Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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 horror writer originally from Calgary, Alberta Canada. He is the author of the novel Alice & Dorothy as well as the short fiction collection Things Falling Apart. A member of the HWA and SF Canada, he can be seen lurking in places such as Best New Zombie Tales Volume II (Books of the Dead Press) where Rue Morgue magazine dubbed his story "Freshest Tale" of the anthology. He's also been spotted in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine and will also be found in Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books) alongside the likes of Ramsey Campbell and Jack Ketchum.
Schnarr has a space at Black Glove Magazine where he writes a monthly editorial titled The Hand That Reads. By day he works as a reporter and photographer for the Claresholm Local Press in Claresholm, Alberta. Look him up on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads, or check out his blog at

Anthony Servante is a retired college professor with post-graduate studies in the field of the Grotesque and Horror in the Romantic Age, where vampires and Frankenstein monsters were born. It was a dream subject in his studies—to follow and write academically about monsters. He exhorts the academics of horror in his column, Servante of Darkness. He has since begun his nonprofit project: “Read THIS! Scaring Up Readers”, a book giveaway Program that donates books in the fields of Horror, Fantasy, Mystery, and Science Fiction to college-bound students to enjoy the genres Anthony has read and enjoyed since he was a kid. He critically respects old school Horror writers and encourages new schoolers in his reviews. In retirement, he hopes to push for publication of his short stories, continue to write on trends in horror, and review books, movies, and music.

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. Please, let me stress, this is for serious applicants only. You MUST know the genre. While I don't mind a certain amount of personalizing your content (in fact, I encourage it!), I need it to be, at the end of the day, about the genre and not your personal life only.

--Nickolas Cook

Jonathan Maberry: Man in Progress (A Three Part Perspective)

(Author Jonathan Maberry)

by Anthony Servante

Thank you, dear readers, for joining us for the first of a three-part series on Jonathan Maberry. This month we will review the writings of the man to date. In part two, next month, we will have an interview with the writer and a review of his current work, Dead of Night. In part three, we will have a "guest blog" from Mr. Maberry himself, which should delight all his fans.

Part One: Origins and Transitions

Jonathan Maberry was born on May 18, 1958. A Pennsylvania native, Maberry has had a career in progress from martial arts to story-teller. Maberry is a 7th degree black belt in Shinowara-Ryu Jujutsu and a 5th degree black belt in Yu Sool Hapkido. He has written instructional books in the principles and practice of self-defense and fighting technique in various disciplines. Not only did he attain the physical prowess to achieve ranking but has also maintained the mental balance required to keep his body attuned to a philosophy of self-discipline. He followed up his martial arts training with a study in folklore. As a folklorist, he has written nonfiction books exploring the folklore of vampires, werewolves and supernatural creatures, in addition to the folklore of cryptids, as in cryptic beasts as the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, etc. In an epithetic moment, Maberry combined his studies to create the horrific work he has become known for today. We shall discuss each of these phases of the career of Jonathan Maberry, man in progress.

To appreciate the man behind the martial arts, we should understand the nature of the disciplines Maberry has mastered. Jujutsu is a Japanese form of self-defense, or more accurately, an offensive style of self-protection. Ironically, the word ‘ju’ means gentle or yield in English and jutsu means technique or discipline; thus together, it might be restated in English as a defensive offense. Passive force can cause an opponent’s or attacker’s aggression into a weapon that is turned against him. A mugger lunges at me, I move aside, and the mugger’s momentum carries him past me; I can direct the momentum with a push so that the aggressor loses balance, falls, or slams into a wall, depending on the severity of the danger. Maberry says, “Fighting is about attack and defense.” In Hapkido, “like other forms of jujutsu, it emphasizes throwing techniques and joint manipulations to effectively control, subdue, or injure an attacker. Of particular importance is the timing of a defensive technique to either blend or neutralize an incoming attack's effectiveness and use the force of the attacker's movement against them” (Wiki). In 2004 Jonathan Maberry was inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He wrote: Self-Defense for Every Woman (1985), Introduction to Asian Martial Arts (1986), The Self-Defense Instructor’s Handbook (1990), Judo and You (1991), Ultimate Jujutsu Principles and Practices (2002), The Martial Arts Student Logbook (2002), and Ultimate Sparring Principles and Practices (Strider Nolan, 2003).

These techniques have become important for Maberry as a student of the form but also as a writer who would later in his career ‘choreograph’ fights in his stories. But he needed one more ingredient to complete the mix to begin writing horror novels: in addition to staging realistic fights in realistic places, he also needed an imaginary foe or antagonist on which to wield this defensive attack, and it is from his study of folklore that he found the terrible and horrific opponents for his fictional heroes.

Maberry’s study began with the vampire. But he was concerned that the traditional definition of the night-creature was limited to Bram Stoker’s description of the blood-sucker. Maberry thus turned to science to bring the vampire and zombie closer to a nonfictional creature to create a monster worthy of the readers’ suspension of disbelief. In his research for folklore studies he found the tweak in tradition that he needed for what F. Paul Wilson calls a “dreaded epiphany”, that is, a realization that combines parallel ideas to create a new form, a hybrid idea. With the other creatures of folklore and science to help flesh out his new monstrosities, Maberry began writing his books and creating various series in horror. “Horror stories are about creating a scenario in which something horrific is presented in such a way that readers are willing to suspend their disbelief. We want them to accept the possibility of a werewolf or a demon or vampire. We want readers to buy into the reality of humans pitted against something supernatural–or unnatural” (Maberry, 2010).

His research gave us such nonfiction books as Vampire Universe: The Dark World of
Supernatural Beings That Hunt Us, Haunt Us and Hunger For Us (2006), The Cryptopedia: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange and Downright Bizarre (2007), Bram Stoker Award winner for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction, and ZOMBIE CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead (2008), while his imagination gave us the fictional series: Benny Imura (Rot & Ruin [2010] and Dust & Decay [2011]), Joe Ledger (Patient Zero [2009], The Dragon Factory [2010], and The King of Plagues [2011]), and Pine Deep Trilogy (Ghost Road Blues [2006], Dead Man’s Song [2007], and Bad Moon Rising [2008]). In addition to his novels, The Wolfman (2010) and his latest, Dead of Night (to be reviewed by yours truly in Part Two of the Maberry Perspective in The Black Glove, February issue), Maberry has written for Marvel Comics, and writes Jonathan’s Big Scary Blog on

So, from martial arts to folklore to horror, Jonathan Maberry has progressed from a nonfiction writer to a writer of fiction, but it was a combination of influences: the duality of Jujutsu, the supernatural monsters of folklore incorporated into normal natural situations, and a desire to put his brand of horror on these same monsters that brought him to this point. He has succeeded in that respect as the words, “…the next Stephen King”, are commonly used in most articles about him, and rightly so.

That concludes Part One of the Maberry Perspective: Man in Progress. In Part Two we will have an interview with Jonathan Maberry and the "Servante of Darkness" analysis of "Dead of Night". And in Part Three we will have a surprise from Jonathan, so be sure to join us next month, dear readers.

--Anthony Servante

RAGE AGAINST THE NIGHT: The Horror Community Extends a Helping Hand

A Review and an Interview with Rocky Wood
conducted by Anthony Servante

Rage Against the Night (2011)
Ebook By Shane Jiraiya Cummings
Published By Brimstone Press

“Under the onslaught of supernatural evil, the acts of good people can seem insignificant, but a courageous few stand apart. These brave men and women stand up to the darkness, stare it right in the eye, and give it the finger. These are the stories of those who rage against the night, stories of triumph, sacrifice, and bravery in the face of overwhelming evil.

“Rage Against the Night features the megastars of dark fantasy and horror—including Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, F. Paul Wilson, Jonathan Maberry, Scott Nicholson, Nancy Holder, Sarah Langan, and many, many more.

“All proceeds will be donated to Rocky Wood, author and President of the Horror Writers Association, who is battling motor neurone disease.”

When I heard about Rage Against the Night, I wanted to review the book, but this was not just any book that warranted a critical review as if it required an opinion on its literary merit. This book was more about fundraising, and its success was not based on its stories or if the stories met a standard of performance or degree, but on meeting a goal, and that is to help a fellow member of the Horror community in his time of need.

As such, I decided to interview Rocky Wood, and via my book giveaway program, Read THIS! Scaring Up Readers, purchase 20 copies of the book to give to a group of students who in turn would write a note of appreciation to share with Rocky. is not making this easy, however. I have to purchase 20 individual copies of the ebook and send it to each student’s email address one at a time. I contacted Amazon and asked if there were an easier way to purchase multiple copies of the book. They suggested that I open a dummy account, purchase a copy of the book through the account, and in this way, I can send out six books, one at a time, instead of 20 books, one at a time. In other words, the answer was no, there is no easy way to buy multiple copies.

So, I will be buying individual copies until every student has one emailed to them. Then I will gather the students’ notes of thanks and forward them to Rocky, whose response to the students is in the interview below. If my timing is right, by the time this issue of The Black Glove is out, the students can read Rocky’s response to their notes.

The Interview:

Anthony Servante: When did you find out that Rage Against the Night was being compiled on your behalf and were you surprised by the number of authors contributing to the cause?

Rocky Wood: I guess mid-last year, when Shane Jiraiya Cummings approached me to see if I would agree to him compiling the anthology to raise help raise funds for the Eye-Gaze machine, which will be my lifeline as the ALS/Motor Neurone Disease progresses. I am not surprised by so many fine horror writers wanting to help, as I have learned horror is one of the most generous communities of any type anywhere in the world. I am however, deeply humbled. To have literary heroes donate a story to help me out leaves me quite literally speechless. All these authors are fine people.

Anthony: Has the effort of so many fellow writers buoyed your spirits as well as your fundraising?

Rocky: It certainly has. It can be hard work going through a process where there is no hope of avoiding dying. Hundreds of people have done things for me, big or small, that every day help make that journey easier. So many writers have donated books for auctions and helped in many ways other than the anthology, to have your colleagues come to your aid is certainly a boost, and one I can and do use to help keep me sane!

Anthony: Twenty students will have a copy of RATN next Sunday or the Sunday after. I’ll send you a photo. What would you like to tell these 15 to 17 year olds?

Rocky: I guess I'd like to tell them to read every day. Reading feeds the soul and your humanity. I am sure there are many good people who don't read but there sure are lots of good people who do! You can learn something for almost anything you read and even if it's only entertainment, the pool of great books and stories is almost infinite.

Anthony: I will personally see to it that each of the students sends you a note about the book via my email. I’ll forward them to you.

Rocky: Many thanks - appreciate all your help.

Anthony: Thanks for your time. We’ll talk again soon.

The Black Glove and I thank you, dear readers, for your attention to this important subject. Here are other books Rocky Wood has for sale that can be purchased:

Stephen King: A Literary Companion by Rocky Wood, now shipping from Amazon

Horrors! Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators by Rocky Wood, illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne now shipping from Amazon; or direct from available from McFarland

Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished (Third Edition) in an Updated and Expanded ebook

Stephen King: The Non-Fiction by Rocky Wood and Justin Brooks ebook

and his next work will be:

Witch Hunts! A Graphic History of the Burning Times with Lisa Morton, illustrated by Greg Chapman

--Anthony Servante
(Be sure to stop by Rocky's MySpace page and wish him well, leave some get well message and some encouragement. Living with any disease is sometimes a lonely ordeal; it helps when you know that people do care. Be someone who cares.)

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

DARK GODS (1985)
by T.E.D. Klein

I respect T.E.D. Klein. He was the editor of Twilight Zone Magazine for much of its wonderful but fairly short-lived existence, and he is also a writer of uncommon ability. His skills are showcased in Dark Gods, a 1985 collection of four novellas united around a central theme of gods and religion. The beauty of the book comes from the fact that there is little repetition in the novellas; they are all character-driven, but there are action-oriented and character study stories. One story takes place over the course of a lifetime, another over months, another over hours. The structure changes; sometimes the story is told in a straightforward narrative, another time it splits between multiple perspectives, another time it is told primarily through flashbacks.

All of the novellas are superb. Typically in a collection such as this there are inevitable favorites. In this, there is not only a lack of a consistent favorite, there is no agreement on what the weakest of the novellas is, either; ask different readers and you'll get different answers.

The distressing aspect of this book is simply that it reminds the reader of how little fiction Klein has produced. I have heard it rumored that he does not enjoy the process of professional writing. If this is true, it should be a source of regret to every horror fan.

What makes the collection more impressive is the fact that the novellas were not originally written with the intent to publish them together. Instead, the closing work was produced as an original work to Dark Gods, with the other three arranged so as to best showcase both Klein's efforts and as a cohesive book.

Three of the four pieces included here were nominated for the World Fantasy Award, and the one written exclusively for the book, Nadelman's God, won. People don't gush about Klein or this book nearly as much as they used to. It's worth reminding yourself what the fervor was about.

Five stars out of five.

by John Brunner

While the 1971 paperback edition of this 1970 novel clearly advertises itself as "a novel of terror" and was published as a Beagle Boxer Horror Novel", it undoubtedly caught people by surprise. For those who believed the cover copy, they were undoubtedly disappointed to discover that the horror aspects of the novel were actually fairly minimal. For those familiar with the author, a typically sharp and insightful science fiction writer, they were probably surprised to see him attempt this sort of work.
Specifically, an amateur detective novel.

There is a science fiction aspect to this book, to be certain, and it is central to the mystery. There are some horror elements as well. But fundamentally this book is a great example of the amateur detective field. After having a major character killed in an unusual way - scared to death by a sudden, highly detailed delusion - the remainder of the book consists of his friend attempting to discover why he died of fright and eliminating the agents who took his friend's life.

Brunner adds depth to the novel by giving us glimpses into British life in the late 1960s. It's interesting, although at times it seems he is purposefully exaggerating the places and personalities, channeling episodes of The Avengers rather than showing real examples of UK living. Then again, perhaps the nightclubs and the lifestyles of the rich truly were that odd at that time. I wasn't there, but I was able to visit by way of this book. It was a visit well worth my time, but the mixture of science fiction character piece, horror story, and dramatic thriller result in a book which is just a hair too busy for excellence.

Four stars out of five.

--Bill Lindblad

BLOODLINES: Serial Horror in Fiction #7: Sidney Taine by Robert Weinberg

(Author/Editor Robert Weinberg)

by Bill Lindblad

Sidney Taine is an ideal supernatural detective. He's informed, clever, strong, empathic, fearless and graceful. That is the major flaw of the Taine stories.

Weinberg writes interesting stories with a craftsman's eye. The characters' actions all make sense from their individual perspectives, without actions taken merely to advance plot. The plots are tidy mysteries, with complexity dependent upon the length of the work. Words are chosen to keep the reader engaged without jarring them out of the narrative.

What is lacking, unfortunately, is suspense. Taine is a true ideal, in the fashion of the most inspirational pulp heroes or golden-age comic book characters. There is no chance he will ever be tempted to the dark side, no chance someone else will beat him to the punch, and will rarely be outwitted, merely deceived.

In lesser hands this would be a fatal flaw for the Taine stories, a series of short fiction pieces and a novel (as well as a comic book miniseries featuring his equally talented sister Sydney.) Instead it merely denies the reader a complex protagonist and pushes them to concentrate on the plot and action. The stories are never bad, but they rarely rise to the level of the most gripping horror or suspense fiction. If you want a fun supernatural detective story when you pick up one of these works, you're going to enjoy yourself immensely. But if you're hunting for a character-driven work, look elsewhere.

"The Black Lodge"
"The Midnight El"
"The Silent Majority"
"The Apocalypse Quattrain"
"Seven Drops of Blood"
"Terror By Night"
and the "Darkside" comic series from Marvel

--Bill Lindblad



Sometimes I wish I was old enough to have done drugs in the 60s.
THEY CAME FROM BEYOND SPACE (1967) was an Amicus-produced movie from 1967, based on the novel The Gods Hate Kansas by Joseph Millard. Only, they don’t really care about Kansas in this version because they’re in England. In the English countryside, a flock of meteors crash land. These meteors contain otherworldly hitchhikers who hijack the minds of all the humans they come in contact with…all, except one. This scientist luckily had just gotten into a car accident and, thus, has a metal plate in his head that blocks their evil rays. Can he stop the spacemen before it’s too late? And what is the extraterrestrial motivation?

They sure tried real hard. The actors approached the material as if it were serious nonfiction. Sadly, they had to fight against a poor script and even worse is the effects. The screenplay offered nothing new. The characters were one-dimensional archtypes. The effects consisted of strobe ligting and liquid kaleidoscope moving images. I don’t think even college students make movies with such lo-fi offerings. You will get some giggles from this flick (and I can’t guarantee that it’s at things done intentionally.
SPOILER ALERT—My biggest problem with the movie was the end.

I’m going to have to find out how The Gods Hate Kansas ended, because the movie ending was beyond horrible. Despite the enslavement of thousands of humans, the aliens are somewhat sympathetic. After all, they just need those slaves to build a new spaceship so that they can return home. Our metal-plated hero is able (in a span of less than a paragraph’s worth of dialogue) to convince the aliens that “You don’t have to force us—we humans will be more than happy to help out.” The final image is of the scientist and lead spaceman shaking hands and agreeing to work together to get the aliens home. I’m sorry, but the last thing I want from a horror story is “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.”

I did have fun watching the trippy effects and wondering if some of the images were used for electric Kool-Aid acid tests. THEY CAME FROM OUTER SPACE is a fun movie to look at, but a bad movie to watch.


BOOK: THE GODS HATE KANSAS by Joseph Millard (1941)

The first time this short novel was published as a book was in 1964, as a paperback original from Monarch Books. It had already seen life elsewhere, though, as far back as 1941, when it was originally published as the main feature in an issue of Startling Stories.

The pulp origins help to explain the flaws in the story. The characterization is shallow, the scientific exposition is excessive, and the alien motivations are completely analogous to human motivations despite having different experiences and intellectual pursuits. In other words, it is missing all of the defining characteristics of the new wave of science fiction that dominated the 1960s. But as a pulp story from the early 1940s, it can and should be judged on different merits. As such a story, the novel is a qualified success.

The dialogue is still unimpressive and the conclusion is ludicrous. But the story adroitly mixes odd science (there was a preponderance of known North American meteorite strikes in Kansas, for example) with an alien invasion story that is just odd enough to stand out. Millard also takes pains to provide us with alien invaders who are unpleasant enough to cause the reader to support ending their plans while pleasant enough to not cause annoyance when the protagonist provides them with an alternative solution to their problems.

In between those poles, Millard provides us with an active, fast-paced adventure story capable of drawing attention. Unfortunately, the writing is stiff enough to lose that attention shortly afterward.

Three stars out of five


An Interview with Sara Karloff: Daughter of Horror's Gentle Monster

Interview conducted by Anthony Servante (01/12/2012)

When Bela Lugosi turned down the role of the Monster in FRANKENSTEIN, Boris Karloff accepted the part and became an icon of Horror overnight. We are speaking today with Sara Karloff, daughter of the film, radio, and TV star.

Anthony Servante: I’m Anthony Servante with THE BLACK GLOVE Magazine Online: Horror Culture and Entertainment.

Ms. Karloff: Nice to meet you. I’m Sara Karloff.

Anthony: It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms. Karloff. I’d like to start the interview with a little background on the subject of Sara Jane Karloff Pratt. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Ms. Karloff: (slight laugh at hearing her full name). I’m the only child of horror movie star Boris Karloff, also known as William Henry Pratt, and I was born on my father’s 51st birthday. I have two sons and three grandchildren, and I live in California.

Anthony: What kind of childhood did you have with such a famous father?

Ms. Karloff: Well, my father didn’t bring his work home; he was a very modest, self-effacing man, the very antithesis of the role he played, so my childhood was not would one would have expected of a child of a movie star.

Anthony: So, when did you decide to carry on the legacy of your father?

Ms. Karloff: Well, I’m not carrying on his legacy. The fans of my father do that. I just try to oversee,--to make certain that when the persona of my father is used, it’s done appropriately and with respect. It’s due to the fans that his legacy has such long legs and his fans are absolutely amazing.

Anthony: Boris Karloff is one of the few Hollywood stars who has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Can you tell us about that?

Ms. Karloff: Well, one is for film and one is for television. And he did an enormous body of radio work as well. He did over 170 films, and on television he had three series, and he was one of the very few Hollywood stars to embrace the new medium of television in the 1940s and he moved back to New York in 1949 and he starred on all the prominent shows of the day as a guest star, and as I said, he had three television series of his own: first, THRILLER, and COLONEL MARCH, and THE VEIL; so he was very, very active in television as well, of course, in film, radio, and on Broadway.

Anthony: What are some of your favorite memories of your father?

Ms. Karloff: Well, I think that the principal legacy that he left was that he was a man of great personal integrity and kindness.

Anthony: That’s nice. Having a father who’s an icon of Horror, how do you feel about the genre of Horror?

Ms. Karloff: Well, one of the worst kept secrets is that I do not like scary movies, and so it was the world’s worse casting me as my father’s daughter. I leave the room during MURDER SHE WROTE. When the music starts, I’m out in the hall. I don’t like scary movies. I don’t like horror movies. I don’t like being discomforted by film. I like to be entertained, and I think that my father would be not only disquieted but disgusted by the flesh and gore horror film of today.

Anthony: I agree with you. Sometimes the movie is shot around the gore and not the story.

Ms. Karloff: It leaves nothing to the imagination, and it really doesn’t involve anything but the gut reaction of the movie-goer. My father felt—well, he didn’t like the word ‘horror’; he preferred the word ‘terror.’ To involve the audience’s participation and intelligence was far more important to revolting them. And that’s why he preferred the word ‘terror.’

Anthony: But he isn’t only an icon of horror, he’s also become an icon of the Holidays with How The Grinch Stole Christmas…

Ms. Karloff: Oh, yes, that is such a wonderful part of his legacy that he left his family and his fans. He won a Grammy for How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Anthony: So how did Boris Karloff hook up with Dr. Seuss?

Ms. Karloff: Well, my father could do most anything with his voice. It was a wonderful brilliant casting and a blending of great talents when they cast my father. Not only did he do the voice of The Grinch he was the narrator of the story. My father absolutely loved doing that program. The night it was to air, he called me; he said, “I want you to sit down with your sons and watch this—it is such a wonderful program.”

Anthony: It’s a TV program that enters many homes during the Christmas season.

Ms. Karloff: It’s part of the Christmas season just as my father’s horror films have become iconic during the Halloween season.

Anthony: One of my favorite Boris Karloff movies is Black Sabbath. In the American version, he hosts and introduces each of the episodes of the movie. Did this give him the idea to host a show like The Twilight Zone or One Step Beyond?

Ms. Karloff: Well, he hosted Thriller, and introduced all of the episodes in the Thriller series, and he acted in several of them as well. The Thriller series was a remarkably well-written directed and performed series. It had marvelous actors of the time, some superb directors such as Bob [Robert] Vaughn and Ida Lupino, suberb actors from the time, and some wonderful scripts. It was along the line of The Twilight Zone, but it was just a wonderful, wonderful series. And my father introduced each episode.

Anthony: And he also did THE VEIL?

Ms. Karloff: Yes, as well as COLONEL MARCH OF SCOTLAND YARD, which was a British TV series

Anthony: Can you tell us some of the important events for your father?

Ms. Karloff: One of the events of which my father was most proud was his work with the Screen Actors Guild. His card number was 09; he was one of the founding fathers. When the Guild was founded, those screen actors who founded the Guild were putting their careers on the line because they were forming a union against the all-powerful studio bosses, and it was altogether possible that those actors would never work again, but my father and the other actors who were involved in the formation of the guild felt it was very important that once they had reached a point in their own careers to speak out on behalf of those who had not yet reached that point in their careers, and so I know my father, although he seldom ever spoke about his work with the guild, was very pleased to have been a part of that time with the Screen Actors Guild.

Anthony: Do you like attending the Horror Conventions honoring your father?

Ms. Karloff: Well, I am fortunate in that I am invited to conventions around the country and sometimes out of the country, and it gives me an opportunity to meet my father’s fans and it gives me an opportunity to thank them for their interest in my father’s career and his work.

Anthony: When is the next convention?

Ms. Karloff: That would be the Monsterpalooza in Burbank, California this April 13th to the 15th at the Marriott Hotel.

Anthony: I hear there’s a new book out on your father’s career?

Ms. Karloff: Yes, a terrific author in England named Stephen Jacobs has written the absolute infinitive superbly researched biography on my father, and it’s called “Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster”. And it’s unbelievably researched. I mean, I’ve learned things about my father and his career and his family on every page. It’s just an amazing and in-depth research on my father’s life, his family, and his career. For any fan of my father and his work it is a must-read biography. And we offer it on our website: And I would encourage people to visit our website; we have an artists’ gallery on which we show the wonderful Karloff art that various artists have submitted to us. It’s just the way we can help the artists display their art. We have a gift shop where you can pick up the biography and other licensee things.

Anthony: Thank you for taking this interview on such short notice.

Ms. Karloff: It’s been my pleasure. You made it very comfortable and very pleasant. Make sure you send me a copy of the interview when it comes out [in The Black Glove].

Anthony: I’ll be sure. Have a good afternoon.

Ms. Karloff: You have a good afternoon as well.

--Anthony Servante
(NOTE: The Black Glove and I again thank Ms. Sara Karloff for taking the time to talk about her father with us.)

Foreign Fears: LA HORDE (THE HORDE) (France -2009)

Review by Anthony Servante

Director:Yannick Dahan, Benjamin Rocher
Starring:Eriq Ebouaney, Aurélien Recoing , Jo Prestia

La Horde (2009) is a French movie that combines corrupt police, gang leaders, and the living dead. At once familiar in its “surrounded by zombies” scenario, the story is yet fresh with the violent response of the people trapped in the building to the situation. Besides powerful weapons, the gangsters use martial arts and axes in some well-choreographed martial arts sequences to fight the zombies.

The first thirty minutes of the 90 minute movie follows some corrupt cops seeking vengeance on some warring gang members, but the officers are captured and tortured, and one of the cops dies and quickly becomes a zombie. After dispatching of the undead cop, the former enemies must now gather their forces to fend off the zombies working their way up the floors toward the fresh meat. This force of violent people works their way to the rooftop and there see the (unnamed) city in flames, and at the bottom of the building, they see hundreds of the undead, many entering the building. From then on, they must take the war to the zombies in a very uneasy alliance. They must fight their way down to building in the hopes of finding escape. They are not ones to seal themselves into the building and wait the zombies out. That’s the fun part of this movie. They take the fight to the undead.

It reminded me of the movie “It! The Terror from Beyond Space” (1958), where the space-ship crew worked their way up the rocket ship to its last level as the creature who stowed aboard the ship begins killing off the crew one at a time. Only in La Horde, the gang crew works its way down the building as they are killed one at a time. Similar to “The Dead” (2010), where the zombies have overrun Africa, and the soldiers realize even they are outmatched but try to keep the troops organized and restore order as chaos in the form of the living dead challenges them at every turn, La Horde finds violent, vicious criminals on both sides of the law, confronted by supernatural criminals that make them look like schoolyard bullies taking on an evil force beyond their comprehension. But that doesn’t stop them from trying to out-thug these undead creatures with brutal fist fights and hails of bullets (why does it always take them so long to figure out that destroying the brains is the only way to kill these creatures? They waste literally hundreds and hundreds of bullets before realizing that one good blow to the head will stop the undead). As good horrorheads, I believe we can put down a werewolf, a vampire, and a zombie with all we’ve learned from movies and books. And we all know the Frankenstein monster is afraid of fire. Sometimes it gets a little redundant to see a flesh-eating zombie attacking you and your first reaction is to shoot it in the chest until the bullets run out. If the series, Scary Movie, taught is anything, it’s that victims of the slasher genre can be familiar with the genre and know what to expect once they are thrown into a slasher situation. It’s up to the writer to keep the fans off-guard and in a state of suspended disbelief.

I could not find a copy of this movie with subtitles, so I watched it in French, but it wasn’t a problem as there is so much action that the dialog seems superfluous. If you can find it with subtitles, you might enjoy it more, but I had a blast watching it in the native language, and it was good to see a well-acted, action-packed zombie movie with heroes as tough as those hungry undead creatures. So, don’t expect a lot of answers to any questions you might have about what caused the plague of the living dead because there aren’t any. Just sit back and enjoy the movie. Intellectual queries should be checked at the door with the zombies on the other side.

I found a copy of the movie dubbed in English, but it doesn’t play as well as it does with French dialog. Anyway, click below to watch.

--Anthony Servante

Brian Sammons Hi-Def Horror Hoedown!


Director: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman
Cast: Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown, Christopher Nicholas Smith

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3, if you’ve seen either of the two previous films, then you’ve pretty much seen this one. Yep, spooky ghostly stuff starts to happen to an average family out of the blue and that family decides to get a whole bunch of cameras to record it. Plenty of jump scares, and a few good creepy moments, ensues. That’s the winning formula that has made these incredibly cheap to make fright flicks so successful and profitable. That profitability is the reason why Paramount has been releasing a new PA movie every Halloween since they started. Now I’m not going to get off on a rant here about how Paramount is milking this cash cow to death, and in the process, making everyone sick and tired of what was once original and fun. However I must say that this third time at bat, while not a strike out, is more like a so-so hit that gets a man on base, if only that. Part 3 does do a few new things, but not enough to warrant any real excitement. On the other hand it’s not completely awful, so there’s that, I guess. So grab your video camera, get ready for things to pop up off screen and go “boo”, and let’s watch some new activity of the paranormal kind.

The story this time is a prequel, not a sequel, and if you’ve watched the other PA movies, then you know it would be kind of hard to follow the continuing adventures of two sisters that the paranormal entity has the hots for, mainly because they don’t continue all that much. Well one sort of does, but I digress. So instead of that we get to see the sisters as little girls in the 1980s when the spookiness first started for them. That leads us to my first complaint about this movie; in typical fashion the haunting shenanigans really ratchet up towards the end of the movie, so how the hell did neither girl remember the creepy craziness when they got older and were in the first two movies? I mean there are some hardcore Poltergeist-like stuff happens, not just creaky floorboards at night. You think once someone gets batted all over the bedroom by Casper the unfriendly ghost, they would remember that. Sure there is a throw away explanation when someone starts to do some research on cults and says, “they often brainwash little girls” or some such nonsense, but that seems more like damage control than a believable answer. But then this is a movie about invisible demons, so maybe I shouldn’t get so hung up on what’s believable or not.

Oh and don’t get me started on the fact that in both the previous films it was established that the girls’ house was lost in a fire, and yet here the spooky beastie doesn’t so much as light a match. What, did the writers of this movie just forget that? Or were they hoping that we would forget? Either way, that’s a pretty big oversight.

Luckily not everything here is boo-boos and missteps. One nice thing about this movie is at least it has a plausible reason as to why the haunted family would have so many cameras on hand to record the paranormal activity, and that is because the new hubby to a woman and her two young daughters just so happens to make a living by filming weddings. That combined with the pretty authentic 80s look, complete with a VHS video feel to everything did put a smile on my face. In a similar vein I like the ingenuity they used in order to come up with a camera that would sweep back and forth by attaching a camera to an oscillating fan. Since the best pay offs in any PARANORMAL ACTIVITY come when the camera isn’t looking at something, but then cuts back to a scene so you can see that something has moved or changed, this moving camera really worked and provided some of the film’s best scares.

To be honest, despite being very derivative of the other films, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 still provides some good frights, even if the whole show does have that “been there, done that” feel to it. When you come down to it, that’s all you can ask of any horror movie, so in that regard, PA3 succeeds, if just barley. The sad truth is that not only were some of the jump scares predictable, as they were just variants of what we’ve seen last year and the year before, but so to was the ending, which had its twist telegraphed way early on and was easily the weakest finale of the three movies.

As for the new Blu-ray and DVD combo package from Paramount is like the ones that came before it, which means no obnoxious trailers (yay for that) and just a blank menu screen that give you the option to watch the theatrical or extended cut. Yep, there are two versions of the movie here, although the differences between them are minor. Also like the other PARANORMAL movies on disc, there are not a whole lot of special features to choose from. Here there are a few deleted scenes collected together as “lost tapes” and that’s it. So if you’re a special feature fan, you may want to hold off on this one until the special edition version that is no doubt sure to come out someday. However if you are a huge PA fan and just can’t wait then the retro 80s VHS look this film was going for looks far better on Blu-ray than any VHS you’ve ever seen.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 isn’t a bad movie, and I did enjoy parts of it, it’s just really tired and now overused idea. It is the weakest of the three films by far and a good example of why they should take a break from the annual release schedule they’ve fallen in to. Sadly I don’t think Paramount will heed this advice as they have already announced that Part 4 is in the works. Still, if you’re looking for a pretty good spooky film that will give you a jump or two, you could do a lot worse than PA 3.


Director: Tom Six
Cast: Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie, Maddi Black

One of my all-time favorite goofball slashers of the 1980s is called PIECES. It had a poster featuring a cut up woman, a chainsaw, and the tag line, “It’s exactly what you think it is.” That bit of tag line brilliance could have easily been applied to THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II: FULL SEQUENCE. Even if you never saw the first shocktastic slice of cinema, you probably know exactly what it is and by extension, what the sequel will have to offer. The original movie was one of those films that quickly entered the public lexicon and it became the butt of many late night TV monologs and the punch line for countless morning radio shows. Once SOUTH PARK does an episode on something, it’s safe to say it’s become part of the gestalt of human consciousness. Hell, my 60+ year-old mother knows about the movie, what it’s all about, and she has no interest in the weird flicks I watch. And in the case of this movie, I am very glad she will never, ever see this film. But should you? Well grab a barf bag, you’re sure to need it, and let’s see if anyone can top the over-the-top HUMAN CENTIPEDE.

This film is set in a world where the first CENTIPEDE movie was just that; a movie. That film has become the obsession of a very odd, mentally retarded man living with his bitter mother in England. This sequel is shot in black and white, probably for a number of reasons. The more charitable side of me might say that it was done as an artistic statement. In this world the first movie was “fake” but shot in color. Here in the “real” world things are not only devoid of color, but as the viewers will soon learn; far, far worse than anything that happened in the original CENTIPEDE movie. That said, the choice to go with black and white could also be because of all the gore and various bodily fluids flying all over hell and back in this movie. They might have been too much for anyone to handle in living color.

The start of this show is a demented, roly-poly, bald, bug-eyed, sweaty little troll of a man named Martin. While the villain of the first movie, the awesomely insane Dr. Heiter, had a creepy but cool vibe to him, there is nothing cool whatsoever about Martin. He is completely and utterly repulsive and reprehensible. Martin never once utters a single word, so actor Laurence R. Harvey has only his “unique” physical attributes, and acting without aid of dialog through grunts, facial expressions, and body movements, to portray one of the creepiest nut jobs ever captured on film. I’m sure in reality Mr. Harvey is a charming person, but here as Martin, he is frighteningly icky. Love this movie or hate it, and it seems many people really despise this film, credit must be given to Laurence R. Harvey for creating a nightmare inducing madman you’ll not soon forget.

And that’s where the praise train ends for HUMAN CENTIPEDE II. All aboard the bad taste express. Remember those barf bags I told you to bring? Well you just might need them now.

Martin works in an underground parking garage where he spends all his time in his little booth, watching his favorite movie, masturbating with sandpaper, and dreaming sick dreams of making his own human centipede. One day Martin rents out a warehouse and then starts clubbing random people over the head with a crowbar. When the poor KO-ed people wake up they are naked, tied up in that warehouse, and about to face a fate worse than death. After Martin collects a dozen people for his much larger centipede, he gets to work putting them together. But whereas the psycho in the first movie was a famous surgeon, Martin is a mentally challenged parking garage attendant. That means he has to resort to using pliers for yanking out teeth and a box cutter to slice through the sinews in legs (so that the centipede properly crawls around) and to create the flaps of butt skin used to attach everyone ass to mouth. He then employs a staple gun to make sure everyone stays in place.

Still with me? Ok, on we go.

Things go both good and bad for Martin in his quest to live his dream. Good: he manages to trick one of the actresses from the original movie to come to London so he can use her in his new and improved centipede. He does this by posing as a casting director for a film (naturally), although that dialog all happens off screen as remember, Martin never talks. Lord only knows how he was able to pull that off. Bad: he accidently kills one of his would be centipede segments, a very pregnant woman, by bashing her brains in with a crowbar one too many times. Good: he makes his human centipede, has it movie around much to his simplistic, sadistic glee, and then injects everyone with concentrated liquid laxatives to recreate the infamous “feed her!” scene from the first movie. Bad: the quite literal shit storm this causes is so overpowering that it even makes Martin sick. Good: Martin gets some jollies when he wraps his penis in barbwire and then rapes the last woman at the tail end of his centipede. Bad: the pregnant woman he thought he had killed comes to, runs for the door as her water breaks, and gets into a car, desperate to escape. In fact she is so desperate, that even once she has given birth in the car and her newborn baby falls to the floor and gets its infant head stuck under the car’s gas pedal, she still stomps on the gas (and thus crushes her newborn’s head) to get away.

Do I need to go on? Because I easily could, there are a whole slew of other atrocities I could recount for you, but I’d like to leave some things as surprises should you wish to punish yourself by watching this movie.

As for the extras on the oh-so lovely Blu-ray from IFC Midnight, there are a good selection for such a low budget and infamous little movie. First off there is an audio commentary track with director Tom Six and actor Laurence R. Harvey, that’s as informative as it is often off-putting. Then there’s a twelve minute interview with the madman who dreamt up all this human centipede stuff, Tom Six. And quite frankly, he didn’t appear as pants-on-head crazy as you would think from his movies. There’s a nine minute on set tour of warehouse were the centipede comes alive that has some nice behind the scenes bits, not to mention a whole lot of fake butts being tapped to actors. There is a very short special on the foley artists who make up all the disgusting sounds for this fine film. Another short is about making the movie poster. A single deleted scene (that adds nothing at all to the film), a short promo piece featuring Tom Six, trailers and teasers round out the extra goodie bag.

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE II: FULL SEQUENCE is shock for the sake of shock and nothing more. Its artistic merits are nil, save for seeing just how messed up and wrong a movie can be. Writer/director Tom Six gleefully admits that he wanted to make the most disturbing, sick, controversial, and yes; shocking movie ever made. Did he succeed? Well it would be a good race between this and A SERBIAN FILM for the gold medal of bad taste. But with all that said, if you like to test your limits or to see how strong your stomach is, you might want to give this movie a watch. Or if nothing else, you can play a game of “how much of this crap can you take before you leave the room” with your friends and family should you wish to inflict this upon them. Of course they may not talk to you afterwards, but that’s the chance you take. For the vast majority of people out there, I would say that this movie is not for you. If you read this review and were repulsed by any of the things I described here, seeing the events in the movie are far worse. Consider yourselves warned.

SHARK NIGHT 3D (2011)– Blu-ray

Director: David R. Ellis
Cast: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack

Back in 2010 they made a movie similar to this one, and yet so very different. The 2010 flick was a remake of a 1978 drive in classic called PIRANHA. Now the ways that remake and this brand new movie from Sony are similar are threefold. First, both were about hungry fishes wanting to eat people. Second, both were released in 3D. Third, at their hearts they were cheesy creature features and nothing more. But here’s how they were different; PIRANHA 3D not only knew exactly what it was, but embraced and reveled in it. It was chock full of gore, nudity, stupidity, off-color humor, nonsensical plot points, and more that made it so damn fun. Conversely SHARK NIGHT tries to play things safe for the more marketable PG-13 crowd and in doing so it gets rid of the blood, boobies and most of the bad language. By watering things down it turns the movie into a stale, boring, chore to sit through. It is utterly lacking in anything remotely recommendable and completely forgettable. Now I know I’m being oh so cagy and playing my cards close to my vest, so I’m sure you’re wondering what I really thought of this movie. Well dear reader, keep on reading and I’ll try to be more clear about my true thoughts about this oh so wonderful film.

The flick begins with an obligatory shark munching of a disposable young couple frolicking on the beach, and right from the start we are smacked upside the head with what’s the biggest problem with this film. The woman loses her bikini top in a sad attempt by this movie to be racy, but then the actress makes sure to keep her back to the camera, less the slightest glimpse of a boob destroy the morality of America, or ruin that oh so coveted PG-13 rating. Further cementing this film’s lameness, when the shark attacks the girl, the height of gore for this savage assault is red Kool-Aid in the water.

Cut to the group of college kids who will be our stars of this show, and yet not one of them is likable, memorable, funny, sweet, or in the slightest bit believable. They are an assemblage of cardboard cutouts and shorthand clichés instead of characters with any depth, and remain so even though the next third of the film is a boring slog of a travelogue as they road trip from their campus to a secluded island for some partying. I assume this was done in an attempt to flesh out the characters some more, and that is commendable, but it completely fails here. They all remain caricatures rather than real people, and even the people they’re supposed to be, I don’t like. This also means that for the next what-feels-like-eternity, there are no sharks in this movie called SHARK NIGHT. Oh yay.

Along the way the college kids naturally run into the cast of DELIVERANCE: THE NEXT GENERATION, because you just can’t make a movie where “city folk” go anywhere with more than three trees together without running into dimwitted, overly hostile, raciest rednecks. However, in a bit of inspired and laughable lunacy…

SPOILER WARNING (but go ahead and read it, as you really don’t want to watch this film)
…the rednecks are the real villains here. You see, they’ve been capturing a whole mess of live sharks from the ocean and dumping them into the saltwater lake they live by. I’ll skip over the part where I point out that this would greatly endanger any friends and family these rednecks would have, as they live at, and make their living on, the very lake they’re stocking with hungry sharks. After all, we all know movie villains are mwah-hah-hahing moustache-twirlers who never have any families or connections. The fact that there are at least four members of this crazy cabal, if not more, and one is a well-respected member of the community, shouldn’t matter. Each and every one of them is a psychotic loner more than happy to let their pet sharks eat random people.

As to why the psycho rednecks are doing this, well it’s for the money, of course. You see, in addition to capturing live sharks and transporting them to the lake from all over the world (as the varieties of species they have assembled is impressive) in a feat of nautical knowhow and management that would make Sea World proud, they attach laser beams – oops, sorry, wrong silly movie – I mean cameras to the shark’s heads. Why? To make shark snuff films, naturally. Why? Because “Shark Week” is the most popular week of TV on cable and these guys are making movies to sell to the rich fans of it who want to see “the real thing”. Yes, I kid you not, that is the plot for this film; snuff flicks because people watch “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel.

Do I really need to go on after that? You all know what’s going to happen. The college kids get to an island where naturally no cellular phone works, they get attacked by shark cameramen and get stranded on the island, then there is the “big twist” of who is a baddie when we were supposed to think that they were a goodie. Unfortunately everyone saw that one coming from a mile away. And naturally the sharks can’t just chomp people in the water like that old, boring JAWS movie, so here they do EXTREME! tricks, like jumping out of the water to snag people in trees or racing on jet skis, because gravity and real world physics are just so lame and uncool. Then there’s the showdown at the end with the final girl right out of Slasher Movies 101, the main villain who is oddly immune to tranquilizer darts that were so incredibly effective (complete unconsciousness in 2 seconds) in the previous scene, the death of the lead psycho redneck by poetic means, the fact that the dog somehow survives swimming around in shark infested water for twenty minutes (which is good, as he was the only character I liked), and dear god I’ve got to stop before my head explodes with the stupid. And all that without any real gore, nudity, and none of the classic campiness or fun that it so badly tried to rip off, but was so afraid to commit to.

I started this rant…er, review by mentioning the much better PIRANHA 3D, which was far from a perfect movie, but was still fun and vastly more enjoyable than this turgid, uninspired mess. But let’s go further back in time and compare and contrast this film with another shark movie that, according to the rating system, is even more kid friendly with a PG rating; JAWS. That older and far, far, oh my god so far better film had much better direction, more believable shark effects (and that’s with a roboshark that only worked half the time), superior actors, originality, a better story, suspense and tension, an amazing and memorable soundtrack, characters you actually gave a damn about, and while being a PG film, it still had much more gore and naughty nudie bits that this tepid turkey.

SHARK NIGHT has direction akin to TV pilots, incredibly fake looking CGI shark effects (perhaps one step above SHARKTOPUS), and with perhaps one or two exceptions, a gaggle of grade-B direct to video actors playing “twenty something” college students (quotes used as some of the actors appear to be in their 30s) that are so vapid or cardboard that you could care less about what happens to them. Add to that a laughably bad story that tries to blend JAWS with DELIVERANCE with VACANCY (the 2007 flick about a motel making snuff movies, for those who forgot that forgettable film) and it trades in any attempt for suspense for awesome ninja sharks that can swim faster than speedboats and fly out of the water to snatch people out of midair.

Now is it fair to judge a new, low budget fright flick with an undeniable classic of horror/thriller cinema? No, not really. After all, not every film can be the CITIZEN KANE of shark movies. But it does help to illustrate a point. If you want to watch a good shark movie then go see JAWS, it’s the best there ever was. If you just want to have a goofy, gory good time, go watch PIRANHA 3D, as it’s not afraid to revel in being a campy creature feature and play that up for all its worth. Unfortunately I can think of no good reason for anyone to ever see SHARK NIGHT. It’s not well made. It’s not fun. It’s just a boring, tedious turd and should be avoided at all costs.

THE DEAD (2011) – Blu-ray

Directors: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford
Cast: Rob Freeman, Prince David Oseia

This was the best horror movie I saw in 2011. If you’ve been reading my reviews for a while, and you know what I like and I don’t, and you find yourself agreeing with me more often than not, then stop reading this right now and order yourself a copy of this amazing movie right now. Yes, it doesn’t come out until Feb 14 (and thus would make for an excellent Valentine’s Day gift to that special horrorhead in your life) but reserve your copy now so you can watch it as soon as you possibly can.

Why am I so geeked about this movie? I mean a ton of zombie flicks come out all the time, what makes this one so special? Because not only is it the best zombie movie made in years, and that (sadly) includes the last three Romero zombie movies all rolled into one, but it is actually a very well-made movie first, and a zombie flick second. Do you know how incredibly rare that is? Well sit though as many of the recent-ish, rancid, rash of zombie movies that I’ve seen (off the top of my head; AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION, DAWN OF THE DEAD: CONTAGION, DAY OF THE DEAD (remake), SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 4 & 5, FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, ZOMBIE STRIPPERS, RESIDENT EVIL (any of them), and those are just the ones I can quickly remember from the last 5 years or so) and you’ll be as thrilled as I am when a good zombie movie eventually stumbles your way.

Now I’ve already reviewed this one when it was at the theater, but just in case you missed that, and since I hate repeating myself, the following is what I said then, and it’s still what I think now.

(cue flashback-wavy-dissolve effect)

In the war ravaged continent of Africa, the hell that man has made there for decades has just gotten a whole lot worse as the dead have begun to rise to attack the living. Sure, this is a very familiar story, but it is how that story is handled that makes all the difference in this film. Here the tale begins with an American Air Force mechanic on the last plane out of the blighted continent, but unfortunately for him the plane crashes. For our mechanic, surviving the crash is just the beginning because now he’s lost in the wilds of Africa with more flesh hungry zombies than you can shake a severed head at. Our costar of this movie is an African solider who leaves his post to go back and protect his wife and son. Well like any good zombie tale, there’s enough bad luck floating about for everyone and our solider returns home only to find that his village has been attacked by the undead, his wife eaten, and his son missing. A dying old woman tells him that his boy was taken to relative safety by a group of other soldiers. Eventually our two heroes meet and begin a dangerous journey over the beautiful, wild countryside, with the solider looking for his son and the American just looking for a way out of Africa.

A somewhat typical story, yes, but there are many things that makes this movie so damn good. First there are the slow, shambling, traditional undead, not the hyperactive, super athletes like many modern zombies. And while 28 DAYS LATER and the DAWN OF THE DEAD remake were great, I’ve always preferred the inescapable dread and doom that the slow zombie represents, and that is done to great effect in this movie. Take for example this scene; our Air Force hero gets a car, but it gets stuck in the lucky-to-be-called-a-goat-trail he’s forced to travel. He gets out of the auto to fix it and he looks around, seeing several undead, but they are a good distance away, so he thinks he’s safe. He starts to work on the car, and the camera pans back to show that the silent, shuffling zombies are closer. The guy continues to work on the car…and the flesh eaters get closer. He drops a tool, goes to pick it up, and now there’s a zombie right next to him. No, he sees that there are five right on top of him, and more closing in. That is how it’s done, folks. That is a creepy and effective bit of horror. Now just how would that scene of suspense and tension have been made any better by a zombie sprinting out of the bushes like Jesse Owens and gibbering like the Tasmanian Devil?

Another thing that I loved about this film was the long moments of silence. For much of this movie both heroes are on their own, so who would they be talking to? No one, that’s who. Still, if this was a Hollywood flick, I can’t imagine the filmmakers having enough faith that the audience wasn’t a bunch of A.D.D. addled spazzes that have to have constant droning less they become bored, to allow the movie to shut the hell up just tell its story through visuals alone, like THE DEAD does. No, they probably would have resulted to inner narration if nothing else. I mean, do I really have to point out BLADE RUNNER here?

Perhaps the reason THE DEAD is comfortable with its moments of silence is that the visuals it has to offer are so beautiful and striking. I mean, were talking about Africa here. Sure it’s savage, wild, and sometimes desolate, but it’s breathtaking nonetheless. This beauty is well juxtaposed with the horror that’s happening all over and the rotting zombies that are causing said horror. I can honestly say that this movie is probably the best looking, most visually stunning and memorable zombie movie ever made. For that reason alone, to prove that horror films don’t always have to look cheap and dirty, you should see this movie.

Lastly there’s the normal movie stuff, like acting, direction, music and such, combined with the horror staple of gore, and THE DEAD gets all of that, and more, so right. Perhaps my one and only complaint with this movie was the (thankfully) infrequent use of CGI for gore gags such as bullet hits and the like. I guess such things are unavoidable these days, and at least the ones in this film range from good to ok, but I still don’t like them. I’d just like all films to get the video game graphics out of my movies, but I suppose that will never happen, so I guess I can’t really hold that against this otherwise great fright flick.

(cue flashback-wavy-dissolve effect again to tell the audience we are returning to the present)

As for the specifics of this movie on the new Blu-ray from Anchor Bay, they’re pretty damn good. The film’s amazing visuals are well presented her, but there is still some of grain that gives it that “real film” look. It is more noticeable in some scenes than other, specifically dark scenes. Some people hate that, but I can live with it as long as it doesn’t get too out of control, and here it doesn’t. Still, I thought I’d mention that so the grain haters are duly warned. As for the special features, they’re sadly very disappointing. One is a very short (read as; five minute long) behind the scenes bit that’s just a hodgepodge of production home movies. The second is a single minute and a half deleted scene that adds nothing to the story. And…that’s it? Wow, for as good of a movie as THE DEAD is, ANCHOR BAY really seems to have put this one out on the cheap. I guess they’re too busy giving I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT the deluxe treatment to spend a few more pennies on this silly little zombie movie. There is an informative and sometimes entertaining audio commentary track with the directing/writing Ford Brothers, but that’s about it for these not-very-special special features.

Dearth of good extras on this disc aside, I still must agree with Alice Cooper when he said, “I Love THE DEAD”. It’s got style, good acting, great moments of suspense, zombie gut munching, and a beautiful and unique setting that hasn’t been done to death by dozens of other zombie flicks. I highly recommend this movie, it’s a must have for zombie lovers everywhere.

NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS (1975) – Blu-ray

Director: Aldo Lado
Cast: Flavio Bucci, Macha Méril, Gianfranco De Grassi

Hey remember that grueling horror movie that shocked the world when it came out in the 70s? You know; the one where the two young girls run into a group of lowlifes who sexually abuse and then kill them? The scumbags then just so happen to run into one of the girl’s parents by accident and go back to their house for some hospitality. Then mommy and daddy find out what the creeps did to their daughter and so take their bloody revenge out on the killers? Yeah, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT was a true horror classic. It was as brutally honest in its depiction of violence as it was hard to watch and it can be argued that it changed shock cinema forever.

Too bad that’s not the film I’m going to be reviewing today, even though the exact same summary above can be applied to this film word for freaking word. No today I’m going to review the Eurotrash rip-off that came out three years after LHotL called NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS. Now to set the record straight, I love Eurotrash movies when they’re nice and sleazy and not afraid to “go there”. Sadly, that is not the case for this derivative and downright boring “homage” of the much better original. It doesn’t do a damn thing new and worse yet, it plays things oh so safe, as if it’s worried it might offend someone. There is only one semi-shocking moment in the whole film, and for something with the gall to have “more reprehensible than LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT” on its cover, that’s a mix of funny, sad, and unforgivable. Oh well, let’s get this trip over with. So grab your tickets and let’s board this NIGHT TRAIN.

The film begins by showing us two bad dudes in Germany. We know they’re bad because they mug a man dressed as Santa and cut a rich lady’s fur coat. They hop aboard a train bound for Italy to escape some German cops. Also on the train is a mid-thirties woman who we soon learn is into the freaky deaky because she accidently drops her purse and out spills some black and white photos of her in the midst of international group sex. Scandalous! Naturally the two thugs and Frau Sex Fiend are destined to meet up. Unfortunately a pair of nice, young, pretty school girls on their way to one of their parents’ house for Christmas is also predestined to cross paths with the thrill seeking trio.

What’s really unfortunate is that it takes ssssoooo long for that, or anything else, to happen. 48 minutes slowly tick by, over half this movie’s length, before anything horrifying, titillating, or even remotely shocking ever happens. Now if this time was used to flesh out any of the five characters, this lull might be overlooked. But it’s not. Instead here you can thrill to hear people discussing European politics of the 1970s, witness “hot” sex between two fully clothed people in the train’s toilet, and sit on the edge of your seat as a knife fight is over in six seconds without anyone getting so much as a scratch. Seriously, the highlight of edgy for the first half of this snoozefest is when the two young girls lean against the moving train’s wall because the vibrations feel good. Again I say scandalous!

Eventually what you know is coming happens; the two girls get abused and then killed by the creeps on the train, but even this is boring chore to sit through, with the exception for one sick bit I’ll discuss in a second. When LAST HOUSE came out the violence and sadism was like a punch to the gut. It achieved its desired effect of sickening the audience and showing how brutal and dirty violence can be. You can say it was exploitation, and it was, but it was also very real and effective. Conversely NIGHT TRAIN has a tepid, fully clothed rape where the woman looks more sleepy than frightened and some splashed about red paint standing in for the murders. The only effective scene to show how awful the three sadists are involves a knife and one of the young girl’s virginal hymen. This was actually pretty cringe-worth and effectively portrayed without being overly gratuitous. But what does it say about your movie when a switchblade deflowering is the highlight of your film?

Anyway, the girls’ bodies are tossed off the train and the trio gets off at the same stop where the girls were to meet their parents. The sicko woman has a hurt leg, and one of the dead girl’s father is a doctor, so he invites the three up to his house so he can be a Good Samaritan and help them out. Bing, bang, boom; dad learns of his daughter’s murder and that the creeps in his house are the culprits so a quick, and very weak sauce revenge happens and then thankfully this movie is over. Yay.

Now as undeniable bad and boring as this movie is, the good folks over at Blue Underground nevertheless gave it their usual first class treatment in regards to video transfer for this new Blu-ray. This copy looked amazingly great for a bit of mid-seventies European exploitation. Probably better than it had any right to be. In addition to the great picture, there are a few minor extras to be found here. Other than the usual trailers, radio spots, and poster gallery, there is an interview with writer/director Aldo Lado.

Sadly I can’t recommend NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS to rank and file horrorheads. If you are a fan of Eurotrash, or you loved LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT so much that you must have all the horrible rip-offs that groundbreaking movie spawned, then feel free to take a ride on this train. As for everyone else, just take the bus.

NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS (2010) - Blu-ray

Director: Joseph Guzman
Cast: Asun Ortega, David Castro, Perry D'Marco

This is an example of the title being so much better than the actual movie. Come on, how can you not love a movie called NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS? Well when it’s rather boring, that’s how. This flick can be so dull at times that all the naked ladies (and there are a bunch of those here), the few naked guys (for the ladies and dudes who are into that), and all the people getting shot by a vengeful nun with a collection of big guns can’t save this movie from just sort of being a chore to sit through. I know, going into this film I expected it to be a lot of things, but boring sure wasn’t one of them. So is this latest modern day attempt to cash in on the grindhouse nostalgia wave ushered in by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino when they released their fan-appreciated, but financially bombing, double feature GRINDHOUSE in 2007, a complete wash, or can some giggles and ogles be found in this uneven movie? Well grab your habit and your .44 Magnum and let’s find out.

The story begins with a bus full of nuns driving through the desert so that the priest in charge can sell some drugs to a skevy looking couple of bikers. When it is discovered that a package of drugs has been stolen by one of the nuns, the leader of the bikers, Chavo, shoots all the nuns except Sister Sarah. The priest, in order to make things up to the bikers, gives the nun to the bikers who quickly turn her into a drug addicted whore right out of THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE. Continuing the rip-off…I mean “homage” of that Swedish cult classic, Sister Sarah gets a message from God during a drug trip and soon turns into a nun of vengeance! She goes after the gang that turned her out and the entire Catholic Church that seems to do nothing but produce and sell drugs.

What follows is lots and lots of nudity, as pretty much every woman in this movie gets naked in some degree, ranging from popping their tops to full frontal. If you’re a fan of that, rejoice as this movie delivers the NUDE part of its title in spades. As for the BIG GUNS, the violence here comes in two varieties. There are at least three prolonged rapes (two are of nuns, and one is a very old nun) so if that turns you off, as it very well should, then know that before you go into this movie. As for the titular guns, their use is far less graphic and that’s not a good thing for gorehounds like me. Sadly the nun’s rampage of revenge is mostly resigned to blood splattering on walls or pretty fake looking CGI bullet holes.

CGI blood effects, my old nemeses, oh how I loathe thee.

Sorry about that, back to NUDE NUNS which has lots of nudity but rather disappointing violence. Perhaps the blackest mark against it is that it’s just boring. A grindhouse movie should be many things, but boring shouldn’t be one of them. Even with all the gratuitous nudity and violence in this flick, I found myself checking the time again and again, wondering when this movie would be over. It had none of the crazy zaniness that other recent grindhouse-inspired movies had. But it did have a lot of the tedium that quite a few of the original exploitation flicks from the 70s and 80s had, so kudos for “keeping it real” I guess.

That is not to say that everything is bad here. The movie isn’t really horrible, just sort of monotonous. It had a sort of good idea with nun version of THRILLER, a great title, and surprisingly at least one actor who was entertaining has hell. David Castro, whom I’ve never seen before, was wonderfully icky as the murderous, insane leader of the bikers. Whenever he was on the screen he easily stole the show. Then there was the look of the avenging nun, with her white habit and crisscrossed with gun belts, that looked totally badass. Sadly these good parts added together could not a grate whole make.

To top of this rather lackluster stab at over the top cinema, the Blu-ray from Image Entertainment is very lacking in the extras department. There is only a trailer (yay) and a three minute short film also called “Nude Nuns with Big Guns”. However, the entirety of that short film was worked into the larger movie as a scene where the killer nun seduces a lesbian bad girl in order to make good her escape. The scene (and therefore the short movie) isn’t bad, but since you’ve already seen it if you watched the feature film, it makes its inclusion here as the only extra unnecessary, disappointing, and a bit of an insult. To be fair, the HD transfer of the movie looks great, but even that might be a bit of too good looking for its own good. Grindhouse movies really shouldn’t look this good. I’d rather the film had some of the faux grain and crappy film quality that made the GRINDHOUSE and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN movies look the part. But then that could just be me.

NUDE NUNS WITH BIG GUNS took a shot, missed the target, but it was not a huge miss. If it would have had more going for it, or perhaps been a little shorter, it would not have outstayed its welcome so much and have been better overall. As it is, I can only recommend this one to the most diehard fans of nunsploitation films, revenge films regardless of quality, or complete collectors of the modern grindhouse movement.

--Brian Sammons