be in danger!") and even misplaced text, such as toward the end of the book where a sentence fragment, "Taking pictures of various carnal sex acts", is accidentally inserted between two paragraphs.
Then, the writing. I performed a test for this book. I typed "Fanfiction Vampire Sex" into google, and read ten paragraphs into the first thing that came up... which was an "erotic" Twilight fanfic. There was excessive use of italics, subject-verb agreement issues, inappropriate use of the passive voice, tense errors, and other problems. The story was still better written than this book, and strangely it was less derivative as well; the book attempts to playfully reference Dracula and instead ineptly mimics it.
I chose this book because Jen was reviewing sexual horror from around the world. I thought I'd review some obscure sexual horror books. This book is a series of hardcore sex scenes around which a web of horror scenes is spun. This can be done well; for example, there's Amarantha Knight's "Darker Passions" series. This story is not fit to be shelved in the same house as that series. It is grotesquely bad. Reading this "erotic" novel could serve as aversion therapy for sex addicts.

One star out of five.

A Lovely Monster by Rick De Marinis (1975)

This short book is a coming-of-age novel starring Frankenstein's Monster. It was very positively reviewed upon its release, due, I suspect, to the proliferation of drugs in the Seventies. It is not a bad book; it is simply not an unusually good book. The writing is tight and the characterization is strong but the internal logic of the story does not flow well and the dialogue is weighted down with excessive use of repetition and jargon.
There are humorous scenes within the book, but they are uncommon. There are moments of jarring, even horrific discomfort but those too are uncommon. For the most part we are introduced to the monster and follow his narration through until the end. We see his journey from innocence to jaded adult and watch his physical growth and eventual dissolution. Because of the monster's creation we can watch the entire cycle unfold over the course of weeks rather than the otherwise requisite years, and thus the author is able to show what maturing in the seventies would be like for child, teen, and adult in the span of relatively few pages.
As with any coming-of-age novel set in the 1970s, sex is covered repeatedly and drug and alcohol use is shown. Thankfully the sex is covered with a deft hand and maintains, rather than destroys, the tension and pacing of the book.
The concept behind the story is interesting. Once past the concept, however, there isn't much to make the book stand out.

Three stars out of five.

Deals With the Devil by Basil Davenport (1958)

Theme anthologies seem to have been around forever, but they were relatively scarce in the genre fields until the 1970s; prior to then, the majority of anthologies were focused around the genre itself; an editor would select a group of stories appropriate for a genre and release them together. When theme anthologies were produced, they typically fell into one of three categories: stories picked by a famous person, stories which had all been in the same magazine, and stories from a particular time period. All of these skirted what has become the typical style of today, that of commonality of literary theme.
Deals With the Devil is a pleasant exception to this rule. It opens with a six page simple history of the Devil and Devil worship, making the book seem more like a studious work than an entertaining one. This distinction is not wholly unwarranted; the editor, given hundreds of viable stories from which to choose (this was a day when, while the trope was already overused and would need to be handled expertly, a deal-with-the-devil story could still be sold to major markets) selected not only stories he considered enjoyable but stories he considered key. Thus, amidst work like the famous "Gimmicks Three" stories (a set of three short stories by Isaac Asimov, Miriam Allen DeFord and Theodore Cogswell in which time travel, a deal with the devil, and a locked room mystery are all central points) there are also the stories of Doctor Faustus, The Devil and Daniel Webster, and an example of the "Three Wishes" story. By ranging between contemporary stories and historical ones, horror stories and humor, and different writing styles Davenport presents the reader with a set of tales which seems authoritative, complete and even instructive. It also results in him producing an anthology which easily stands the test of time and is worth seeking more than fifty years after the date of its production.

Five stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

Movie vs. Book: Tender Loving Care


Director: David Wheeler
Cast: J. Michael Esposito, Beth Tegarden, Marie Caldare, John Hurt

What do you do when you have the world’s most boring movie and you still want to sell it? Turn it into a video game!

That’s sort of what they did with Tender Loving Care; it’s become an interactive DVD. There’s the framing story: woman can’t come to terms with her dead child, so the husband brings in a psychiatric nurse. Said nurse manipulates and seduces both husband and wife. Disastrous results follow.

In between scenes, you get the main psychiatrist (played by John Hurt—thankfully someone who can actually act). He leads you through various psychological tests ala Cosmo personality tests. You also get an opportunity to explore various CGI rooms of the house, read diaries, look at what has been playing on the television, flip through the family’s books and magazines, even read their case files. It give you something interesting to do every ten or fifteen minutes or so.

The movie part is horrible. The characters are poorly written in less than two dimensions. The actors don’t do a damn thing to elevate the material. You can see what’s coming a good half hour before it happens. It reminded me of the forgettable made-for-television movies that the USA network would produce in the early 90s.

The interactive DVD parts are at least somewhat interesting. There are some fun visual interpretation questions, and now and then the answers are scattered with the occasional snarky and sarcastic answers to liven things up. One little annoyance is when they ask sexual questions. The answers are so male-targeted that, as a straight female, I just picked the first answer on the list. It’s a bit annoying, but not nearly as annoying as sitting through the movie part. But on a positive side, it does have save points. Which is a good thing, because if you explore all the different rooms each chance you get, this thing could take you hours.

A side note—from what I understand, you can purchase the movie as a stand-alone, without the interactive part. I can’t imagine why. Just the thought of it reminds me of a masochistic performance artist I’d seen a documentary on. He used to hang lead weights from his scrotum. I can imagine that’s what watching the movie on its own would be like.

The ending of the movie is horrible. Suddenly the husband character is so affectionate and caring when he spent the rest of the movie being coldhearted and selfish. And once the resolution comes, it gets dragged on and on and on….As far as the interactive part, it was fun during the first watch, but once you’re done…all those questions…they use your answers to create an edit of the movie tailored to your personal opinion. A couple hundred questions, and all they could do was give you a slightly different cut of the same nightmarish viewing experience you already had to sit through once.

I would say to avoid this movie if you can. Avoid it at all costs. Unless, of course, you truly and deeply hate yourself. In which case, go for it.

-- Jen

BOOK: TENDER LOVING CARE by Andrew Neiderman (1985)

This is a psychological horror novel from the 1980s. The cover copy promises something else, hinting at a story akin to Thomas Monteleone's Lyrica or one of Al Sarrantonio's moodier works. Instead, the reader is given Robert Bloch via The Waltons. This is not the first disappointment of the book; by the time the reader realizes nothing much is going to happen, they've already been disappointed in other ways.
That is not so say the book is a failure. It isn't. The author expertly maintains a sense of mood throughout the book, and he keeps the story moving. Unfortunately, when I say mood is maintained, the word is chosen carefully: the atmosphere of the story neither builds nor diminishes, with the result that tension fails to grow. The story moves, but because the principal players are introduced early, their attitudes and emotional states barely vary and the entire tale hinges upon their interaction, the reader is presented with an 80 page novella padded into a 306 page book.
I could easily be harsh to this book, but that would be unfair; this was a popular style of horror novel in the 1980s, due in no small part to the enormous success of V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic and subsequent family dramas. Viewed in that light, I have to give the author due credit. The dialogue flows naturally, the actions taken by the characters work within the context of the story and the author works to show nuances to the personalities.
That said, just as there is little to discredit the novel, there is little to recommend it above others.
Three stars out of five.
-- Bill

Celluloid Horrors Movie Reviews


Director: Breck Eisner
Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson

review written by Nickolas Cook

This is how you make, not only an adult oriented, emotional horror film, but a respectful remake of what most Horrorheads consider one of Romero's better early films.
Director Eisner finds what works in Romero's original 1973 film, that sense of madness from out of nowhere and disorientation, paranoia and isolation, and sticks to them in his remake. He keeps the dialogue intelligent and realistic. One gets the feeling that people who have been caught in similar situations probably have acted when their own government descends upon with them a less than altruistic agenda--think Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. The pacing is one of the best suspenseful buildups I've seen in modern American horror in years, staring in the first minutes and carrying all the way through to the movie's final grim moments.
For the life of me, I cannot figure out why this movie did not do better at the box office, and how it missed being listed on more critical best of lists for 2010.
Picking Timothy Olyphant as the lead was smart casting. He's an actor who can pull off most every emotion in a character's palette.
I mentioned paranoia as being one of the high points of each of the films. After all, as you watch both films, you find yourself wondering when does true mental insanity meet Trixie's effects? After all, these people are being pushed into a situation that would probably cause the most stable of people lose it.
Another smart choice in this remake was making sure that the spfx are minimal, but effective and never do they use overblown CGI.
This is a 'siege' film that becomes a 'chase' film which also treats with the modern day 'zombie' film.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone looking for remakes that treat our past genre films with respect and professionalism, not as an excuse to pander to the lowest common denominator with cookie cutter PG-13 crap.
That's why this movie made our Horrorhead Award Best of 2010 list.

--Nickolas Cook

Directors: Barbara Brancaccio, Joshua Zeman

review written by Nickolas Cook

While this isn't a fictional horror film, it is a fascinating and absolutely chilling documentary about one of the Eastern coast United States' most infamous serial killers, a man known to those who feared him as "Cropsey". If you're a fan of "The Burning" (1981), then you know where they got the name for their mysterious scarred hedge clipper wielding maniac. Urban legends ran rampant for years about this mysterious killer around Staten Island, N.Y. Was he a hooked hand faceless monster who snatched children in the dead of night? Or was he a maniac who existed hermit-like in the greenbelt forest deep in the woods, around a deserted TB hospital?
Or was, as it's suggested early on in the documentary, an all around name for any mysterious killer who lived on the fringes of society and did unspeakable things to those unlucky enough to run afoul of whichever their particular "Cropsey" might have been.
There is a sense of doom and violence inherent in the subject matter, and the documentary makers used this to their advantage throughout the production.

Infamous places like Willow Brook, a place known for its almost inhuman lack of sanitary conditions for hundreds of mentally ill children and young adults who had been left to rot in a state run institute which was finally shut down by authorities because of it.

The history of Staten Island and "Cropsey" is the history of the legends of unseen killers and the many missing children who disappeared over the decades in that area.

Andre Rand was the first suspect who the police arrested in the first high profile case of the missing Jennifer Schweiger but there were many angles that did not quite match up with this too convenient arrest, even when the young girl was found dead and buried 150 feet from the insane man's forest campsite. Based on circumstantial evidence, he was sentenced nonetheless, seemingly more to close the case than for any real evidence.

Later, when more children who had gone missing before Jennifer were being laid at Rand's feet as well, it became evident to the citizens of Staten Island that there was something more to the "Cropsey" legend than first they thought.

Jennifer's 1987 disappearance came after another less than high profile missing girl case, seven year old Holly Anne Hughes, who had gone missing in 1981, but there hadn't been enough evidence to bring Rand in for questioning at the time. It wasn't until 19 years later that he was brought up on charges while still serving time for Jennifer's death. But unlike Jennifer, Holly Anne's body was never found.

Neither were the handful of more missing children in the same neighborhood, all with the commonality that they were mentally handicapped. A telling part of the accusations against Rand was the fact that he had once worked in the now shut down mental ward, where he had complete access to hundreds of mentally handicapped children during his employment. When the place closed down, Rand moved into the forest surrounding the deserted mental facility, as if he could not leave the place where he had thrived
thrived. Between '81 and '87, was when all these young people went missing in the same area, a place surrounded by deep woods, uninhabited but for drifters and homeless and the insane residents who had once lived in the shut down mental institute.

It didn't help that Staten Island happens to also be home for one of the largest landfills in the eastern United States, which had been used by mob and other criminal elements as hiding places for their own bodies.

The documentarians attempts to gain access to the infamous Rand were stymied most the time, leaving much of their information gathering up to legal records and second hand accounts from people who were tied closely to the cases.

It is a depressing film. One cannot help but feel the pain of the people left with no bodies, no answers to their lost loved ones. The missing having been young and mentally handicapped only makes it even more horrible to contemplate.

There is a theory put forth by many people interviewed, both civilian and legal authorities, that Rand had an unknown accomplice who has never been found. There was another possible suspect named Robert Graham, who the documentarians managed to also interview for his take on Rand's guilt. Beyond Graham, the documentarians tackle this theory as well, but also come up against the same wall which the law did all those years before. There was the theory Rand had an underground group of homeless who he shared his victims with, both alive and dead. Stories of Rand's necrophiliac activities are also examined, as if his other known evils aren't enough. His proclivity for digging up dead bodies for sexual congress seem to be stories his past acquaintances advised police about throughout the investigation into his alleged kidnappings of local children.

This is the kind of film which makes fictional horror seem like kid's play. Watch it only if you want to be disturbed by true life horrors.

As Rand tells his documentarians late into the film, as they keep trying to gain access to him in prison for interviews, for the truth: "EVILNESS SELLS".


Further into the film, we find out that Rand and his unnamed accomplices may have also been into Satanism and this may have played into his activities.

But with the nutcases who then came out of the woodwork, and still seemed to be working their own nutcase angles, it's difficult to know what is truth when it comes to this particular angle, just as it was with the necrophiliac activities.

A visit to the abandoned facility by the young documentarians does show many signs of possible Satanic activities within. The fact that they chose to visit after dark seemed fairly foolhardy, in my opinion, and definitely provides some pretty spooky moments, in an already horrifying true story of violent despicable murder of innocent children.

Finally, Rand seemingly agrees to an interview with our eager documentarians. But it is no surprise that they got nothing more from him than any of the other dozens and dozens of people who have tried to do so. When they arrive for the prison interview, Rand refuses to see them. Then begins sending them follow up letters filled with Biblical scriptures and insane ramblings. During these letters, they find out Rand's mother was put into an insane institute when he was a child...but is this another red herring? The documentarian crew seems to believe it is nothing more than that.

Towards the end of the film, they actually get a phone call from Rand, who leaves a voice mail, wondering if they got his letter.

It seems obvious Rand is playing a game with anyone who will give him media attention, as he keeps trying to get the media give him coverage--but only on his terms.

So by the film's end, he is convicted of a second homicide and is sentenced to another life sentence, with no hope of parole until he's 93 years old.

But as for the other missing children, we are left with the disturbing certainty they will never be found and that he is also responsible foe their heinous deaths.

Although there are no graphic portions of this film, showing the bodies, it is still nonetheless a harrowing experience for anyone with empathy and compassion for those people left behind with no answers.

--Nickolas Cook


Director: Norman J. Warren
Cast: John Nolan, Carolyn Courage and James Aubrey

review written by Nickolas Cook

First off, yes, I have reviewed this film once before, our October 2010 issue, but having recently re-watched it, I felt I might have not given the film the proper attention it deserved, so here is my 2nd take on a strange little British made horror film that probably me and less than a hundred readers of The Black Glove will ever remember or care about.

During the late 70s heyday of the drive-in horror revolution, this little oddity of British Gothic horror comes in as something betwixt and between that strange time in horror film making when the UK producers were trying to find the transition between the straight ahead Gothic style horror (usually filled with swirling mists and ancient castles and supernatural terrors) which had been so successful for the likes of Hammer Studio and the modern slasher film (usually a mostly unseen black gloved and/or masked killer who takes out the cast one at a time--i.e., "the body count" movie) which was becoming the popular style of horror in America, thanks to the international success of such directors as Dario Argento.
"Terror" takes several of those common Gothic horror film elements- namely the swirling mists and ancient haunted castle home- and plops them right smack dab in the middle of a modern film studio making a Gothic horror film based on the producer's ancient family history of witch burnings and bloody murders.
The film is stocked with modern egotistical movie star characters, none of which you feel the slightest empathy for because they spend much of the film being bitchy and catty, making obnoxious remarks and playing mean spirited practical jokes on one another. So when they begin to get massacred by our angry witch, Mad Dolly, via various violently supernatural means, such as being pinned to a tree by sharp instruments, a beheading by pane of broken glass (a means of murder which tends to be popular enough to have turned in 1976's "The Omen" and a couple of years later in Argento's 1980 underrated supernatural masterpiece, "Inferno"), a garroting, followed by a high dive onto deadly spikes, various dismemberments, etc., etc.

Another surprisingly modern twist is the appearance of openly homosexual characters as main characters, who aren't treated with the usual insulting Hollywood overly flaming-queen caricature roles. In 1978, in a horror film that had a fairly wide release in American theaters, that should be applauded and given rightfully respectful recognition. And they die just as violently as the heterosexuals, by the way. Apparently the ancient vengeful witch doesn't have any sexual prejudices.

The pace is lively enough, something you don't usually find in the more deliberately paced Gothic horror film, and the violence is treated with more realism than one usually finds in the old style of Gothic horror films. And there is a plot, such as it is; something about the pissed off witch taking revenge on anyone associated with the last two living descendants of the villagers who killed her for her Satanic crimes. And there's a great little McGuffin thrown in with an ancient sword used to kill the witch all those hundreds of years before, which is used effectively by film's end.

But other than the fact that is a good example of the UK/European transitional horror film between the old and the modern there isn't much more the recommend "Terror"...unless of course, like me, you're old enough to have caught this movie during the original run at one of those old American drive-in theaters. So, yes, I am biased when it comes to "Terror". I still remember the absolute 'terror' I felt watching it when I was a 9 year old Horrorhead in Florida, one of the states which boasted at the time the highest number of drive-ins in the country. I believe at the time only Texas had more drive-in than Florida in the 1970s. And that ending is full of sound and fury, and it's one I still remember with great fondness for its over the top violence and noise level. Very Argento-esque circa "Suspiria" (1977), albeit a cheaper version.

So. to be honest. my recommendation comes from the heart only. But as a great piece of cinematic horror, "Terror" falls a bit too short to be considered one of the greats of 1978, a year which boasted such classics as "Halloween", "Dawn of he Dead" and "The Fury". Still, it's entertaining, especially if you're a completest Horrorhead who loves to discover a forgotten gem in the rough.

Video here:

--Nickolas Cook

Foreign Fears: ROADGAMES (1981)- Australia

Director: Richard Franklin
Cast: Stacy Keach, Jamie Lee Curtis, Marion Edward

review written by Nickolas Cook

Directed by Aussie Alfred Hitchcock disciple Richard Franklin (also director of the greatly underrated horror flick "Patrick" (1978) and the more well known and critically acclaimed sequel of the granddaddy of all psycho serial killer movies, "Psycho II" (1983)), "Roadgames" also happens to be another of the 80s undisputed Scream-Queen Jamie Lee Curtis's better, if not as well known, horror flicks. She plays a American hitchhiker making her way across the deserted outback, who happens to be picked up by Stacy Keach's people watching, poetry spouting, philosophical truck driver. He and his dingo companion, Boswell, become suspicious of a mysterious black van driving stranger who he suspects may be a serial killer picking up hitchhiking women on the backroads of the Australian desert and cutting them into little pieces and then getting rid of them along the road and in garbage dumps in the wee hours of the morning, who we know only as "Mr. Smith" or sometimes "Mr. Jones" because he likes to use such names as aliases when he checks into roadside hotels to do his dirty deeds in private and comfort.

Like Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock's classic "Rear Window", he finds himself inextricably pulled into the game of trying to find out the truth. Along with the plucky Curtis, they decide to use her as willing bait to trick the killer into showing his hand, which leads to some harrowing, very well done nail-biting scenes of suspense. Which plays on the title of the film, as the characters like to play intellectual guessing games as to the killer's identity and motive, until the game becomes very serious indeed when the killer goes for the bait and find he has been playing his own game with them as well.

Another great underplayed aspect, but one important to the characters' developements, is the lowkey slow romance which developes between Keach's Quid and Curtis's "Hitch", who we later discover is a runaway heiress. It actually adds a level of suspense and danger to the narrative that elevates the movie to a more Hitchcockian film, instead of a smarter than usual slasher film.

Franklin (who tragically passed away in 2007), knew how to frame his characters against the deserted stretches of highway, accentuating the emptiness of the landscape and the lives of the characters' played against one another. He also knew perfectly how to keep his dialogue almost Hawks-esque in pace and delivery. He also had a knack for using disturbing background sound to throw the audience off balance. Franklin learned well from his late mentor, using some of Hitchcock's best cinematic tricks of the trade, allowing the pacing and silence between the plucked strings, so the speak, to contain volumes of unspoken tension and meaning. And he wasn't bad at staging some great car chases as well. There's one very well done sequence involving Keach's rig and a dumb traveler hauling his boat recklessly.

But to my mind, the main attraction for this Jamie Lee Curtis fan is the beautiful, plucky Curtis. She is just as gorgeous and awesome as ever in this movie. Well worth the viewing, for sure. And that surprise ending...yikes!

This also made it onto this month's Top 13 Horror Films of 1981.

--Nickolas Cook

Brian Sammons Hi-Def Horror Hoedown!


Created by Alan Ball
Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard

Confession time: I think this show isn’t really good, and, at times, it’s a big bag of stupid. Without ever reading the books it’s based on, the twists and turns the show tries to pull off I always see coming way in advance. The characters often do nonsensical things, sometimes against type, only for the sake for advancing the plot and that has always been a pet peeve of mine. Worst of all I hate the part it has played in the wussification of vampires into misunderstood, brooding, bad boys. You know; pale necrophiliac sex symbols with fangs as opposed to the evil, undead things I prefer.

Yet with all that said, I do so enjoy watching this show. I know, I’m surprised as you are, not to mention even a bit ashamed for myself. TRUE BLOOD is not great TV, hell it’s not even particularly good TV. At best its junk food TV, but just like chocolate and peanut butter, I just can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s silly and bloody and sexy and I do love it so. So keep that in mind when reading this review. TRUE BLOOD has won me over despite me not really liking it. I guess that does attest to something good about this show, or at just how easily I’m amused. Anyway, let’s move on.

Just in case you’ve been asleep for the last three years, TRUE BLOOD is set in a world where the vamps have come out of the proverbial closest and has joined, with mixed success, the world of man. Down south Louisiana way a sexy, brooding vampire (yeah, what did I tell you) named Bill falls for a feisty, perky waitress with psychic powers named Sookie. The TV series explores the star crossed lovers’ trials and tribulations, but because this is a world were undead bloodsuckers are real, things are a bit more complicated and exciting than that tired ROMEO AND JULIET premise. There are werewolves (of course, wherever there’s vampires these days, there’s werewolves), black magic, ancient gods, and even fairies thrown into the mix. Yes, fairies. If you’re familiar with the WORLD OF DARKNESS line of role playing games like I am then all this may sound familiar to you and you’ll probably wonder, as I did, how come they haven’t sued the hell out of this show by now. Well I don’t know the answer to that, so again, let’s move one.

Season three of the monsterific melodrama begins with vampire Bill popping the question to Sookie, but before she can say yes or no (you know she was going to say yes, don’t you) Bill is abducted by bad guys. So begins this season’s arc involving a huge pack of werewolves, a vampire king named Russell (played to scene chomping perfection by Denis O'Hare who owns ever scene he’s in), and Sookie discovering the truth behind hey mysterious powers. There’s a lot more going on that just that. TRUE BLOOD has a boatload of memorable secondary characters, each with their own ongoing story arcs, including a Viking vampire, and werepuppy and his new found family, Sookie’s dumb as a rock but good hearted brother, Bill’s smoking hot vampire offspring and her love life troubles, Sookie’s best friend who gets into a very bad relationship, and on and on it goes. At times you need a flow chart just to follow all these plot threads, but such things do make for rabid fans, and since I don’t want to risk their wrath, far be it from me to spoil any of the surprises.

Look, you already know if you like this show or not and whether or not you’re going to be picking up these discs. So with that in mind I’ll cut to the chase and say that if you’re already a fangbanger (and if you know what that is, then you are) then you should rejoice because this set of Blu-rays fresh out from HBO delivers the goods. Not only does the show look amazing in High-Def, but there’s a bunch of extras packed in for the fans. That is something another cable company named SHOWTIME should take note of for their Blu-ray releases of their flagship show, DEXTER, but I digress. Here you’ll find a ton of cool featurettes. You can flash back to relive pivotal moments from the show or flash forward to see how scenes effect the world and the ongoing story. There are bios for all the various characters, living, dead and undead alike. There are a half dozen or so interviews, not with the actors, but with the characters they play in the show. A nice collection of trivia and hints or what may happen in future episodes, scene deconstructions, episode wrap ups, audio commentary tracks with the cast and crew, and even a Snoop Dogg video (no, really) are all found here. All TV series should get such treatment when they are released on disc, but sadly very few do.

So despite myself, I highly recommend TRUE BLOOD season 3 on Blu-ray. It’s a fun show that I always enjoy watching and it is presented here in a great looking package with a bunch of goodies for the fans. However if you ever tell any of my guy friend that I’ve said this, I’ll deny it.


Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas, Gary Oldman

Let me start by saying that this movie wasn’t made for me. Not…one…little…bit. It was directed by the same woman who helmed the first TWILIGHT film and that other film’s stench is all over this one. In fact, this film was obviously made to cash in on the TWILIGHT craze and rope in some of those screaming, obsessive fangirls. As such, I guess it’s a success because it couldn’t be more TWILIGHT-y unless it was actually called TWILIGHT. Granted, I’ve never been able to make it through a complete sparkly vampire movie without the aid of a RIFFTRAX comedy commentary track, so I might not be the best person to judge such things. Also, as I sated at the start, since I’m not a starry-eyed, teenage girl, I was destined to despise TWILIGHT and all things like it. Sadly, that goes for this movie too. Now I did super-duper-dog-dare-swear try to go into this movie with as open a mind as possible, and for the most part I think I did, but I still didn’t like it. Not…one…little…bit. Well ok, maybe a wee bit, but I freely and openly admit that I’m not the target audience of this film, so keep that in mind when reading this review.

RED RIDING HOOD takes the (in)famous Grimm’s Fairy Tale and ladles on the spooky and the sexy, but since this film was shoehorned into he ever lucrative PG-13 pigeonhole to get at those TWILIGHT-ers, it’s not really much of either. In fact, as far as the sexiness goes, you can practically see RED chaffing under the constraints of producers’ self-imposed PG-13 mandate. It really wanted to be far more risqué then it actually was and I do think it’s sad that it couldn’t be if that’s what it really wanted to do. Regardless, it is still a pale shadow of a movie that came out before it that did the very same thing, only much better. But since Neil Jordan’s trippy THE COMPANY OF WOLVES was made way back in 1984, chances are that the vast majority of the people watching this movie wasn’t even born then. I guess that’s another great thing about making movies especially for teens; chances are good that they haven’t seen the earlier, better version of the movie you’re retreading now.

This time around “red” is a young girl named Valerie who gets in a love triangle (naturally) between a handsome and rich, but cold, nobleman and the handsome, dirty poor, but more passionate woodcutter she’s always kind of liked. Oh and if that wasn’t such a blatant smack upside the head to the TWILIGHT fans, one of the hunky guys is fair featured and the other is dark and smoldering, or at least that is how the filmmakers try to show off both suitors as often as possible. SUBTLE!

This love story is set in unspecified European town in unspecified “fairy tale time” that has been plagued for generations by a large, killer wolf. Well after so much death the Catholic Church finally decides to tack action because you see, the Big Bad Wolf is actually a werewolf and so it could be any of the townspeople. Ah, a mystery, at least that’s something this film has over the TWILIGHT flicks. Enter the monster hunter, played by Gary Oldman, so you from the start know he’s going to be at least a little nuts. And since he represents the church you also know he’s going to be cuckoo for witch burnings. Gee, can you guess who soon becomes the target for his persecution? Well since this film has had zero surprises thus far, I’m sure you can.

As far as looks goes, it’s a win/lose situation. The cinematography is actually very good and the whole thing screams, “This is a fairy tale!” from scene one at you almost as loudly as Ridley Scott did with LEGEND. That’s high praise in my book. However the CGI wolf ranges at times from simply “Seriously, that’s what they went with?” to “Bwah hah hah hah hah! Oh man is that horrible”. The direction also seems competent. It is clear that Catherine Hardwicke knows how to tell a story, I just wish she would choose better stories to tell in the future.

As far as the disc brought out by Warner Bros, it’s pretty good. It’s another of their great combo packs, combining the Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy. So no matter where or how you want to watch this film, you can. I only watched the Blu-ray of this film, but I was impressed with both the great looking High-Def picture and the well mastered sound design. The extras are none too shabby either. This version of the movie is listed as the “Alternate Cut” with a new “provocative” ending. There is also a running picture-in-picture commentary track with the director and stars, and I’m always a sucker for such things. A nice smattering of more goodies round things off, such as music videos, deleted scenes, a gag real, audition tapes, interviews and the like.

So while I thought RED RIDING HOOD was “meh” at best, the package as a whole gets a solid B. Perhaps even a B +. If you’re a teenage girl and a fan of the TWILIGHT series then you’ll probably like RED, so give it a shot. If you’re neither teenage or a girl and you like TWILIGHT…really? I mean, really, really? But hey, who am I to judge, go ahead and pick up a copy of RED RIDING HOOD too. Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone.

THE RITE- (2011)

Director: Mikael Håfström
Cast: Colin O'Donoghue, Anthony Hopkins and Ciarán Hinds

It must be hard to make movies about demonic possession. No other sub-genre of horror has such a long, dark shadow looming over it. There are a ton of zombie movies out there, and while watching them, you don’t always think back to the first and the best; NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. There are a gaggle of vampire flicks, but not all of them have the specter of DRACULA haunting them. Yet any movie about demonic possession made after 1973 has the masterful THE EXORCIST eclipsing them to some degree or another. Perhaps that’s because most seem content to ape that milestone movie in more than one way. But even those that try to do their own thing, like THE LAST EXORCISM, you can still see the shadow of little Regan MacNeil spinning her head 360 and vomiting out the green stuff. Does this latest “Satan inside you” film, backed by the heavy acting guns of Anthony Hopkins, buck the trend and firmly establish its own, unique stamp on the exorcism flicks?

Sadly, no. The movie’s not horrible, and watching Hopkins chew through the scenery is always entertaining if nothing else, but THE RITE brings absolutely nothing to the new table. Really, not one thing done here hasn’t already been done before in other films. Not that they were always done better in those previous movies than what happens in THE RITE, but an old, tired magic trick, no matter how good looking, is still old and tired. But let’s give the devil his due and get to the story.

A young priest having a crisis of faith (is there any other kind of young priests in movies?) is sent to Rome by his mentor and friend and enrolled in the booming exorcism school in an attempt to keep him wearing the collar. Even there, literally surrounded by Catholic Church and learning to do combat against the arch fiend, young Michael (oh, subtle – just wait to you meet his gal pal Angeline) is still leaning towards team non-believer. So Professor X-orcist sends Michael to the baldest, most legendary daemon butt-kicker of all time, Father Lucas Trevant, played by Anthony Hopkins. After watching Father Trevant in action a couple of times Michael is still not convinced, even after seeing a young girl speak in tongues, puke out nails, and act all slutty. Not even a visit from a red-eyed demonic donkey (no, really) completely convinces him. Hmm, demonic donkeys, maybe that is something unique? Well, sort of. I mean, DRAG ME TO HELLL did have a demonic goat.

Now what comes next may dip into spoiler territory a bit, but only if you’ve never heard anything at all about this movie, didn’t see the trailer, or just looked the DVD cover. Really, if this plot twist was supposed to be a secret, the words “epic fail” doesn’t even come close, but far be it from me to ruin anything out of hand so…


The best thing in THE RITE is when Anthony Hopkins’ priest character becomes possessed. That’s when Mr. Hopkins turns the scenery mulching machine that is his considerable talent into overdrive and starts having fun with the rather dull, plodding picture. Folks, this is what you came here to see and it is a lot of fun. Sadly it’s not even the slightest bit scary, but it is Hopkins acting crazy and badass, so what’s not to love? Well how about the fact that even this part of the film isn’t perfect, like when demo-Hopkins calls Michael “kissy lips” to insult him, which is just plain silly. Oh and I can’t forget the bad one-two-three punch of the whole thing coming too late in the film, not lasting long enough, and then having this big scary demon getting dispelled far too easily by wet-behind-the-ears-not-really-a-priest Michael. That said, I’m always a sucker for Anthony Hopkins doing his crazy bit.

END SPOILERS))))))))))))

The disc(s) for this film are as mixed bag as the movie itself. The good news is that it’s a Blu-ray, DVD, and digital download combo pack, so if you are a fan of this film you can watch the hell out of it in any way you want. As for the Blu-ray, the audio and video quality is both topnotch. However the extras are on the pretty disappointing side. I guess because this movie was based on “true events”, as it proudly proclaims over the title, the only extras here are some stuff on the priest and exorcism school that inspired this story. That’s fine if you believe in demonic possession and exorcisms, but if you’re just a horror movie fan like me, well you’ll be left with only a brief alternate ending that wasn’t all that thrilling as the only extra goodies pertaining to the movie.

I really can’t recommend THE RITE, but like I said earlier, it’s not horrible, so I won’t completely dissuade you from it either. If you’re a fan of Satan joyriding around inside of folks flicks, then here’s another one for your collection.

RUBBER– (2010)

Director: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida, Wings Hauser

When this film begins a car drives through the desert, knocking over chairs as it goes. When it stops, a cop gets out of the trunk, the driver hands him a full glass of water, and then the policeman address the audience directly, breaking the fourth wall. He then goes on a long monolog about how all movies have elements of “no reason” in them before getting back in the car’s trunk and driving away. Thus begins an 83 minuet exploration of things happening for…you guessed it…no reason. And by that I mean a group of people in the deserter using binoculars to watch a film about a tire that comes to life, starts rolling around on its own and blowing people’s heads up with its psychic powers. And well, that’s all there is to the story. The tire rolls here and there and occasionally takes a shower, people’s heads go boom in gory glory, the fourth wall is continually shattered, and more strange, odd, and completely WTF moments happen per minuet here than in any other movie I can remember.

Now I love strange movies, and a film about a living, breathing (yes, it breathes, not to mentions sleeps) psycho killer tire is about as strange as it comes, but RUBBER is a one joke film and even though it’s not even an hour and a half in length, it starts to feel a little long around the halfway mark. Just watching the tire roll around and kill folks isn’t enough substance to fill up a feature length movie. Sure there are a bunch of characters, but none of them are ever fleshed out past the stock cardboard cutout stage, and most just serve to be victims of the tire’s rolling wrath. Yes there are some good head blowing up scenes, lots of silly bits of “huh?” that will make you giggle, and even some T&A for the audience (both the in movie audience and those out of the movie) to enjoy, but that’s it. It’s weird solely for the sake of being weird and I honestly don’t know if writer/director Quentin Dupieux first had the idea of wanting to make a movie about a killer tire, or he wanted to make the strangest film imaginable and only later came up with the idea of using a sentient tire as the lead. Whatever came first, the idea works, but only for so long.

The Blu-ray from Magnolia’s Magnet home video arm does make the movie look a lot better than any film about a killer tire should. I mean you just haven’t seen a tire rolling around until you’ve seen it in High-def. Unfortunately the extras on this disc are only so-so. There’s no commentary track and if ever there was a film that could have used one, it’s RUBBER. There is an interview with the director and three more with three of the actors, although sadly no one thought to interview the tire. There are some camera tests, a trailer, and a short HDNet behind the scenes look at the movie but that’s it for the goodies, folks. So it’s not a completely barebones release, but it is far from stuffed with extras.

RUBBER is a fun, goofy, and dare I say even zany flick that I enjoyed quite a lot, but I do think it would have worked better as a short film rather than a feature. That said, it is certainly worth a watch and I guarantee you won’t see another movie like it…well, ever.


Director: Armand Weston
Cast: Robin Groves, Christopher Loomis, Michael David Lally

I must have seen the box art for this 80s horror flick a thousand times on the shelves of a dozen mom & pop video rental stores and yet I never did see it. Why? Because with a title like THE NESTING I assumed it was about killer bugs or something and I preferred my horror back then to be of a more slasher, zombie, demonic, or ghostly nature. But, if I had taken a moment to read the back of this movie’s box, I might have been surprised. Sort of like how I was surprised when I got this new Blu-ray in the mail from my buddies over at Blue Underground. You see, THE NESTING has nothing to do with bugs, or birds, or anything that actually nests. It is, in fact, the most poorly named haunted house movie in history, or at least a contender for the title. It should have stuck with its more sensational, and accurate, alternate title MASSACRE MANSION. Even the alternate, alternate title of PHOBIA is more accurate than THE NESTING. But horrible title aside, is the movie any good? Let’s find out.

A lady author of a mystery novel called “The Nesting” (and yes, that’s the only explanation for the title of this film that you get) named Lauren is suffering from agoraphobia. To help get over it she leaves the big city for a working vacation in the countryside. Hmm, sounds more like cityphobia, but whatever. She comes across a rundown octagon house that she swears she has never seen before, and yet it resembles the house on the cover of her last book. Clearly not getting the clue that she should STAY THE HELL OUT OF THAT HOUSE, she rents it for the summer and almost immediately starts seeing weird things happening. But I give Lauren this much, she realizes that she’s in a haunted house in record time for being in a haunted house movie.

Since the mystery author loves a good mystery, she starts looking into the history of the unusual house and why she not only keeps seeing strange things, but keeps having bizarre dreams of someone else’s life. This leads to the owner of the house, the always creepy John Carradine, who naturally has a dark secret. Uncovering this secret is at the heart of this movie, and while you may see the twist coming way in advance, there enough good stuff between there and here to keep you watching, including pretty darn good acting from Robin Groves as our lead, a surprise slasher-like effect or two, and some glorious over acting by the town fool/scumbag. But unfortunately, that’s about all this film has. The plot sort of just plods along, checking off the boxes as it goes, never really doing anything bad, but not doing anything new, either. THE NEXTING is a by the numbers haunted house film, as such it was a fun watch, if not a completely memorable one.

While the film was only so-so, Blue Underground has done a good job restoring and up-converting the old 1981 film to High-Def. While not as bright as modern movies on Blu-ray, it nonetheless looks really good. Thankfully it still has the look of film to it and I’ll take that any day over the overly polished till it looks like plastic look of most modern flicks. Sadly, the extras are nothing to write home about. There are a few deleted and extended scenes, but they add nothing new. Trailers, TV spots, and poster and photo galleries are it for the goodies.

THE NESTING is an OK fright film that has flew under my horror radar for too long thanks to a misleading, nonsensical title. While it was not spectacular or anything, it does have a few good frights and a neat little mystery to puzzle out, which is more than what I can say for many ghostly movies. If you’ve been waiting for this film to resurface after a very long absence or you’re a fan of haunted houses in general then thank the folks over at Blue Underground for bringing back this all but forgotten fright film. Here’s hoping they continue to bring more rare horror flicks to the modern age.

--Brian M. Sammons