Wednesday, January 27, 2016

This Blog Has Moved!

Hi, and thanks for coming. I've got a new website now, one that has all of the previous content, plus a whole lot more.

Please go to, add it to your bookmarks, and say hello while you're there!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Links: The Towering Inferno, The Devil's Bottles, and The Mark of Satan

The day we've all been waiting for: Friday! Let the revelry begin. As you celebrate, why not take a look at what happened over the week in the world of the bizarre, horrific, and just plain weird?
  • Violent Shit: The Movie got an interesting write-up at The Slaughtered Bird: "Fans will be divided – they already know the story and want to see blood spraying as Karl hacks his way mercilessly through those that stand in his way. What they get is a benchmark to work off. Setting a new scene, a new pace, a new style…"
  • Sean Eaton wrapped up his must-read analysis of Lovecraft's The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath at his always-erudite, never-derivative R'lyeh Tribune: "Another striking aspect of the novel is its overt religiosity.  This is a very temple-ridden, priest-ridden, prayerful adventure. In the very beginning, Carter “prayed long and earnestly to the hidden gods of dream” and asks for a formal blessing from two priests, whose advice—essentially: ‘Don’t mess with Great Ones’—he ignores."
  • The Horrors of It All brought us The Devil's Bottles.
  • In Japan, ghosts are taking taxicab rides: "Taxi drivers working in towns in north-east Japan that were devastated in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami are reporting picking up "ghost passengers". At least seven drivers in the coastal town of Ishinomaki, where nearly 6,000 people died after it was battered by tsunami more than 30 feet high, claimed to have encountered phantom fares."
  • At his Confessions of a Reviewer!!, Nev Murray reviewed Dallas Mullican's A Coin for Charon: "The plot has been done before. Hasn’t it? Serial killer that is seemingly impossible to trace and stop, with the main cop having a troubled past that interferes with his life on a daily basis? Yeah I seem to remember a few books and films with a similar vain. What makes this different then? Why does it hold your attention to the very end? This would be where tick three for writing skills comes in."
  • The disturbing film Room got a poignant write-up from Jeremy the Critic: "The plot details of the screenplay (adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own best-selling 2011 novel) are almost incidental, as the commercials and trailers freely gave away what most would consider spoilers under different circumstances. It's also an ordeal, albeit one built on the foundation of logic and sound decision making by the filmmakers. And none of it comes together without the two performances at its center, functioning as a single unit."
  • Zombos' Closet opened, and out fell issues one and two of Shriek! The Monster Horror Magazine. Take a look at them: they...they have to be seen to be believed.
  • John Kenneth Muir dipped way back into 1974 to discuss an old favorite, The Towering Inferno: "Essentially, the film suggests that if the contest for a business is between turning a profit, or insuring the safety of its customers….the bottom line is going to win out, and people aren’t. As we discover early in the film, shortcuts have been taken on the fiery building’s electrical wiring by a morally bankrupt subcontractor, Simmons (Richard Chamberlain). Simmons wasn’t exactly acting alone, either. Jim Duncan (William Holden), the head of the construction company, was going perilously over-budget on the project, and needed Simmons to save two-million dollars...somewhere."
  • Ruined Head reviewed Ann Loring's 1968 novel The Mark of Satan: "Unable to escape the considerable shadow cast by Rosemary’s Baby, The Mark of Satan casts a web of diabolical intrigue around its innocent young heroine, but fails to provide the least bit of surprise in delivering its occult chills."
  • Albert Pyun's Alien from L.A. got the House of Self-Indulgence treatment: "Every time they would refer to "Africa," as if it were a country, I would cringe. Thankfully, all references to "Africa" cease the moment Wanda arrives in... "Africa." Judging by the climate and architecture, I'm guessing she's going to Egypt or Tunisia."
  • Here, I reviewed the movie Pay the Ghost, told you about R.M. Huffman's Leviathan, and pointed you to an interview I conducted with Adam Howe at The Slaughtered Bird.
Illustration by Earl Geier for Call of Cthulhu's The Complete Dreamlands supplement, 4th edition.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Howe vs. Dubrow

Adam Howe, author of Black Cat Mojo and Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet consented to let me interview him at The Slaughtered Bird.  We discussed many things, including horror fiction, action movies, and the American south.

I wish I could say it went well.

"You’ve already described how you won Stephen King’s On Writing contest some time ago; what do you think the horror genre would look like today if the King of Horror hadn’t taken up the craft?

These things are cyclical. Not to devalue King’s work – talent like his will always out – but no doubt another writer would have filled the void left by King’s major influences: Matheson, Bradbury, Bloch. And today we’d probably still be enduring shitty rip-offs of that guy’s work! A more interesting question – I’ll just pose my own Q’s, thanks – is to wonder how King would fare as an emerging writer in today’s market. A slim book like Carrie would be considered a novella."

Click to read the rest.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Leviathan by R.M. Huffman

In July of 2014, I read and reviewed R.M. Huffman's novel Antediluvian.  At the time, this is what I said of it:

"It's a fascinating story about the world-that-was described so sparingly in the Book of Genesis, where morning mists covered the Earth in lieu of rain, Watcher angels gave into lust to lay with human women, and dragon-like sauropods were used as beasts of burden."

I'm pleased to announce that Dr. Huffman has re-released this extraordinary fantasy novel with publisher Lampion Press under the title Leviathan: Book One of the Antediluvian Legacy.  In addition to illustrations of some of the characters, places, and beasts in the novel, this new edition includes:
  1. A genealogy of both Biblical and Huffman's characters.
  2. A bestiary that tells you the difference between a creodont and an indrik.
  3. A preview of Fallen: Book Two of the Antediluvian Legacy.
What makes Leviathan stand out, in part, is how lived-in Huffman made the setting, the theology.  When one farmer says to another, "Toil, plants of the field, sweat of our faces...we'll be well aware of the ground's curse for certain," it makes sense: they're the Biblical Adam's heirs, just a few generations from the Fall, and they know it. They live it every day.

This is reinforced by the fallen Watcher angel Azazyel saying, much later, "We watched as Adam was made, and then we watched him ruin everything.  And now, Samyaza is paying the price for Adam's loosing of death into the world."  Despite the fantasy theme, we know these characters from Bible study.

Huffman's description of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals used as beasts of burden maintain the Biblical-historical theme, as does the Edenites being vegetarians (a tradition ended after the Flood when God says in Genesis 9:2-3, "The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.")

Some of my favorite parts of Leviathan were the references to other places, adding to the richness of the world. Kenan, a former adventurer, says to Noah, "I slew the high priests of the Om-Ctherra snake cult, along with its monstrous 'deity.' I fought a warlord-sorcerer, possessed by one of Satan's princes, with the Nomads of Nod."  Kenan becomes Howard's Conan, or even Moorcock's Corum Jhaelen Irsei.

If you want adventure in a fully-realized fantasy world that's both familiar and mysterious, you've got to get Leviathan. And then tell Dr. Huffman to finish up Fallen already!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Two-Minute Movie Review: Pay the Ghost

I'm a Nicolas Cage fan, no two ways about it. I know that if I'm watching a movie with Nic Cage in it, I'll be at least mildly entertained. Consistency is a quality to be prized, depending on context; obviously, some things are consistently awful, like mayonnaise and root canals. Nic Cage is not like mayonnaise and root canals.

Pay the Ghost is a fun movie, imaginative and disturbing.  It was based off of a novella by Tim Lebbon, whom I've never read before but deserves great respect for being a successful writer. The film has one great strength that makes it worth watching and one titanic weakness that almost made me turn it off. I'm glad I didn't.

The strength is in the portrayal of how Mike (Nic Cage) and Kristen's (Sarah Wayne Callies) son Charlie goes missing.  You know what's going to happen, but it doesn't lessen the tension in the lead-up, the panic in the event, and the grief afterward.  As a parent, it becomes very easy to identify with the loss of a child: every missing or kidnapped child becomes your own, if only for a moment.  That part was very well done.  Callies always seems to take thankless, unlikable roles, like the doctor in Prison Break and Lori in The Walking Dead: it's not her performance that makes you dislike her, but the writing. This unlikability carries over in Pay the Ghost, where her character Kristen immediately blames Mike for losing the boy, and even later, in the aftermath, continues to hold him responsible.

And this is where the weakness comes in: a year later, after they've separated, both Mike and Kristen get intimations that Charlie is asking for their help, reaching out to them from some other place.  Later, when Kristen approaches Mike with news of her occult visitations with Charlie, Mike immediately and pathetically accepts her as if nothing had happened in the intervening year. No acknowledgment of Kristen's venomous words or behavior, and most importantly, no apology from Kristen. It threw me off, made me like both Mike and the movie a bit less.

The addition of a sexy German folklore professor played by Veronica Ferres and harried cop played by Lyriq Bent didn't do a lot for the film's plot or interest: both could have been fleshed out a little more.  Stephen McHattie had a great little cameo as a blind homeless man (a sentence that both amuses and depresses in equal measure).

Overall, though, I enjoyed the movie and recommend it. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Links: Rogue Redcaps, Reptoid Tunnels, and The Making of Jaws 2

In addition to my big news there's lots of stuff going on in the world of the strange, the macabre, the horrific. Let's take a look back at what happened over the week.
  • Sean Eaton began a must-read series of pieces analyzing H.P. Lovecraft's novel The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath at his always-incisive R'lyeh Tribune: "S.T. Joshi concurred with Lovecraft’s evaluation of the novel, which he dismissed as “charming but relatively insubstantial”.  However, Lovecraft’s renowned biographer felt that the novel was autobiographically significant in that it served as a snapshot of Lovecraft’s psyche at a particular point in his life, circa the late 1920s.  In my view the novel seems to be a kind of culmination or systematization of various ideas Lovecraft had been developing in various stories at that time in his career."
  • The President of the International Association of Exorcists had something interesting to say about the Devil: "'Satan is not the god of evil against the God of the good, rather he is a being who God created as good and who, with some angels — also created good by God — became evil because they refused God and His kingdom with their free and final choice,' Father Francesco Bamonte, president of the International Association of Exorcists, wrote last week in Vatican Newspaper L'Osservatore Romano."
  • The little-known but much-dreaded Reptoids' tunnels under Los Angeles were discussed at Ghost Hunting Theories: "The legends state that the key room is the directory to the rest of the city, and to the historical gold record tablets. These gold tablets were slabs of gold, 4 feet long and 14 inches wide. The tablets were believed to contain the records of the origins of the human race, and the history of modern man in the Americas, including details regarding the history of the mysterious Mayan people."
  • It's been Karen Malena week at Nev Murray's Confessions of a Reviewer!!. Start with part one of this in-depth interview and keep scrolling: "It’s a scary thought especially when you write dark characters to realize that they are parts of you. For how else could we make this stuff up? You dig deep down into yourself. I also like to joke with people I know and say, “You better watch. You never know when you’ll end up as a villain in one of my books.” But seriously, I think all writers to some extent utilize people and situations they know. Or at least parts of them."
  • It's going to seem a bit silly at first, but really, go take a look at these vintage photos of loving couples that Vintage Everyday posted. Some are funny, some disturbing, some just weird.
  • Micro-Brewed Reviews reviewed the film Ex Machina: "Ex Machina is a small and relatively contained movie with an incredibly tiny budget for something of this scope with a cast that can be basically counted on one hand; a nice little throwback to the sobering sci-fi tales of the late 1960s and ‘70s."
  • Hammer Horror Issue 1 emerged from Zombos' Closet (I'm always amazed at the material he posts: simultaneously nostalgic and bizarre).
  • Holly Evans posted a piece of short fiction at her blog that's definitely worth your time, titled Rogue Redcaps: "The stench of old blood and rotting meat surrounded me while I tried to clear my head through the agony. A nail slowly ran down the side of my neck following the line of one of my butterfly tattoos there, I punched in the direction of creature it belonged to. The darkness shattered, bright white light filled my vision before it settled into a warm light that allowed me to see again. I wished it hadn’t."
  • Cool Ass Cinema reviewed the book The Making of Jaws 2: "Authors and heavy duty JAWS fans, Pisano and Smith, have amassed a great deal of behind the scenes stories, anecdotes and rare photos from many who worked on JAWS 2; this extends to those who worked, albeit briefly, on the production before being fired and replaced. Among those released from the picture early on included a handful of the young cast, one of which was Ricky Schroder (SILVER SPOONS [1982-1987])."
  • Here, I discussed what social media can't do for you as a writer, and announced the publication of the sequel to The Blessed Man and the Witch, titled The Nephilim and the False Prophet.
Illustration by Kevin Ramos for Call of Cthulhu's Cthulhu by Gaslight supplement.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Nephilim and the False Prophet

The second book in my Armageddon trilogy, The Nephilim and the False Prophet, is live in the Amazon bookstore!

From the blurb:

Fueled by brutal, random violence and a worldwide leprosy epidemic, the Earth descends into chaos. Preparing for Armageddon, Hell plans an atrocity called The Slaughter of the Innocents while Heaven’s scattered agents fight a cold war against superstar evangelist Kyle Loubet, who they believe is the False Prophet foretold in the Bible. 

The Eremites walk the Earth: black magicians kept alive through unholy relics. Terrible visions assail the world’s remaining psychics, promising an eternal night of blood and fire and endless agony. Caught in the middle, Hector, Ozzie, and Siobhan face terrible dangers from all sides. Now free from their infernal prison, what are the Watcher angels planning? With only days before the Apocalypse, can humanity be saved?

This edition includes a synopsis of the first book in the trilogy, The Blessed Man and the Witch; a list of characters; and a glossary of terms.

$2.99 or free to read through Kindle Unlimited. Get your copy now!