When Dana Robinson’s car broke down while investigating her friend’s disappearance, she never suspected her search would lead her deep into a world of nightmares.
Spun from the new survival horror game The Evil Within™ from Bethesda Softworks, this official series invites readers to experience the terrifying new world created by the godfather of survival horror, Shinji Mikami. Compiling the entire 4-issue series by writer Ian Edginton (Scarlet Traces, Victorian Undead) and artist Alex Sanchez (Katana), along with plenty of exclusive artwork and bonus material, this spine-chilling collection marks the perfect introduction to the horror saga and is guaranteed to fill its readers with a sense of unbridled terror.
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This is the import indie darling that came out last year and wound up on nearly every horror critics’ Best of 2014 list, and for good reason. This is smart, exceptionally well made horror that makes you think, a rare thing in this day and age of remakes, sequels, and lackluster “original” efforts like Ouija, The Lazarus Effect, Deliver us from Evil, etc. Now some people said they didn’t like this movie. They said it was boring or not even remotely scary. To them I can only shake my head and feel some pity, as this was such a damn good movie, I’d hate it if I didn’t get it. Well one group of people who certainly got The Babadook are the horror lovers over at Scream Factory who released it on a beautiful Blu-ray. That Blu-ray actually comes in two flavors: a standard edition and a cool special edition that comes with a popup book slipcase. So yeah, right from the start you know that I love this movie and that this is a cool release. If you want to save some time, just stop reading right now and go pick up this new Blu-ray. But, if you have some time to kill, stick with me and I’ll give you the nickel tour of the movie. Hey, it’s the least I can do.
In The Babadook, Amelia is a single mother with a young son named Samuel. The two have a strained relationship, to put it mildly, stemming from the fact that the husband/father of this family was killed in a vicious car crash rushing Amelia to the hospital so she could give birth to Samuel. So an overlying sadness permeates this movie right from the start, and actress Essie Davis as Ameila portrays that deep, dark depression wonderfully. By and large, The Babadook is a one woman show. Sure, there are supporting characters, and young Noah Wiseman is adequately annoying as the shrieking Samuel, but Essie Davis is a large reason this movie works. As for the other reason, well, we’ll get to that in a bit.
As the movie unfolds, it is clear there is unspoken rage simmering just below Amelia’s surface, and you might think you know where this movie is going from that, but soon an unknown element is introduced to muddy up the waters. One night the son discovers a strange book that neither he, nor his mother, remembers seeing before. Called “Mister Babadook” it is a one-of-a-kind looking child’s popup book about a mysterious and sinister character called the Babadook. This shadowy creeper starts to plague the mother and son from then on, and there seems to be no escaping it. But is everything really what it seems to be here?
Now for that other reason this movie is so stellar: the story written by, and direction of, Jennifer Kent. The Babadook is a movie with multiple layers, told and shot expertly, that can be experienced in many ways. While I read the story one way, there are others that see it in a different light. To be fair, it’s not all that ambiguous, as writer/director Kent does give you enough evidence sprinkled throughout the movie to make its meaning pretty clear. However you, the viewer, are never beaten over the head by those clues, and the film has enough faith that its audience can get it without having to hold their hands. As a mostly aware, somewhat thinking adult, I really appreciate that. If only all horror movies were made like this, the world would be a much better place.
On to the special features on this new Blu-ray from the always impressive Scream Factory. Now I am sad to say that there’s no commentary track here, and that’s a bummer, as I do like those. However, the rest of the extras are so plentiful that they go a long way to make up for that. Writer/director Jennifer Kent has her short black and white film, “Monster,” on here that was the basis for the feature film. There is a short featurette on the creation of the cool Babadook popup book, and another on the house sets where the majority of the movie takes place. A third featurette is on one of the few stunts in the movie, and a fourth one is on the stabbing scene. There is a short behind-the-scenes featurette and an hour-long collection of interviews with the cast and crew. Lastly, there is the ever-present trailer.
In all ways this new Blu-ray is a winner and a must have. The movie is amazing and the disc comes loaded with goodies. The Babadook is beyond highly recommended. Get it.
Happy Spring! Warm (or warmer at least) weather has finally come. Hopefully you’re taking the time to bask in the sun and enjoy a JournalStone Book while you’re soaking up the rays.
I have to lead off this month with an admission of error. In last month’s newsletter, I displayed the books that were being released in March, but I mentioned the April releases in this column. My sincerest apologies go to the authors whose works I neglected to mention. I hope that you give these books a look. I know you’ll enjoy them. I know I did. First of all, we had Black Water by Bobby Norman. It’s a tale of witchcraft and revenge in the swamps of the Louisiana bayou. You won’t want to miss this one. We also had Loonies by Gregory Bastianelli. I can honestly say that this one will keep you guessing right up to the very last page, with an ending that you just won’t see coming. This one is a must read.
This month sees the return of Matt Rowley in Patrick Freivald’s Black Tide. I know many of you got to know Matt Rowley in Jade Sky. If you’ve been anxiously waiting the next book in the saga, I’m happy to let you know that your wait is over. We also are proud to release Benjamin Kane Ethridge’s Divine Scream, a dark tale sure to please. If you’ve read any of Benjamin Kane Ethridge’s other work, you know that he is a master story teller, spinning a web that will hold you under its spell until you can’t take it anymore, and then will leave you wanting more.
As usual, I can’t let you go without making sure you know about our current issue of Dark Discoveries Magazine. Incredible original fiction by authors such as Celia Tan combined with great feature articles, columns, and book reviews make this a must have. And…if you like this issue, why not go ahead and be a subscriber. That way you won’t miss any of the amazing things we’ll pack into future issues.
Until next month…
NEW JOURNALSTONE RELEASES FOR APRIL
Get the following titles, as well as many other exciting offerings, at JournalStone BookStore.
Matt Rowley – super human strength, unnaturally fast reflexes, enhanced senses – augmentation is something that he will have to learn to live with, for the rest of his life.
As cults spring up in worship of the demonic beings freed by the last of the nephilim, the United States calls on Matt Rowley to meet the threat. His unnatural powers returning with every passing day, Matt becomes the only weapon able to withstand eldritch forces older than time and darker than the blackest sea.
When his wife and infant son are taken in a violent attack on his hometown, Matt falls into a vast conspiracy that could destroy his family and his very soul.
They want Matt Rowley’s powers and will kill everyone to get them.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
For Jared Kare, every part of life is terrifying. He relies heavily on his friends and family for everything in his day to day existence. So when he is confronted by a banshee who would soon herald his death, Jared finds a new type of terror.
There are things much worse than dying though.
Jared has been given as a gift to the Assembly, a demonic group who hunger to possess and torture him forever. Will the banshee save him from the assembly, watch him die, or both?
Love can be found in the most unlikely places, but nothing can be accomplished without a great deal of luck, and sacrifice.
COMING NEXT MONTH FROM JOURNALSTONE
Get the following titles, as well as many other exciting offerings, at JournalStone BookStore.
The Incendium Maleficarum has been lost and Carter Weston presumed dead, but the story of That Which Should Not Be is only just beginning. Now Carter’s only daughter, Rachel Jones, and his oldest friend, Henry Armitage, must embark on an epic journey that will take them from the hell-blasted Tunguska forest to the catacombs of Paris to the shores of the Scottish Isles.
They are in a race against time, for in France, strange murders and whispers of occult rituals herald the rise of an ancient evil bent on plunging the world into eternal darkness.
It is up to Rachel and Henry to learn Carter’s fate, recover the Incendium Maleficarum, and perhaps even save the world.
One moment, Robert Londrigan is a rising-star newscaster, devoted husband, and expectant father; the next, he’s a widower in a morgue, staring at gaping holes in his daughter’s body where surgeons have harvested every useful scrap of her organs and tissue. The rock-bottom falls out from under his life when a disfigured man knocks Robert out and steals what’s left of her tiny corpse out from under his nose, and leaves a gruesome surprise waiting for him back home.
Robert’s search for the disfigured man leads him through a rapidly-fragmenting reality into a chiaroscuro world and the discovery that neither his wife nor his daughter are who he thought they were.
Gary A. Braunbeck’s work has earned 7 Bram Stoker Awards, an International Horror Guild Award, 3 Shocker Awards, a Black Quill Award and a World Fantasy Award nomination.
Long Weekend is the eco-horror flick from the land down under, Australia. It’s a hard movie to easily categorize as it is part relationship drama, part nature film, and finally towards the end, an animal attack flick, thus its link to the horror genre. The pace of the film is extremely measured, some might call it downright slow, but it does deliver with a very minimal cast of two, who are both very well developed characters, combined with some undeniably beautiful cinematography. A cult classic, and one that has been hard to find, this film is now available from the always excellent Synapse Films. Is it worth a get? Well grab your hiking shoes and please don’t litter, we’re off for a Long Weekend.
A bickering married couple, Peter and Marcia, go on a camping holiday in isolated wilderness of Australia. You know, the continent that always tops the list of world’s most deadliest this, and most poisonous that. Gee, whatever could go wrong with that idea? Anyway, this is a marriage hanging by a thread, and actors John Hargreaves and Briony Behets do a great job of portraying that. They have a great chemistry, or almost anti-chemistry, as they have a believable seething malice towards each other here. However, this movie does sort of beat that into the ground, as it all seems to go on and on a bit too long. As good as the acting was, and as beautiful as the scenic side of Australia was captured on film, I must admit I was starting to check my watch before events picked up, and that’s never a good thing.
That said, from the start this film lays it’s premise out, as Peter and Marcia turn out to be first rate assholes when it comes to nature. Things start off small with them littering, chopping down a tree, and spraying pesticide all over the place, and eventually ramps up with the death of wildlife. Eventually Mother Nature can’t stand no more and seeks revenge with the aid of all sorts of Aussie animals. Here begins the horror aspect to this otherwise slice of matrimonial melodrama, and it is glorious, in an admittedly cheesy sort of way. Unlike most other animal attacks movies that would give you killer bears, wolves, piranha and sharks, Long Weekend focus on some distinctly Australian animals and a few critters you would think as being all that dangerous. Kangaroos, possums, eagles, and even manatee-like dugongs all get in on the action here. Does the bitchy couple survive nature’s wrath? Does their marriage? Well for that, you’ll have to watch the movie, but one thing’s for sure, they went through a hell of a Long Weekend.
Now on to the extras and goodies Synapse Films has included with this Blu-ray. First and foremost, it can’t be overstated just how good this movie looks, but that’s what Synapse does. No one, but no one puts as much time and effort into making their releases look as best as they can as Synapse does, and this is clearly evident in this gorgeous looking HD transfer. In addition to that there is an audio commentary track with producer Richard Brennan and cinematographer Vincent Monton. There is a short (about five minutes) audio interview with the late star, john Hargreaves, set to a still picture gallery. The original theatrical trailer is also found here.
Long Weekend isn’t a movie for every horror fan. Admirers of Aussie or late 70s cinema will get more bang for their buck here. So will anyone who just loves animal attack movies or relationship dramas set in the backdrop of some truly beautiful wildness, that don’t mind the occasional woodland critter trying to bite the face off of someone. If you fall into any of these categories, give this one a try. It gets a conditional recommendation from me.
Wild Eye Releasing has announced the April 21st DVD release of film festival hit Jonah Lives. Hailed as “a fine cinematic debut” by Horrornews.net, Jonah Lives stars B-movie legend Brinke Stevens (Nightmare Sisters, Teenage Exorcist, Bad Girls from Mars) as a woman who thought she’d gotten away with murder, until some bored teens with a ouija board accidentally bring her buried secret back with a vengeance. The film was shot in Fall River, MA, the home of Lizzie Borden and site of the infamous Borden family murders that remain unsolved to this day.
A group of suburban teenagers find themselves embroiled in a story of revenge from beyond the grave. Foolishly playing with a ouija board, they contact the spirit of a murdered man. Jonah rips his way out of the earth in the form of a murderous zombie, intent on avenging his untimely demise. Before he can rip out the heart of his killer, he must claim the lives of the teens that disturbed his rest.
The DVD release of Jonah Lives (SRP $14.95) will exclusively include a behind the scenes featurette with Brinke Stevens, a Fall River post-screening celebration featurette, teasers and trailers.
With The Remedy, author Asher Ellis achieves something very impressive, the consummate hard-core horror novel. There’s nature as a beast, brutal body horror, backwoods cannibalism, small town horror conspiracy and more. It’s with nothing but respect that I write that there’s very little new or groundbreaking here, but what there is is everything that any story could possibly need. And you’re not going to find a book that executes those needs any better. If you want to read a new horror novel that harkens back to the early days of splatterpunk, that is never slow or misses a beat, pick this one up.
The characters are similar to the plot. They fit the modern horror paradigm, the popular girl, the por smoking bad boy, the loner who may or may not be what he seems, the matriarch of a hillbilly clan and even a masked killer. The characters are uniformly solid, a few are great to the point they the reader will find themselves rooting for them and the masked killer is a personal favorite.
The plot is deftly handled and transcends the typical car-breaks-down-on-the-backroad trope. There are twists when one might expect, but they’re never the twist expected. There are points where no reader is going to see a twist coming, but it pops-up regardless.
The most unique points of the novel build as the story moves along. The “loner” character follows a great character arc. There’s a sex scene that’s is truly impressive, one could argue important even, in that it takes traditional gender roles and destroys them. The general theme of the novel also evolves into one of, for me but I’m sure others will differ, guilt. How does one deal with guilt. It brings up a serious philosophical issue that you probably wouldn’t expect from a novel with the lines: “It’s not your fault. How were you supposed to know your friend was related to a family of cannibals.”
Open Road Media is pleased to announce the highly anticipated second book in the 3 Gates of the Dead series by Jonathan Ryan: Dark Bride.
Assistant pastor Aidan Schaeffer has been chosen to be a part of the Order of the Five Sorrows, a group dedicated to fighting evil with the use of holy objects present at Christ’s crucifixion. But before he can come to terms with his destiny, Aidan must destroy the Dark Bride—and stop the Grinning Man at all cost. But not everyone will survive the horrific battle to come…
Expertly combining elements of horror, humor, and Ryan’s own Christian religion, Dark Bride is a terrifying thriller that will keep you up all night trying to finish it—and because you are too scared to go to sleep.
Jonathan Ryan is an editor at Ave Maria Press in Notre Dame, Indiana and writes for the renowned interfaith site Pantheos.com. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a Benedictine oblate novice with St. Meinrad Archabbey.
Advance Praise for Dark Bride
“For those who like to mix deep theological debate with full-throttle horror. A whole new level of suspense and good old-fashioned, keep-the-lights-on-all-night fear!” —Robert Masello, best-selling author of The Romanov Cross
“In Jonathan Ryan’s Dark Bride—a tale steeped in the fantastic and simmered in faith, a book as terrifying as it is profound—Dan Brown collides with Stephen King collides with St. Augustine.” —Jack Slay Jr., author of Sleeping Policeman
“In Dark Bride, Jonathan Ryan successfully knits religion, demonology and suspense to produce a tapestry of excitement and originality that will please any fan of the genre.” —Andrew Neiderman, author of The Devil’s Advocate and Terrorist’s Holiday