gI_82297_PvZ Mystery Figure Series 2 figuresPlants vs. Zombies™ fans can now build and play with even more characters from their favorite game with new licensed building toys by K’NEX®. PopCap Games, Inc., a division of Electronic Arts, and the creator of the popular gaming franchise, and K’NEX, the only U.S. construction toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids Love®, are pleased to introduce 2 new items to the first line of officially licensed building sets inspired by the Plants vs. Zombies games.

The relationship combines the award-winning K’NEX building system with your favorite Plants vs. Zombies characters, bringing them from the digital screen to the construction aisle for the first time. With the first game in the series winning over 30 Game of the Year awards, Plants vs. Zombies is a global brand that is popular across the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and appeals to male and female audiences ages 4 through 104.

The K’NEX Plants vs. Zombies 2015 product line includes:

Plants vs. Zombies: Mystery Figure Bags, Series 2
Collect favorite characters from Plants vs. Zombies! Each bag contains 1 mystery figure. Series 2 includes the following characters: Frozen Zombie, Prospector Zombie, Conehead Mummy Zombie, Pirate Zombie, Snow Pea, Bonk Choy, Infi-nut, and Cabbage Pult. Who will you get? Ages 5+. SRP $3.99. Available now on and at toy stores nationwide.

Plants vs. Zombies: Mummy’s Tomb Building Set
Defeat the zombies…in Ancient Egypt! Includes a Ra Zombie figure, Bloomerang figure, and K’NEX parts to build a small Pyramid. Use your finger to flick the boomerangs out of the Bloomerang to defeat the zombie! Easy to follow building instructions included. Ages 5+. SRP $11.99.Available now on and at toy stores nationwide.

Categories : Horror Toys
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monsterworldPre-production on Dread Central’s new anthology Monsterworld has officially begun.

Survivors across the world struggle to overcome horrifying circumstances during a monster apocalypse.

Monsterworld (tentatively titled; subject to change) will be another anthology of blood, guts, and mayhem brought to life by a group of exciting new directors from around the world. “Monsterworld is such a great opportunity to dive into the mind of visionary genre filmmakers,” says Ruthless Pictures’ Jesse Baget. “I know they will not limit themselves to the expected. A ferocious toothbrush, a carnivorous toenail… hey, with Monsterworld anything goes. I’m definitely ready to be blown away by the monster madness our contestants will be cooking up.

Dread Central has always been incredibly indie film-friendly so here’s what’s on tap for you guys: Monsterworld already has WORLDWIDE distribution from one of the horror genre’s finest purveyors so we can guarantee that no matter what, you’re gonna get the exposure and notoriety that you deserve. Monsterworld is without question the open door you have been looking for. That being said, here’s how to enter.

Send Dread Central your entry by clicking on the link you see below to a form and fill it out with a private link or the actual HD file of your film. From there, both Ruthless Pictures and Dread Central staff will watch the films and select the best of the best to be included in the project, and selected winners will also nab themselves $100 in the process. But what if your film is the best of the best? Well then, not only will you be included in the anthology, they’ll also hand over to you a check for $500.


Things to Keep in Mind When Submitting:

There is no cost to submit your film.
Digital files will be accepted (uploaded private Vimeo and or YouTube links are welcome).
If your film is chosen, you will be required to provide an HD File.
Films should be between 2 and 20 minutes long.
By submitting a film, you must guarantee that it is your own fully licensed original work (i.e., music rights, etc.).
By submitting your film, you will also guarantee that no laws were broken during the filming and making of (i.e., no animals or people were jeopardized or harmed).
Submissions will be accepted beginning March 16, 2105, through June 15, 2015.
Winners will be announced on Dread Central on August 15, 2015.
By submitting your film, you grant Dread Central the right to use any footage from the preview screener and all submitted publicity photos and any other materials sent to us pertaining to this entry for the project’s promotional purposes, without limitations.

That’s it, kids! Good luck and get to it!

DreadCentral/Ruthless Pictures Monsterworld short film competition

Any questions please write to:


The Visitor

by Catherine Bader


She opened the shower door.  Drying herself off, she noticed writing on the bathroom mirror:

                                                Don’t turn around.

She felt goosebumbs all over her body.  That mirror was clean when she started her shower.

………She turned around.

She heard a popping noise and found herself in a tightly confined space with a window that looked out into her bathroom.  She started screaming.

Standing there, the thing on the other side raised its hand and wiggled its fingers – a wave goodbye and a wicked smile on its face as it walked out the door.

Categories : Horror in a Hundred
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Crooked House – Book Review

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crooked-houseCrooked House
Joe McKinney
Dark Regions Press
Reviewed by Michael R. Collings

Joe McKinney’s Crooked House has all of the elements necessary for a successful…and deeply eerie…tale of a haunted house.

It has a central family, in this case two parents and a child, the parents keeping their own secrets while working to hold the small group together. Individually and as a whole, they are fragile, their reality verging upon becoming a nightmare. For Dr. Robert Bell, the impending catastrophe takes the form of an onslaught of bills that he will never be able to meet, coupled with just having lost his teaching job at a Florida university due to a “catastrophic meltdown.” For his wife, Sarah, it is the persistent threat that her daughter’s natural father will somehow convince the courts to grant him full custody. For both of them, it is the sense that their lives, their marriage, their fundamental connections to each other are unraveling.

Into their darkness comes a sudden offer of redemption: a new position at Lightner University in San Antonio (which is, by the way, a wonderfully suitable name). And with it comes the unexpected bonus of free housing, not in some stereotypical cookie-cutter unit but in a house that is indisputably a mansion. And here the true nightmare begins to insinuate itself. The house, while “simple, even elegantly so” and not unattractive in spite of its fourteen bedrooms, conservatory, formal entrance, and all of the other trappings associated with wealth and power, is…well, crooked. Bell’s first reaction is that it is haunted. In light of his immediate impression, he is wary: “I’ve read my Henry James, my Shirley Jackson. Christ, I even read The Shining. This place is crawling with ghosts, isn’t it?” Then he enters.

And there it is, the sine qua non of haunted-house fictions, the notorious Bad Place that systematically attempts to destroy those who enter.

Even though Crook House—named for its builder—is located in an upscale part of San Antonio, it is as isolated and as isolating as the Overlook Hotel or Hill House, although more psychologically than physically. From the moment Bell walks in, he feels uncomfortable, out of his element, and weighted down by a wrongness that has nothing to do with Crook House’s size or checkered past. And every moment he spends within its walls, every moment that Sarah and their daughter Angela spend there, something essential is leached from them, altering the personalities and their relationships. Most of the story takes place inside; and those passages that do not merely emphasize the extent of the changes taking place.

The story covers nine days, concluding on Christmas Eve day. In those nine days, McKinney methodically strips the characters bare, penetrating the secrets they have struggled to keep, and setting up a series of devastating revelations, the repercussions of which echo backward and forward, contorting every assumption that Bell, Sarah, and the readers have made about the family and their abrupt good fortune.

The ending is appropriately savage, bloody, and ultimately discomfiting. McKinney has learned well from James, Jackson, and King; the story concludes with a certain ambiguity, an uncertainty that locks the story firmly into the uncanny. It is not, perhaps, a just ending, certainly not a Pollyanna ending, but it is entirely appropriate to this particular Bad Place, to the cast of characters and their complex interactions, and to the histories—those alluded to and those in part developed—that form the backdrop of Crook House.

Crooked House is a seamless read, riveting from the first page to the last…and in some important ways, unsettling from the introductory quotations from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Anne Rivers Siddons, and D.H. Lawrence. Everything about the book compels interest; emphasizes darkness and dread, isolation and disintegration; and results in a solid reading experience.

Categories : Book Reviews
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Shining Example

by John H. Dromey


Returning from their honeymoon after a whirlwind courtship and a Vegas wedding, Gwendolyn saw her husband’s family mansion for the first time.

“That’s a lifelike statue you have in the foyer,” the new bride said, shortly after he’d carried her over the threshold.

“Yeah, that was my first spouse. She forgot her place as a trophy wife, so I had her bronzed.”

Gwen let out a forced laugh.

“You have a sick sense of humor, Mordechai.”

“Do I look like I’m joking? I hope you don’t forget your place, Gwendolyn. If you do, you’ll learn I have some leftover bronze.”

Categories : Horror in a Hundred
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itfollowsRADiUS proudly announced today that the company is going wide with their smash success IT FOLLOWS. One of the best-reviewed films of the year will expand to 1,200 theaters on Friday. Bolstered by strong word of mouth and critical acclaim, audiences came in droves on opening weekend – Friday, 13th – earning the film $160,089 in just four locations for a per theater average of $40,022. IT FOLLOWS had the best limited opening for a horror film since PARANORMAL ACTVITY, boasting 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and garnering over $600,000 in box office to date.

IT FOLLOWS was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell and features an up and coming ensemble cast that includes Maika Monroe (THE GUEST, THE 5th WAVE) in the lead role.

Monroe plays 19-year-old Jay, who, after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, suddenly finds herself plagued by nightmarish visions. She can’t shake the sensation that someone, or something, is following her.

As the threat closes in, Jay and her friends must somehow escape the horrors that are only a few steps behind.

IT FOLLOWS will be available on VOD and DVD later this year after its theatrical run.


The Uncanny Reader – Book Review

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the-uncanny-readerThe Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows
Edited by Marjorie Sandor
St. Martin’s Griffin
February 2015
Reviewed by Michael R. Collings

Over the past several years, I have enjoyed the opportunity of reviewing a number of anthologies relating to dark fantasy, to speculative fiction, to horror. Many of them have been outstanding, collecting stories that stand as high points in their specific sub-genres, moments of high artistry by their authors.

Of these many, however, two stand out as particular milestones.

The first is Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (1944), edited by Herbert A. Wise and Phyllis Fraser. This book is important to me for two reasons. First, it was my initial introduction to the breadth and depth of dark fiction, stimulating my imagination in ways that would have been inconceivable had I not read it. I can still remember individual moments when certain stories “came together”—when language, images, and ideas fused so perfectly that I experienced the physiological frisson that is the hallmark of the finest horror. And, as noted in the review, I still have my copy of that book on my shelf where I can easily find it. The second reason is that it is, quite simply, one of the finest compilations of historical horror available; in 1944, to be sure, it was considered cutting-edge but by 1967, when I purchased my copy, it was already the sine qua non for neophyte readers. Anyone interested in tracing how horror came to where it is today would do well to begin with Great Tales.

The second remarkable anthology is A Darke Phantastique: Encounters with the Uncanny and Other Magical Things (2014), edited by Jason V. Brock. In key ways, it seems the Great Tales of the twenty-first century, collecting contemporary stories that mark definitive shifts in society; in ethics and morality; in language and expression; in attitudes among individuals, tribes, and peoples—all clothed in the cloak of indeterminacy and exploration. It seems in its own way as much on the track toward classic-status as the Wise and Fraser collection.

And now, there is a third, one that encompasses the dimensions of both, displaying not only more fine fictions but a clear sense of how they came about, their ancestry, and their world-wide interest.

The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows, edited by Marjorie Sandor, collects thirty-one tales from nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century writers, beginning with E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Sand-man” (1817) and concluding with Karen Russell’s “Haunting Olivia” (2006). Along the way, it pays due homage to the greats: Poe, Bierce, Chekhov, Kafka, Lovecraft, Jackson, Oates—names without which the collection could not pretend to completeness. At the same time, however, it introduces readers to less-familiar stories by men and women; stories originating in English and stories translated from a number of other languages; stories from the US and the UK and more traditional European nations and stories from Egypt, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Uruguay, and Zambia. At over 550 pages, the collection represents the finest of nearly two centuries of investigating “Shadows.”

For such a massive book, the cover price seems more than fair; even more so since Sandor’s “Unraveling: An Introduction” is well worth the cover price alone for its exquisite care in defining—delimiting and mapping—the extent of the “uncanny.” Quite properly, she begins by examining her term: Uncanny, ‘seemingly supernatural’ or ‘mysterious.’ Immediately she pauses on one word…seemingly, identifying it as the key to the entire collection.

Seemingly. Inherent uncertainty of outcome. Stories that, set in realistic landscapes with realistic characters, nonetheless end in hesitation, ambiguity, indecision. And in spite of that—or better, perhaps—because of that, they satisfy more completely than self-contained, self-explanatory stories might not. If on the one hand, a clear resolution would indicate the supernatural, and on the other the natural or realistic, in between lies the possibility of both…or neither.

These are, in effect, Schrödinger’s Box stories…only no one actually lifts the lid at the end to discover either the corpse or the living cat.

These are, as Sandor tells us, stories about potentialities:

When something that should have remained hidden has come out into the open

When we feel as if something primitive has occurred in a modern and secular context

When we feel uncertainty as to whether we have encountered a human or an automaton

When the inanimate appears animate. Or when something animate appears inanimate

When something familiar happens in an unfamiliar context

Conversely, when something strange happens in a familiar context….

And on…and on.

Although tempted to talk about favorites (and there are many), I decided not to in this case. Merely presenting the skeleton of a story is often enough to diffuse the eeriness within, and at other times would require my bringing my version of resolution to a story that intentionally does not have one. Suffice it to say, each story is one-of-a-kind tale-telling that may seem to lead in a specific direction but that might…just might…carry the reader into uncomfortable, disquieting, occasionally frightening, always intriguing directions.

Open the book and give it a try.

Categories : Book Reviews
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