Friday, November 4, 2011

Editorial November 2011 e-issue #29

By Nickolas Cook
The Black Glove Magazine

This is going to be a personal sort of editorial this month, a little peek into the world of a struggling horror writer, who also happens to edit an online horror culture and entertainment magazine, and is a martial arts student/instructor, with a fairly severe recent handicap to deal with while trying to keep ahead of contracted deadlines. So I warn you now, if this sort of personal open letter stuff annoys you or bores you, please feel free to look at the pretty pictures, play the videos below and/or skip this section. I felt the need to talk my way past the stress this month. No meltdowns or anything, just some honest talk about where I'm at in my life and my writing.

It’s been a very hectic couple of months for me, writing wise. I have several novels all coming out within weeks of each other, so I’ve been busy doing my edits on the novels before turning them into their respective publishers, so that they may hopefully do their own edits on each work, thereby making me look even better. And some of the books I am still in the process of writing, so I’m very much under the gun these days to get hundreds of thousands of words written in a fairly short amount of time.

See, I sent out all these submissions all at once to different publishers—some for finished materials and others for perspective material which still needed finishing up. Silly me…I should have known what kind of trouble I was asking for by doing so. Ever hear the old adage: Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true?

Yeah, that’s pretty much how I’ve been feeling in the last few weeks since I suddenly got a deluge of contracts for not one or two books, but five books…all in a row.

Three of those books make up a zombie apocalypse trilogy called CITIES IN DUST (BOOK ONE: DISINTEGRATION, BOOK TWO: DEAD SOULS and BOOK THREE: DOMINION), so we’re talking about a lot of structuring which needs to take place between each novel, so that the narrative and the character arcs all fall into line and lend themselves to a sense of clean, smooth aesthetic. On top of that, I am approaching this from an angle which has never been used in zombie fiction before, and also using John Bunyon’s “A Pilgrim’s Progress” as a sort of narrative outline for some of the characters in each of the books. It’s something which I’ve been planning for several years, in my head, putting pieces together a bit at a time, until I felt I had the gist of where I wanted this trilogy to start and where I wanted it to end. Now writing all the stuff in the middle is where I get to have fun with it. Let’s just hope I can pull it off.

Another book that will be due very shortly is the all original, novel length sequel to my bestselling book to date, ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND, a mashup of Lewis Carroll’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND and zombies. My new book will be called ALICE AND THE QUEEN OF THE DEAD. I’m hoping it finds as large a readership as the mashup has. If not, then I can at least feel as if I tried to add my own voice to the ongoing legacy of Mr. Carroll’s enduring story.

And the last novel I have due by the end of this week is the first book in a series of non-horror novels called DEAD DOG, which features a couple of reoccurring good old boys called Max and Little Billy. They’re best friends who have both recently returned from their tours of duty in the Vietnam War and now with the war over, they’ve both come back home to settle again. They both grew up living between the legal and illegal, running moonshine and whatever else they needed to do to survive in a depressed circa 1970s Southern economy. DEAD DOG finds them going up against the local redneck drug czar when they do their informal investigation on the torture death of a young boy who is the son of a well known local good for nothing, abusive shitheel with connections to the drug czar.

Although these won’t be horror novels per say, they will each deal with the darker sides of the human animal, much like Joe R, Lansdale’s “Hap Collins and Leonard Pine” series, Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” series, John D, MacDonald’s “Travis McGee” series, and one of my new favorite authors of the last few years, Dennis Lehane’s “Kenzie-Gennaro” series of outstanding novels. I’m hoping that DEAD DOG will allow me to continue writing more books with these guys, as I’ve come to feel very close to them in the past two years of writing the first two books, DEAD DOG and the 2nd book which I am finishing now, DON’T FEAR THE REAPER, which will pit them against their own personal demons as they track down a roving serial killer who has come to town to kill young women.

These books are probably the best I’ve written to date, and they’re special to me because they’re set in my hometown, Yulee, Florida. It was, and probably still is by most standards, not much more than a little backwards redneck community. Although I understand from people whom I knew growing up who still reside there that it has grown quite a bit since I last saw it in the spring of 1997.

To top all of this off, I turned 42 a couple of weeks ago.

When I was in my early twenties, I was head over heels in love with Clive Barker's writing. I read everything and anything I could find by him or about him. I set myself the goal of being a professional writer by the same age as Mr. Barker, who was one of THE rising horror star towards the late 1980s, at least he was here in America. Most of the horror writers I loved during that period were around that same age range and had "made it". I didn't get my first novel published until I was 38 years old and let's just say it didn't exactly take the genre by storm. In fact, I'm willing to bet BALEFUL EYE (which is currently out of print with the original publisher now, StoneGarden.Net, but is looking good for a reprint with another publisher in 2012) probably didn't sell more than a couple of dozen copies. Not what I'd call an impactful publication, right?

Now, as I make my way towards the half century mark, I find myself examining what that term means , to "make it".

Have I "made it" yet? I've had several books published in the last five years, one of which has sold several thousand copies, which is more than most horror writers in the small press can say, and a short story collection which is selling very, very slowly, but is selling. And I have as many again coming out within the next 12 months.

Does this mean I've "made it"? Hell if I know. I just keeping writing and submitting and signing contracts and hoping that at some point the momentum of so many publications, name recognition and more skillful storytelling will eventually make me feel as if I've "made it". Right now, I just feel like I'm trying to run up an ever-steepening hill, trying to do better with every new story or novel I write.

But what the heck does any of this have to do with this month’s editorial? Not much, other than to explain why there was no editorial last month and why there won’t be much of one this month, maybe for the next couple of months, in fact.

Getting these five books out as per the contracted deadline is super important to me right now. After all, as much as I love writing and editing for this online magazine, and sharing my passion for all things horror related, being a professional writer has been my dream since I was a little kid. I didn’t have much a shot to do so when I was in my twenties and thirties because I had a full time job and other responsibilities to attend, which made it difficult to sit as much as I needed to put the time into honing my craft to a level that is good enough to make people want to buy anything I write.

Hell, I’m not so sure I’ve attained that level even now, but the difference is, now, I don’t have much of choice.

Since my injury in 2009- a complete rupture of my right Achilles tendon- the subsequent multiple operations, and the chronic infections which ate away most of the repaired tendon, part of my heel bone and a good chunk of flesh which became necrotic because of it, I’ve been pretty much unable to do a real 9 to 5 job like I had before. What I have been able to do, once I pulled myself far enough out of the deep depression in which all of this left me, I had the time I needed to write myself well again. That’s how DEAD DOG came about. I wrote about how I felt, and before I knew it, I had a protagonist (Max) and his best friend (Little Billy), who, somewhere by the middle of the novel, an alter ego, a sort Yang to Max’s Ying. I began to speak through these guys, telling my own stories about my growing up in Yulee, and thereby getting rid of a lot of the demons which were riding my ass when I discovered that I was no longer a young man and that I was no longer physically sound…that, indeed, I was handicapped. And let me tell you: You may think to yourself getting a life long limp and the inability to perform ballistic actions with one leg isn’t that big of deal, but when your life sort of revolves around martial arts, the way mine has in the last few years, it is a hell of a blow to your emotions.

I know, I know…I’m lucky this is all I have to deal with. I know there are people who live their entire lives much worse off than me. I know I’m fortunate that the operations save me from dying of toxic poisoning from the infections. I know all of this…but it still sucks not being able to run again, not being able to perform a simple thing like a two legged jumping jack, or to use both legs to push with or to do anything physically ballistic with my right leg. All because of bad luck and a couple of doctors who decided they didn’t have time to properly diagnose my infection.

Some people might think it’s a small price to pay to be able to sit and write all day. I’m here to tell you, it’s not. In context, it’s a rather high price to pay, and one which I will keep on paying for until the day I die, which will, by the way, be the only time I won’t be in pain 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

But thank God I had the writing to save me. A lot of people don’t and they keep on the self destructive path which I found myself on within a year of becoming permanently handicapped, and they continue to drink, continue to abuse the pain meds, and they don’t have much in their lives to look forward to, no goals other than the next round of meds, the next drink, anything to help them live with the pain and the thought that they’re now less than they were before.

I was damned lucky in that I had the ability, the tools and the wherewithal to know where my salvation lay: in writing about what was hurting me inside. It was therapeutic, to say the least. When I finished the first book I’d been able to write in over two years, it felt like a weight had been lifted off of me. And I knew right then that I was going to live through this ordeal; that I was going to be a stronger person for it.

I won’t lie and say it hasn’t left me with some nasty scars, both physically and mentally. Ask my wife: she’ll be the first one to tell you that I’m not the man I was before this happened. But who can go through something like this and not have it change them? I guess I don’t want to meet the person who can do so. To me, it means they aren’t really all that connected with themselves or their world if they could shrug off such a life altering event as what I’ve been through because of a split second of being whole and then not being whole anymore. It changes a person. I’ve tried to not let it drag me down, and when it does, I try not to let it drag me down for too long and too far.

But let’s not dwell on the negative. I’m more than ready to look at the positive aspects of what my life is now. I still have the love of my wife, other than my leg, I’m healthy as a horse, and I’m still able to do my martial arts, even if not at the same intensity as I once enjoyed. And, more importantly, I lived to write another day.

With another Christmas around the corner, I find myself counting the blessings I do have. I think in today’s world, with all the terrible realities we’re forced to cope with on a daily basis, it’s important not to sell short those good things we enjoy. The simple things. The good things. So here’s to hoping the next year proves to be even better than the last one. Here’s to living life and enjoying it without living in the shadows and letting the badness inherent in this world drag you down into a miasma of depression and loathing.

And, finally, here’s to hoping that your holidays will be merry and bright and full of love and good cheer. Be safe. Be kind. And above all, be generous to others during this time of the year. It only takes a moment to hold a door open for someone or to say “thank you” and “please”. It will help smooth the rough waters that a lot of people experience at this time of the year.

Merry Christmas from The Black Glove Magazine staff, folks.

And just to start off the countdown the right way, here's a little Charlie Brown Christmas. I know if was a tradition in our family to watch this every year.

--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 several new releases forthcoming from various publishers. Stay tuned for more news on his official website and his Facebook Page as listed below

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

Co-Editor: Brian M. Sammons has been writing reviews on all things horror for more years than he'd care to admit. 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, Monstrous, and Dead but Dreaming 2. Some of the magazines where you can find his twisted tales are Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, and Dark Animus. He co-edited the upcoming anthology Cthulhu Unbound 3, has his first novella coming out called The R'lyeh Singularity, co-written with David Conyers, and is currently editing other fright collections, including the soon to be release Undead & Unbound. For more about this guy whose neighbors describe as "such
nice, quiet man" you can check out his very infrequently updated webpage here:

BIll Breedlove is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in publications such as RedEye, Chicago Tribune, Metazen, InSider, The Fortune News, Encyclopedia of Actuarial Science, Bluefood, and Playboy Online. Some of his stories can be found in the books TALES OF FORBIDDEN PASSION, STRANGE CREATURES, TAILS FROM THE PET SHOP, BOOK OF DEAD THINGS, CTHULHU & THE COEDs and BLOOD AND DONUTS. He is also the editor of the anthologies CANDY IN THE DUMPSTER, WAITING FOR OCTOBER, LIKE A CHINESE TATTOO, MIGHTY UNCLEAN, WHEN THE NIGHT COMES DOWN and (with John Everson) SWALLOWED BY THE CRACKS. He lives in Chicago.

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

Carey M. Copeland has worked in television, radio and film. He has been a special effects artist on several film and TV productions, through The Joe Blasco Makeup Academy of Orlando Florida. Having worked at Sally Industries (now Sally Corp) , he helped design dark ride exhibits around the world, including the E.T. ride at Universal Studios Florida. Carey has been a lifelong horror fan and knew after seeing a rerun of “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD” that he wanted to make monsters for a living. Carey says, “I love the creativity of the movies from 1930’s to 1990’s. It seems that with the creation of more affordable computers, the solid effects artist has become almost extinct. When you see a movie now, it’s almost all CGI, with practically no hands-on sculpting and molding. ”

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 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

JW Schnarr is a writer from Claresholm, AB. He works as a reporter/photographer by day and a horror writer/publisher by night. He is the author of "Things Falling Apart" and Alice & Dorothy.  JW can be reached at

Anthony Servante is a college professor who teaches languages and literature. He has Masters degrees in English Literature and Political Science. His Master's thesis described the Grotesque in German and English Romantic novels and short stories. He has written music and book reviews for the campus newspapers where he studied and where he has taught. When he is not teaching, he sells horror, sf, fantasy, and mystery books at Science Fiction Conventions across Southern California. He has followed horror in all forms since he was a kid.

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:

Wanna Write for The Black Glove?

If you're interested in writing your very own column, or just want to write reviews for your favorite horror movies and/or books, send me an email at While we can't pay for the content, I can promise horror fans around the world will read your stuff.

--Nickolas Cook

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

HORROR: 100 BEST BOOKS edited by Stephen Jones and Kim Newman
This book tied for the first Stoker award given for non-fiction work. It shouldn't have. It should have won it outright.

Now, mind, the book which shared the award was Harlan Ellison's Watching, a compilation of his movie reviews (which could be more accurately described as essays on the movie industry.) In my opinion, it's one of the top essay books produced in Speculative Fiction... on a par with Barry Malzberg's Engines of the Night, Thomas F. Monteleone's Mothers And Fathers Italian Association and Algis Budrys's Benchmarks. It is a brilliant book by a brilliant man. It required copious quantities of time, experience and effort to produce that book, whereas Jones and Newman had to do considerable editorial and production work but did not have to write much for their book.

If the award were about personal effort, that would be one thing. But it's about the best book. I've recommended Watching to people over the years and I've reread it twice. On the other side of things I've given copies of Horror : 100 Best Books to people as gifts and I can't guess at the times I've read the essays within, much less used it as a helpful reference.
Jones and Newman contacted dozens of influential horror professionals (writers, editors, publishers) and asked them each to contribute an essay about the horror book they felt was the best. The only rule seems to have been against duplication: if a book had already been selected by someone, another book would have to be chosen by the professional. They also culled some old essays written by authors like H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James regarding books they held in singularly high regard. The end result was a trek through the history of the best horror books ever produced, as judged by people who knew the business but had strikingly different tastes. There are books where the horror is immersed in violence and others where the terrors are merely suggested. Psychological horror. Supernatural effects. Horror of the speculative future and horror of the fantastic. Obvious titles and works of relative obscurity.

All of it is exceptional, and all of the picks are explained in detail by the contributors. The essays trend toward two pages, sometimes more and sometimes less, and they are prefaced by a summary preface to each essay written by the editors which explains salient points of the book judged to be the best by the essayist.

It is, strangely, a recursive sort of book, because it probably deserves to be on its own list of 100 best. It is a necessary read for any horror fan, and a copy should probably be on the shelves of every horror writer.

Five stars out of five.


This 1987 publication is Moorcock's assessment of fantastic literature. It is authoritative, opinionated, elegant and interesting. I often found I didn't agree with his assessments of things, but he always presented his points in a compelling and understandable fashion. I could also not find fault with the substance of his complaints or praises, only disagreed with his analyses of that substance.

Moorcock is no stranger to speaking his opinion about literature. He spent time as an editor for New Worlds magazine and between his writing and editing was significantly responsible for the literary growth of the fantasy and science fiction genres during the 1960s. His fantasy and science fiction literature has been influential for two subsequent generations of writers and has garnered awards and plaudits from fans and professionals alike.

It was republished by Monkeybrain books in 2004. This was a favor to readers everywhere, because the book has a lot to offer. Moorcock presents his opinions about what is good and bad about fantastic literature and selects examples to bolster those views. He throws a variety of beloved authors under the metaphorical bus during his presentation: Robert E. Howard is affectionately called on what Moorcock sees as failings, for example; Lovecraft is lambasted and Tolkien is eviscerated. Other authors such as Clark Ashton Smith and Mervyn Peake are held up as examples of the success of the field. All of it follows rationally from Moorcock's personal views on what makes literature palatable or compelling, and due to that context any reasonable reader is left with valuable information and an appealing perspective on the field.

I find the book's biggest flaw to be the source of one of its greatest successes: it drips with Moorcock's viewpoint. The book is subtitled "A Study of Epic Fantasy", but it is less a study than a dissemination. There is neither attempt nor pretense toward scholarly reserve but rather a fearless approach to the subject matter and an assumption that the author's views are fundamentally correct. For a lesser author this would seriously injure and possibly destroy the book; for Moorcock it merely prevents it from being a defining work in fantastic analysis.

Four stars out of five.


BLOODLINES: Serial Horror in Fiction #5: Horrorscope by Robert Lory

by Bill Lindblad

I am annoyed by Robert Lory.

The man had a career many authors today would love to boast about: more than twenty books to his name, including multiple series. An author for Ace Doubles, which have a collector and readership love which remains forty years after the series has ended. A handful of titles which have become prized (and fairly expensive) collectors items. Published in If and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

What annoys me about the man is simply this: his work seems to have been forgotten by all but a handful of people. What annoys me more is that, despite some trashy covers and cover copy, the writing is surprisingly good; if it were otherwise I wouldn't be upset by his fade into the shadows. What annoys me most is that he's from Houston, a couple of hours' drive from the most recent World Horror Convention, and he didn't attend.
I know the theme was focused on newer voices in horror, but to be honest there are comparatively few American writers who produced horror in the 1970s and I doubt the organizers would have hesitated to include Lory in programming. I wish I'd realized he was from Houston, I'd have told them about him.

Why am I impressed enough to be irritated about this? In part because of this series.

First, and most importantly, this is not an innovative series. It is Pinnacle being Pinnacle, demanding a word count and focusing on what they "knew" readers wanted. The result is a set of four novels (five if you count the obscure German-edition only Cancer book) that revisit the same ground that Roger Corman and Hammer had mined for a decade before. You're not getting Oxrun Station here, you're not getting Kane, you're not even getting Hot Blood. Instead it's a bunch of self-contained short novels whose only associative themes are a supernatural element and an aspect which can be paired to one of the signs of the Astrological Zodiac.

There's nothing in the Taurus novel that a person wouldn't get from watching one of the Dr. Phibes movies, nothing that would inspire a person to read the Gemini novel instead of watching Matheson's TV movie treatments of the Kolchak stories. But Lory made them enjoyable.

Secondly, despite the formulaic nature of the books the author managed to surprise me on occasion. They reminded me of the original Blade movie with Wesley Snipes or many of the later Bond films: lacking originality, but handling their material well and loading the story with so many predictable elements that it becomes easy to forget one or two and be pleasantly surprised when they are reintroduced during the story. (Ah, so THAT'S why they gave him the explosive pen in the first act!).

These books are a great example of an author doing good things within the limitations of his material, and they are easily among the least of his work. I'm left to wonder what he might have done under a better publisher during the boom time of the 1980s, and left to encourage readers to try this series, so long as they know what they're going to get from it.

--Bill Lindblad

Cybernocturnalism: The New Age of Horror Publishing

By Anthony Servante

With Lori R. Lopez, Kealan Patrick Burke, and Jimmy Pudge contributing.

“The Tower of Ebabel” refers to the proliferation of electronic formats available to readers to download their ebooks. Publishing has come into the 21st century with a vengeance. Here anyone can be published. No longer does an author need to wait on the acceptance of a paper publisher; he can now simply publish himself on one of the many media: personal or professionally run websites, on Amazon, Smashwords, Nook, Ipad, Kindle, or pdf. On the other side of the coin, there is a deluge of ebooks being published. Authors of paper books are entering the lucrative e-market, while a new crop of e-authors, who publish exclusively on the internet, are flooding the market. These latter authors publish via a convenient format and promote themselves on social networks such as Facebook or MySpace.

In the book Future Shock (1970), author Alvin Toffler warns readers that “too much change in too little time” creates a vacuum between what we as readers can read and the numbers of books being published daily that we want to read. We can never catch up; we cannot read everything as the future closes in on us faster each and every day. The pool becomes diluted, and we must wade through more and more sub par readings just to get to a handful of good books. As a reviewer of books and movies, I find myself skimming through books more and more and fast-forwarding movies more than I’d like because there is so much bad stuff out there that it is a rare pleasure to find a good novel, novella, or short story like finding a nugget of gold while plowing through a pile of rocks.

Thus it is that fans of the Horror genre are faced with “future shock”, the deluge of ebooks hitting the market from professional and amateur authors alike, a vast selection that weighs upon the buyer to be more selective with his purchases. Cyberspace has become crowded with stories from known and not-yet known authors, some bringing premium work to the market, others sharing tales that fall below publishable standards in the paper book business. The massive shadow of ebooks has influenced the literature of Horror in both predictable and unpredictable ways.

I call this shadow, Cybernocturnalism.

I approached three authors to discuss this trend, their role in its growth, its effect on Horror as a genre, and its potential effect on paper publishing. Before we proceed to their opinions on Cybernocturnalism, allow me to introduce our participants:

1. Lori R. Lopez

“Lori R. Lopez writes novels, a number of book series, poetry and columns in a variety of genres including Horror, Fantasy and Humor. Available titles include a collection of strange tales, Out-Of-Mind Experiences, and a Horror-Fantasy novel, Dance Of The Chupacabras (Tome One of The Tome Trilogy Of Trilogies).

Her stories and verse appear in anthologies such as an H.P. Lovecraft tribute (Arcanium Axiom), Deadication (Panic Press), ePocalypse (Pill Hill Press), I Believe In Werewolves (Netbound Publishing), Masters Of Horror: Damned If You Don't (Triskaideka Books), Soup Of Souls (Panic Press), Bleed . . . And They Will Come (Panic Press), and fifteen of Lori's poems were published for an anthology titled In Darkness We Play (Triskaideka Books), as well as magazines: Ghosts And Haunts; Women Empowerment. Lori is a renegade indie author who believes creative writing should not be standardized or conventional. She has two sons and a website:” Lori is about to enter the e-market after years as a paper author.

2. Kealan Patrick Burke

“Born and raised in Dungarvan, Ireland, Kealan Patrick Burke is an award-winning author described as "a newcomer worth watching" (Publishers Weekly) and "one of the most original authors in contemporary horror" (Booklist).

Some of his works include the novels KIN, MASTER OF THE MOORS, CURRENCY OF SOULS, THE HIDES, and THE LIVING, the novellas THE TURTLE BOY (Bram Stoker Award Winner, 2004), VESSELS, JACK & JILL, SELDOM SEEN IN AUGUST, YOU IN?, and MIDLISTERS, and the collections RAVENOUS GHOSTS, THE NUMBER 121 TO PENNSYLVANIA & OTHERS (Bram Stoker Award-Nominee, 2009), and THEATER MACABRE.

Kealan also edited the anthologies: TAVERNS OF THE DEAD (starred review, Publishers Weekly), BRIMSTONE TURNPIKE, QUIETLY NOW (International Horror Guild Award Nominee, 2004), the charity anthology TALES FROM THE GOREZONE and NIGHT VISIONS 12 (starred review, Publishers Weekly, British Fantasy Award & International Horror Guild Award nominee).

A movie based on his short story "Peekers", directed by Mark Steensland (DEAD @ 17), and scripted by veteran novelist Rick Hautala (Bedbugs, The Mountain King), is now available for viewing online, and more stories have recently been optioned.

He recently played the male lead in Greg Lamberson's film SLIME CITY MASSACRE, the long-awaited sequel to the cult classic SLIME CITY, now available on Blu-Ray and DVD, with a limited theatrical release to follow.

Kealan is a member of the International Thriller Writers Organization.” He publishes in both paper and electronic markets.

Visit him on the web at or visit his blog at

3. Jimmy Pudge

Jimmy Pudge has self-published, Yo A$$ is Grass: Tales From a Rednek Gangsta (2010), Bad Billy (2011), and Chasing Vampyres (TBA). Born 06-09-1972. Jimmy has always wanted to be a writer. After years of rejection slips from paper publishers, he ventured into the e-market, creating a persona that is part ‘gangsta’ and part Barnum and Bailey. He, in essence, is a performance artist whose act is publishing books. Visit him at

Round One
I. Lori R. Lopez
Hi, Anthony. Thank you for the invitation! Here are my initial replies. I'm putting together my first E-book release this month.

How will the Horror genre change, if at all, with the influx of so many e-authors?

There is in all genres the concern that quality will suffer, and I have seen a shortage of proper editing in some such books. There are bound to be more retreads of the same trite plots, more copycats, but I trust there will also emerge fresh voices and perspectives that might otherwise have gone unheard. This is the best thing about independent authors taking control of the publishing reins. I think it's an exciting age to live in, for both electronic media and print books. Horror, like Science Fiction, can benefit enormously from a broader range of ideas. I just hope the books worth reading will be able to stand out in an overcrowded marketplace.

As print authors seek to e-publish old books, do e-authors look for acceptance in traditional paper print?

My personal preference is still paper, but I will soon release my first E-book as well as convert my print books to digital versions. I think authors should take full advantage of both forms of publishing. There's simply no reason not to with ready access to websites that make publishing attainable. It is no longer the dream and the privilege of the elite few. E-authors who are serious about promotion and sales will want to reach the widest audience possible.

The cream of the crop will rise from this massive e-author influx: will the cream be competitive with the old school authors who see e-publishing as a minor extension of their paper books?

I think there is room for any author who has something legitimate to say. An old-school print author could begin to see the E-book sales as comparable or better than print, while the E-author "cream" could find stiffer competition from established print authors who may have longevity and a larger fanbase on their side. They might also have larger promotions and physical book signings. The E-authors would be wise to learn from seasoned veterans of the trade and vice versa. Like any industry, publishing is evolving and authors need to stay flexible to grow and change with it. I believe the two sides can benefit each other.

II. Kealan Patrick Burke
Hi, Anthony,
I think, of this new wave of horror authors, not all of them want to be published in print unless they can do it themselves, i.e. e-publishing has given writers so much control over all aspects of the process that it's made it harder for them to relinquish any of that control to mainstream print publishers. Add to this the belief that print publishers are evil, an oft-cried motto that I find unappealing and not always true, to be honest, and you're left with writers who came into being and will stay in digital regardless of the pros and cons.

I agree with your assessment that the good will rise to the top, and the rest will fall by the wayside. This is inevitable. However, I don't think it will be categorized by "old" versus "new" schools. I think, rather, that it will come down to quality. And there's a lot of quality out there. A lot of bad stuff too, of course, but over the years, I've come across many phenomenal books by unknown authors who stayed unknown because no one would publish them. This is one of the many reasons I celebrate digital publishing. It finally allows some really good writers to get their work out there to the reader where it belongs, without having to run the gauntlet of some agents and publishers who are only looking for the next big thing, and don't always see it when it's right under their noses. By that same token though, you have a lot of work out there that could have benefited greatly by the gauntlet. Rejections by editors and publishers when I was first starting out, inspired me to do better, to improve my craft, so that when I finally cracked the markets I was targeting, it felt like a major achievement, and one I had worked toward obsessively. In the current climate, writers seem to take rejections personally, and opt for digital publishing to avoid the blow to their ego. Typically though, their books don't sell, or get negative reviews, and then their ego suffers anyway. And this is what worries me. A lot of people out there are using e-publishing as a way to get instant gratification, and money. They want to be the Next Big Thing, the Next Big Success Story, the next Amanda Hocking. And like Hocking said in an interview, she did what she did because she wanted to be famous. John Locke did it to make money. Frustrated writers are being given a carrot to e-publish, and it's sometimes the wrong one. They're obsessed with sales figures and fame and money, not with bettering their craft and not always about telling the best story they can. I have seen this first hand on message boards. In one case, a writer openly asked everybody what they thought he should write so he could sell a ton of e-books. He wanted to know what was hot so he could cash in on it. Which is fine, I guess, if money's the object. But when I saw this, I went to Amazon, downloaded an excerpt of his one and only book, and it looked like he had thrown 40,000 words into a bingo machine and published the results.

The writing is what needs to matter. Yes, we've become publishers and business people, but we're storytellers at heart, or at least, we're supposed to be. I have no delusions of massive success, and that's just fine by me. I've already accomplished my goal, which is to have my books widely available for anyone who wants to read them. And every time I get an email from someone who enjoyed my book, I know I'm doing something right. I tell stories. I do it for a living. And it's the best job in the world.

As far as whether or not horror will change as a result of e-publishing, in terms of content, I don't think so, at least no more than it always does over the years. Horror evolves with time regardless of the format, and writers do too. I do think we'll see shorter stuff making a comeback, though. Short story collections, anthologies, and novellas, ordinarily a hard sell in print, will enjoy a return to the shelf, and I couldn't be happier about that. Some of the most powerful work ever written in horror was novella-length. So, no, I don't think e-publishing will have a drastic effect on the type of work we're producing (unless we take the ill-advised route of trying to copycat the more successful authors), but it will change how we're able to market it.

Back to the old school versus new school - I don't think it comes down to that. It's all about what appeals to readers. I'll use myself as an example. My backlist is now available digitally. Up until this year, the only way you'd be able to get your hands on copies of most of my books, was to either get one at the library, buy it direct from the publisher for around $40 as a signed limited edition, or get it on the secondary market after it sold out (sometimes cheaper, sometimes ridiculously more expensive). My books were tailored to the collectors, with low-print runs. So, despite great reviews, awards, etc., the books never got mass exposure. Now, readers who couldn't afford my books back in the day, can pick them up for a couple of bucks and read them instantly. And readers who'd never heard of me are discovering them too. So I don't really think it matters which school the author comes from. Again it'll come down to what's good and what isn't. I am just as likely to buy a Stephen King e-book as I am to buy one by a new author I've heard raves about.

Bottom line: It's an exciting time to be an author, and an even more exciting time for horror, as long as we don't forget where our hearts are. Parchment, paper, cocktail napkin or electrons, formats don't matter, but quality should.

III. Jimmy Pudge
1. Will horror change with this new wave of e-authors and will they lead the way or will they follow the dominating old-school authors?

Yes, I believe horror will change. I think all genres are constantly evolving. Having platforms like Amazon and Smashwords give writers with very unique perspectives a chance to revolutionize the horror field which they may have normally been excluded from in the past by the “in crowd” of horror. What I mean by in crowd is a group of horror writers, agents and publishers who network, attend conventions, and join horror writing organizations. It’s no coincidence that many of the horror books you picked up five years ago read alike. I look at this new period in horror, fantasy, romance, etc…as a new golden age of pulp fiction. The demand for e-Books are there, it’s a huge market, one that’s got the traditional publishing companies scared, so you’re going to see more unknown writers emerging from obscurity than you’ve seen since the pulp fiction magazines. As a result of this, you’re going to see some new and exciting ideas emerging. As far as e-authors leading the way, I feel in some cases that may be true. The people who will lead the way will be the most talented and creative writers. Sure, you’ll have tons of hacks who are out there writing e-books similar to their icons. There were a lot of hacks in traditional publishing trying to write like their icons. Some of those hacks made it pretty far and are now considered old-school authors. You’ll also get those talented individuals who are full of originality and bring experimental works to the table that shakes everything up. As far as following old-school authors in the e-book field in terms of marketing, no, these new e-writers will not follow that path, unless they’re rich or well-connected. What’s going to happen is you’ll see Amazon and eventually Barnes and Noble offer contracts to the big name authors. They’ll transform themselves into publishing houses and market the hell out of the already famous writers. The new guys are going to have to market themselves aggressively on Facebook and Twitter and do tons of interviews and whatever else they can to get people to notice them online. They’re not going to have a free publicity ride at all.

2. What will it take to survive this deluge of e-authors, to be the cream that rises to the top of this deluge?

You have to be original and write something that people will enjoy. You have to impress people with your grammar and layout skills. You have to constantly promote your work, so people will know that it exists. If you’re a newbie, not someone who has tons of friends in the field, and you have no money for a publicist, then you’ll have to put in tons of hours to get your novel out there. The fact is you may have written the greatest novel in the world, but no one will buy it if they don’t know it exists. You also need to network with other writers. Find out what they’re doing and what is working for them.

3. Can e-authors compete with old-schoolers?

Here’s what’s so wonderful about the e-book explosion. New authors who keep their prices dirt cheap, and I’m talking 99 cents cheap, will get the impulse buy from people. It’s the same principle as I-Tunes. You see a song, listen to the sample, and decide 99 cents is worth the risk. You buy it impulsively. It’s only a click away. The same process exists for e-Books. Now, if your book sucks, then the chances of repeat business is going to be poor. But the fact is, many people are going to be flocking to these cheap e-books, keeping away from the traditional authors because their publishing houses will list those e-Books at $5 or higher. Already, the process is reversed. Already, the old-school authors are looking into self-publishing. Stephen King’s 81 Mile is only $2.99, an incredibly cheap price for a new King product. Other well-known authors are turning to self-publishing, and their books are cheap: Lawrence Block, W.D. Gagliani, Bryan Smith, etc…
Now, here’s the problem for the old-school authors. They must always write okay books in order to compete from this point forward. In the past, if their shit has sucked, they’ve been able to get away with it, but not anymore. Not in an e-Book environment where you have unlimited reading options that are probably cheaper than their products. E-books may wind up a lot of old-school authors’ careers. It really just depends on if they get signed on by In answer to your question, yes, e-authors can compete. It’s the best time ever to be a new author.

4. Do they or should they have to or is the e-market your domain, not the old-schoolers?

The e-market is everyone’s domain, but the whole game plan is rapidly changing. It’s no longer only about who you know. I mean, sure, talent was an important factor in the past, but it wasn’t the driving force to getting a publishing contract. The truth is that networking has always been the key to becoming a published author. Not anymore. Those days are over. Traditionally published authors with minimal talent are going to see some huge problems in the future. I can name a handful of writers who are considered popular in their genres that I expect to see go belly up with this e-book explosion. But I’m not going to name names. I’m sure some people expect me to go belly up when the e-book “fad” dies down. But the e-book explosion isn’t the pet rock. It isn’t a fad. It’s going to be here for a long time.

5. How do you see yourself? Leader or follower?

I’m a leader. My works are highly risky and very original. I consider myself very original in the horror genre. I don’t go with the flow. Not ever. I think it’s important to stand out, and you’re not going to get anywhere by kissing an old-school author’s ass. Not anymore.

My thoughts on the e-Book explosion are very simple. The new guys are getting a break. The traditional writers, publishers, agents, these are dark times for them.

Round Two
1. Lori R. Lopez

Kealan, I think you dinged the carnival bell with your statement about new-wave horror authors wanting to do it themselves in regards to publishing, whether print or digital. I personally find this to be a tremendous asset available to us as writers in this age, while at the same time it swings the door quite wide in regard to quality and professionalism. In some cases, many it seems, these are painfully lacking.
Likewise, it isn't that publishers are evil, I agree; it's that they are businessmen, and they will cater to that which is most commercial, not necessarily what is most deserving or important. So either way, with or without them in the middle damming the stream, there is a loss of quality. What sells might not be the best, and it usually does not encompass the risk-takers and avant-gardeners who strive for the uncommon and plant the seeds of growth. Nor do the rigid policies and conventions practiced by these publishers, that serve a purpose to demand high standards, allow for much of the flexibility that should go hand in hand with creative writing.
I, too, applaud the digital age of publishing for giving voice to meritorious unknown authors who would otherwise remain anonymous. The written word no longer needs to be dictated by the few. It is now the voice of the masses. But if everyone is speaking at once, who is there to listen? Good writers need good readers. And good writing requires a great deal of time. I hope there will always be enough readers who are not too busy and preoccupied with writing.
It is true as you say that rejection can challenge us. It can also block us unfairly, particularly we writers who do it for love over fame and financial success, because we might not be willing to sacrifice as much time from writing for promotion as the fortune-seekers. We might not be willing to jump through hoops for publishers, or surrender our principles. Yet it is a common goal to survive as writers, to focus our time and energies upon this craft.
I further agree that shorter works are regaining popularity thanks to E-publishing and the Internet, something I am excited about. To that end, I also believe poetry is making a welcome return for the same reasons.
Jimmy, I like what you said about "a new golden age of pulp fiction". Some of the freshest and most exciting writing in the past was exactly that, probably due to such "in-crowds" as you mentioned. What is great today is that we can find seasoned literary veterans now rubbing elbows with writers at all stages and levels, especially online. And there seems to be more of a sense of camaraderie rather than competition amidst the ranks of the struggling unknowns and lesser-knowns.
Your point about new guys having to market themselves aggressively -- I would say exhaustively -- to gain any notice online is already happening. As is what you predicted about Amazon becoming a publisher and offering contracts to authors whose books are selling. This is already a reality as well.
I agree that originality is key. Good writers need to stand out from the horde of hacks and wannabes. As you pointed out, these are nothing new. Dating farther back than most would realize. It is equally vital to stand out from other good ones.
You are right, E-books are no fad. They are here to stay. Personally, I do hope that print books will survive alongside them; Print-On-Demand companies make me think they will. If traditional publishers are smart and learn to be flexible, perhaps they too can endure. We see everything changing nowadays, including television and cinema, due to the digital age. In one form or another, the written word is here to stay. It has seen a lot of changes through the years. In the future, virtual books may float in front of us, a flick of our hand turning pages.
I think we are all in agreement that this is an exciting time to be an author.

2. Kealan Patrick Burke
Interesting, Anthony, but again I think only the medium is changing. Stories are stories. For the industry, on the other hand, yes the change is undeniable. Novellas are popular again, but just because the market is seeing more of them now that digital allows for them, it doesn't mean horror writers ever stopped writing them. So content-wise, I would argue that there is no change to what we writers have been doing all along. Market-wise, the change is huge.

3. Jimmy Pudge
After reading the responses, I feel like I'm in pretty much complete agreement with my peers. The only thing I see differently is Burke's comment about horror not changing. I feel most people currently in horror are hacks, based on what I've read...and I read a lot of current horror fiction. For the most part, the ideas are stale and the plots repetitive. It can be really hard to find something completely unique in this genre. I think in the past this has partially had to do with the fact that popular horror has been determined by horror writer groups. A broad audience is not going to dig around for horror gems but go straight to what people are hailing the great horror writer.

This e-book revolution is going to change this. You're going to get more originality, and more authors are going to start changing their plots and style to match the new success stories. So I feel horror will see some pretty big changes in terms of content. An elite few will not determine what is hot like they have in the past with their top 100 horror picks or whatever.
Anthony Servante: Summing things up.
Cybernocturalism: The Modern Horror Movement is happening in cyber space with an avalanche of horror stories. It is the culture and the field for sowing the next wave of horror writers. For instance, a writer on Facebook has five thousand friends; he sends his story to his friendship circle and has each friend share the story with their friendship circle and that circle with another and so on and so on. The story can circulate amongst thousands in less than an hour. But, as in any pyramid scheme, only the cream of the crop, namely, the top of the chain, succeeds. Which brings us to the paradox of Cybernocturnalism.
The Paradigm Paradox: the Cybernocturnalism paradigm shift itself is subject to extinction and therefore renders the modern definition and application begging the question. It’s like pointing out someone is right when what he said was you were wrong. Quite simply, a paradigm is a belief system one develops in most fields, from science to horror, that is subject to corruption and erosion by a new belief system: we once believed the world was flat and now we believe it is round. And what will we believe next? Each generation’s view of their own belief system, believes theirs correct, thus setting up the corruption that comes from reaching a conclusion based on belief and setting up the erosion of the former belief. Belief is in constant flux, ever-changing and evolving.
Horror, too, is a genre in flux. But old-school dies hard as the new kids on the school ground enact change by revolutions. And therein lays the rub. The new wave is anachronistic by virtue of “future shock.” And the next wave. And the next…. A self-conscious cycle of mirrors facing other mirrors with “Horror” reflected in a perpetual image of past, present and future all at once.
As I am the one to point out this trend on the medium of cyber space and attempt to effect popular doctrine on modern horror, I, too, become an example of my own thesis/exposition. If you were to point out that had it not been for the internet, this article about ebooks and e-authors and their role in Cybernocturnalism would never have seen print, I could only respond: Touché.

Yet, here I am. And here we are.
Thank you, authors, for your participation in this article on Cybernocturnalism: The New Age of Horror Publishing.

--Anthony Servante

Movie vs. Book: The Screaming Mimi


I think I’m going to create a new category for movies: the Don’t Care level. Currently there’s good and bad, with the two occasionally drifting back and forth between the two. But, especially after starting this column, I think the Don’t Care category falls somewhere both between good and bad and far separate from either. If I do create that, SCREAMING MIMI (1958) will fit in there.

We open with Anita Ekberg lying in a bed inside a mental hospital. Her Virginia Wilson is there after witnessing a horrific crime. Within five minutes her psychiatrist has fallen in love and become controlling and obsessive. Yet he gives her permission to a-return to stripping and b-get a dog. While performing her act (as Yolanda Lange. No surprise there, as many strippers change their name for performances) a reporter by the name of Bill Sweeney also falls in love with her. Soon, people connected to Virginia/Yolanda turn up dead, all somehow connected to sculptures of a Screaming Mimi. Is it Yolanda/Virginia, her shrink, or someone else? Honestly, even by the time we get to the big reveal at the end, I didn’t care.

The big fault lies with Ekberg’s performance. She mixed up playing insane with not playing anything period. There really wasn’t a performance to critique—she sleepwalked through the entire movie. Even during her stripping performances, Ekberg looked like she was about to fall asleep. The director didn’t seem to care, as he filled up as much screen time as he could with her, and more often than not, in her underwear. I guess if I was attracted to her that would make things more interesting for me, but as a heterosexual female, watching her lumber around in lingerie just made me want to fall asleep.

There were some fine performances. Philip Carrey as Sweeney appeared genuine in both his curiosity about the mysterious stripper and concern for her safety. Harry Townes was interesting to watch as the psychotic psychiatrist. Gypsy Rose Lee played the owner of the strip club, and she was both witty and fun to watch. However, her role was incidental to the movie and totally unnecessary. Hell, Virginia/Yolanda’s dog was more of a pleasure to view. But because so much of the movie rests on Ekberg’s shoulders, her lackluster performance did nothing to raise the excitement level of the flick.

The end reveal is obvious from the first scene. It was so obvious that I thought it had to be a red herring, and the resolutions my mind came up with were the most entertaining part of the movie. Alas, no, none of them came to fruition. The director, Gerd Oswald, who had previously brought us great noir movies like A KISS BEFORE DYING, seemed more interested in Ekberg and her skivvies than he was in crafting a suspenseful, interesting movie. And that’s a damn shame, because the basic story seemed like it could have made for a fun flick. Instead, all we’re left for is the cinematic equivalent of a wall poster of Anita Ekberg. That’s fine if you want little more than to stare at her for near two hours. For the rest of us, though, we’re better off forgetting the movie was ever made and just reading the damned book.


BOOK: THE SCREAMING MIMI by Fredric Brown (1949)

When Fredric Brown was at his best, his writing was musical. He could capture the cadence of a natural storyteller's voice as well as anyone and his word choices would range from poetic to common with an ease that would prevent a reader from being jarred from the story. He could conjure believable characters that generated and maintained interest. He could play in dark territories as believably as anyone in the mystery field, despite earning most of his initial fame as a science fiction and fantasy author who would also write weird... i.e., horror... fiction.
The Screaming Mimi is Brown at his best. It follows the trail of a reporter who, after seeing a beautiful stabbing victim, dedicates the few days of vacation he has left to identify her attacker. Along the way we are treated to glimpses of Chicago's underbelly. The mystery is character driven, and because of this Brown spends time ensuring that all of his characters are believable, their motives reasonable and their actions rational.

The book isn't only interesting, it's also fun. An example can be found on the first page, from the omniscient narrator: "(I)t isn't a nice story. It's got murder in it, and women and liquor and gambling and even prevarication. There's murder before the story proper starts, and murder after it ends; the actual story begins with a naked woman and ends with one, which is a good opening and a good ending, but everything between isn't nice." It sets the tone of the book and the statement is completely accurate, but there's also a playfulness evident which serves to highlight the fundamental decency of the protagonist against the darkness of his situation. Unlike many novelists Brown wasn't content to create a sharply crafted story or an entertaining narrative. He demanded both, and he succeeded here.
I enthusiastically recommend this book.

Five stars out of five.


Foreign Fears: Timecrimes (2007) (Spain: Los Cronocrímenes)

Review by Anthony Servante

Written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, Timecrimes is a Spanish Science Fiction/Horror movie that deals mainly with time travel and doppelgangers. Karra Elejalde is Hector, who we see early on in his home with his wife, Clara, played by Candela Fernandez. There is a mysterious phone call, a nude woman in the woods, and a strange scientist who insists that Hector hide in this big contraption that turns out to be a time machine. Hector emerges from the machine only to see ‘himself’ in front of his home with his wife just as he was an hour earlier.

Now follow closely, as this can become confusing. Hector, who just emerged from the time machine, refers to himself as Hector One and to the Hector in front of his house as Hector Two. Apparently Hector One was the character we saw earlier in the film spying on a naked girl in the forest. When his wife leaves, Hector One goes to check on the girl, only to be stabbed in the arm by a man whose head is covered in bandages soaked with fresh blood. We learn later that the bandaged man is another Hector.

To tell you anymore would create spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that.

The movie is a joy to watch, a time travel Rubik’s Cube, where murdering oneself may or may not be the solution to setting time right.

The scientist Chico is played by director/writer Vigalondo with a teasing simplicity, but nothing about this story is simple. Each time Hector emerges from the time machine, something new happens, but for us the viewer, it is something old, but seen from a different perspective, i.e., a different camera angle, just as Hector One espied Hector Two in the film’s beginning.

Yes, it’s all very confusing, and Timecrimes is designed to be watched more than once. Just as Hector, we see more each time we return to the movie. I’ve seen it three times and still find new stuff going on. Filmed on a low budget, but making up for it with a very intelligent script, this Spanish gem with English subtitles is a rare treat for time travel buffs, and you’re in for some interesting surprises to the very end.

It was rumored that David Cronenberg was remaking an English-language version of the film, but he has since denied any involvement with the remake. With its psychological bent and horrific images, I think Cronenberg would be an excellent choice for a remake. Meanwhile, I think I’ll give it a fourth viewing.

--Anthony Servante

Brian Sammons Hi-Def Horror Hoedown!

TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2010) – Blu-ray review

Director: Eli Craig
Cast: Tyler Labine, Alan Tudyk, Katrina Bowden

Horror comedies are hard to pull off right. For every good one, like STUDENT BODIES and SCARY MOVIE (the first one) there are really bad ones like SCARY MOVIE (any after the first movie), STAN HELSING, VAMPIRES SUCK, TRANSYLMANIA, and SHRIEK IF YOU KNOW WHAT I DID LAST FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH. Yes that last one is a real movie, and if you have never suffered through it, do yourself a favor and just take my word for it that you really don’t want to. So with that undeniable fact firmly in my brain, I approached this new horromedy with a bit of trepidation. Was I all scared over nothing, or was my fears justified? Let’s find out.

T&DvE, as I like to flippantly call this film, takes the familiar premise of the good old backwoods slasher (i.e. JUST BEFORE DAWN, DON’T GO INTO THE WOODS, THEY PREY, etc.) and turns it on its head by making the hillbillies the good guys and the young, pretty, city-folk the ones with the problems. Tucker and Dale are two good natured good old boys who are going up to their new cabin to fix it up for the weekend. Along the way they cross paths with a SUV full of college kids who naturally think the rednecks are right out of DELIVERANCE or perhaps even THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. After a night of drinking and spooky stories about killer hillbillies, the kids go skinny dipping. When one of the cute coeds starts to drown, Tucker and Dale are right there to save her. Unfortunately to the rest of the young people, it looks like the evil hillbillies are abducting her for nefarious reasons.

The college kids rally themselves to save their friend, but though a series of comic misunderstandings and incredibly bad luck, mixed with a healthy heaping of stupidity, the kids keep accidently killing themselves in a variety of gruesome ways. The other campers don’t see the accidents and think the hillbillies are murderous psychos, while clueless Tucker and Dale think the college kids are part of a weird suicide cult. Therefor they must protect the young woman they saved from drowning, who they have become friendly with, from the others kids that they think will kill her too. Yes the majority of this movie is one, long, THREE’S COMPANY classic misunderstanding joke taken to goofy and gory extremes. However, as inane as that sounds on paper, it really works on film. Or at least, it works in this film, and that must be a credit to the writing, direction, and acting that the moviemakers were able to pull it off so well.

There are two things that make this movie both really good and a must see for horror fans looking for some giggles. One is the comically gory death scenes. Highlights include a couple of self impalements, a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the face, and the best of the bunch; one idiot accidently jumping into a running wood chipper. If you’re not a fan of splatstick comedy, you’ll probably not going to be a fan of this movie. But even if your tolerance for gore gags is low, you still might want to catch this film for the other reason that it’s so good; the acting chops of the two titular leads. Alan Tudyk as Tucker and Tyler Labine as Dale, both best known for their TV work, really bring their A games to this film. They portray the hillbillies with warmth, humanity, and humor. While most of the college kids were insufferable jackasses that I found annoying to watch, which might have been exactly what writer/director Eli Craig was going for, Tucker and Dale were a joy. I liked them, a lot, and that’s rare for most horror/comedy flicks, where characters are just walking punch lines.

As good as this movie was, the extras on this lil’ Blu-ray from Magnolia are a bit of a mixed bag. There’s a commentary track with the director and misunderstood hillbillies themselves; Tyler and Alan. Some DVD/BD commentaries are informative but dull, others are fun but light on the inside info, the one here is that rare, well-done mix of both and it’s very enjoyable. Unfortunately the rest of the special features aren’t so special. There is a short “making of” featurette that is pretty forgettable and is the usual PR “oh we all had a lot of fun making this movie” kind of thing. There is a shorter “HDNet Look At…” feature that is just more of the same. Perhaps the best extra is a 16 minute reedit of this movie called “Tucker & Dale ARE Evil” that tells the story from the vapid college students’ point of view. I mean, it’s not all that great, and it is just clips of the same film you already watched, but it was kind of fun. Some outtakes, a few storyboards, and a theatrical trailer bring the extras to the close.

TUCKER & DALE is a fun blood soaked comedy. If you’re a fan of the backwoods slasher flicks then you’ll get a lot more out of this film than if you’re not a fan of that subgenre, but even then you’re sure to get some laughs from this. The two leads, Tyler and Alan, are the absolute stars of the show and they both really shine here. The kills are as goofy as they are gory, but I do wish the filmmakers would not have leaned so heavily on CGI effects that often look a bit iffy at best. All in all, T&DvE was a fun flick, so it gets a big, grinning, thumbs up from me and a hearty recommendation to check it out.

EVIL DEAD II: 25th Anniversary Edition (1987) - Blu-ray review

Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks

Ah, the EVIL DEAD movies, was there ever a series of films that had more DVD releases than these? I say no, no there was not. So then what about this, the latest (and not even the first) release of EVIL DEAD 2 to Blu-ray? Is this yet another cynical cash grab by a faceless corporate entity trying to exploit the overzealous fans of one of the greatest cult films ever made?

Surprisingly, no. But before I get into that, here’s some backstory on this truly groovy flick.

Bruce Campbell cemented his small claim to fame playing Ash, the bumbling everyman thrust into a horrific situation where he had to dice up the demon possessed bodies of his friends, family, and lovers to survive in the original, and truly horrific, EVIL DEAD. Six years later and the DEAD crew came back together to make, not so much a sequel, as a remake. However, where the first film was a serious, straight up horror movie, EVIL DEAD 2 would play things for laughs more so than for shocked gasps. A true splatsitck film, with as much Three Stooges in it as blood, gore, and guts, this movie was an immediate fan favorite and for good reason, it was ninety minutes of pure freaky fun from start to finish.

The story here is sort of a retread of the first movie and begins with Ash and his girlfriend going out to a little cabin in the woods for some fun. Before long they find the dreaded book, the Necronomicon, and soon demons are inhabiting all sorts of folks for a variety of mischief, and once again it’s up to Ash to save the day, or at the very least, himself. And basically, that’s it for story, but this movie is so much more than that brief summation. There’s the part where just Ash’s hand gets demon possessed so he has to cut it off with a chainsaw and then it starts running around the cabin on its own. Then there’s the scene of utter insanity where Ash and the entire cabin (and I mean that literally) share a laugh. Oh, and I almost forgot lovely Henrietta from the root cellar. If you’ve seen this movie already, and you really should have by now, then I’m sure to remember all these scenes and more. If you have yet to see EVIL DEAD 2 then it is high time that you do and I don’t want to ruin any of this fiercely entertaining and original movie for you. You’re going to want to do yourself a huge favor and see this movie right away, but is this the edition to get?

Thankfully, the answer to that is yes, and that is largely due to the impressive amount of extras this 25th Anniversary Edition brings to the party.

Unlike many of the previous releases of this movie to disc, be it DVD or BD, this time out there is a gaggle of special features to complement the much improved video quality. Said video has been improved much more than even the last Blu-ray version of this film which looked pretty lousy. This time around this gory, goofy flick has never looked better and it finally got the transfer it deserved. As for those extras I mentioned, there are plenty of them and they’re pretty awesome. Writer/director Sam Raimi teams up with B-movie god, Bruce Campbell, special makeup effects guru Greg Nicotero, and longtime Raimi cohort and co-writer, Scott Spiegel to give us one hell of an entertaining audio commentary. Sadly, this isn’t a new commentary track, as was original promised by Liosngate. It’s the same one from the last time this flick was released on disc, but it’s still a great commentary. Now thankfully there is a lot of new goodies to be found here, like a multipart documentary called “Swallowed Souls” about EVIL DEAD 1 & 2, and even a little bit of ARMY OF DARKNESS, that talks with a ton of people connected to the films, including the sometimes elusive Bruce Campbell, but sadly not the excessively busy Sam Raimi. This doc clocks in at an impressive hour-and-forty-minutes long and was very well done. There are thirty minutes of home movie like footage taken when originally shooting the movie or creating the amazing makeup effects called “Cabin Fever” and supplied by Makeup FX mastermind Greg Nicotero’s private home movies. “Road to Wadesboro” is a short featurette and is a return to where the movie was original shot. Then there are the extras that were on the previous editions of this movie, like “Evil Dead II: Behind-the-Screams” and “The Gore the Merrier”, and their inclusion here made me very happy. Often when a new version of a film gets put out, the extras from what came before are forgotten. Well not here and I’d like to see more Blu-rays/DVDs follow this lead. Trailers and still galleries bring this very impressive list of extras to a close. Seriously, after several sometimes lackluster releases of EVIL DEAD 2, Lionsgates has knocked this one out of the freaking park.

EVIL DEAD 2 is a great film, one of my all-time favorite over-the-top fun fright flicks, and this version is hands down the best one yet and clearly the edition to get for serious fans. Even if you already own this movie on some other disc, and I’d be stunned if you didn’t, this is a worthy upgrade for the great looking picture and the hours of new extras. Consider this anniversary one not to be forgotten.

INTRUDER (1989) – Blu-ray review

Director: Scott Spiegel
Cast: Elizabeth Cox, Renée Estevez, Dan Hicks, Sam Raimi

Back in the late 80s, in this particular case we’re talking about 1989, the slasher phenomena was winding down, but a group of plucky filmmakers thought, “hey, why don’t we give the stalk and slash thing a try?” What set them apart from the thousands of others doing the same thing was the fact that it was the crazy guys that gave the world EVIL DEAD 2. Scott Spiegel, who co-wrote ED2, would write and direct, Sam Raimi would take a turn in front of the camera as an actor and naturally Sam would bring his brother Ted along for the ride. The gore guys that first came together for EVIL DEAD 2 would use this film to from their earth shattering effects company; KNB EFX. Even Bruce Campbell would return, although if you blinked you would miss him. So with all that talent behind it, how could this movie fail?

Ok, right about here is where I would usually make a snarky remark about how this movie sucked. Thankfully this time around, I can’t say that. To be sure this movie isn’t perfect but it does deliver the goods, even if you have to wait a good long while to get them. Yeah, INTRUDER does start off a little slow, with the first kill not happening until after the thirty minute mark, and that one even occurs off camera. But what saves this movie from becoming a bore are the off kilter characters, and the trademarked EVIL DEAD use of cameras. What do I mean by that? Well here you will have camera Point Of View shots from telephones, doorknobs, store shelves, mop buckets, and a roving camera that shoots the characters from front, behind, above, below, and all places in between. I love neat-o camera tricks like that, they’re fun and they liven up things, which as stated, could be a bit boring at the start of this flick. That also begs the question of just how much of these Raimi-esque camera tricks was actually thanks to Mr. Raimi, and how much were just how that particular group of Michigan born madmen did things.

And speaking of Michigan, INTRUDER is the only slasher film that I know of to be set in my home state. So yeah, I may be a bit biased towards it for that, hearing the actors drop the names of streets and locations that I know very well, but the movie is definitely good enough to stand on its own merits, with or without that groovy Michigan flavor.

INTRUDER takes place in a small (read as: not Walmart sized) grocery store where the night crew was just given the bad news that the store has been sold and that they will all be losing their jobs at the end of the week. To make matters worse, someone starts slicing everyone up using many of the sharp and nasty things you can find in your average grocery store. Now this is where older versions of this film sort of sucked, as INTRUDER was itself infamously slashed by the self-appointed guardians of decency at the MPAA. All of the glorious gore gags were excised and the movie had about as much balls as your typical PG kiddie flick. Thankfully this version is the “director’s cut” which restores most of the missing bloody bits to the film, including a head getting smashed in a trash compactor, and in the highlight of the film, another head gets cut in half, right across the upper teeth, by a ban saw. Yep, it’s as good as it sounds.

Now don’t get me wrong, not everything is golden with this movie. The story is about as basic as it gets. People in an isolated location get hack up by a mystery killer that can be anyone except for the obvious red herring the film keeps bludgeoning the audience with. Also the acting is pretty bad, but it’s honestly bad. INTRUDER is pure camp, honest camp, and completely unlike many modern movies that try too damn hard to be campy and just come off as forced, desperate, and far from enjoyable. This film is a slice of 80s slasher goodness, and as such I love it to pieces.

If you’ve ever read any of my reviews of previous releases from the good folks over at Synapse Films, then you know that when it comes to making the picture look great, few companies do it better. And this low budget, often forgotten slasher from the late 1980s is no exception. INTRUDER looks simply amazing on Blu-ray and for that reason alone you need to get this flick. And if f you’re an extras hound, like me, then be prepared to bay with joy over the special features found on this Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. There is a making-of retrospective called “Slashing Prices” that runs about 40 minutes long and has a nice collection of people related to the film giving their two cents on various aspects of it. Of course bug time director Sam Raimi couldn’t be bothered to show up for this (boo, hiss) but his brother Ted is, and surprisingly so is Bruce Campbell, who’s only in the film for about two minutes. And I must say, few behind the scenes pieces have been this entertaining and informative. Top marks must go to Red Shirt Pictures, the go-to production company for your movie’s special features. Further goodies in the usual vein include a really good audio commentary with the director and producer, audition footage, a still gallery, theatrical and trailer. There’s about ten minutes of very raw footage from the original workprint that show off a little more gore, and a bit of love is paid to the short, and now sadly lost, film that was a precursor to INTRUDER called “Night Crew”, such as a collection of outtakes from that short, and a trailer.

INTRUDER is a great fun fright flick that certainly, and sadly, falls under the “they don’t make ‘em like that anymore” category. The story is as basic as it gets, but it’s loaded with style, skill, and undeniable charm. I love this quirky little film, and when showing it to some friends of mine who had never seen it before, and who are not the diehard horror fan that I am,, they loved it too. Higher praise than that, I cannot think of. Consider this one very recommended.

--Brian Sammons


by Lisa Morton

In the history of Hong Kong cinema, 1986 just may go down as the finest year ever, with three landmark films – the triad thriller A Better Tomorrow, the feminist period action extravaganza Peking Opera Blues, and the wildly kinetic A Chinese Ghost Story – released that year. Even more amazing is that all three of those films had the same producer: Tsui Hark. Tsui officially directed only one – Peking Opera Blues – but his imprimatur is certainly all over the other two; even though A Better Tomorrow was director John Woo’s breakout hit, and A Chinese Ghost Story was credited to frequent Tsui collaborator Ching Siu-tung, there’s no question that Tsui was heavily involved with the direction of both, especially Ghost Story, which became a major worldwide hit for Tsui and for Hong Kong cinema. Tsui went on to produce two sequels to A Chinese Ghost Story, and in 1997 he even produced an animated version of the tale.

Like many other Hong Kong fantasy films, A Chinese Ghost Story was taken from a book called Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio, a 17th-century collection of fairy tales about haunted inns and animals that become people. Many of the stories center on a young scholar who stumbles on supernatural happenings and becomes embroiled in a forbidden love affair, and Tsui kept these elements for his 1986 adaptation, adding on more horror scenes and a plot involving the young scholar’s attempts to save his ghostly love from marriage to “Lord Black”, the king of Hell. As the young government official and the tragic ghost, Tsui and Ching cast two of the most astonishingly beautiful actors in Asian cinema: The late Leslie Cheung, and Taiwanese actress Joey Wang. A moment when Wang hides Cheung underwater and lavishes a long, slow-motion kiss on him as bubbles and flower petals float past is one of the great romantic moments of all Asian cinema.

Now, in 2011, as Chinese and Hong Kong filmmakers have followed their American counterparts and begun to mine their cinematic past for remake gold, A Chinese Ghost Story has finally been reincarnated¸ although without the involvement of Tsui Hark. This time it’s director Wilson Yip at the helm, fresh off his success with the martial arts dramas Ip-man and Ip-man 2, directing unknowns Yu Shao-qun and Liu Yi-fei in the Leslie Cheung and Joey Wang roles; however, this version also throws in not one but two Taoist demon hunters, including Yan – played by popular Hong Kong leading man Louis Koo – who is also in love with the ghost girl.

This new version – which we’ll hereafter refer to as ACGS2011 – can’t help but pale by comparison to the neo-classic original, but it bears just enough resemblance to the original that fans of ACGS1986 will have a hard time letting it stand or fall on its own. It begins promisingly, with an extended flashback showing how the young Yan fell in love with the supernatural Siu Sin (who is referred to as a demon here); they finally part when he realizes that a demon-hunter and a demon can’t stay together.

Years later, a young government official, Ning, arrives to assist an isolated town suffering from a severe drought. Ning journeys with a gang of convict laborers to a mountainside temple, where he finds a well that could provide the town with water. Unfortunately, he also finds a pack of beautiful and seductive demons who murder the convicts and attack him. He barely escapes, thanks to the assistance of Siu Sin, and soon they begin to fall in love. Siu Sin reveals that she is being held captive by a thousand-year-old tree demon who is forcing lesser demons to kill for her. Things get even more complicated when Yan arrives, intent on finally killing the tree demon once and for all, and soon the other Taoist master also shows up.

If all that sounds confused and overly complicated…well, it is. Plotting is hardly the strength of either version of ACGS, but at least the Tsui/Ching original kept things moving forward quickly with a non-stop barrage of edits and images, not least of which was a night-time pursuit through a forest by a giant tongue. The new ACGS falters badly in the middle, spending far too much time on chatter instead of chills. Where the original had a delightfully spooky interlude involving Leslie narrowly escaping the clutches of stop-motion animated zombies, this one has Siu Sin and Ning hiding out in a deserted building and…well, talking. And talking. Call me shallow, but in a movie like this I’ll take goofy-looking zombies any day over the hero’s melancholic ramblings about his childhood.

There are certainly plenty of lovely images in ACGS2011, though (my favorite is a sequence in which the tree demon traps Koo in a literal sea of leaves, and he finally stops fighting and lets himself float atop the leaf-waves), and lots of nods to both the original film and other Tsui Hark movies as well (a pair of giggling snake demons are obviously an homage to Tsui’s Green Snake). The actors are all capable, if none begin to capture the luminescent star appeal of Cheung and Wang; the dependable Koo comes off best¸ making his gruff Taoist warrior both stalwart and funny (although no one could touch actor Wu Ma’s delirious drunken Taoist from the original ACGS). There are also some decent fight scenes and a few lovely sets; the score is fairly typical for a big modern Chinese historical epic these days, hardly comparable to James Wong and Romeo Diaz’s lovely songs and soundtrack from ACGS1987. Unfortunately, there’s nothing here to top the original’s final battle in Hell, but maybe the producers of ACGS2011 thought it best to simply not even try.

Overall, I’d probably only recommend the new ACGS to fans of the original, who will be entertained by the in-jokes and hat-tips (including the use of the original film’s main song). For newcomers looking to make an entry into the world of Chinese horror/fantasy films, though…trust me and stick to the original. I re-watch it every so often, and thanks in part to Tsui and Ching’s deft blending of horror, humor and romance, and the presence of the two stars, it still holds up splendidly. I wish I could say I’d be re-watching the new ACGS a quarter-of-a-century from now, but somehow it seems doubtful.

--Lisa Morton