Monday, April 25
Friday, April 15
Multiplex Fandango. Say it. Multi-plex Fan-dan-go.
It's beautiful, isn't it? Just rolls off the tongue.
It’s almost as beautiful and satisfying as the book you may now be holding in your hands, or reading a review about. What we’re seeing here is quite possibly the most comfortable, relaxed, and expert takeover that the horror genre has ever seen.
With Multiplex Fandango, Weston Ochse has created an incredible collection, and has given the reader one of the smoothest, most satisfying reads they could ever come across. To drive the point home, Joe Landsdale says in the intro that "This is a book that could almost have been written for me.", but I disagree - this book was written for anyone looking for imaginative, intelligent, and throughly awe-inspiring, but strangely uplifting scares that force the reader to think more than react.
Multiplex Fandango is subtitled "A Weston Ochse Reader" for good reason. This collection contains a comprehensive representation of short fiction and novellas by the Bram Stoker award winner and Pushcart Prize nominee... (read more)
Not much of a synopsis I know, but then, there really is no way to synopsize this brilliant work. That said...here we go.
There are 16 short stories and novellas presented herein, 6 of which were written for this volume, with each and every one just as, if not more, impressive as the last. Ochse's words read like the poetry of a madman - urgent and direct, at the same time as being beautifully timed and designed to evoke emotions from deep inside. The reader can't help but be absolutely enthralled by this wordsmith's grand visions and engaging dialogue. This is a book that is virtually impossible to put down.
Pieces like Tarzan Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Fugue on the Sea of Cortez, The Sad Last Love of Cary Grant, and Catfish Gods speak of the choices we make that define who we are in the end, and directions we take in life that lead us to those instances. Ochse really blasts the reader with a keen blend of realism, tainted with a strange and unrelenting sense of unease that shows exactly how much of our lives is spent choosing between what is right, and what just comes naturally - regardless of whether or not it hurts or hinders someone else. The characters in these pieces are all people that the reader can instantly identify with, as Ochse finds the essence of what it is to be human, and gently exploits it for the purpose of proving a point. The point being, in most cases, is that we are all responsible for what we create in our own world, regardless of the outside influences and how strange they might be.
Where the writer succeeds most is in stories like High Desert Come to Jesus, The Secret Lives of Heroes, and A Day in the Life of a Dust Bunny - which, when read are actually quite comedic, but are presented in a deathly serious tone. High Desert reads like the serial killer stories that have permeated the genre as of late, but with a brilliant and sinister twist that sets it completely apart at the same time. The idea of a person that actually creates the things in people that most find eternally disturbing, is brilliant. The brief length of the story is incredible in that Ochse packs so much into it, leaving the reader begging for more and more. I, for one, really hope that Ochse expands upon this character in a full length work. This story is highly recommended.
Ochse also proves himself quite capable of writing some brutal and disgusting scenes that deliver a violent slap in the face to the reader. I’m generally very hard to gross out, having read a lot of work that has really made me question how an author managed to get some scenes published and sold to the public, but there were moments in some of these stories that just attack without warning. Now, the beautiful part of this is that Ochse almost downplays these moments in order to affect the reader more. Though they’re few and far between, gore-hounds can rest assured that they are there. If you’re a reader that yearns for prose that pushes boundaries and kicks you when you’re down - you’ll find that mixed in here, along with a complete world that you might have been missing.
While all of these stories are brilliant in their own way, there are some that stand out as the leaders of the pack. Big Rock Candy Mountain is a sobering, semi-political tale encompassed in a hallucinogenic yarn that entertains from start to finish; Hiroshima Falling starts off brooding and dark, almost overwhelming the reader before launching into a bizarro-styled story that picks up the pace, amps up the strange, and ultimately cements the author as a force to be reckoned with; The Crossing of Aldo Ray is, bar none, one of the best zombie stories I have ever read, taking a different path than most and treating the reader to a much needed change of pace in zombie literature; City of Joy is, as the author mentions in his notes after the story, a science fiction tale at heart, but holds enough power in itself that it becomes something of an emotional horror story that speaks to the innocence in all of us; 22 Stains in the Jesus Pool introduces the reader to Ochse’s expert knowledge of the inner workings of religious theory and cult thinking, but also invites the reader to meet one character that is so incredibly complex and, as it turns out, an unintentional villain in disguise.
The absolute shining achievement has to go to the last story - Redemption Roadshow. I've read this story before as a chapbook that was released by Burning Effigy Press, and am still blown away by it every time. This is not only a story that is completely re-readable, but is also haunting, terrifying, introspective, and downright impressive. This is easily one of my favorite reads of all time, and will continue to be etched into my mind for years to come. Ochse is writing on a Peter Straub level with this one. Absolutely brilliant.
Multiplex Fandango is an absolute must-have for anyone who calls themselves a collector of horror literature. No one should be without this book. No one. I am highly recommending this book to everyone.
Multiplex Fandango will be available for pre-order from Dark Regions Press in May '11.
Friday, April 1
Saturday, March 19
Sunday, March 6
Friday, March 4
Thursday, March 3
Saturday, February 12
Thursday, February 3
Wednesday, February 2
Maddy Swift is just a normal girl—a high school junior surviving class with her best friend and hoping the yummy new kid, Stamp, will ask her out. When he finally does, her whole life changes.
Sneaking out to meet Stamp at a party one rainy night, Maddy is struck by lightning. After awakening, she feels lucky to be alive. Over time, however, Maddy realizes that she’s become the thing she and everyone else fear most: the living dead.With no heartbeat and no breath in her lungs, Maddy must learn how to survive as a zombie. Turns out there’s a lot more to it than shuffling around 24/7 growling, “Brains.” Needing an afterlife makeover is only the beginning of her problems. As Barracuda Bay High faces zombie Armageddon, Maddy must summon all of her strength to protect what matters most—just as soon as she figures out exactly what that is.
Busting out of the gate with an explosive (and hilarious) intro, Fischer sets the stage for a fun romp through the life of a young, accidently zombified, teenage girl; and leads you to believe that this is going to be something reminiscent of the scores of other YA horror novels out there. But you, the intelligent reader, can see something else in there. Behind the facade of a teenage-angst-ridden zombie story, Fischer has presented something fresher and more vivid than the decaying corpses littering the YA section of your favorite book store (or web-store *sigh*).
Fischer brings a massive amount of entertainment to this piece, not only poking fun at most teenage stereotypes, but also poking fun at the genre itself - in some places. Written from the perspective of the main female character, the author tends to lay heavy on the funny to dispell most of the serious situations, but dips into some seriously hardcore emotional territory with others. The brilliance of this situation is that he is able to make you laugh, think, and possibly even cry...all within the same sentence. To say that Fischer understands the teenage mindframe would be an understatement. He lives it in this novel, and that is what makes this book so different from the rest of the pack.
Now, in what is possibly my favorite move with this novel, Fischer whips out a whole new bag of tricks in regards to the zombies themselves. The constantly shuffling, groaning, and...well...slow moving zombies are eschewed for a more intelligent and brutal breed of walking dead. Not only are they completely sentient beings, but they're also capable of planning and other sorts of menacing behavior. Even the manner of becoming zombified is completely different from most traditional ways. Fischer has introduced the potential for lightening to be a crucial factor in the zombification process, but hasn't completely done away with the "zombie-by-bite" method. In fact, two different types of zombies can be created using the two different styles of...well...zombie creation, which is a much needed breath of fresh air in the sub-genre.
Thursday, January 27
Rob and Becky bought the old place after the death of their son, to repair and renovate - to patch things up and make the building habitable.
The both knew that they were trying to fix more than the house, but the cracks in their marriage could not be papered over.
Then they found the Quiet Room.
In a very short 22 pages, McMahon achieves what some horror authors can't seem to pull off in a full length novel, proving that finding chills, thrills, and absolute terror, is completely possible in short fiction. And McMahon pulls this off beautifully with incredible description and wonderfully beautiful prose. The pain and emotion of the two main characters is absolutely palpable, making this a very quick, but also very tough read (in a good way). It's hard feeling for the characters in a story, but especially so, if the author is someone like McMahon - who seems to be able to make the subject matter so personal that you feel you're intimately involved in their lives.
Every aspect of this story is frought with a haunting menace that barely even begins to describe the terror within. The most perfect part of this story lies in the fact that everything is almost entirely left up to the reader to imagine. Granted, McMahon steers the story this way and that in order to bring the reader on a very specific course, but he also imbues the tale with enough vague references and emotional disturbances to make you feel completely out of control, but also able to recognize the fact that the author has you safely nestled in the palm of his hand. It's very hard to take your eyes off the page once the writer hits his stride.
The atmosphere is gloomy and dim, bringing to mind some of the darkest tales of sadness and sorrow I've ever read. The whole thing feels...grey. It's almost like everything was designed to make you feel whatever you want to feel, but also directing the reader on a very dedicated path. McMahon is truly a brilliant writer, and this small taste speaks volumes as to his wonderful talent.
Don't miss out on this little chapbook. Again, it's a quick read, but completely worth it and very re-readable. Every read-through will bring new images to mind, taking you on a journey of sorrow, despair, and emotional terror - time and time again.
You can visit Spectral Press' website here. Information on how to grab a copy of this chapbook can be found here, and you can check out the author's website here.
Friday, January 21
Love sucks. Just ask Freddy. The little geek’s hot girlfriend keeps promising him that she’ll do the right thing and break up with her other boyfriend, their high school’s star quarterback, but what do you know? She never seems to get around to it.
It drives poor Freddy nuts and has him shaking his fists at the cruel heavens. The virgin blood boiling in his veins can’t wait. An official team of doctors have officially confirmed his ability to love and have given his emotional meter their seal of approval. No more hospitals. No more meds. Free and clear.
So never mind the baseball bat hidden behind his back (it’s precautionary, you know?). Oh, and never mind the hacksaw stashed in the lining of his trench coat (more precaution). Freddy is in love, and though it sucks, it makes everything all right. It makes everything in his scrambled brain smooth and clear. And when he says, “Girl, I bleed for you,” he means it just how he says it and not the other way around.I honestly can't believe I wasn't introduced to Calvillo's writing before now. If I had been, and if this novella was any indication of his standard storytelling ability, I would have been waiting with baited breath for this piece. Guaranteed.
Like I mentioned above, this is one tight and brutal piece of fiction. The writing style is very succinct, allowing the reader to visualize just enough in order to get the feel for what Calvillo is trying to convey with his words, which is exactly what makes this story so damned enthralling. The author has a way of cherry-picking the most incredible combinations of words, and honing in on the exact emotion he wants you to feel - a skill most writers can only dream of. The fact that he does with in such short bursts only goes to prove how massive this writer's talent is, and begs roughly the same question as I've stated above: Why haven't I heard of this author before?
The main character - Freddy - is of the complicated variety, eliciting a varied amount of responses from the reader; most of which include shock at how one could possibly side with someone so utterly...well...fucked up. There's a beauty to something like this though. While you're morally condemning this character's thought processes and actions, you can't help but cheer him on, aided by the voice of the geeky little underdog that lives inside your head. He's lonely, he's sad, but he's also a little more than pissed off. I don't know about you, but I can name a legion of males, aged 13 to dead, who can identify with this character in one way or another. But rest assured, Freddy is one sick puppy.
Calvillo really brings you on an incredibly emotional journey here. The ups and downs that the main character experiences are absolutely palpable. They just lift right off the page and smack you in the mouth with every turn of the page. The action is almost constant, and even when it isn't, the story line just zips along smoothly. There are rocky bits here and there, but they all involve the reader actually trying to stomach the scenes that the author has laid out for the taking. I'm not kidding when I say that this is one seriously brutal read.
In spite of the bloodsoaked gore-fest, this is essentially a love story told with a main character that is, quite obviously, mentally disturbed. This does not detract from the reader connecting with the main character at all, though, but instead kind of sets the stage for a grand reveal that is absolutely mind blowing.
When Calvillo wants to shock - he shocks. When he wants to 'wow' - oh boy does he 'WOW'!. But let it be said: there is a method to this man's madness, and an incredible talent the likes of which we don't see in the bigger markets very often.
I'd say that this is one of the strongest novellas I have read in a very long time. Definitely worth the cash, alright. Right down to the cover art, which is phenomenal, and very fitting for the content of the story. In fact, it didn't dawn on me that the cover is that perfect until after I'd finished reading. Brilliant.
If you like your horror literature bloody, emotional, sometimes hard to stomach, and fast paced...you're going to want to go and get this book, pronto.
Go get this book. It's available in a limited mini-hardcover run of 150 ($19.95 - preorder price), but also as a digital copy ($4.95). You can pre-order here, and check out the rest of Delirium Books products here.
Check out more of Calvillo's work at his website. Based on my experience with this novella, I'm going to go out of my way to pick up everything this man has ever written.
Monday, January 17
My favorite horror/crime series of books was just released in Audio book format by Audible.com!
That's right! You can now pick up Greg Lamberson's Personal Demons and Desperate Souls, both from the Jake Helman Files series, in Audio Book format for your listening pleasure.
Here's the release I received:
AUDIBLE.COM RELEASES AUDIO BOOKS BASED ON THE FIRST TWO VOLUMES OF AUTHOR GREGORY LAMBERSON'S
'THE JAKE HELMAN FILES' HARDBOILED HORROR SERIES.
Audible.com has simultaneously released two audio books based on author Gregory Lamberson’s hardboiled horror series, The Jake Helman Files: PERSONAL DEMONS and DESPERATE SOULS. Both audio books are narrated by Christopher Hurt, who narrated audio versions of THE FOUNTAINHEAD and FHARENHEIT 451.
The Jake Helman Files tells the story of ex-cop turned occult detective Helman, who finds himself embroiled in the supernatural at every turn. In the first book, PERSONAL DEMONS, Helman tangles with a serial killer who steals the souls of his victims, a reclusive billionaire, and the Biblical Cain and Abel. In DESPERATE SOULS, his foe is a voodoo priestess who uses a drug called Black Magic to create an army of zombies in New York City. Print and e-book editions of the novels are available from Medallion Press; PERSONAL DEMONS won the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror in 2010.
“I love crime drama and noir as much as I do horror,” says Lamberson, director of the cult horror film SLIME CITY and its new sequel, SLIME CITY MASSACRE, “and I love combining these genres. Jake Helman is as informed by THE MALTESE FALCON and the TV series WISEGUY as he is by the creations of Clive Barker and Stephen King. Action is the unifying thread, but the action Jake finds himself in tends to be a lot bloodier than that faced by other hardboiled heroes. Surprise is the real key.”
Lamberson is pleased to see his character debuting in other media. “The first book, PERSONAL DEMONS, was based on an unproduced screenplay I wrote back in the late 1980s, after I made SLIME CITY. I knew the script was too ambitious to do on the budgets I make movies on, so it went into a drawer until around 2000. After 9/11, I developed it as a novel, which took a few years. When it was published by a small press in 2004, I started fantasizing about the sequels. Before I knew it, I had a fairly intricate arc mapped out for the first six books. I love the idea of the audio books because they remind me of the old radio serials, and they still leave a lot to the imagination. I’d love to see Jake fighting for his life in comics, and of course in movies.”
The author has already completed two more novels in the series for Medallion: COSMIC FORCES, which will be published this October, and TORTURED SPIRITS, due in 2012. “I told Adam Mock, the president of Medallion Media Group, that I want to do at least 10 of these Jake Helman books. In truth, I’d like to write a lot more than that, as I’m a real fan of pulp novels and continuing characters. But I plan to write at least six, which will complete the story I set out to write. Jake suffers a lot more than most other heroes who battle the supernatural. I love subjecting him to physical and emotional torture, and as long as he can take what I dish out, we’ll keep going.”Lamberson previously wrote JOHNNY GRUESOME, winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Horror in 2009, and the critically acclaimed werewolf novel THE FRENZY WAY. SLIME CITY MASSACRE will be released by Media Blasters sometime this year.
Now, I don't know about you, but I'm hopping on this chance. For the Lamberson fan - and completist - you're not going to want to go without it.
For more information, check out the following links:
Lamberson’s website – www.slimeguy.com
Friday, January 14
"Oh yay, another review of Full Dark, No Stars."
As if everybody and their mother hasn't reviewed this book already, right?
Well, I haven't reviewed this book, and being that I just finished the darkest, meanest, and most violent of all of Stephen King's books that I've read, I'm going to damn well review it.
Here's what happened.
Fair Extension is the 3rd story in this collection and is based around the idea of childhood friends and the hatred that is harboured in the heart of one, for another. The whole premise struck me as incredible when I started reading it. The idea that someone would have to choose between their own health, and the health and lives of others - for decidedly greedy and overtly sinister purposes - and then show little or no remorse in the end is, to me, one of the most incredibly mean things that I've come across in a while.
I applaud Mr. King for taking this road, as it is really the road less traveled.
When I spoke of emotion in terms of Big Driver, I was relating it to visceral and descriptive emotion. Fair Extension hits you somewhere else. It grabs you by the collar and gets in your face, demanding to know if you'd sacrifice someone else for your own purposes. Granted, none of us will probably ever see the day when we'll have to make a decision like that, but Dave Streeter, the main character in the story, is faced with that dilemma, and deals with it the way he sees fit.
I appreciate the fact that King made this such a bleak and uncompromising story. It was a very welcome breath of fresh (albeit claustrophobic) air, and really grabbed the title and made perfect use of it.
The last story in the collection is A Good Marriage, which centers around the premise that you really can't tell who someone is until their secrets are revealed.
This story is so powerful, and so well written, that it's hard to even compare it to the rest. It was by far my favorite of the four. King was right to end off with this one, as it has all the hallmarks of a brilliantly written horror story.
The characters are absolutely easy to sympathise with, the set up is one that you really wouldn't know what was coming (if you hadn't read the cover sleeve), the vast and indescribably painful transformation that the wife in the story goes through is just heartbreaking, and the whole vibe is about as dark as complete and utter nothingness. King really let fly by putting Darcy in a heartwrenching predicament, and eventually put her through her paces. It's amazing that King himself was able to walk away from this one, as it really made me look at everything in a different light when I was done.
Overall, while I did enjoy Full Dark, No Stars, I did have the feeling taht King was 'holding back' with where he could have taken the stories. There's no doubt that this is some of the most extreme work of his that I've read (outside of his entry in Skipp's Book Of The Dead - Home Delivery, which was absolutely brutal, and one of my favorite zombie short stories of all time).
Based on this experience, I will be tackling some of King's other works, and will do so with a renewed appreciation for the one people call "The Master of Horror".
You can check out the author at his website, and grab Full Dark, No Stars at pretty much any location where books can be bought. Also, make sure you check out the website for the book itself, which has some incredible online peripherals, such as 'A Conversation with the Author', and other great treats for any fan of horror fiction.
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