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Fell Beauties: A new Bizarro-Horror Novel by Leigham Shardlow

Fell Beauties: A new Bizarro-Horror Novel by Leigham Shardlow

Fell beauties is a new novel from the new bizarro authors series line published by Eraserhead Press (one of the leading Bizarro publishers). It’s Leigham Shardlow’s first book and in this critics opinion, a solid first entry.

I am still new to the Bizarro genre, but I know what I like and I like this. The first paragraph hooks you in, and keeps you interested throughout. It begins with beauties – actually beautiful people falling from the sky. A beautiful Adonis is rocketing towards earth and dies in a mixture of orgasm and crunching bones. The bodies continue to rain on Disfigure-Berg “the last ugly city on the planet”. Anyone out in the street is killed by a body slamming them into the pavement or bone shards impaling themselves on their arteries. Even children are not spared (bravo!) in the vivid imagery described in this novel and this is only the beginning.

Fat Janet or “Obese Janet to her friends” is our heroine in this journey.  She’s a highly relatable character, an introvert whose friends include her multiple cats, her stories, and mass quantities of comfort food. As the bodies are piling up and she’s seeking shelter from the devastation she is rescued by our hero Isaac. Isaac is a tragic character having lost his husband, he’s still coming to terms with his death when he comes to Disfigure-Berg on a mission to take down the Church of Skin.

Our villain Cardinal Slice was a former Doctor, a leading plastic surgeon to the beautiful people until botching too many surgeries including Isaacs husbands resulting in his death. Banished to live among the ugly people as a homeless man, he seizes the opportunity to take back his position of power when the bodies start to hit. He holes up in the Church of Skin and starts to transform it’s inhabitants, promising them beauty. He deceives them and  instead creates unholy, awful creatures.

I see the Church of Skin as society itself. It’s the need for people to conform to social standards of beauty and sameness. The Church of Skin (just like any other) is judgemental and expects that you conform to their notions of rightness even if it means your own personal suffering.

Poor Fat Janet gets the worst of it, having to traipse through tunnels of dead bodies and swim through a lake of innards. She steps up though  and becomes an unwilling model of human strength. Her friendship with Isaac is a heartwarming tribute to humanity, a friendship we all hope for. Despite the ugliness of society in the end Fat Janet becomes something beautiful.

I liked this book for the disgusting horror aspect, but more importantly the social commentary. It’s subtle so as not to be preachy, but obvious enough to get it’s point across. Enjoy it for the gore or dig deeper and get woke, either way it’s a solid read. buy it here:https://www.amazon.com/Fell-Beauties-Leigham-Shardlow/dp/1621052591


Posted by Candace Stone in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, BRUTAL REALITY, Categories, FICTION AND POETRY, GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Chris Sun’s ED (2016)

BOOK REVIEW: Chris Sun’s ED (2016)

Exploring the novel ED
by Chris Sun

Chris Sun is known for his work in Australia as one of the leading local filmmakers. His films reach as many fans in the independent horror circuit worldwide, as those of the likes of popular Australian filmmaker Greg McLeanChris has created various independent films and is known for his hit Charlie’s Farm (2014), Daddy’s Little Girl(2015), and the upcoming November 23rd release at Melbourne’s Monster Fest, front-runner BOAR (2017). ED marks Chris’ debut novel and is available for purchase directly from Slaughter FX, along with Chris’ films.
Charlie's Farm (2014) / Fair use doctrine.Daddy's Little Girl (2012) / Fair use doctrine.Boar (2017) / Fair use doctrine.

This is my first review of a horror novel, but once I finally began to read Chris Sun’s ED, I was immediately immersed in the seedy strip club, creative body horror, and sexualized world of Sun’s forward-talking serial killer lead.

In ED, we meet Larry Penklesten, a cocky, self-assured, and handsome car salesman with an incredibly dark and secret world of his own. When Larry isn’t out getting quite literally fucked (or fucking someone) royal, he’s trolling for his next victim. That is because Larry thinks the ghost of the Butcher of Plainfield himself, Ed Gein, visits him and mentors him through his murderous blood lust. Larry has (as described feverishly) a really big cock, that is able to magically pleasure any woman willing to ride it!

The language and atmosphere Sun carves out in those sexual scenes, are enough to make a girl’s thighs sweat with desire. Each sexual encounter is written so vividly that every thrust and gasp of orgasmic pleasure is palpable. The scene between Larry and Evie in a strip club bathroom is imprinted in my mind days after finishing the novel (pages 245-249 for anyone interested). Larry is also great at his job, which creates a desirability within his work place with both males and females on varied levels.

Ed (2016) / Fair use doctrine.We know that Larry loves the ladies, but ultimately Larry loves to fuck and kill so much more. His differing styles and attitudes toward each victim he mutilates made me recoil in both shock and awe. Throughout the novel, Larry kills a series of prostitutes and strippers, or people looking for gay or even group sex in online forums. He selects his victims carefully either online or in person at strip clubs, bars or on the street, and he likes to murder and dismember his victims.

Sun’s careful use of language creates a vivid picture of Larry’s playful rearranging of the bodies as he intriguingly turns humans into various items of furniture. The descriptive prose and first-person narrative Sun employs — through Larry’s eyes — helped me to feel in tune with Larry’s behavior. The reader is immersed in the scene and assaulted by the sights, smells, and visuals of the world that Sun creates, and we are lost within it all.

The reader feels each knife stab, each stitch threaded, each bone crunch; in a dramatic flair, many horror readers are accustomed to when reading books by the largely published writers.

I loved how Sun investigated Larry’s mental instability through his urges.

The scenes with his victims’ ghosts all verbally abusing him in his car was another of the more memorable for me (very An American Werewolf in London) and his interactions with Ed’s ‘ghost’ are just at times hilarious.

The novel’s climax is told through two stories. I will try not go into too much detail to avoid spoiling the read for anyone who purchases ED. as all HoTAs fans know, I am not a fan of spoilers.

Ed (2016) / Fair use doctrine.The first story twists theperspective we have followed all along, switching the core narrative in a strange fashion and varying the events we have witnessed unfolding thus far. This is a technique I have seen before, and although somewhat confusing at first, it became an interesting moment in the book.

The second follows on from the twisted core narrative and draws us back into the original concepts, making us feel Larry’s harrowing anxiety and panic as a wave of confusion floods him. It takes a moment to find itself again, but once it plants its feet firmly in the ground, we are left with many questions regarding a possibility of a continuation to ED.

The open-ended finale was a great turn of events, and I happily await a possible second book…..or will ED become the next written version of an icon like Jason Voorhees, Hannibal Lector, or Victor Crowley? Or even Chris Sun’s next cinematic adventure?

If you enjoy a very Norman Bates-meets-Patrick Bateman style of story, I think ED is a must have for your bookshelf.

Posted by Michelle MIDI Sayles in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Tucson Time Traveler (2018)

BOOK REVIEW: The Tucson Time Traveler (2018)

Once again I have the pleasure of reviewing another book by my good friend author Claus Holm. Though born and raised in Denmark, Claus refers to Tucson, AZ, USA, as his “spiritual home,” and this is quite evident in The Tucson Time Traveler, a collection of stories set in and around the Tucson, AZ, area. Part Ray Bradbury and part Stephen King with a bit of Rod Serling seasoning, The Tucson Time Traveler takes readers through tales of alternate, and sometimes fantastic, realities all circling the central theme of time travel.

The Tucson Time Traveler begins with “The Hilter Dilemma”. Right out of the gate, Claus presents readers with an alternate reality based on the much-debated question, “If you could go back in time and kill Hitler, would you”. It is presented from the POV of a German official who grew up after Hilter was assassinated, causing Germany’s rise as the dominant power in the world. Whereas most Hitler and time travel stories focus on the protagonist’s struggles to stop Hitler prior to his rise to power, Claus takes a different tack and does so brilliantly.

The second story, “Tamagotchi”, deals with loss, grief, and the various ways that humans deal with both. Letting go of a loved one is never easy and the hardest loss for most humans is the death of a loved one. “Tamagotchi” shows just how far a grieving family might go to ease the pain of death.

With “I Love Her From The Mirror”, a man moves into an apartment where his mirror gives him a glimpse into another resident’s life. As the narrator watches his neighbor, always careful to respect her privacy, he finds himself falling in love. By turns humorous and thoughtful, “I Love Her From The Mirror” has a definite Twilight Zone vibe.

Next up is “The Killer Inside”, a tale of a man who decides to act out certain compulsions that he never even knew he had. Mostly told from the killer’s point of view, “The Killer Inside” will make you reconsider those urges Poe called “The Imp of the Perverse”.

One of my favorite stories is “The Last Haunted House”. Following two Halloween night stories, the first of an old man building a haunted house and the other of the three kids who choose to enter, “The Last Haunted House” perfectly captures the feel of Halloween to those who love it – both the old and the young. The sights and sounds of Halloween and the haunted house are palpable and bring to mind hints of Bradbury’s “The Halloween Tree” while the interactions of the children are authentic and believable.

The next story, “The Phone People”, presents a brief interlude in the life of Dave, a man with no past and a job that requires forgetting. Without giving anything away, “The Phone People” has a Ramsey Campbell feel that will leave the reader thinking.

With “The Final Event”, Claus taps into his inner Stephen King and tells the story of a pair of friends who gets their thrills terrorizing other drivers.

Another favorite of mine, “The Harp” is a modern fairy tale set in Smaaland, Sweden. The rich description immerses the reader, transporting them as the story unfolds.

The next to the last story, “The Man of A Lifetime”, will leave the reader wondering about the nature of memories as well as how they shape our lives.

“The Tucson Time Traveler” is the final story and one which dually addresses the concept of memories and their impact on our lives as well as the implications of time travel. Once again, I cannot say much without giving away the story, but I can say that it is a perfect end to a great collection.

I can’t recommend this collection enough. Claus Holm is an extraordinary writer whose abilities to craft a story and create believable characters makes reading The Tucson Time Traveler a joy. Pick up this one if you can!

5/5 claws

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EXTREME BIZARRO FICTION: Adolf in Wonderland (2013)

EXTREME BIZARRO FICTION: Adolf in Wonderland (2013)

Adolf in Wonderland by Carlton Mellick III ended up being more in some ways and less in others. More profound and less Wonderland to be exact. It was actually a tight little story about perfection, societal norms, and beauty as it’s seen in the eye of the beholder.

Adolf in Wonderland by Carton Mellick IIIAdolf in Wonderland is beautifully written, in an almost poetic manner that at times can be a bit tedious but for the most part, I found refreshing. It takes place in a dystopian future or maybe past? Where Hitler won and imperfection is illegal and has almost been eradicated. Two young SS officers are sent to a fringe-like village to seek out one of the last imperfect men. What they find instead is a chaotic abomination full of mutants, impossibilities, and madness. The two officers are separated upon their arrival and we follow the slightly younger one. He has lost most of his memory including what his name is but everyone he meets calls him Adolf Hitler because it’s the name written on his uniform. His only recollection is that he is on a mission to find an imperfect man and kill him. He can’t quite remember exactly what the imperfection is or who he is searching for so instead he tries to find his briefcase and a picture of the man in question. Along the way, he meets no shortage of oddball characters and gets into many unsavory situations.

Women are treated as pets and must wear a collar at all times to show they’ve been wed and have an owner. Once they produce offspring they are to be put to sleep having fulfilled their purpose. This little aspect of the story actually highlights an overlooked issue of misogyny coming from other women.

I was disappointed that other than the title and the nonsensical nature of the story, Adolf in Wonderland really had nothing to do with Wonderland at all. It was a good book but not quite what I was hoping for. This was my first attempt at Mellick’s work, and I think that although this one didn’t exactly blow my wig back he definitely deserves another try. I give this book a 3/5, and I’m eager to proceed to the next.

Posted by Candace Stone in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, URBAN DECAY/DYSTOPIAN FUTURES, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Cows (2015) by Matthew Stokoe

BOOK REVIEW: Cows (2015) by Matthew Stokoe

I burnt through the pages of Matthew Stokoe’s Cows in a fever fueled by my own disgust, half needing it to end and half wishing it never would. It’s the kind of book that makes you feel filthy just for reading and then demented once you realize you’re enjoying it.

There is nothing else out there like Cows. It’s the most extreme piece of literature I’ve ever read. When I was reading it, at times I needed to cover my eyes or look away, but unlike a movie, it doesn’t just keep playing and when I was inevitably forced to look back, the words were right where I left them, waiting to assault my eyes with more alphabet poison.

The short of it is, a young man named Steven lives in a small flat with his mother aptly called the Hagbeast. Poor Steven has endured nothing but hardship and abuse at the hands of the Hagbeast who has slowly been trying to kill him with bad food his whole life. Now a young man of 25 years, he’s gotten a job at the slaughterhouse and hopes to break free of the torture and squalor and imitate something that resembles a life he’s only ever seen on TV. Upstairs lives a young woman named Lucy, Steven hopes to incorporate her into his new Brady Bunch life. Unfortunately, Lucy is obsessed with the idea that she has a black spot in her body a “poison” that must be found and cut out. This obsession eventually comes to a head and is the final straw that thwarts Steven’s plans of any kind of happiness in the human world.

At the slaughterhouse, he meets a man called Cripps who teaches him the art of killing and how he can be free and strong once he has killed. He begins to believe Cripps and decides his only course of action is to kill his mother. Also, at the plant, he meets a talking cow simply called “the Guernsey” that needs Steven’s help. The Guernsey and other cows that managed to escape slaughter live in tunnels under the city and want to kill Cripps, to get revenge for all the wrongs he’s committed against cows. Revenge and hatred are a common theme throughout the story.

This book has all manner of vile atrocities that Stokoe just keeps hammering you with, but instead of using a hammer he uses a 2×4 and smashes you in the senses with it. Don’t read the book if you can’t handle shit, and I mean a lot of feces. They eat it, get covered in it, walk in it, and there is even a death by shitting down someone’s throat. If you can’t handle animal cruelty, or all types of cruelty for that matter skip this book. If you’re pro-life and can’t stomach a graphic home abortion, then give this one a pass. If however, you’re down with bestiality, rape of just about every kind, child abuse, and lots of bodily fluids, then definitely check out Cows.

Although I’ll never read this one again, I still highly recommend it to extreme cinema and literature lovers. It’s well written, but I honestly could have done without the talking cows and silly ending. It would have had far more impact without them. I still give it a 4/5 for originality and raw brutality.

Posted by Candace Stone in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, BRUTAL REALITY, REVIEWS, 0 comments
Nick Younker – Interview With A Horror Author

Nick Younker – Interview With A Horror Author

Hello, horror fans! Horrormadam here to tell you about one of my favorite authors Nick Younker. His short stories and novellas run the gamut of themes from Native American curses, to sociopaths, vampires, unnatural chaos, and the Zombie Apocalypse. They are so intelligent and engaging and give you a complete story in a concise manner. I love them so much that after completing I am compelled to review on Amazon. Before we talk to Mr. Younker, I wanted to show you the synopsis for my favorite of his Don’t Bury Me:

Evan, an activist hell-bent on exposing corruption within the pharmaceutical industry, accepts an invitation to go on a daring mission to Croatia in search of an ancient corpse that fell victim to a 14th-century plague. The mission becomes a stunning success with the discovery of a femur bone, but it comes with a price when he takes it to Indiana University in Bloomington for independent research.

After it reanimates, the outbreak takes a supernatural turn and the government responds by quarantining five states in the Midwest. The terminal virus, also known as the Rip Tide, forces people to self-cannibalize near the end. Evan, who seems to be immune to the Rip Tide, travels up and down the deserted roads of Southern Indiana to help people die peacefully.

Aided by both FEMA and the CDC with a satellite phone and airdrops, Evan encounters a young girl who was abandoned by her parents. To make matters worse, a 14th Century witch appears to him as an apparition, taking the form of a dead Goth-Rock Star he admires to manipulate him into spreading her lethal spores. But Evan has other plans and he starts to break through her supernatural code, finding unique ways to keep the young girl alive.

If that doesn’t get you interested I don’t know what would!

House of Tortured Souls: When did you get the writing bug and what made you want to be a writer?

Nick Younker: I never got the “writing bug,” per say. But I did write some prose in college and found out that I had some skills inherent to people in the industry. Honestly, I only wanted to be a news writer when I was in college and that’s what I did after I finally got my BS. But the more time I spent in the television industry, the less I liked it. So soon after I started working for Turner in Atlanta, I also began doing small projects at home. Just a short story here or a screenplay there. Eventually, my flow began taking me in the direction of prose, which is a world apart from screenwriting, and I started producing stories one after the other. I did write a novel and a few novellas but found short stories to be the most fulfilling work. They contain less filler and I write in Grunge Narrative style, so that’s extremely attractive to me.

HoTS: Who were some of your early writing influences?

NY: I’m assuming you’re asking about novelists, but I have a long list of writers that have influenced me from different mediums. In the literary industry, novelists like Bukowski, Vonnegut (both used Grunge Narrative style), Ketchum, Blatty, Irving, Larsson and Algernon Blackwood were the most attractive scribes for me.

But my influences in movies and music include Alan Ball, the Coen Brothers, Cobain, Springsteen, Vedder, Cornell, Cantrell, Jett, Hetfield, Hendrix, Morrison and most importantly, Roky Erickson. The works of these fine names have exploded my ability to think critically, fourth dimensionally, and allowed me to pursue creative works that have far surpassed my expectations.

HoTS: Why the horror genre?

NY: Why not? I have frequently been asked that by my family and friends, who do not seem to share the same love of horror that I do but never miss an opportunity to download one of my works.

Horror entertains a reader the same way drama, literary fiction, romance, sci-fi, young adult (vomit), thrillers and human-interest stories do. I don’t think anyone sits down to read a book that they already know what happens at the summit. Everyone wants to be shocked, to see some originality. I would argue that horror is the premiere genre to achieve such goals. It is much broader and the freedom to shock a reader is virtually limitless.

HoTS: Who are some of your favorite authors and books?

NY: Well, I’m not a big fan of playing favorites, but The Willows by Algernon Blackwood did for me what The Blair Witch Project did for horror movie fans. I should also add that 1984 has been a big hit in my playbook. But my all-time favorite book(s) is the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo).

HoTS: Have your influences changed as you’ve grown older?

NY: Not really. I rarely buy new books from mainstream authors, instead opting for indie writers who have a good following from people I know and trust. Even though I write primarily in horror, I like books that feature characters who struggle with poverty, especially poverty in the richest nation in the world. I suppose you could say that I identify with them, given my chosen “career.”

HoTS: What are some of your favorite horror movies?

NY: There’s a laundry list of those, but I will try to condense it. Let The Right One In, What We Do In The Shadows, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rawhead Rex, Return of the Living Dead, Zombieland, An American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Candyman, Dawn of the Dead (1978), The Conjuring, Rosemary’s Baby, Demons, Demons 2, Spookies… oh shit, I got carried away.

HoTS: Tell us about some of your favorites that you have written?

NY: Out of all my stories, Don’t Bury Me is perhaps my best work to date. Although there is a special place in my heart for the others, that one really tugged at my heartstrings. I have a new one I’m working on right now that’s a passion project, titled The Birth of an American Vampire. It features a character who was turned by immaculate conception following the death of his mother and the extreme grief that left him vulnerable to the curse. He has no sire, just a victim of natural selection following a perfect storm of internal and external conflicts gone violently wrong.

HoTS: Are there any author’s quotes that keep you going?

NY: I wouldn’t say that the quotes keep me going, but there is one that I really admire from Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption:
“Get busy living, or get busy dying.” ~ Andy Dufresne as written by Stephen King.

HoTS: For young writers out there, what words do you have for them?

NY: Embrace poverty and love the poor because they’re going to be your brethren.

HoTS: Where do your ideas come from?

Nick Younker: Thick air… cause I find it hard to breathe or think, in thin air.

HoTS: When they make a film about your illustrious writing career, who do you think should play you?

Nick Younker: The late, great Chris Farley. I can’t say for certain, but I think he’d return from the grave for an opportunity like that.

HoTS: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

NY: Not really, but I would like to take this opportunity to address the rise of Grunge Narrative writing style. Writers like myself use it and I find it to be the best way to read any great short story. I wrote an article about the many different tenets of the style that you can read here.

If anyone wants to check out my works in the horror genre, you can visit my Amazon page.

You can catch up with him on Twitter (@NYounker) where he publishes over 20 smart-ass tweets and horror images every day. You can also connect with him on his website, FogstowJamison.com, where he publishes articles on news in the horror, sci-fi and dark fantasy industry.

Thanks for speaking with me, Jaye! You rock girl!

And I want to thank Nick Younker so much for answering my questions and giving us such great reading material! Nick, you are an inspiration to me and my writing!

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, INTERVIEWS, PARANORMAL, SCI-FI HORROR, STAFF PICKS, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES, 0 comments
GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: ParAssassin (2017)

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: ParAssassin (2017)

I recently had the great pleasure of reading ParAssassin, a graphic novel by Jasper Bark, and was sucked in immediately. As the name suggests, an assassination is at the center of the plot, but I’ll let the Amazon summary explain it:

Three futures hang in the balance. Two end in total annihilation. One assassin’s bullet will decide. On the planet Sedulon, a rogue band of renegade time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds. Doc Hydrabus – a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time. Cassindra – 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world. Rushaar and Shartara – alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia. The Parassassin – he will take the shot that decides the destinies of everyone in the galaxy. Politics and parody collide on the bleeding edge of science fiction, in the most shocking and unexpected thriller you’re going to read this year.

It’s quite an intriguing story with interesting characters whose actions will decide the fate of more worlds than just ours. The story opens with the main character, Doc Hydrabus, a victim of his own brilliance, trying to recall who or what he is and how he got to where he is – adrift in time and space. From there we follow as he pieces the story together to discover what happened and how. As Doc Hydrabus encounters others in his memories, more and more details are revealed and each is more fantastic than the last, piquing the reader’s curiosity and compelling one to read on.

ParAssassin (2017)

The artwork is crisp and clear with great detail and excellent color choices. I especially appreciated the realism in female body proportions and postures – something often lacking in comics and graphic novels and quite a breath of fresh air. Similarly, the female roles are solid, with none present simply to serve as eye candy or sexual conquests. They are as fully developed as the male characters and play key roles in how the story unfolds. The handling of time paradoxes and potential futures is handled well, giving the reader just enough information to understand without overwhelming minutiae that serve merely to slow the story. Instead, the story is tight and solid with a few twists you will not see coming.

ParAssassin (2017)

If you enjoy graphic novels and time travel, I highly recommend ParAssassin.

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

INTERVIEW: Alistair Cross

Alistair Cross - Sleep Savannah SleepAlistair Cross, acclaimed author of such works as The Crimson Corset and his newest novel Sleep Savannah Sleep and co-host of Haunted Nights Live! a radio program broadcast on the Authors On The Air Global Radio Network with the equally amazing author Tamara Thorne, was kind enough to do an interview with me for my home here at House of Tortured Souls. Before I get to the interview, though, I would like to tell you more about his works.
Alistair Cross - The Crimson CorsetAbout The Crimson Corset: Welcome to Crimson Cove a cozy village in California where Cade Coulter, our protagonist, moves to live with his brother hoping for a peaceful life. Everything is idyllic until the sun sets and the little tourist town begins to show more night death than nightlife. At the very edge of town sits The Crimson Corset known for its crazy soirees and licentiousness, where people can indulge their every fantasy no matter how depraved or unacceptable. The only thing is is that the place is owned and operated by a vampire.
The owner, Gretchen VanTreese, wants to take out the Old World Vampires that also exist in the town so that she can be free to create a new race of vampires that she will rule. And Cade Coulter will have to fight this wicked and enticing vampire, even give up his own humanity to save the town and everyone that he loves.
I loved this book. There is nothing better than a great story infused with blood, violence, and gore. Let me show you some of the reviews so you can get an even better idea:
Put Bram Stoker in a giant cocktail shaker, add a pinch of Laurell K. Hamilton, a shot of John Carpenter, and a healthy jigger of absinthe, and you’ll end up with Alistair Cross’s modern Gothic chiller, The Crimson Corset-a deliciously terrifying tale that will sink its teeth into you from page one.
—Jay Bonansinga, New York Times Bestselling author of The Walking Dead: Invasion and Lucid.
Alistair Cross’ new novel The Crimson Corset…is taut and elegantly written taking us into the realms where the erotic and the horrific meet. Reminiscent of the work of Sheridan Le Fanu (Carmilla, Uncle Silas) in its hothouse, almost Victorian intensity, it tells a multi-leveled story of misalliance and mixed motives. The language is darkly lyrical, and the tale is compelling. Read it; you’ll be glad you did.
—Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, author of Saint-Germaine Cycle and the Chesterton Holt Mysteries.
Very nice heavy hitters for a debut book!
Alistair Cross - The Angel AlejandroHe has also written The Book of Strange Persuasions, The Angel Alejandro, and the aforementioned Sleep Savanah Sleep. Alistair has also collaborated on many books with the sensational Tamara Thorne as Thorne&Cross. Some of their joint titles include The Cliffhouse Haunting, Mother, The Witches of Ravencrest, and The Ghosts of Ravencrest.
Which brings me to the next bit about him. Alistair Cross and Tamara Thorne started their own radio show called Haunted Nights Live! where they talk all things horror to some of the biggest names in the business. Featuring such guests as Chelsea Quinn Yarbro of the Saint-Germain vampire series, Charlaine Harris of the Southern Vampire Mysteries and basis of the HBO series True Blood, Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter novels that inspired the hit television series, Jay Bonansinga of the Walking Dead series, and Laurell K. Hamilton of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter novels.
So, now that we have established his illustrious credentials, let’s ask him some questions.
House of Tortured Souls: So, Alistair, what would you like people to know about you?
Alistair Cross: I am not a morning person: no, I will not help your sister move…and I prefer cats to most people.
HoTS: When I was doing research for this interview, I noticed on his website that in 1987 – He saw Carrie and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, wrote more stories (most of which featured an unmanageably extensive cast of talking cats). So sorry I missed that readers.
Next question Alistair: What are your horror influences?

AC: Stephen King, of course, who was my introduction to the genre back when I was barely 8 years old. I am also influenced by Anne Rice, Dean Koontz, John Saul, Ira Levin, and William Peter Blatty, just to name a few.
HoTS: What did you do with your very first advance for a book??
AC: I just stared at it. A lot.
HoTS: What was your first scary movie?
AC: The first movie I remember being absolutely terrified by was Cujo. It still makes me a little uneasy.
HoTS: How do you write what you want without worrying about how your subject matter will be taken?
AC: As a horror author, I consider it my duty to shock and offend. There are few subjects I won’t touch on, animal cruelty for example because it’s not necessary and it’s too easy. But I don’t think about reader reaction when I’m writing. I write the stories I want to read and figure it is likely others out there will want to read them too.
HoTS: What is your spirit animal?
AC: Stevie Nicks is my spirit animal.
HoTS: Has anything in your books ever happened to you?
AC: While I’ve certainly never been lured into an underground lair of a seductive blond vampire or found an amnesiac angel in my koi pond after a violent storm, some of the events in my writing do come from personal experience. All fiction is rooted in truth, but I never set out to chronicle my own experiences. It’s about the characters and their stories, not mine. The only exception is Five Nights In a Haunted Cabin, a real-life account of an experience I had with my collaborator, Tamara Thorne.
HoTS: How did you and Tamara become writing partners?
AC: It’s an unusual story that began in the late 1990s when I came across Tamara’s novel Moonfall. I liked it so much, I got all of her books and began stalking her website via AOL dial-up because in my day we had to practice patience when we stalked people online. Several years later, after my first book was published, I began a blog dedicated to interviews with authors. Tamara Thorne was one of the first people I asked to be on my blog. She said yes and we hit it off enough that she asked me if I’d like to write a short story with her. That short story became a full-length novel, and that led to the next one and the one after that, and the rest is history. Writing with Tamara is one of the easiest, most natural things I have ever done and, at the risk of sounding corny, I believe it was simply meant to be.
House of Tortured Souls: And readers I thought it was only fair to reach out to Tamara Thorne and gets some fun stuff on Alistair from her:
Tamara Thorne: I love collaborating with Alistair. We spend our days working on Skype and when our cats start climbing us, we turn on the cameras. Alistair’s kitty, Pawpurrazzi, truly abuses him. I love watching the way she gives him kisses, then shoves her butt in his face. Those two are madly in love.
We write together in the Cloud and rarely recall who wrote what. After each day’s work – or after completing the first draft – my job is to read our words aloud. When we’re in edit mode, reading for hours can be pretty grueling, but my collaborator knows how to keep things lively. He moves ahead in the manuscript and adds lines so outrageous and rude that I fall apart – so does he. We relish our giggle breaks more than I can say. Once in a while, we leave an obscenity in to amuse our editors. The reactions are varied but hysterical.
So I cannot recommend these authors enough and I also cannot thank them enough for taking their time to answer some questions and share a few laughs. Below are some links for you to get to know and experience more of Alistair Cross and his partner in crime Tamara Thorne. And definitely, check out their radio broadcast.
Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, FICTION AND POETRY, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, INTERVIEWS, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, PARANORMAL, PODCAST, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, 0 comments
INTERVIEW: Brooke Lewis (2017)

INTERVIEW: Brooke Lewis (2017)

Brooke Lewis / Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

One of the Hardest Working Women in the Business

-Scream Queen, Amazing Actress, Author-

Hello readers, and thank you for joining me on another part of my series on celebrating the Gifted Heroines of Horror and Women in Film! I had the honor, joy, and just great time interviewing the most wondrous Scream Queen Brooke Lewis. When I say she is hardworking, I feel that I may be using that phrase inadequately. She is an actress, scream queen, Certified Life Coach and Dating Coach, Author, singer, producer, columnist, voice-over artist, has her own talk show/ web series, a clothing line, upcoming make-up line, and is also a hugely altruistic philanthropist. She makes me tired just thinking about it. One of my favorite things about her that we talked about is that she has a wonderful distinction in horror in that she has never been killed in a  horror film…yet.
Brooke is an award-winning actress who has starred in such films as the thriller iMurders (2008) with Gabrielle Anwar, William Forsythe, Tony Todd, Frank Grillo, Billy Dee Williams, and the amazing Charles Durning. Sinatra Club (2010) with Jason Gedrick, Danny Nucci, and Michael Nouri. And one of my new favorite shorts Sprinkles (2010).
House of Tortured Souls: Knowing she’s acted along such greats I asked her what some of those experiences were like I was especially interested in her work with Charles Durning known for being the King of Character Actors.
Brooke Lewis: You know I did five films with god rest his soul Charles Durning, yes I used to dine with the man. Adults really get it, Oscar-nominated for Dog Day Afternoon, When a Stranger Calls, TootsieCharles Durning. I mean are you kidding me? I have worked with Michael Pare: Eddie and the Cruisers, Streets of Fire, and The Philadelphia Experiment, he’s my friend. The legendary Billy Dee Williams: Mahogany, Star Wars: Episode V-The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi. I am not sure if the younger generation understands the magnitude of that. When I was a young girl, I was in high school and I was obsessed with Candyman and then I found out I was going to be starring next to Tony Todd, someone has got to be kidding me! I was so scared to be going on set but he is so great! The celebrity and fame have never changed him, he has done so much acting, even on Broadway. Tony is really more than meets the eye. Its crazy, I have gotten to work with both Costas and Loius Mandylor. Saw for Costas and My Big Fat Greek Wedding” for Louis.The thing is that they are just brilliant actors. One of my dearest kindred spirits is The Hills Have EyesSuze Lanier-Bramlett. She is like my soul sister. She was Bambi on Welcome Back Kotter, you know Barbarino’s girlfriend. We sit and talk about yesteryears, her life as an actress, being young and in Hollywood vs my experience and it is so scary. I don’t know if the younger generation of moviegoers will be able to distinguish between real stars of that era vs Youtube sensations with no real acting chops.You cant just get together with a few friends and spill ketchup on your boobs film it on your phone, dub yourself a Scream Queen and call it horror. Horror fans are way too intelligent for that. To know and understand the careers of people like Charles Durning or Billy Dee Williams or Margaret Colin and Larry Hankin from Home Alone may be out of their purview.
HoTS: I next asked Brooke about being a woman in horror and being a Scream Queen.

Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis
BL: I embrace being a Scream Queen. I earned it! I am very proud to be on any lists where the greats like Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, and Dee Wallace along with the newer generation like my girls Felissa Rose and Debbie Rochon and the list goes on and on. As far as acting in horror, anything I have done in the horror genre is by choice. I am committed to a certain standard. People come up to me and are like but you did a film like Slime City Massacre? Yes, I did and thank you very much it won me the 2010 Golden Cobb award!

HoTS: And readers that was a hot year for horror! I checked her competitors that year and they were impressive. For BEST SCREAM QUEEN:
Debbie RochonSlime City Massacre
Victoria MauretteBulletface
Kristina KlebeZone of The Dead
April Monique BurrillChainsaw Sally
Brooke LewisSlime City Massacre
BL: People can say what they want, it was an ultra-low budget sequel to the cult classic “Slime City” (1988) and I had to make a decision, a choice when I made that film. When Greg Lamberson came to me and said you are one of the new IT girl Scream Queens of 07-08, read my script and see if you want to get involved. Look at any of the roles and maybe you wanna come in and produce in some way, and we bonded right away. That man is one smart man and he is an amazing writer and a great director. If you see the movie, the undertones and the subtext is amazing it covers drug addiction, gentrification, politics, US vs Canada, abortion, and it goes on and on. There are so many smart messages underneath the campy, gory, fun stuff, that I was inspired to do it. I am so glad I did because it became one of the horror films that I am most known for. Horror embraces strong women. I am a short, curvy, voluptuous, ethnic woman, horror embraces that pin-up look which I have always been grateful for. Horror always embraces outside the norm, I am not the typical Hollywood starlet look and horror does not discriminate. Not like most movies where you have to look like a supermodel in order to get naked, in horror real people have sex.
I can only speak for myself and some of my peers, I choose to be a powerful woman in horror. I don’t just act in horror, I have done Broadway, and thrillers, and mob movies, I just wrapped an amazing dramedy called 1/2 New Year, I do it all because I am an actress but the stuff that I have chosen to do in horror and I am very proud of it. I feel like I have got to do some great stuff, made some great films with some really great people.
HoTS: I then wanted to find out about the Ms. Vampy talk show/web series, But before we get into that, let me introduce you to Ms. Vampy. Ms. Vampy is America’s funniest, sexiest, sassiest and most extraordinary board certified Life Coach and Vampiress! Her personality is as big as her hair and is often described as Betty Boop meets Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny. She has two books, Ms. Vampy’s Teen Tawk and Coaching From a Professed Hot Mess. I have read them both readers and cannot recommend them highly enough. Ms. Vampy gives sage advice and does so in such a relatable and entertaining way.

BL: What do I get cast in usually in the mainstream? Hooker, stripper, because I have big boobs and big hair and I wear high heels because I am short so naturally…the hairstylist, the guidette, which I love and that’s how Ms. Vampy was born. I looked at the body of my biggest work and at that point in time, ten years ago it was mobster movies, it was comedy, big hair and guidette roles that I used to play like in Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding where I got my start  on Broadway which I love, then add horror to the mix. It came to me that this had never been done before and it is a lot of what my horror fans embrace about me. And I thought why not? Ms. Vampy is a Brooklyn, big-haired vampire guidette with a heart of gold. On the teen talk show, we talk about everything from the LGBTQ community, to racism, to sexism, to bullies and it was very important to me to get this done. It needs to be made and I will not stop till it is done correctly. She is from the Vamprelli crime family, killing people and drinking blood is declasse so she eats everything else that is red. So everything needs the suspension of reality because she has a heart of gold and tons of positive messages. She’s my alter-ego. She talks about everything that I have experienced in my life. Also there is the teen smash hit TV/talk show/web series Ms. Vampy’s Tween Tawk, Teen Tawk & In Between Tawk, which won the Honolulu Film Awards 2012 SILVER LEI AWARD, the coveted 18th Annual Communicator Awards (2012) AWARD OF DISTINCTION for Social Responsibility and Los Angeles Film Awards May 2017 INSPIRING WOMAN IN A FILM AWARD .

I wanted to bring to your attention readers three of her new projects. Psycho Therapy (2016) a short film was written and directed by another great woman in film and horrorStaci Layne Wilson. It has won twenty-one awards already, including awards for Brooke and her production company Philly Chick Pictures. Philadelphia is her hometown hence the name. The other is a film she already mentioned called 1/2 New Year which is in post-production so make sure to keep an eye out for it. The last was the aforementioned Sprinkles short film which has twenty-five wins also for Brooke and Philly Chick.

Brooke Lewis Brooke Lewis

Brooke also has partnered with Rock n’ Roll Lifestyle Company Metal Babe Mayhem to brand and launch their ‘Rock Your Hot Mess’, ‘Ms. Vampy’ and ‘Scream Queen Brooke Lewis’ clothing lines. She was also branded with the hypoallergenic Makeup and Skincare Company TASH Cosmetics to launch their ‘Profess Your Hot Mess’ and ‘Ms. Vampy Girl’ makeup lines. I told you this woman was busy!
As far as being a columnist she has the distinction of writing for the Huffington Post as a contributor which she started in 2012. With such great articles as “Ask the Drama Queen”, “Hollywood Darlings Let Their Light Shine With Anti-Bullying Campaign”, and “Ageism and Heterosexism in Hollywood.”
And if you were wondering about the singing she signed with Tazmania Records/Metropolitan Records and released the freestyle dance hit “Get Me Off Your Mind”. Released in 2009 and on the album Tazmania Freestyle In-motion vol. 13.
Brooke strongly believes in charity work that empowers women and young adults. She is active in several charities that support Breast Cancer and Anti-bullying and can be found feeding the Skid Row homeless at the Los Angeles Mission which I saw when she showed a few pictures at Christmas, best looking Santa’s helper out there. She is also a proud Breaking The Chains Foundation (BTCF) Celebrity Ambassador. Brooke is a proud member of Women In Film and Film Independent. She was also the Hot Hunks of Horror Hottie for 2009 and the co-captain of Dread Central’s Bowling for Boobies.
She also told me that people would say to her, with her cleavage, high heels, big hair, and makeup how did she expect to be taken seriously as an intelligent woman?And she would say to them really? She has more degrees than six of them combined. For her naysayers I will say this, she majored in rhetoric and communications, she minored in both theater and criminal justice. She was also Inducted into ‘Outstanding Filmmakers Of The Year’ at the first Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival 2017 and for me to list all of her awards and accolades, I would need to get new hands after typing because mine would fall off!
Brooke Lewis / Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Photo credit: Roger A. Scheck

Brooke Lewis on the web:

So for myself, Horrormadam and everyone at the House of Tortured Souls I want to say thank you so much to Brooke Lewis and also huge congratulations on her fiancee’s proposal on September first (her birthday) 2017. Brooke is such a sweet, intelligent, and kind woman and she deserves all the best. And as she and Ms. Vampy would tell you. Be you…And be fearless and definitely Vamp It Out!
Metal Babe Mayhem: Scream Queen Brooke Lewis (SQBL)
Discount code #BROOKE16 to receive 20% OFF!
Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, CELEBRITY BIRTHDAYS, FEATURED CONTENT, FICTION AND POETRY, FRIENDS OF THE HOUSE, IN THE SPOTLIGHT, INTERVIEWS, THRILLER, VAMPIRES, WOMEN IN HORROR, 1 comment
PRESENTATION: Grady Hendrix – Paperbacks from Hell

PRESENTATION: Grady Hendrix – Paperbacks from Hell

The event was held in a mausoleum.
The venue was PhilaMOCA, the Mausoleum of Contemporary Arts, a former showroom for tombstones and mausoleums in Philadelphia, and we were there for a presentation of Paperbacks from Hell by Grady Hendrix, author of Horrorstor and My Best Friend's Exorcism.
Grady-Hendrix-rev-My Best Friend's Exorcism / Fair use doctrine.All the lights went out except one red spotlight glowing over a podium on the stage at the front of the room. Grady Hendrix walked onto the stage, stepped into the spooky red light and, without preamble, read an excerpt from a book about a town besieged by a rain of maggots. It began quietly, with the creeping dread of a family seeing maggots covering their doorstep, their walkway, their front yard, their fence, unfurling outward over the countryside. It picked up a humorous cadence as Hendrix emphasized the author's constant repetition of the phrase “covered... with maggots,” since, clearly, the reader needs a complete inventory of every single thing that was covered... with maggots.
Hendrix brings up an image on the pull-down screen behind him of a screaming face, missing an eyeball and some skin, crawling with repulsive little white things. It's the cover of the book he's been reading from. You guessed it: Maggots.
Hendrix then gave historical context for the time period leading up to that masterpiece of the written word. For the first half of the 20th century, the horror genre had almost no significance. It provided no answer to the call of social upheaval and cultural change of the 1960s. Horror in the movies was the Gothic fare of the Hammer studios and on television; it was whimsical family comedies. Horror was absent from bestseller lists dominated by literary blockbusters like Catch-22, In Cold Blood, and Valley of the Dolls. Genre fiction was westerns, Gothic romances, and reissues of Tarzan and Conan adventure pulps from decades prior.
In 1971, Ira Levin's Rosemary's Baby, William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist, and Thomas Tryon's The Other were all on bestseller lists and were all adapted into hugely successful movies. They generated multitudes of novels about Satan and the occult, branded with blurbs comparing them to one or more of the aforementioned three. Novels that weren't actually about Satanism were given descriptions, or at least covers, that hinted at something devilish. That trinity of novels had gotten horror taken seriously, and the ensuing imitations rode the wave of the trendy Satanic panic.
On the heels of that craze, the success of The Exorcist inspired David Seltzer to write the movie The Omen, and a novelization of the movie that spawned its own franchise and inspired scores of books about children who were possessed by demons, gifted with supernatural powers, or just generally evil. They didn't even have to be in existence to be menacing. The availability of birth control, the legalization of abortion, and the first “test tube baby” born through IVF led to misinformation, speculation, and, consequently, paranoia. There were books about evil embryos, mutant fetuses, and macabre advancements in any medical technology involving fertility.
Next were the things beyond man's law or control: animals. Peter Benchley's Jaws, Stephen King's Cujo, and James Herbert's The Rats were successful novels that took people's fears of sharks, rabid dogs, and rats and built upon them in ways that were somewhat plausible and wholly terrifying. After that, countless authors utilized every available mammal, amphibian, and insect in their plots. Hendrix displayed covers of horror novels about whales, jungle cats, farm animals, all manner of bugs and crustaceans, both normal-sized and mutated to gigantic proportions: a murderous menagerie dedicated solely to wiping out the human race.
Anne Rice-Vampire-Chronicles-the-wrap / Fair use doctrine.He crossed over to the 1980s and touched on horror subgenres like hackneyed haunted house novels and outlandish medical thrillers. Hendrix also focused on two of the best-selling authors of the 1980s: Anne Rice and VC Andrews. Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles explored the existential dread of the elegant, indulgent undead. VC Andrews only wrote a handful of novels in her lifetime: lurid and scandalous family dramas in sinister Gothic settings. The success of her first novel, Flowers in the Attic created a legacy that was carried on by Andrew Neiderman who has been “ghostwriting” novels under her name since her death in 1986.VC Andrews-Flowers in the Attic / Fair use doctrine.
Horror fiction's success continued uninhibited throughout the decade. Dozens of publishers flooded the market with books nonstop, publishing anything horror, particularly supernatural.
Then, in 1988, Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs came out and won the World Fantasy Award and the Bram Stoker Award, proclaiming itself the leader of the bloodthirsty pack. The novel and the film adaptation a few years later changed the readers' and publishers' demand from the improbable menace of the paranormal to the entirely possible threat of serial killers. Book covers and content became darker and more sadistic. Many writers didn't adapt to the changing climate or were dropped by publishers who wanted to thin the herd. The horror genre went dormant like a folkloric beast with no peasant population to feed on. “Horror” morphed to “thriller” if it wanted to sell.
The horror fiction of the 70s and 80s was not subtle. The book covers Hendrix showed in the PowerPoint presentation became indistinguishable, using and reusing things like occult imagery, skeletons, broken dolls, evil clowns, and spooky big-eyed children. Plots were derivative or outrageous to the point of self-parody. Hendrix read detailed synopses of several books whose plots and writing didn't just border on ludicrous, they smashed through the boundaries with convoluted storylines, outlandish events, bizarre deviances, clichéd characters, and bad dialogue. The unintentional hilarity wasn't just in the content of the books but in the fact that many of them even got published in the first place.
Ken Greenhall-Lenoir / Fair use doctrine.Despite that, the presentation was as much tribute as it was satire. He went into detail about the lives of some of the artists who painted the covers and the writers who persevered to remain relevant today as well as those who unfairly faded into obscurity. The biggest injustice, Hendrix stressed, was the underwhelming career of Ken Greenhall, whose skill as a writer was comparable to any big name, if not better. He wrote several stunning horror novels but was never considered distinguished from his contemporaries and was moved to smaller and smaller publishing houses. His final book was Lenoir, a historical novel inspired by the model for Peter Paul Rubens' Four Studies of the Head of a Negro. Greenhall's attempt to transcend genres was torn apart by critics and, according to Hendrix's interview with Greenhall's widow, that destroyed his confidence as a writer.Peter Paul Rubens-Four Studies of the Head of a Negro / Fair use doctrine.
Hendrix urged the audience to read books by Greenhall, as well as any other writer whose work he had featured in the presentation, in hopes that, even if the writer or cover artist is no longer living, their contribution to the history of horror fiction will not be forgotten and they will live on through their PAPERBACKS FROM HELL.Grady Hendrix-Paperbacks From Hell-cover / Fair use doctrine.
Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, EVENTS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Tempus Investigations (2016)

BOOK REVIEW: Tempus Investigations (2016)

By Woofer McWooferson

Tempus Investigations:
A Fictional TV Series

Author: Claus Holm; Publisher: CreateSpace; ISBN-10: 1534876294 | ISBM-13: 978-1534876293; Media: Paperback and ePub; Length: 268 pages; Genre: Crime / Horror / Fantasy; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2016

From the Amazon.com description:

Jim Corrigan died in 1933… but he returned to life. Now, he can’t die. Through the first season, Jim and his friends matches wits with the supernatural side of San Francisco, making both new friends – and a few enemies. Tempus Investigations mixes the world of TV and books, making a unique kind of story – a fan fiction so elaborate it needed to create the show itself. In this book, you’ll find the first four episodes, which form Season 1. If you love shows like Buffy, Angel and Supernatural – tune in for Tempus Investigations!

Tempus Investigations is the latest offering from Danish author Claus Holm and, as the snippet notes, it’s about an undead private detective with the ability to see and communicate with the spirit world and who specializes in unusual cases. Jim Corrigan is a hard-boiled detective in the vein of Phillip Marlowe who has had to adapt to the world as it has changed since he died. His occupation as a private detective keeps him busy and away from most people, and this is fine by him. Until it isn’t.

The overarching story of Tempus Investigations is the of how Jim’s life changes when he encounters various people who eventually become part of his investigative team. Each case not only has Jim uncovering clues to some truly heinous crimes but also uncovering people who find his specialty area as intriguing as they find him. The book is set up as a TV show with each case being an episode – or a series of episodes – and the reader is invited to imagine how it would play out on TV. This is not a difficult task for the reader as Holm’s narrative is both rich and descriptive. Not only can you see what he’s describing, you can practically feel and smell the crime scenes Jim investigates. Because his characters are people, they are fully realized with their own personal idiosyncracies and charms. We are not presented with the usual cardboard cutouts often found in modern fiction.

Although Danish, Holm has a good grasp of American culture and it is as true in this book as in his last. Dialogue, always tricky for a writer, is no problem here. Corrigan and the other characters speak naturally with no awkward exposition pieces shoehorned in to force the plot forward. What happens, happens naturally. Indeed, the speech patterns as well as the topics are as natural as one can wish for in a detective story. But it’s far more than just a detective story. It is also a tale of the supernatural, magic, history, and the human condition. And it’s damn entertaining.

Find out more about Claus Holm on his Facebook page or his author page at Amazon.com. Read the beginning of Tempus Investigations here, and purchase your own copy to finish reading it (you’ll want to!) here.

10/10 claws – Renewed for another season!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I was an editor for this publication, too. It was my great good fortune to be able to read this before it was available to the public.

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Dartmoor Horror (2014)

BOOK REVIEW: The Dartmoor Horror (2014)

By Woofer McWooferson

Cover art by Bob Berry of Bob Berry Illustrations.

Joe DeSantisThe Dartmoor Horror came to my attention via an email from the author. Being a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I eagerly accepted his request for a review. Unfortunately, I was not able to read it immediately, but when I did get the opportunity, I was not disappointed. The Dartmoor Horror is clearly a labor of love that was carefully constructed to fit the Holmes canon as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s personal writing style.

The Dartmoor Horror grew from DeSantis’ dissatisfaction with the ending of The Hound of the Baskervilles and his desire to right what he saw as a minor but important missed opportunity on Doyle’s part. Doyle himself was a strong spiritualist having famously supported the reality of the Cottingley Fairies, but his creation, Sherlock Holmes, was the exact opposite – a man of science and reason with no use for the fantastic. As DeSantis points out in his Author’s Note, The Hound of the Baskervilles is as close to a supernatural horror crime mystery as Doyle ever wrote and, as such, was ripe for showing Holmes’ flexibility in the face of evidence that counters his. Perhaps it is because The Hound of the Baskervilles was Doyle’s third Holmes novel or perhaps it is because Doyle doubted his own belief in the supernatural. Either way, DeSantis didn’t shy from it and this is where The Dartmoor Horror picks up.

In The Dartmoor Horror, we are presented with the return of the Hell hound as well as information that strongly hints that it is a supernatural creature. Through the course of the novel, we are further introduced to another undeniably paranormal element, but DeSantis never wavers in his faithfulness to the great detective. On the contrary, DeSantis maintains the nomenclature and dialect of the period while simultaneously breathing new life into a story that has been part of English literature for over 100 years.

DeSantis eases us into the story – aware that there might be a bit of hostility on the reader’s part since he is, to an extent, messing with what has been voted as the best Sherlock Holmes story Doyle ever wrote:

The carriage ambled slowly and deliberately over the winding country road, leaving a long, low cloud of dust behind as it made its way into the outskirts of the town. The driver, briefly energized by the appearance of the scattered, outlying cottages gave his whip a short snap onto the rump of the solitary old horse pulling its burden along.

The Dartmoor Horror was a delight to read. DeSantis’ prose, while faithful to Victorian norms, compels the reader forward, eager to discover how the great detective will piece it all together. Since DeSantis is working with established characters (for the most part), there is less character development than characterization, but this is to be expected. We know these people from the Doyle story, and they behave in exactly the way we anticipate they will even while we’re unable to perfectly predict it. Indeed, while DeSantis peppers the text with clues – both to the mystery itself as well as to where Holmes’ deductions lead him, exactly how the ending plays out is pleasantly unexpected.

Final verdict: 7.5/10. A great addition to any Doyle or Holmes fan’s library.

You can purchase The Dartmoor Horror here. Find out what else Joe DeSantis has written here.

Cover art by Bob Berry of Bob Berry Illustrations.

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Ruins (2006)

BOOK REVIEW: The Ruins (2006)

The Ruins

Ruins_Smith_Cover

By the author of A Simple Plan

 

Author: Scott Smith; Cover Artist: Peter Mendelsund; Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; ISBN: 1-4000-4387-5; Media: Hardcover; Length: 319 pages; Genre: Horror; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2006

In 2006 Scott Smith quietly published The Ruins, an inconspicuous little horror novel that Stephen King called “The Book of the Summer”. King recommended it in his column for Entertainment Weekly with these words:

“...last heard from in 1993 (A Simple Plan, later filmed by Sam Raimi from Smith’s script). No quietly building, Ruth Rendell-style suspense here; Smith intends to scare the bejabbers out of you, and succeeds. There are no chapters and no cutaways — The Ruins is your basic long scream of horror. It does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches in 1975. It doesn’t succeed completely — it felt 30 pages too long — but it works well enough, I think, to be the book most people will be talking about this summer.”

And he's right. The Ruins is a compelling read, leading the reader breathlessly onward to find out what happens to the protagonists. And those protagonists are real. Smith paints them as people should be – in all their glory and faults – and this makes the reader feel for them and hunger to know their fates. The story, about vacationing Americans who run into trouble in a foreign country, has been done time and time again, but this Mexican vacation pits them against a different kind of antagonist. It's a refreshing change from the same old “vacationers from another country are tortured and killed by sadists” and a far cry from the usual “trouble in the woods” fare. Scott's villain is a breath of fresh air and takes the reader by surprise.

The Ruins begins with two couples on a final vacation before moving on after college. Jeff and Amy will be attending medical school in the fall, and Eric will be teaching school while Stacy will be studying to become a social worker. While scuba diving, they meet Matthias, a German tourist whose brother, Heinrich, has been missing a few days, and his three Greek friends who, for laughs, call themselves Pablo, Juan, and Don Quixote and swap the names around on a whim. As the end of his vacation approaches, Matthias decides to go searching for his brother at the ruins where he went with a pretty young archaeologist he'd met on her first day there. Jeff assures Matthias they will accompany him for a chance to see some of the authentic Mexico, and the following morning, they meet in the lobby where the couples are surprised to see Pablo has decided to come, too. After a long trip that goes first by bus, then by taxi, and finally on foot, the six friends arrive at the ruins, which are both breathtaking and eerily quiet.

As they mill about, Amy snaps some pictures of the group, and a Mayan from the village they passed through arrives on horseback. Unable to control his horse after he dismounts, the Mayan releases the reins and the horse bolts back the way they came. He seems neither surprised nor disturbed by this and concentrates on trying to convince the group to leave but they are unable to understand him. Frustrated, he pulls a gun and more emphatically yells at them as two more men, these armed with bows and arrows, arrive on horseback. As the Mayans talk and further try to persuade the tourists to leave, Amy steps backward to the base of the ruins to snap a picture of the encounter. Suddenly and seemingly without reason, the Mayans change their minds and order the group to climb the ruins. It is here that the group learns the reason for the Mayans' behavior.

Smith's strong characterizations and innovative antagonist make the story work. Smith takes us inside their minds for glimpses into their pasts as well as insight into how they are coping with with the situation as they slowly realize they are being stalked by a sentient, carnivorous vine. The idea of a sentient, carnivorous plant is not quite as far fetched as one might think – a quick look at David Attenborough's The Private Life of Plants will illustrate this – and Smith makes it work Better: he makes the reader believe it by not revealing all right away, instead the plant as antagonist unfolds like a flower unfurling its blossoms. And Smith holds no punches.

Watch for my upcoming review of The Ruins movie.

7.5/10 claws – Don't read this in the garden!

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, NATURE STRIKES BACK, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: The Wake

COMIC REVIEW: The Wake

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By Nick Durham

It's not every day you read something like The Wake. I'm dead fucking serious: this comic is fucking nuts. Published by DC Comics' mature-readers imprint Vertigo (home of classic horror comic titles like Sandman, Preacher, and Hellblazer) over the course of ten issues, The Wake is written by Scott Snyder (known for his current prolific run on Batman) and drawn by Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus). If you're familiar with either Snyder or Murphy's work, you already know you're going to be in for something special.

The story of The Wake fuses science fiction and horror through the course of three time periods. The main element of the story involves a team being assembled and sent to investigate something very mysterious (and monstrous) and strange that has ben discovered at the bottom of the ocean. In terms of the comic's story, that's all I really want to spill. Believe me when I say that you have to read this to believe it. All I will say is that by the time you get halfway through this series, it catapults into an unforeseen direction of manic madness that you will not see coming...and yet somehow, it still manages to work as a glorious amalgamation of the best elements of sci-fi and horror.

Scott Snyder's twist script is only accentuated by the artwork of industry vet Sean Murphy. Murphy's line-work ranges from quiet and stark to wonderfully over the top and nigh-cinematic. When the The Wake presents big action set-pieces, it's Murphy who brings them to life, and they are a sight to behold. Throughout his work over the years, Murphy's work has usually always been dynamic, and here he goes above and beyond.

If there's any drawbacks to The Wake, it's that it feels too short. Snyder tells an epic horror story and turns it into something else entirely, but it often feels like there's bits missing that shouldn't be. It's nothing major in the least though, and it doesn't detract from the overall product thankfully.

So yeah, if you're into horror/sci-fi comics, you have to read The Wake. It's unlikely you'll read anything like it in modern, mainstream comics today, and this is without a doubt the best thing I've read from Vertigo in the past few years. There's a reason this book won an Eisner Award (basically the Oscar's of comic books) and has become revered within the comic community. Do yourself a favor and go pick up the trade paperback. You'll be glad that you did.

Rating: 5/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: The Other Dead

COMIC REVIEW: The Other Dead

otherdead1

By Nick Durham

Zombies are fucking everywhere. Movies, books, comics, video games, TV...they are literally everyfuckingwhere that you can think of. Saying that the zombie genre is super oversaturated is saying it lightly, but every now and then, we get a little something special within the genre that breathes just a little bit of life back into it. The Other Dead does just that. Published by IDW Publishing (responsible for numerous comic adaptations of Clive Barker works among others), The Other Dead is a unique and interesting take on the zombie apocalypse.

Based on an unused film treatment by Digger T. Mesch and scripted by Joshua Ortega (along with crediting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman as a consultant for some reason); The Other Dead revolves around a zombie outbreak...except these zombies are of the animal variety. That's right, dead animals are returning from the dead and wrecking havoc on the human race. In the midst of all this, a Katrina-sized hurricane is about to hit (the story takes place in Louisiana), just as President Obama is getting ready to make a visit (yes, you read that right).

It should be noted that among the many characters featured in The Other Dead, Barack Obama plays a prominent role alongside a dickhead redneck and some annoying teenagers. Hell, even Dick Cheney makes in appearance in the book's hilarious opening pages. Make of all that whatever you will.

Anyway, there's a lot going on within the pages of The Other Dead. Interesting premise aside, it's really easy to lose track of what's going on in terms of plot points, etc. In fact, most of the characters are so blankly-written that we care little about them. Add to that some inane dialogue, and we get what should be a relative snoozefest...yet somehow it isn't necessarily. This is mainly due to the fact that the artwork from Qing Ping Mui is simply amazing. The linework and detail are beautiful and wonderfully flowing and worth the price of admission here alone. No seriously, check this out just for the artwork if nothing else.

So yeah, while The Other Dead has an intriguing premise, it isn't anything too special in the least. That aside, the artwork provided by Qing Ping Mui is so damn good that it's worth tracking this down for alone. As for the rest of what this book has to offer...well, it isn't much, but for die hard zombie fans looking for something a little different, this might be worth a look.

Rating: 3/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

NIGHT THINGS: Dracula VS. Frankenstein

By Tracy Crockett NIGHT THINGS

Let me get straight to the point I can't even begin to tell you how many tales I've read from author Terry M. West. I can say that I have yet to read something that I didn't enjoy. Sure some better than others and some stand out in such an over saturated field that is known as the horror authors world.

West is no stranger to the expectations laid upon himself as he's dabbled behind and in front of a camera. So it's safe to say he does his research. NIGHT THINGS is no exception.

Local independent horror smut film director Gary Hack has a unique job in a unique world. In a time where worlds and times collide you have 2 sides to choose from. But make sure you decide the right one.

On one hand you have, what are known as the Night Things led by the ultimate night thing, the one and only Dracula himself and the other by the mysterious New York crime boss, Johnny Stücke (the creation of Frankenstein) wants to keep the peace between the Night. Once as close as brothers but now sworn enemies the ultimate showdown below the streets of New York is at play.
 

Based off the famous stories of the two monsters you're also introduced to every creature of legend we've grown up reading about. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghouls are now the new inhabitants of these odd times. They have become part of the system.

Based off his Magic Now story West offers up one of the most fun reads I've had in years. While reading West helps paint a visual in your eyes. One as if you were watching Nightbreed or Monster Squad. Intertwining all these different stand alone characters is a precise exercise and he nailed it. His nods to the genre, most noted the additional of Dr. Herbert West. I found myself giggling like a school girl when i was introduced to that character.

As I've said this is such a perfect read. Terry's diversity shows he's a force to remember. I cannot recommend enough to go pre order NIGHT THINGS and prepare for something you'll fall in love with and revisit several times....I'm anxious to see where this leads.

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Unmasked: Kane Hodder

BOOK REVIEW: Unmasked: Kane Hodder

Kane Cover

Author: Michael Aloisi, as told by Kane Hodder ;  Publisher: AuthorMike Ink; ISBN: 978-0-9845801-3-2; ISBN-13: 9780985214609; Media: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio and ePub; Length: 352 pages; Genre: Non-fiction, Biography; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2012

In my personal opinion, Kane Hodder is  Horror Movie Royalty. He's up there with the likes of Robert Englund, Doug Bradley, and Gunnar Hansen. The man is always scary and intimidating, no matter what role he plays. It doesn't matter if it's Jason Voorhees, Victor Crowley or Jon RoyHodder is a badass.  After meeting him last year at Motor City Nightmares, I saw, quite quickly, that there is more to Hodder than the badass killing machine. But it wasn't until I read Unmasked that I saw just how much more there is to the man.

Throughout the book, Hodder describes learning the craft of Hollywood Stuntman and the sacrifices of body and mind that go along with it. He survived severe burns, an incompetent  doctor and the long painful road to recovery. And don't you think,  for even a second, that Hodder is another whiner looking for pity and attention. Far from. If anything, Hodder's recovery can be looked at as a source of inspiration for other burn victims.  He easily could have thrown in the towel and walked away from his dreams, but he didn't. Reading everything he went through just added to the extreme amount of respect I already had for Kane Hodder.

He shares with the reader, stories of his childhood. They aren't all happy hearts and flowers. He was repeatedly victimized by bullies until his family relocated to an island in the South Pacific, in his teen years. Again, Hodder isn't whining or playing the victim, but the experiences definitely had a profound impact on the man that he grew up to be. It isn't hard to get a real sense of the man behind the cinematic monsters.

Hodder isn't always Mr. Serious though. It's very apparent in the book that Kane is quite the prankster. And I can tell you from my own experience, the man is a smartass. It only adds to his charm. He shares some onset hijinks from the sets of many of his films. He and Aloisi are easily able to make you feel like you were right there.

He shares the extreme elation of being able to be Jason Voorhees, as well as the feeling of betrayal upon learning he would not be in Freddy vs Jason. You can almost feel the excitement of creating a new monster with Adam Green in Hatchet . You also get an idea of how much passion and  research Hodder put into roles like BTK and Ed Gein.

I could easily gush on about this book for days, but I'm not going to. I could tell you more of what he shares in the book, but I'm not going to do that either. What I will do is tell you to go read this book! You won't be sorry. You won't be able to put it down, either.

Final Score: 10 out of 10 Dead Camp Counselors.

 

 

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 2 comments
BOOK REVIEW: If Chins Could Kill by Bruce Campbell (2001)

BOOK REVIEW: If Chins Could Kill by Bruce Campbell (2001)

If Chins Could Kill:
Confessions of a B Movie Actor

By Machete Von Kill

Chins cover

Author: Bruce Campbell; Editor: Barry Neville; Publisher: St. Martin’s Press; ISBN: 0-312-24264-6; ISBN-13: 9780312291457 Media: Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, and ePub; Length: 304 pages; Genre: Non-fiction, Autobiography; Country: USA; Language: English;
Year: 2001

Okay, so at least you’re interested enough to pick up this book and look inside. I think you and I are going to get along just fine.
Life is full of choices. Right now, yours is whether or not to buy the autobiography of a mid-grade, kind of hammy actor.
Am I supposed to know this guy? you think to yourself.
No, and that’s exactly the point. Bookstores are chock full of household name actors and their high stakes shenanigans. I don’t want to be a spoilsport, but we’ve all been down that road before.
Case in point: look to your left – see that Judy Garland book? You don’t need that, you know plenty about her already – great voice, crappy life. Now look to your right at the Charlton Heston book. You don’t need to cough up hard-earned dough for that either. You know his story too – great voice, crappy toupee.
The truth is that though you might not have a clue who I am, there are countless working stiffs like me out there, grinding away every day at the wheel of fortune.
If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor is my first book, and I invite you to ride with me through the choppy waters of blue collar Hollywood.
Okay, so buy the damned book already and read like the wind!
Best,
Bruce Campbell
P.S. If the book sucks, at least there are gobs of pictures, and they’re not crammed in the middle like all those other actor books.

If that alone doesn’t make you want to pick up Bruce Campbell’s autobiography, well, I don’t need your negativity. Get lost. Hail to the king, baby!

While the book was originally released in 2001, your girl, Machete didn’t know of its existence until my lovely and talented Facebook friend Kryssie Ridolfi (you may know her as “Cherry” the rude waitress from the viral video) posted a photo of the book. Off to Amazon I went, and within a week, the book was in my hands.

I will admit it right now, I’ve had a crush on Bruce Campbell since the first time I saw The Evil Dead, back in middle school. I will watch anything the man does. It doesn’t matter how cheesy and ridiculous it is, if Bruce is in it (even as a guest star), I MUST see it. So without a doubt, the idea of reading the book written by the man himself got me all kinds of excited (no, not that way, ya pervs). I couldn’t wait to read what he had to say.

From stories of his childhood, growing up in suburban Detroit, meeting Sam Raimi and his brothers, the first films they created while still in school, and even young Bruce’s first kiss, he shares it all and without holding back much. While maintaining the Bruce Campbell humor we all know and love, he shares photos and stories of the filming process for The Evil Dead. He gives the average reader just a taste of the underbelly of Hollywood, without naming names and without being a douchebag. He shares stories of the audition process, on-set hi-jinks and co-star drama, industry parties and award ceremonies, even his own episodes of being star struck. Campbell also shares more personal stories, like the breakdown of his first marriage and eventual divorce, as well as meeting and wooing his current wife Ida.

Throughout the book, Campbell shares fan mail/e-mail. Not all of it is very nice. This definitely is not a “Hey, look at me! Look how many people love and adore me! I’m a Hollywood god!” autobiography. It’s honest. It’s blue-collar. It’s relatable – even for those of us who have never been in the business. And it is totally BRUCE.

I laughed a lot (I’m fairly certain that the other patients in the waiting room of my doctor’s office thought I was high, insane, or both), developed a further respect for Sam Raimi and the The Evil Dead crew (which I didn’t think was possible as I already had a ton of love and mad respect for everyone involved), and was sad when the book was finished. It also inspired even more questions I would love to ask if I ever get the opportunity to meet Mr. Campbell.

If you are a fan of any of Bruce’s work, interested in the not so sunny side of Hollywood, or just looking for an entertaining non-fiction read, you’ll want to give If Chins Could Kill a read. Like he said on the book jacket, “If the book sucks, at least there are gobs of pictures, and they’re not crammed in the middle like all those other actor books.” He’s not lying, the photos alone are worth checking out.

Rating: 9.5 Deadites with typewriters out of 10

Now, head over to Twitter, find me and then retweet the hell out of this tweet. Bruce has, so let’s see if we can make some magic happen via social media, eh? Do it.

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Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 2 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

BOOK REVIEW: Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

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By Nick Durham

David Wong is a fucking loon. Don't believe me? Go read John Dies at the End. Don Coscarelli directed a pretty good adaptation that captured most of the insanity contained in that book, but the novel itself should be read by one and all to get the full effect of Wong's lunacy. After John Dies at the End became a sleeper hit, Wong (real name Jason Pargin, AKA the editor of the wonderful humor site CRACKED) released This Book is Full of Spiders, which further cemented his demented talents. Now, here we are with his eagerly anticipated Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits; a novel which grabs you firmly by the balls and rarely relents.

Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits revolves around a young girl named Zoey Ashe, reserved to living her life in a trailer park with her mom, as well as he beloved cat Stench Machine. Zoey's estranged father, an insanely wealthy crime lord/business man named Arthur, has recently met a mysterious death, and left everything to Zoey. Before she knows it, Zoey is hunted down by psychopaths with freaky-ass enhancements (including a guy with a metal jaw and another one that shoots lightning from his fingertips). Her only place of refuge? A Vegas-esque city called Tabula Ra$a, where she is to hook up with her father's cohorts, who have plans of their own and surprises up their sleeves.

While definitely more in the realm of science fiction than horror, Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits is equal parts farce, action romp, dark (very dark) comedy, and surprising commentary on the effects of social media and the absurdity of the YouTube generation and those that always feel the need to broadcast themselves to satiate their own narcissism. This is illustrated by Wong presenting us a world in the very not too distant future where nearly everyone in the world is broadcasting dumb ass bullshit for various audiences that eat it up, including all the viewers that tune in to what becomes a potential genocide thanks to a literal super villain.  Yes, this book is absolutely fucking insane.

The characters are well developed for the most part. Zoey is a likeable protagonist and our guide through the insanity of Tabula Ra$a. Out of her father's cohorts, the stoic Will somehow manages to be the most interesting of the bunch with the least information given about him compared to his partners, while our super villain Molech is equal parts douche bag frat boy and horrifying psycho. Oh, and little Stench Machine is a pisser. I'm all for more cat sidekicks in literature. I demand it, make this shit happen...it may be one of the only ways to get people to get off their phones and actually fucking read more.

So yeah, you should definitely go pick up Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits as soon as you can. If you read John Dies at the End and/or This Book is Full of Spiders, then you should know more or less what to expect here, except this is a much more coherent and better-structured story that is a legitimate page turner. I seriously can't recommend it enough. Check it out.

Rating: 5/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
The Walking Dead: Who is Negan?

The Walking Dead: Who is Negan?

By Nicole Robinson

Negan

Fans of The Walking Dead comic book series have long awaited to find out who was going to be playing the notorious villain Negan. It was recently announced that The Good Wife and Supernatural alum, Jeffery Dean Morgan, was cast, bringing about speculation that Negan will be appearing sometime during season 6. This was all but confirmed after that mid-season finale’s sneak peek of Daryl, Sasha, and Abraham’s encounter with The Saviors. For those fans that do not read the comic series, you are probably wondering to yourself “Who is Negan and why should I care?”

For those of you wondering this very question, here are some answers.

Negan is a very important comic character and first appears in the series during issue #100. He is the leader of the Saviors. The sneak peek gave us our first introduction to Negan’s group in a very accurate portrayal of their comic counterparts. This is not a small group, but in fact is an entire community like Alexandria and Negan is their leader. He uses fear and brutality to secure their loyalty with burning faces with an iron as example of one punishment for breaking the rules.

From the very beginning, it is very clear that Negan has a special type personality. In his first appearance, his introduces Rick and friends to Lucille, a baseball bat wrapped in barb wire which he uses to random choose his first victim. He knocks at the gates of Alexandria demanding HALF of everything. Half of all of the supplies, weapons, and ammo that the community has collected in exchange for protection. The protection they need is from The Saviors.

Negan randomly choose a victim from a subdued group which happens to be Glenn. While a pregnant Maggie, Rick, and Michonne watch, he beats Glenn to death with Lucille in one of the most memorable and graphic scene of the entire series. This also establishes a lot about the character that is Negan and his impact on the dynamic of the story.

The death of Glenn is one which strikes at the very hearts of Rick and Maggie as well as the rest of the survivors. We learn very quickly that Negan is very narcissistic and charming with absolutely no sense of remorse. He hears Glenn beg for his life and yet he still smashes Lucille into his skull and at one point even laughs and says “He is taking it like a champ”. Rick swears to avenge Glenn and kill Negan but this does not even phase him. He just laughs more and beats Rick with his bare hands before leaving.

Negan is a psychotic, witty, intelligent, and brutal. He occasionally will display a warped sense of sympathy but lacks empathy completely. And he is coming to the TV counterpart during the second half of season 6. Jeffery Dean Morgan was recently announced to have been casted as the iconic villain settling any questions as to whether or not Rick would come face to face with Negan before season 7. Does this spell the end for Glenn?

So far the television series has mixed up the death count to be different from the comic counterpart. Bob replaced Dale as tainted meat. Tyresse died at Shirewilt Estates last season in a reverse of sorts having first appeared at Wiltshire Estates previous to the prison in the comic. Sasha seems to be taking over the role of Andrea as the sniper. Chances are the writers will do the same for Glenn especially after the whole dumpster ordeal. One major theory that seems to hold the most weight is that Daryl will be the one to meet Lucille if and when Negan shows up this season.

Before you start getting out the riot gear, think about this a little. We have been seeing less and less of Daryl this season as if we are being weaned off of him. His story seems to have become very stale since Beth died. What more does Daryl Dixon really have to offer The Walking Dead? He has come to terms with his past and who he is. He trusts people a lot more now, even going out as a recruiter for Alexandria. He became a valued member of the group, really growing out of the whole racist redneck image we had of him in season 1.

Another aspect to consider is that Daryl is second only to Rick as the most popular Character on a show that claims “No One Is Safe”.  The moment that Negan arrives and brutal ends Glenn is one of the moment significant moments of the entire comic series. Glenn has played second fiddle to Daryl since the start, having has a much larger role in comic series as well as being a fan favorite. Whomever gets Lucille has to make a huge impact.

The major point about Glenn’s death is that is makes the readers really hate Negan. There is no one else besides that Daryl that could make the audience hate Negan on the level we need too for the TV series. The legions of fan screaming “If Daryl Dies We Riot” can only keep him safe for so long. The appearance of Negan brings about a new chapter for The Walking Dead and Lucille is thirsty.

It will a long wait for the 2nd half of season 6. The first 8 episodes started out strong and ended…. Well…. Good. When season 6 picks back on Valentine’s Day with the episode “No Way Out”, here is to hoping they make it up to us with a lot of death, especially for Sam. He really needs to die for speaking a syllable while walking through a herd in a walker gut covered bed sheet.

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, EDITORIALS, REVIEWS, SERIES REVIEWS, 0 comments