Okay, big news! I’m pleased to announce THE CHAPMAN BOOKS from Uncanny Books is currently 99 cents on Kindle for the next couple days! Three novellas, one family. Featuring a demonic pig creature from another dimension, a horrorized psychotropic drug, and a revenant female zombie terrorizing a small town. If you’ve been meaning to check out this collection but haven’t done so, please do so now and please help us spread the word about this book, which has yet to reach the proper audience it deserves.
Aaron J. French
Editor-in-Chief at Dark Discoveries
Horror comes in many forms.
There’s a misconception about horror, that it has to be bloody, it has to be filled with entrails and viscera, it has to have demons or knives. It has to involve vampires. It has to have a monster.
But horror has many faces. It can be a mother, in the heat of summer, alone in an empty parking lot, realizing she’s locked her keys and purse in the car… with her twelve-month old infant strapped in the back seat. It can be a stalker in an alley or a withering disease. Horror comes in many shapes and sizes, some of them more mundane than others, some perhaps messier. But in the end, all horror stories have one thing in common. The monster is the truth.
That truth may be that we all die one day. Those we love, those we care about, will all at some point, cease to breathe, cease to walk and laugh, cease to tell their stories, and simply become inert.
In this collection you’ll find a variety of ways in which the truth is told. People trapped in their own bodies, infected and mindless, forced to obey their hunger; men seeking the cosmic truth to find they wish they’d never discovered it; the Antichrist with his own congregation of followers, with claws and wings and livers for eyes; a parasitic fungus which feeds on information, memories, and bodies; a corporation makes a devil’s bargain with people too desperate for work to say no; a failing author finds himself possessed to write a horror bestseller at a steep price; a crime investigation turns into something far more terrifying; a man finds himself haunted by a child born in the catacombs of a sanitarium; this guy keeps appearing and I can’t stop killing him.
All these stories speak of the unspoken truths, of the dark places in our minds we pretend we don’t see. They speak of entropy in its purest form, of the all-devouring maw to which we all return one day.
So step right in, take a seat. Face the truth with us. – Martin Kee
The initial titles in the bundle (minimum $3 to purchase) are:
- Bloom by Martin Kee
- Hell’s Muse by Jack Wallen
- Limbus, Inc. by Jonathan Maberry, Joseph Nassise, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Brett J. Talley and Anne C. Petty
- That Which Should Not Be by Brett J. Talley
- Tunnel Vision by Tanya Eby
- Crime Seen by Michaelbrent Collings
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $12, you’ll get another three books:
- Irregular Creatures by Chuck Wendig
- I, Zombie by Hugh Howey
- The Red Church byScott Nicholson
The bundle is available for a very limited time only, via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub, and .mobi) for all books, but after the three weeks are over, the bundle is gone forever!
It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.
Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
- Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
- Pay what you want (minimum $3): You decide how much four fantastic books are worth to you. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to SIX thrilling titles.
- Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
- Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to charity. We’re currently featuring Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now.
- Receive extra books: If you beat our bonus price, you’re not just getting SIX books, you’re getting NINE!
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.
by Lori R. Lopez
The path was overgrown, carved from many journeys before rains dried up, rivers and lakes vanished. Before heat blazed a new era when everything withered in order to survive.
Soft flesh toughened to wrinkled hide. Vegetation turned hungry. Anything alive had an appetite for anything else.
Enduring by luck and paranoia, a man-thing darted to safety beyond the whipping strands of Snake Grass that might drain him dry. Stone had no thirst, no craving. But luck deserted him. What dwelled between rock and a hard place would bite then suck. A parched sigh escaped, along with his emaciated soul.
For more from Lori R. Lopez:
There are quite a few companies that release classic horror movies on Blu-ray and DVD, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Some have great extras, others release a ton of titles, and some specialize in putting out the obscure and forgotten films. What Synapse Films does is release the best looking movies. Period. No one, but no one makes a movie look as good as Synapse does, even if it is one of those forgotten flicks I mentioned earlier. Even if the movie in question have only been part of a multi-pack DVD, looked like hell, and never had an ounce of work put into it to making it look any better. The film I’m here to talk about today is one such ugly, seldom thought about today movie, the slasher/thriller Curtains from 1983.
Curtains is a bit of an odd fit in the slasher genre. Most of the time they are tales of teens going off to party, have sex, and then get killed. Curtains is a slasher for adults with a mature cast. It’s more about thrills than cheap titillation, but it’s not without its memorable moments. Chief among them is a bit involving some ice skates and a sickle, but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. Let’s start the show like all good shows should start; at the beginning, with the raising of a curtain.
John Vernon is an egotistical movie director named Stryker who wants to make his masterpiece, a film based on a book about mad, passionate, vengeful woman named Audra. In order to really nail that crazy bit down, Stryker’s lover and usual leading lady, Samantha Sherwood (played by Samantha Eggar) goes for some method acting and gets herself committed into an insane asylum. Then wouldn’t you know it, Stryker goes and leaves Samantha in the nuthouse after she starts acting crazy for real, and decides to hold auctions at his wintery home for the part of Audra with a bevy of new beauties. Samantha leans of this, doesn’t like it for one bit, and so she escapes the asylum and crashes the auditions.
So, you probably know what’s going to happen from that set up, right? Yes, someone starts bumping off the other actresses one by one, and here is where we get to the slasher-y part of the movie. The killer in Curtains wears a decrepit, old hag mask and has a fondness for sharp objects. Sadly, while there are some good stalk and slash scenes, one taking place on a frozen lake being truly great and the highlight of the show, they are all basically bloodless. Now a good masked maniac movie doesn’t need gallons of gore, I mean, you have seen the original Halloween, right? However, a little bit of the red stuff is always welcome in my favorite slashers and I do wish there could have been a bit more here.
That being said, I have always liked this movie a lot. I called it a thriller/slasher in the intro to this review, and that’s what it really feels like. As such, there is a seriousness to it that is usually lacking from the majority of movies that cashed in on the slasher craze of the early eighties. All the actors deliver fine performances, with Vernon and Eggar being the two seasoned standouts. The direction is more than ably handled by veteran director of photography, Richard Ciupka, despite this being his first time sitting in the big chair.
As for the new Blu-ray from Synapse Films, in addition to looking absolutely amazing, it comes with a few special features. First, there is an audio commentary with actors Lesleh Donaldson and Lynne Griffin. There is a collection of audio interviews with the producer, Peter R. Simpson and actress Samantha Eggar. There is a “vintage featurette” called “Ciupka: A Filmmaker in Transition” which is a 1980 short about the director of the movie and his transition from director of photography to film director. There is a making of/retrospective featurette about the making of Curtains that runs 36 minutes. Lastly there is theatrical trailer.
Curtains is a fine fright flick made by adults, for adults. It is a serious movie, but still loads of fun, capable of more than a few thrills and chills, and it has never, ever looked as good as it does here. Yeah, I know I’ve been harping on the good looks of this Blu-ray, but really, it is amazing how bright, vibrant, and just plain great this movie looks when you can actually see it. If you are already a fan of Curtains, then this is the definitive edition to have. If you’ve never seen it, well now is the best time to do so. Consider it highly recommended.
Reviewed by Alex Scully
Uninvited Press’s latest release, Dark Forest, edited by Robert Dunbar, is a collection of classic tales with annotations from modern authors. The theme centers on the environment, particularly the forest and backyard foliage. Who knew the gentle oak in your back yard harbors a simmering hatred for you? Those lovely sunflowers and delicate vines in your garden are seething with a sinister menace as you pass. Let’s not discuss what’s happening in the woods behind your beloved home.
The collection is divided into four sections. Each section contains stories examining an aspect of dark forests. Part one, “The Soul of a Place,” opens the collection with a peak into the nightmares to come. Algernon Blackwood’s “The Willows” and Ambrose Bierce’s “A Vine on a House” both give us a furtive glimpse into the horrors, but yet each story holds back in its own way. The fear that grips each story is such that it remains just beyond our line of sight. The monsters may, or may not, be real, but the terror is very real. Part two, titled “Green Hell,” brings the intangible nightmares into our reality. This section features stories from Arthur Machen, John Blunt, and Edith Nesbit. These are horrifying stories of Nature set against Man in both the extreme and the subtle. Part Three, “Shadowed Corners,” features Phil Robinson, Howard R. Garis, and H.G. Wells. Here we see science and technology run amok. The stories in this section fuse the primal, natural world with modernity to terrifying ends. Part four closes on a strange, yet hopeful note. Two novellas, Algernon Blackwood’s “The Man Whom the Trees Loved” and Robert Dunbar’s “Wood,” give us a glimpse into what might be. The possibilities are bizarre, disturbing, and darkly fascinating. With annotations from a host of fantastic modern authors, each short introduction serves as a literary launch point from which to draw new perspectives on each story included here.
There are countless anthologies released each year. Why this one? The classic stories are simply compelling. They offer a glimpse into the past, while at the same time, reflecting on modern fears, issues, and daunting environmental problems. Dunbar is a skilled editor, and his selections reflect a thoughtful, carefully-planned storyboard around the larger theme. Dark Forest is an excellent dark fiction Gothic collection. These are some of dark fiction’s best voices, and they stand the test of time. Highly recommended.
It’s time for a genre break. That’s when I take a step back from the fright flicks and take a look at a movie that I think everyone, including horror fans, should enjoy, even if it’s not a horror movie. After all, man (and woman) cannot live of scary movies alone, or at least, they shouldn’t. So today we’re going down to the bayou for a bit of Southern Comfort from 1981 and director Walter Hill. Bring your waders, and for God sake some ammo, things are gonna get rough.
Back in the early 80s, Walter Hill was the man for action flicks, and he could do no wrong in my eyes. The Warriors, The Long Riders, 48 Hours, and this one were the macho movies I grew up on, full of men doing manly things, usually in the face of overwhelming odds. This movie, Walter Hill’s metaphorical take on the Vietnam War, has a group of Louisiana National Guard men going on maneuvers deep in the swamps. They’re a cocky, joking bunch of weekend warriors playing at soldier with blanks in their guns and no respect for the alien world they’re about to enter. Surprise, surprise, they soon find themselves in way over their heads. Through a mix of arrogance and stupidity, they piss off the locals to such an extent that the ragin Cajuns that call the unforgiving bayou their home, decide to hunt them down and kill them to the last man. Now that is the nickel tour of the plot behind this movie, but like so many good things, there’s more to it than that.
A lot of people see similarities between this film and Deliverance, and I can see that, but I think there’s far more to Southern Comfort than that. The cast of characters here is larger, and they are far less sympatric. While poor Ned Beatty did nothing to deserve what happened to him, these part time soldiers are far less innocent. Largely a bunch of fools with guns, they mess with the wrong group of locals and end up paying the price. Even after their initial mistake of stealing some backwoods trappers’ boats, and then shooting at them with blanks for fun, members of their group continue to go out of their way to escalate that situation through a mixture of fear, insanity, stupidity, and downright meanness. The fact that the guardsmen are so obviously out of their depth and ill prepared to deal with the rarely seen, but continuously feared indigenous population that know their home ground so much better than the inept intruders, is the final neon sign that this movie is about a lot more than what it appears to be at first.
In addition to a well-crafted subtext, the acting is very good across the board, and Southern Comfort is a who’s who of actors from that era, who all turn in fine performances. Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, and Peter Coyote are the standouts on the side of the military, and the face of the Cajun (who naturally speak little or no English, because again; subtext) is represented by perennial bad guy, Brion James, who is both pathetic and menacing here. Add to that Walter Hill’s direction are you have the makings for a first rate movie.
If the fact that this is a very good action/drama isn’t enough of a reason to get you horror hounds to watch it, then let me say that there is some good ultra-violence to be found here. Lots of shootings, some dog mauling, booby trap impalements, and various knifings. Be warned all you lovers of animals, there is some real life hog butchering in here as well. It was done as both a plot point and, more importantly, for a barbeque, so maybe because of that last part it can be excused. Maybe…
What needs no excuse is the new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Shout! Factory. Not only does this movie look great in HD, but it comes with a few special features to make you more comfortable with purchasing this movie. Chief among them is a “documentary” (you and I usually call such things featurettes these days) that interviews many of the people who made the movie, and runs about a half hour. A theatrical trailer and a still gallery bring up the rear of extras, so there isn’t an army of goodies to be found here, but for a flick that seems to have been largely forgotten these days, what is here does the movie proud.
Southern Comfort is a great film that still holds up today. When I watched it for review, I showed it to some friends who had never seen it before, and they loved it. One went so far as to drop the cliché of “they don’t make movies like that no more” only he was completely serious. If you are looking for some old school action with a message and great performances, try some Southern Comfort and you might develop a taste for it. Consider it recommended.
Room Down the Hall
by Nathan Hystad
His head turned towards the sound down the hallway. It was a slow scratching. John knew there was nothing in that room – nothing lived in there. He closed his eyes; old memories flashed in his mind.
His heart beat quickened but he knew the pain would go away. It always did.
She wasn’t coming back. Blonde hair, slender hips, pursed lips…he wondered what she looked like now. Being buried under his floorboards would have left her no more than bones.
He sat down and dozed to the TV.
Scratch, scratch, scratch.
He needed to get more pills.
Nathan Hystad is a writer from Sherwood Park, Alberta. He has been published at Kraxon books and has a story being published in an anthology brought to you by TIckety Boo Press. He has also been published on Microfiction Monday Magazine.