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Thursday Night Horror Movie Review (on Friday) – “Howl”

howlHowl (2015), directed by Paul Hyett, is one of the best werewolf movies I’ve seen in a long time. While the creature effects aren’t quite traditional (usually a deal breaker for me) they still look pretty cool. Without spoiling the movie, I’ll say Hyett takes a unique approach to the werewolf myth, though the story behind the werewolves in the film is never told, leaving their existence a mystery.

Joe is the reluctant ticket collector on the last train out of London on this dark and stormy night. The passengers show him little respect as he moves through the cars, inspecting their tickets. Having recently been passed up for a promotion, Joe’s patience is short, but he is respectful and does his job by the number. When the train hits a deer and stalls, Joe tries unsuccessfully to keep everyone calm. When the driver, who left to investigate the damage done to the train, comes up missing, Joe has a catastrophe on his hands. The passengers demand answers Joe doesn’t have. He apologizes and accepts their vitriol with as much dignity as he can muster.

When the werewolf strides out of the dark forest surrounding the tracks and starts eating people, all eyes are on Joe to save the day.

I found the use of shadows and suggestion effective here. You do eventually see the werewolves in full, but my favorite shots are those of the creatures bathed in shadow, creeping toward their victims with the beautifully atmospheric backdrop of the forest and the moonlit sky looming behind them. This movie relies heavily on tension and mystery to keep the viewer on edge, though there is plenty of blood for the fan of brutal horror. The acting is good, and the characters are interesting and relatable. If you’re a jaded werewolf fan, sick of seeing your favorite monster dragged through the mud over and over in one terrible movie after another, give this one a try.

Thursday Night Horror Movie Review -“Blood Moon”

Blood-Moon-movie-2014-Jeremy-Wooding-5Blood Moon (2014), directed by Jeremy Wooding, is a pretty entertaining western horror mashup. I love westerns and werewolf films, and while this one isn’t exactly making waves, it handles the tropes of both genres surprisingly well.

Under the light of a blood moon, a stagecoach of travelers, a gunslinger, and two outlaws enter a deserted mining town. Howls sound in the night. Torn bodies turn up in the dusty streets. The survivors will hold up in the saloon, six guns rattling in their shaky hands as they wait for the creature hunting them to step into the lantern light.

Here’s another werewolf film that uses suggestion and lighting to work on your imagination. I think this is the best move for low budget monster flicks, where the money for truly stellar effects just isn’t there. You do see the werewolf in full, but they maintain the movie’s dark tone by avoiding the cheesy for the sake of cheesy approach. The action sequences are fairly well-timed, and the setting and costumes look reasonably authentic. This one is far from perfect, but I got a real sense that the creators were passionate about the film and wanted to make it as good as they could. I think that shows in the final product.

Fossil Lake III is Out!

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Fossil Lake III: Unicornado! is now available in paperback through Amazon and in ebook format through Smashwords. Thirty-two weird tales packed with glitter and rainbows and, of course, unicorns. Horror, uniporn (stop rubbing your eyes, they’re working fine), dark humor – there’s something here for everyone.

scratch that. This may not be for everyone. This is a collection for the elite, discerning reader. Casual readers are welcome to give it a try, if you think you can handle it!

The Fossil Lake anthologies are edited and published by Christine Morgan, the author of such novels as Black Roses, Gifted Children, Changeling moon, and His Blood. In addition to her novels and anthologies, she has also had numerous short stories, articles, and reviews published. Her Fossil Lake anthologies have featured such writers as Ramsey Campbell and Brian Keene.

I’m excited to say Fossil Lake III includes my story, “The Glitter Run.” Give this book a read, and then go back and get the other two anthologies. Oh, and keep an eye out for the fourth installment of the Fossil Lake series: Sharkasaurus!

Fossil Lake: An Anthology of the Aberrant

Fossil Lake II: The Refossiling

Fossil Lake III: Unicornado!

“Teeny” by Dominic Stabile

Here’s a piece of flash fiction of mine that was published in the “Blood” issue of Atticus Review in 2014. I want to start posting stories here from time to time. This one is an almost-horror story that’s a little autobiographical, but mostly made up. It was also my first published story outside of children’s fiction. I hope you like it.

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Book Review – Dust Devils

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I love weird westerns, and I wish there were more out there like this one. Janz is a great writer. His characters are sympathetic and his action scenes are tight and exciting. In my opinion, the prolonged action scenes in the first half of the novel pay tribute and stand proudly next to those of Joe Lansdale in his Jebediah Mercer series.

I don’t want to give away too much of the plot. But the idea is this: a traveling theater troupe consisting of vampires moves from town to town, putting on risque performances and then leaving behind them the aftermath of a blood storm. They took Cody’s wife. Lulled her into their ensemble by playing on her restlessness, and then left her dead on the side of the road. Now Cody, flawed and running from a life’s worth of regret, follows after them, looking to take revenge.

These vampires are the good old-fashioned kind. Ugly and terrifying. This book is not for those who may be uncomfortable with extremely violent death sequences.

If I had one complaint it would be that the story might have been stronger if it had been tied up by the end of part two. It felt to me like it reached its climax here. It brings the action down as it transitions to part 3 and then builds it back up again for another climax. Part three brings the story full circle, but I thought if the story threads tied off in part 3 had somehow been covered at the end of part two, without the change of setting, the story would have been tighter and more satisfying.

I’m a fan of Jonathan Janz, and recommend his novel, The Sorrows, if you like more of a straightforward horror tale. You can find the rest of his books here.

Cyclopean: Issue 1 is Out!

cyclopeanCyclopean is a new e-zine of weird fiction, run by Gavin Capener and Tami Brooks. I’m proud to say my novelette, “Old Haunts,” is included.

Old Haunts” is a story about nostalgia and our compulsion to cling to the past for comfort. Leander is a man who has bedded himself in the familiar. He is afraid to leave his job at the local grocery store where he has worked since beginning college, spends his free time watching reruns of his favorite childhood TV shows, and, at thirty years old, still lives with his parents.

Leander’s wife, Christine, tries to be patient with him. They are newly weds, and she believes Leander just needs time to find a new job and get out of the rut he seems to have been in since graduating college. When Leander chooses Misty Peak for their honeymoon destination–a tourist town in the Smoky Mountains, where he spent his childhood vacations–Christine tells herself the trip will do them good.

But she couldn’t be more wrong.

On the day of their arrival, Leander becomes infatuated with a haunted house attraction off the main tourist strip. A ragged, rundown structure clinging to the back of a fudge stand. He remembers walking past it every year as a child and never getting a chance to go inside. His old, nostalgic impulses seem to be at work, as he talks about the haunted house constantly, unable to take his mind off of it. But as he becomes more insistent–and even violent–Christine begins to realize there is something more at work. A force beyond her comprehension has taken hold of her husband. A force originating in the the haunted house itself.

I’ve enclosed the link to this zine below. Please check it out if you can and let me know what you think of “Old Haunts!”

Purchase Cyclopean issue 1!

The Horror of Self-Promotion

Glenn Rolfe

I read an interesting blog post this morning about the horrors and uselessness of self-promotion on social media. While it brought up some valid points, such as Facebook BUY MY BOOK posts are annoying and next to fruitless, I couldn’t get on board with all of what the writer had to say.
Look, I know as writers going on about ourselves can rub people the wrong way and have the opposite of our posts desired effect. I say this: There is such thing as overkill, but in my experience, using what tools we have in the social media realm does work fairly well if you’re smart about it.
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You do need to put in the footwork, you need to make real connections, you need to take chances, and you need to be considerate rather than assumptive. I primarily use GoodReads and Facebook. I look at my fellow horror authors and their…

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Ink – Book Review

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Glenn Benest and Dale Pitman’s Ink is a paranormal romance…and a horror novel…and a work of dark fantasy…and, overall, a piece that transcends categorization. There truly is something for everyone here. I was initially drawn to this book because of the interesting premise: Brian Archer, a famous graphic novelist struggling with agoraphobia, falls in love with fellow artist, A.J. Hart, and they begin to collaborate, their work enhanced and their characters brought to life (literally) by a mysterious black ink that is delivered to Brian’s door one day—but there is more depth to the story than I originally anticipated.

I was momentarily thrown at the beginning, as the novel opens up with a first person account, dictated by a character known as The Highwayman. He is a spectral creature, often referred to as “The Wraith,” who helps the recently murdered exact vengeance upon their killers. The voice of The Highwayman is hypnotizing. He is so honest about his pain it is difficult not to feel for him. He has no memory of who he was when he was alive or if his current purgatorial existence will ever end. He is a servant to the recently murdered, carrying a heavy sense of loss and futility. By the end of the first chapter, I was ready to follow The Highwayman as he carried out his bloody duties.

But chapter two takes us into Brian Archer’s studio, and we learn that what we have been reading is a chapter from Archer’s most recent graphic novel. My disorientation was short-lived, however, as Brian has a great deal in common with his fictional counter-part, The Highwayman, and his sense of isolation and longing for love is just as intense and sympathetic. The authors’ prose is smooth and clear as they describe Archer’s lonely predicament, his will to change and embrace life, and the crippling fear that keeps him inside, tucked away from the world. There is a great deal of energy and anticipation in these early chapters.

Archer completes his novel and meets his future lover, A.J. Hart, at one of his own book signings. He has spent the better part of the evening hyperventilating in the bathroom, and Hart sees the panic on his face and leads him outside, away from the crowd of leering fans. They hit it off, and from here, the love story begins.

The love story is where the novel loses me a little. Not because it’s poorly written. It’s not. But because the tension drops off. Archer is finally happy. He’s not struggling for anything. He and Hart have begun working together and she is slowly curing him of his agoraphobia. The mysterious ink has arrived, and it has certainly given their artwork a noticeably lifelike glint, but they acknowledge this quickly and move on with their romance. I kept wondering when the ink was going to come into play, but the middle section of the book is used more to develop Archer and Hart’s relationship. For a chunk of the novel, it feels like Archer has all he wants, based on what we know of his character up to that point. Aside from Hart’s jealous ex making the occasional appearance, there is no sense that anything of note is on the horizon. I knew there was some crazy, paranormal joo joo on the horizon based on the book’s description, but I didn’t feel it layered throughout this middle section of the story.

But then I realized this was the authors laying out a nice pretty carpet for me to stand on so that they could then yank it out from under me. I don’t want to spoil the story, but the final third of the novel picks back up with a vengeance. And, honestly, the middle section, the thoroughly developed love story, feeds the final chapters. The love between Archer and Hart is intense. By the time the story takes its dark turn, there’s no denying that. And you’re right there with Archer as his character grows and rises to a new, incredible destiny. He is weighted down by his former, heavy heart, but a new, scrambling hope moves him forward. We’re left there at the end of the novel, with the promise of a sequel to come.

I found this to be an impressive novel. It is at turns exciting, heartbreaking, and even inspiring. It deals with every day, human dilemmas, but lets them play out in a fantastical and often bloody adventure that promises to be the first installment of a successful series.

You can check out the original review in The Horror Zine HERE.

Blood and Rain – Book Review

   blood and rain photoI’ve mentioned a few times how much I love the werewolf sub-genre. Films, books–I enjoy it all. Glenn Rolfe’s most recent addition to the Horror canon is werewolves the way they should be (in my humble opinion). Look not for oiled abs, chiseled jawlines or cringe worthy love triangles. Blood and Rain has the classic feel of such small town Horror gems as Silver Bullet (Cycle of the Werewolf) and The Howling. 

Sheriff Joe Fischer lives with a terrifying secret. He knows the truth about a series of grisly murders that occurred in Gilson Creek years ago. His only comfort is that the executor of those unmentionable acts is dead and gone, and his daughter will never have to know of the horror he has witnessed firsthand. However, when a man is found dead on the side of the road, having sustained injuries consistent with an animal attack, Joe begins to suspect that history is about to repeat itself. As more locals begin to fall victim to a brutal killer, Joe resolves to save the people of his town, and to make sure that this time the Full Moon Monster stays dead.

The only snag I hit with this novel was keeping the characters separate around the middle of the book. The POV jumps a bit here, and I found myself wanting to linger in certain scenes a little longer. Other than that I found it to be a well-paced, exciting story. Glenn Rolfe is a rising Horror author and his books are worth a read. Go here to learn more about his works, and to check out his mad scribbles!

**I received a free advanced copy of Blood and Rain in exchange for an honest review. This is it.**

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