Table of Contents Weaving the Sorcery By Tommy B. Smith ........................................................................................................................................ 2 PAINTER’S GREEN By Cyrus Wraith Walker ................................................................................................................................. 3 ETHEREAL TALES #7 ..................................................................................................................................................................... 3 BLOOD NIGHT: THE LEGEND OF MARY HATCHET ................................................................................................................ 4 AGAINST THE DARKNESS By John Llewellyn Probert ................................................................................................................ 4 Wrestling with Bigfoot By Eric S. Brown .......................................................................................................................................... 5 PIRANHA 3D ..................................................................................................................................................................................... 6 HELL OF A JOB By Michael McCarty ............................................................................................................................................. 7 Interview With Niki Rubin By Trevor Wright .................................................................................................................................... 7 ZUPHREEN: BESTOWER OF DAMNATION By Su Halfwerk .................................................................................................... 10 TRANSUBSTANTIATE By Richard Thomas ................................................................................................................................. 10 DEAD OF NIGHT By C. M. Saunders ............................................................................................................................................ 10 Life Serial By Trevor Wright ............................................................................................................................................................ 11 ETHEREAL TALES #8 ................................................................................................................................................................... 12 HOFFMAN’S CREEPER By Trost .................................................................................................................................................. 12 MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE 2 Edited by Trisha Telep ........................................................................ 12 The Punisher: An Affair to Remender... By T. H. Dylan.................................................................................................................. 12 VASILOV’S DEMON By Jeff K. Goddin ....................................................................................................................................... 14 Jessica Cameron Interviewed By Trevor Wright .............................................................................................................................. 15 MERKABAH RIDER By Edward Erdelac....................................................................................................................................... 16 ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER By Seth Graham-Smith ......................................................................................... 16 THE GREEN MONSTER ................................................................................................................................................................ 17 Guidance from the Dark Scribe – Horror: Check Yourself at the Door By Ty Schwamberger ........................................................ 17 NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010) ....................................................................................................................................... 18 CONTACT ....................................................................................................................................................................................... 19 Interview with Darryl Elliott ............................................................................................................................................................. 21 THE LAST EXORCISM .................................................................................................................................................................. 25 FUNGUS OF THE HEART By Jeremy C. Shipp ............................................................................................................................ 26 From the Catacombs By Jim Lesniak ............................................................................................................................................... 27 Danger Ranger Comic Written By Trevor Wright ............................................................................................................................ 30 Edited By Stanley Riiks Written By Adrian Brady, Eric S Brown, T. H. Dylan, Stone Franks, Craig Hallam, Jim Lesniak, Stanley Riiks, C. M. Saunders, Ty Schwamberger, Tommy B. Smith, Trevor Wright Proof-read By Samuel Diamond © Morpheus Tales Publishing October 2010 1
something, whether it’s amazement, fear, horror, joy… ” I sent “The Darkest of Waters” to Adam Bradley, editor of Morpheus Tales. The story was accepted, and in 2008, appeared in Morpheus Tales #1 with phenomenal accompanying artwork by Michael Wooley. Also present in that issue was another dark tale of secondary world fantasy, Bill Ward’s “The Witch Queen’s Tower,” and many other excellent works by various authors, including Todd Austin Hunt’s brutal horror story “He Said Something,” and the quirky “Paternal Instincts” by David M. Fitzpatrick. The issue featured an interview with author Joseph D’Lacey, and multiple reviews. The Morpheus Tales ball was rolling. Later, another story I had written, a slice of historical fiction called “Epitaph for Sol,” would appear in Morpheus Tales #4 alongside work by Michael Laimo, featuring no less than perfect illustrations by Christopher Lee Stine. Morpheus Tales also released a series of special issues. At one point, when they were preparing to launch into future special issues of the magazine and looking to add to its editorial staff, I spoke with Adam Bradley about the idea of a Dark Sorcery special issue. I was no stranger to the theme, and after all, by that token, I had been with Morpheus Tales since the first issue. Adam appreciated this idea, and before long, after a bit more discussion and planning, work was underway on the Morpheus Tales Dark Sorcery issue! The reading period opened, and the material came flooding in: fantasy, horror, and even work approaching science fiction. If an author is able to effectively combine dark sorcery and science fiction, I thought, why not go for it? The dark sorcery theme truly does span a broad field of imagination among the creative minds out there. Originality goes a long way. It is reflected in the writer’s personal stamp, in the characters, concept, and voice of a story. As I read for the Dark Sorcery issue, I came to better understand what my vision was for the issue, what worked for the issue and what didn’t. One of my least favorite parts of the process was rejecting a story that held merit. Sometimes, I found, even a good story may not be a good story for the issue. Likewise, when that editor once told me that my work was too dark, it hadn’t been that he hadn’t appreciated the story - because he told me that he had - but it meant that, for its darker elements, the story simply didn’t fit into the editor’s vision for the publication.
Weaving the Sorcery By Tommy B. Smith Tales of dark sorcery have been present for ages, and most of us have read or heard them to some extent, from the most well-known mythological stories to the obscure local legends of any given area. Even living here on the border town of two Southern states, I hear a few of the latter, including one of a witch’s grave and an eerie “glowing house”. Many of these stories of the supernatural involve some manner of dark sorcery, much as do the fictional tales of classic horror writers such as H. P. Lovecraft or Algernon Blackwood, while well on the other side of the pond, authors of fantasy have spun tales of dark sorcery yet farther removed from our modern world. From Lovecraft to Tolkien: quite a leap, wouldn’t you say? It is because, in fiction, from the classical mythology of old to the contemporary works of speculative fiction we see today, the fantastic takes so many vastly different forms. In writing the genres of horror and fantasy, and blending their elements in what many refer to as dark fantasy, I’ve come across a few rocks in the path that every writer must traverse in his or her own way, and weaving between genres as I do brings its own special brand of obstacles. I recall an editor mentioning to me once that, while he really enjoyed a fantasy story I had submitted to his magazine, it was much too dark for the publication in question. Although the story wasn’t accepted for publication at that time, I couldn’t resist taking “too dark” as a sort of compliment. The story deemed “too dark” was a tale of dark sorcery on the high seas, touching on themes of myth, creation, and differences, a story titled “The Darkest of Waters”. I forged on, continuing to observe that a number of fantasy publications clearly did not publish fantasy material with a dark, sharp edge. In kind, much of the horror scene didn’t seem to be keen on fantasy, a completely separate genre. Despite this, there was an obvious crowd who enjoyed reading a style of material which blurred the boundaries between the horrific and the fantastical, and there were a handful of authors writing it. Later in my market research I came across the submission call for Morpheus Tales, an upcoming magazine looking for the best in genre fiction and the sort of stories that, as the Morpheus Tales website indicates, possess elements that elevate them above the level of the rest. “The best type of story,” the Morpheus Tales website mentions, “is one that makes the reader feel 2
There were times during the Dark Sorcery reading period that a piece struck me full-velocity and I immediately knew it was right for the issue. There were other times I came across a piece and thought, the author has something here. In these cases, I would give the author an explanation, my honest assessment of the piece, outlining what potential I saw and what I felt were its shortcomings, with an opportunity to revise the piece if the author chose. Much like in the writing field, with the editorial end, I found it beneficial to learn not only from my own experiences, but from those of others. The knowledge is there, if a person is willing to look for it and to listen. A variety of professional opinions have been made available to me by authors, editors, and publishers, including those who frequent the forums at the review website SFReader, and others in the field I’ve come to know over the years. Some of the work I read for the Dark Sorcery issue was darker than much of what I’ve read in numerous other genre fiction magazines, in a hurl-you-to-Hell-in-a-burning-barbwire-casket sort of way. Dark enough, I think, for the Morpheus Tales Dark Sorcery issue, and if you want to see exactly what I mean, you’ll need to pick this issue up, and hold onto it with both hands while reading. Diabolical sorcerers, black magic, enchantments and mystical curiosities, beings from a place much different from our own: it’s all here. Prepare yourselves. Happy reading.
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PAINTER’S GREEN By Cyrus Wraith Walker www.damnationbooks.com And this year’s prize for the best name in contemporary horror fiction goes to... Cyrus Wraith Walker. So, can the dude with the cool-sounding name actually write? Yes, he can, and rather well, if truth be told. Painter’s Green is the story of a Painter called, er, Painter, who resides in Brushville, an unremarkable rural town in terminal decline. After his father’s death, Painter is charged with the task of cleaning up his estate, in more ways than one. In the process he discovers a tin of Painter’s Green, a very special concoction indeed. To his amazement he finds that this magical paint has revitalizing, regenerating, and self-replenishing qualities, and sets about using it to bring the town of Brushville back to life. Everything is going well, until he is called in to paint the local funeral parlour... On the surface this is a very unusual and enjoyable little tale about magic paint, but the core themes of loss and grief, balanced with more uplifting echoes of rebirth and redemption, add much more weight. Through the eyes of the likeable protagonist we are shown that every action has a reaction, and everything has consequences. On the flip side, we are reassured that everybody makes the odd mistake in life; that much is a given, but what really matters is how you deal with it. By C. M. Saunders
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ETHEREAL TALES #7 www.etherealtales.co.uk This magazine is one of those you can’t help but love. It has a friendly, homely feel you don’t get from the soulless corporate magazines. The smallpress is a welcoming place, and Ethereal Tales is one of the reasons why. The April 2010 issue sees a collection of twelve tales, and a wide-ranging and diverse bunch they are. There is definitely a story in here for
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The credits end and everything goes downhill fast. We’re introduced to the requisite annoying teens looking for trouble, drinking, having sex, and spewing awful dialogue. You know, all the makings of a benchmark horror film. You see, it’s now Blood Night, the anniversary of the death of Mary Mattock (now referred to as Mary Hatchet) and for some reason all the kids in town treat this night like Halloween’s bastard love child. For most of the movie they hold up in a house and talk and talk and talk some more. Danielle Harris shows up. More talking. They watch a porno together. With about a half hour remaining, bodies start piling up and the kids freak out. Has Mary Hatchet returned from the grave or is there a legitimate flesh and blood serial killer stalking the cast? The problem with Blood Night is that it takes some real clever ideas and then quickly throws them out the window for an ending you can see coming a mile away. If the filmmakers would have made a traditional scary-as-hell ghost story instead of resorting to a Scream-esque whodunit, Blood Night could easily have been one of the best horror movies to come down the pike in the last decade. As it stands though, the talented cast and crew (and for once, there is some real talent at work here, just not in the storytelling department) are largely wasted. Perhaps they should all get back together and make a better movie. Perhaps they should remake this one. Perhaps… By Trevor Wright
everyone. The tight-leash the editor keeps on the writers means the stories are all short and sweet. My favourite is Lee Clark Zumpe’s “The Bite”, a nice little tale, although Alan Loewen’s “A Fairy Tale” is another good story and one that sticks with you once it’s over. I would prefer to read a whole story rather than several instalments, but the ongoing “The Butterfly on a Wheel” by Andrew M. Boylan makes me want to read more. The artwork and layout continue to improve. Ethereal Tales is a high quality magazine that deserves and needs a wider audience, and those who discover it will be pleasantly surprised. By Adrian Brady
BLOOD NIGHT: THE LEGEND OF MARY HATCHET Starring Bill Moseley, Danielle Harris and Samantha Facchi Written and Directed by Frank Sabatella www.bloodnightmovie.com Blood Night is that rare disappointment: a movie where the twelve minute pre-title sequence is so good, everything that comes after pales in comparison. Perhaps it should have been a short film. Perhaps it shouldn’t have given Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; The Devil’s Rejects) top billing only to have him absent for much of the running time. Perhaps. But back to that brilliant opening sequence… A child named Mary Mattock goes crazy and kills her parents with a hatchet and a hair brush (told you it was brilliant). Years later we find her locked away in a sanitarium, sitting in a room - naked!? - and now played by the lovely Samantha Facchi, who unfortunately, isn’t given much to do other than look crazy and scream every time the camera gets jerky. Mary gets raped by this slob of a security guard (overacting like his life depends on it) and months later, gives birth to a baby. Doctors tell Mary that the baby died in childbirth. Mary goes crazy again and kills all the doctors in the hospital before being shot and finally killed by police officers. During the credits we’re told that Mary had a strange disorder where she was prone to psychotic tendencies whenever she was menstruating. I kid you not! And then…
AGAINST THE DARKNESS By John Llewellyn Probert www.screamingdreams.com It’s not often you come across a book that’s so much fun. Especially considering I nearly didn’t get past the Introduction. You see, Probert wrote the introduction, and stated that he wanted to create a British version of the XFiles: a very worrying statement. The X-Files was one of those shows I feel I grew up with (although I was well grown up by the time it started), one fondly remembered, and there 4
they are: like the old pulp stories, and those adventures of Sherlock Holmes and H. G. Wells, and the seeds of the “Weird” genre by Burroughs and Lovecraft. Ok, so it’s not perfect, many of the themes will be familiar, but that seems to add to its charm. It’s a nice, warm and cozy book. Fantastic, rather than horrific. One you can imagine curling up with on the sofa and reading in front of a log-fire. This is a book that draws you in without you even realising it. Against The Darkness is no mere X-Files imitator. I can’t remember when I had so much fun reading a book. Adventure into the weird does not get much better than this. By Stanley Riiks
are already far too many pale imitations, and despite the author also stating that he didn’t want to produce another pale imitation, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes and think that’s what all the pale imitators say. Fortunately I was very wrong, and what Probert has produced in this collection is a series of stories that nod respectfully at The X-Files, but very much tread their own path. And it is very British, which isn’t to say our US cousins won’t love it they probably will because it is so British - but it makes Against The Darkness different enough that it is a very far cry from a pale imitation. Henderson is a paranormal investigator, called in to solve a variety of problems; a haunted school, a Cathedral being used to create evil energy for some nefarious purpose, a gym sucking the life from its users, a curse on a young woman, a painting that kidnaps people, and vampires. Henderson is ably assisted by Samantha Jephcott, a reluctant psychic and former manager of the gym that sucks the life from people. The stories are varied, but all contain the same element of fun and many are slightly tonguein-cheek, which works wonderfully well. The darkest tale, Probert apologises for it at the end of the book, is my favourite. There are several tales with a dark edge, but all of them feel like an adventure. You know what’s about to come, there will be some sort of weird adventure, and yet when it comes Probert almost inevitably manages to surprise you. The characters of Sam and Henderson grow throughout the book, and the stories work well individually, but also add to each other. In the beginning I was wondering why not just produce a novel, and hopefully that is still to come, but this collection provides a good range of adventures at varying lengths and keeps you coming back for more. My favourite story is “Happily Ever After”, a great wedding tale that will shock and astound. The story is beautifully set-up and has a denouement that will leave you open-jawed. It’s also a story I will make my girlfriend read if she ever mentions wedding again! Again, a great story, but it only barely beats the final and longest story of the collection. “An Element of Emotion” is a very dark tale for this book, but one that manages to entertain, make you smile, and leave you desperate for more. Without a doubt Screamingdreams has become my favourite small-press publisher in the UK since the end of Elastic Books. In this Probert collection they have brought together some terrific stories, which I cannot emphasise enough how fun
Wrestling with Bigfoot By Eric S. Brown In America, Bigfoot was a horror cultural icon of the seventies and eighties. Today, Sasquatch is thought for the most part to be a peaceful, even friendly, giant. The monster has become a staple of cheesy cell-phone and beef jerky TV ads. Though numerous low-budget horror films like Clawed, Suburban Sasquatch, and Sy-Fy original films like Sasquatch Mountain and Abominable still get made, these features are very much geared towards a cult audience and are not taken seriously by mainstream culture. This decline in the Bigfoot horror mythos is much like that which the zombie genre underwent before books and films like Brian Keene’s The Rising, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days, and the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake put Zombies back in their proper place alongside Vampires as one the two current great American monsters. An explosion of small press and indie zombie work also helped this movement develop. As a life long Bigfoot fan who grew up in the south, I always loved the Sasquatch as a creature of horror. Though as a child I had read many books about Bigfoot, there was and is a great lack of Bigfoot horror fiction. Most things published about the monster are either non-fiction tales of real-life encounters with the beast, studies of whether or not these giants are real, or Harry and the Hendersonstype family/children’s stuff. For a period, I grew tired of cranking out Zombie tale after Zombie tale and wanted to try my hand at something new. Remembering how I used to have nightmares about such a creature lurking in the woods around my rural childhood home, I set out to write a Bigfoot book that would bring the terror back to a nearly untapped genre in terms of books. 5
simply titled “Dead in the Woods” and mixes my two loves, Zombies and Sasquatch, in an attempt to explore where Bigfoot would fit in during a zombie apocalypse. I truly hope we see an emergence of Bigfoot horror in the small press and beyond. I realize that most still believe werewolves will be the next big thing, but I hold out hope that Sasquatch and his brethren like the Yeti can make a massive comeback and again become creatures of pure, hulking terror. For those interested, my book Bigfoot War may be found at such retailers as www.amazon.com and www.bn.com.
At the time I was under contract with a company to do yet another Z novel, so I approached that publisher and pitched to them the idea of doing a fullout, no-holds-barred gorefest of a Sasquatch book. I wanted to do more than a simple Bigfoot tale however. Though I loved all those indie Bigfoot films, they always left me wanting more because they always featured only one or two creatures, at best alluding to the presence of more at the end. I wanted a book that brought Bigfoot and his whole family screaming out of the woods into the streets of a North Carolina town to show what these monsters could truly do. I also determined to upgrade the creatures themselves, making them not only bigger, faster, and stronger, but ultra violent with the tendency to even eat human flesh if enraged enough. Thus, my book Bigfoot War was born. It’s my personal homage to all those films like The Legend of Boggy Creek, Lance Hendrickson’s Sasquatch, and others, though upgraded to have a more Thirty Days of Night-type feel. The story is basically that of one small town called Babble Creek with a population of around eight hundred people and only a five person sheriff’s department facing off against a tribe of nearly five dozen or more Sasquatch-like monsters. Thus far, the book has been well-received with numerous critics saying not only is it my best work since Season of Rot, but many claiming it’s the best thing I have ever written in my entire career. This could be due in part to the fact that Bigfoot War was such a personal book; to me not only does it feature the source of my childhood nightmares, but its setting is based on the area where I was raised. While I find this praise flattering, my main hope in doing the book was to get others to explore this virtually untapped monster as well. I have already been asked by a publisher to do another Bigfoot book for next year, but whether or not that happens will depend on a number of factors. However, Pill Hill Press will be releasing an anthology entitled Monster Mash for which I was asked to contribute a tale. My tale was
PIRANHA 3D … The ultimate, and quite possibly the cleverest, tits and gore film ever made. While most mainstream horror films of the slasher and monster genres have only one or two set pieces or visual signatures, Piranha probably has in excess of twenty-five. This film perfectly captures the titanic carnage of other worse-things-happen-at-sea horrors like Ghost Ship. Remember the high-tension wire set-up (it was so good they showed it twice) that was the high point of Ghost Ship? That scene gets a reference here in what is really a long revue of gory death scenes. I haven’t seen a severed penis get eaten like this since Blood-Sucking Freaks (1976). This is a film with everything: story, suspense, and 3D. It really doesn’t get any better than this. Piranha was so real that someone could conceivably become physically sick watching it. The end twist is so clever that apparently a sequel is already underway. And the truly horrifying thing is that plot, absurd as it might seem, really could happen; in July, 14 year old Koral Wira was sitting on her family’s yacht off Venice, Florida when a 45inch long barracuda jumped out of the sea and locked onto her arm. Her father killed it with a fillet knife, but not before it left her with a wound requiring 51 stitches to close. Piranha 3D is the best made-for-3D horror film since last year’s My Bloody Valentine, even 6
though it was shot in two dimensions and converted to 3D using the Inner-D’s Reali-D conversion process. It’s an awesome film with awesome performances (especially the heroic Ving Rhames), and a fitting addition to the Piranha legend. Director Alexandre Aja truly deserves being ranked up there with Joe Dante and James Cameron. After all, there is only so much you can do with a rubber fish. Review By Stone Franks
Interview With Niki Rubin By Trevor Wright Growing up, were you a fan of horror movies? And if so, which ones were your favourites? I used to love classic horror and I used to love to be scared when I was a little girl. Almost every horror movie I ever saw when I was young scared me... haha... not as much now. Now, I always want to laugh rather than be scared, but I still appreciate a good horror movie and I always appreciate being in a good horror movie. When I was younger, whenever, my friends would sleep over, we’d go scan the horror section in video stores and if we came to a box cover that looked creepy, we’d rent it! Alfred Hitchcock and his style were my favourite type of horror. I’ve always loved movies about ghosts too! Stephen King movies were always fun; Pet Cemetery and The Shining, in particular, really creeped me out.
HELL OF A JOB By Michael McCarty www.damnationbooks.com The preface states that this is the author’s fifth collection of short stories, all of which allude in some way to the subject of work, though the links are, at times, somewhat tenuous. The twenty-odd tales collected here cover the entire spectrum of speculative dark fiction from creature sci-fi to suspense, and from traditional hauntings to shock horror. As is the norm in a collection of this scope, some of them hit the mark (“The Ice-cream Man”), while for one reason or another, some don’t (“Scrooge 3000”, “Disconnected”). The main criticism is that too many of the stories here culminate in lame pay-offs and leave you asking what was the point. Of course, you could go all existentialist and start asking what is the point of anything. However, in this case the point is entertainment, and unfortunately too many of these stories don’t live up to expectation. Many of these stories have already been published in previous volumes, and you have to wonder why the author decided to recycle them. After the initial preface is an introduction by Amy Grech, and after the main body is an afterword by J. R. LaGreca. Half the stories included here are collaborations with other writers, the same small group of writers (including his wife) with whom McCarty has collaborated with on much of his other work. The lack of new, original content could be the reason why this collection comes across as being slightly muddled and thrown-together. The ironic, slightly light-hearted feel to most of the stories seems to rob them of any real depth or substance. Too many of the characters are onedimensional and too much of the dialogue corny and uninspired. To use a metaphor loosely relevant to the subject matter, the collection is a bit like a factory-produced frozen pizza. It’s filling, but not really satisfying. There is a bit too much cheese for my liking, and it definitely wasn’t a culinary experience that will live very long in the memory. By C. M. Saunders
When did you know you wanted to be an actress (i.e. work in the industry)? I think I always knew I wanted to be an actress and performer. When I was 5, I remember having stage fright and I’m the kind of person who likes to accomplish challenge. So, even though I had stage fright, I wanted to be in front of people more. I enjoyed the effect performing had on people and myself. It was therapeutic for everyone. The power of art. At home with family and friends I would create, organize, direct, and star in my own little improv’ and “rehearsed” plays and performances (singing and dancing included). Often, when I’d watch TV, I’d find myself acting out what I just heard and saw, doing it my way. I just loved getting lost in a character. When I think back, since preschool and nursery even, I was always more interested in performing than anything else. My whole life, without even totally being aware it’s what I was doing, was all preparation. Since I could remember, I’ve been taking dance classes, voice classes, acting classes, piano lessons, even martial arts classes (all my choices). 7
and directed by Alex Pucci. I’m super-psyched for this thriller! There is also a photo narrative project I will be continuing working on later this summer with Alan Lupiani that will be featured in a gallery in NYC. Lady Action, the comic book character I inspired and modelled for is doing great! She has a comic book out in comic stores around the world and is featured in many Captain Action comics and books, as well as the new Phantom comic. There are trading cards in development and all sorts of merchandise, including a 12 inch statue of me as Lady Action. The second comic book in the Lady Action series is coming out soon. Amidst all of this, I have my own Yoga business to run, which is an incredible and huge project in itself.
Do you see yourself continuing to act in horror films or would you like to predominately do other genres? I’ve done a lot of different genres and types of projects and will continue to do so. I never want to be grouped into one type of genre. I’ve always seen myself as a versatile actress and a chameleon. If there’s a great script, a great role, a great project, something unique, something different, something that will make an impact, then I want to be apart of it, whatever the genre is! What do you think is the current state of horror both mainstream and independent? I think a lot of people love the feeling of being scared and shaking themselves up. It takes a lot of ability to make great horror, mainstream and independent. Something I’ve learned, though, is that there’s a fan base for even the most awful of horror movies, and from what I’ve seen and heard, it’s more celebrated to make terrible independent horror movies than mainstream. I guess because there’s a lot more expectation for mainstream and rightfully so. Maybe why it’s so accepted, as well, in the independent world, is that there’s usually a more raw quality, which makes it feel more real, and that’s something a lot of mainstream movies lack.
This magazine does a lot of interviews with horror authors and publishes a lot of horror fiction. Do you have a favourite horror author and/or book? Growing up, I loved reading Anne Rice, R.L. Stein, and Stephen King. These days, I don’t really read too much horror, but if I did, I’d look into these authors first, because I know I can trust them. Shel Silverstein is one of my favourite poets to this day (the writing was deep and sometimes dark and absurd in a dry humour way and some of those poems... as a little girl, reading them really freaked me out).
What exciting projects are in store for Niki Rubin? Well, as I mentioned in a previous question, I just finished shooting The One that you wrote! I star as the beautiful Vampire Queen and I am so excited to see the final product. I hope to have stills and behind the scenes photos soon. Since this short will be included in a set with a couple other shorts, I will probably be shooting a “wrap-around” in the fall that will tie the three shorts together. I’m gearing up to shoot another feature film, a thriller, with Alex Pucci, Draven Gonzalez, and the gang. In addition, I just finished shooting a psychological drama feature film called Phantom Images by Matt Doyle, as the main and only female character, an important role to the film. I am starring in another fantastic feature I am filming in late August, written by Draven Gonzalez
Anything else you’d like to add? Please check me out on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2022125/ (though, not everything I’ve done is posted there). I am also on Facebook: Niki Rubin, send me a message with a friend request and I’d be happy to accept you as a friend. I usually post all my news (for example, a link to The One teaser) there because it’s so convenient and reaches out to a lot of people at once. There’s always exciting stuff going on! The full interview will appear in the Morpheus Tales Scream Queens 2 Special Issue, out in 2011.
in my jaded and cynical existence excitement doesn’t come very often, ‘wow’ moment happen once a year, if that. And here I was, having one, not even a full chapter into a book. But oh what a book! One of the features of the novel is the shifting narrative structure, which revolves around seven characters each giving us their point of view (in first person) each chapter, drip-feeding us information about what is going on and the convoluted history that got them to where they are. These seven inhabit an island somewhere off the coast of the United States. They, along with the other people with whom they share the island, are survivors of a massive and decimating viral outbreak and are in safe hiding away from the mainland and the rest of humanity. To tell you more would ruin many of the plot’s twists and turns, and that’s one of the reasons the book is so engaging. You can’t help but continue reading because you have to know more. The wow factor doesn’t let up as it so does often, it doesn’t grow, but it maintains it until the end. You don’t realise just how dark and brooding the novel is until the finale, when the sky lifts like sunshine breaking through a stormy cloud-ridden afternoon. Described as a neo-noir thriller, a description I can whole-heartedly agree with, this is a very dark, cynical, and intelligent novel. The way it’s told only adds to both the tension and the mystery. A brilliant tale of a haunting dystopia. My only hope is that this book will reach the audience it deserves. By Stanley Riiks
ZUPHREEN: BESTOWER OF DAMNATION By Su Halfwerk www.damnationbooks.com Su Halfwerk’s latest fulllength novel is a campus caper squarely aimed at the post-Twilight generation. Though that usually makes for a tedious and uninspired offering, in this case that’s actually not such a bad thing. Halfwerk’s smooth writing style and lively cast of characters keep things interesting throughout and she demonstrates an enviable affinity with the notoriously difficult to reach adolescent market. While not many teens are forced to battle evil earthbound demons in their daily lives (thank heavens, or else I really would worry about the future of the human race), the reader gets the impression that the supernatural elements are metaphorical in nature and designed to reflect the real trials and tribulations of the teenage mindset. In a nutshell, this is the story of what happens when Diana and her two friends, Sally and Art, a socially inadequate albino, make a last-ditch effort to improve their plummeting grades by taking on a theology assignment of epic magnitude. At the behest of a somewhat slimy university professor with a sackful of ulterior motives, they take it upon themselves to summon the demonic entity Zuphreen: Bestower of Gifts. Unfortunately for all concerned, the gifts bestowed on the intrepid youngsters turn out to be anything but beneficial. It all goes downhill right from the initial incantation and from there the story takes us on a riveting trip through a teenage wasteland beset with supernatural creatures, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know which is most frightening. By C. M. Saunders
DEAD OF NIGHT By C. M. Saunders www.damnationbooks.com
TRANSUBSTANTIATE By Richard
When Nick and Maggie head out into the country for a nice weekend of camping, what could possibly go wrong? How about an encounter with zombie Confederate soldiers and a battle to escape with their lives?
Thomas www.otherworldpublications.com ‘Wow’, was my first thought a couple of pages in. This is a mix of The Matrix, Blade Runner, and Spares by Michael Marshall Smith. Marvellous, I thought, suddenly and surprisingly excited. You see, 10
day. And when I say eating fast food I mean eating fast food. Example: 5 hamburgers… as a snack! I was in my twenties, the prime of my life. Yet, I behaved like an elderly man knocking at death’s door. Until one day… During one of my deep nap sessions, having just wolfed down my ritualistic buffet of burgers, I was awoken by a phone call. It was Los Angeles calling. No. Not the entire city. Just one man. The only man I needed to hear from: Abe Something or other. He was a producer and also one of the judges of the UCLA competition. He had called to ask me out for a meeting over a couple beers. I was so flabbergasted that I ignored his invitation and just kept asking over and over if he had the right number. He said that he did. He loved Danger Ranger and wanted to sell it for big bucks. He was looking at securing me a whopping $500,000 pay day! I asked him again if he had the right number. He asked again about the beer. I told him I lived on the East Coast. He hung up. I went back to bed. A couple days later, Abe called again. He was going to fax me over a contract giving him permission to represent Danger Ranger on my behalf when he shops the script to the studios. I quickly signed it and sent it back. A week later he called again. He went to Fox and he went to Sony. They both turned down Danger Ranger claiming it was too much like previous flops Blankman and Mystery Men. I was losing hope again. So was Abe. I never heard from him again. I went back to sleeping and eating. This pattern continued for four more years until one day… I decided to resurrect Danger Ranger one more time, this time in comic book form! I maxed out a credit card and hired a company to design an eight page comic book based on one of the scenes from the script (dialogue rewritten for maximum comic book potential). I was going to use this new format as my calling card to dust off the old script and get some interest going. Working with the comic company was a nightmare! They were slow, gave me the run around and didn’t deliver what they promised. But I did get a CD of the comic that I could then use to run off
Take a nice young couple and throw them into a horrendous situation with zombies; a classis horror situation, expertly handled by Saunders in this, his second book from Damnation Books. The tense atmosphere and exciting action sequences flow very well, and this story is very different from Apartment 14F: An Oriental Ghost Story, showing that Saunders is a diverse talent, and one to be reckoned with. Classic horror with a twist, although expensive for a book that’s only 66 pages long, it’s worth the investment. By Adrian Brady
Life Serial By Trevor Wright I had blood on my hands. Hell, I had blood in my hair, under my nails, on my clothes. Our lead actor had just graced us with his bare ass (see Life Serial #1, MT Reviews Supplement 7). And here I was, scrubbing Kashi cereal and Karyo syrup off a table saw in a basement at one in the morning, alongside people I had just met a couple of hours earlier. Making movies wasn’t as glamorous as I thought. EPISODE 6: WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD? Danger Ranger was complete. The UCLA class was over. It had been a full year since enrolling and I had aced the class with two completed scripts under my belt. I was feeling pretty confident that within the year I’d be Hollywood bound. I had just sent Danger Ranger to the UCLA Screenwriting Competition (judged by top agents, producers, industry insiders, etc.) and I was so sure that I was going to win that I told my wife (who was desperate to move out of our cramped one bedroom apartment) that we wouldn’t need to look for a new home because we wouldn’t be living on the East Coast much longer. I’ll give you a moment to digest how ludicrous that last paragraph is. But hey, that was my insane way of thinking and no one was going to tell me any different. ... No one besides the judges of the competition that is, Danger Ranger lost! And I was defeated, so defeated in fact that I packed on sixty pounds, slept eight hours a night, and four more when I came home from work every day, and started eating fast food three to four times a 11
name to watch in the future. By C. M. Saunders
copies for distribution. I printed out a poster instead. Enough of this mess! I just wanted to sleep and eat. So that’s what I did... for three more years
MAMMOTH BOOK OF PARANORMAL ROMANCE 2 Edited by Trisha Telep
NEXT UP: I become a Scream King?
ETHEREAL TALES #8 www.etherealtales.co.uk
I was very surprised and impressed when I read the first Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance this time last year. The second instalment is even better. Telep has created a very unique niche for herself with this huge collection of seventeen stories, but I really wish that she’d included the original twenty-six she arranged. More would have undoubtedly been better, as I really could not get enough of this book! “The Getaway” by Sonya Bateman and “The Gauntlet” by Karen Chance were my favourites of the collection, although it was very difficult to choose. The range of stories available is quite staggering, and the styles of the writers and their stories cover the full breadth of genre material, ensuring that most tastes are catered for. When I read the first collection it changed my mind about romantic stories, and this new edition has cemented my fascination. I am truly converted. The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2 is a unique and delightful collection of remarkable stories. Something for everyone is contained therein. By Adrian Brady
The July issue of what is rapidly becoming my favourite small-press fiction magazine opens with a golf story unlike any you will ever read! James McCormick’s “The Thirteenth Hole” harkens back to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “Twisted Word” by Andrew Stockton is another excellent tale, and the issue on the whole is superb, including Emma Kathryn’s disturbing “The Angel in a Box” vignette. Ethereal Tales continues to grow in stature and this is a very good thing. The magazine provides a degree of quality that is difficult to match. Another fascinating and eclectic issue. By Adrian Brady
HOFFMAN’S CREEPER By Trost LegumeMan Press One of the many great things about the internet is that it allows absolutely anyone to become a ‘published’ author. Even if your only published credit is a garbled drug-fuelled rant on your own blog or web site, you are still technically a published author. Is this good or bad? Well... on the plus side it provides potentially worldwide exposure for talented wannabe writers keen to hone their craft, while on the other hand there is no quality control, which makes the whole thing rather hit and miss. For my sins, I spend a lot of time trawling through the trash and debris mounting up in cyberspace. Some would say too much time, but I could argue that I do it so you don’t have to. Yes, there is a limitless amount of trash out there but now and again, amidst the clutter, you stumble across a little gem like this, and it makes everything worthwhile. The one that calls himself (or herself?) Trost is an emerging talent from Australia, and if this upfor-grabs short story is anything to go by he (or she) will have a lot to offer the dark fiction genre in years to come. “Hoffman’s Creeper” is reminiscent in many ways of vintage Lovecraft, and while the adept reader will be able to guess at the outcome far before the climax, it is written in such a way as to keep you hooked right to the end. This could be a
The Punisher: An Affair to Remender... By T. H. Dylan It has been almost a year now since the unbelievably bad idea to transform Frank Castle into a lazy, ugly, undead creation emerged, and Marvel still has it running. It is understandably hard to believe that Marvel’s Punisher is still Franken-Castle. This fact alone is a cold hard slap to the Punisher faithful. Rick Remender, the writer at the helm of this tale, said about the recent changes made to the hero: “When Frank Castle shows up from here on out, he’s on an even playing field with the other A-list characters in the Marvel Universe.” This statement alone proved how Rick Remender (a writer and illustrator whose work is awful enough to make even Rob Liefeld blush) was not the right man for the job of writing The Punisher. To describe the antihero as one of 12
Again, however, his titles were eventually cancelled. One is forced to ask why The Punisher just doesn’t appear to work as a long-running character. The possible answer: you can’t have him struggling to defeat various armed gangs and Mafia families on a regular basis and occasionally throw him against a major villain like Dr. Doom to draw in extra readers. Having him defeat one of Marvel’s finest villains so easily and then struggling to defeat ordinary criminals is ludicrous. The Punisher is not on equal footing with the big names of Marvel and that was why, for me, his best guest appearances in Marvel titles during the nineties (e.g. the D.G. Chichester run on Daredevil and the Peter David run on The Incredible Hulk) showed how powerless he was whenever he found himself pitted against other heroes. It seems Frank Castle is better in small doses, when making appearances as a guest star in a more popular title or dominating his own miniseries, yet Marvel seems determined to cash in on his erratic popularity and make him work as a longterm character. So, just over ten years ago, The Punisher had faced cancellation twice in a period of less than ten years. What could Marvel do to try and make him appeal to a larger audience? A mini-series written by Christopher Golden in 1998 titled The Punisher: Purgatory saw Frank Castle return from the dead (he had committed suicide on realising his war on crime could not be won) as a supernatural agent acting on the behalf of a number of angels and demons. Those who had loved the hero must have been understandably disappointed to know that not only had he killed himself, but Frank had returned from the dead as a being that could take a number of bullets and get up straight away to continue with his mission. Nevertheless, a four part series alongside Wolverine followed as Marvel clearly assumed that teaming a less popular character with the most popular X-Man would give them a larger audience, increasing both their sales figures and public interest. There came no great demand for either miniseries to be collected in a published edition or for the zombie-like Punisher to continue with an ongoing series. In 2000 Marvel recruited Garth Ennis (who had found fame for his excellent Preacher before writing the awful Just A Pilgrim) to quite literally breathe life back into The Punisher. Ennis got off to a good start, knowing that for The Punisher to be successful, you had to make it clear that he was just a man with a lot of weapons and a sinister
Marvel’s “A-list characters” also showed a great deal of ignorance on his behalf. I’ve never been a big fan of The Punisher. To me, he is just a man with a gun and America has plenty of those. However, for the same reason I have never had much interest in the adventures of Frank Castle, others have loved the character; maybe not enough people to ever make him one of Marvel’s bestselling titles, but enough still to make three movie adaptations possible (as well as computer games and appearances in Saturday morning cartoons). To think that it all started with The Punisher being introduced way back in issue 129 of The Amazing Spiderman (February 1974) as the mysterious former US Marine turned killer vigilante who had Spiderman in his sights for the murder of Norman Osborn. Spiderman writer Gerry Conway handed his rough sketch of the new arrival to Marvel’s art director John Romita, who merely had to increase the size of the skull’s head logo on his chest to be certain Frank Castle would become an icon once the first images of him, drawn by Ross Andru, were published. The character proved successful enough with readers to start making regular appearances, but it would be more than a decade before Marvel deemed the character worthy of his own title. Largely due to the creative offerings of the growing talent Alan Moore and the (then) talented Frank Miller, the universes dominated by superheroes began to go through some dramatic changes during the 80s. Their worlds were becoming increasingly dark, as were the superheroes who patrolled the streets, and Marvel already had the perfect character to represent this change: The Punisher. Frank Castle was rewarded with his own mini series in 1986 and an ongoing series the following year. 1989 saw the release of Mark Goldblatt’s screen adaptation of the hero with Dolph Lundgren in the title role. Poor reviews could not dampen the sales of the comic, leading to more Punisher titles including War Zone and Magazine throughout the Nineties. Despite the increase in momentum for the character, a period of dramatic ups and downs in favour followed, and the nineties was also the decade in which The Punisher titles were cancelled due to poor sales. An appearance in the then popular Spiderman cartoon (with former comic book ally Microchip there to provide advanced weaponry and technology) won the hero new, albeit younger admirers and the Punisher was granted yet more ongoing comics, one-shots, and guest appearances. 13
“Finally! A comic character I can enjoy! Just look at how stupid he looks! Just read how poorly it is written!” And how did Remender justify what he had done? He revealed that Jack Kirby’s Monster Metropolis would be heavily featured in this new story. Mentioning Kirby’s name can often be the desperate justification of the desperate writer. Mentioning the work of Kirby that is far from lovingly remembered is all the worse. So, for the second time, Marvel has decided to transform Castle into a supernatural being capable of taking a tremendous amount of damage before getting back onto his feet with next to no effort. It is only a matter of time before they realise that they are going to have to somehow turn him back into an ordinary man if they want him to be taken seriously. So what could they possibly do now in an attempt to make the character work? The obvious answer, of course, is to grant him an annual mini-series and nothing more. The best illustrator for the job is clearly John Romita Jr. after his wonderful artwork of Castle going against Akihiro. And which writer is understandable being viewed as the best man to work alongside Romita? The majority would say Mark Millar, and with good reason. Give Millar and Romita a regular Punisher mini-series and the character will become more popular than Marvel could imagine, even if the series is not aimed at mature readers this time around. Keep him as an undead abomination and he will rightfully disappear from the pages once again for years to come.
intelligence. Lock him in a room with a captive villain and he will gather whatever information is wanted much faster than a hero like Spiderman (or a God like Thor) ever could. Unfortunately, Ennis later seemed to realise that he could write as poorly as he wanted and his name would still be enough to see the title sell. Marvel had another Punisher movie made in 2004 with Thomas Jane in the title role this time. Once more, poor reviews followed despite scenes which had practically been lifted from the early and entertaining writing of Ennis (notably his battle against The Russian, and his collection of quirky neighbours). When Ennis finally left the title after trying (and failing) to fill his Punisher series with dark humour, a lot of the readers clearly walked out with him. So what to do next? Marvel had another writer try to portray The Punisher in a dark, serious tone more familiar with the first offerings of Ennis, and in 2008 the grim hero made his way back to the cinema screen for the third time. Directed by Lexi Alexander and now starring Ray Stevenson in the lead role, The Punisher: War Zone was released to more poor reviews. Meanwhile, in the comic-book world,, the hero who worked for too small an audience was only to appear as an occasional guest star, making appearances in the Marvel crossover story Civil War. After Civil War there came another crossover this time an attempted Skrull invasion of the earth. The Skrulls were defeated and Norman Osborn, the man whose very death had acted as a catalyst for The Punisher’s debut, accepted all credit for the victory. Osborn handpicked numerous super-villains to work alongside him in taking the role of their superhero opponents in the crossover tale that followed: Dark Reign. The Punisher would be one of many who decided that it was his responsibility to challenge Norman Osborn and his allies. During Dark Reign, Castle came face to face with Daken Akihiro (Wolverine’s son. Add this fact to silly haircut and tattoos and you have what Marvel seems to see as characterisation these days) and was killed in a fight wonderfully illustrated by John Romita Jr. and penned by Rick Remender. Issue eleven of The Punisher, also penned by Remender, had the understandably forgotten monsters of Marvel’s past bring Castle back as a Frankenstein’s Monster of sorts, hence the poor naming. There was talk from comic stores that shoppers were looking at the issue with a smile on their face before putting it back. Who in their right mind would look at such a character and cry,
VASILOV’S DEMON By Jeff K. Goddin www.damnationbooks.com This is an interesting and slightly disturbing little tale I can’t recommend enough. I can’t recall ever reading a horror story set in the Russian Revolution before, which now that I think of it is quite surprising. The period certainly offers heaps of fertile ground for dark fiction (or dark nonfiction) writers everywhere. Goddin writes well and is skilled in the art of transporting the reader to foreign climes. I hesitate to use the word ‘exotic’, as the war-torn, frozen wastelands described herein are anything but exotic. The attention to detail, such as 14
Pet Cemetery 2 (had a major crush on Edward Furlong! I know, I know...), and the list could continue.
the accurate descriptions of the weaponry of the day, is particularly impressive. On to the actual story: since a particularly gruesome night in his teens, Vasilov, a one-time music student turned KGB agent and master torturer, is periodically visited by a demon which blights the rest of his distinguished military career. As a result he is affected with supernatural powers that serve him well in combat, even though all he really wants is merciful release from the desolate life he leads. As the story unfolds we learn that Vasilov is a man haunted not just by a demon, but also the terrible burden of human suffering caused by the atrocities of the Russian Revolution and the Hungarian invasion. Can he escape the shackles of his past and find a place where he can finally be at rest? Or does the demon of the title have other ideas? By C. M. Saunders
Tell us about being nominated for Best Rising BMovie actress earlier this year. Was this your first award nomination? What movie were you nominated for? This was my very first award and I am so blessed to have won it. I am so lucky to have such amazing friends and fans! I went to the B Movie Celebration last year and had an amazing time. I got to meet and spend time with many talented people. I knew then that I wanted to be a bigger part of the celebration the following year and told myself that I was going to win an award next year, so I worked really hard to make sure that happened. I was nominated for an indie film that I did called Absolution. Anyone who loves indie films should definitely check it out. www.bmoviecelebration.com
Jessica Cameron Interviewed By Trevor Wright
Recently you worked with some friends of mine: Edward X. Young, Bryan Roberts and Nolan Ball. All of whom worked with me on my first feature The Green Monster. The movie you all worked on was called Mr. Hush. Tell us about it. You have just named some of my favourite people! Your film was mentioned on the set too, I cannot wait to see it! I heard a lot of great things! The film, Mr. Hush, focuses on one man's search for his family, and his struggle to understand the horrible events that occurred one Halloween night. I play the lead character's loving and loyal wife. It is a great horror film that focuses on the story and character development, rather then the all too common blood, gore, tits and ass (not that there is anything wrong with that). Edward plays the testicular role, and it was amazing to see him become a character that is so different from Ed in real life. Ed, the person, is incredibly nice and so kind... his character is not! Nolan and Bryan were amazing and so much fun on set. You meet the most fascinating people on film sets.
Growing up, were you a fan of horror movies? And if so, which ones were your favourites? I loved horror films, still do. For me nothing beats a good scare. Itâ€™s therapeutic. I still love The Wishmaster. It was one of my fave horror films as a teen. The concept (be careful what you wish for) is fascinating to me. The film is very clever too. I adore Andrew Divoff and director Robert Kurtzman. I got to work with them too when I shot the film The Dead Matter (www.midnightsyndicate.com). It was a great experience to get to work with such talented, amazing people whom I have admired for so long. I also loved From Dusk Till Dawn (I adore all things Q.T.), The Blair Witch Project (I know, I know...),
What do you think is the current state of horror, both mainstream and independent? I think it is and always will be a popular genre since the fans are amazing and incredibly loyal. I am reading more and more scripts that go against the stereotypical genre formula and focus on character development while striving to be original. Independent horror always has and I think that it will continue to push the mainstream boundaries that studios are scared to approach. This is one of the 15
many reasons why I LOVE independent horror. You honestly don't know what is going to happen, since anything and everything often goes. How can you not love the horror genre?
Keep up with me on my facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=71102267 0&ref=search#!/pages/JESSICACAMERON/142349905776861?ref=mf
What exciting projects are in store for Jessica Cameron? Besides the aforementioned The Singles sitcom and the feature film The Perfect Child, here is what is up and coming:
And my IMDB Page: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2781723/ My website is coming soon! The full interview will appear in the Morpheus Tales Scream Queens 2 Special Issue, out in 2011.
MERKABAH RIDER By Edward Erdelac www.damnationbooks.com The Merkabah Rider is the last of an ancient order of Jewish mystics, and doesn’t he know it, as he travels through the hick towns and settlements that populate Erdelac’s vision of the American Wild West West, facing prejudice and bias on a regular basis. It is the setting which will live long in the memory. The landscapes are painted with such vivid detail that you can close your eyes and see the places described in your mind’s eye with unnerving clarity, but that’s just what crawls on the surface of this book. Beneath the veneer all kinds of ungodly things are going on; demonology and black magic being just two of them. This volume is sub-titled Tales of a High Plains Drifter, Episodes 1-4 and I understand Episodes 5-8 will soon be available, so jump on the wagon quickly! By C. M. Saunders
Prey To God – Here’s the tag line “Cleansing the soul... purify the flesh”. I play the lead character Monica and I get to kick some serious butt! As Though Dead – I play a street smart, exotic dancer named Elizabeth. In this film the end is near and the rapture process has started. During this event the wrath of God will be revealed and the faith of others will be tested. A group of people come together in a church and they must take sides before each of them get taken one by one.. The future of our society is put in the hands of a few, but they must find the faith and courage it takes to save what’s left. Black Ops – This is Tony Randall's (Hellraiser 2) next film, and I am so excited to work with him!
ABRAHAM LINCOLN VAMPIRE HUNTER By Seth Graham-Smith
This magazine does a lot of interviews with horror authors and publishes a lot of horror fiction. Do you have a favourite horror author and/or book? Sadly I have little time to read books; I have neverending supply of scripts and treatments to get through. I used to love reading V.C. Andrew novels, although I wouldn't consider her work horror, even though book stores do. She had such interesting story lines and makes you understand the characters as they proceed through extreme circumstances. I also loved Dean Koontz and Stephen King.
www.constablerobinson.com I don’t often read biographies, but this one caught my attention immediately. History is not really my forte. As an Englishman I stopped taking an interest in America when we lost it during the war of independence. Since then it’s mostly been wiped from British history classes and the only glimpses we get of US history now come from films like The Patriot and things about the Salem Witch Trails. In those kinds
Anything else you’d like to add? 16
of things the English are always the baddies. Whether we actually were is not even relevant. Anyway, back to the book. Abraham Lincoln kept a secret diary in which he recorded his exploits and his life: a diary which has been kept secret up until now, a diary which contains valuable information that the US public and the world should be aware of. You see, the author has been made privy to their diaries, and the facts that these diaries contain is absolutely astonishing. This book tells us the secret truth behind one of America’s most famous presidents, Abraham Lincoln, a man known as “honest Abe”, a man who stood up to injustice and won the civil war so that the truth could be revealed. The truth is in this book. The truth is that vampires live among us. Any fan of the Twilight series of books and films, will, of course, already know this. But those doubters only need to read the miraculous story of Abraham Lincoln, mostly in his own words, as he tells of the death of his mother who was murdered by vampires because of his father’s debt, and how the young Lincoln becomes a vampire hunter, seeking revenge for her death. The young Lincoln grows up, becoming aware of the use of slaves to help feed vampires in the southern states, and as he grows older and becomes unable to fight vampires with stakes and silver, he must find other ways to win his war against evil. Of course there’s much more to it than that, including mysterious vampiric powers working behind the scenes, Lincoln’s own struggles with his father growing up, and his struggles with the death of his loved ones. What this book gives us is an insight into the greatest vampire hunter who ever lived. Lincoln is not only a great man of historical importance, but he is a man, a son, a father, a husband. The diaries and Graham-Smith’s clever manipulation of them present us with a true hero; a man fighting not only the external pressures, but his own internal conflicts too. Brilliant, passionate and entertaining. This is a book which offers great insight, massive amounts of entertainment, and a truly unique view of one of the major characters on the stage of history. What d’you mean it not real? By Stanley Riiks
Farmers and Sewage Baby. Intended as a tribute to 80s slashers Motel Hell and Blood Diner, The Green Monster plays like a 70s grindhouse movie with performances ranging from novice to Oscar-nominee and a plotline that makes you think you have started having blackouts. Having two directors (Bryan Roberts and Nolan Ball) may account for some of the flavours the film dips in and out of, wearing influences like Rob Zombie, Dumplings, and Cronos. The effects are bad CGI and joke shop plastic, but the real enjoyment is in the characters and the varied display of acting talent presented. Edward X Young gives a stand-out performance as Gerald, a redneck cannibal chef on a par with Drayton Sawyer. Although the film opens badly with an overkill of messy gore, the story plays with different ideas and has several strands which make it an unpredictable ride. By Stone Franks
Guidance from the Dark Scribe – Horror: Check Yourself at the Door By Ty Schwamberger If you look up ‘horror’ (a noun) in a dictionary, you’ll find something similar to the following: an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting; a shuddering fear: to shrink back from a mutilated corpse in horror (I particularly like the dictionary’s example of something horrific). However, I think horror, true horror that is, is something embedded deep within the human psyche and can be different from person to person depending on past experiences you’ve gone through. This also explains why some people like watching or reading scary stuff, while some do not. Let me explain. I think, at least to some degree, that all people like to be scared. It is just part of human nature. Ever noticed someone cover his or her eyes
THE GREEN MONSTER http://www.thegreenmonstermovie.com/ Here we have a modern low-budget movie in the tradition of classics such as Invasion of the Blood 17
when watching a scary scene in a movie? Sure you have. These people act like they don’t want to see what is happening, yet they still through the spaces in between their fingers. Some people say we, as humans, are inherently good. Overall, I believe that is true. But, at the same time we all have a ‘bad’ side. It is that bad side that comes out when we watch the news or almost marvel at the destruction that some madman just caused on the highway or in someone’s living room. If we didn’t like hearing about other people’s misfortunes we would turn off the news, press the off button on the DVD player, or put down the book. But... we don’t. Instead we just shake our heads and think (and never or rarely ever
getting out of the hospital, perhaps the guy goes on a mission to find the reckless driver and put him out of his misery. See what I mean? Even the everyday things we enjoy (walking a cute dog down a nice quiet street in middle-America suburbia) can turn into someone’s nightmare. That is what writing horror is all about. Trying new angles on a classic story or character or writing about something no one else has ever thought about before. As for those out there who say “I don’t like watching scary movies or reading scary books,” you better check yourself at the door to your high school English class. Because if you like ‘classic literature’ than you’ve probably read horror before (Romeo and Juliet killing themselves in the name of love is pretty horrific and pretty much just downright dumb), and might have even enjoyed it (those stories were always too tame for my taste), and if you watch your local news—guess what?—you’re watching real life horror take place (which is far worse than any writer could come up with, maybe), and... Okay, I better stop before I get on too much of a rant here. Horror is all around us, whether you enjoy watching or reading it or not. It’s in your face in the media, both the made-up stuff and the reports of unfortunate things that happen to innocent people on a daily basis. Some of it is fascinating in a macabre sort of way (the made-up stuff, of course... ha ha), while some of it is just downright sick. I guess when it comes down to brass tacks, horror means different things to difference people, but really it’s all the same thing: horror. So, if you’re one who looks down on people that like to watch a good scary movie or read a great horror novel, you better watch who you’re bashing, because more than likely you’re just putting yourself down as well.
say out loud) “I am so glad that it didn’t happen to me.” Personally, I like writing scary stuff simply because that is what I have always been into (I grew up watching the slasher films from the 1980s). I like how a horror writer can make pretty much anything into something scary. For example, a horror writer can start a serene story with a man walking a cute dog down the street, enjoying the outdoors, his life and his dog. Now, you can make that scary by having a madman in a car jump the curb, taking them both out. Say the dog dies and the guy ends up in the hospital and has to fight for his life. Then after
Ty is an author in the horror genre. To learn more about his work visit http://tyschwamberger.com
NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (2010) Remember those nights? It was 1984 and you’d just sat through an hour and half of Robert Englund’s maniacal murderer. You laughed, of course you did, and there was the shaky edge of nerves in it. But you were with your friends/girlfriend/boyfriend and so the clammy palms were hastily wiped on jeans and you held back the fear. Fifteen minutes later. You’re at home. It’s dark. And all you can 18
unforgettable original. And while Haley is like shit in a field at the minute (that is, he’s everywhere) you still don’t get the feeling that you’re seeing the same actor. If only he could crank up the same menace he put into Rorschach, his Krueger would be formidable. As it is, he plays Kreuger pre-burning with skill, but the nightmarish alter-ego a little softly. Still, let’s give him a get-out-of-jail-free card. He’s up against an iconic character portrayal. The effects start terribly. The original movie used physical effects to get the same results, and looked a whole lot more convincing. In the update, the old “Freddy coming through the wall” trick looks like a five year old has CG’d it. But luckily this is the only occurrence of CGI in the movie. The rest of the effects are as nightmarish as you’d want them to be. I took particular delight in watching Cassidy’s character being thrown around the room and painfully torn open… purely because the effects were awesome… obviously. Oh, and the usual twist ending applies (although nothing as creepy as the Freddy-car at the end of the original) that harkens to an unnecessary sequel. And I sure hope I’m wrong on that point. In the end, Elm Street seems to be little bothered by a psychotic paedophile murdering their children while they sleep. And, to be honest, for most of the film I wasn’t bothered either. I’d suggest sleeping through the first half, but that would be a corny joke. I think I’m going to coin this next phrase as my life’s motto until someone finds me a movie to suggest otherwise… watch-the-original. Sweet Dreams. Purely for nostalgia’s sake. By Craig Hallam
think about is how much you don’t want to sleep. Damn. What a movie. Fast forward 26 years. The remake is due out. We have more high-tech filming equipment, we have bigger budgets, we have learnt so much about scary movies over the last two decades. Man, was I looking forward to this movie! But I had the Dread. That fear that nothing can stand up to the original. I had it with Halloween (2007) and I was right. But then Friday the 13th (2009) was actually quite good, despite Jared Padelecki’s brow-emoting. So Nightmare on Elm Street was the tie-breaker as far as I’m concerned. Which way will it swing? It doesn’t start well, Movie Fans. Let’s start with the “script”. Note the quotation marks. I can’t begin to describe how bad this script is. Take this snippet as an example: Kris: “... I know what you’re going to say. But now every time I dream, I always see this man and... he’s... burned... and he’s... melted and he’s always trying to attack me with these knives... ” Jesse: “... knives on his fingers.” Kris: “What?... oh my god, we’re having the same dream.” Jesse: “Kris, it’s not possible.” Kris: “It is possible.” Jesse: “It’s just a dream, alright?” Kris: “I’m so afraid, all I want to do is go to sleep, but if I do he’s going to kill me like Dean.” Jesse: “Maybe we should just stop talking about it, alright? If we’re talking about it we’ll just keep thinking about it and dreaming about it.”
CONTACT Now imagine Katie Cassidy and Jesse Braun stumbling through this scene like F-drama students who can’t read; while looking like the oldest high school kids in the world. Apparently, director Samuel Bayer thinks that if Cassidy wears next-tonothing, and Braun’s hair is a little messy, you’ll not see their thirty year old faces. Or, hopefully, hear them speak. But it’s not all bad. Once most of the cast are dead, the film really gets good. With only Quentin (Kyle Gallner) and Nancy (Rooney Mara) left, we start to have some characterisation, some actual tension, and lines that don’t sound like throwbacks from Dallas. In fact, the last third of the film is very good. Of course, Mr. Englund doesn’t grace our screens this time. Jackie Earle Haley replaces the
Starring Zoe Daelman Chlanda, Robb Leigh Davis Written & Directed by Jeremiah Kipp Based on “The Pod” by Carl Kelsch www.contact.shroggle.com Jeremiah Kipp’s Contact couldn’t have come at a better time. My frustration with the horror genre has reached a fever pitch: too many bad movies, too few words to say about them. I’m all for filmmakers taking the time and talent to bring their “masterpiece” to life for others to enjoy, but there are far too many talentless creators lurking around, in it just for the quick cash grab and nothing more. They couldn’t care less about story or pacing or acting or how the hell to even set up a shot. And then I saw Contact. It’s a short film, a mere 11 minutes in length. 19
It’s Black and White. It’s practically dialogue free. There isn’t any gore. And it’s spectacular! Huh?
THE SCULPTOR By Gregory Funaro http://www.gregoryfunaro.com/ Serial killers are very difficult to pull off, particularly when you give the reader a close-up view and let the killer take over part of the book. You have to provide enough insanity to make it real, yet not so much that it stops making sense. You have to show a cold and calculating side, but try to remain human. You have to give enough twistedness and nastiness to scare your audience. Gregory Funaro manages to provide all this with The Sculptor. The Sculptor is a classic sociopath; one who sees humans merely as his material and lets nothing get in the way of creating his works of art, which he creates from human body parts. For his first piece, Michelangelo’s Bacchus, he abducts and kills a young boy, an American Football player, and a goat. FBI Special Agent Sam Markham falls into the case almost by accident. The speciality profiler just happens to be in Rhode Island about to do a talk when his expertise is called upon. When the Sculptor’s first piece is found, the FBI have no choice but to call in Brown University’s resident expert on Michelangelo Dr. Cathy Hildebrant, not only because she can tell them more about the statue than anyone else, but also because the Sculptor has dedicated it to her. This is a highly accomplished debut novel that cleverly uses art history to spoon feed us the clues. The book feels like a shorter Da Vinci Code because of this, but the knowledge that helps move the FBI and the reader forward never gets in the way of the story. The art history and opinion is cleverly enveloped in the plot so that we never feel we’ve been given a lecture, despite the large amount of information given out. The Sculptor is a scary individual, but Funaro still makes him human: a tough task for a sociopathic serial killer, and yet it works. In fact, one of Funaro’s greatest skills is his really very good characterisation, imbuing each of our main characters with enough human foibles, weaknesses, and traits to make them standout. The plot moves along nicely, although we tend to know what’s going on a little before the FBI and Hildy because of our regular visits to the Sculptor. Nevertheless, it is handled well enough to keep enticing you back for more.
That’s right, for once, a movie that thinks outside the box. It’s the not-so-simple story of a boy and girl who buy some drugs from a trench coat wearing Alan Rowe Kelly (looking very much like he stepped from the pages of a Pulp comic book). They get naked. They get high. Then things start spiralling out of control literally. The ending leaves something to be desired, as I’m not quite sure what the hell happened. I have an idea... maybe. But the vagueness, I’m sure, was the intent. The actors can act, which, when it comes to indie movies, is a blessing in disguise. But the real star of this thing is the excellent cinematography by Dominick Sivilli. I’m convinced he can take a hundred dollar budget and make it look like a million bucks. Contact is short, sweet and unforgettable. It is exactly what it needs to be in order to survive in a world (an independent one) where movies both feature- and short-length are a dime a dozen, and twenty new ones seem to pop every other day. It doesn’t get lost in the shuffle because the passion for genuine filmmaking is apparent in every single frame. With hundreds of movies coming out each year it’s becoming more and more time consuming to weed through the trash. And I, for one, never signed on to be a garbage collector. Follow the link at the top of this article and you too can view Contact, in its entirety, for FREE! You’re welcome. By Trevor Wright 20
The climax does go a little too far for my personal tastes, not in terms of violence, but much like Hannibal, it just takes one step beyond the believable. That’s not to say the climax doesn’t live up to the build-up, because it does, and that fatal step too far can really be forgiven. This isn’t a masterpiece like Silence of the Lambs, but it does hold its own against the other Lector novels. Funaro is clearly a writer with talent and the Sculptor is a truly terrible, original individual and serial killer. Although nothing is exceptional, everything is good, solid, and well written, and in this cynical age it is difficult to read a book and not be disappointed. The Sculptor will not disappoint. By Stanley Riiks
workstation. I’ve found I am much more experimental and creative when I work digitally. I am not afraid of messing around with a piece digitally because it’s much more forgiving than having to repaint or start over.
Interview with Darryl Elliott
How did you first get started as an artist? How did you first go about getting your artwork seen? This is a long story! My wife and I are sciencefiction/fantasy fans and we attended many conventions simply as fans. We had been going to cons for a couple of years and my wife had always told me I should get some panels at the art shows. I was reluctant to do so, but one year, she finally talked me into it and I worked up several pieces to exhibit in my first art show at a convention. I met a lot of really great artists while setting up and by Sunday, I had won every award except Best 3D and Best Colour. I was pretty surprised! All the other artists I met there were very helpful and suggested other conventions I should attend. After that, I showed at an average of about five conventions a year.
A lot of your work is in black and white. Do you prefer that or does the job dictate the medium? In retrospect, it seems like the jobs really dictated what medium I worked in. Most of my early published work was all pen and ink. I did a lot of pointillism and cross hatching. It was tedious, but publishers were not printing grey scale or halftones because it was too costly, and honestly, turned out really horrible if they didn’t know what they were doing.
A freelance illustrator in the science-fiction/fantasy field since the mid 90s, Darryl feels fortunate to have provided artwork to many major publishers of RPGs, CCGs, computer games, book covers, and magazines. His clients include Asimov's and Analog Magazines, Ellery Queen Magazine, White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, Steve Jackson Games, Midway, and many others. Darryl will be providing the cover art for Morpheus Tales #13. What inspired you to become an artist? I’ve always enjoyed drawing ever since I was young. When I was in the first grade I sold a drawing of a monster driving a hot rod dragster for twenty five cents. I realized then I could make money by drawing! When I was in high school I entered a contest and had one of my drawings published in a national magazine and that was pretty cool. I also won lots of local and state competitions. I was always the nerdy kid who could draw, so I guess I latched onto the stereotype. Is your work mainly digital or traditional? Currently, I do most of my work digitally. Our current residence doesn’t have the space for all my drawing tables and materials, so I’ve had to settle for a small corner in a bedroom to set up my
You have profiles on Facebook and Myspace and a blog. How important do you think social networking is for an artist? You forgot I have a Linked In profile and am on Twitter, too! I think social networking is an extremely important piece of the whole marketing puzzle for artists. Facebook is what hooked me up with Morpheus Tales, so social networking does work! I’ve also had lots of leads come out of contacts I’ve made on the ‘Big 3’: Twitter, Facebook, and Linked In. 21
projects all day long. It’s pretty boring actually.
Competition has always been tough, but with the explosion of Web 2.0 the sheer number of awesome artists available for work is mind numbingly huge! It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That has been true for ages and it’s still true today. You can be a great artist, but if no one knows you, you won’t get work. A great way to get out there and meet people is through social networking.
What is your favourite piece of all your work so far? Another hard question. I would have to say it’s a piece titled “After I Killed Her”. It was an interior illustration for Asimov’s Magazine. The story was written by Tanith Lee. There was a moment where the protagonist killed a dragon, but he suddenly realizes maybe that wasn’t the noblest of deeds. The description of the moment he killed her was so vivid, I worked really hard to try to capture all the visual elements described in the text and tie them all with the emotional impact the protagonist felt as he watched the dragon pass.
What artists have influenced you the most? Wow. Where to begin? Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Rembrandt, Alphonse Mucha, Frederic Remington, Syd Mead, H.R. Giger, Ralph McQuarrie, MC Escher, Drew Struzan, Bob Peak, and I have to stop because there are just too many to list.
Do you read reviews of your work? How do you deal with criticism? I have seen a few comments about some of my work on forums before and it’s usually pretty positive. I have had a few difficult to hear critiques before, but they were from artists I respect and admire. Sometimes it hurts to hear the truth, but if the criticism is coming from someone I know who knows what they are talking about, then it’s all good.
What other things have influenced you? I’m going to sound like a huge geek here but three movies really influence me still to this day: Star Wars (A New Hope), Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and ALIEN. Where do you get your inspiration? I have to say, I get my inspiration from other artists. I am constantly astounded and amazed at how much fantastic talent is out there. It is very humbling and I realize how blessed I am to actually have been published all these years!
What’s the most exciting thing about art for you? I enjoy the pure creativity of sketching. Something about sketches really inspires me because that’s where the seed of the idea begins to grow. The raw idea is initially placed on paper or canvas or a napkin or church bulletin, and it has all the potential encased in a scribble.
What is your average day like? I have to laugh at this because I’m at a point in my life right now where nothing is average. My days are pretty boring, I think. Coffee is first, of course. I check my email and all the social network sites I have profiles on to see if there’s anything worth following up on. My wife goes to school now, and my daughter is home schooled, so I work with her for a while during the day. I don’t multi-task as well as I should, but I have to bounce between numerous
What’s the most frustrating thing about being an artist for you? Taking that little scribble on a napkin and turning it into a finished piece of art. The struggle always begins there. I’ve always felt I have great ideas that somehow get lost in the execution. Many times, I’ve 23
my portfolio. Right now, I’m concentrating on doing more work for more clients and I am broadening my samples. I’m at a point right now where I do have a bit more time to work on my personal stuff. Sometimes, that’s bad because it means I’m not working for clients, which means I’m running out of money!
been so frustrated because the ideas just don’t translate into the finished piece as well as I had hoped. I’m usually pretty disappointed in the way my work turns out. What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience? I am constantly shocked and amazed at how many people remember the art I have done and how it had inspired them or affected them in some way. I am always humbled when I hear someone tell me how
Do you have a ritual or routine for when you work? Coffee. I really like to work non-stop for several hours at a time if I can, so I try to pick times when I know I won’t be interrupted. That’s hard to do because my daughter is home schooled, so I have to stop and assist her a lot of times. What do you like to do when you’re not working? I try to set aside a couple of hours to play Guild Wars when I can. When my wife gets home from school, I make dinner and after that try to play for a while. I’ve tried WOW, D&D Online, Lineage, and a ton of other MMORPGs, but I keep coming back to Guild Wars. I’m looking forward to GW2! If any Guild Wars players are out there, my IGN is Dela Darklodina. Who are your favourite authors and favourite books? Favourite films? I don’t get to read as much as I should, but I’d have to say Phil Dick and George Orwell. My two favourite films would have to be The Empire Strikes Back and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I had to stop at two because the list would go on forever.
they had gone to one of my demo panels and they thanked me for showing them how I worked. It’s nice to know that my art really has made a difference to some. I am always totally shocked when I get compliments from other artists that I feel are light-years better than I. I suffer from the fanboy syndrome and automatically think “I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy!”
How do you feel about censorship? If I don’t like something, I don’t look at it. In my opinion, there are moral lines one should not cross. I’m all for a good horror film or story, but when the violence becomes too much and senseless, it loses its storytelling and goes into an area of just being disgusting. Take Psycho as an example. Would it be any better if the viewer saw the knife slashing the skin and blood spurting from the deep wounds? No, it would not. Good horror is left to the imagination. ALIEN is a great movie, not because of what you see, but what you DON’T see.
What do you think is the most important thing when becoming an artist? Do what you love. Don’t try to paint like someone else. Find your own style.
What is your dream job as an artist? To be able to paint what I want all the time. But, I’d love to do some design work for films and television.
Do you have a particular audience in mind or do you do it for yourself? I have several pieces that I’m working on to expand
Do you get artist’s block? If so, how do you cope with it? Oh yes! I get it all the time. For me, I really hate the 24
fact I know I can do so much better, but I fight with paintings all the time. I always want them to look a certain way and they rarely do. Even when they are finished, I am never satisfied. I suppose that’s normal. When I’m given a project with a specific scene or with instructions of what is supposed to be going on, I rarely have a problem coming up with something. Usually the struggles come with composition and dynamics at that point. When I come up with my own ideas, that’s where I tend to struggle the most. I know what I want to do, but my brain and hand fail to coordinate and I get annoyed. A lot of times, I just quit, move on to another piece, and maybe come back to the other one at a later date. Sometimes just getting away from a piece helps. When you come back to it you are able to notice things you hadn’t before.
What are you working on now? I’m finishing up the painting for Morpheus Tales today. I am always working on looking for work! That in itself is a full-time job it seems! So, if anyone reading this has any projects coming up, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I’m easy to find. I have about 4 or 5 pieces going at the same time and I have a couple of projects in the works. I’m in hurry up and wait mode on a couple of other things. So, one never knows what one is going to be doing! Do you have any advice for other artists? Never give up. Never surrender! No, really, keep going, keep learning, keep refining, and keep talking to people. Learn to face and accept rejection. Be professional. What scares you? This may sound corny, but dying alone and forgotten is really frightening to me. Also, not being remembered for anything or living a life where I have no impact on anything. That’s really sad.
THE LAST EXORCISM I love horror movies. So much so that I think I’ve seen too many. I’m hard to impress now, there’s no doubting that. I can see a scare coming a mile away and find it hard to get involved in the film because I’m listening for the tell-tale music crescendo or waiting for the obligatory “first scare is always a cat in the cupboard” moment. But now and again, a movie comes along that’s pretty well made, with decent characters and I’m impressed again. The Last Exorcism is almost one of those films. Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) is a preacher and exorcist of impeccable ability but has lost his faith (like in The Exorcist). He now reverts to showmanship and tricks to ‘heal’ people of psychological problems that manifest as demonic possession. He agrees to let a film crew follow him on his final assignment before he retires to help them prove that possession is as phony as he is. Fabian plays a brilliant character, totally likeable and funny so that you actually feel for the poor guy when the poop hits the windmill. In a horror movie culture that’s come to regard character development as a waste of time, this movie is a welcome return to the old days of character first and scares later. The same goes for the ‘possessed’ girl, Nell (Ashley Bell) and her father, Louis (Louis
If you could meet anyone, fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? Mark Twain, maybe? He’s the first person that popped into my head. I do not know why. If you could live in any fictional world or time other than now, which one would it be? I would like to have been around during the Renaissance. I would like to think I would have been one of the artists transforming the world at that time. 25
Herthum); both are acted exceptionally. Cotton maintains for the entirety of the film that Nell is in dire need of psychological support and his attempts to get her real medical assistance is the most believable and heroic part of the movie. Of course, Nell starts to manifest some strange symptoms such as literally bending over backwards to please her demonic hi-jacker. Daniel Stamm, a director with few credits to his name thus far, does a brilliant job of using the POV style without making it jarring. If you were expecting another Paranormal Activity, this isn’t it (wait for that sequel later this year). The documentary style is executed so well you’ll barely notice its happening. And The Exorcist pastiche is done brilliantly, throwing you into that final scene early in this movie so you don’t know where it could go next. Now, the downside? There has to be something, and there is. The end sucks harder than my granny with a Worther’s Original. You won’t hear me say this often, but this film needs an extra fifteen minutes. It’s rushed to the point that it jars, and not in a good way. It leaves you wondering what just happened, but not like Inception. (Warning: Epic amounts of spoilers on their way, sorry) The fact that the story ends up resembling Rosemary’s Baby doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that Cotton walks into the fire to battle the demon, and the cameraman runs away before you see anything actually happen. Nell is left tied to a table, her father is blindfolded and strung to a post, Cotton is walking into the fire with faith reaffirmed and his crucifix held high, and the other two just die. Really quickly. Instantly, in fact. It sucks. If you’re going so far as to have a proper demon-battling ending, at least let us see Cotton die. At least let Nell find the camera and escape. How does the tape ever reach civilisation so we can all see it? We have no idea because the last thing we see, it’s in the hand of a Satanist. The believability runs through excellently until the last minute of film where everything happens and nothing at all. Oh, and the scariest bits of the movie are in the trailer. Shame that. But that’s it. The only downsides. If this turns out to have alternate endings like Paranormal Activity did, we could be on to a winner. I’d still suggest watching it for the performances and well executed possession acrobatics. Just wait until the Cotton-in-the-fire scene and then close your eyes until the credits. Damn Hollywood’s inability to end a film! By Craig Hallam
FUNGUS OF THE HEART By Jeremy C. Shipp www.rawdogscreaming.com www.jeremycshipp.com Strange, weird, bizarre: all words that can be used to describe this indefinable collection. The stories contained in this volume are extremely original, compelling, chaotic, twisted, and undeniable. This is truly imagination unleashed. Part dream, part hallucination, part story, part experience, the tales blend and melt, combining styles and genres for atmosphere and effect. The closest comparison would be Hunter S. Thompson, the Grimm fairy tales, C. S. Lewis’ adventure of Alice, and Jeff Noon’s early novels, all rolled into one… or a story version of a Salvador Dali painting. The stories range from the most accessible “The Sun Never Rises in the Big City,” a noir-ish bizarro tale that brilliantly introduces this volume, to the completely bizarre “Tickettyboo”. Some stories will leave you confused and some exhausted, but some will make your eyes sparkle with joy. It is one of the strangest and most original collections I’ve ever read, reminding me of the familiar, and yet offering it in a completely new light. “Boy in the Cabinet” is a wickedly twisted tale that makes great use of a self-explanatory title. Weirdness abounds. “Agape Walrus” is about an agape walrus and a zombie polar bear that live together, the walrus eating tofu and the bear eating tiny pieces of the walrus’ brain. When three curious scientists pay them a visit, Kevin (the walrus) attempts to show them the power of love using a mind-melding technique with ingenious consequences. “Kingdom Come” is a clever future prison tale about a warden with a wicked sense of humour. These brief descriptions cannot do justice to the stories. This is a diverse collection, strangely entertaining and unique. The full force bizarro stories can be over overwhelming and possibly confusing for the casual reader, and take a while to get used to. Much of the 26
originality comes from the strangeness, but Shipp shows off his accessibility with the first story in the book which seems both the least bizarro and the most compelling. The collection is still brilliantly addictive and wildly imaginative, but one can’t help feeling Shipp’s talent is slightly trapped in a completely bizarro world. It’s a shame, but I think Shipp may find a bigger audience if he toned down his obvious talent and channelled it into more mainstream genre material. Can something be too original? Shipp has masses of potential, and these strange stories will surely appeal to bizarro fans and those looking for something new. This book is a great blend and a perfect introduction to bizarro fiction from a writer unconfined. By Stanley Riiks
magazine that speaks to you, subscribe! Each order or subscription is an encouragement for the magazine to continue, and may represent the fine line between a new issue appearing and the entire ‘zine disappearing into the black abyss. Kill your idols. Scriveners and Doubleday will not go out of business if you do not buy one of their books today. They cater, by design, to the lowest common denominator. The small press can and will disappear without support – too many to name have disappeared during the economic meltdown. The small press, including Morpheus Tales, actively encourages new artists and writers, giving early encouragement and an audience to embryonic tale weavers. Joe Hill’s first short story collection was not published by a huge conglomerate, but by PS Publications, who had faith in his ability to find readership. Limited edition runs are produced for the love of the genre… well, that and the hope of making a profit (let’s be honest). This is not a call to buy everything from every small press, as there is a plethora of crap. A good online starting point is the Shocklines8 forum, which is a fantastic resource even though they have shut down their bookstore. With the innumerable review outlets available, including this supplement, an active reader can find the gems in the broken glass. Some publishers actively promote new author series. Dark Regions Press9 has a series called “New Voices In Horror,” which has seen four volumes published to date. They contain new and reprinted material from a single author in a wellproduced, signed and numbered hardcover. The only detriment to the series is that they are $40.00 each, which is a significant investment in what is likely to be an unknown quantity. Recently, Dark Regions has announced a trade paperback edition of the series to be released with a budget-friendly price tag. Check their website for details. Eraserhead Press10 also has a “New Bizarro Author Series” with four volumes currently in print. The stated goal of the series is to showcase unknown writers’ debut books at a low price. The list price is $9.95, however they can be found at a discount if you shop around online. Each volume is trial by fire; if they have enough copies sold within a year, the author will have an opportunity to be published again in the future. Of course, your mileage may vary. Some of the Bizarro (nee Weird Fiction)
From the Catacombs By Jim Lesniak Kill your idols. Stephen King will not starve if you do not run out and buy his new book. He will not give up the writing game either. This goes for Douglas Clegg, Jack Ketchum, Dean Koontz, or Clive Barker. This is not an indictment of quality or talent – if only we could stop Dan Brown from inflicting his tortured prose upon a complicit public. In the horror genre, the new talents need to be found and nurtured lest it become more marginalized than it is now. “But where can new talent be found?” you ask. There are numerous anthologies printed annually claiming to the “best” horror of the year, and these occasionally throw a new author a bone. However, to get a fix for short stories the small press magazines are the primary source, whether in print or online. They can disappear in a heartbeat, like City Slab or Lovecraft’s Weird Mysteries, or experience periods of intermittent delays, like Cemetery Dance did a few years back, but they are the primary showcase for new authors in the horror genre. Some of the more regularly produced ‘zines are: Morpheus Tales, Dark Discoveries, Black Ink Horror, Cemetery Dance, Apex Digest, Black Static, Weird Tales, and Clarkesworld.7 When you find a 7
Morpheus Tales you should be able to find if you are reading this. Subscribe! http://darkdiscoveries.com/ http://www.sideshowpresspublications.com/Black_Ink_Horror. html http://cemeterydance.com/ http://www.apexbookcompany.com/ http://ttapress.com/
http://www.weirdtales.net/ http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/ 8 http://shocklines.com 9 http://www.darkregions.com/ 10 http://eraserheadpress.com/ 27
authors seem to revel in strange for strangeness’ sake, neglecting a point, plot or story. Kill your idols. Do not pay money to see Iggy and the Stooges. They don’t really exist anymore. It is not 1974; it is not dangerous, underground or innovative. Yes, Iggy will put on a fantastic, well-rehearsed show that references the insanity of thirty-five years ago. He will break 6-8 microphone stands and bring about forty quite ecstatic concert-goers on stage near the end of the show. Every show. Every town. The MC5 are not “The” MC5; only three of them are still alive, not including the singer. Kiss will never stop touring. At least the Sex Pistols admitted they reformed for the money, unlike “The Doors” touring without Jim Morrison. There are bands or musical artists in every region that could be legends if they have support. It is easier now than ever before to record and release music. You can get an app on the iPhone for a four track recorder and then upload to the internet. In the 80’s we had to rent a four track and a mixer to produce an adequate demo on cassette, which we then had to physically duplicate and give to people. We also wrote on clay tablets and discovered fire by accident while domesticating dogs. Free samples abound online, as do streaming radio stations like WOXY or Pandora. Go random and find something you didn’t know you liked. Find a local college’s radio station and avoid the corporate behemoth stations unless cookie cutter music really excites you. Kill your idols. Marvel and DC will not cease operations if you do not buy each part of a crossover. Image will not collapse if you don’t buy the latest issue of Spawn (if it ever gets released). Comic Book/Graphic Novel distribution in the U.S. is essentially a monopoly through Diamond Distribution. What this means, of course, is if they do not carry a book, it will not make it to the shops, and even if a title is solicited, they can always “precancel” it due to pre-orders not hitting a threshold. Luckily, the internet allows for the small publishers to sell internationally if the reading public is engaged. While I was able to get Cthulhu #111 through Diamond, I was forced to order issues 2-6 from Spain. Harker12 was dropped due to low orders, but was swiftly dispatched from the U.K. by the creative team; similarly, the first edition of Angel Fire had to be direct ordered.
Build new idols. Find blogs, magazines and review sites that you trust. Be an active participant in the genre to help it grow and expand. If we choose not to find the new and innovative, we will get what we deserve: sparkling vampires, Romero retreads, and endless reunion/farewell tours. Readers took a chance on Clive Barker once.
H.P. LOVECRAFT’S CTHULHU
Transfuzion Publishing (http://transfuzion.com) Let the groaning commence: the first review after a rant about killing one’s idols and it’s for Lovecraft? This graphic novel adaptation is a debut from Michael Zigerling, therefore warranting its inclusion. We can dispense with a review of the story as it should be something horror fans have at least a passing knowledge of, right? Zigerling has an excellent grasp of the use of negative space, both white and black. He does not get as mind-bendingly weird or psychedelic as John Coulthart’s adaptation, but the highly detailed illustrations are fantastically done. The eruptions of insanity are a strength here, as that seems to be where the artist’s heart (of darkness?) lies. Expository scenes feel stiff with what seem like stock poses for the “ordinary” humans. Granted, Lovecraft’s characters are usually stiff and undeveloped; we are here for the atmosphere and cannot fault the artist too much for what may have been a conscious choice given the source material. Transfuzion’s edition is nicely done. Gary Reed has been in the business long enough to produce quality volumes. Although some previous editions from his current outlet had fuzzy or pixilated pages interspersed, this volume avoided the production issues. An incredibly impressive graphic novel debut and recommended even if you are not a Lovecraft fan.
SHATNERQUAKE By Jeff Burke Eraserhead Press A “bizarro” novel that sounds better in summary than it is in execution. Terrorists set off a reality bomb at the premier “ShatnerCon,” causing every character ever played by William Shatner to come to life and have a burning desire to kill the real Shatner. A quick caricature sketch of William Shatner is produced with an attempt to mimic his stilted dialogue style. The traditional mocking of “fanboys” then occurs, leading into a bloodbath at
http://www.kettledrummerbooks.com/ http://www.diaboloediciones.com/actualidad.html 12 http://arielpress.com/ 28
doesn’t suit my style – So I think that I’ll act bored instead.” As can be guessed, this is an international aggregation of artists tipping their hat to the late Rowland S. Howard, who performed with the Birthday Party, Crime and the City Solution, These Immortal Souls, and numerous other eclectic musicians on the world stage. Sadly, Rowland passed away from cancer before this could be released, transforming it into a memorial. Very few physical CDs remain in my collection for long after being ripped. The case is discarded, the booklet and disc jettisoned into a sleeve for space concerns. This is one of the rarities. The total package is impressive, from the brief biographical essay to the art design of the CDs themselves. For once with a tribute album, we are given complete information for the contributing artists and where the original recordings may be located. The biggest names, recognition wise, on this two disc set are Mick Harvey, Nikki Sudden, and Mr. Howard himself. The collection was curated by Dimi Dero (of Dimi Dero, Inc.) and Patrick Frettin (of Wok) and feels arranged for effect. The tracks flow. There are too many tribute albums that throw the songs together with no respect for context save top loading the most popular artists or songs in the track listing. Even the duplicate songs have value here due to the personal interpretations. This compilation is highly recommended for fans of dark compositions.
the con without much work at characterization. The use of Shatner and his roles allows Burk a shortcut: why bother to develop Captain Kirk of T. J. Hooker when the target market for this will already have the knowledge? Although Shatnerquake only runs eightythree pages, it feels overly long and quickly wears out its welcome. Once the locale and “plot” are set, it becomes a series of gory set-pieces that get dull. The basic concept could have led to an intriguing book. Unfortunately, we get Captain Kirk with a lightsaber (!) killing people in Klingon costumes. Rather than getting this book, spend the money on one of the Bizarro Starter Kits that compile multiple short stories from multiple authors. Shatnerquake was a waste of a great concept and my time.
RODENTUM: THE BEST OF DARK ROOTS VOLUME FOUR Devil’s Ruin (http://www.devilsruinrecords.com) “Rodentia” - noun - small gnawing animals: porcupines; rats; mice; squirrels; marmots; beavers; gophers; voles; hamsters; guinea pigs; agoutis. “Rodentum” - pl.: Dark roots Americana from Devil’s Ruin, obsessed with damnation, the devil, lost love, and lost hope. The most notable practitioners of this style of roots music are Those Poor Bastards (covered by Hank III), Unknown Hinson, and the .357 String Band, none of which appear herein. Devil’s Ruin periodically releases these compilations of raw roots rock at a reasonable price. Although not a curated collection, the thematic similarities drive the disc like a good backbeat. It is recommended to purchase these collections one at a time, as they start to blend together with (usually) acoustic guitars, plaintive, overdriven vocals, the occasional banjo, and a lack of salvation. Repent, sinner! Highlights in this volume are the tracks by Phantoms of the Black Hills (who sound like they recruited Lonesome Wyatt for background vocals), Reverend Deadeye, and Pete Yorko. Rodentum is a good value for the price, 18 tracks for $6.66, and is recommended for those who like late period Johnny Cash, but want darker lyrics and rawer recording. A bottle of whiskey is optional.
Morpheus Tales #10 Review Supplement, October 2010. © COPYRIGHT October 2010 Morpheus Tales Publishing ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Review can be used, in full or in part, for publicity purposes as long as Morpheus Tales Magazine is quoted as the source.
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TRIBUTE TO ROWLAND S. HOWARD - VARIOUS ARTISTS
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39 pages of non-fiction, including 2 scream queen interviews (Niki Rubin & Jessica Cameron), Eric S. Brown on Bigfoot, Tommy B. Smith on Dar...
Published on Sep 30, 2010
39 pages of non-fiction, including 2 scream queen interviews (Niki Rubin & Jessica Cameron), Eric S. Brown on Bigfoot, Tommy B. Smith on Dar...