Interview with Neal Asher ................................................................................................................................ ................................ .................................................................. 2 The Next Big Thing In Horror? By Eric S Brown ................................................................................................ .............................................................. 7 MOLD! ................................................................ ................................................................................................................................ ............................................................... 8 THE GREEN MAN By Lee Mather ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ................................................... 8 BLACK SWAN ................................................................ ................................................................................................................................ .................................................. 8 HARBINGER OF THE STORM By Aliette de Bodard ................................................................................................ ................................................... 10 ETHEREAL TALES #10 ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ................................................................. 10 AS I EMBRACE MY JAGGED EDGES By Lee Thompson................................................................ Thompson ........................................................................... 10 SEASON OF THE WITCH ................................................................................................................................ ................................ .............................................................. 11 WHAT THEY HEAR AR IN THE DARK By Gary McMahon ................................................................ ............................................................................. 12 THE NAMELESS ONE By Kathryn Meyer Griffith ................................................................................................ ....................................................... 12 POINT By Thomas Blackthorne ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ....................................................... 12 Interview with Mathew Freyer ................................................................................................................................ ................................ .......................................................... 13 KING’S ’S JUSTICE: THE KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT II By Maurice Broaddus ................................................................... ................................ 16 THE SAMARITAN By Fred Venturini ................................................................................................ ................................ ............................................................................ 16 SEA OF DUST ................................................................ ................................................................................................................................ ................................................. 17 ENGINES OF DESIRE By Livia Llewellyn ................................................................................................ ................................ .................................................................... 18 SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED By Andy Remic ................................................................................................ ................................................. 18 VAMPIRES SUCK................................................................ ................................................................................................ ........................................................................... 18 The New Publishing Model: Benefits and Drawbacks: Author Advances and Royalties By Cyrus Wraith Walker ........................ 19 ROMAN HELL: A Novel By Mark Mellon ................................................................................................ ................................ ..................................................................... 21 THE FORT PROVIDENCE WATCH BY Henry P. Gravelle ................................................................ ......................................................................... 22 DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE GUIDE By Mark Campbell ................................................................ ................................................................... 22 Life Serial By Trevor Wright ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ............................................................ 23 ESTRONOMICON (Halloween 2010 ................................................................................................ ................................ .............................................................................. 25 GREEN HORNET ................................................................ ................................................................................................ ............................................................................ 25 INFERNAL DEVICES By K. W. Jeter ................................................................................................ ................................ ............................................................................ 26 BENT STEEPLE By G. Wells-Taylor ................................................................................................ ................................ .............................................................................. 27 Guidance from the Dark Scribe: Agent or No Agent? By Ty Schwamberger ................................................................ .................................................. 27 DARK VALENTINE (Issue 2) ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ......................................................... 28 DEATH’S DISCIPLES By J. Robert King ................................................................................................ ................................ ....................................................................... 29 THE BONE SWORD By Walter Rhein................................ ................................................................................................ ............................................................................ 29 From the Catacombs: Small Budget Fear By Jim Lesniak ................................................................................................ ............................................... 29 MORLOCK NIGHT By K. W. Jeter ................................................................................................................................ ................................ ................................................ 32 CITY OF HOPE AND DESPAIR By Ian Whates ................................................................................................ ............................................................ 32 Deneen Melody Interview By Trevor Wright ................................................................................................ ................................................................... 32 Edited By Stanley Riiks, Written By Adrian Brady, Eric S. S Brown, Craig Hallam, Jim Lesniak, Stanley Riiks, C. M. Saunders, Ty Schwamberger, Cyrus Wraith Walker and Trevor Wright Proof-read By Samuel Diamond. © Morpheus Tales Publishing April 2011
Interview with Neal Asher What inspired you to start writing? In the hazy distant past when I was in my teens I was interested in everything: biology, chemistry, physics, art and reading huge amounts of science fiction and fantasy. After a compliment from a teacher about a short story I wrote after overdosing on E. C. Tubb I added writing to that list. Later, when I was in my twenties, I made the decision to focus on just one thing and that was writing, which allows me my interest in the rest since they are all relevant. How did you go about first getting your stories published? Like so many I started out writing a fantasy trilogy, in longhand, on a manual then electric typewriter, on a green screen using Wordstar and finally on a pc. Meanwhile, I got hold of books like The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook and sent off synopses and sample chapters to the publishers listed within. I also began buying magazines on writing and through them discovered the small presses. Seeing a new market, I focused on short stories and gradually, over a long haul, began to get some of them published. Short stories progressed into small press short story collections and novellas whilst I was still writing to the big publishers. Finally one of those publishers responded how I wanted. You got your start as a writer in the small press. Can you tell us about that? Well, much as above. But I read, I learned and I practiced the art of writing short stories. This was in the days of real cutting and pasting and nipping down to the library to photocopy a story. With most of the small presses of the time you often had to subscribe to a magazine before you could submit anything and then the payment you got was a free copy of the mag you were already subscribed to. Also, magazines were appearing and disappearing on a yearly basis. I persevered and had a small hit when one of them wanted to publish a story I had sent. It went bankrupt shortly afterwards. My first
real success was with a short story called “Another England “in a magazine called Back Brain Recluse in 1989 (I think it might even still be around). Just that taste of ‘success’ was enough to keep me going. I kept writing the stories, kept checking the ads in the magazines I had subscribed to (the small presses were quite incestuous in that they advertised in each other) and kept sending off the stories. How did you make the move from small-press to having your novels published? Again as above. Whilst sending stuff to the small presses I continued submitting synopses and sample chapters to the big publishers. I wrote a fantasy trilogy then the first book of a second trilogy, but stopped there because I saw no point in continuing with that whilst the first books remained unpublished. I wrote a contemporary novel. I expanded my science fiction from short stories to occasional novellas then to a novel (Gridlinked) which was accepted by yet another publisher that went bankrupt. I wrote The Skinner whilst hawking Gridlinked to various big publishers, this time with copies of good reviews of my small press stuff included. And eventually, after running at a brick wall with my head for twenty years, the wall broke. What other writers have influenced you? In the acknowledgements of The Skinner I thank all those writers from Aldiss to Zelazny. I think that about covers it. What are your other influences? Film and TV, life, death, everything. Being more specific, films like Alien and Bladerunner have of course had their impact, as more recently have TV series like 24. I also read a lot of science and generally keep reading, learning, doing stuff. Where do you get your inspiration? Everywhere.. . seriously, if I knew the answer to
that one I’d write a ‘How To’ book and make a fortune. Most of your books are set in the Polity/Spatterjay universe, and are part of a series. Is that a commercial decision, or does the richness of the worlds you create lead to that anyway? Early on, as the Polity was germinating in my mind, I decided to make it as rich and diverse as possible so that I could set just about any kind of story in it that I chose. The richness of the worlds led to two series and a number of standalones. Hey, if I had been thinking commercially I would have written aga-sagas! Will you be writing any non-Polity/Spatterjay novels? I’ve already written one called Cowl, which is a time travel novel, and am presently working on a nonPolity series of books. Although well known for your SF series, you’ve also written some fantasy novels that are, as yet, unpublished. Tell us about those. These are The Staff of Sorrows, Assassin out of Twilight and The Yellow Tower in the first trilogy, followed by the first book of the Infinite Willows trilogy called Creatures of the Staff. They are all a bit of a mish-mash of Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant fantasy and Zelazny’s Princes in Amber. One day I’ll sit down and rewrite them... maybe. Your latest book The Technician came out last year (2010), and was a stand-alone Polity novel. What are you working on right now? I’ve completed the first book of a new series of three books and written the first draft of the second book. The titles are The Departure, Zero Point and Jupiter War. These tell the story of the early years of a character called the Owner who appears in short stories in my collection The Engineer Reconditioned. They’re completely different from
the Polity being set in the near future dystopia and remaining within the Solar System. Here’s the blurb for The Departure: Like Wellsian war machines the shepherds stride into riots to grab up the ringleaders and drag them off to Inspectorate HQ for adjustment, unless they are in shredding mode, in which case their captives visit community digesters, or rather whatever of them has not been washed down the street drains. Pain inducers are used for adjustment, and soon the Committee will have the power to edit human minds, but not yet, twelve billion human being need to die before Earth can be stabilized, but by turning large portions of Earth into concentration camps this is achievable, especially when the Argus satellite laser network comes fully online… Alan Saul has taken a different route to disposal, waking as he does inside a crate on the conveyor into the Calais incinerator. How he got there he does not know, but he does remember the pain and the face of his interrogator. Janus speaks to Saul through the hardware implanted in his skull, sketching the nightmare world for him. And Saul decides to bring it all crashing down… Your work is a mixing of genres, SF, fantasy and horror, how would you describe it? I would describe it simply as science fiction because, really, all SF has elements of the other two. But in the end it is not for me to categorize but for book sellers and buyers. They’ve dropped it into that category called ‘Space Opera’, which is fine by me. What is your writing day like? In Britain I normally sit down at the computer at about 8.00 in the morning, spend time catching up with Internet stuff (too much time) then carry on writing until about 5.00 (with further frequent ventures onto the Internet). In Crete, where we have
no Internet connection, I write from about the same time in the morning until about 2.00 or 3.00 in the afternoon. In both cases, when I’m in the middle of writing something new I aim for 2,000 words five days a week, but rarely achieve that. Do you have any rituals or routines when you write? Not much really. Maybe drink too much coffee and smoke too many roll-ups. How do you put a book together, do you just sit down and write, or do you plan chapter by chapter? I do very little planning at all other than having some vague idea where I’m going in my head. For me everything happens at the keyboard as I type. If you could go back in time to when you started writing and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? If I could go back in time the first thing I would say to the past me would be, “Buy a lottery ticket with these numbers on it”. Beyond that I don’t have much advice to give to that earlier self. I like what I am doing now and the position I am in. I could give him advice that might have led to early success but I’ve seen how that very often doesn’t work out so well. No, I would give no advice at all. Do you read reviews of your work? How do you deal with criticism? Of course I enjoy good reviews and think they are perfectly right, but bad reviews are quite obviously wrong. But seriously, when I first started to get them that meant I’d arrived, when I first started to get bad ones that meant my audience was growing. Now I can select reviews for any of my books which completely contradict each other. I do read reviews of my work but I am also aware that they are all 99% subjective. What book are you reading now? Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne, which thus far seems to be a great follow-up to his excellent Twisted Metal. What is your proudest moment as a writer?
When I get an email from a fan telling me how much he enjoyed a book; when it is quite evident that I’ve given someone hours of reading pleasure. Are you disappointed with any of your work when you look back on it? Not much. I know that now I could do some of my earlier books better, but I wouldn’t want to waste my time doing that when I have so many more books to write. What's the best piece of feedback that you've had from your audience? Fan emails like those mentioned above. Someone telling me how they picked up one of my books somewhere then just went out and bought all the rest, or one, which sticks in my mind, about a guy so wrapped up in one of my books he missed his train stop and had to climb over a fence to get out of the station he had arrived in. Stuff like that. What is the most important thing when becoming a writer? You need to learn to write, and never stop learning, however, to be a successful writer you need pig-headed stubbornness and self-belief, in whichever order you choose. Do you write for a particular audience, for yourself? I write for myself and luckily lots of people seem to like to read what I like to read. Really I think it’s the case that all writers do that. What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Drink wine, lounge in the sunshine, swim, walk, repair and build stuff, work in our garden, make cigars, make chilli sauce, read (of course), annoy people on the Internet, eat... Have you ever tried your hand at other types of fiction, poetry, or different medias, TV or film, etc? As I noted above I did write a contemporary novel that now languishes in my files getting less contemporary with every day that passes. Damn, the characters in it don’t even use mobile phones! I also tried my hand at some TV scripts which are still in
my files. In fact a comment on one of my blog posts recently reminded me of one of them and I pulled it out to take a look. It was a rather strange story about some alien beast living under an English wood, its tentacles spread out for miles and able to plug into sockets in the spines of nearby villagers to reprogram them. This is a scenario that will sound familiar to anyone who has read my story The Engineer. Something else I must work on, given the time. I also turned a number of short stories into film scripts in readiness for something in Hollywood land, but that didn’t pan out.
Do you get writers block? How do you cope with it? I don’t get writer’s block. After a quarter of a century of pushing myself to write I’m starting to find that I have the opposite problem and have to prune verbiage. To those who do have writer’s block I have to say that you need to want it more, and you need to work harder.
What parts of being a writer do you like best? And least? The trip to work is nice and short, the boss is easy about tea breaks and flexible about the time I put in. There’s very little chance of me crushing a finger with a hammer, getting a chunk of twig in my eye or putting my back out. Afterwards, I don’t have to clean my hands with Swarfega or change my clothes. Another great thing about this job is that I can do it anywhere in the world, so currently I write for seven months on the Island of Crete. Hey, I get paid for doing something I like doing and my job gives other people pleasure, what’s not to like about that? Well, there are things not to like. Generally there’s an aphorism that covers it: “Hell is other people”.
Which do you prefer writing/reading, short stories or novels? That’s really like asking me which I prefer of red or white wine? I like some on some occasions and others on other occasions. I enjoy the more immediate hit of writing/reading a short story and I enjoy the larger more leisurely satisfaction of writing/reading a novel.
Who are your favourite authors and what are your favourite books? I’ve got a couple of top tens up on the Internet that can be searched out but, really, the list of books is ever changing. Choosing the first ones that come to mind: Blindsight by Peter Watts, Half-Past Human by T. J. Bass, Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks, Volkhavaar by Tanith Lee, Scar Night by Alan Campbell, World Enough & Time by James Kahn, STAN by Brian Aldiss... Ask me again in a day or so and I’ll select other books as I remember them. I don’t have favourite authors because they are people who I don’t know.
If you could meet anyone, fictional or real, dead or alive, who would it be? Any of the Hoopers from my book The Skinner, preferably bringing a Spatterjay leech to bite me.
What are you working on now? I am now working on the third novel in the Owner series mentioned above: Jupiter War. I’m about 8,000 words in and on pause until after an imminent relocation. Do you have any advice for other writers? Write. Brief I know, but there it is. There are no special handshakes you must learn; there is no hidden knowledge you must acquire. You have to sit down and write, every day, learn about writing and just keep on doing it. So often I get people telling me about how they’d like to write this or that, or that they have this great idea. Oh yeah, so why aren’t you writing it then? Effectively this is like saying, whilst sitting in an armchair, that you want to be a marathon runner. What scares you? Stupidity. What makes a good story? A good story-teller.
The Next Big Thing In Horror? By Eric S Brown I’ve been writing for almost a decade now. When I started out, zombies were a cult thing and not cool at all in the mainstream world of horror. I even got “banned” from submitting to Fangoria’s Frightful Fiction by an editor back in the day because he thought zombies were crap. Heck, even before all that, as a kid it was nearly impossible to find any zombie books at all until The Book of the Dead anthology came along. I am happy and proud to have been out there waving the zombie banner when they became cool again. By 2004, with the Dawn of the Dead remake, zombies were back and kicking butt, rivaled only by the Vampire as the coolest monster in horror. Today, vampires and zombies still dominate the world of horror, appealing to wildly different readerships for the most part. However, for years now, I have heard that a new trend was coming. I have yet to see it rise up but despite my love for zombies, I kind of hope one does. The biggest three sub-genres I hear about as the potential next big things from indie publishers and other writers like myself are Giant Monsters, Werewolves, and Crypto-zoological horror. For me, the whole Giant Monsters thing seems like it doesn’t stand a chance. I can’t ever remember reading a Godzilla-type book much less reading one and going, “That was bloody awesome. I have to get more!” As to Werewolves, I would love to see them make a comeback. Dog Soldiers is perhaps the greatest “wolf” film ever. It stands out among the modern “wolf” films as a new era classic. There’s a lot of things that could be done with werewolves, from war stories to making them protectors of
nature, but I think to really hit it big, they’re going to need a full-on reboot. Crypto-zoological horror has been huge in the past, at least in terms of film. From the Legend of Boggy Creek to Sasquatch, there’s no question the genre has a cult following much like zombies used to. Crypto-zoology, too, is a science growing in popularity with very devoted followers on its nonfiction side. Personally, given my current passion as well, it would certainly get my vote for a cool, new rage. I mean, really, whatever happened to the Loch Ness Monster? My wife was a huge fan of “Nessy,” but you never, ever hear anything about her anymore. And Bigfoot, well, Bigfoot has become a cultural joke in America, limited to appearances in cell phone and beef jerky ads. As to the “goatsuckers”, aside from a few low budget films, have Hollywood or the big time publishers even begun to scratch the surface of their tale yet? And there are so many others, from Deathworms and Yetis to The Mothman and Skunk Apes, who could come out and play if crypto-zoological horror were indeed to become the new trend. James Robert Smith has a new Bigfoot book coming from TOR later this year and I will tell you it’s already on my must read list just because Bigfoot and his kind have been gone from horror so long now, it’s awesome to have anything that’s truly fun and scary about them out there. I hope we’ll see a lot more books like it in the future (but still see a lot of new zombie stuff too as one can never get enough of that beautiful end of the world feel they bring with them!) So, in truth, I have no idea what the new trend or rage will be, but I hope there is one coming. It’s time we all had a new source of dread, horror, and excitement.
MOLD! Starring Edward X. Young, Ardis Campbell, Rick Haymes, Jim Murphy http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mold/1610209672 50497 I often get worried when filmmakers send me their movies. Not because I’m not grateful. Hell, I request films all the time. Most directors ignore my feeble pleas for free swag. However, every so often, there’s one or two who will graciously send me their low budget “epics” in hopes of garnering a decent review. Usually, I do whatever I can to avoid such films. Just something about watching what I know is going to be a cheaply made “horror” flick loaded with every cliché imaginable, horrible dialogue, homemade effects and actors who can barely read much less deliver anything remotely resembling a performance, makes my skin crawl. In this day and age of digital free-for-all, everyone’s a filmmaker. Not everyone should make movies, but everyone tries… Which brings me to Mold, a movie that makes me hang my head in shame for discriminating against my fellow no-budget filmmakers. This flick is the complete opposite of everything I’ve come to expect from the low budget community. For starters, it looks and sounds like a million bucks. The colours are lush and vibrant, the sound isn’t too loud nor too low (a common problem with no budget fare). The effects are a mix of practical make up and CGI. And, sure, the CGI isn’t going to win any awards, but it isn’t horrible by any means. It serves its purpose and serves it well. Then there’s the acting. Wow, the acting! This cast is good… damn good! I can’t recall a time when I’ve seen better performances clear across the board in a modern day low-budget horror movie with no discernible weak link in the bunch. Finally, the story: Really, what can be said? It’s not anything blazingly original. But then again, what is? We’ve got a lab in the middle of the desert circa 1984 with some scientists developing a top secret biochemical weapon that, of course, goes awry and traps said scientists along with a cokehead politician, a macho Colonel, and a psychic (!) in a fight for survival against infection. The pseudo-scientific jargon gets old pretty fast as do the political undertones, but some witty one liners (including the best Back to the Future reference ever put to film) and clever banter keep it interesting.
Director Neil Meschino is certainly a force to be reckoned with when it comes to indie horror movies. Some of the choices he makes are nothing short of brilliant, from the inclusion of Ronald Reagan stock footage to the atomic age score which runs throughout. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. To say I didn’t have a good time would be criminal. Here’s hoping that Mold will be infecting your DVD collection in the very near future. By Trevor Wright THE GREEN MAN By Lee Mather www.leemather.org.uk The Green Man is a short, snappy little tale about a man driven to confront a terrible tragedy in his past by his daughter’s innocent line of questioning about the concept of heaven. Something that may be familiar to any readers with children! His family history is plagued by visits from the spectral green man, who may either be a guardian angel or a portent of doom. You’ll have to read the story to find out which. What I will tell you is that this engaging first-person narrative by UK rookie Lee Mather is as insightful and thought-provoking as it is chilling and memorable. The lead character is expertly crafted, the depth of feeling we come to have for him in the space of just a few short pages far outweighing that which we have for the protagonists of much more substantial offerings. I will certainly be seeking out more of Mather’s work in the future. By C.M. Saunders BLACK SWAN “Sometimes it’s worth putting up with some convoluted stylisation in order to see a good psychological thriller.” That’s what I was chanting to myself in the queue for Black Swan. “It’s ok, there won’t be that much ballet in it, and even if there is the weird stuff will carry you through the boring bits.” It makes you wonder, if I’m so wrong all the time why I even bother. Black Swan is about ballet. Even though it tries to be about seven other subjects at the same time. Darren Aronofsky manages to go from brilliance to bullshit between The Wrestler and Black Swan. This movie is nothing like Rourke’s comeback masterpiece. For one, it’s supposed to be a psychological thriller. For two, it doesn’t have any
good actors in it. For three, it has so little emotion. Thank god it only runs to 108 minutes. Natalie Portman (who I hardly rate already) plays Nina, a ballet dancer striving for the lead role in a major production of Swan Lake. Through some ham-fisted storytelling we realise that Nina has psychological issues, and we’re expected to take that on face value because the audience are obviously idiots. When Lilly (Mila Kunis) arrives, Nina starts to become paranoid that the younger, sexier dancer is trying to take her place. Hence forth, the film is all about Nina going slowly bonkers and long scenes of ballet practice.
Remember when I said this film was trying to be about too many things at once? It tries to realise the pressure inherent in the ballet performer’s world; the anorexia, how your career is over beyond the age of twenty five. It tries to discuss the cliques and bitchy backstabbing in this aforementioned world. It tries to be atmospheric and stylish. And it tries to scare the shit out of you. Can you see how these things don’t even mesh on paper? I don’t know who said Black Swan could out-perform King’s Speech in the awards season, but they’re an idiot. If anyone sat and enjoyed Black Swan they’re either complete morons who profess to understand the film’s nuances while having no clue what went on, or they’re pompous scoffers who think any movie about something as elitist as ballet deserves instant praise just for being made. Let’s break it down (here be spoilers). The movie follows the same plot (and I use the term loosely) as Swan Lake, where a princess is supplanted by her evil twin in the affections of the prince, causing the princess to top herself. You can draw parallels all the way through, as you should, and this fundamental element is what fails to work. The Black Swan (Portman’s dark psychotic side) is embodied by Kunis... and Nina’s mother... and Portman’s reflection... and another couple of people who appear so briefly I forget who they were. There’s no focus. Is this all in Portman’s head or not? I’m all for ambiguity, but it’d be nice if I had
the sense that Aronofsky knew the answer even if I don’t. Now, I’m going to spoil the ending for you, because I feel like you should know before you suffer the movie. The end is shite. It’s so full of holes that the entire ballet company could dance through it. Just before Nina is about to go on stage as the Black Swan, and she really needs to let her softer side go and embrace the darkness, Lilly arrives in her changing room. In a paranoid altercation, Nina stabs Lilly with a piece of mirror, stows her body in the bathroom, and then gets changed for the stage. Nina dances the Black Swan to much applause then returns to her dressing room for another change. Lilly knocks on the door. Oh yes, she’s still alive and quite un-stabbed. The body in the bathroom was imaginary. Nina then realises that in a fit of pseudo-psychotic uselessness the writers have made her stab herself and she’s bleeding. I think I need a new paragraph for this... Now, bear in mind that since Nina was stabbed she has gotten changed, danced for maybe half an hour as the Black Swan, come back and gotten changed into her White Swan outfit, and had a conversation with Lilly. She apparently has clotting factors in her blood that rival Wolverine, because she hasn’t bled to death yet. But that’s not it, because she then goes back out on stage, dances for another forty five minutes, and finishes the ballet to a standing ovation. It’s only then that she starts to bleed, profusely, and goes from Swan Queen to dead as a Dodo in thirty seconds. So it turns out that Lilly is fine, Nina’s mother turns up to the performance even though we saw her in a fit of psychosis only a few minutes earlier, and Nina dies after astounding medical science. I know. What a load of shit. Good bits? The psychotic elements are actually rendered pretty well. The make-up and special effects used in Nina’s physical transformation into the Black Swan are good. And the moments that show how much damage a ballet dancer has to take for her profession are interesting and well done. Winona Ryder stabbing herself in the face was pretty cool. The lesbian sex, however, was not. Basically, some of the small stuff is pretty good. It’s just a shame the big things are so far wide of the mark. Black Swan, Bull Shit. See the similarities. By Craig Hallam
HARBINGER OF THE STORM By Aliette de Bodard www.angryrobotbooks.com You know how sometimes when you meet someone for the first time, for absolutely no reason that you can put your finger on, you have an instant dislike, like a kind of anti-chemistry, and as you get to know them a little better you find out your initial instinct was complete and absolutely correct? (Lots of people who meet me for the first time get this impression.) That’s what happened with this book. It should have been fine. A murder mystery set in Aztec Mexico at the height of the Aztec empire, somewhere around the fifteen century sounds interesting enough. Except that it’s really not. It’s not a murder mystery for a start; it’s more a political drama with a few deaths and murders thrown in. This is not Poirot. The story is much more reminiscent of Macbeth or Hamlet, as it follows of the political intrigues when the ruler dies and his replacement must be found. The minutiae of finding the new leader is epic on a scale that even those not taking an instant disliking to will find hard to bare. De Bodard, in her afterword, says herself that the process would likely have been shorter than she’d written it. Of course it would. The only things that would feel longer would have been having my fingernails removed with pliers or my testicles boiled on a low heat. One of the problems with the book is that you just don’t care. The characters, with their incomprehensible and mispronounce-able names, are interchangeable, having no distinguishing characteristics. The fact that half of them are priests and the other half are imperial family doesn’t help matters. There’s so little tension that a couple of deaths acts only to wake you up a little. The fantastic Aztec Mexican setting is ruined by keeping everything within the courtly areas of the temples. There’s no jungle, no danger, no atmosphere. The Aztec setting, rather than spicing things up just adds to the confusion with the manysyllable names and a little of their religion. For one of the most blood-thirsty warrior nations in the world there’s little blood-shed (only once is sacrifice mentioned), and there’s absolutely nothing to help alleviate the boredom. Can a book really be that bad? Everything good you might imagine should be contained in this book has somehow been removed. It’s rather like my mother’s cooking, when at her worse she manages to remove everything that’s good from every single ingredient until what you end up with is a vapid, insipid, flavourless slop. De Bodard seems
to have fashioned this book in the same way. What should work just does not, and it doesn’t work unrelentingly. It’s a failure of epic proportions, but a book that can be read; probably the worst book I remember finishing, but finish it I did, and I feel quite proud to have suffered such torment and survived. I can only hope that Volume 1 in the Obsidian and Blood series was very different and that the following third volume won’t make the same mistakes as the second. Of course there are worse fates than having to read this book again: waterboarding or the aforementioned bollock boiling, both of which I would recommend before attempting to read this. By Stanley Riiks ETHEREAL TALES #10 www.etherealtales.co.uk The regularity of Ethereal Tales is matched by professionalism in other areas too. This is a magazine that continues to improve with every issue, and the tenth issue provides another fantastic treat! The layout and the artwork continue to improve, and a couple of pieces by Poppy Alexander do wonders to help evoke the fantastical fiction that lies within these pages. The very short stories are perfect for dipping into, including the first story “Thief” by Peter Simon and Write or Die” by Matthew Munson, whilst the issue finishes with one of the longer tales: the excellent “Toby’s Scarecrow” by Chris Castle. Very rarely do you get a collection of such depth from a small press magazine. Ethereal Tales provides a range and quality few can match. By Adrian Brady AS I EMBRACE MY JAGGED EDGES By Lee Thompson www.sideshowpressonline.com Boaz is a troubled youth in a family fleeing a mysterious past, bearing an ancient artefact from Jerusalem. When he stumbles across the throat-slashed corpse of his wheelchair-bound uncle, he realises that their past has
finally caught up with them. We learn of his family, his twin sister Angel, his mother and father, and the tensions that are growing between them and within his own growing mind. As morning turns into afternoon following the death-watch of shemira, the family bury their much-loved uncle and debate what course of action to take next - flight or fight. Bloodbath follows betrayal and Boaz is pursued by a seemingly unstoppable golem, intent on seizing the artefact. He must find it in himself to confront the betrayer and to defeat the golem, like the youth David toppling the giant Goliath, and to escape from the ties of his youth and his shattered family, either by fleeing the darkness or confronting that which lies within him. Well written, this short story richly evokes the legacy of ancient Israel, and the golem is a horrific and mesmerising creation. A horror story as well as a tale of hunter and hunted, it blends the confusion of adolescence and family tensions with the rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. By Iain Paton SEASON OF THE WITCH Apparently Nicolas Cage is in the middle of a little financial crisis. Apparently he’s having to sell his stuff, pawning his life like some chav who’s been found by the Child Support Agency. That’s probably why every time I turn around this year (or should I say last year), the guy’s in another film. Oh, and he doesn’t care about which film he’s in, just as long as they give him oatmeal before shooting and let him sleep in the truck with the cameras. Oh how the mighty have fallen! What happened to the days of Face-Off, Gone in 60 Seconds and Con-Air? Don’t get me wrong, he was in Kick-Ass recently, doing a brilliant Adam West impression. He was also the best thing about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. But in the past two years he’s also been in Bangkok Dangerous, Bad Lieutenant (which was okay despite all the iguana close ups), Knowing, Astro Boy… He was a guinea pig in G-force. And sometimes your past highs just don’t outweigh your more recent failures. So what about Season of the Witch? Can it tip the balance for Nick and put him back on that former pedestal? No, probably not. Mr. Cage stars alongside Ron Perlman (Yes, Hellboy) as a knight who becomes jaded by his service to the church and seems to not mind killing innocent people too much. Or something. So he buggers off with Ron on a jolly old montage that means they’ve travelled far and wide. Looking
extremely well-fed the “starving” knights find a town and go in for a brew. But the Plague has hit town, brought on by the curse of a young witch. If the boys in shining armour want to help (and get themselves out of jail) they have to take her to a monastery six days travel away, because apparently it isn’t easier for a monk to come to them. Mayhem of an utterly controlled nature ensues. Unfortunately there isn’t much debate as to whether the witch is a witch or not, so I won’t bother ruining it for you. Although the rather attractive young witch (Claire Foy) manages to act malevolent enough to amuse, the appearance of her super-strength in the first fifteen minutes kind of kills any debate as to her innocence thereafter. Although the plot tries to work in a few red herrings, you’re blindingly aware that someone has dipped a goldfish in ketchup and handed it to you. So that bit’s a tad pointless. Miss Foy does her best with a bad situation though, bless her. People die, and you don’t really care about them so I won’t bore you with dissections here. Some people live, though, and the monastery is soon in sight. Among these is Nicolas Cage with hair that manages to characterise his roles more than he does lately. Ron Perlman also makes it, despite the fact that the drag factor from his nostrils should have meant he was caught by wolves early on. The witch gets there in the end, seeming generally alright about the whole execution thing. And there’s a young boy whose character I forgot about until the last ten minutes when he comes back having apparently been there the whole time. So there’s an ending, which I won’t spoil for you if you feel compelled to watch it, and it’s actually alright if not a little predictable. Perlman and Cage’s relationship doesn’t seem forced and there are some funny bits in there, so that’s a bonus. The special effects throughout are pretty good; plague victims look appropriately off-colour and everything looks grubby and smelly enough. The end is no exception, with none of the CGI being offensive to the eye in the slightest. In fact, the witch’s transformation (and that’s all I’ll say on the matter) is good, although lacking in true scare factor. It’s not a bad way to spend an hour and half. It’s colourful enough, brainless enough and gory enough that your boat will probably float. It will not, however, be stealing any Oscars from The King’s Speech. As bad as the Witch; as good as Cage’s hair. By Craig Hallam
WHAT THEY HEAR IN THE DARK By Gary McMahon http://spectralpress.wordpress.com/ Following the murder of their son, Eddie, Rob and Becky decide to renovate a house to try to take their mind off things, and to give them some time to heal and a project to work on together. But there is a room in the house that is completely empty of noise. The quiet room. The parents of the dead child are haunted, and in the quiet room the ghosts come in silence... McMahon does this kind of story so well it’s quite sickening. How he manages to tug at the heartstrings and draw you in so deeply in the space of a few pages (in this case just twenty two) is nothing short of remarkable. This is quiet horror in every sense, the theme echoing the contents of the story. Subtlety reins as we watch the characters attempt to deal with their loss, haunted both literally and metaphorically. This is another haunting story from McMahon that sticks with you long after reading it; one that plays on your mind and touches a sadness inside all of us who have ever lost anyone. Spectral Press have launched with this stellar title by McMahon, and with only one hundred copies available, I should imagine they will disappear fast. I’d like to see a printed version to see the quality of the finished product (one of the difficulties of reviewing an ebook), but obviously one of the problems with limited edition prints is availability. An evocative and compelling story that really gets you in the gut. Powerful and touching, McMahon delves into the true darkness of our hearts. By Stanley Riiks THE NAMELESS ONE By Kathryn Meyer Griffith www.myspace.com/kathrynmeyergriffith Interestingly, several notable e-publishers, including Damnation Books, have been buying up the rights to previously published novels by semi-established authors and re-publishing them, often as slightly modified ‘author’s revised’ editions, thus making
them available again for a whole new generation of fans to enjoy. This reminds me a little of the role the large trade paperback companies played in the traditional publishing set-up, whereby they would buy the rights to previously-published hardbacks and re-market them for the mass market. The Nameless One, previously published as part of an anthology in the early nineties, is one of a slew of KMG works being revamped and reissued in 2011. It is a delicious little slice of erotica with extremely dark undertones revolving around two young Egyptologists who come under the effects of a longforgotten demon when they uncover an ancient hidden tomb on a field trip. First the titular Nameless One invades their dreams and gives them voracious sexual appetites, which is all well and good, but then it begins to exert an altogether more unpleasant and malevolent influence. From then on it’s all about vengeance. KMG demonstrates an impressive knowledge of Middle Eastern history and culture, and The Nameless One is packed with symbolism and metaphor. This is a must for anyone with more than a passing interest in the myths of ancient Egypt. By C.M. Saunders POINT By Thomas Blackthorne www.angryrobotbooks.com Oh man! Edge, the first book in the series was on my Christmas list but no bugger got it for me! And that’s a damn shame, because after reading this I really wish I’d read it. Not that Point doesn’t work pretty much perfectly well by itself, but I have a feeling that the knowledge gained by reading the first book would definitely have improved the already excellent experience of reading this one. The story is set in a not too distance future where the USA is no more after a nuclear bomb has wiped out the West Coast, where knife-fighting is the biggest sport, and where teenagers are committing suicide in gangs of thirteen. Suzanne Duchesne is an expert in hypnotism who is called in by an MI5 completely lost and desperate to stop the Cutter Circles which are continuing to grow and spread. Her boyfriend is Josh Cumberland, ex-special forces, intent on bringing down the corrupt government of Bill
Church and his cronies the Tyndalls whose megacorporation funds a host of criminal and unethical activities, including Knifefight Challenge Federation, which he won the year before. Cumberland is also hired to search for a missing physicist working for one of the Tyndalls’ competitors. And he’s decided to re-join Ghost Force (a nice SF version of a man’s/boy’s own adventure very much in the vein of Andy McNab’s and Chris Ryan’s SAS novels, which if you allow yourself to be swept along with, are entertaining enough). Ok, so you lose a lot of the history having not read the first book: we don’t know precisely what happened to Cumberland’s daughter or why he fought in the Knifefight Challenge, his links to MI5, and exactly what the massive issues with the Tyndalls are. But that’s not essential information. This is a fast paced SF thriller, not too bogged down in details, but intricately describing both the forms of hypnosis, martial arts fighting, and software. Blackthorne clearly knows his stuff, but wants to go ahead with the story. There’s little let-up in the action as we spring from one plot thread to another, wondering how it will all come together in the end, but it does merge perfectly for the denouement, where everything comes together with a bang. Point is intelligent, with some great ideas and lots of excitement. It’s one of those books you have to keep picking up to find out what’s going to happen next. I will be searching out a copy of Edge to read and would recommend you buy them both if you enjoy your fiction fast moving. By Stanley Riiks Interview with Mathew Freyer www.matthewfreyerproductions.com What inspired you to become an artist? There was never a definitive moment in my life where I thought or said, “I want to be an artist” or “I am an artist now”. I have always considered myself an artist. From my earliest memory I have been creative. Whether it was picking up a crayon or pencil or even building blocks, I have always wanted to create something from nothing. If there had to be one inspiration in my life, it would have to be my Grandmother. As a child, I would sit in awe and watch her sketch my toys and wonder how she made them look exactly like the real thing. We’ve seen your work in Morpheus Tales, most recently on the cover of MT#10. Are you mostly a photography-based artist?
Photography has become a huge part of developing my artwork. In recent years I have fallen in love with the camera and the photography process. I believe it brings so much more to the creative side of producing a piece of artwork. Scouting the right location, finding the perfect models, giving the models direction, designing and decorating the set, and lighting the shot - this all happens before I even pick up the camera. Once a collection of photos is taken, that’s when the traditional aspects of being an artist take over. Even though I utilize digital means such as computer-based software to enhance or finalize my artwork, I still use freehand drawing techniques to apply definition to subjects, add or remove objects, and in some cases, repair blemishes in the photography. Before I picked up a camera, my passion was freehand drawing with a pencil or ink and a piece of paper. I still find joy in this and wish I had more time to pursue it. How did you first get started as an artist? Crayons! Crayons, cartoons and MTV got me started as an artist. Seriously though, I don’t recall a “start”. This is just what I’ve always done and always been. Being creative is something that has and will forever drive me as a person.
How did you first go about getting your artwork seen? I have always wanted whatever I created to be seen, as I’m sure most artists do. When I was growing up I entered art contests, completed special assignments for my art classes, and contributed to art projects around my schools. All of these things guaranteed that a lot of people would be viewing my work, regardless of the medium or subject. The “bad” kid in me would also use means to display my art that were honestly looked down upon and in some cases, illegal. Not to incriminate myself, but I did do graffiti and street art on the walls of buildings and other private property. This is how I found my entrepreneurial spirit. Classmates and friends who saw that work commissioned me to do the same type of work on their clothing. That was my first experience of getting paid to do artwork. Getting paid to do something I loved - I can’t explain how that made me feel as a kid. From this venture, a teacher saw the work I had done on students’ jeans and asked me to paint her entire classroom with well-known cartoon characters. That was very cool! Which artists have influenced you the most, and what are your other influences? It’s really funny, the artists that truly influence me the most create work that is by far nothing at all like mine. Artists such as Angry Johnny and Shepard Fairey are at the top of my list of influential artists, but I don’t think you could ever see their work in mine. Real life influences my artwork more than anything else. The little things that most people take for granted on a daily basis: a building, streets, trees, cracks in a sidewalk, peeling paint, sewer grates. It’s the most random things that we sometimes ignore that influence me. Music has a major influence on my life and me as a person. I listen to all different types of music all of the time. While I’m working, driving in the car, walking the dog, even in the
shower; I surround my life with a constant soundtrack. Horror films have also been a huge influence on my work, not the blood guts and gore, but the emotion and drama; the feeling of not knowing and the question, “what if?” Where do you get your inspiration? Throughout my life many different, and sometimes unusual, elements have inspired me as an artist. Distant from the social norm, I never found inspiration hanging on the walls of art museums or in art history books. Instead, skateboard graphics, graffiti and street art, album covers, horror films and urban decay captivated me. I have always been able to find so much beauty in an abandoned dilapidated building. These were and still to this day are the main elements in my life that drive me to create art. What’s the most exciting thing about art for you? Creating something from nothing. Taking something and making it into something else. What really excites me is creating work for other people, bringing their vision to life. Yes, I enjoy having an idea and creating it as a personal endeavour. But when someone comes to me with his or her own idea or story and I can give that idea or story a life, give that person a visual representation of what they were trying to envision, that’s really exciting for me. You did a piece for the Urban Horror Special using your dad’s head. Tell us about that. Let me start by telling you that my dad is not the biggest fan of my work. Don’t get me wrong; he supports me and is proud of the accomplishments that I have made, but he isn’t into Horror or anything scary. When Adam first told me about the UHS, I had the idea for my piece almost immediately. I was actually going to use a female model for this but our schedules conflicted and we couldn’t work it out. It turned out to be a good thing though, because I was able to use my father. From
received all different types of feedback but I guess the best would be that my work is scary or chilling. What do you think is the most important thing when becoming an artist? Being yourself and becoming the artist that you want to be. Regardless of your skill or technique, create art that you love, art that makes you happy. Be creative in all aspects of your life, not just when it comes to putting paint to canvas. Keep an open mind about everything. the start I knew this piece was probably going to be pretty gruesome and more disturbing compared to work I’ve done in the past, so what better person to use for it than my dad, someone who doesn’t even like Horror. I picked him up on his Birthday and we had a nice breakfast, and then headed down to Baltimore City so I could shoot the right backdrop. We ended up in East Baltimore on a stretch of two full blocks of abandoned homes. It looked like this neighbourhood was left for dead, a real ghost town. However, it was ideal for what I wanted. I got the shots I needed and then headed back to my father’s house. That’s when I let him know that his head was going in the box. I thought he would have issues with it but instead he was a good sport about it and was even a good model. I really love how the artwork turned out but I have to admit, it did kind of freak me out a little while creating it, to stare at my dad’s severed head for so long. What’s the most frustrating thing about being an artist for you? I believe that all artists and creative individuals alike have moments of creative block - moments when the ideas just aren’t coming to you and you feel stuck. That is the most frustrating part of being an artist for me. It comes and goes. In situations like that, I move onto another project or just try to clear my head for a bit. I have found that when you keep working on the same piece that is already frustrating you, your work tends to get a lot worse. What’s the best piece of feedback that you’ve had from your audience? When someone from my audience is affected by my work emotionally, that is the best for me. I have
Do you have a particular audience in mind when you create? I would have to say that my main audience are individuals who are interested in the Horror genre. The majority of my work has a dark aesthetic and deals with elements of death and other situations that can make the common person feel a little uncomfortable. Creating artwork is something I love and enjoy very much, so in the end I do it for myself. It is an added bonus that others enjoy my work as well. I am genuinely grateful and thankful for all of my audience and anyone who appreciates what I do. You do a wide range of artwork, including the design of websites, adverts, etc. Is that because your artwork naturally lends itself to these areas or was it a more commercial decision? I think it’s a combination of both. I enjoy creating artwork as a standalone medium, but I also feel that creating adverts, websites and other promotional or marketing materials is a way to get my artwork seen and to stay creative. I approach every project I work on like an individual piece of artwork. Everything that I can work on that is visually stimulating to someone else is considered artwork to me. You run an artistic production company. How and why did you start that up? Matthew Freyer Productions has always been a dream of mine. I wanted to create artwork for people to use to promote themselves and their products or services. I originally started the company because of my love for Haunted Attractions. I have been a fan of, worked with and volunteered at Haunted Attractions throughout my life. I thought these
businesses would be a perfect outlet for my particular type of artwork and they could also benefit from it as well. I have to admit, though, the first couple of clients I worked for had nothing to do with the Haunt Industry at all. The company that first gave me the opportunity to develop a website and identity on a commercial level was an extremely corporate Luxury Concierge Service provider. They hired me based on my dark artwork. To this day, I still think it’s pretty weird. Who are your favourite authors and what are your favourite books? Favourite films? I honestly do not have a favourite author or book. I have always been a visual person and could never get into books. Whenever I would sit down to read a book my mind would wonder so much that I wouldn’t even be thinking of the same story that I was reading but trying to create a new story in my head. I have definitely been into films ever since I was very young. Of course Horror is my favourite genre but I also enjoy a good suspenseful drama. My favourite films (and those that had the most influence on me) are The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Last House on the Left, House of 1000 Corpses, The Devil’s Rejects, Wolf Creek, and The Strangers. What are you working on now? It’s a secret. All I can tell you is that it’s a new series that deals with something very much alive and something very dead. Do you have any advice for other artists? Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let critics or anyone else tell you that what you are doing is bad or wrong. Enjoy being an artist. What scares you? I wish more did scare me. I remember as a child being scared of things and I would love to be able to get that feeling back. I tell people who are close to me all of the time to try and scare me, jump out from behind a door, hide in the dark and scream at me, but nothing works. I guess I’ve become numb over the years because of my interests. If you are out there and you think you can scare me, I welcome it. You have my full permission, I would love it! KING’S JUSTICE: THE KNIGHTS BRETON COURT II By Maurice Broaddus www.angryrobotbooks.com
An exciting urban fantasy set in Breton Court, Indianapolis, a modern inner-city neighbourhood of
gangs and violence. But these are not your average gangs and Breton Court is a ghetto beyond your imagination. This is Arthurian legend slammed into modern gang warfare, an exciting mix of myth and legend with reality. Broaddus manages to create a fantastic world within the reality of what we know, his characters shine through and the multiple plot lines merge to create a thrilling climax. The second book in the series delivers once again, accelerating the pace and advancing the depth of this strange and exciting world. I look forward to the third book eagerly. By Adrian Brady THE SAMARITAN By Fred Venturini www.blankslatepress.com Oh man, oh man! This is very much a book of two halves. The first half (well, the first sixty pages anyway), the absolutely brilliant half, is a coming of age tale. But not the normal coming of age tale; this is the tale of Dale Sampson, not the average everyman, but the original nobody. Literally. Dale Sampson has no friends, little personality, and is overwhelmed by life in general at high school. He doesn’t fit in - he’s a geek, a loser, a social outcast. That is until he meets rebel without a cause Mack Tucker, the school stud. This strange friendship starts to bring Sampson out of his shell, and he even meets a girl he falls in love with. An obsessive (and unrequited) teenage love, that’s going to get him into trouble, big trouble, with the baseball team’s second biggest star (after Mack). Until a single deadly after school party changes both of their lives and plans forever. So starts the second half (the rest of the 201 pages), as adulthood beckons. There is more obsession, violence, brutality, wit, shame and guilt, as our hero (once again abandoned) deals with his new struggles with the same inept, insecure failure. Dale can’t even kill himself. Wracked with guilt,
unable to live a normal life, wanting to punish himself, and desperate to do something, Dale finds a way to help. But it’s the strangest and most perverted kind of help you can imagine. Wow, this is some kind of book. The first part of the story is utterly brilliant. Like the best coming of age stories, it evokes memories and touches you in a way that only another human being can. Like King’s “The Body”, or Barker’s The Thief of Always, it’s not sentimental, it just is what it is, and it tells the story of this hopeless loser who can’t help but feel for. It made me hate Venturini reading the first part of the book because it’s just so good I wanted to give up writing. If I can’t match anything like this, really, what’s the point? Will I ever be that good, I asked myself, and I’m afraid of the answer. After the catastrophic event that leads Dale and Mack into a worthless adulthood, the book becomes much darker, meaner, nastier and more brutal, but in some ways still so innocent. There’s an honesty in here that hurts. The second half of the book is much more like one of Lansdale’s Hap Collins novels, where the two characters are swept into more and more trouble as they attempt to do the right thing. Here the right thing isn’t always the sole intent of our heroes, but you understand how and why things are happening. You just wish they weren’t. Anyone familiar with Venturini’s work in Morpheus Tales, including the disturbing “Stretcher of Faces” will know that our author has a unique vision. Here his delicate touch and the inexhaustible horror of humanity are shown in filthy and revolting bathos, exploring the dark side of human nature in an uncompromising way and yet making it so massively entertaining. This is a book that everyone should read, that everyone can take something from, and everyone can enjoy. Have I found the book of the year already? Human drama has never been so raw and powerful. By Stanley Riiks SEA OF DUST Starring Tom Savini, Ingrid Pitt, Troy Holland Written and Directed by Scott Bunt www.cinemaepoch.com Very rarely, if ever, do I start a review not knowing what the hell I’m going to say or even if I did or did not enjoy what I just saw. Consider my review of Sea Of Dust the exception to the rule. To say this trippy recreation of Hammer Horror is an oddity would be an understatement. It’s downright f’ing bizarre!
FX master Tom Savini gets top billing as the mythical Christian King Prester John, a made up figure that becomes real to the world through decades of war due to differing beliefs and manipulation by the Church. Some could argue that this is religion in a nutshell. No doubt this is also a big chunk of the social satire at the heart of the film. This film isn’t for everyone. On one hand, it’s confusing, illogical and too preachy for its own good. But on the other hand, it’s beautiful, intelligent and the most original piece of American horror cinema in who knows how many years. No matter what, it’s apparent that Director Scott Bunt has a love for the material he’s creating. The look of the movie is an almost carbon copy (and I don’t say that disparagingly) of the golden age of Hammer Horror down to the on-set colourist brought in to “recreate” Technicolor and the inclusion of Hammer veteran Ingrid Pitt (in her last role). The acting ranges from decent to superb. The costuming is authentic. And the FX is exceptional, not skimping on the modern day gore to tell an old fashioned tale. If Sea Of Dust has any flaws it is in its own determination to be too much: Too much of a classic Hammer film, which may be too slow for some spastic attention-deficit-disorder modern-day audiences, and too much of a social satire. (Is this post 911 commentary or a reflection on religion through the ages or both?) All in all, this is an original uncompromising vision from a unique new voice in horror; a film that has a lot to say and nary a zombie, serial killer, monster, alien, or monster alien in sight. And for that, horror fans - especially Hammer Horror fans - rejoice! By Trevor Wright
ENGINES OF DESIRE By Livia Llewellyn www.lethepressbooks.com Having only recently become a fan of what might be termed paranormal romance, this collection of stories of love and other horrors was another delightful addition to my collection. The stories contained in this volume are erotic and horrorific in equal measure. Llewellyn’s passion is there on the page for you to read, explicit and uncompromising. The ten stories in the collection give you a good idea of the talent behind them and a good indication of what you can expect from this marvellous talent in the future. (A full length novel is eagerly anticipated by this reviewer.) Stories of sexual horror can be disturbing and exciting and this volume is no exception. The final story in the collection and one of the longest proved to be my favourite; “Her Deepness” exquisitely captures the essense of Ilewellyn’s story telling. A strange, deviantly satisfying collection of stories that draws you into its velvety grasp, touches you in ways that feel so very nice, and then rips out your heart. Brutally erotic, uncompromising, and abolutely addictive. By Adrian Brady SERIAL KILLERS INCORPORATED By Andy Remic www.anarchy-books.com It’s not often you finish a book sweating, panting and in need of a shower. Andy Remic writes such books, exhilarating thriller rides, the perfect combination of excitement and danger. Remic’s books are not read, they are experienced, and when you get out the other side you feel like you’ve just parachuted yourself out the back of a plane or ridden a motorbike at a hundred and twenty miles an hour down a motorway. It feels like you’ve just gone three fiveminute rounds (MMA style) with a huge gorilla and
you’re lucky to be alive. But in a good way! Serial Killers Incorporated follows Callaghan, a hard drinking, hard smoking, hard fucking, hard living photo-journalist for a tabloid. When he and his partner get a tip-off of a hot story they don’t expect the skinned body of a woman with her legs cut off, but that’s what they find. And there is a note to Callaghan on the course. The police want to arrest them both and interrogate them despite the evidence proving their innocence, but then Callaghan has had some run-ins with the DI and they’re not exactly friends. Callaghan’s girlfriend is also proving a problem. Or rather her Romanian gun-runner husband is about to become a problem if he finds out Callaghan is fucking his wife. Then another tip-off sends them into a dark, desolate warehouse with another body awaiting them. The first hundred or so pages set up the characters and the scenarios, but it’s once the action starts that this book really takes off. There’s plenty of action, including multiple murders, shootouts, fighting, and car-chases. The warehouse scene is suitable frightening and will send chills down even the hardiest of spines. Even Callaghan becomes somewhat likeable, despite being a selfish bastard. The climax is a bit... weird... But it works because Remic’s prose style punches you in the face until you submit. Here, unlike his Clockwork Vampire series, he seems even less inhibited and more in your face than normal, which is no bad thing, but does take some getting used to. There’s not the subtlety of the Clockwork Vampire series, this is stark and brutal, and works fine for a dark, noir crime-thriller. There are a few niggling typos and a least one continuity issue, but with a book this size (400 plus pages) it’s hardly surprising, and all can be forgiven when a book is this much FUN! Remic has produced another fine example of how to thrill a reader. This crime thriller is dark and nasty, and that’s what makes it so good. Remic is a no-holds-barred writer and Serial Killer Incorporated is a no-holds-barred novel; massively entertaining, scary, exciting, and brutally nasty. I defy you to read it and not have a grin on your face when you’re finished. By Stanley Riiks VAMPIRES SUCK I love it when a movie has an ironic name. It makes me happy inside. The Expendables, for example. Oh, and Pretty Woman, obviously named before the casting process was finished. As it is, the name
Vampires Suck happens to be the only time you’ll laugh. The premise is simple: to do what Scary Movie did for Scream, but with the horrible fangchise (thanks, I made it up myself) that is the Twilight movies. I’m pretty sure you’ll know what drew me to this film. Do I have to say how pathetic the Twi-shite movies are? Good, it’ll save us both some time. However, I was hoping for some laughs at Meyer’s expense from a team of writers who obviously have the same sensibilities as me. Shame they’re just not funny. I’m being a little Nazi-esque with my reviews lately, so let’s look at the positives. I laughed properly twice. Once involves a baby and a bowling ball, which would have been funny in any film not involving vampires. The other I won’t say in case I ruin it. There’s nothing wrong with any of the jokes. They’re all fairly standard even if the writers are eager to lean towards slapstick when they
except Proske manages to be likeable at the same time. Odd. As for Matt Lanter who plays Space-face Pattinson/Edward Cullen, he’s not as good as Proske, but still a decent comedy actor. His facial expression is always bang on with almost a hint of Carrey in places. And his delivery can be serious enough that he makes the lines funnier. Allowing someone to put rollers in your hair for an entire scene takes balls. And (ladies, this is for you) he doesn’t need to have a six-pack painted on before he takes his shirt off like the scrawny Spade-face. References throughout the film stick mostly to the original material, but there are a enough pseudo-cameos from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lady Gaga and Twilight Fan-girls to make the proceedings seem just a little surreal. If you’re into vampire movies, this won’t convert you to the Twilight saga. If you’re already a fan of Meyer’s suicide-inducing books of perpetual drivel, then you’ve heard all these jokes before and you won’t find them funny because it’s you we’re all laughing at. Still, if you’re on the outskirts of both camps, there’s worse ways to spend an hour and half. You could be queuing up for Drive Angry 3D, for example. Vampires Suck is brainless but fun. Easier than sitting through the original. By Craig Hallam The New Publishing Model: Benefits and Drawbacks: Author Advances and Royalties By Cyrus Wraith Walker
can think of nothing else to do. It’s just that they’re not gut-busters. You’ll probably find yourself smirking fairly often, but only because they’re the same gags you’ve made yourself. However, it has other virtues, more virtues than the original material anyway. For one, they manage to put the first two Twilight movies into one film without losing any of the over-romanticised bullshit or (I use the term loosely) storyline. If you haven’t seen the films, you could watch Vampires Suck as a catch up before the next ‘saga’ release and lose nothing. Second, the actors are actually pretty good. Jenn Proske plays Kristen Stewart/Bella Swan. Come on, the girl has become literally inseparable from her miserable alter ego so I can hardly tell which one is the character’s name anymore. But Proske is a fantastic pastiche of the Stewart/Swan hybrid. She pulls off all the awkward, sour-faced mannerisms that make you want to punch the original actress until you connect with tarmac,
In the previous article on the benefits and drawbacks of the new publishing model, we looked closely at how the Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling in Thor Power Tool Company v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue to ban writing off remainders affected the publishing industry, giving rise to a new generation of publishers who choose e-book and print-ondemand publishing over conventional print. Digital book sales have grown enormously in the last few years. According to The Association of American Publishers, as of March 2010 e-book sales jumped up 184.8 percent for that month ($28.5 million), reflecting an increase of 251.9 percent for the year. At the same time, sales for the Adult Mass Market category decreased by 18.1 percent, tightening the unwillingness of the “big house” publishers to ever consider taking a risk on newer authors. Our focus now shifts to the after-effects this progression in the publishing industry creates for the author and how it affected advances, royalties, visibility, and time. We spoke of the dilemma of
how in times past an author could no longer get published without an agent, and how they couldn’t land the interest of an agent unless already published. Many authors are forfeiting their frustration for higher royalties, co-op book promotions, zero advances, faster submission to print times, and worldwide visibility on the internet. However, as authors approach new model publishers with renewed enthusiasm, some find that variations in the model concerning willingness (or lack thereof) to change from conventional pricing structures are hurting book sales. Authors are faced with a choice; some new model publishers care little about their authors and are more interested in the volume of titles. But do we really need a new generation of author mills to replace the old vanity press? What should an author look for in an epublisher? Author Advances and Royalties Mark Edward Hall is a premier novelist and short story teller. His first published novel, The Lost Village, gained recommendation for a Bram Stoker award and was nominated for the small press Tombstone award. His stories range from good old horror fiction with substance to supernatural and psychological thrillers. Born in Brunswick, Maine in 1948, Mark still lives in Maine with his wife Sheila. He attended school in Durham, Maine with Stephen King and Chris Chesley. Mark was first published in Raven’s Tale Magazine in 1995 with his short story “Wasps”, which was later re-titled “Bugshot”. Since that time he has published several novels and short tales. His latest short tale, “The Fear”, was recently included in The Masters of Horror Anthology published by Triskaideka Books. Mark has never had success with conventional big house publishing but has become a name through the new publishing model. Mark, what has been your experience with conventional, big-house book publishing? When I completed my first novel, I queried every
major and mid-list publisher in the business, and none would even agree to read the manuscript. So I published it myself. It was subsequently recommended for a Bram Stoker award and nominated for the small press Tombstone award. I’m not sure the Horror Writer’s Network, the outfit that gave out the Tombstone awards, is even around any more. Nevertheless, it was great being recognized for my work. I felt at the time that there was something broken in the traditional publishing model. As the New Publishing model sprung up due to the internet, when did you turn to e-book and POD publishers? It’s what I’ve done from the beginning. From day one, back before there were portable reading devices, I felt that digital books were the future. Are 40% royalties adequately comparable to receiving an advance? That’s a complicated question which requires a complicated answer. 40% royalties without an advance would be great if your books were in stores and visible to a wider audience. But fewer and fewer books are finding their way into stores and so they have to go up on the internet while the author hopes somebody runs across them amongst the sea of new books coming out. Are e-book and POD publishers faster in their response time and the time between sending you a contract and when the book is actually in print? That’s an easy one; Yes. Is there a difference between the older “Vanity (Pat yourself) Press” and the new Publishing Model? In the older vanity model, a writer paid X amount of dollars for a layout, a cover, a cursory editing, and you got your book listed on networks such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Most didn’t sell. Those publishers didn’t care if the book was good or bad as long as they got your money. In the new model, you no longer have
to pay in advance for the cover art, the layout, the editing and such. For the most part, the editing is better, but not much else. Most new model publishers seem to be interested in volume. They sign tons of authors, put excessive prices on the books, throw them to the wind and hope they sell. Most don’t. If they don’t get the clue soon, with digital pricing they’ll go the way of the mid-list mass market publishers. So more than ever with e-books, over-pricing is an economic mistake. Absolutely, yes, on the part of new and established publishers alike. Digital books have to be cheap. Those publishers who refuse to lower their prices are going to fail. I’ve done a ton of research. The Alist publishers with big-name authors are making the same mistakes. They’re desperately trying to hold onto the old model thinking they can bully consumers into paying $9.99 up to even $15.99 for a digital book. Statistics are proving that readers are abandoning them in favor of authors, even unknown authors, who are selling their digital books for $2.99. Some e-book and POD publishers have been successful; their authors are actually living off the royalties. Besides pricing and promotions, what leads to the success of one new model publisher over another? The publishers that are doing well care enough about their authors to make sure they put out a superior product. They pay special attention to cover design, interior design, and the layout. When you hold a book in your hand by a publisher who cares about its product and its author, you know it. Also, the successful publishers run good-looking, high-quality advertisements for their author’s books in well-read magazines, they invest in their authors, and they don’t take on more authors than they can handle, giving each author the attention they deserve. Do you think that e-book and POD publishing will ever equally compete with the conventional treatment of authors in the way of advances, royalties, and promotions? Probably not. The paradigm is shifting. By 2020 we
won’t recognize publishing. Any concluding thoughts? The conventional model is unsustainable. Look what happened in the recording industry. All the big record companies are gone. Technology allowed artists to take their products directly to the public; the public separates the wheat from the chaff. Daily, there are stories of independents unable to land traditional book deals that are selling tons of Kindle books. Check out J.A. Konrath’s blog, a newbie’s guide to publishing: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/02/guest-postby-bv-larson.html It’s not a pipe dream. I believe readers are smarter than publishers give them credit for. They are capable, through reviews and word-of-mouth, of separating the gems from the paste. What should an author look for in an e-publisher? Authors need the representation of the old convention. If 40% royalties are to replace author advances all together, then they need a publisher that is willing to properly price a book so that it sells. What they don’t need is an author mill that cares only about putting out volume without quality. Publishers that do this in order to make money for themselves are missing the ultimate economic understanding, that a high quality product, at low sale worthy prices, generates even more sales. Five hundred books at $1.99 is better than five at $9.99. It is simple economics. It’s apparent that if the new model of publishing is going to be successful over its dying forerunner that the model used will have to be as dynamic as the technology behind it. Stubborn ideas and failure to adapt will most certainly be the downfall for not only the old conventional publishers, but e-book and POD publishers that are unwilling to fully embrace the change as well. In the next article I will investigate new model publishers that have overcome the pricing and promotional quandary well enough that their authors are living happily off the royalties from their properly priced and promoted print-on-demand and e-book products. ROMAN HELL: A Novel By Mark Mellon www.amberquill.com There are plots afoot in Rome. The first citizen of Rome is under attack by his own brother in a
dastardly and vicious plot that includes a witch and an ogress. A poor poet, Martial, is dragged into the plotting when he becomes a spy for the first citizen. But the true hero and villian of the story is the city of Rome itself. This filthy, sleazy city is remarkably well portrayed. That being said, a plot outline barely scratches the surface of this novel. A rivetting historical thriller and a bawdy filth-infested romp, this novel depicts Rome as you have never seen it before. Great fun. By Adrian Brady THE FORT PROVIDENCE WATCH BY Henry P. Gravelle www.henrygravelle.com Set in London circa 1888, this short novel uses the infamous Jack the Ripper slayings as an effective contextual backdrop. It is not another would-be unmasking, nor a simple re-telling of facts already told a thousand times. Rather, it is a deeply unsettling study of the human condition. The story begins when a young sailor dies after a botched surgery, sending the surgeon responsible on a terrible downward spiral into the depths of despair and then insanity. This book picks you up and drops you in the middle of an impoverished East End on the eve of one of the most notorious crime waves in history. On the whole the author does an admirable job of accurately portraying life in Victorian England. I mean, I guess he does. I wasn’t there or anything but most of it seems to ring true, even if the attempts to replicate the cockney dialect are somewhat amateurish (“Ere gov, take ya ‘ere ya going.”) and the repeated descriptions of oil lamps and mutton-chop whiskers begin to grate after a while. In a literary context, possibly the most damning stamp of in-authenticity is the notable absence of vowels, a sure sign of an American (or Canadian) at work. I was also disappointed to stumble across several prominent typos (the vile rose in his throat?), something I always find intolerable in professionally-published work. Nevertheless, what we have here is a peculiar fusion of fiction and historical fact. Not an
alternative history as such, but a perfectly feasible case of what could have happened during those murderous nights, seen through the eyes of a cast of (mainly) fictional characters. More specifically, The Fort Providence Watch is a depiction of what could have transpired to send a perfectly respectable (some would say downright posh!) bloke off the deep end with such extreme prejudice that the shockwaves of his despicable actions are still being felt today. As disturbed and just plain nasty a fiend as the fictionalized lead character of Doctor Barnet is, he is at least handed a few shreds of humanity by the author as he attempts to explore the motivation behind the crimes. All in all, a fascinatingly absorbing little slice of claustrophobic terror that comes highly recommended. By C.M. Saunders DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE GUIDE By Mark Campbell www.constablerobinson.com Mark Campbell has produced a very concise and authoritative guide to the UK’s most popular and longest running genre series. Simply put, Doctor Who is a classic. In the last two generations most people have some childhood memory of the Doctor. (My own is the Cybermen and the Daleks, and poor Sylvester McCoy seemingly always running away. And the Tardis.) Now a whole new generation of fans have followed the new Doctor Whos with the same avid attention that previous generations did. There are now spin-offs in all directions, and this book aims to give you a quick run down of them all. The concise descriptions are perfectly adequate to the task. This is more a reference book than something to read all the way through, and for just flicking through or doing some research it’s perfect. At only £6.99 and 259 pages, it’s quite amazing just how much is crammed in here. The observations and verdicts provided for each instalment are insightful and intelligent, mostly without being too critical. But obviously this is a fan book by a fan; no one would go to these lengths to research and write a book if they weren’t. For me Doctor Who has always been something from my childhood that I have fond memories of, not something I feel I need to revisit, but flicking through this quite amazing series guide made me feel nostalgic for those old series and a little like I’m missing out on the newer stuff. For fans and anyone interested in SF history, this is the perfect and complete guide to Doctor Who. By Stanley Riiks
ROMAN HELL Roma: sum and summit of earthly power and glory, the arena where the poet Martial struggles for money and fame. When Titus, “Princeps” or first citizen of Roma, asks Martial to be his spy, he accepts. Yet a trivial assignment grows increasingly increasingly deadly when the evil witch, Canidia, and Sagana, her ogress sister, plot with Domitian, Titus’s brother. With the help of a brave ex-legionary, legionary, Martial tries to reveal the plot to Titus. Yet Martial’s efforts to save the Princeps only drag him deeper...into deeper. a Roman Hell... “Mellon’s vivid descriptions of the ancient city bring it to life in all of its crowded and decadent glory. The story is a very good one full of conspiracies, backstabbing and witchcraft.” – Colleen Wanglund, The Horror Fiction Review. “Roman Hell is a fascinating read that succeeds in immersing the reader wholly in Mellon’s ancient world…” - George Andrade, Horror News.Net. “A fascinating journey into history, where witchcraft and elder gods rule the roost of ancient Rome.” – Robert Duperre, Journal Of Always. Always “Filled with well-written written characters, both the good and the bad, Roman Hell was a very entertaining read.” – Death Head Grin. Grin By Mark Mellon. Amber Quill Press (www.amberquill.com/RomanHell.html ( amberquill.com/RomanHell.html).
Life Serial By Trevor Wright Ever hear of the short film Santa’s List? No? Good. It sucks! Want to know something else? It was my first film… EPISODE 8: HO! HO! OH, NO!! I was excited to be “employed” by ScreamKings. Finally, after years of doing nothing and not being recognized I was going to get my work seen by hundreds, thousands, possibly even millions. Alex Pucci (see Life Serial 7) had said that he wanted me to start out by writing some short films for the company. I didn’t know if he actually meant that he was going to give me an idea and I was to write what he wanted, or if he wanted me to create something by myself and let them film it. Not wanting to miss out on another opportunity, I posed the question but didn’t wait for the answer. I set to work on a short film called The Green Monster. The Green Monster was a twelve page dead serious social commentary about a 14 year old pregnant runaway who gives birth to her baby in a nasty convenience store restroom. She then strangles the baby with the umbilical cord and throws the body away in the dumpster (The Green Monster... get it?... wink, wink) behind the store. Eventually, the girl runs afoul of the crazed store owner, who, realizing what the girl did, seeks to dish out his own brand of vicious justice to avenge the dead baby. I thought it was just clever enough and just sick enough to pique the interest of a company with the name ScreamKings. I was wrong. Alex liked it, but just like with Sick Puppies (see Life Serial 7), it wasn’t for them. So he put me to work on a project that they did want to make. It was called Santa’s List. It was a very short, very straightforward tale about some teens that break into a house on Christmas Eve only to be strangled and slashed repeatedly by Santa Claus. The End. The entire outline was pretty much done for me. All I had to do was rearrange it into script form and plug in some dialogue. Easy, quick, unrewarding. But damn it, I wanted to write, and if this was my first assignment, then by all means I was going to make the best of it. I finished the script in record time (probably an hour or two) and had it
sent to Alex for approval. He loved it! They were ready to film in just a few short weeks. I couldn’t believe it. After years and years of trying, something that I had a hand in writing (even if it was just dialogue and some minor tweaks) was finally getting made. I couldn’t wait... so I told everyone! I hyped the filming to my family and friends. I called people I didn’t even know I was related to just to let them know that they now had a bona fide filmmaker in the family. I made little Santa’s List “business cards” with the words ‘COMING SOON TO DVD’ typed in big bold letters. The filming commenced and within a week the movie was shot, edited and ready to ship on DVD. Wait! What? A week?! Okay, so I wasn’t exactly making Citizen Kane here but I thought that movies, even short ones, took a little longer than a week to make. As it turns out, Santa’s List was an experiment of sorts to see if the company could make a short in just seven days and have it ready to cash-in in time for the holiday season. I didn’t let this news deter me. I still hyped this thing up like it was the second coming of Christ. I had everyone in my family and a few of my assembly line co-workers buy a copy as soon as it was available for sale online. Soon, a box came to my apartment containing about a half dozen copies of the film. I ran to the TV, popped the disc into the player and sat down to watch the greatest - err, or not - 15 minutes of my life. Sitting there in silence with my wife and Dad (who was visiting for the holidays, and by the way, I had just sold him a copy for $20) long after the movie was over was certainly one of the most awkward moments of my life. The acting wasn’t the best, the effects were sub-par, and my dialogue was barely audible. When the people I suckered into buying this thing saw it I was never going to hear the end of it. And for many months after, I didn’t. That was, until I got my next assignment. The upstart company that worked side by side with ScreamKings (and had a huge hand in making Santa’s List) wanted to get serious. They wanted to make a feature. They wanted to make The Green Monster! They loved the seriousness of the short I had written. They loved the brutality. They just wanted it extended.
I was shocked. I was going to write a feature film? They were spending actual money on it? I was getting paid? The culmination of everything I had worked for came down to this moment right here. I immediately said yes. And I knew just what to do! I was going to take my dumpster baby story – and turn it into a comedy! Ah, you say, but of course...
For more information on Zombie, Ohio visit www.skyhorsepublishing.com Or for more information on the writer Scott Kenemore visit his website: http://scottkenemore.wordpress.com/
NEXT: THE GREEN MONSTER ESTRONOMICON (Halloween 2010) www.screamingdreams.com The name Estronomicon is derived from the old Welsh word ‘estro’ (meaning ‘strange’) and the famous fictional tome, the Necronomicon. So, as editor Steve Upham explains, the title of this free regular ezine can be roughly translated the Book of the Strange. And that would be a very fitting description indeed. Released by fantasy and horror publisher Screaming Dreams Press primarily (though not exclusively) to promote their books and writers, it has been in existence for over three years, picking up numerous accolades as well as a sizeable and dedicated readership along the way. Estronomicon regularly serves up a wellbalanced mix of short stories, poetry, reviews, profiles and interviews. This being the Halloween 2010 edition, the emphasis is placed firmly on horror fiction. Highlights include a fast-paced zombie-fest by Ryan Neil Falcone called “Infected” and a genuinely unsettling tale by newbie Neil Williams that puts a whole new spin on nursery rhymes, most of which I personally find more than a shade creepy at the best of times. By C.M. Saunders Want to win a signed copy of Zombie, Ohio by Scott Kenemore? Just purchase any issue of Morpheus Tales Magazine (including all the special issues), or subscribe (before the 31st May 2011) on our website and your name will be entered into the prize draw on 1st of June. What are you waiting for? www.morpheustales.com
GREEN HORNET It’s been a while since something of the comic book brethren has been released. For someone of my geek level, it seems like an age. And so I was at the front of the queue for Green Hornet. That wasn’t the only reason, of course. The other reason is that Seth Rogen has been pretty consistent with his offerings since he came on the scene with Superbad. Yes, he simply plays himself in just about everything he does, but if Ben Stiller can get away with basing his entire career on being the least funny prick of the bunch, with films that are essentially him shouting for an hour and a half, then I say Long Live Rogen! And he delivers again with Green Hornet. There’s a modern/fifties chic throughout the film that makes it nice and easy to watch. It’s a little like what they tried to do with Superman Returns and The Spirit, but more subtle. Cameron Diaz looks only a little older than she did in The Mask. And who knew that Rogen actually has quite the hero chin when you ignore the rest of his... softer features. Speaking of the look of the movie, there’s a whole host of retro gadgets flying around. The Hornet’s gas gun is particularly retro and cool looking, while the Black Beauty (that’s the car, not one of Diaz’s intimate toys) is the coolest gadgetriddled car since the Bat-Mobile.
Rogen plays the family’s black sheep, a useless playboy a la Tony Stark who is compelled to bring justice to the city when his father is killed. Unfortunately, he’s fairly useless. Fortunately, his father’s mechanic is a kung-fu master/inventor/genius. Kato (Jay Chou) really makes this movie for me. Where Rogen’s Hornet is idealistic and rash, Chou brings some grounding, some reality and ultimately some skill to make everything work. Although there’s a real buddy-cop movie feel to most of the film, it works more like Lethal Weapon than the Rush Hour sequels. You’d expect it to be funny and it is. You’d expect some action and there’s plenty. You’d expect little references for the fan-boys and you won’t be disappointed. You’d expect a love interest with Diaz, but thankfully it never materialises. And the whole movie is better for it. Now, the true test of any comic book movie is the villain. The defining factor in any good movie of this genre is the presence of a villain you can really love to hate. Thank god someone cast Christoph Waltz as the bonkers Bloodnofsky. This guy harkens back to the old style of villains, the kind Adam West would battle, the kind with stupid names, tenuous catchphrases and bad costumes. And while this villain’s mid-life crisis may seem like stupidity, Waltz delivers such a deadpan, believable
performance that you can’t help going along with it. He’s no Ledger Joker, but he’s bloody good. There is one problem with this film, but you can’t really blame the filmmakers. It’s a sign of the times, the sign of corporations trying to squeeze every little bit of cash out of their movies. It’s a sign that these aforementioned corporations don’t listen to their audiences. It’s pointless, it’s infrequently used well. It’s 3D. God bless director Michel Gondry for trying, but it doesn’t work. There is one moment in the entire movie where it’s evident that it was shot in 3D: A flying bottle top... and that’s it. You could take off your special glasses for the rest of the movie and not even notice they were gone. I was really hoping to have nothing but praise for this film, but my overpowering honesty stops me from doing that.
All I’ll say is that if you can see it in bog-standard 2D then do so - you’re not missing anything. This is one of those movies I can’t wait to come out on DVD so I can watch it again. Otherwise, I think you’ll like it. It hits the marks that only Iron Man has managed to in recent years, delivering a cool comic-book action-movie with a tongue in its cheek and feet firmly on the ground. I’m looking forward to, and hoping for, a sequel. Hey, if they can make sequels to Mirrors, Avatar and Ghost Rider, I’m damn sure they can dig deep and give Rogen a chance. 8/10 - Look at that score! Nuff said. By Craig Hallam INFERNAL DEVICES By K. W. Jeter www.angryrobotbooks.com Underwhelmed. Frustrated. Tired. Disappointed. Where to start? I was aware of some of Jeter’s work before picking this book up, and despite half his novels being tie(cash)ins and sequels to other people’s (better writers’) novels, I thought Angry Books may have discovered a hidden gem amongst the out-of-print collection of this mid-list writer’s works. The stunning cover for Infernal Devices (by John Coulthart) drew me in, and the news that this was one of the seminal steampunk novels had me almost drooling with excitement. Sadly from the cover it’s all downhill. Jeter’s introduction is hideously wordy and pompous and his anachronistic writing style is difficult to come to grips with. Fortunately once the story starts things improve, but only slightly. Set in Victorian London, George Dower Jr. has taken over his late father’s clockwork and clock repair business. Unfortunately Junior knows only a little of his father’s genius and is having trouble making ends meet. A man steps into the shop with a device his father made, seeking to have it fixed, but despite Dower Jr’s attempts to put the man off (knowing he will be unable to fix it), the silver coin the man gives Jr. persuades him to at least try. But this is no ordinary coin. Its fish-faced occupant on one side of the coin is St. Monkfish, and the coin is from that strange part of London
known at Wetwick. Dower Jr. begins to investigate the coin, only to find fish-faced people, a murder, a con-man, a sex-hungry woman from the future, and his own life in danger. For the first hundred or so pages very little happens; Dower investigates the coin and the background is filled in for us. The rest of the book is straightforward chase with Dower getting into more trouble with more factions. Unfortunately there’s little tension or mystery in any part of the book, and it’s pretty simple to work out what’s going on, except for the strange twist which comes completely out of nowhere. There are some good ideas in here, but it’s really too little too late. The book rambles on without any direction for far too long and when the plot finally does kick in it goes all guns blazing, but by then you’ve already lost interest. The steampunk elements don’t even materialise until very near the end of the book, and are added in for god knows what reason. They have no effect on the plot, have only a vague impact on the climax, and seem to be there merely to add something different to what is really a rather poor excuse for a bad pulp novel. I was actually expecting a pretty decent steampunk novel, not a poor and slightly ridiculous pulp with a couple of decent ideas thrown in at the end. Poorly written, poorly plotted, poorly characterised. The best thing about this book is the cover, which is worth picking the book up for. But then put it back. Don’t read it for heaven’s sake, it’s rubbish. By Stanley Riiks BENT STEEPLE By G. Wells-Taylor www.gwellstaylor.com I am a big fan of G. Wells Taylor. He has been around a while now and has a string of novels behind him, but sadly has thus far been largely ignored by mainstream publishers. It’s a shame because he really is a talented writer. Many of his works, including a new amalgamated version of last year’s serialization, The Variant Effect (reviewed in MT9’s review supplement), are available for free download from the website listed above. This offering, Bent Steeple, has been kicking up a little bit of an underground storm in recent months. Often compared to Stephen King’s classic vampire yarn Salem’s Lot, the subject matter isn’t worlds apart and it has the same kind of feel. This is what happens when terror comes to a secluded small town.
In the case of Bent Steeple, a town struck by a mysterious deadly disease thirty years earlier, the catalyst for a new wave of horror is the discovery of twenty-three horribly mutilated murder victims at a farm. The incident becomes known as the Morelli Massacre and brings together a varied mix of primary characters including a femme fatale with a drinking problem and a secret past, a jaded loose cannon cop on a vendetta, a horribly deformed guy with otherworldly powers, and an amorous washedup TV anchor man. As the story builds towards its bloody climax, Wells-Taylor grabs all the loose story threads and does a manful job of weaving them into a rope and trying to strangle you with it. Despite its length it is a fast-paced read, and no taboo - corruption, inherent racism, paedophilia, incest - is left untouched. At its core Bent Steeple is a vampire novel ripe for the masses, hence the justified comparisons with Salem’s Lot. But WellsTaylor doesn’t bother himself (or us) with the modern limp-wristed, sanitized vamps the Twilightgeneration has become accustomed to. His version of bloodsuckers harks back to the original Prince of Darkness in all his disgusting, loathsome glory. This is one creature of the night that you definitely wouldn’t want to start a love affair with! By C.M. Saunders Guidance from the Dark Scribe: Agent or No Agent? By Ty Schwamberger A few months ago I took some flak for a post I made on my website. It wasn’t bashing me, my work or anything of the sort, but I will admit it rubbed me the wrong, and not in a good way. I made some comments about agents. I wasn’t bashing them or what they can or can’t do to help a writer’s career. No. Instead, I was talking from my own perspective about how I don’t want nor ever see a need to get one. This caused a freelance writer, who shall remain nameless, to comment about how I really needed one if I wanted my writing career to go anywhere. I found this to be interesting for a couple of reasons: 1) the person that made the comments is a freelance writer i.e. they don’t have an agent of their own and write mostly non-fiction and 2) even though the person might read fiction, how do they know anything about publishers in the horror genre? Just from the person’s comments I can tell they don’t. Sure, they might know all the non-fiction markets out there from gardening to how to sew a button on your underwear, but what do they know about fiction markets? My initial thought: they probably don’t, because if they did they wouldn’t have made the comments in the first place.
For example, this particular freelance writer asked me if someone could get paid advances from small press publishers (who I mainly work with right now and enjoy it immensely). My answer: of course you can. Hell, there are plenty of quality high-end small presses out there that pay advances, fair royalties, etc. Sure, the advances aren’t as high as landing a deal with a major publishing house, but that’s just the way the world works in general. You don’t start off making a million bucks at any job, do you? Most likely not. You have to earn your keep, pay your bones in words, etc. Now, I’m not saying I ever see myself making that sort of money. I’m not a moron. But, do I see myself making a decent amount of money to be able to write full-time one day? Sure, why not. If your determination (and skill) is great enough anything can happen. You have to keep plugging away, write your ass off, make connections, and get your name out there the best you can.
So the question of the hour: can an agent help your writing career? The short answer: of course. But is having an agent right for everyone? Of course not. With how the industry is currently in flux, you have to decide what’s best for you. Do you want an agent or not? Do you want someone to help pitch your ideas and/or work to small and big publishers
or do you want to do it yourself? Once your novel is accepted, do you want someone to help negotiate the publisher’s contract? Is the whole process of doing this by yourself overwhelming or do you enjoy the business end of the business? Etc, etc. That’s something you have to answer on your own, as does every other writer out there. The moral or the story is to not let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something because their way of thinking is the only way to go. Blaze your own trails into the great unknown… Because you never know what’s waiting for you out there to grab up, snap its neck, and make it your bitch. DARK VALENTINE (Issue 2) www.darkvalentine.net One of the latest additions to the ever-expanding dark/speculative fiction market is the quarterly ezine Dark Valentine published by Katherine Tomlinson, edited by Joy Sillesen, and available as a free PDF download from their website. The moniker may suggest some romantic/erotic elements and these are certainly present in a few cases, but what we essentially have here is a vast, beautifully crafted 149-page collection of contemporary short fiction covering the whole genre spectrum. The lengthy list of contributors includes both established and upand-coming writers, whose stories are off-set with some breathtaking artwork by Pamela Jaworska, Shannon van Muijden and others. Most of the stories in Dark Valentine are individually illustrated, which adds another dimension to the reading experience. The artwork, much of which is Manga-influenced, is just as relevant as the fiction it is designed to complement. At the very least it can be interesting to see if the mental images you conjure up compare in any way to those of the artist! Most of the writing contained herein is quite literary in nature, offering more than just plain blood and gore, but there is plenty of variety on display with everything from regal tales of kings and queens to gritty human tragedies. Pick of the bunch for me is “Bloch’s Parent”, a frankly disturbing tale by David Perlmutter about a worker in a home for imaginary friends who is sent on an ‘outside job’. Two of the main characters are called Richard Matheson and Robert Bloch (so no prizes for guessing to whom the story is paying homage) and another is a giant pink rabbit with a bulldozer and an attitude problem. Surreal, but quite brilliant. By C.M. Saunders
DEATH’S DISCIPLES By J. Robert King www.angryrobotbooks.com
and tight plotting - recommended. By Adrian Brady
I do enjoy a novel that starts with a mid-air explosion and continues with the action, developing twists and turns that keep you entertained and offbalance all the way to the end. A book that doesn’t hold back, a writer unafraid to go places you don’t expect. Susan Gardner is the only survivor of the aeroplane crash, the sole witness to the destruction of the plane by terrorists calling themselves Death’s Disciples. There’s only one problem: Susan has amnesia and can’t remember anything before the incident. There is another small problem: the Death’s Disciples aren’t finished yet and Susan’s about to be attacked from every possible direction... To give away any more of the story would take us deep into Spoiler City, and with a novel like this - where half the enjoyment is the discovery of the next plot twist - that’s not a place you want to go. King ramps up the tension steadily, dripfeeding the twists and turns of the plot, and despite the incredible and almost impossible leaps of faith the reader is expected to take, it actually works. You’re happy to go along with the continuing craziness of the plotting because it’s so much fun, and your suspension of disbelief hangs on throughout. A quietly incredible novel on a grand scale. By Stanley Riiks
From the Catacombs: Small Budget Fear By Jim Lesniak
THE BONE SWORD By Walter Rhein www.rhemalda.com If you are looking for some fast paced fantasy then take your fill here. Malik, a former soldier in the legendary Camden Guard, finds himself in a fight in a bar, and must escape into the mountains. With him are two children with the power to heal. Word of them spreads and they soon become the focus of a revolution, but that attention draws more enemies. A simply fantasy tale that grows very quickly into an epic. Tightly written, the story brings so much across in two hundred and twenty two pages. Good fun fantasy with excitement aplenty
Occasionally, we all want to step away from the books and let a film wash over us. Unfortunately, mainstream films, especially in the horror genre, are catering to the lowest common denominator; plots, characters and themes are recycled mercilessly into turgid multiplex fare. For every Martyrs1 there are five Saw sequels or rip-offs. Worse yet is when Hollywood remakes a great film into a boring mess (Ringu, The Grudge, Psycho). The mainstream movie industry is not geared towards taking a chance with films (it is amazing Inception even got made), so we must find the next exploitable ideas from the underground. Remember, Sam Raimi started his career with Evil Dead. Focusing on small budget horror films lets us see the creativity of the directors and/or writers. With miniscule budgets, the plot must be tailored to suit the vision. The joy of the internet is how easy it is to discover the small films with the big ideas, or at least the ones that know how to sell themselves. Granted, there is still an abundance of dross, but those of us who recall the challenge of even seeing independent films 15+ years ago, enjoy even having the ability to find these things. These are films that someone had to make; the creators would not rest until their story, their vision, was on a screen. No matter what my (or your) opinion is towards the final product, all these filmmakers deserve respect for actually completing a project and having the courage to release it into the world. All of the DVDs reviewed in this roundup are Region 0, NTSC coded. Rather than indicate list prices, all the websites have been provided so up-todate production information can be found. Experiments in Terror 3 www.provacateurDVD.com A compilation of short films curated by Noel Lawrence spanning 1961 to 2008 that is more accurately an experiment in tedium. The only terror was slogging through the six examples here – and they are 1
Word on the street is that Martyrs is in the bin for a Hollywood remake with a happy, or at least less oppressive ending. Nothing like removing the kick from a film – I suppose Old Yeller will survive next.
only six to twenty-four minutes long! Two of the shorts (Satan Claus and Terror) are spliced together from other movies; there is no additional footage, just editing. A film collage can be entertaining if done well; Tribulation 99, Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and What’s New Pussycat come to mind – these shorts have no narrative reason to exist. The Psychotic Odyssey of Richard Chase is in the style of Todd Haynes’ Superstar2 without the entertainment value or production quality. Two of the remaining examples are silent: Born of the Wind and Manuelle Labor; the former due to obvious budget limitations, the latter in a failed attempt to emulate the silent era. The one redeeming quality on this disc is the excerpt from Loma Lynda: The Red Door3; the full 40 minute cut has made the festival circuit, but has not been made available individually. Excellent camerawork and editing assist the disturbing imagery of violence and revenge. The portion here feels like a trailer/demo reel produced to acquire funding to finish the project. A horror/terror fan is better served by finding free shorts online. These films all have the feel of student projects or of someone firing up the editing software for the first time. Even the Mike Kuchar film (Born of the Wind) seems dull for such a legendary avant-garde director. Perhaps your miscreant reviewer is not educated enough in the world of film to fully appreciate these works, but let us leave proper analysis to Cineaction Magazine4. The experiment here was to separate people from their cash and the terror is the time one can never retrieve. Jeremy C. Shipp’s Egg www.rawdogscreamingpress.com “The day I went insane wasn’t any different than any other day. First, I had to decide who to love and who to lock out.” This twelve minute short packs more menace and disturbing imagery than the whole of Experiments in Terror 3. Hatched from the mind of “bizarro” author Jeremy C. Shipp, Egg manipulates time and perceptions of sanity for its “protagonist,” Lane. Our narrator declares his madness in the opening lines and it only gets stranger from there. A well-produced package from actors to 2
Superstar is available in full online: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6221305107139405 45# 3 http://www.lomalynda.com/ 4 If you want to read a gorgeously designed magazine that sucks the fun out of movies: http://cineaction.ca/
editing; even the sound design is truly unsettling, helping to put the piece into an off-kilter mood. We do not know if time is collapsing, if these are a child’s vision of the future, or something else. Is the egg the end of innocence? Does an absent/abusive father lead our narrator to self-doubt and madness? Egg is non-linear mediation on crossing the line into adulthood with fears on both sides. As with Mr. Shipp’s short stories, it is impossible to ascribe a simple meaning or describe a basic plot; all of the pieces are provided, however, the viewer must assemble the whole for themselves. This may have become entirely too obtuse at feature length as there are no sudden revelations - it must be interpreted as a whole. Egg is a curiosity that fits in well with the author’s oeuvre. Maxwell Stein www.fourthplanetfilms.com The titular character is a down on his luck director with one last chance at redemption. Forced into acquiring a movie camera, Maxwell discovers his vintage machine carries more than film. Only visible in the viewfinder and on the developed film is a vengeful ghost of a woman; she is murdering the actors, but the footage is killer… Maxwell Stein is a period piece set in 1940s Hollywood and filmed in black and white. The production is a love letter and a tribute to classic horror films. The cast, especially Jules (Maxwell) Watzich is fantastic; rather than get the writer or director’s friends, they got actors. The film’s emotional force hinges on Mr. Watzich’s performance, and he handles the depth with class and ease. The special effects are well done and fit seamlessly with the film. This is a very effective feature-length terror film that is well worth the time to track down, especially for fans of the classic horror cycle of the 1930s. AM1200 www.am1200.com AM1200 is a slow burn of a film that piles on the atmosphere with minimal dialogue. Sam Larson (played by Eric Lange) is running from his problems
and gets lost on the road to redemption, or is it damnation. Upon discovering a disturbing radio broadcast in the middle of the night, he is reeled in to a remote transmitting station and madness. Most of the heavy lifting is done by Lange; his desperation and confusion is conveyed by body language and the cinematography. In the forty minute run time, he ably conveys a person being pushed along by forces beyond his control, if not comprehension. There are minimal special effects until the climax, and these are used sparingly, commensurate with the budget and the flow of the film. Being primarily psychological, the unknown and unseen are more effective than some rubber creature or cheap CGI. AM1200 is the most Lovecraftian I’ve film seen in quite some time – there is no escape save madness or death. Highly recommended as an example of what can be accomplished on a small budget with a talented director and a stellar cast. Outpost Doom www.deadlantern.com Two disparate groups - two escaped convicts and a group of “ordinary” people - are thrown together during what appear to be the end times. Trapped in a barn, hiding from a tentacled creature in the woods, there is no trust amongst them in the now-eternal dark of the world. One by one, these survivors are being killed, but by whom? Is there someone or something in the barn with them, or is one of them picking off the others? With nowhere else to run, they must find the truth before it is too late. Normally, it is a bad sign when you see certain credits in a film: Uwe Boll, Michael Bay, “as seen on SyFy”, et cetera. In small budget films, if something is written, directed, edited and starring the same person, this can be deadly unless you are Ed Wood, Jr. Outpost Doom is very much Mathew Kister’s vision, although he only took a minor role for himself in front of the camera. The story idea is good, the directing and editing is excellent; multiple camera angles and effective use of medium shots keep the film visually entertaining throughout. If the script has a failing, it is in the dialogue; much of it does not sound natural and it spends a significant amount of time in exposition mode. The exposition is a necessary evil of the small budget; much as Mr.
Kister would have loved to show the dark event or the prison escape in flashback, he was limited to the one location (the inside of a barn). The cast delivers their lines earnestly, if sometimes inconsistent with their characters. It feels like the director gathered his friends for a fun shoot, rather than audition (and pay) actors. Outpost Doom, despite the reservations noted above, is a fun and effective thriller. The special effects are a little silly, but are used effectively. Honestly, The Darkest of the Hillside Thickets have better sfx in their videos! The oppressive mood within the barn and the tension between the characters are admirably portrayed in conjunction with impressive camera work. Watch it with a group and drink the “barn harder” – the recipe is included as is the drinking game! If you see the twist ending coming, colour me impressed. A couple of interesting looking films did not make it to the catacombs by press time: Die Farbe5 and The Devil’s Muse6. Die Farbe is reportedly a very Lovecraftian film from Germany – the trailer is very atmospheric. The Devil’s Muse is a surreal horror film based on the Black Dahlia murders. I’ll give Die Farbe a pass for slow shipping as the limited edition “specimen” edition with hand-made embellishments is what ye olde reviewer chose to order, but come on Halo 8! I received customprinted items from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society7, ordered later than “in stock” items. At press time, we are still waiting for the HPLSC’s The Whisperer in the Darkness to be screened or released, and if it is half as good as their Call of Cthulhu, it should be quite impressive. What small-budget films should get reviewed in future columns? Ye Olde Reviewer is always looking for unusual and unique projects to review and help publicize – contact can be made through the main Morpheus Tales website (www.morpheustales.com). The more we share information, the more of the cool we can find. The next installment shall focus on dark music; this column was written under the influence of Mark Steiner’s “Broken”8 and Jim White’s “Demo Tapes.9” Until next time, stay strange.
http://die-farbe.com/ http://www.myspace.com/blackdahliamovie 7 My membership certificate! Finally, I am a card-carrying cultist! (http://www.cthulhulives.org/) 8 http://www.staggerhome.com/ 9 http://www.jimwhite.net/ - Hopefully the new album will be out by the next deadline. 6
MORLOCK NIGHT By K. W. Jeter www.angryrobotbooks.com Despite everything about this book being better than the book it’s being published alongside, Infernal Devices, I’m not sure I can recommend this one either. Certainly if you have a choice between the two and must pick one, on pain of death or suchlike, then Morlock Night, for all its weaknesses, is certainly the better book. Mr. Hocker, having heard the incredible tale of the time-machine, is approached by a strange, pale man called Dr Ambrose, who takes him into a future where England has been invaded by Morlocks (from H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine). Hocker is brought back with a warrior from that time, and must find King Arthur and the sword Excalibur (which has been split into four pieces by removing it from time), as they are the only hope of saving the country. Dr Ambrose (actually Merlin), takes on the great and evil Merdenne, trapping him at the end of time. Hocker goes down below the city, searching the sewers to find one of the pieces of the split and weakened sword. I won’t go any further. The incredulous plotting continues, throwing in ideas that are never fully realised, becoming weaker and weaker in their revelation. The problem is not the story, but the way it’s told. The most exciting parts of the book are those that don’t appear; the entire book’s climax is captured in a couple of pages where we get to miss the whole battle to save the planet. The battle between the two most powerful players in our story is done away with, as though the imagination required to produce such an amazing story is too much for the writer, so he traps them in a timeless box and leaves them there for the duration. Some decent ideas are completely ruined by every opportunity for excitement or action being removed. Travelling through the sewers with the only danger being the dark and rats takes up several pages, the battle to stop the invasion of the Morlock army takes almost a paragraph. Never has such a massive opportunity been so poorly dealt with. Perhaps Jeter was on some kind of deadline and had to rush through all the incredible bits of the book, intent on delivering them later and then forgot. Whatever the case may be, what we have here is a miserable failure, such a series of missed
opportunities that it’s painful to read. The most exciting parts don’t happen in the book, but in your imagination. Sad, pitiful, and the possibly the biggest set of wasted ideas and opportunities ever. But still better than Infernal Devices. Andy Remic, David Gunn or Eric S. Brown should rewrite this and make it awesomely action-packed. Avoid. By Stanley Riiks CITY OF HOPE AND DESPAIR By Ian Whates www.angryrobotbooks.com The second novel in the fabulous City of a Hundred Rows series; here we delve even deeper into this fantasy set in the fantastical multi-layered city of Thaiburley. This massive city is the true star of the series, richly detailed and brilliantly portrayed. In this book we follows former thief Tom and assassin Dewar, who must leave the city in search of Thaiburley’s founder, the goddess Thaiss, as they attempt to stop the city’s destruction. The rich world, great characterisation, and well developed landscape give this fantasy a broad appeal. The brilliant ideas, the merging of SF and fantasy, and Whates’ exciting story offer something for everyone. A brilliant second book in the series. By Adrian Brady Deneen Melody Interview By Trevor Wright Growing up, were you a fan of horror movies? And if so, which ones were your favourites? Oh, I definitely was a horror gal as a kid! Thank goodness my parents were letting me watch movies like Aliens, The Thing, and Day of the Dead even at 3-4 years old. I would spend hours watching stuff like My Little Pony, Beauty and the Beast, and The Last Unicorn, only to add something like Puppet Master into the mix. I wanted to be friends with Blade and Freddy Krueger just as much as Unicorns or Belle. Horror movies didn’t really scare me, they just entertained me. I always thought they were so much fun and even loved watching them right before bedtime.
first started getting involved with film, My favourite was, and still is, Day I was discovering that the majority of Of The Dead by George Romero. the auditions out there were for horror Even at a young age, I looked up films, and after being cast in my first to the Sarah character, portrayed horror flick I just LOVED it! I also by Lori Cardille. I knew she was attended the Fangoria Convention in strong, smart, and the sort of Chicago that same year and after character who didn’t take any meeting so many awesome directors crap… and I liked it! The Romero and actors, I just couldn’t stay away zombies always fascinated me, too. from the independent horror scene. (On a side note: I had a chance to work with Barry Anderson, one of As an actress, I find acting in horror the zombie makeup artists from films extremely rewarding. It is kind Day Of The Dead, on the film As of frustrating that some people think Night Falls. I was excited to have the “Scream Queen” title is a negative an opportunity to see a real master thing or just don’t give actors in the at work!) I also love the Alien Figure 1 Jessi Tetzloff horror community much respect. Some of films, especially the second one, and a the most dedicated and talented actors I have met are lot of the good horror/thriller films of the 80’s. highly associated with independent horror. (Debbie When did you know you wanted to be an actress (i.e. Rochon, Jerry Murdock, Zoe Daelman Chlanda, Lori Cardille, Alan Rowe Kelly: they can act circles work in the industry)? I actually didn’t get into film till a little over two around that Hollywood crowd as far as I’m years ago, but I think deep down a part of me has concerned!) Really, a lot of the films I have been in always loved acting and knew this was my ultimate have required a strong presence, not to mention the destiny. Yes, I know, that sounds so incredibly fact that you have to run, scream, get covered in cheesy, but it is true. Even though I trained for years blood, and cry, all which is emotionally exhausting. as a ballet dancer and even danced professionally (it It is more than just pretending to be scared and was my passion), I enjoyed being involved in theatre showing your boobs. as much as possible. My schedule was always full with ballet classes and rehearsals, but I always Of course, horror isn’t the only genre I am interested managed to find some time to work on a few plays, in. I pursue dramatic films when I can, and, since I enjoy doing fight choreography and stunts, I love do some drama competitions, and so on and so on. taking part in action films. Heck, I’ve even done a comedies As far as officially stepping into acting, it wasn’t till few I moved to Chicago and auditioned for a television here and there. pilot that I knew this is what I wanted to do. It was However, horror just a small role on a small set, but I fell in love with is definitely the it right away. While I was inexperienced with film, I most fun. I will just kept auditioning and working on as many sets as never get tired of possible to build up my resume and gain more playing crazy, experience. I’ve met so many wonderful people and complicated have made some great friends in the industry that characters, being blood have really helped me out, and they are part of the around reason I have so much love for what I do. I adore the and gore, and creativity and art behind acting, but it wouldn’t be having a good to nearly as enjoyable if I wasn’t surrounded by so excuse many great people. I cannot thank everyone enough scream. for the support and encouragement to keep at it! What exciting How did you make the transition into horror projects are in store for Deneen movies? Figure 2 Jessi Tetzloff Well, I have always been a horror gal! Truth be told, Melody? my favourite genre is actually Fantasy/Science Funny enough, with all this fantasy talk, I actually Fiction, but there really aren’t a lot of independent just got cast as the lead in Joshua Siegel’s A fantasy films being made, now are there? When I Midsummer Nightmare. It’s a feature film based
around the events of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and is a mix of both classic B-Movies like Leprechaun or Wishmaster and darker fantasy films like Pan’s Labyrinth. My character, Marion, is such an interesting girl, so I was extremely excited when I was approached for the role. As far as the rest of the casting goes, I’m not too sure who else will be involved at this point, but I think horror fans are going to be pleased. I’ll also be providing the voice to one of the main characters of Jason Heath’s Astro Noir: The Fixers! It is an animated series that will consist of 13 8minute episodes (per season) and focuses on a trio of characters that are working with the Galactic Intelligence Service. They are all fugitives who are working with the Service only so they can get full pardons from their unlawful pasts. My character, Valkira, is the independent and hot tempered one of the group, but she is also somewhat mysterious. (Not to mention incredibly cute! Still, you would NOT want to mess with her.) Kitsie Duncan and Brian Shirley are part of the main cast as Anara and G.T., and the show will also have several guest stars through out each season. The website can be found here: http://astronoir.com As far as horror films go, I have been cast as one of the leading roles in Mark Cray’s Girl Scout Cookies, which will be directed by Bobby Jones and shoots next June. It has lots of intense action scenes, which mostly include all of the lead girls kicking major butt. I will also be joining filmmaker Shane Michael’s on his next feature film, Prey To God, in the role of Amber Robertson. She is such a fun and insane character; I know a lot of horror fans are going to enjoy this one. Also, as mentioned before, I will be playing the role of Nurse Janet Steele in the remake of Don’t Look In The Basement! by Alan Rowe Kelly and Anthony Sumner. There is also Joe Hollow’s Diary Of Death: Bloodstruck and Cut, which is co-directed by Wolfgang Meyer, Kevin Jamison’s Serial: Girls Night Out produced by Jim Bett and Mitchell D. Wells, and hopefully the feature film Stronger Than Death written by Trevor Wright and Marv Blauvelt. 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? This may not surprise many people, but I absolutely love Steven King. It started when I first watched Silver Bullet as a little kid. I loved that movie so much because I thought the werewolf was cute, haha. Then, I started finding out other movies I liked
Figure 3 Jessi Tetzloff
were based off his books and I finally got to the point where I wanted to read everything he had published. Some of my favourites include The Stand, Pet Semetary, and Needful Things. The Stand, which is also an amazing miniseries, is probably my very favourite due to the nature of the story. I have always had an interest in epic battles of good vs. evil, which is one of the reasons why I love the Lord Of The Ring stories so much. Also, I’m a fan of this writer known as Trevor Wright… maybe you have heard of him? Full interview coming in Attack of the Scream Queens, coming soon!
www.morpheustales.com Morpheus Tales #12 Review Supplement, April 2011. © COPYRIGHT April 2011 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.
34 pages of genre non-fiction, including interviews with author Neal Asher and Scream Queen Deneen Melody, columns by Eric S. Brown on The N...