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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 Laura D. James 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 Woofer McWooferson 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 Woofer McWooferson 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 Woofer McWooferson in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, NATURE STRIKES BACK, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: The Wake

COMIC REVIEW: The Wake

wake4658

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 Nick Durham 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 Nick Durham 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 Tracy Crockett 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 Machete Von Kill 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 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 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 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.

2016-01-21-11-09-03-1

Posted by Machete Von Kill in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 2 comments
BOOK REVIEW: Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

BOOK REVIEW: Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits

futuristic

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 Nick Durham 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 Nicole Robinson in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, EDITORIALS, REVIEWS, SERIES REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: Clive Barker’s Next Testament

COMIC REVIEW: Clive Barker’s Next Testament

next-testament-detail

By Nick Durham

As I had mentioned before in my review for IDW's Clive Barker Omnibus, Barker has dabbled in comic books for quite some time. While there were some original titles for Marvel in the 90s that didn't last long, a majority of Barker's previous works have been adapted into comic book form like Hellraiser, Nightbreed, The Thief of Always, etc. Next Testament is something different entirely. What happens when you find out that God is in fact real? And when I say God, I don't mean the nice and kind and forgiving God that Christians believe in, I mean the nasty, unforgiving, and vengeful God of the Old Testament.

Yes folks, the God in Clive Barker's Next Testament is a bit of a prick to say it lightly.

The story of Next Testament revolves around an entity called Wick, who claims himself to be the one, true God. After being found by a wealthy nutjob named Julian, Wick declares that he is not happy with how humanity has developed in his absence. In fact, he's kind of bored by everything and everyone, and comes to the conclusion that he wants to shake things up a bit...and that is saying it lightly.  What follows are events of cataclysmic proportions, with Julian's son Tristan and his girlfriend Elspeth are caught in the middle as the whole world around them literally plunges into pure hell. That's all I want to spill about the story, just trust me when I say that you really do have to see what unfolds here to really believe it and appreciate it.

In case you haven't realized it just yet, Next Testament is fucking crazy. Co-authored by Barker and Mark Alan Miller, there are events and scenarios depicted here that are unlike almost anything else you'll see in a comic book. The artwork by Haemi Jang is brilliant and vibrant and a sight to behold, especially as the series reaches its conclusion. If there's any drawbacks, it's that supporting characters come and go with little impact or reason, and the aftermath from the final showdown is a little underwhelming, but other than that, Next Testament is a treat.

So yeah, it goes without saying that you should give Clive Barker's Next Testament a look. Whether you're a fan of Barker or a fan of horror comics in general, you're bound to get plenty of enjoyment out of this. All twelve issues are collected across three trade paperbacks, so get out there and pick these up.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: Hellblazer

COMIC REVIEW: Hellblazer

Why You Should Read Hellblazer

hellblazer

By Nick Durham

I love comic books, always have and always will. That being said, there was a time in my adolescence where I had grown tired of the typical superhero fare to come from Marvel and DC. In all honesty, I had just grown plain old bored. At that time in my youth, I had mistakenly figured that that was all there was in terms of comics: dudes in spandex punching each other out...because reasons.  Then something happened...I discovered Vertigo Comics.

Vertigo Comics is the mature-labeled imprint of DC Comics, specializing in much more graphic and nasty storytelling than their mainstream brethren would. Among my initial discoveries from Vertigo were classic titles like Neil Gaiman's Sandman and Garth Ennis' Preacher; both of which are legendary comics in their own right...but the very first Vertigo book I ever laid eyes on was something called Hellblazer. Hellblazer revolved around the chain-smoking, wise-cracking Brit, John Constantine. Constantine deals in black magic and bad luck by trade, often finding himself in the middle of plots involving demonic possession, serial killers, and other sorts of general nastiness. In his travels he has managed to cross (and literally flip off) Satan himself, gotten lung cancer, used his friends and loved ones as pawns in his various plots, and has managed to piss off nearly everyone that has come in his path...

...John Constantine is my fucking spirit animal.

Originally introduced in the pages of Alan Moore's legendary run on Swamp Thing in 1985, Constantine became an almost instantly loved character. He was given his own series with Hellblazer in the beginning of 1988, with writer Jamie Delano fleshing out the character's complicated backstory. Hellblazer would run for 300 issues before concluding in 2013 (and subsequently relaunched as just Constantine as part of DC Comics' company-wide relaunch of their shared universe). Throughout the decades, a variety of well-known and well-revered writers, including Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Paul Jenkins, Warren Ellis, Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey, Peter Milligan, and plenty more besides, have tackled the title and character, and have crafted some truly amazing and horrific stories.

If I could recommend any Hellblazer to check out, I'd recommend Original Sins first. This collects the first dozen or so issues of the series, and really crafts John's background and his nature of occasionally doing good deeds by doing bad things...and the fallout that follows. DC/Vertigo has started reprinting a number of the collected works and still releases them sporadically, so this is the easiest one to pick up first. After that, I recommend tracking down the Dangerous Habits (which was more or less the basis for that Keanu Reeves-starring abortion of an adaptation from 2005), Haunted, and Hard Time. These are all essential Hellblazer stories (at least to me) and deserve your time and attention.

So, whether you only know about the character of John Constantine from the aforementioned Keanu Reeves shitfest, or the dreadfully underrated TV show from last year, and you want more of him; please do yourself a favor and check out Hellblazer. It is without a doubt one of the greatest long-running series' ever put to paper, and remains one of the best horror comics of the modern era. Thank me later.

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, EDITORIALS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Clive Barker’s Omnibus

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Clive Barker’s Omnibus

clivebarkeromnibus

By Nick Durham

Clive Barker and comics go back an awful long way. Back in the 90s (yes, that dreaded decade of comic book misery), Barker lent his name to Marvel to oversee a few various comic titles that focused on horror and fantasy elements as opposed to Marvel's typical superhero fare. None of those titles lasted too long however, but it wasn't the last Clive would dip his fingers into the comic book world. In the years to follow, many of Barker's works would find themselves adapted into the comic medium. Everything from Hellraiser, to Nightbreed, to some original work like the recent Next Testament series (which is excellent by the way) would have varying degrees of success, as well as be pretty well received by critics. Thanks to the folks at IDW Publishing, we get three of Barker's stories told in comic book form collected in this nice Omnibus. The Thief of Always, The Great and Secret Show, and Seduth make up this book, and they are simply wonderful.

The Thief of Always is based on a novel Barker had written in the early 90s, and is adapted by Kris Oprisko. Unlike just about the rest of his blood-drenched horror stories, this is actually more of a story tailored for younger readers, or a fable as it was marketed as when it was first originally published. That aside, the fact that it's aimed towards a younger audience isn't a bad thing at all, as it is plenty enjoyable for adults as well. The story revolves around a pre-teen boy that has become bored with the tedium of everyday life, and is whisked away to the mystical Holiday House, where everyday life is simply amazing. It soon becomes apparent that things aren't at all what they seem, and Harvey seeks to return home, only to discover that years and years have passed. He struggles to return things back to normal, making for a very entertaining conclusion. The stark artwork by Gabriel Hernandez is very moody, and quite wonderful as well.

The Great and Secret Show is also based on a well-known novel by Barker, is adapted by Chris Ryall, and this takes up the bulk of the Omnibus. At its core, the story revolves around an age-old struggle between two somewhat otherworldly men, and whose conflict has caused varying degrees of misery on mankind. There's also a cameo from my favorite Barker character ever, the paranormal detective Harry D'Amour. The story itself I've never been that big a fan of. While I love Clive Barker with all my heart, The Great and Secret Show has never managed to grab me by the throat like so many of his other works have done. The comic adaptation doesn't do much to change this feeling either. The artwork by Gabriel Rodriguez is pretty good though, so I guess there's that.

The Clive Barker Omnibus closes with Seduth, which is co-written by Barker and Chris Monfette. This is by and far the shortest story in here, as well as the most confusing. A perfect and demonic diamond takes control over a man named Harold, which results in some very grisly murders, retribution, and eventual total overall insanity before everything comes full circle. This story makes little sense in complete honesty, and isn't as engaging as one would hope, but Gabriel Rodriguez returns with art duties, and his work here is very detailed and seems much more polished than his work did with The Great and Secret Show.

So yeah, The Clive Barker Omnibus isn't a total home run, but it is fairly enjoyable regardless. The good definitely outweighs the bad here, and the artwork throughout this book is wonderful, despite the varying qualities of the stories here. All in all, if you love Clive Barker and you love comic books, you should give this a look at the very least.

Rating: 3.5/5

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: Aliens: Salvation (2015)

COMIC REVIEW: Aliens: Salvation (2015)

By Nick Durham

Aliens: Salvations

The Alien franchise has always been ripe for the picking for the comic book medium. Over the decades, the Xenomorph's have had numerous series of their own, many tussles with the Predator race, and have had crossovers with everyone from Superman, Batman, Judge Dredd, Terminator, Stormwatch, and nearly everything else you could probably think of. Many of them have ranged from being pretty good to being downright awful, but there's a very damn few that turn out to be truly great. Aliens: Salvation is one of them.

Originally published by Dark Horse Comics in the early 90s, Aliens: Salvation tells the tale of a deeply religious cook named Selkirk, who works aboard a Company ship. He, along with his insane captain, find themselves stranded on a strange alien planet after said loony tune captain forcibly makes them both abandon the ship. However, Selkirk and the captain aren't the only ones that made it planet-side alive, as the truth of their ship's cargo rears its very ugly head.

While it begins as anything but a typical Alien-flavored story, by the time it comes to a conclusion, Aliens: Salvation is every bit an Alien story; and perhaps even more so than Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, and Prometheus put together (along with those Aliens VS Predator abortions, too). Written by industry icon Dave Gibbons (Alan Moore's artist for the legendary Watchmen) and drawn by the just as iconic creator of Hellboy Mike Mignola, this comic is an absolute treat. Mignola's gothic artwork surprisingly suits the story well, and his renditions of the Xenomorphs is wonderful. Gibbons' script may lack in terms of character development, etc., but it delivers in terms of visceral thrills and entertainment.

If there's any drawbacks to Aliens: Salvation, it's that it is too short. Seriously, you could go through this thing in probably fifteen minutes at the most. When it comes to an end, you'll be wishing there was so much more to keep on reading, and more of Mignola's beautiful artwork to ogle over as well. Dark Horse's reprint of this twenty year-plus old story features some great embossed pages and a nice hardcover wraparound. It's dirt cheap to pick up too, which makes it all the more appealing.

All in all, if you've been turned off by Alien comics in the past and have never read Aliens: Salvation, do yourself a favor and pick this up. You won't regret it one bit. You may be wishing for more by the time you reach the last page, but hey, you'll have a great time getting there, so that's only a minor flaw at best.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BOOK REVIEW: Dreams & Awakenings (2014)

Dreamscapes for Avid Readers

By Woofer McWooferson

D&A Cover
Author: Claus Holm; Editors: Melinda B. Bowman, Ellen Taylor, and Woofer McWooferson; Publisher: CreateSpace; ISBN-10: 1500510106 | ISBM-13: 978-1500510107; Media: Paperback and ePub; Length: 294 pages; Genre: Horror | Fantasy; Country: USA; Language: English; Year: 2014

Dreams and Awakenings is a 2014 short story collection by Danish author Claus Holm. Inspired by such shows as The Twilight Zone and its ilk as well as authors such as Stephen King, Claus has penned stories worthy to be made into episodes of The Twilight Zone itself. Stories range from slightly fantastic to science fiction to downright spooky. In all cases, however, they flow with an ease that enables the reader to sail through the stories, eager to reach the end and what it will reveal. Starting with The App, a story that focuses on death and loss, and ending with To Share Like Brothers, a story that focuses on life and acquisition, Dreams and Awakenings runs the gamut of emotions. Indeed, it is like meeting with an old friend with many new stories to tell.

Claus's ability to easily convey things that are as well as life in the US is laudable. He has his finger on the pulse of the US life, and it is clear in his stories. Not only can he paint a picture of life in the US through his prose, his grasp of American dialogue is uncanny. He weaves story narrative and dialogue seamlessly, and his stories are accessible to all readers.

As is evident from the editors listed above, I am one of the lucky folks who had the pleasure of reading some of these stories before they went to publication. It was a great pleasure for me to work with Claus, and I am eager to do so again in the future.

You can find out more about Claus on his Facebook page, and you can purchase his books through Amazon.com. Through Monday, his ebooks are free at Amazon.com. You can also hear Claus read some of the stories on his YouTube channel.

10/10 claws – Worthy of multiple readings!

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: Trick ‘r Treat: Days Of The Dead

COMIC REVIEW: Trick ‘r Treat: Days Of The Dead

By Nick Durham

Trick or Treat Days of the dead

No one loves Trick 'r Treat more than I do. The best horror anthology to see the light of day in well over a decade (and still is), Trick 'r Treat is one of my all time favorite films of any genre in the history of ever. That's right, I said it.

Anyway, in an effort to sate us Trick 'r Treat fans until we finally get the long-awaited sequel, we get this comic which offers up four separate stories that revolve around different points in Halloween history. The stories themselves come from creator Michael Dougherty, as well as his Krampus cohorts Todd Casey and Zach Shields, along with some additional input from comic veteran Marc Andreyko. Opening tale Seed revolves around witches and magic in Ireland in the 1600s, Corn Maiden revolves around betrayal on the frontier between the evil white-man and Native Americans (and kind of, sort of gives a maybe-kind of origin to Sam), Echoes is a 1950s noir-style detective story, and the closing Monster Mash finds a closed-minded small town get their comeuppance when monsters attack on Halloween night.

The stories are basic, but mostly effective, even though they range in terms of quality. Seed is interesting, Corn Maiden is the best of the bunch, Echoes is a near-unintelligible mess, and Monster Mash is fun. The various artwork, featuring contributions from Saga's Fiona Staples, along with Stephen Byrne, and Zid is all well and great, but Stuart Sayger's work on Echoes left me perplexed as to what the fuck is happening from panel to panel. I don't mean to shit on the guy's work so please don't think I'm knocking him, I just think his style isn't all that well-suited. That aside, the story itself didn't make a lick of sense, so it's not like the art hurts it that much to begin with.

So yeah, Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead is a quick and relatively fun read. It's contents are a mixed bag but it features enough interesting moments to whet your appetite until we finally get the sequel to Trick 'r Treat that we're still fucking waiting for. That being said, check it out and give it a whirl. It isn't anything special in the least, but you can always do a lot worse in terms of horror comics than what this offers.

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: Rat God

COMIC REVIEW: Rat God

By Nick Durham

Rat God

My love for Richard Corben knows no bounds. The legendary artist whose work has been celebrated within the horror comics of past and present, as well as even mainstream comics, is back with this little horror dirge. Written and drawn by Corben, as well as featuring color work from Corben's daughter Beth Corben Reed, Rat God doesn't break any new kinds of ground, but it is an entertaining blast while it lasts.

Published by Dark Horse Comics, Rat God tells the story of an aristocratic prick named Clark, whose search for a lost love leads him to places he would otherwise never go, and it doesn't take too long for him to realize he is way, way over his head. Along the way there's religious cults, blatant prejudices and racism (granted the time frame of the story, while never outright spoken to the reader, is pretty much in the early 20th century), and some ghastly mutant beasts that enjoy a bit of bloodletting.

Rat God features a lot of the typical Corben-styled lore you find in many of his tales: voluptuous women, Lovecraft-ian monsters and cults, and occasionally horrific violence. There isn't much to the basic story, and the dialogue is kind of stilted, but all together the whole thing manages to be deliriously entertaining. Corben's artwork is wonderful as always, but chances are that you already figured that out for yourself anyway. Almost everything looks vibrant and well defined, and there are plenty of panels that manage to catch your eye.

If there's any downsides to Rat God, it's that the whole thing ends kind of abruptly. The final twist doesn't do much in terms of making sense, and there's little explanation into the mechanisms of the cult or the monsters therein. Then again, there really doesn't have to be to get enjoyment out of this, so all that is kind of a moot point.

All in all, you should really give Rat God a look. It isn't anything superb, but it is plenty entertaining, and features great Corben artwork to boot. Not to mention the fact that this handsome hardcover from Dark Horse looks damn good on my shelf. It'll look damn good on yours too.

Rating: 4/5
 

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 1 comment
COMIC REVIEW: Taint the Meat…It’s the Humanity!

COMIC REVIEW: Taint the Meat…It’s the Humanity!

By Nick Durham

taint the meat

Once upon a time, horror comics were kind of shat upon. Actually, comic books in general were kind of shat upon. Hell, there were congressional meetings back in the day to discuss the negative effects that comic books were having on the youth of the day, and spoiler alert: they ended up leading to the end of mankind. I remember it like it was yesterday: the sky rained blood, cheeseburgers ate people, and a bunch of toasters gained sentience and embarked on a PG-13 rated remake of Cannibal Holocaust, which became the highest grossing movie of all time.

Wait, where the fuck was I again?

Oh yeah, horror comics. Horror comics have a legacy practically as long as the superhero genre believe it or not, the most iconic of which is the work to come from EC Comics. EC Comics, namely Tales from the Crypt, were what would inspire hordes of future horror filmmakers and artists in the years to come, and featured the work of Jack Davis. Davis is renowned in comic history for good reason: his illustrations managed to mix a stark style with ghoulish depictions that could either be gleefully over the top, or surprisingly subdued. For its time, that in itself is something special. Taint the Meat...It's the Humanity offers up a big collection of Davis' work, including the title story that has its rightful place in horror comic history, and is probably the best one featured in this collection.

Twenty five of Davis' stories are collected here in total, with some retouched pencil work here and there, but nothing too jarringly different. The stories themselves range in terms of overall quality, but it is interesting to see the progression of Davis' Cryptkeeper design over time. Some of the dialogue can be a true chore to get through, and for a decent amount of these stories it's hard to imagine any of these being considered anything remotely scary, which makes all the hubbub these things caused back in the day seem more ridiculous now than it did back then. The book itself features a very nice hardcover wraparound, and it looks just plain cool sitting on your shelf as well.

Despite the shifts in quality from story to story, it's easy to see why Davis' work remains as iconic as it does. The work contained in this collection set the standard for what would come down the line later on in terms of horror comics, and the inspiration that this would give to future horror icons down the road is perhaps what we should all be thankful for the most. If there's any drawbacks to this book, it's that some of the material hasn't held up all that well over the years. Still though, it has its place in history, and in that regard alone, Taint the Meat...It's the Humanity is worth your time.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead (2014)

BOOK REVIEW: The Making of George A. Romero’s Day of the Dead (2014)

By Nick Durham

The Making of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead
We all know who George Romero is, and we all know about his Dead movies. While Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead are the films that everyone rightfully recognizes as the benchmarks of the genre, Day of the Dead has often been relegated as that red-headed stepchild of his initial Dead trilogy (that's right, I said trilogy...I don't count Land of the Dead, Diary of the Dead, or Survival of the Dead much). Despite its initial lack of success with critics and audiences during its original 1985 release, the film has underwent a bit of reclassification in recent years, and is now recognized as practically being a classic of the zombie genre.

With all that in mind, here comes this super enjoyable book from Romero super-fan Lee Karr, The Making of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead. This book begins with a foreword from effects icon Greg Nicotero (who got his start in the business with this film working under Tom Savini) and continues with plenty of behind the scenes stories, anecdotes, rarely-seen photos, and material from the film's cast and crew. We learn of the trials and tribulations that Romero went through making this film, having been forced to slash his original script when discovering just how low-budgeted the film would end up being. Not to mention the fact that filming in an actual mine and the rotting guts used for Savini's landmark effects work making Joe Pilato (Captain Rhodes) require some quick hits of oxygen during his infamous death scene, just goes to illustrate how making these kind of films is no picnic (no pun intended). Hell, the book is a good reflection on the trials and tribulations of filmmaking in general, regardless of the genre.

If there's any drawbacks to The Making of George A. Romero's Day of the Dead, it's that I wish the book was hardcover. This is mostly a personal thing with me I guess, because I just like the way hardcover books sit on my shelf more than paperback ones do. Then again, after reading this thing cover to cover and paging through it again afterwards, it becomes really apparent that the book's binding kind of sucks. That doesn't speak to the quality of what's in these pages, but when the spine starts cracking that fast, that's not really a good thing is it?

Anyway, I've always tended to enjoy Day of the Dead a little more than I probably should, so seeing all these candid photos and reading about all this is a true treat for me personally. If you enjoy Day of the Dead and/or any of Romero's films at all, you need to check this book out as soon as you can. If you can get past the cruddy book binding, you'll enjoy what all you get here. That being said, check this out as soon as you can.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Nick Durham in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments