Sign – Book Review

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Lou Rera
Netherworld Books
July 8th, 2014
Reviewed by Dr. Alex Scully

Jim is a man tired of life and hiding secrets. In fact, he’s hiding a rather big secret. He and his wife are struggling to make their marriage work. On a business trip, Jim decides to spice up his dull routine, and in a haze of gin, picks up a woman in a bar. The night quickly goes from bad to worse, and he soon realizes that his alcohol-induced decision would become the worst mistake he’s ever made.

Rera immediately sets up an intriguing story with a sure-fire lure—a mysterious phone call. Jim and his wife are taking a few days to try and repair the tatters of their marriage. But this phone call shatters Jim’s shaky peace of mind. The call is from a dead man, and he informs Jim that the police are re-opening a murder investigation. A murder investigation that hinges squarely on Jim’s terrible gin-soaked decision, and the details of that evening he conveniently left out for his wife. The narrative unfolds slowly, but it’s well-paced, and the growing confusion and horror draw the reader deep into this macabre and disturbing tale.

Sign is a multi-layered story of lies, deception, the supernatural, revenge, and murder. Rera skillfully keeps the reader on a delicate balance between the occult and the real world throughout the novel. The work’s only major flaw is the La Conga brothers. They are flat, cliché characters, and the chapter on Marlene’s kidnapping is a glaring misstep in an otherwise well-developed narrative. Sidestepping those two (they only make a brief appearance), Sign comes highly recommended.

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THE FILM: The Oatmeal Man
US RELEASE: 10-19-2014
WEBSITE: www.theoatmealman.com
CONTACT: info@pulsarpictures.com

It started as a joke. Brothers Sean and Jesse Gordon were watching horror movies one night, and began joking about how funny and cheesy some movie monsters were. This sparked the conversational contest of who could think of the funniest and most ridiculous horror monster that hadn’t yet been done. At one point Jesse yelled out “Oatmeal Man“, and the contest was over.

The brothers, who’d filmed amateur comedy skits as teenagers, had always wanted to make a movie; The Oatmeal Man, they decided, was to be their guinea pig. Jesse started on the script, and Sean began calling in favors from fellow actors and friends.

“Since we had absolutely no money, I knew it would mean a lot of people volunteering their precious time, so I packed as much into each day of shooting as possible. It was my first time directing a movie, so I was a little nervous at first. But we were lucky enough to wrangle a group of actors and models who were enthusiastic about the idea, and who really gave it their all. Everyone’s mom made sure there was always food on the set – which we hungrily accepted! We filmed in family and friends’ houses, garages – anywhere they’d let us shoot. At the end of it all, I’d only spent $150 on production. Everything from camera to vehicles, gas, and locations were all borrowed or bartered for future favors. Post production was the same: ‘I’ll do this for your movie if you do this for my movie.’ And that’s how it was done, pretty much till the very end.”   – Sean

The film has since become an “Official Selection” at the B-Movie Celebration, and has garnered positive reviews:

“It’s the right thing to do, and the tasty way to do it.” – Fangoria

“A terrific B-Movie Slasher film.” – Rogue Cinema

Think Clerks meets The Hills Have Eyes meets Gingerdead Man… with Victoria’s Secret models!

Monsters by Tom Devlin from SyFy’s Face Off

Starring Al Burke from The Wedding Singer

Starring John Karyus from Poultrygeist and many other B-Horror Films

Featuring Mindy Robinson (Pom Pom Kitty)

Featuring Playboy’s Ann Gotti and Miss Honduras

Music by YouTube sensation Ronald Jenkees

The Special Edition DVD will be releasing domestically on October 19th 2014, and is jam-packed with a 30-minute blooper reel, 12 behind the scene vignettes, commentaries, deleted scenes, and more. Reserve your copy in time for Halloween!


Watch the trailer here!

hap-and-leanardShort, Scary Tales Publications (SST Publications) owner, Paul Fry is absolutely delighted to announce the signing of SST’s biggest deal to date. SST have acquired the exclusive comic/graphic novel rights to the entire series of best-selling and multiple award-winning author Joe R. Lansdale’s acclaimed “Hap and Leonard” crime books. The books will be adapted and illustrated by Finnish comic artist Jussi Piironen. They will be published as full-colour oversized hardcovers and also in oversized softcover and digital formats.

SST Publisher Paul Fry says: “This really is a huge honour for me and a massive deal for SST to have acquired the comic/graphic novel rights to Joe Lansdale’s entire ‘Hap and Leonard’ series. The books have ahuge fan base and are really incredible crime stories. It’s also fantastic for the series that Jussi Piironen will adapt and illustrate the books as he’s a long-time, massive fan of Hap and Leonard and will be perfect to adapt the books into graphic novel form. Our number one priority is to keep the graphic novels as close to the original books as possible. We really believe they need to stay completely faithful to the original work, and we really don’t want to let the fans down! The first title in the series, Savage Season is already in the works and we estimate a rough publication date of late 2015.”

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spirits-of-the-deadEdgar Allan Poe’s Spirits of the Dead
Richard Corben, Author and Illustrator
Dark Horse Books
ISBN: 978-1616553561
October 14, 2014; $18.74 HC
Reviewed by Elaine Pascale

According to Albert Camus, “A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.” Many critics interpret the works of Edgar Allan Poe to be a confession—a means of purging himself of the shame he felt regarding his wife’s untimely death and his vices. As Spirits of the Dead is an adaptation, it meshes Poe’s guilt with Richard Corben’s vision. The result: new interpretations that sometimes suit, at other times rattle, the familiar frames provided by one of the founding fathers of the horror genre.

The art is extraordinary, beginning with the front cover, which depicts Poe like most of us have always imagined him: restlessly scavenging for peace in a night teeming with mystery and dread. The skulls at his feet represent the waking nightmare that was his life: a nightmare he fabricated via personal demons and sad choices.

The interior art is equally wonderful. Some of the characters are drawn with a bit of humor. For example, the narrator, Mag the Hag, provides a Crypt Keeper-esque blend of satire and disgust. “Fall of the House of Usher” contains a Roderick who resembles an aging rock star. His sister, Madeline, looks enough like him to evoke sympathy. Most of the female characters are generously endowed with ample bosom, and the nude females – even the corpses – have enviable figures.

The colors are rich and the panels fully saturated. The lack of empty visual space gives a frenzied feel to the horror, much in the way that a soundtrack enhances the tension of a thriller film.

Corben’s signature style – familiar to those of us who enjoy Heavy Metal Magazine, DC Comics, and other Dark Horse offerings – is omnipresent. He interprets the grotesque in a much more straightforward manner than Poe did in the original tales and poems.

The most interesting is his take on “The City in the Sea.” Corben gives it a complex intensity that is not explicit in Poe’s poem. Corben adds racist undertones reminiscent of Melville’s Benito Cereno. It is a compelling lens through which to view the primary source.

Corben presents only the opening lines of poems. As a Poe purist, I would have liked more of the lyrical majesty and less veering off the path of the original vision, especially with a masterpiece like The Raven. Fans of old school style comics and horror will really enjoy this book. Corben’s enthusiasm for the material did encourage me to return to the original poems and stories for a hundredth read.

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badapplesBad Apples
Gregor Xane, Evans Light, Adam Light, Jason Parent, Edward Lorn
Corpus Press
ISBN 978-1500939571
September 11, 2014; $9.99 PB, $3.55 eBook
Reviewed by Josh Black

It’s almost Halloween. The nights are getting longer, there’s a dark chill in the air, and the lines between worlds are cracking. From somewhere within those cracks lurks Bad Apples: Five Slices of Halloween Horror, a five-author anthology beckoning you to lose yourself in its pages.

Gregor Xane’s “The Wriggle Twins” is a morbid, twisted, darkly whimsical tale of two very special children. These two live on their own and only come out to play on Halloween, but when they do, you’ll want to be as far away as possible. The kids are seeking offerings for their paranormal benefactor, and it’s not candy he collects.

Evans Light’s “Pumpkinhead Ted” is a classic revenge tale that pits an unfortunate deformed boy against a group of vicious bullies. It’s a high-caliber gross-out at times, and the moral middle ground it takes with the characters adds to its horrific quality.

Adam Light’s “Ghost Light Road”, despite its title, is a darker and bleaker story than the ones before it. Supernatural slasher film junkies will get their fix here, as a group of thrill-seekers become prey in an isolated house, and an urban legend evolves and adapts to modern times.

Jason Parent’s “Easy Pickings” returns to the bullying theme, as two friends decide to pick on a younger boy, not realizing that his invisible friend isn’t so imaginary after all. Once the tables turn, games of tag and hide-and-seek become life or death affairs.

Edward Lorn’s “The Scare Rows” ends the collection, and it’s far different from any of the preceding stories. A mysterious man walks into a small town and sets it abuzz in anticipation of an event no one can quite describe. The direction this goes is unexpected and very explicit, in both violence and sex, but it’s tongue-in-cheek the whole way through.

It’s clear that each author included here has a love for the horror genre in its many facets, and for Halloween in particular. The descriptions of its sights, smells and sounds are spot-on. The stories are thrilling and chilling and nostalgic in all the right places, and they all hold that indefinable magic that so many associate with that inimitable evening. There are no highlights here. These stories are excellent across the board. Bad Apples is a welcome addition to the genre, and one that you can come back to year after year when autumnal darkness descends. Recommended.

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 Horror icon Robert Englund – Freddy Krueger on Nightmare on Elm Street – will guest star on Syfy’s new comedic docuseries Town of the Living Dead, airing Tuesday, November 11, and Tuesday, November 18, both episodes at 10PM (ET/PT).

After the Thr33 Days Dead team hit their most challenging production hurdle to date, they’re desperate for hope.  When they discover that horror legend Robert Englund will be nearby in Birmingham, Alabama for a press appearance, the team sets out to recruit him to inspire their dispirited director, John Ware.

In Town of the Living Dead, the colorful folks of Jasper, Alabama are determined, once and for all, to complete their zombie movie Thr33 Days Dead… now six long years in the making. Based on a town urban legend, their film centers on a group of friends trying to survive a zombie apocalypse in rural Alabama. The series follows the intrepid and motley crew of amateur filmmakers as they surmount endless obstacles to finally finish their movie. Town of the Living Dead is produced by True Entertainment (The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Season 25: Oprah Behind the Scenes).  Executive producers are Glenda Hersh, Steven Weinstock, David Stefanou, Todd Hurvitz,Tony Biancosino and Cherie Kloss.

Categories : Horror TV
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the-dark-verse-volume-3The Dark Verse, Volume III: Beyond the Grip of Time
M. Amanuensis Sharkchild
Armored Books
ISBN 978-0982314135
July 1, 2014; $33 HC, $3.99 eBook
Reviewed by Josh Black

Beyond the Grip of Time marks the third volume of M. Amanuensis Sharkchild’s “The Dark Verse”, a series of books collecting stories that first appeared on the podcast of the same name. Sharkchild describes these tales as “occult, metaphysical, and fantastical horror”, but that only scratches the surface of the dark dreamscapes you’ll begin to wander as soon as you open the cover. This is the kind of cosmic horror and fantasy that takes you both deep inside yourself and farther away from reality than you’d perhaps care to imagine. It is indeed a vicarious journey beyond the grip of time, and Sharkchild’s singular vision is rendered succinctly through his archaic writing style.

The book itself, as a physical object, is a work of art. The purple faux-leather hardcover with its glossy golden illustrations (one on the front and one on the back), is stunning to look at and soft to the touch, and the weight of it pairs well with the psychological weight of the strange tales it contains. There are also two full color, two-page illustrations on the front and back inner cover, as well as a one-and-a-half page black and white one preceding each story. These gorgeous illustrations, provided by John F. Stifter, are detailed, yet still give just an enigmatic inkling of what’s to come.

There are twenty-six stories here, most of them being only a few pages in length, but skimming through the table of contents to see titles like “The Thief of Timeworn Lives and his Fortress” and “The Truncation of Being By Folding Flesh” will give at least a bare idea of the overall tone of the collection. These are tales of people entwined in the inner workings of forces far beyond our ordinary range of perception. Many of the main characters are either adepts or acolytes in various occult paths. Some are merely ordinary people caught up in extraordinary things by no fault of their own. Almost invariably there’s the sense that in Sharkchild’s fictional world, humanity is merely like a grain of sand in a vast and vastly unknowable desert. Whether the story falls into the horror or fantasy genre, chaos tends to trump order, at times literally tearing it apart.

There are stolen and murdered souls, dark bargains best left alone, the exploration of worlds beyond worlds, people playing God in the most clinical manner, flesh offered and flesh taken, the innocently spoken words of Unthinkable Curses, and a whole host of obscene and terrifying creatures brought to vivid life. There’s all of this and a lot more.

This third volume of The Dark Verse reads fine as a standalone collection of weird fiction, but given the depth of imagination in the stories, and the book’s immaculate presentation, you’ll likely find yourself wanting to pick up the other volumes as well. Beyond the Grip of Time is a beautiful tome all around. Highly recommended.


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