Brian Keene’s The Lost Level is the first book of a projected series. If you’re familiar with the works of Keene, then you know him mainly as a writer of visceral horror. His zombie filled Rising trilogy is probably the best known of his books yet he’ll occasionally venture out in to other territories, like with The Lost Level. While having its moments of horror, it’s steeped in an earlier tradition of the fantasy/science pulp fiction of the past. Think Edgar Rice Burroughs or Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World. Even Sid & Marty Kroft’s TV show Land of the Lost is mentioned by the author as an influence. I will venture out on a limb and suggest that another influence is Phillip Jose Farmer’s epic sci-fi trilogy, Riverworld, where an alternate reality is created by bringing in various other cultures and people from many places and time, yet suggesting that there may be a secret controller of the dimensions. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Aaron Pace is a young but resourceful man who has an interest in the occult. Through his mystical research he discovers something called the Labyrinth, “a dimensional shortcut through time and space. It touches and connects everything.” He explores the various worlds through the Labyrinth with enthusiasm and recklessness, until he accidentally enters the Lost Level, “a dimensional reality that existed apart from all the others.” Anything in all of time and space can end up there and there is no escape.
The veteran Keene fan will pick up a theme instantly; the Labryinth Mythos is an integral part of all of Keene’s fiction. Here we learn of the Lost Level but the author is also giving us more subtle hints regarding the mythos’ multiple realities in this series. If you have never read anything else by Keene, this will not ruin this exciting adventure tale for you. The author sets up what he needs to for his story and makes sure it is a thrilling ride.
Aaron Pace is the perfect hero for this tale which does owe the most to Edgar Rice Burroughs. He is daring and capable with just the right amount of naivety and wonder to make him believable; he’s likeable and easy to identify with. The story is told through his perspective as he writes his adventure in an old school notebook he finds on an abandoned bus. Most of his rivals and allies may sound familiar to readers of this type of epic. He borrows from many times, legends, and science fiction war horses. There is even at least one reference to another Keene novel and I expect there are more that I was not aware of. Stories like this bring out the inner teen in me that thrives on lost worlds, time travel stories and adventure tales where I can pretend to be the young, muscular hero that manages to slay the monster and win the heart of a buxom, bronze, and half-naked tribe-woman. The nice thing about Keene’s tale though is that it may be derivative but it doesn’t feel like it. There is enough flair and originality to make even the most frequently used creatures in the book fresh and exciting. And the last thing Keene will ever be accused of is not being exciting.
So who is this book for? It’s for anyone who enjoys adventure tales, sci-fi and fantasy. It’s for those who remember the early “Weird Tales” type pulp fiction and wants to relive it. It’s definitely for the Keene fan. And, despite some rather grown up scenes that tells us it’s not YA, it’s for the mature teenager who is ready to bridge the gap from young adult to mature audience. The Lost Level is a good start to a series that promises to send your mind to lost levels of its own.
by James Michael Rice
Just before her fingers find the switch, I notice that she is wearing an odd expression, one I have never seen before: fear.
My mother wasn’t waving goodnight.
She was trembling.
I kick and scream and fight against it, but sleep pulls me away from the waking world. Pulls me down, down into the bottomless dark.
The darkness fills my eyes, and I am blind.
It fills my ears, and I am deaf.
I try to scream, and the shadows flow into my mouth.
Presently, the darkness and I become one.
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Anchor Bay has graciously offered to sponsor a copy of ‘Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard’ on Blu-ray for us to give to one lucky winner in the continental United States! All this takes is a little social interaction on your side and you’ll have a chance to enter.
The rural town of Elwood has always been a “bubble” against the backdrop of an organism-based epidemic where infected humans don’t die, instead they roam to spread the infection in a grisly, horrific way. Those who escape must survive—by any means necessary. But at what price?
On February 3, 2015, Anchor Bay Entertainment presents ZOMBIE KILLERS: ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD, an exciting survival thriller about a fallen world that’s provocative as it is chilling. Written and directed by B. Harrison Smith and with a stellar genre cast including Billy Zane, Dee Wallace, Mischa Barton, Felissa Rose, and Brian Anthony Wilson, ZOMBIE KILLERS: ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD is presented in an unrated version on Blu-ray™ and DVD.
In the film, the “Zombie Killers” are a small band of young adults, trained by military vet Seiler (Zane), who have sworn to protect the town and aim for the head if anything threatens Elwood’s last survivors.
Bonus features on ZOMBIE KILLERS: ELEPHANT’S GRAVEYARD Blu-ray™ and DVD include the behind-the-scenes featurettes “Bloodbath and Beyond,” “The Look of Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard,” and “Zombie Killers: Elephant’s Graveyard Behind the Scenes.”
The Final Chapter Begins This April!
When the dead fight the dead, where does that leave the living? That’s the question as the legendary George Romero unleashes the final chapter in his new undead epic in GEORGE ROMERO’S EMPIRE OF THE DEAD: ACT THREE #1! Debuting in April, it’s zombies vs. vampires – with the desperate, last surviving humans caught in the crossfire! Writer George Romero and artist Andrea Mutti bring you the closing saga in the epic war between living and dead!
Welcome back to NYC, years after the horrifying plague has swept the nation. The Big Apple is a quarantine zone – but that doesn’t guarantee safety! There are predators within the walls. Vampires lurk in the shadows preying on the living and the undead alike. But with the zombies seemingly growing smarter each and every day, the war between the two dead factions begins heating up!
“Romero understands the wide possibilities of the comic format and has used it to tell his biggest, most epic story to date,” says series Editor Jake Thomas. “In this final chapter the narrative bomb he’s been carefully constructing under Empire of the Dead’s Manhattan goes off with a bang! There are dangers coming from all sides, no one is safe, and blood will flow. It’s everything an undeadhead would want from the Godfather of Zombies himself, George Romero!”
Meanwhile, who is kidnapping the children of NYC? Where are they taking them and why? The future of Manhattan and humanity itself may rest in the answers! Don’t miss this excellent jumping on point when the zombie godfather and horror visionary’s next undead epic reaches its climactic chapter in April’s GEORGE ROMERO’S EMPIRE OF THE DEAD: ACT THREE #1!
GEORGE ROMERO’S EMPIRE OF THE DEAD: ACT THREE #1
Written by GEORGE ROMERO
Art by ANDREA MUTTI
Cover by FRANCESCO MATTINA
On-Sale in April!
THE SMASH ACTION-CHILLER THAT WILL INFEST YOUR MIND!
Crocodiles in the sewers, snakes in the plumbing, giant spiders coming out of manhole covers… all urban myths.
Except in Megalopolis. Lieutenant Jericho, a disgraced and disillusioned police officer, is guiding Sandra Yeatman, a student of zoology, through the gleaming new sewer tunnels and the crumbling old ones in search of creatures that should not exist. In the city beneath the city, they find a terrifying infestation that threatens the lives of all who dare to go… under.
Under Vol. 1: Monsters Beneath hits comic stores on July 29 and is available to order now from your local comic book store using Diamond order code: JAN151615
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After terrifying audiences from coast to coast – Closing Night Event at ScreamFest 2014 Los Angeles and Opening Night Screening at 2014 New York City Horror Film Festival –FEAR CLINIC, the latest excursion into unrelenting terror will be released on Blu-ray™ and DVD on February 10, 2015 by Anchor Bay Entertainment. The highly anticipated shocker stars horror icon Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund, Fiona Dourif, Angelina Armani, Thomas Dekker, as well as Stone Sour and Slipknot lead vocalist Corey Taylor in his acting debut, and is directed by Robert G. Hall (Lightning Bug, Laid to Rest, ChromeSkull: Laid To Rest II).
With blood-chilling special effects by award-winning FX creators Robert Kurtzman and Steve Johnson, FEAR CLINIC will take viewers on an unforgettable journey into the very soul of terror itself.
Co-written by Hall and Aaron Drane, the film is based on the critically acclaimed and fan favorite 2009 FEARnet.com series.
When trauma-induced phobias begin to re-emerge in five survivors a year after their horrifying tragedy, they return to the “Fear Clinic,” hoping to find the answers they need to get cured.
Dr. Andover (Robert Englund), a fear doctor who runs the clinic, uses his “Fear Chamber” to animate their fears in the form of terrifying hallucinations. However, the good doctor soon begins to suspect that something more sinister may be at work, something that yearns to be more than just an hallucination…
Two loosely-intertwined stories of the supernatural and not-so-supernatural set the pace for Grave Events, the latest title from The Horror Zine editor and founder Jeani Rector.
The first story, Open Grave, tells the tale of Rick, a struggling University student that needs a subject for his term paper. After meeting a girl named Carley and her intensely spiritual roommate Amanda, Rick (ever the skeptic) decides to do his paper on communicating with the dead. Carley directs him to a candle shop where he meets a mysterious woman named Raven who immediately catches his eye. Raven invites Rick to attend a séance at her house the following evening to which he happily obliges. During the séance, a presence familiar to Rick materializes with a message, ultimately unearthing a family secret that only gets more twisted the deeper it goes.
Following Open Grave is Grave in the Woods, the story of rookie cop Melissa Meyers who’s looking to be taken seriously in the force. When Meyers and her partner are the first to respond to a possible murder, things quickly spin out of control as Meyers struggles with mortality and as the hunt for a killer begins.
Although an interesting read, Grave Events has its issues. Throughout both stories, the thoughts and feelings of the characters are repeated to the point where they simply become redundant. There are even a few instances where exact sentences are repeated in error. That, paired with some awkward dialogue, makes it difficult for the reader to fully commit to the intriguing stories being told.
It’s clear that Rector has some serious skills seeing the success of The Horror Zine and all its offshoots but Grave Events is not her strongest venture to date. We can only look forward to what she has up her sleeve in the near future.