Saturday, February 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.

--Nickolas Cook

Bloody Pages Book Reviews

reviewed by Anthony Servante

King Death (2011) by Paul Finch
(A Limited Numbered Chapbook IV from Spectral Press

The Black Plague is sweeping the lands ruled by Edward the Third. Rodric, a mercenary who is unaffected by the disease, pilfers the stately riches left by the dead masters and mistresses of the manors and estates. Dressing as a black knight with a ghastly skull painted on his helmet and calling himself King Death, Rodric frightens the superstitious survivors into revealing where more booty can be found. When the greedy ex-soldier encounters an eight-year old boy wandering lost and in shock, he tricks the youngster to lead him to the treasures left behind by the child’s former master. Overwrought in its telling, it hides a modest story similar to a fable. Not really a horror story, although the descriptions of the plague victims are quite horrific, it is more a period piece about justice. Those unfamiliar with the language of late medieval England may want to read the glossary at the end of the chapbook before proceeding with the story.
Vist Paul Finch ar his official website/blog here
The chapbook is SOLD OUT. But you can bug Spectral Press for a copy here

Mama Said (2011) by Lee Allen Howard
Get his book in ebook edition

First thing that grabs you in Lee Allen Howard’s tidy work of horror is the language. There is poetry in there amongst the prose. “We smell a summer twilight.” “We feel dew descending.” The language matches the pastoral setting of the farm. But don’t be fooled by the friendly environment, for there is corruption at work beneath the surface. This is the story of Buddy, a thirteen year old boy sent to live on his grandmother’s farm, only to be followed by his pregnant sister Brinda and her sadistic boyfriend Jackie. While there is much sexual violence, especially against children, it is a set up for the retribution that makes up the ending of the story. It is with very little guilt that I add another book to your heavy reading schedule, and if I might suggest: sneak Mama Said to the top of the book pile. It is a quick read and well worth the time.
Visit Lee Allen Howard's official website here
Available in Kindle here

Decayed Etchings by Brandon Ford (2011)
published by Black Bed Sheet Books

The introduction to Decayed Etching paints a picture of Ford’s writing style and his reason for selecting the book title: “[It] made me think, first and foremost, of a gloomy, cobweb-covered gravestone. Long-abandoned cemeteries. A flood of gothic imagery continued to fill my mind. I saw gray skies, dead trees, crumbling castles, all things dark, spooky, and archaic.” Then he delivers 18 short stories in this anthology that deal with suspense, well developed characterizations and some unexpected gruesomeness. But the stories fall short of the horror genre and land closer to a cross between the stories of the TV shows Thriller and Night Gallery. This is not a complaint. The stories are strong and interesting, and I do recommend them, but the intro sets up a different book. I look forward to reading Ford’s other work in hopes of finding these Decayed Etchings. Available in paper and Kindle here
Visit Brandon Ford's official website here


Jonathan Maberry: Man in Progress Part Two

The Interview
prepared by Anthony Servante

As we learned last month, Jonathan Maberry has progressed from Martial Arts disciplines in practice and instruction, to Folklore research, and onto Horror, where the Bram Stoker-Award winning author has earned the critics’ praise as the “next Stephen King”. He visits The Black Glove on his DEAD OF NIGHT Blog Tour.

Anthony Servante: This is Anthony Servante from The Black Glove speaking to Jonathan Maberry as he promotes his latest work, Dead of Night (2011). Thank you for joining us.
Jonathan Maberry: My pleasure, Anthony. Thanks for having me!

Anthony: Can we start with a little overview of the career of Jonathan Maberry? Where does your writing career begin?
Maberry: I made my first professional sale while a junior in college. There’s a saying in writing: ‘Write what you know’ –the logic being that if you pitch articles, stories, etc. based on the things you know and love best, then you’ll write with more passion and authority. I’ve been involved in martial arts since I was a little kid, so the first articles I pitched were on that. My first sale was to Black Belt Magazine, and I was off and running. I went on to sell around 1200 articles and 3000 columns. Then in the early 1990s, while teaching at Temple University, I began to write college textbooks. I did the books for my own courses –Martial Arts History, Self-Defense for Women, Jujutsu and others, and also for courses taught by colleagues (Judo, Archery, etc.)

A decade later I began publishing martial arts books for the mass market, and in 2001 I wrote my first non-martial arts book. That was the Vampire Slayers Field Guide to the Undead, written under the pen name of Shane MacDougall. Writing about the folklore of monsters gave me a taste for the horror genre, and in 2005 I wrote Ghost Road Blues, my first novel. Now I’m a full-time novelist and also write short stories and comics.

Anthony: Can you tell us lay people of the philosophy connected to your martial arts disciplines? Like the differences between Krav Maga, Kung Fu, and the disciplines you’ve earned belts in and written about?
Maberry: I’m a classicist when it comes to martial arts. I’ve been practicing (and later teaching) Japanese jujutsu and kenjutsu since 1966. Jujutsu was developed during Japan’s Feudal Era, and it was the combat system used by the samurai. It includes a variety of interrelated armed and unarmed fighting methods. It’s very scientific, heavily grounded in physics, physiology, anatomy, psychology and strategy. There are a lot of modern sport systems that are called ‘jiujitsu’ arts, but they’re really based more on Judo, which was developed as the nonviolent sports version of jujutsu. Classical jujutsu isn’t useful as a sport because the techniques were developed expressly for combat. To make them safe for sports requires a radical change in both the selection of skills and their application. It’s the difference between a Nerf ball and a bullet. Both of them can hit a target, but not at all in the same way.

There are essentially three categories of martial arts: combative, sportive and esoteric. The latter form includes arts like Aikido and Tai Chi, and while these arts do have a connection to their combative roots, their goal is the improvement of physical health and fitness and the cultivation of a harmonious mind. Sportive martial arts are the most popular, and these include everything from fencing to boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, Brazilian jiujitsu, most forms of karate, and so on. Many of these arts are magnificent and are certainly excellent for teaching fitness, sportsmanship, discipline, and other virtues –but they are no longer the same as the combat arts on which they were based. Combative arts are much rarer and not particularly popular, largely because it’s much harder to earn rank, there is far more to learn, the techniques aren’t flashy, and it often hurts. The older Okinawan karate systems were combative, as is jujutsu, aikijutsu, kenjutsu (swordplay), Hapkido and a few others.

I admire sportive and esoteric arts, but I was trained for combat. Throughout most of my career as a professional instructor, I created self-defense programs for women, children, the elderly, and the physically-challenged, including a close-quarters combat system for the blind (Touch-Fighting) and one for folks in wheelchairs (Steel Wheels). More recently I was chief instructor of COPSafe, a company that provided arrest-and-control and personal defense workshops for all levels of law enforcement including SWAT.

In 2004 it was my very great honor to be inducted into the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame, due in part to my extensive writings.

Anthony: From martial arts you went on to Vampires, Zombies, Cryptids and the Science of Cryptozoology. Can you tell us just what that means and how you came to study the field of “hidden” monsters in nonfiction? Any favorite fantastical creatures in there?
Maberry: I’ve always had an interest in what my spooky ol’ grandmother called ‘the larger world’. She believed in everything from ghosts to vampires to sprites. She also believed that there were a lot of odd things in our own natural world that have not yet been recorded. Critters like the Jersey Devil, the Lake Champlain Monster, and others. Also I maintain a healthy skepticism I, like Fox Mulder, want to believe. I’m very open to the possibility that there are some strange things in our world, and science frequently rewards that optimism by discovering previously unrecorded species –or finding living examples of supposedly extinct species.

My wife and I are actually involved in one ongoing mystery involving a ‘cryptid’ (an animal not yet verified in the known fossil record). In Eastern Pennsylvania there have been hundreds of sightings of a weird animal that looks like a cross between a marsupial, a dog and a rodent. It was given the unfortunate nickname of the ‘Yardley Yeti’ by a local newsman who liked the alliteration but didn’t really know what a ‘yeti’ was. My wife and I saw it in 2006 and took photos of it

We don’t know what it is. I’d thought that it was a red fox with mange, but the exotic animals expert from the Norristown Zoo said that it wasn’t. He did not know what it was.

Anthony: Now if we can connect the dots: How did you create fiction from martial arts and nonfiction cryptids?
Maberry: In fiction, we want to build our stories on solid ground as much as possible. By tapping into things we all know about, or at least can recognize, it creates a shared environment for understanding. In my fiction, I generally back everything up with hard science and common sense. Everything is as real as I can make it–and I do a ton of research to get the details straight. If I introduce a transgenic super soldier, then I’ll pack the hard-core cutting-edge science into the story that explains how transgenics really could create such a creature. Science allows for that because we’re actually working on stuff like that. Hell, there are farms in Canada where they raise goats that have been given the silk-producing gene from the orb weaver spider; and as a result the goats produce prodigious quantities of spider silk in their milk. This is real, this is ten years ago.

The zombies in DEAD OF NIGHT move and act like the monsters in George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, but I cooked up a plausible way for them to exist, using Cold War-era bioweapons science, ethnobotany courtesy of my friend Dr. Wade Davis (author of THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW), and new information about parasites from another friend, Carl Zimmer (author of PARASITE REX).

When it comes to martial arts in my stories, my heroes often have to go toe-to-toe with these monsters. Choreographing that kind of fight scene is easy for me because of my training in jujutsu. Remember, that’s a scientific art, so the science shows me the way.

Anthony: Can you give us some background on the Pine Deep Trilogy for new readers?
Maberry: The Pine Deep Trilogy (GHOST ROAD BLUES, DEAD MAN’S SONG and BAD MOON RISING) are set in a small and very troubled little town in Pennsylvania. The town of Pine Deep has built its industry and tourism around its reputation for being the most haunted town in America. The problem is that it really IS the most haunted town in America, and that turns out to be a very bad thing for everyone–locals and tourists.

I tapped a bit of legend from Eastern Europe that is well-documented in folklore but never tapped (before) in fiction. The legend has it that when a werewolf dies-and is not buried on hallowed ground—it comes back as a vampire. A very powerful vampire, and one capable of creating more vampires–not by its bite but by causing the bodies of victims of violent deaths to rise from their graves. This vampire is building an army and plans to make war on humanity.

One of the fun things I did in that series is to include a number of real people. Since Pine Deep has a big Halloween festival–and since festivals of that type generally have celebrities from horror films—I asked some real horror film celebs if I could write them into the story as themselves. They’re in town as guests of the event when things suddenly turn very bad. So you can expect to see Tom Savini, James Gunn (screenwriter of the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD and director of SLITHER), Stephen Susco (screenwriter for THE GRUDGE), Joe Bob Briggs (drive-in movie critic), Ken Foree (star of the original DAWN OF THE DEAD), scream queens Brinke Stevens and Debbie Rochon, and more.

Anthony: Can you catch us up with the Joe Ledger series?
Maberry: Joe Ledger is a former Baltimore cop who was recruited by a secret government agency to fight terrorists who are using radical bioweapons. In the first book, PATIENT ZERO, Joe dealt with terrorists who had bioengineered a new form of Mad Cow disease to create a kind of zombie plague; in THE DRAGON FACTORY, Joe tackles scientists using cutting-edge transgenic science to restart the Nazi Master Race program; in THE KING OF PLAGUES, Joe’s team squares off against a secret society using weaponized versions of the Ten Plagues of Egypt. Now, in the latest thriller, ASSASSIN’S CODE, Joe and the Department of Military Sciences try to stop an ancient order of killers from detonating nukes throughout the Middle East. The kicker there is that these assassins have an unusual thirst for human blood.

ASSASSIN’S CODE debuts April 10 from St. Martin’s Griffin (in trade paperback, ebook and audio).

Anthony: And Benny Imura? Can we have a synopsis of this character and his series?
Maberry: Benny Imura is a fifteen year old kid growing up in post-apocalyptic California. Fourteen years ago the Reaper plague swept across the world, turning most of the world’s population into mindless, flesh-eating zombies. Benny and his friends live in a small fenced-in town and the rest of the world is the great ROT & RUIN. Now Benny has to get a job of face having half his rations cut. He reluctantly apprentices with his zombie-killer half-brother, Tom. That changes everything. Benny quickly learns that everything he knew about the world, his family, and the zombies, was wrong.

ROT & RUIN was the first book in what will be a quadrology. It’s already won a slew of awards and is nominated for about a dozen others. The second in the series, DUST & DECAY, debuted last August and is a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award. The third book, FLESH & BONE, debuts September 11, and I’m just about to start writing the concluding book, FIRE & ASH.

Anthony: How did you get into the comic book world of Marvel? I’m a Silver Age Marvel geek. What have you done to our favorite heroes? What’s your spin?
Maberry: I grew up reading Marvel Comics. I remember walking into our neighborhood magazine shop when I was nine years old and buying my first comic–Fantastic Four #67. I was immediately hooked. Roll forward a bunch of years, and a few months after PATIENT ZERO came out, I get a totally unexpected phone call from Marvel’s Editor in Chief, Axel Alonso. He said he’d read PATIENT ZERO, really dug it, and wanted to know if I’d like to write for Marvel.

Turns out…yeah, I did.

Over the last few years I’ve had a chance to write stories that involved almost all of my favorite characters: The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Captain America, the Punisher, Wolverine. Prince Namor. I’d love to do a reboot of Tomb of Dracula, or maybe a new spin on the Warlord of Mars series. Time will tell.

Right now I’ve been writing my own little franchise within Marvel–a kind of Rage Virus story that gives a bit of a nod to 28 Days Later and I Am Legend. The first series was MARVEL UNIVERSE VS THE PUNISHER. We followed that up with MARVEL UNIVERSE VS WOLVERINE, which was just nominated for a Bram Stoker Award.

Anthony: What do you have in the works that we can look forward to?
Maberry: In May, V WARS debuts. It’s a shared-world vampire anthology that I cooked up and edited. It features novellas by Nancy Holder, Scott Nicholson, John Everson, Yvonne Navarro, Gregory Frost, Keith DeCandido, and James A. Moore.

Plus I have a slew of short stories coming out this year. One just hit stores, “The Death Song of Dwar Guntha”, a John Carter of Mars story in the anthology UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS (in hardcover from Simon & Schuster), and I’ll have a fantasy novelette, “Spellcaster 2.0”, in AN APPLE FOR THE CREATURE, an anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kellner (September 4 from Ace). And lots of others. Even a story in an anthology called BEFORE PLAN 9: Plans 1 Through 8 From Outer Space.

Anthony: Fantastic. Thank you for visiting The Black Glove on your DEAD OF NIGHT Blog Tour.
Maberry: Hey, this was fun! Thanks, Anthony!

Readers can turn to the Servante of Darkness review of DEAD OF NIGHT for more of Jonathan Maberry: Man in Progress, Part Two. And we’ll see you, dear readers, for Part Three next month with some surprises from our special guest.


Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestselling author, multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, and Marvel Comics writer. He’s the author of many novels including Assassin’s Code, Dead of Night, Patient Zero and Rot & Ruin. His nonfiction books on topics ranging from martial arts to zombie pop-culture. Since 1978 he has sold more than 1200 magazine feature articles, 3000 columns, two plays, greeting cards, song lyrics, poetry, and textbooks. Jonathan continues to teach the celebrated Experimental Writing for Teens class, which he created. He founded the 'Writers Coffeehouse' and co-founded 'The Liars Club'; and is a frequent speaker at schools and libraries, as well as a keynote speaker and guest of honor at major writers and genre conferences. Jonathan lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania with his wife, Sara and their son, Sam. Visit him online at and on Twitter (@jonathanmaberry) and Facebook.

Praise for DEAD OF NIGHT:

“Jonathan Maberry is the top gun when it comes to zombies, and with DEAD OF NIGHT, he's at the top of his game. Frankly, I'm shocked by how effortlessly he moves between the lofty intellectual heights of T.S. Eliot's poetry and the savage carnality of the kill. DEAD OF NIGHT develops with the fevered pace of a manhunt, and yet still manages to hit all the right notes. Strap in, because Maberry's latest is one hell of a wild ride. I loved it.” - Joe McKinney, author of DEAD CITY and FLESH EATERS

“Jonathan Maberry has created an homage to death itself and an homage to the undead that is as poetic as it is terrifying. It's a brand new and intriguingly fresh slant on the zombie genre that we all love!” -John A. Russo co-screenwriter of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

“Maberry is a master at writing scenes that surge and hum with tension. The pacing is relentless. He presses the accelerator to the floor and never lets up, taking you on a ride that leaves your heart pounding. It’s almost impossible to put this book down. Dead of Night is an excellent read.” —S.G. Browne, author of BREATHERS

"It would be enough to say that Jonathan Maberry had topped himself yet again with an epic zombie novel that is as much fun as it is terrifying. But that he has also created a story of such tremendous heart and social relevance only further cements his place as a master of the genre. It also doesn't hurt that in DEAD OF NIGHT he has created one of the most compelling heroines I've read in years. Dead of Night blew me away!" --Ryan Brown - Author of PLAY DEAD

“Once again, Jonathan Maberry does what he does best; Take proven science, synthesize it and create something truly terrifying. In DEAD OF NIGHT, Maberry lays the groundwork for a Bioweapon that could very well create zombies in the real world. Combining great characters (I fell in love with Dez Fox from the moment she was introduced) and taut, blindingly fast action, DEAD OF NIGHT, is a runaway bullet train of a ride. This is Jonathan Maberry's best writing yet.” –Greg Schauer, owner Between Books, Claymont, DE

“Dead of Night stands drooped head and lurching shoulders above most zombie novels. The nightmare increases exponentially - from minor outbreak to major crisis with unstoppable speed, building to a heart-stopping climax you won't be able to put down.” --David Moody, author of the HATER and AUTUMN books

--Anthony Servante

TIME CAPSULES classic book reviews by Bill Lindblad

BLOODLIST (1990) by P.N. Elrod

Horror, like every other genre, has boundaries. What constitutes those
boundaries is always a source of debate with the terms of the debate
changing in accordance with both literary trends and general society.

Bloodlist was not marketed as horror. It was marketed as science fiction,
which it is assuredly not: the book is the first in what became a successful
mystery series set in mob-era Chicago. What distinguishes it from other
historical mysteries is the lead character, a former reporter named Jack
Fleming who is undead. The series is known as The Vampire Files, and it is
an indication of how ahead of the current trends P.N. Elrod was that she was able to develop that title. There are at least a dozen vampire mystery
series either with a vampire or a Buffy-esque fated slayer as the
protagonist. Pat was simply at the game earlier than the others.

Is it horror? I don't think so, but with a vampire as the main character it
is often shelved there. It's not even particularly dark for dark fantasy;
it's closer to a crossover fantasy / mystery novel with the fantastic
element being the existence of vampires. That's not to say there aren't
horror scenes within the series. There are, because gangland Chicago gave
rise to some very violent, conscienceless people. I can understand the
argument that has resulted in this book and the others in the series
sometimes being shelved (where such bookstore distinctions remain) as

I enjoy when the borders of horror are pushed. It results in a genre with
greater depth and breadth. My only requirement is that any book that tries
to expand the boundaries does so well.

This book does it well. Elrod plays fair with the reader, using all of the
classical vampire traits for her protagonist and working within the
conventions of the 1940s pulp-style mystery novel. Perhaps more impressive
is the fact that this was the author's first novel, and one of her first
professional sales.

The reader gets to follow Fleming as he attempts to discover who had him
killed and why, while at the same time attempting to learn the ropes of
being a vampire. The main character is given solidity through a combination
of his interactions with others and some flashback sequences of key points
in his life. Interesting secondary characters are introduced and allowed
their own development. Loose ends are provided as starter threads for
future books, but none need completion for a satisfactory conclusion to the
novel. And like so many sf, fantasy, and horror books, all of this is
packaged with a cover that bears no resemblance to any scene within the

It's a standout book that did what the author intended, and if it can be
criticized for not transcending the genres it straddled, it should be
commended for the job done satisfying the requirements of those genres.

Four stars out of five.

THE PORTALS by Edward Andrew Mann

This is another book which was marketed as science fiction, and with a far
more sf cover than Bloodlist. While the former had a physically altered
vampire on the cover, the paperback edition of The Portals shows a man in an Altered States-style set of electrodes connected to his body while around him can be seen both stars and the Pyramids. The potential reader might not even realize there was a horror element in the book unless they read the tagline: A mind-bending novel of cosmic horror. And the potential reader would then likely wonder what the cover art had to do with horror.

I'm still wondering that myself.

The book reads more like a pair of connected novellas and a short story than a cohesive novel. That's because the story begins in a format that could have been lifted from any one of a dozen Lovecraftean imitators: a collector wins a book at auction that is written in an ancient language. It is learned that the previous owner died under mysterious circumstances. Well, it's the circumstances aren't really that mysterious... he was rent apart and his head went missing. The questions are who did it and how it was done. But Cary Ralston isn't overly concerned with that; he's simply
wondering what the odd book is. Before you can say Necronomicon,
dismembered bodies lacking heads start appearing in lieu of once-living
associates of Ralston.

If the book had continued along this line it might have been a wonderfully
fun novel, especially in the mid-1970s when Lovecraftean novels were rare
beasts. Instead, halfway through it shifts into another style where the
author moves toward ESP and other psychometric effects as the motive device
for the story. Then, in the final ten pages, the book makes a sharp veer
in the direction of new age mysticism as it neatly ties up the story. Note
that I said "neatly", not "believably".

The result is a muddled work that allows the author to demonstrate some
skillful tricks but ultimately fails due to leaning far too heavily first on Lovecraft and then on Altered States.

Two stars out of five.

NIGHTMARE by Anne Blaisdell

While most readers have never heard of Anne Blaisdell, if they were mystery
readers they are probably familiar with two other pseudonyms the author
used: Lesley Egan and Dell Shannon. All were fictitious names for Barbara
"Elizabeth" Linington, who was one of the earliest and most successful
female writers of the police procedural subgenre of mystery fiction. In
Nightmare, she chose to bypass her standard fare and instead created a story of an innocent prisoner attempting to outwit her captor.

The basic story is truly simple. The book clocks in at under 200 pages, and
that's despite many paragraphs being devoted to either extensive analyses of the rationale behind a character's actions or minutiae associated with the room in which the prisoner finds herself.

The book was nominated for the Edgar award for best novel, and that was not
an accident. From a mystery standpoint, it was a great thriller when it was
released in 1961. While there are no chase sequences or multi-twist plots
that are the hallmarks of the contemporary thriller, there is a completely
rational premise that could easily play out in life and readers are treated
to watch as the sympathetic protagonist steadily moves toward one of only
two possible fates: death or rescue.

The book was turned into a movie starring Stephanie Powers, Die! Die! My
Darling, that managed to further elevate the book by sticking to the
original material's events and diaglogue while introducing the acting of
Powers and Tallulah Bankhead, the delighted excess of Hammer Films and the
sharp screenwriting of Richard Matheson.

It's hard to rate this book accurately, because in tone and construction it
is a creature from another age. If I were going to approach it purely from
the modern perspective, I'd have to rate it one star down from what I'm
giving it.

Five stars out of five.

BLOODLINES : Serial Horror in Fiction #8 : Andrew Mayhem by Jeff Strand

by Bill Lindblad

Mayhem is an atypical hero for a horror tale. He bears more in common with characters like George MacDonald Frasier's Flashman or Robert Lynn Asprin's Skeeve than he does Repairman Jack or John the Balladeer. He's not incompetent; he's merely a fairly normal person who continues to find himself in abnormal situations.

Unfortunately for him, these aren't the sort of abnormal situations that might find you dressed in a Halloween costume at 2 in the morning, buying pet shampoo at an all-night pharmacy (we've all been there.) Instead, these are the sort of abnormal situations that find him in a room full of decapitated people, or trying to escape from a forest full of deadly booby-traps. Andrew doesn't go seeking out these types of situations, but he finds himself swept along by fate and a series of decisions which seem not only reasonable but the best possible options at the time.

The Mayhem books are thus written, like the Flashman or Myth series, with an eye toward humor. Strand delivers on this note, producing books which are consistently funny. Unlike other humor series of this type, Strand also includes horror elements - not merely an occasional use of a trope, but major aspects of horror stories which play strongly into the plot. There are, in each of his books, gruesome deaths, innocent victims, slow torture and building tension. The result is a strange combination of humor and horror that is typically reserved for the short story, and almost never in a novel. Strand consistently succeeds magnificently in maintaining the balance throughout the stories.

The series to date:
Graverobbers Wanted, No Experience Necessary (2001)
Single White Psychopath Seeks Dame (2003)
Casket for Sale: Only Used Once (2004)
Suckers (w/J.A. Konrath) (2009)
Lost Homicidal Maniac (Answers to "Shirley") (2011)

--Bill Lindblad

Foreign Fears: THE KILL LIST (2011) UK

Review by Nickolas Cook

The UK filmmakers are making some of the BEST horror movies in this new century. I had heard some great reviews of the movie, THE KILL LIST, in reading my usual websites of which I read whenever I want to know what the new hot titles are. Getting a review copy, sat down eagerly to see what director Ben Wheatley had created that was all the buzz in the chat horror rooms.

I’m here to tell you, Horrorheads. The praise wasn’t enough. I love, love, love this film. What makes it such a stunner of a movie is what happens to the protagonist by the film’s end. It will get you right in the gut. I promise that.

The plot goes, Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley) are former soldiers who have become hitmen since leaving the military. While Gal is laid back, Jay is still suffering from an unspecified disastrous mission in Kiev and, despite the urging of his wife Shel (MyAnna Buring), he hasn't worked since and they are running out of cash. Shel organizes a dinner party to which she invites Gal and his latest girlfriend, a human resources manager called Fiona (Emma Fryer), and during the evening Gal reveals he has a new job for them, which Shel encourages him to take. Meanwhile Fiona goes to the toilet, carves a symbol on the back of the bathroom mirror and takes a tissue that Jay had used to mop up his blood after a shaving accident.

Jay agrees to take the gig and the two meet the shadowy client who has a list of three people he wants killed and, unexpectedly, cuts Jay's hand leading to the contract being effectively signed in blood. Their first target, a priest, appears to recognize Jay and thanks him just before being killed. The second name on the list turns out to be a maker of child pornography who also thanks Jay before he is beaten to death. While Jay chases down some of the other paedophiles, Gal looks into their files and finds a folder on himself and Jay, including details of their problems in Kiev. Staking out the final mark, a Member of Parliament, they witness a strange ceremony in the woods, including a human sacrifice. They intervene but are outnumbered and get chased into a tunnel complex…and that’s all I’m going to tell about the plot. And if you want the film to have the proper impact, don’t go read about it anywhere.

The acting is topnotch, the camerawork is spot-on, many parts of the film had an eerie sort of THE WICKERMAN (1973) feel to it. Which I’m guessing by the end of the film’s impact that the similarity was on purpose. The music is dark and mood-intensifying. The kill scenes are brutal and very real looking. It makes me wince even now to think about the hammer scene. Jesus. Really, there isn’t enough room here to heap all the praise I’d like to, so check it out. Do it soon before someone tells you the end. That would ruin the impact of the film’s ending.

--Nickolas Cook

Brian Sammons Hi-Def Horror Hoedown!


Director: Alex Stapleton
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Martin Scorsese, Joe Dante, Roger Corman

There seems to have been a glut of documentaries on all things concerning horror, sci-fi, and cult cinema. From all the horror icons of the 80s, to even more classic fare like THE PSYCHO LEGACY, to examinations of the cultiest of cult movies like THE BEST WORST MOVIE that examined the awesomely bad TROLL 2. These docs have all been wonderfully varied and they have all had one thing in common; that is that I loved them.

Sadly, the same cannot be said of this new one, CORMAN’S WORLD, a doc on the “king of the B-movies”, Roger Corman.

To be honest, it’s not a bad movie. It is far more star studded than pretty much any other documentary I’ve seen in a long time. It has an impressive list of interviews from Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Demme, Martin Scorsese, Peter Fonda, Joe Dante, Pam Grier, Ron Howard, William Shatner, Quentin Tarantino, and more. It is well made and filmed, to be sure, but it is also sort of a boring watch. It lacks any of the vim and vitality of the other recent movie docs. It’s hard to explain, but it’s sort of just there. It could be because it kind of feels like a self-indulgent fluff piece where Corman is made out to be the best thing since sliced bread. I guess that’s to be expected, as the documentary is all about him, but I’ve heard enough stories about the man to know that he’s not all rainbows and gumdrops, and a little hint of that here would have gone a long way.

Further, and the thing that truly aggravated me about this movie, is that it spends an inordinate amount on time on some aspects of Corman’s incredibly long career, and yet all but skips over and dismisses other parts of it. A prime example of this is anything Corman did after the late 70s and the birth of the blockbusters such as STAR WARS and JAWS. This doc pretty much sums up that era with ‘oh he became upset that what were once B-movies like monster (killer sharks) and sci-fi flicks were given the A treatment and he just couldn’t compete’. While that may be true, that is personally my favorite time for Corman made (be it mostly produced) films. Movies like HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, GALAXY OF TERROR, CHOPPING MALL, SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE, and even PIRANHA and BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS, which were Corman’s rip offs of the JAWS and STAR WARS movies he so hated. Sure he didn’t direct any of these films, but he was the big boss of each of them, so they should have been covered in here, at least a little. And while I’d never say that these movies are masterpieces of cinema, I grew up watching them, I love the hell out of them, and yet they don’t even get a begrudging nod in their general direction. It’s as if he’s ashamed of these dirty little movies. Yet there are lengthy bits on his ‘amazing’ beginnings (IT CONQUERED THE WORLD) and the truly horrible, bland, Sci-Fi Original movies (DINOSHARK) he’s making now. Yeah, stuff like that gets some screen time, but not the 80s-tastic CHOPPING MALL or any of its brethren? Blah.

As for the special features on this new Blu-ray from Anchor Bay, they are as lackluster and bland as the feature. There is a very short collection of extended interviews and a collection of ‘messages to Roger’ where most of the people interviewed in the doc give a personal message to the camera for Corman. That’s it, that’s all the extra you’ll find on this disc.

CORMAN’S WORLD isn’t a bad documentary, but it’s not all that great either. It’s not particularly entertaining or informative, but if you are a big fan of Roger Corman, or just like run of the mill docs on movie making, then you may like this movie more than I did. If you’re just a typical horrorhead with no special love for the wacky movies Roger made, or worse yet, a fan of those classically cheesy 80s movies I mentioned before, then you probably won’t dig this flick quite as much.

IN TIME– (2011) Blu-ray review

Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy

This straight up sci-fi film is as about sci-fi as you can get without having little green men in it. In this movie immortality is an achievable thing, but only for a very privileged few. In order to make sure not everyone lives forever, and thus overpopulate and destroy the world, time has become the new currency. Starting on a person’s twenty-fifth birthday everyone is given a finite amount of time. A year, if I remember correctly. To get more time, you must work, but in order to purchase anything, you must literally give a bit of your life away. Want a cup of coffee? It will cost five minutes of your life. That is the pretty darn unique premise behind IN TIME. So it gets points for originality, but is it any good? Well if you have a few minutes of your own life to spare, keep reading and let’s find out.

IN TIME is the new film by writer/director Andrew Niccol, a man who knows sci-fi well. He wrote THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998), wrote and directed the forgettable S1M0NE (2002), and likewise wrote and directed the very good GATTACA (1997). So while he obviously has a passion sci-fi, it’s not like he has an impeccable filmmaker. Thankfully, this is one of his better efforts. Not his best, but still pretty good.

The same can be said about singer turned actor Justin Timberlake. I’m neither a fan nor a hater of the former teen heartthrob. While his music does nothing for me, I’ve found his work as an actor passible to fine, and here it is once again fine. The same can be said of most of the actors appearing here, with the one exception being his costar and love interest, Amanda Seyfried. While very lovely and a treat for the eyes, she was very bland and just sort of there.

As for the story it’s a thinly veiled commentary on the state of modern affairs where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Except for IN TIME, the rich get to live forever as they accumulate millions of years, and the poor live literally day to day, sometimes running out of time and then dying on the spot. As commentary, it’s sadly accurate, but as a movie, is it entertaining? Well it’s not too bad.

Timberlake plays a poor young man named Will who is just three years past the start of his potentially lethal biological clock. Will saves a man with more than a century saved up, but that man has been alive for far longer than that and is just sick of it all. So when Will isn’t looking, the rich man he gives him all his time in a weird form of suicide. This pole-vaults Will to the big time (ha, get it? Get used to it, this movie has a ton of time puns in it) but on the exact same day, his eternally hot twenty-five-year-old mother runs out of time and dies in his arms. This puts the young man on the path of righteous revenge to tear down the entire time-trading and hoarding system. Along the way he meets the daughter of the richest and longest lived man in the city, Amanda Seyfried, and the two become a Bonnie and Clyde and start Robin Hooding all the time from the banks (yes, time is kept in banks) to give it to the poor.

Now if that last sentence sounds a bit cliché ridden, that’s because it is, but then so too is this movie. Therein lies IN TIME’s biggest failing. Other than an interesting premise, nothing new or noteworthy happens in this film. Oh it’s a perfectly serviceable little slice of sci-fi, and it’s done well, but it’s also the same “fight the power with two young and very pretty people” movie that we’ve seen time and time (ha) again. Hell, it even pays homage – or perhaps rips off – the classics with an overly obsessive police detective right out of LES MISERABLES. So if you are looking for something completely new, you’ll have to look elsewhere. However if you want and entertaining bit of social commentary with futuristic overtones, IN TIME might be the movie for you.

As for the Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox, it has the usual amazing picture you come to expect from a modern movie delivered in HD. It is also one of those neat combo packs that come with the DVD and digital copy in addition to the Blu-ray. Unfortunately the special features gathered here are not so special. There is a single 17 minute featurette done mockumentary style and a collection of a few deleted scenes. That’s it, that’s all the time 20th Century Fox could devote to extras on this disc.

IN TIME has a great idea but a flawed and somewhat mundane execution. It’s a decent enough watch, but I don’t know if anyone would need to watch it more than once. As such, consider this one a rental rather than a purchase.

--Brian Sammons

Movies Worth Googling: Strange Movie Reviews by Jenny Orosel

It’s the End of the World as They Know It: Rapture Films Then and Now

How do you make a movie well when everyone knows the ending coming up to it? How about when people also know the beginning and middle? This is the biggest dilemma in making Rapture movies. I didn’t grow up in a Christian household, and I am not a Christian myself, but I even know what’s involved in the Rapture: the saved disappearing, the Antichrist, the mark of the beast…it’s been told many times since the original Revelations was written, in many forms. Is it possible to keep it fresh?

In 1972, a small outfit in Iowa called Mark IV Productions made what is considered a modern classic in Christian filmmaking. A THIEF IN THE NIGHT centers on three young women: one Christian, one nonbeliever and one who just isn’t too sure. The film opens the morning of the Rapture and Patty, the middle of the roader, has discovered her husband and millions of other people have simply disappeared overnight. The film has an interesting structure, mixing flashbacks with present-time action. There were opportunities for Patty to find the correct path to Christ and she passed them up, believing that simply attending church and being a good person was enough. Instead, she is stuck on Earth while a group from the UN called UNITE creates a New World Order, demanding all its citizens get the binary code for 666 stamped on their wrists or foreheads. Patty refuses, recognizing the mark of the beast for what it is. She is chased down by UNITE members, including her former friend who mocked Christ, and must choose death or the mark. Luckily for Patty, though, she wakes up in her own bed. However, the radio is announcing the disappearance of millions of people worldwide….

There is no doubt A THIEF IN THE NIGHT was made on a miniscule budget. Many of the sets are simply empty rooms with people sitting around. There are absolutely no special effects (the filmmakers wisely had the Rapture itself happen off screen so they wouldn’t have to figure out how to make everyone disappear). The actors were all local volunteers, and what they lack in realism, they more than make up for in enthusiasm.

And enthusiasm is definitely the strongest feature for A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. The movie starts in the middle of the action, and from moment one, it doesn’t let up. And while the performances aren’t realistic, they are energetic. The actors were all volunteers, as were most of the crew, making this movie because they felt it was important to get the message of salvation across. The writers were just as dedicated to that message. Unfortunately, their dedication was the biggest hindrance to this little movie. They were on a mission to save as many souls as they could so they wanted the message to be as clear as possible. The characters they created weren’t whole people but rather single characteristics: good, evil, and unsure. Only the main character was allowed some growth in the end when she finally allowed herself to make a decision and oppose the mark. The dialogue is predictable. Because there is nothing unique about the characters, you know what they’re going to say in any given situation.

Twenty nine years later there is a new Rapture craze—the “Left Behind” media empire created by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I haven’t read any of the books, so I can’t say how loyal the movie LEFT BEHIND is. Instead, I can only judge how it works on its own as a movie and, I can say with complete honesty, it doesn’t.

Kirk Cameron stumbles through the role of Buck Williams, a reporter for a CNN-like news channel. While in Israel covering a man who invented something that makes the ground fertile, allowing for food to be grown anywhere, and thus an end to world hunger. Peace is soon to be found in the Middle East, for the first time in history. And these are bad things. During his flight back to the states, half the plane’s passengers disappear in a split second. While the world tries to figure out how and why, a Russian banker is on his way (using slick Jedi mind tricks) to take over the UN. Only a handful of people know the truth. Now, you might expect the next line to be “Can they stop him in time?” But, no. That’s not the point of this movie. What is the goal Buck is aiming toward? Far as I can tell, the point of his journey, and of the movie, is for him to find God. Which he does. The end.

For a movie that promises to be an action film, that kind of internal revelation is a bit of a downer. In the first five minutes, there’s a huge airstrike battle in the skies over Israel. Our characters had to weave their ways home through the chaos and bloodshed left when millions of people disappear while driving cars, flying planes. We are always a step ahead of Buck, so we’re on the edge of the seat waiting to see if he discovers the truth. And once he finally does…nothing happens. At least not in this movie. There is a sequel, and I can only assume there is some great battle between good and evil to bring the story to a conclusion. I understand that LEFT BEHIND was also the first book in a series. But I am a firm believer that, even if part of a series, a movie should be able to stand on its own as a story. For example, take THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. While it was an integral part of the STAR WARS series, the movie itself had a complete beginning, middle and end. LEFT BEHIND is missing that cohesive end where you feel like something was resolved. Yes, Buck finds his way to the lord, yet it still feels incomplete.

The production values of LEFT BEHIND were good enough. The occasional use of CGI was slick and seamless. The film quality was professional when compared to A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. The acting was certainly on a higher level. That is, except for the performance of Kirk Cameron in the main role of a man searching for his faith. He just doesn’t get across the whole searching for the truth. You get the feeling he already knows what the truth is, and is just going along because that’s what the script says. For being the one actor who had the most credentials of the cast, I was expecting better from him.

I have a small complaint about both DVDs. It appears the makers of both movies don’t feel the deaf have souls worth saving. Many times when the baby is sleeping, I’ll turn on the English subtitles of a DVD as to not wake her. Neither, while having multiple language options, had an English subtitle track. This is something future filmmakers might want to keep in mind.

I have no doubt a fantastic movie could be made about the Rapture. Even one, as these two were, made to be a sort of commercial, but instead of selling a product they’re selling salvation. Would they still be able to make conversions, even with a more subtle message? I think, not only could they, but it would be even more effective. Unfortunately, we can only guess until they actually make a movie like that. Which is fine, unless the Rapture happens before then. In that case we’ll be stuck with these two movies to explain what’s going on.

LEFT BEHIND is available pretty much anywhere they sell DVDs.
You have to order A THIEF IN THE NIGHT direct from the website for what used to be Mark IV productions, but is now Russ Doughten Films:, and it will cost you about $23.

--Jenny Orosel

The Hand that Reads #5: Sometimes the Good Guys Win

by JW Schnarr

Recently, at the behest of my daughter, I made some changes to our TV cable package. Monster was sick and tired of missing all her shows on MTV, all those pregnant teenage girls talking about how great it will be to get back to school once their babies arrive...and of course, those crazy Jersey Shore kids.
Okay, I watch that show too. But more importantly I was missing out on the channel I really love, HBO, which comes with Movie Central in the same package. Icing on the cake. I love movies too. Tonight, they were showing a film you've probably all seen in the past couple years, and if you haven't seen it, you probably need to. Put it on your bucket list, or your iPad, or whatever it is you're doing to keep track of all the great things you need to do in your life before you die.

It's "The Fighter". The film came out in 2010, stars Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg, and was nominated for a bunch of awards when it came out. Wikipedia advises, in fact, it was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning two.

"The Fighter" follows the story of Micky Ward, kid brother of Dicky Ecklund, a man who once went toe-to-toe with Sugar Ray Leonard and knocked him on his ass before falling apart at the seams and getting hooked on crack. Ward, suffering from a brutal home life that stains every relationship he has, eventually cuts ties with his overbearing mother and 'crackhead' brother in order to focus on one last shot as a boxer.
The film has everything I love about great stories. Bale is amazing as Ecklund, and his charisma draws you in from the start. It's easy to see why little brother Micky is star struck; Ecklund is a superstar. He's everyone's best friend, the life of the party, and the sunshine in Micky's garden. The amazing thing about the dynamic between these two men is that I've seen it before, and perhaps this is why the movie resonates with me as much as it does.

I grew up with these two brothers (there were really three, but one was very young) in my neighbourhood who are exactly like Ward and Ecklund. Much like the movie, the older brother was the star and the younger one was the quiet shrub content to follow his brother around. The older brother was a dynamo; he made the party when he showed up, always laughing, and always having time for his friends. The younger brother carried the beer. He was a great guy in his own right. But quiet, and overshadowed.

Here's where I look at "The Fighter" and see how it could have turned out. A few years ago, addicted to all kinds of drugs, the older brother I grew up with killed himself during the Christmas holidays. His selfish act had the same effect as a bomb going off in the middle of their family dynamic, sending them all spinning off in different directions. We were stunned.
A couple hundred people showed up at his funeral, and they were a weird mix of people from my childhood and twitchy junkies who were getting high even while they talked about the evils of drug use and how everyone needed to steer clear of the junkie life. Classic addict self-loathing.

I think one of the things I really love about "The Fighter" is how it doesn't end like this. I don't want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn't seen it, but come on. You've seen the trailers. You know what the film is about. Besides, it's a true story. Reviewers called the story predictable at times, and that's a fair assessment. You watch the film and you know everything is going to be all right in the end.

Real life, all too often, isn't all right in the end. Real life leaves people horribly scarred and emotionally broken. It destroys bonds like paint thinner on watercolours. And sometimes it forces shadowy shrubs into the blinding light where they were never meant to be. I love this film because it shows me what things could have been like for two brothers, if one of them had just been a little stronger. It also reminds me that sometimes the good guys win.

--JW Schnarr
(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 )

Servante of Darkness #7: Zombies, Ghouls and Gods

Dead of Night (2011)
by Jonathan Maberry
Reviewed by Anthony Servante

Welcome back to the Servante of Darkness in this the month of February, the year 2012. Today we will discuss the thin line that separates life and death, and how the literature of Zombies blurs that line. We will distinguish living creatures from the living dead, and the mortal dead from the immortal. We will examine the nature of zombies under these criteria in "Dead of Night" the newest novel by Jonathan Maberry, and in "Carnage Road" also a new work by cult director/writer/webmaster Greg Lamberson. So, dear readers, let’s begin our journey down the River Styx. Don’t lose your return ticket.

We can agree that George Romero’s "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) started what we call the 'Zombie Apocalypse' archetype of today. But before Romero’s zombies appeared on the screen, there were influences on the genre in literature and movies. While Hollywood was making “injuns” go woo-woo, and had white actors wearing blackface, it was also creating voodoo zombies. The Vodun (voodoo) religion teaches that there are spirits in all things, living and dead. But the corrupted interpretation of this spirituality focused on the living and dead being combined by use of white magic, or herbal potions, thus introducing the spirits of the plants to a living person to push aside his own spirit so that the new spirit could inhabit the host body. “All creation is considered divine and therefore contains the power of the divine. This is how medicines such as herbal remedies are understood, and explains the ubiquitous use of mundane objects in religious ritual. Voodoo talismans, called "fetishes", are objects such as statues or dried animal parts that are sold for their healing and spiritually rejuvenating properties. Sorcerers and sorceresses called Botono (or Aze/Azetos) are believed to cast spells on enemies on behalf of supplicants, calling upon spirits to bring misfortune or harm to a person or group” (wiki).

In "The Magic Island" (1929) by W.B. Seabrook, the voodoo zombie or host is introduced as a slave worker. A workforce of slaves who didn’t complain and weren’t paid was more a capitalist’s dream rather than the impetus for the creation of the zombie we know today. In the movie "White Zombie" (1932), Bela Lugosi plays Murder Legendre, a voodoo magician who tricks people into drinking a potion that turns them into zombies that serve his bidding as mindless but obedient slaves. In this sense, the victims were still alive with the “spirit” of the potion but acted dead because their own spirit was ousted, thereby making them easy to control by the magician, dark priest or witchdoctor. “Haitian zombies were once normal people, but underwent zombification by a "bokor" or voodoo sorcerer, through spell or potion. The victim becomes a mindless automaton, doomed to a life of miserable toil under the will of the zombie master” (wiki). Murder turns his rivals and other victims into mindless subservient hosts by having them drink the voodoo potion, but these living dead can be brought back to life when the host master is killed. Thus the white zombie can be revived and his spirit restored, giving Hollywood a means to a happy ending. We’ve come one step closer to Romero’s zombie. The hordes of hosts inhabited by voodoo spirits still needed to lose the capitalist leanings. They needed a good old invasion.

In the unfairly ignored movie "Invisible Invaders" (1959), invisible space phantoms inhabit the dead to take over the world and the first Romero-ish zombie was born.

Invaders captured the look we’ve come to know as a zombie today. No longer were they a working class but reanimated corpses with a malevolent purpose. Although the film is considered science fiction, it gave us the living dead look common to depictions in books and movies today. All that was missing was the appetite for human flesh.

Which brings us to the ghoul. “According to legend, ghouls are perceived to be unintelligent and are primarily driven by their instinct to feed. They are nocturnal because they prefer the night to disguise their cannibal activities” (wiki). These ghouls usually fed on recently buried bodies in graveyards and usually alone. “When discovered, they will usually hiss and growl to ward off intruders and, if that fails, they will attempt a quick escape. Ghouls will only fight if they are cornered, or if they outnumber the living by at least three to one odds” (wiki). In literature they are depicted as toothy human-like creatures, a cross between a jackal and human, according to Arabian folklore; they were shape-shifters, luring desert travelers into traps to devour them. The ghoul we Westerners have come to recognize, however, is more akin to Cousin Eerie from Warren Comics.

Note the disheveled appearance and toothy smile. So, now we have two elements that make up the modern zombie: the mindless malevolent dead with an appetite for living flesh and a pack-like behavior when attacking its prey. Combine a ghoul with a white zombie, and you’ve got Romero’s zombie.

Life is eating. We eat to survive. Why do the dead eat? Perhaps it is a conditioned response, as the undead in Romero’s "Dawn of the Dead" (1978) are conditioned consumers, mall shoppers. Zombies think they are still alive and follow their routines in the limited manner they were accustomed to, limited by their rotted bodies (the view extrapolated in Jonathan Maberry’s "Dead of Night", as we will see later). Another condition is animated life. Every action the undead makes and does is conditioned by “memories” or instincts to continue living unaware that they are dead. In this sense, they imitate pure instinctual life and exaggerate it. Eating is now devouring and gorging. And if live flesh is nourishment, it must follow that it gives them the energy to remain animated. But can a zombie starve and lose its animation, thus “dying” (if we can say a dead thing can die—the old vampire paradox, a cousin of the living dead). Eventually the corpse or corporeal being can eventually rot away, like leprosy, and the animation can eventually end. I asked Jonathan Maberry the question, “Are zombies mortal or immortal?” He answered, “In DEAD OF NIGHT and PATIENT ZERO, they are in the process of active decay--which is in keeping with how nature does things. So, eventually, they'd rot away and the plague would be over. In the ROT & RUIN series, the zoms stop rotting at a certain point --which is in keeping with George Romero--and it’s a mystery that no one can explain. the fourth book in the series, FIRE & ASH (due out in September 2013), I will provide an explanation.” So, the answer is yes and no. Zombies can die, but they can also live forever, in a relative sense, forever meaning as long as they have sustenance. I don’t want to conjecture about Maberry’s plan for the “immortal” zombie, but I can assume it has something to do with consumption. How many billions of living creatures are there on this Earth? Enough to sustain a zombie apocalypse? The zombie species is finite just as the living are finite, but here between life and death, the next step would naturally be the opposite of death—not life, but immortality. Which brings us to the gods.

The gods at various points in history represented various states of being or emotion or desire in many cultures. There was a god of love, of avarice, war, peace, life and death, and these gods were considered immortal; it wasn’t until the arrival of Christianity that the old gods were shelved and the One God took over. Then angels took on the duties of the former ‘gods’. Thus was born the Angel of Death, or the Grim Reaper. Death is a skeleton holding a scythe. They are lords of the underworld. Hell on earth. In "Dawn of the Dead", Peter, the National Guardsman, (played by genre cult actor Ken Foree) says, “When Hell is full, the dead shall walk the earth.”

This parallels the zombie who is skeletal and taking down lives with its insatiable hunger. Death is an angel whose touch is fatal. This parallels the witchdoctor who turns his victims into voodoo zombies. With zombies life and death are the same. So too with the gods who do not know death and live forever. Death is a creature with a life, but who doesn’t die—only consumes. He is immortal. He is not aware of his own death because he has none; zombies are not aware of death because they are lifeless, feral creatures animated by habits and customs they once were conditioned by in life. Zombies do not put the fear of hell in their living victims—they put the reality of death in their face; they know they will cease to be, eaten alive, or become one of them, the feral dead. Their victims do not fear death; they fear a living death, becoming the dead creatures that seek to eat them alive. Death creating death. How can they reach heaven if they never die? Forever dead.

With a nod to Prometheus Unbound, the story of a god—or as we know the story better as: Frankenstein, a story of how a man of hubris brought a collection of dead body parts reanimated to life. Here Mary Shelley’s monster is closer to god than the zombie of Romero. "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, while not a zombie novel proper, prefigures many 20th century ideas about zombies in that the resurrection of the dead is portrayed as a scientific process rather than a mystical one, and that the resurrected dead are degraded and more violent than their living selves” (wiki). There is a catalyst that animates the corpses, whether mystical or chemical, virus or evolution gone awry, to become a pack of feral humans, void of life, but exaggerative and animated in appetites and routines based on old memories like a broken vinyl record repeating itself as the phonograph needle bounces back and forth, replaying the same part of the song again and again, the zombies perhaps remembering family and family gatherings or concerts or sports events, and thereby flocking together. Ghouls are loners in their cannibalism and are neither godly or undead-ly. But as social zombies, they devour together.

Which brings us to the Zombie Apocalypse. “The zombie apocalypse is a particular scenario of apocalyptic fiction that customarily has a science fiction/horror rationale. In a zombie apocalypse, a widespread (usually global) rise of zombies hostile to human life engages in a general assault on civilization. Victims of zombies may become zombies themselves. This causes the outbreak to become an exponentially growing crisis: the spreading "zombie plague/virus" swamps normal military and law enforcement organizations, leading to the panicked collapse of civilian society until only isolated pockets of survivors remain, scavenging for food and supplies in a world reduced to a pre-industrial hostile wilderness” (wiki). The living seek immortality by becoming angels in heaven, while the zombies represent a corrupt immortality, living forever as dead creatures mocking life through conditioned exaggeration.

We need not discuss the various types of zombies, the fast, the slow, etc, as I prefer to focus on the life of the dead, per se. “[T]he most definitive "zombie-type" story in Lovecraft's oeuvre was 1921's Herbert West–Reanimator, which "helped define zombies in popular culture". This Frankenstein-inspired series featured Herbert West, a mad scientist who attempts to revive human corpses with mixed results. Notably, the resurrected dead are uncontrollable, mostly mute, primitive and extremely violent; though they are not referred to as zombies, their portrayal was prescient, anticipating the modern conception of zombies by several decades” (wiki). West sought god-like powers to control life and death, thus creating a model for the modern zombie we know today: an accident of nature or human hubris. Only now, the survivors strive to cheat life as the undead. They are evading immortality, cheated of heaven in the post-Romero apocalypse.

In "Dead of Night" by Maberry, his zombies take on the Frankenstein approach, man with hubris or bad intentions gone awry. The consequences of his god-like experimentation drive the story. Just as the white zombie represented the working stiff, so to speak, Maberry gives a nod to original version of the living dead. Hartnup, the first victim we meet, a mortician, describes the corpses he works on as “hollow people, empty of life” before introducing us to the catalyst for the apocalypse. T. S. Elliot’s poem, “the hollow men” represents the transition of the spirit from the body to heaven or hell, just as the voodoo victims had their souls displaced by a different soul via the witchdoctor’s potions. At ground zero of Maberry’s zombie apocalypse is a prison physician playing Frankenstein on a condemned serial killer with a potion meant to keep him alive mentally as his body decay six feet under. But this act of godly intervention creates the monster that breeds the plague of undead in typical hubris brought down by the mortal flaw; in this case, the prison doctor cannot anticipate the magnitude of his failure to achieve god-like status. Hartnup experiences the nightmare of zombie immortality as he himself becomes “a hollow man” that remains sentient. “How could he be dead… and know? He should be a corpse. Just that. Empty of life, devoid of all awareness and sensation.” The end is set in motion. And this is one of the most enjoyable things for me in the book—that beginning when we enter Hartnup’s narrative as he transforms; we sympathize, then empathize, and finally, while we think we see it coming, it’s too late, we feel for him. He’s become a major character we care for. Nice shooting, Mr. Maberry. Target acquired. The bar has been reset in the zombie genre.

We later learn that the “hollow man” that bit Hartnup was the murderer who “died” from the lethal injection on death row. He, too, was meant for death but was cursed with life in death because of the mishap with the potion that was intended to end his life, not renew it as the undead.

Desdemona Fox also has a literary allusion to life in death. In the Shakespeare play, OTHELLO, Desdemona is a character so devoted to her husband that even after he kills her; she awakes from death for a second to defend the man she loves, her murderer, before collapsing back into eternal sleep. It is no coincidence that Dez is the law enforcer standing between life and death, between the zombie rise and the fall of the living. In Othello, this separation of life from death is represented by dark and light. For Maberry darkness is the emptiness that represents the dead, the blackness that occupies the hollowness vacated by life.

The twist we get from these allusions is that we see Hartnup’s birth in death and his rebirth as a zombie, just as we see Stebbins County lose its light and go dark in the apocalypse. Maberry describes Hartnup’s unwanted immortality, “Hartnup begged God to let him die for real and for good and to not have to be a wintess to this [resurrection]”. And later: “He could feel everything. Every. Single. Thing. Jolts in his legs with each clumsy step. The protest of muscles as they fought the onset of rigor even as they lifted his arms and flexed his hands. The stretch of jaw muscles. The shuddering snap as his teeth clamped shut around the young police officer's throat. And then the blood...." Although the writing style may seem disjointed, it is intentional to capture the jerky moments of the zombie Hartnup. It is a clever device to advance the notion of life in death as we bear witness to the apocalypse through the mortician’s eyes, eyes long locked between hollow corpses and hallow men.

That is as far as I can take you on this journey from life to death and back again without spilling into the spoiler pot. It is best to read this fine novel to experience the trek oneself. Rest assured that Dead of Night not only advances the zombie lore beyond its traditional barriers but entertains us while taking us there. Jonathan Maberry has scripted the end of the world and has brought that hell on earth for us to witness from two points of view: life’s and death’s. This is as close to becoming a zombie as you’ll ever get and hope you never get.

Carnage Road (2012) by Greg Lamberson
Reviewed by Anthony Servante

The name that keeps popping up in the CR reviews that I’ve read is Jack Kerouac and his book, ON THE ROAD. The 'Beat Generation' wrote about a rejection of materialism. The journey for Lamberson in his Zombie Apocalypse novel represents life as a voyage to death without the need for accumulating wealth or material weight by stopping and staying in any one place. To stop is to die. The term, Beat, is based on the term, “on the beat,” which itself means, bohemian or gypsy travel, surviving as opposed to living. And that’s what CR’s heroes do: survive.

For Kerouac, it meant not only survival but spontaneity. But for him it also meant a crossing over into spirituality. “Kerouac commented, 'On the Road' ‘was really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him. I found him in the sky, in Market Street San Francisco (those 2 visions), and Dean (Neal) had God sweating out of his forehead all the way. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY OUT FOR THE HOLY MAN: HE MUST SWEAT FOR GOD. And once he has found Him, the Godhood of God is forever Established’” (wiki). I want to persue those allusions by following its Beat storyline. Life as a journey to death. The road of life leads to death. It is same path for both life and death.

The zombies in this tale are peripheral to the main characters; Boone and Walker are the last two members of the Floating Dragons motorcycle gang, splintered by rogue cops who kill half their biker club members. Our duo begins a cross-country odyssey cutting through the zombie apocalypse. It is not hard to imagine these bikers as stand-ins for Jack and Neal on the road. They avoid the cold, a symbol for death, and head for Hollywood and warmer climates, the symbol for life. Our travelers meet religious fanatics, thus echoing our earlier thesis that god or immortality is the common factor between the living, who seek an eternal heaven, and the dead who live death immortally. I asked Greg Lamberson, “Are zombies mortal or immortal?” He answered, “I would have to think that they eventually atrophy to the point of incapacity... but I'm no expert!” He is too modest. In two of the book’s best moments, there is a clever zombie mob and a game spotting undead Hollywood celebrities. I also loved the allegorical stand at the Alamo in Texas. How apropos.

His road trip is fun, just as the Beats celebrated non-conformity and carpe diem, an inside joke for a zombie novel wrung through Beat sensibilities. And his zombies are more monstrous without the burden of deeper meaning, although there are traces of depth with the various people our travelers meet on the road. But with this short novella, I must be careful not to give away too much.

An eye-opening beginning and a gut-wrenching ending, "Carnage Road" entertains with this straight-up gore-storm that is easy on the social commentary but rich in the culture of the 'Beat Generation'. "Carnage Road" will be released in April from Creeping Hemlock Press’ Print is Dead imprint. Visit Greg Lamberson at for more information. He is the author of JOHNNY GRUESOME and CHEAP SCARES! LOW BUDGET HORROR FILMMAKERS SHARE THEIR SECRETS. He is also the director of the cult horror film SLIME CITY and SLIME CITY MASSACRE and the creator and editor of the popular horror entertainment website Fear Zone.

Well, dear readers, that ends the Zombie Apocalypse of Zombie reviews. I hope you were enlivened by it. Or at least not bored to death. Or maybe a bit of both? Until next month, this is the Servante of Darkness bidding adieu to his readers with a flick of the light switch. On or off is up to you.

--Anthony Servante