Sunday, December 23, 2007

Here are some Hot-Off-The-Press Trailers for You!

Teeth - You won't believe what this one is about! Oh snap! Literally!

The Eye - Jessica Alba sees dead people.

Cloverfield - The most anticipated film of the new year? It is for me so far.

Wall*E - Disney and Pixar's latest masterpiece.

Hancock - Will Smith's next summer blockbuster.

The Signal - The evil that men do.

The Orphanage - A ghost story produced by Guillermo del Toro? It has to be good!

Speed Racer - Oh boy, what's the product blitz going to be like for this one? Definitely one of the most colorful films of the new year!

DVD Review: Captivity

If you can remember, Captivity made headlines with its unique billboards in California. The billboards depicting a woman's abduction, confinement, torture and termination were simply too much for the public to bear and they were judicially made to remove them. So, you can imagine when the film came out on DVD, I just had to see what all the fuss was about! Here's my review of Captivity in classic Captivi-tay style!

Abduction - The opening of Captivity is pretty good. It sucked me in and garnered my interest. The violence was gruesome and the opening sequence was pretty effective.

Confinement - Okay, the film is moving at a pretty brisk pace, I feel as if I will stick with it to the end. Again, the level of gore is pretty good for a Hollywood movie, although at this point, the film doesn't feel like a big Hollywood horror movie.

Torture - Sonofabitch I knew it! It couldn't keep this level up. Suddenly, on a dime, the damn movie turns from being a pretty effective psychological thriller into a meaningless piece of Big Hollywood crap! Goodness gracious!

Termination - The ending of the film is so ridiculous, so contrived, so stupid that I have to wonder if the makers of the film got tired of working on it and just wanted to finish it off. I am livid at this point and I want to grab something to break - hey, this DVD of Captivity is just the thing!

I hate it when a film starts out good only to fall into an abyss of crap. Now, we can add Captivity to that ever-growing list. Maybe next time, the studio will focus on making a good film rather than using an advertising ploy to get people to recognize it! Damn! Captivity gets ** out of *****.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bikini Bloodbath Trailer

Here's the trailer for Bikini Bloodbath, the latest release from Bloodbath Pictures! Check this out and then read my review of the DVD below!

DVD Review: Bikini Bloodbath

A film full of bouncing boobies, buckets of blood and a barrage of bad words is what the gang at Bloodbath Pictures set out to make, and make it they did! Bikini Bloodbath is a hilarious horror-spoof from the masterminds who brought us Land of College Prophets, and like that movie, Bikini Bloodbath is impressively made for such a small independent group. You can tell with each film these guys produce, they get better at their craft. The editing is better, the video and sound quality is better and the actors prove themselves quite versatile. While the film's plot is pretty much summed up as a crazy French chef killing everyone he comes into contact with (still not sure why, but it doesn't really matter), this is not a film you're going to watch and discuss the reasonings behind making it. This is a film to just chill out with and laugh. Genre-vet Debbie Rochon was absolutely great in the film, although I wish she could have stuck around longer! Her lesbo-tactics had me laughing hysterically. While not a mind-blowing film, you may blow a gut laughing, and that's exactly what the filmmakers were going for, so they definitely succeeded there. Yeah, I really liked Bikini Bloodbath, because it is what it is - a man's movie! And if you don't like boobies, blood and bad words, then you're not a man, man. I give Bikini Bloodbath ****1/2 out of *****.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

DVD Review: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End

Throughout history, there have only been a few sequels that were better than the original - The Empire Strikes Back was better than Star Wars, many people think that Godfather 2 was better than the first, and now, Wrong Turn 2 can be added to that tiny list of exceptions. Now, I happened to like the original, but Wrong Turn 2 kicks it up a notch! This is one direct-to-DVD release which should have seen the theaters. The effects are really good and it is very well made. I was nervous about the characters at first, but surprisingly, they turned out to be really good. Henry Rollins is the man (although I can't say I approve for how he goes out, kinda wimpy). The story follows a group of reality television contestants filming a new show out in the West Virginia woods (never a good idea). Suddenly, they start getting picked off by those nasty, inbred hillbillies (in West Virginia?). The killing starts early and it doesn't relent! This is by far the best inbred mutant cannibalistic murdering hillbilly movie made! These bulbous-headed bastards make the gang in Hills Have Eyes 1 & 2 look lame! They make Leatherface look like a pansy-ass! For a rip-roaring good time, where people are split in two, exploded, tortured and maimed, take a right turn down Wrong Turn 2: Dead End! It breeds ****1/2 out of *****.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

DVD Review: Wind Chill

I love it when you pick up a DVD, without having any prior information about it, and it turns out to be a pretty good movie. In the past, such notable films like Dead Birds and Satan's Little Helper were discovered exactly the same way. Now, it happens again with Wind Chill. This movie is not only shot very well, but the actors turn in fine performances as well. The story follows a college girl looking for a ride home for the holidays. She finds one from another classmate, who may or may not be a stalker. Anyway, during the drive to her home, she discovers that her driver is not who he claims to be and that winds up being the best part of the trip! The two actors, Emily Blunt and Ashton Holmes do a great job of creating personal tension between the two of them. When Holmes makes a bad decision on their driving route, their car ends up on the side of the road, stranding them in a no man's land of ice and snow. While the area is secluded, they are not alone. What happens next is tense, fun and well done! Wind Chill is one of this year's nice surprises. I give it ****1/2 out of *****.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Book Review: Dead Man's Song by Jonathan Maberry

Ah yes, it feels good to be back in Pine Deep! Dead Man's Song is the second in a horror trilogy by Bram Stoker award winning author Jonathan Maberry and it is just as riveting as the first chapter, Ghost Road Blues. This book picks up right where the first one ends, with Crow and Val recovering from their battle with Karl Ruger. However, everything is still not right in Pine Deep. Tow-Truck Eddie is still on the search for the Anti-Christ, the dead walk, Mayor Wolfe is losing his grip, Dr. Weinstock makes a horrifying discovery and that's just the start of it. This book is exactly what the middle part of a trilogy should be - a furthering of a complex story, while building up for a major finale. I simply cannot wait for the final chapter of this good versus evil epic. Don't keep us waiting too long Jonathan! My only beef with the book? The person who edited it. Jonathan, please, tell the publisher to find a better editor next time. Other than the poor editing, it's another stellar book from one of horror's best! ****1/2 out of *****!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

DVD Review: The Tripper

Coming from the sometimes-warped mind of David Arquette, I figured The Tripper was going to be a spasmic, fun, spaced-out killer ride. But instead what I got was spasmic, slow and ultimately disappointing one. The set-up was good, about a bunch of stoners heading into the woods for a mini-Woodstock-type festival only to slaughtered by a madman wearing a Ronald Reagan outfit. There are certainly environmental and governmental overtures throughout the movie, but at times, they seemed to overshadow the fun of it all. Plus, I gotta ask you, is there any work out there for Jason Mewes where he isn't playing a stoner? He was so annoying in this movie that I uttered "finally" when he got whacked. The killing wasn't thrilling, there was never a sense of tension, and not even Pee-Wee Herman himself could shed light on this one. However, Thomas Jane did make me chuckle with his performance as the Sherriff. With so many drug references and psychadelic effects, I think Arquette hopes people are stoned while they're watching the movie. Alas, it may be the only way to enjoy it. The Tripper trips up and gets ** out of *****.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

DVD Review: Flight of the Living Dead

I have to say, I was quite worried about this one. I mean, come on, how can they make a movie based on zombies on an airplane? Well, it worked for snakes, so why not zombies, I guess. Strangely enough, I found that I kinda liked it. I'm not going to go out and tell everyone I know that they just have to see this masterpiece, mind you. But for an hour and a half, I was into the movie. Call it pure zombie escapism.
Flight of the Living Dead is about a massive airliner filled to capacity, carrying a top-secret government test subject. Damn government, is there anything they aren't to blame for! Anyway, one thing leads to another and the "test subject" is released from her containment. What ensues is mass zombie fun! For a direct-to-DVD feature, New Line did a great job. Excellent special effects, a decent cast and some really good camera work combine to make Flight of the Living Dead a thoroughly watchable flick. If you can get past the fact that nearly seven thousand rounds of gunfire are shot from two handguns, and not one pierces the body of the airplane, then you'll have no problem losing yourself to the gruesome effects of Flight of the Living Dead! Oh, and don't look now, but if this film does well, there will no doubt be a sequel. Flight of the Living Dead resurrects ***1/2 out of *****.

Monday, October 08, 2007

10 Questions for...Brian Keene

Finally! I bagged an interview with one of my favorite writers, my main man, Brian Keene. Between this dude being so busy and thanks to a Myspace issue, this interview is a little late in coming, but well worth the wait. Here's a look into one of horror's most original minds - the Bram Stoker Award winning author, Brian Keene.

1.) Dave: Hi Brian, thanks for spending some time with us. My first question is – What is your writing routine like?

Brian: Monday through Friday, I get up at around 5am. I answer email and respond to posts on my message board until about 7am. I never fully seem to get caught up with these, but I try. Then around 8am, I start writing. I work till 1pm, eat lunch, and then start writing again at 2pm. Then I work until 5pm or 6pm, at which point I'm done for the day. Sometimes I'll work later than that, or work on weekends, too---especially if I'm under deadline.

2.) Dave: At what point did you decide that writing was going to be your career?

Brian: When I started making enough money from it to quit my day job. (laughs). Seriously, I've always been a writer. Even when my writing was barely earning me enough to buy a newspaper, I still thought of myself as a writer. I always made sure I had a day job, but I never thought of those jobs as my vocation. They were what I did to earn money. Writing was my vocation. These days, I'm lucky enough to do it for a living.

3.) Dave: How did you get your first novel published?

Brian: Trial and error and lots of patience. I wrote it, finished it, polished it and then submitted it. Eventually, Delirium Books accepted it for hardcover and then Leisure Books accepted it for paperback. Before that, there were lot's of "No thanks. It's not for us. Zombies will never be popular again."

4.) Dave: You’re a pretty prolific writer. How do you keep track of all of your ideas?

Brian: For each idea I turn into a finished story, there are probably ten that I forget about. That makes me sad, in a way. Do dead story ideas turn into ghosts? Hey, there's another idea! Quick, write that down.

Usually, I remember the good ones. Occasionally, if it's something really, really good, I might jot down some rough notes so I don't forget it.

5.) Dave: What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Brian: Despite what you may have heard, I'm pretty boring. I like target shooting (I'm a pretty good shot), reading, watching movies, fishing, and taking walks in the woods with my wife and dog.

6.) Dave: The covers of a few of your books (The Rising, Ghoul and the upcoming Dead Sea) are very similar. Do you have a thing for hands or is it just a coincidence?

Brian: That's all up to the publisher's marketing department. Authors generally don't have much say in what goes on their covers. The hands are supposed to create a brand in the mind of the average consumer, or so I'm told.

7.) Dave: The three boys in Ghoul each have terrible things happening at home. Was this an attempt to make a statement about the family unit or was it simply for character depth?

Brian: Some of it was based on real life events---things that happened to me or friends of mine when we were that age. But yeah, the important thing to me was that when the reader finished the book, they were left wondering just who the real monsters really were---the ghoul, or the parents?

8.) Dave: Dead Sea is your next novel. Can you give us a hint as to what we can expect?

Brian: It's in stores now. It's a book totally written for the fans. They asked for another zombie novel, and I obliged. It was an absolute blast to write. I had fun with it. Zombie pusists will dig it because, unlike The Rising and City of the Dead, these zombies can't talk or think or use weapons or drive cars.

9.) Dave: There are a lot of musical references in Ghoul. What type of music do you listen to and do you listen to it while you write?

Brian: I have background noise all day long. From 6am until 11, it's Howard Stern. If he ever went off the air, I think I'd have to quit writing. Once Howard's show is over, I listen to various music all day long. I'm pretty ecclectic in my musical tastes. Today, for example, it was Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden, Prince, Waylon Jennings, Mastadon, Ice-T, Anthrax, Love and Rockets, Queensryche, Pixies, Circle of Fear, Robert Johnson, Nighttime Dealers, Vertigo Sun, Faith No More, and Dr. Dre. Tomorrow, it might be those bands again, or it might be something different.

10.) Dave: What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Brian: Better authors than me have said it, but read every day and write every day. Every single day, man. To be successful as a writer, you need three things: the ability to write, patience, and determination.

My sincere thanks to Brian for providing a quick glimpse into his writing life and creative process. For those who haven't experienced his go-for-the-throat style of writing, head out and pick up one of his books, or better yet, pick up his library, it will save you a return trip! Or, just click on one of the book titles listed above to purchase it directly from Amazon. Find out more about this talented wordsmith by visiting his website,

Sunday, September 23, 2007

DVD Review: Hostel 2

Hostel 2 finds us following a group of sexy, young Americans making their way across Europe, meeting strange and exciting people along the way, when their trip goes terribly wrong. Wait a minute, this sounds exactly like Hostel Part 1. Indeed it does my friend, indeed it does. Unfortunately, I was left with a "been there, seen that" feeling after watching Hostel 2. While I really like Eli Roth's ambition for the genre and I still feel he has something really great up his sleeve, I can't help but feel like this is a cash-in. Replace the guys from the first movie with girls and hello, an all-new movie! While this film picks up almost immediately where the first left off, and while it does show us more into the minds of the people who actually run and participate in the festivities of the Elite Hunting Club, it's far from original. The difference between the Hostel and Saw series is that the creators of the Saw series strive to make each movie different and they're nicely complex, whereas Hostel is you get what you pay for. I didn't even think this film was bloodier than the first, which was really a surprise. The appeal of the original was the stark reality and brutality of the film, that this stuff does exist and how horrifying it is. With the second installment, that shock is lost and the film suffers for it. Hostel Part 2 chops up ** out of *****.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Movie Review: Black Sheep

From New Zealand comes this horror/comedy from director Jonathan King. It tells the story of a young man returning home to his family's sheep farm, only to find out that his brother authorized genetic experiments on the helpless woolmakers. A tale of nature gone bad, where there's genetic experiments, there's zombie action waiting to happen, and this time it's zombie sheep! The film was impressively shot, hard not to be with the gorgeous New Zealand countryside serving as the backdrop. But, overall, the film wasn't nearly as funny, or scary as I had hoped. While it tried to keep up with previous horror/comedy masterpieces like Dead Alive, Black Sheep felt a tad uninspired. For me, it just wound up being an alright movie. The creature effects were nice, and there was some tasty gore but in the end, I wasn't blown away. Black Sheep is worth a look if you're hard up for a Saturday night flick, but don't expect a laugh out loud scarefest. Black Sheep grazes **1/2 out of *****.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

DVD Review: Skinwalkers

How can a movie with such a cool poster be bad? Well, while it's not exactly bad, it could have been sooo much better. SkinWalkers tells the tale of two types of werewolves, the ones who like killing and maiming and the ones who want their curse to be lifted. There's a small boy, a half-breed, who holds the key to lifting the curse, or at least that's what the "prophecy" states. When the boy turns 13 during the time of the red full moon, he will begin the process of cleaning up all of werewolfdom. Needless to say, the bad werewolves want the kid dead. We're left with an action-packed movie filled with gun-toting werewolves, one group trying to save and hide the boy and the other tracking and trying to kill him. Overall, the movie was just a standard action film with some bad werewolf makeup thrown in for good measure. Never scary or gory, it lost its horror element from the beginning. Don't pick this film based on its werewolf theme, because you'll be sadly disappointed. But, if you like guns blazing and only a few people getting hit, then you'll enjoy SkinWalkers. For me, I give it ** out of *****.

DVD Review: Vacancy

The title of this one says it all. Vacant is exactly the look you'll have on your face during the 85 minute crapfest that is Vacancy. The plot of this film is the only thing it has going for it, and it's pretty lame. As a quarrelsome couple begins to have car trouble, along a long, dark stretch of god-knows-where blacktop, they're forced to stop into a nicely lit gas station. The kindly gentleman there fixes (wink, wink) their car and it only goes about two miles before it dies for good (the same can't be said about the movie, aaarggh). As the insults fly, the couple heads back to the hotel right next to the gas station. While there, the shady innkeeper provides them with a gloomy room. The damn room looks like someone died in there. Ooops, someone did! Not only that, but our moronic leading duo, played by Luke Wilson and Kate Beckinsale discover that their room is actually used to make snuff films. They find out because video tapes are left in their room. Oh, the psychological terror! What happens next is neither exciting, thrilling or scary, but it did cause me to a bad case of gas (probably out of boredom). The stunning climax of this movie is one you'll never wish you saw coming and if Wilson's acting in the final ten minutes isn't some of the most over-the-top crappiness ever caught on celluloid then I'm a monkey's uncle. This film was appropriately directed by a guy with the first name, Nimrod. No joke. Vancancy fails to check in with only * out of *****. Run, don't walk away from this crappy big Hollywood piece of poop.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

CD Review: Fears in the Water by The Vincent Black Shadow

The Vincent Black Shadow is the new band formed by horror crooner Nim Vind and man, are they great! I'm telling you, this band is going to hit it big. With a sound similar to early No Doubt, but infinitely cooler, TVBS's debut album Fears in the Water is one that's constantly playing on my MP3 player. Female lead singer Cassandra Ford easily transcends the musical diversity the band pumps out, from guitar-driven rockers to mellow, lounge-esque crooners and she proves that she has the pipes to make it work. I can't think of another debut that so instantaneously grabbed my eardrums and provided them with such auditory pleasure! Fears in the Water gets ***** out of *****. Pick up your copy today, and you'll know what's hot before it even comes to temperature.

DVD Review: Big Bad Wolf

I love werewolf movies! The bad thing about loving the lycanthrope genre, is that not much good viewing or reading material comes from it. Other than the Ginger Snaps trilogy and Dog Soldiers, there haven't been many good movies about the hairy wolfman. But, thanks to writer/director Lance W. Dreesen, Big Bad Wolf can be added to that small list of worthwhile werewolf fare! I really liked this movie. The direction and acting were right on and there was enough gore to make a gorehound like me happy. The nice balance of seriousness and humor is what made this movie work. Well, that and having a cool looking werewolf! I could have had the werewolf talk a little less, but that's a minor complaint, because the overall film was very good. The story revolves around Derek Cowley and his sneaking suspicion that his step-father is a werewolf. After all, the guy has a secluded cabin in the woods and he always leaves on business meetings during the time of the full moon every month. After a rash of deaths, Derek and his friend Samantha, are left to discover the truth behind his step-father's timely disappearances. Big Bad Wolf solidly takes a place next to the other werewolf films listed above as well worth watching! I give it **** out of *****.

Book Review: Wicked Things by Thomas Tessier

Wicked Things is Thomas Tessier's first original novel in ten years. That being said, I hope he has more up his sleeve than just this story. I was really let down by this book. Oddly enough, I found myself reading and reading, even though nothing was really happening. It always felt as if something was on the verge of happening and then...nothing. The ending sort of rushes in on you and I actually had to read the last page twice to realize what happened. The story revolves around insurance investigator Jack Carlson and his investigation onto a series of strange deaths in the sleepy little town of Winship. The town is the ideal small town, but it has a dark secret. Can Jack overcome the roaming gangs, the secret religious sect, the town's red light district and the rash of murder/suicides that take place upon his arrival? In the end, reading this book gave me the exact same sensation that Jack was experiencing in the book - kind of strange, almost like a bad trip, surreal and ultimately kind of boring. Wicked Things is best left for when you're really hard up for something to read and you're too broke to go to the bookstore and the library's closed. It gets * out of *****.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Book Review: Offspring by Jack Ketchum

Good old Jack Ketchum! Just when you can really use an uplifting tale of love regained, Jack rears his leg back and kicks you right in the ass! Oh man, and I wouldn't have it any other way! Offspring takes us back to the Maine coastline where the tragic events in Off Season occurred. Ketchum's family of cannibalistic sadistic children return, with new members and new skills. Ten years have passed since the nightmare portrayed in Off Season, and everything has been quiet in the town of Dead River, Maine. However, things are going to be getting very messy, very soon! The story once again follows the events of a single day - May 12, 1992 - and Jack really knows how to fill out 24 hours! With brutally realistic violence, this book is not for everyone. But if you've had the pleasure of reading Off Season, you will want to read this book. Nobody conveys violence on the page like Jack Ketchum! This book is a visceral treat for the lover of horror. It's deadly fast paced and you'll probably finish it in one sitting. Do yourself a favor - read Offspring - if you have the guts! Absolutely ***** out of *****.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Book Review: Edgewise by Graham Masterson

Graham Masterson, now that's a name for a horror writer if there ever was one! To be honest, while he's written many top sellers, this is the first novel of his I've read. But having said that, I'm afraid Edgewise, while very good in parts, simply doesn't do the man's reputation any justice. It's been a while since we've had a book or fim about the Wendigo, and Masterson's quick read brings the ghostly deer/wolf/man back onto the scene. Strangely enough, not long after the whole Alec Baldwin/Kim Basinger debacle, this book gets released. It's about a mother who is nearly killed when an angry father's group kidnaps her children because of a messy custody situation. The distraught woman seeks the help of an irreverant Native American shaman with the hopes of setting the greatest tracker on the trail of her husband. She was never told that the Wendigo destroys and eats whoever gets in its way! Not only that, but when she can't keep up her end of the deal, she finds that she's the subject of the Wendigo's wrath. Plenty of action and grue, Edgewise is certainly the best Wendigo story I've read or seen, but like I said earlier, it's just not what I expected from someone of Masterson's reputation. Overall, I give Edgewise *** out of *****.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Goodbye Jericho

In what was one of the dumbest moves by any network, CBS canceled their innovative and compelling show Jericho today. I am truly pissed off about this move. Why do we have to sit through endless hours of reality crap only to have one of the most original programs ever aired stolen from us at the heighth of its storyline. CBS can kiss my ass and from this moment, I vow NEVER to watch a CBS program again! That channel simply doesn't exist.

Oh, they have a new show about a vampire detective this fall, but why should anyone watch it? I'm sure they'll cancel it right after the episode airs that ends with the vampire leaning in for the bite.

Leslie Moonves, you can go stick your "edgy programming" up your sorry ass! It's apparent your parents named you Leslie because they couldn't tell if you were a boy or a girl, but you just proved to the world that you have no balls, so that's that!

Hey, what's next? CSI: Detroit? Surviving Pirate Island? How I Met Your Sister's Brother?

CBS, you're lame and you will always be at the bottom of the big three. As crappy as the CW and Fox are, at least they have faith in their shows and their viewers. They give the programs a chance.

That's it, I've had it. I've said my share, I've signed the petitions. TV will not be the same without Jericho. I only have one thing left to say:

Thank God HEROES isn't on fu**ing CBS!

Friday, May 11, 2007

DVD Review: The Hamiltons

Hopefully, the Hamiltons don't live next door to you. In this crafty little film from the Butcher Brothers, we have a family unit that's a little different from the Cleavers. After the death of their parents, the family is held together by the oldest sibling, David, or at least he trys to keep everything together. You see, the Hamiltons have a family secret and it happens to involve kidnapping, murder and other nasty habits. When the youngest son, Francis, starts doubting the family unit, life gets a little tough for the lad. As part of the After Dark Horrorfest, The Hamiltons is an intriguing tale of family loyalty and depravity. It is very well acted and directed, however, I can't say that it lived up to the Horrorfest hype as a terrifying movie. It was good, but not really that scary.This is the third Horrorfest film I've seen and so far that seems to be a trend - good, but not real scary. I have the remainder of the Horrorfest films to check out, so I can only hope one of them turns out to be a little scary. As for The Hamiltons, I give it ***1/2 out of *****.

Book Review: Ghoul by Brian Keene

Brian Keene's latest book is a coming of age tale with a ghoulish edge...and I liked it! But, let me tell you something. I have to admit, I would have loved this book even if the titluar Ghoul wasn't a part of it. The story of the three best friends, Timmy, Barry and Doug was so enthralling, I actually found myself wanting to rush past the Ghoul parts just to see what would happen to the boys next, and that's saying something! This is a story that hit home for me. It takes place in 1984, and I wasn't much older than the kids in the story at that time. It was like taking a trip back in time. Oddly enough, I found minor and major similarities between Timmy's life and my own and that's what drew me in to this story. The plotline is about the three boys, their somewhat dysfunctional families and a supernatural creature that eats the dead. It's the summer of '84 and the lives of the three boys will be forever changed. The social commentary Mr. Keene makes is both relevant and sobering and something you wouldn't expect from a quick read such as this, but it totally hits the mark - most times, adults are the real monsters. Just as he did with The Conqueror Worms, Brian Keene spins an entertaining and utterly enjoyable tale that leaves you in anticipation for his next novel. Ghoul digs up ****1/2 out of *****.

Monday, April 16, 2007

DVD Review: Penny Dreadful

Penny Dreadful is one of the films included in the After Dark Horrorfest, also called "8 Films to Die For." In the promo for 8 Films to Die For, we're told that these films are too intense, too gory and too sick to be viewed as a regular theatrical release. While there's really nothing too gory or sick with Penny Dreadful, it is intense. It's a very well-shot film that piles on the apprehension and anxiety. The film is effective because of #1-the directing and #2-the acting of Rachel Miner. Ms. Miner was fantastic in her role as the traumatized Penny. She had to be thoroughly exhausted at the end of each shoot. The film centers around the road trip of Penny and her therapist, Orianna. Penny is still traumatized over the death of her parents in a car accident when she was young. She has a fear of automobiles and the road trip is supposed to help her conquer her fear. Unfortunately, when their car hits a wierd hitchhiker, things go very, very bad. Overall, it wasn't the scarefest I was hoping for, but the intensity of the film made up for the lack of scares. Well directed, well acted and a pretty good film over-all, Penny Dreadful gets ***1/2 out of *****.

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Feature---Exclusive Interviews with Horror's Best!

This month, I'm adding a new feature called---10 Questions For...

This feature will give us a glimpse into the life and creation process of some of the genre's greatest and most talented artists. From award-winning authors to musicians leading the horror revolution, from brilliant artists to independent filmmakers. I'm going to do my best to get an interview per month.

This month's interview is with non-other than Jonathan Maberry, fresh off of winning his Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel for his masterpiece Ghost Road Blues. I am truly honored for this busy writer to grant me some of his time.

Read on for 10 Questions For...Jonathan Maberry

10 Questions For...Jonathan Maberry

First off, I would like to congratulate Jonathan for winning the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel for his incredible book---Ghost Road Blues! If you haven’t read my review of it, you can check it out by clicking HERE. Now, without further delay, 10 questions for…The Bram Stoker Award Winning Novelist, Jonathan Maberry!

1.) Dave: What is your writing routine like?

Jonathan: I write for a living so I log a lot of hours. Mostly I work from home, so I’m usually up early and at my computer by around 7:30 and I write until 5. I usually take a 5 to 10 minute break each hour to exercise (stretch, move, etc.), and that keeps my mind fresh and reduces stress on my neck and shoulders.

I set myself a daily minimum of 4000 words for whichever project is currently on deadline. That’s usually half of my workday. The other half I’m working on research, marketing, or working on projects for my clients -book editing, manuscript analysis, etc.

I also try to spend a little time each day on message boards and MySpace. Those are great for meeting readers, fellow writers, experts for my research, and so on.

The day goes fast.

If I’m really pressed for a deadline then the whole day will be built around that project.

My agent has sold eight books for me over the last two years, only one of which was actually written at the time of I have a pretty hefty schedule. I love it though. It’s a great life.

2.) Dave: Ghost Road Blues is the first novel in a trilogy. Was a trilogy the original intention or did the scope of the story grow as you were writing it?

Jonathan: Well, originally I planned to write a very short novel about a psychotic tow-truck driver who thought that he was the avenging sword of God and that the local paperboy was the Anti-Christ; but that really grew in the telling and ultimately became a major subplot of the book. Once I realized that the story was about the town and all of its people then I realized that I couldn’t cram that into a single book. From that point on I plotted it out as a trilogy.

Even so, the story still grew in the telling. Minor characters emerged to become major players --the character of the town’s mayor, Terry Wolfe, is a perfect example—and some things I had intended to include got downplayed or cut entirely.

Novels are organic, and even though I do plot out my stories the books change as they grow.

3.) Dave: The characters in Ghost Road Blues are incredibly detailed. Do you create character outlines before you begin writing or do the characters come together during the writing process?

Jonathan: I have detailed character profiles of the major players and briefer character sketches of the supporting characters. This allows me to play with character nuance because I know far more about the characters than will be shown in the book.

I build characters out of bits and pieces of real people so that they have very familiar qualities to me which allows me to believe in them as I write. And there are a few of my own qualities, both good and bad, in several of the characters. Most notably Crow and Mike Sweeney.

4.) Dave: I love the way you add a certain song to a particular scene. It gives your story a very cinematic feel. Are the songs you choose personal favorites or are they chosen simply for the scene in general?

Jonathan: Ah, I do love the Blues! Actually I’m a huge music fan. I listen to music while I write and I used to sing with a few bands back in high school. I even did some musical theater.

The songs in the story are specially chosen. Each one offers a bit of a hint, or suggests a mood, for what’s happening in the book. Or about to happen.

I also had to bear in mind that any blues song played by the Bone Man, or referenced by him, has to have been recorded prior to 1976, which is when he died.

Crow listens to classic rock as well as Blues, and there is a shift in pace in the third book where the action amps up from the laid back pace of the blues to the harder and more urgent pace of rock. Crow even says (to Detective LaMastra): “This ain’t the blues no more...this is rock ‘n’ roll!”
I’ve had a lot of musicians contact me because of the book, and they really dig the music references. And a good friend of mine, A. L. Sirois, took the time and actually wrote a song called Ghost Road Blues, which had not really existed before I wrote the book. He did a hell of a good job with it, too.

5.) Dave: You have been writing for years, but this is your first published novel. Did you already have an agent or did you need one to get Ghost Road Blues published? If so, how did you find your agent?

Jonathan: I’ve been writing for about thirty years now, mostly nonfiction. I did a handful of short horror/humor stories twenty years ago and a couple of plays, but mostly nonfiction, and for most of those years I worked as my own agent. Never a really good move.

Then in late 2003 I landed a superb agent -Sara Crowe, who is currently with Harvey Klinger, Inc in New York. She’s smart and extremely savvy about the deal-making side of the business. I first approached her with a nonfiction project, but also pitched my fiction to her. She decided to represent both and in 2005 she sold Ghost Road Blues and its two sequels in April, and that may sold the nonfiction project, Vampire Universe. She’s since sold four more nonfiction books for me.

I found my agent by looking for the best ones I could find. Some writer friends had given me the advice of looking for a mid-level agent to try and break in that way, but that I hated that advice. So I started prowling bookstores and online resources to find out that names of agents who were working with key players. It’s important for authors to value their work highly and to shoot high.

I pitched to a bunch of top agents, got several go-aheads and went with the one I felt had the right smarts, savvy and personality. It was a good choice, too.

6.) Dave: How long did it take Ghost Road Blues to hit the shelves once it was completed, and what were your emotions during the publishing process?

Jonathan: I completed the book in February of 2005 and it was sold in April, bought by the second publisher who read it.

From that point it was almost exactly two years before it was on the shelf, debuting in June 2006. It takes a while to get a book from your hands into the hands of the readers.

7.) Dave: Dead Man’s Song is the second book in this trilogy and it is set for release on July 3rd. Is the final book already written, and can you give us an idea of what your next project will be?

Jonathan: Yep, Bad Moon Rising, the concluding book, is on my editor’s desk. Like Dead Man’s Song, it’s different than Ghost Road Blues. The first book is a chase story –the hunt for Karl Ruger. Dead Man’s Song is a mystery –Crow and his friends search for answers to what’s going on; and Bad Moon Rising is an action novel –and I do mean ‘action’.

Next up for me in terms of writing is another nonfiction book: Zombie CSU: The Forensic Science of the Living Dead. I’m interviewing actual crime scene investigators, cops, federal agents, scientists, and other experts to ask them how the crime detection infrastructure would handle a case that turned out to have supernatural elements. All in good fun, but these are real experts sharing theories and insights. I’m having a blast with that. I’m even getting to do some ride-alongs with police and spending a day with a SWAT team.

As far as my next fiction, I’m writing a bio-terrorism thriller that has a few spooky elements, but that’s kind of under wraps at the moment.

8.) Dave: Can you please tell us a little bit about your writing classes?

Jonathan: I teach a whole boatload of classes, some at writers’ conferences (Philadelphia Writers Conference, Backspace, PennWriters, etc.) and some at the Writers Corner USA –a writing center I co-own in Doylestown, PA.

My signature classes are ‘Write Your Novel in Nine Months’, ‘Write Your Nonfiction Book in Nine Months’, and ‘The Art of the Pitch’; but I also teach workshops on ‘Writing Fight and Action Scenes’, ‘The Nuts & Bolts of the Writing Business’, and others.

I do a lot of talks at libraries and bookstores, too. Mostly on how to break into the business. Writers groups often have me in to speak on various aspects of the writing life, which is always a lot of fun.

I also do a lot of career counseling for writers: helping them get their careers moving forward.

9.) Dave: Who inspires you?

Jonathan: That’s a complex question because so many people inspire me. I draw a lot of inspiration from my students –I love the honest determination and creative strength they bring to what they do. And I draw great personal inspiration from my son, Sam –who is always surprising and remarkable- and my wife, Sara, who approaches life with great joy and insight.

In terms of writers who have been inspirations for me, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some of my writing heroes. When I was a very young teenager I had the chance to meet Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, Richard Matheson and Sprague DeCamp. Each of them took a little time to talk with me about writing, about how to think things through, about how to liberate the creative forces. These were major moments in my life.

Of these, Bradbury and Matheson were the most significant influences. And I still have the signed books they gave me: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, which I’ve read every Halloween since I was fourteen; and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, which is probably the single most mind-altering book for me. That one made me stop reacting to stories and kick-started me into thinking my way through them. That’s huge for a kid who wants to write.

Stylistically the biggest influence on me has been Robert McCammon. His books Swan Song, Mystery Walk, Gone South and Boy’s Life each had a profound effect on me. Brilliant writing and gorgeous plotting.

10.) Dave: How did it feel to have your name called at the Bram Stoker Awards as the winner of Best First Novel for Ghost Road Blues?

Jonathan: I’m still in shock. You have to understand that the competition for that award was fierce. Really, really fierce. Each of the other three books, The Keeper by Sarah Langan, Bloodstone by Nate Kenyon, and The Harrowing by Alexandra Sokoloff are tremendous books. Books I read and thoroughly enjoyed, and by writers I like and respect. It’s not just lip service to say that just being nominated into that group was an honor. It truly was.

That said, when they called my name I was absolutely floored. I don’t think I have ever been at a loss for words before and when I got up to give my acceptance speech I’m pretty sure I just babbled.

I’ve got the award (it’s a statue of a haunted house) sitting on the shelf over my desk and I keep having to look at it to assure myself that it’s really there.

I would like to sincerely thank Jonathan for taking the time to answer my questions and wish him luck on his future creations. If you would like to learn more about this great storyteller, check out his websites and, or if you want to see for yourself what it takes to win a Bram Stoker Award simply order the book right now by clicking HERE. You can also pre-order Dead Man’s Song, the second chapter in Jonathan’s amazing trilogy set for release on July 3rd, by clicking HERE.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

DVD Review: Altered

Every so often a movie gets released that gets very little push behind it, yet it winds up being a killer movie. Last year we had Dead Birds and Satan's Little Helper. You didn't see any publicity about either of those films and you only found out about them when you noticed them on the shelves of your video store. Altered is another fine example of a good movie that had no publicity behind it, and it's a shame because this movie deserves a fan base. The story is about a group of friends who, at one time, were abducted by aliens. Ever since being returned, they each have their own troubles and emotional problems as a result. That is, until one night when they actually catch one of the nasty bastards. It's payback time! But sometimes, things just don't go as planned. Altered is very well acted and it's directed without a flaw. If I have to pick one thing bad about it, it was showing too much of the alien. When the alien was tied to the table, with the welder's mask on its head, man, that was eerie. But when we see the alien's face and body, it tends to take some of the effect away from the thing. Not that it wasn't an impressive piece of FX, it was just more effective when it wasn't directly seen. Other than that, the film is an atmospheric gem that has a claustrophobic subtlety about it. The tension builds and builds up to the end. All in all, a very satisfying film from beginning to end. Altered gets ****1/2 out of *****.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Congratulations Jonathan Maberry

Congrats to Jonathan Maberry for winning the Bram Stoker Award for his incredible debut novel Ghost Road Blues. The book certainly is deserving of its win in the Best First Novel category.

I absolutely loved the book and I'm so glad it won as it really was the best book I read last year. This year, we'll be picking the award-winning story back up as Dead Man's Song is released later this year. I, for one, can't wait!

You can find out more about this amazing new author by visiting his website Ghost Road Blues.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Book Review: The Shadow Killer by Matthew Scott Hansen

Anybody who knows me, knows that I love everything Bigfoot! I love watching documentaries, I constantly check for sightings and reports, I dig watching Bigfoot movies (as you'll see with my upcoming review of Abominable) even if they're not too great. So you can imagine my eyes lighting up as I walked through my neighborhood Barnes and Noble Bookstore and I caught sight of this book. I have to admit, however, I was skeptical of the book because of the cover, but as the old adage goes, you can't judge. I literally flew through this book. There was a ton of action, suspense and good old fashioned gore! Matthew Scott Hansen has written a stellar debut that doesn't fail to deliver. Even with an ending you know is coming, you can't help but be swept into the action. The plot follows the drastic efforts of Ty Greenwood, a former software genius who is forever changed after his run-in with one of the legendary creatures. His life is in shambles and he is on the verge of losing his family and ending his life. It's not until people start disappearing that he begins to put two and two together. His life takes on a new frantic meaning as he sets out to prove the creature's existence. This is one fun rollercoaster ride of a novel! You can really get a sense of Hansen's love and appreciation of Bigfoot on every page. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future novels written by this talented new writer. **** out of *****.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

DVD Review: Murder-Set-Pieces

Unfortunately, I had the displeasure of watching the "R" rated version of Nick Palumbo's supposed modern horror classic. While I haven't seen the unrated version everyone is fussing about, I do know that it's only 2 minutes longer than this version. I'll tell you right now, it needs more than 2 minutes to fix this thing up. As for the plot, basically the film looks into the mind of a sadistic serial killer. The killer is a neo-nazi photographer prowling the streets of Las Vegas for unsuspecting young women to become his next victims. I'm truly at a loss. There is sooo much buzz about this movie, but I just don't see why. The acting is atrocious and the direction is sub-par to say the least. I have half a mind to check out the unrated version to make sure, but I really don't know if I can sit through this entire movie again just to catch the two minutes that were cut. If I do, I'll post a re-review of the unrated version, but for the R version you can forget it. It sucks. * out of *****.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

DVD Review: Saw 3

So, first we see the return of Leatherface and now we have the return of Jigsaw. Saw 3 picks up right where Saw 2 left off, and boy, are we treated to some nice gore in this one! Plenty of blood, guts and body parts to go around. Whereas TCM: The Beginning lacked originality, the Saw series continues to bring a high level of quality to it's films. Well made and acted, Saw 3 is a very good film overall. Nobody can bring a film together at the end like these guys. I just love the way all the clues to the film are exposed during the final moments. In the latest (not the last) film in the series, we find Jigsaw on his deathbed, his cancer taking its toll. His protege Amanda is trying her hardest to keep the game going but can she really match Jigsaw's purity in his work? This chapter starts out fast and keeps the blood dripping up until the very end. Another successful trip into Jigsaw's game. ****1/2 out of *****.

DVD Review: Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

Platinum Dunes. Love them or hate them? True: They are one of the most prolific purveyors of horror in today's cinema houses. True: They bring classic favorites and update them for today's audience. True: These movies tend to suck! TCM The Beginning starts off well enough as we find out how the Hewitt clan came to be the loving, caring cannibals that we all adore. We see the birth of Leatherface, literally and figuratively. That's all well and good, but at the end of the day, this movie had nothing new to bring to the operating table. It seems the director had a fetish for bloody hands because that's really all the gore we get to see. It doesn't hold up to the TCM standards that the original set down. Even the original's remake was a better film than this one. While not totally terrible, I just feel that the franchise deserved better. I also didn't care for how the updated version of Leatherface has the body of a bodybuilder, that's not realistic to me. I would be more frightened by a big burly round guy that's seriously demented than an adonis in a face wrap. Oh yeah, and the ending is traditional Platinum Dunes absurdity. How in the world does a guy that size get in a small car without making a sound or making the car move? Thanks Platinum Dunes. Thanks for nothing. ** out of *****.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

DVD Review: Live Feed

Cover looks pretty cool, huh? Too bad the movie doesn't live up to the cover. Oh, it's not all bad, as a matter of fact, there were a few scenes that were constructed really well, but as a result of extremely poor acting and lame characters, this film suffers. Live Feed follows a group of young Americans, vacationing in the Orient, who happen to make enemies with the local bad guy. A man so bad, that his acting looks inspired by the Chairman on Iron Chef, the Japanese version. It wouldn't have surprised me to see him whip out a yellow bell pepper and take a bite! Anyway, after being saved from certain death by a young oriental man, the group heads off to the local sex shop. Unwittingly, they fall into the hands of the Chairman from Iron Chef, the Japanese version, as the sex shop is his own personal entertainment spot. By entertainment, I mean kill zone. What we ultimately have here is a poor man's Hostel. While it's not terrible, it shouldn't be too hard to find something better at your local video store. Live Feed gets ** out of *****.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Book Review: 30 Days of Night-Rumours of the Undead by Steve Niles & Jeff Mariotte

The latest chapter of Steve Niles' wildly popular 30 Days of Night series comes in the form of this new paperback book. In this part, we find an FBI partnership gone sour when one of the duo gets turned into a vampire. As Andy Gray tries to determine what happened to his partner, he slips into a deep sea of despair, wallowing in liquor, cigarettes and his ex-partner's old lady. As you can imagine, that doesn't go over too well with his toothy pal. Believe me when I say payback's a bitch! Agent Gray heads back to where it all began--Barrow, Alaska--to try to figure things out and gather information needed to uncover the vampire society. The residents there are fully prepared for another vampire attack, but is Andy Gray prepared for the revelations that he will uncover? Niles and Mariotte have crafted a fine vampire tale with it's own share of terribly wonderful visualizations. While it's a little short on vampire action for my taste, it's still a quick read with a nice character driven story and let's face it, Niles has come up with the best vampire series since Stephen King wrote a little story about Jerulsalem's Lot. I give Rumours of the Undead **** out of *****.