Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday, October 17th, 2011

Hard to believe it’s been so long since I last added any posts to my own official author’s website. And it's strange how much zombies have come to define, not only my childhood fantasy of success, but also my realized adult dreams of that success. But we'll get to that in a moment.

The biggest reason it’s been so long since I've been able to bring myself post anything here was because of serious physical and emotional issues, to do with my injury, and the ongoing, self-imposed, physical therapy--namely my continuing martial arts training, mostly in Krav Maga, with a little Ju-Jitsu, thrown in from time to time, just so I don’t forget what it’s like to be in the worst possible real-world combative self-defense scenario: on my back, mounted by an angry opponent, who means to do me some real damage. But I have a whole different page setup for talk about my martial arts training (and now instructing part-time in Krav Maga, as well) called “Me and Krav Maga”, in which I will speak to what’s been going on with my physical work, and how it’s affected me, both physically and mentally.

Here, on this page, I’ll speak to my writing.

Sometimes…well…most times, it’s now become almost impossible to separate the two worlds. One reason, not being the least of all my reasons, is that a lot of my current writing has to do with characters who use martial arts in their everyday world; violent people, who deal with their own violent worlds in very violent ways.

One of those works in which I’ve been immersed in for the past year or so has been in writing a series of books that have two ongoing characters named Max and Little Billy.

The series of books, which I’ve taken to calling “Redneck Noir” because of the environment and Deep South Gothic fiction sensibility which I am reaching for, take place in, and around, my hometown of Yulee, Florida, a redneck burg if there ever was one, just outside of Jacksonville, Florida and ten miles from the Georgia state line, right in the heart of fierce Gator and Bulldog country. The books take place during the mid-1970s to, what will most likely end, around the early-to-mid-1980s. These were my formative childhood years, during which I learned, thanks to my daddy and the rest of the Cook family, some hard facts about life.

Some nasty, violent lessons, at home and at school. Things which are best left to the book’s characters to talk out for me.

Written in first person POV, I primarily use Max, a white, late 20s-something, ex-special ops military veteran of the Vietnam War, as my personal avatar, through which I speak about violence, and how it affects a man, mentally and physically, as he finally ages in the series into his early 40s.

And there’s also his best friend, Little Billy, a towering huge ex-“almost” pro football player, who is also a veteran of the same war. His nickname ‘Little Billy’ comes from the fact he is named after his father ‘Big Billy’, also a huge, towering man.

Max and Little Billy were best friends from childhood because their fathers were in the moonshine business together. Having grown up in a backwards little redneck town in the heart of the Deep South, where racism is still a very real problem in the time period during which the books are set, their friendship was challenging, to say the least. But, again, they were boys who grew up in a violent environment together, who became like blood brothers through their childhood years, and remained best friends despite their environment, watching one another’s backs through the years.

They both have come back home after serving their separate tours of duty, in a very violent conflict overseas, back home to their little redneck town, where they were both known as ‘hellraisers’ when they were younger, during those violent racist years as best friends.

Max has inherited quite a bit of money from his great grandmother, the woman who helped raise him when his mother disappeared during his very early childhood. She was his protector and nurturer, as his father drank himself into varying degrees of emotional rage, and took it out on Max throughout his childhood. Max has used the money to buy a rundown redneck bar, which he names “The Whipping Post”, after a then popular Southern rock blues anthem from (one of the bands whose music helped fuel the mood and feel of these novels as I’ve written them).

My first book in the series is called DEAD DOG, which begins with Max returning from his local veterinarian’s office with his recently deceased dead dog’s cremated remains in a box in the seat next to him. Gator, his dead dog, was one of the only things in his life which he loved, so he’s not in the best of moods when an old enemy of his and some drunken, pissed off cronies decide to run Max off the road and attack him with baseball bats, two by fours with nails in them, and steel pipes…

By the way, did I mention Max has been trained in some fairly lethal hand-to-hand combative techniques during his time in the military, a then-still modern system of self-defense called Krav Maga, something which his special ops instructors insist upon as part of his training while in ‘Nam. But this is not the only system which Max has been trained in: he is also proficient in the combative techniques used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (which these days has become almost synonymous with Mixed Martial Arts, but was originally developed as a real world self-defense system used in the very violent third world Brazilian back alleys and slums, much like Krav Maga was used—and still is—in the violent war torn back alleys of Israel.), also in Japanese Aikido, the Filipino art of Eskrima (also known as Kali), which mostly involves using specially constructed rattan sticks as weapons, and the U.S. Rangers system of knife fighting, along with their specialized mixture of ‘dirty fighting’ combat techniques . These are all areas in which I have trained in, off and on, since 2007, so when I write about Max’s use of these martial arts and ‘dirty fighting’ techniques, these are things which I know how to do and have used in simulated combat situations.

As for the Vietnam War background, and stories to which I refer to throughout the books in the series, these are all things which I have heard from actual ‘Nam vets, like my father and his friends, growing up, and my own research, of course.

Needless to say, Max and Little Billy soon find themselves in some serious contention with the local drug lord’s aggressively violent son, who has taken a special dislike to them after a little incident that Max barely survives.

Anyway, I don’t want to give away the whole book, because it is being published next year. I sent off my copies of the contracts to the publisher, and awaiting the countersigned contracts. Once I receive them, I can officially release the news about the publisher and dates and such.

But that’s not all, my zombie apocalypse trilogy, CITIES IN DUST (Book 1: Disintegration, Book 2: Dominion and Book 3: Dead Souls), finally found a home. Again, as soon as the contracts come back countersigned, I’ll announce the publisher.

If you’ve never heard me speak about this huge trilogy of books before, it is, literally, the largest collective amount of words I’ve ever written before, sitting somewhere at just under one million words for the entire threesome of books. It is gory, has a definite old school Goth sensibility about it, and has met with nothing but good reviews from those who’ve read parts of it. I don’t want to talk too much about what happens in the books because my particular take on the undead, while is very traditional Romero-esque world zombies, but the end of the world is brought about in a way by which I’ve never seen in any other zombie literature or cinema. And, yes, I did take the name of not only the entire trilogy from a classic Goth song from my younger days, but also the book by book titles. All of them I’m sure will be familiar to anyone who knows their dark music classics. And if they’re not, then watch the vids and listen to some of the lost classics from four of the greatest Goth groups in the history of music:

Speaking of unique zombie cinema…I just saw the other day one of the best, most well made, artful zombie films I’ve ever seen.

Produced, written and directed by the Ford Brothers, THE DEAD (2010 or 2011, depending on the source you check for the information) is truly one of only two zombie films I could ever see being nominated for an Oscar. There's an artful, deliberate craftedness, and a sense of literacy, which would seem to go against the whole over-the-top idea of a worldwide flesh eating zombie apocalypse, but THE DEAD felt like a Dante-esque journey in so many ways, and then that end scene...all I can say is, incredible.

The other zombie film I'd nominate for an Academy Award would be, of course, George Romero’s original DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

And in case you didn't know it, this is one of "The Top 10 Most Influential Films On My Life"...for more about that actual list, and all the other BLACK GLOVE MAGAZINE staff writers, see the HUGE Xmas-issue list we're putting together right now for our Horrorhead fans, which will be go up in December 2011, issue #30.

DAWN OF THE DEAD has been on that list since I saw it when I was a little kid--me, my little brother and our cousin, all of us hunkered down in a fenced off field of dead grass that lay adjacent to the local drive-in, THE REEF. It was an experience which has informed my entire life since did another zombie movie. 

Like I said, there was a sense of classical literacy to the film, but make no mistake, it also still retained a disgustingly grimy, filthy, sweaty realism that made me feel like it lay somewhere between Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE (1979)

and the original early Romero’s Dead films--NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968), DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978) and DAY OF THE DEAD (1985). It has a grimy realism in the narrative, and the characters felt like real people, and they did what I feel real people would be likely to do in such a horrific crisis as a worldwide zombie apocalypse—all the terrible, stupid, heroic, amazing things.

By the way, THE LOFT is showing Fulci’s infamous stomach-churning zombie classic this weekend- October 21st and 22nd. As advertised, they’re showing the brand new re-mastered Blue Underground version of the film. It looks nice and clean in the ad clip at the site. But, in some ways, I prefer my old beat-up VHS copy of the movie, because it was obviously taken from the original tattered and worn 35MM reels used in drive-ins like the one I saw this at all those years ago, THE REEF DRIVE-IN, in Fernandina Beach, Florida, just over the John Shave Jr. Bridge, only a few hundred yards from the pine forest and St. Johns River.

I write about that place quite a lot in my non-fiction essays at the magazine, and even in my fiction it shows up, time and time again. But can you believe, in all my long internet searches, I have never once turned up a single picture of that old drive-in sanctuary?

Not one!

Seemingly, no one ever took a picture of the place, when it was standing in its full glory, or even before it was finally torn down, over twenty years ago, to make room for a warehouse for the local paper mill.  For, if they did, no one ever posted it online.  Trust me, I've searched diligently over the years for just one picture of the place, so I could feel just a little closer to one of the places that holds such importance for me in my life since then, a place in which many ways I feel is where I “grew up”.

I have no problem in recalling every movie we ever saw at the drive-ins, in and around my hometown, especially the ones at THE REEF.

But more importantly, I’ve been able to find just about every film since then, in one form or another, either VHS or DVD, or even sometimes, just a simple public domain online copy of them, to add to my ever-growing collection of horror films. It’s a collection of which I am justifiably proud, for it contains thousands of movies now, all of which I’ve seen and loved at some point in my life--even the most terribly produced ones…maybe those most of all. HA!

Anyway, like I said, THE LOFT is showing ZOMBIE. We’re going to make it to see it, for sure, because this truly is one of the most influential films in my life. It also appears on that soon-to-be-posted "Top 10 Most Influential Films" in THE BLACK GLOVE's December issue.

I saw ZOMBIE for the first time when I was ten years old, on a Saturday night horror double-feature bill, on its opening weekend.  I have never forgotten the experience, and in some ways, all other horror experiences have been measured by my "Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE Experience".  And that’s not even getting into how it's shaped my current writing ethos.

And speaking of my current writings, the above mentioned Max and Little Billy series of books, and the forthcoming CITIES IN DUST zombie apocalypse trilogy aren’t the only new books coming down the pike from me.

Again, I will announce more news as I can legally do so, but it looks like that an all-original novel-length sequel to my mash-up hit, ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND, has finally been given the “green light” from the higher powers that be. The working title is ALICE AND THE QUEEN OF THE DEAD. I'm using some of Lewis Carroll’s wonderfully quirky characters, but like ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND, they will also have my own undead spin on them, and a cast of new characters created especially for this much-desired sequel.

I can’t tell you how many people have emailed and messaged me about when, and if, there would ever be one. Now, the answer is finally, "YES".

I’m very excited about finally getting the chance to make the sequel happen, so be on the lookout for more information on this release, and the others mentioned above in future postings here. 

You can also find new information on my Facebook page about the magazine, my books, and my martial arts, and (sadly...HA!) just about anything else going on in my life at any given moment of the day.  It's linked in several places on this page--above, below and over there, on the righthand side of the screen, you'll also find another link to it.

But the good news for my new releases doesn't stop there.

Heck, no.

I've got more books in the works, as well, and hopefully some of the older ones will also find new homes.

Right now, I'm finishing up a sci-fi/horror novel called MONGREL, which already has a publisher interested.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if we brought back one of nature's most vicious predators, and then added some extra nasty genetic surprises to its tooth and claw arsenal?  But wait, that's not all.  Then we put MONGREL on a storm-ravaged security locked down island (ala' JURASSIC PARK-style) and stick a bunch of corporate security, ex-Special Ops guys, a handful of defenseless scientists, and one greedy bitch who is willing to kill to get what she wants on the island, as well.  Trust me, when I say, this is unlike any other sci-fi/horror novel you'll ever read.  It's got action, suspense and lots and lots of bloody deaths in store for the human munchies who are stuck on the island with MONGREL.

Let's just hope the publisher loves it as much as I do, right?  HA!

And have I mentioned I recently got back the rights to my yet-to-be-published psycho-killer thriller, PAINT IT BLACK?  I've already started sending it back out again to interested publishers and I've gotten some nibbles.

But I think I'll hold off on talking about any new stuff until the next post.  I promise it will not take near as long to update, since I’ll soon have more exciting news to post.

Oh, yeah...I almost forgot...what am I reading these days?

Right now, I'm finshing up China Mieville's KRAKEN

which is just as awesome and mind-blowing as all his other works, to say the least. And do I detect a certain Lovecraft homage in his "squid-as-God" angle? I think so...

And I'm also re-reading for the tenth or so time in my life, one of my favorite classics of literature, John Bunyon's THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

I love Bunyon's allegorical journey towards true faith, and it has come in handy for telling my CITIES IN DUST zombie apocalypse trilogy.

The question of faith has been weighing heavily upon my mind ever since the terrible injury which has laid me low, which has only continued to complicate every aspect of my life, and seems very likely to keep doing so for the remainder of my life.  It has given me much to think about, these past few years of dealing with all of the enormous physical and emotional issues caused by it.  I hope to find some of my lost faith by the end of telling my story in the three CITIES IN DUST books.  And I hope others will also find their own in reading them, because this is a huge story, filled with gritty, terrifyingly realistic scenarios, which challenge even the most stalwart of believers by the end of the telling.  When you mix in the mysticism of the Middle Eastern religions and their death goddess, KALI, it only complicates the notions of true faith, undying love and sacrifice.

But more about those things in my next posting...

So until next time, thanks for reading about my news, and a HUGE thanks to all those who have been so kind as to email me and give some much-needed encouragement through the past year or so of rough going for me.

Thanks very much.

Especially great love and thanks to my dear wife, who has suffered much because of my stupid bad luck in injuring myself the way I did almost three years ago. She has taken care of me on levels no person should have to be called upon to deal with, even in a marriage as wonderful and unconditional as ours.

--Nickolas Cook

THE BLACK GLOVE MAGAZINE's current issue is up

And feel free to stop by my Facebook page and leave a message or a post.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What Am I Reading?

I've been getting back into fantasy novels again. I started with an old favorite, J.R.R. Tolkien's first book in THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (1954).

And now I'm finally reading that supposed modern classic from Terry Brooks, THE SWORD OF SHANNARA.

Which quite frankly I'm not that impressed with. I'm about halfway through it and all I get so far is that Brooks ripped off Tolkien and his writing in the year this was published (1977) was not all that great. It stumbles. A lot.
I'm about ready to put it aside and get into either Robert Jordan's THE EYE OF THE WORLD (1990), the first book in his awesome THE WHEEL OF TIME series or George R.R. Martin's excellent first book in his A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE saga, A GAME OF THRONES (1996), or maybe I'll just jump back into Tolkien's trilogy and re-read THE TWO TOWERS (1954)

But, of course, if anyone has any suggestions for fantasy series I should be reading, please let me know here, or email me at or and let me know.

--Nickolas Cook

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A brand new interview with me has been posted over at

Stop by and give it a read. And while you're there, give the site a few minutes of your time. It truly is staggering in its zombie geek love. Webmaster Rad is one of the chosen. A true Horrorhead.
Thanks go to him for all his time and effort in putting the interview in action.

--Nickolas Cook

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Loft adds another title to their annual All-Nite Scream-O-Rama

The Loft's All-Nite Scream-O-Rama

Yes, I am VERY excited about this. Fulci's Gates of Hell has been one of my favorite films since I first saw it back in 1980.

--Nickolas Cook

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What Am I Reading?

I'm in the middle of reading Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ 1939, THE YEARLING, winner of the 1939 Pulitzer Prize in fiction—and deservedly so. Believe it or not, I’ve never read it before, but having grown up in Florida, it was one of those books you heard about all the time because the story takes place in Gainesville, right down the road from where I grew up. Having grown up in a pretty poor rural environment, below the middle class mark, in the 70s and 80s it’s been easy to identify with the young protagonist, Jody, as he comes of age with his father, Penny Baxter, and his mother, Ory, in the middle of the scrub brush wilderness of Florida’s outback. It’s truly a beautifully written tale, full of imagery that sticks with you. Or maybe it sticks with me because it’s the sort of natural beauty I grew up around. Cookville was very much like Baxter Island, surrounded by hunger and desperation for life. Some of the harsh lessons Jody must learn about the mythical adults in his life are the very same lessons I had to also learn in some rather cruel ways.
The forest in the book is like another character in the cast, much like how I viewed the woods that surrounded our home. We lived in a ratty old single wide trailer in the middle of all these towering pines and oaks. Animals were everywhere. Wild cats, like panthers and bobcats, roamed the woods in the night. There were even a few bear still loose in the forest, but they eventually moved deeper into the woods as more and more people began to move into the area. There were deer, possums, skunks, armadillos; there were more dangerous animals around as well. Rattlers, poisonous spiders and frogs; nasty tempered wasps and bees. When I was a kid, the very air was alive with sounds, night and day. It was when the forest went quiet that we all knew to look out for the Kittywampus.
But that's another story for another time...

Down back of our home, there was a small creek. It ran for quite a ways through the woods, a couple of miles or so, until it joined the larger creek. That water ran straight on into the St. Johns River, one of the few rivers in Florida to run North.
It seems to me that there was never a day that we didn't see the river. It was so deeply entrenched in our lives. My daddy, his daddy before him, and his daddy before him as well, all made their living for a time on that river out back of our home.
We had many winter days when the fires burned high, redolent pine smoke spiraled into the into the crisp blue air, and in a pot over the flames cooked blue crab, shrimp, smoked mullet and squirrel. Sometimes there was venison to be had. Occasionally, there was wild duck or pheasant. And there were many times that, if we hadn't had the land to live off of, we would not have eaten at all.
Hard times seemed to be everywhere I looked as a child. Most of my daddy's family lived around us within a half mile or less. They weren't much better off than us. Some of them were much worse. The 70s weren't easy on a lot of people in that area. There was a lot of poor people in my life. I took it for granted that anyone I knew was as poor as we were.

But growing up in a home where I wasn't handed everything when I wanted it made me a better person. I learned the value of working for what you wanted. I've seen firsthand what happens when kids are given all they want without having to work for it; I'm glad I was poor. It gave me a greater appreciation for a dollar.
I'm almost done with this great read, and I’m sure to return to it again and again, now that I’ve been lucky enough to discover it.

--Nickolas Cook

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A New Project and a Big Book Deal

For the past couple of months I’ve been working on a sort of secret project with BLACK GLOVE staff writer Brian M. Sammons. Not only is he a hell of a reviewer of horror film and fiction, but Brian's also fairly well known in the RPG field for his work with Chaosium. Anyway, we’ve been kicking this project back and forth through emails, week after week, both of us eager to get started on it, but alternately constrained by time and deadlines (and my own medical issues). Mostly we’ve been in agreement on the basic points to do with our chosen subject matter; other times, not so much.
I think that’s to be expected when you have two knowledgeable experts in the genre coming together on a project of this magnitude and importance.
But I won’t sugar coat the process up to this point: At times, it’s been somewhat of a challenge for both us to keep on the path of compromise; but I think, because we’re such horrorheads, cut from almost the same cloth of horror upbringing, that we have been able to respect one another’s attitudes and philosophies about our chosen subject matter.
And now, after all this time, it looks like we’re finally getting this book off the ground and into liftoff mode.
Ooops…did I spill the beans?
Yes, we are working together on not only one book, but a whole series of non-fiction books. A series that I think will ultimately become the acknowledged go-to guide in the genre, not only for the casual horror fan, but for the horrorheads out there who know their horror movies as well as we do.
There will be more updates as they become available. We're querying publishers and should have some feedback quite soon.

On another publishing front, I'm finally getting the go ahead from one of my publishers to spread the good word about another new release. This one from a fairly large publisher. Just waiting for the last of contracts to get back to me signed and then I can spill the beans on this huge news.

--Nickolas Cook

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Finally, The Loft announced the lineup for their annual ALL-NITE SCREAM-O-RAMA 2010 . Some great titles this year. I’m really looking forward to this one—although we’ll probably skip Cannibal Holocaust; I’m not into watching animals being killed for my entertainment.
If you're in the Tucson area on August 13th, stop by and join in the fun, with a bunch of horrorheads enjoying the best things in life--horror that doesn't suck!

CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST / 30TH Anniversary (1980)
The original “cannibals in the jungle” gross-out shockfest from Italian filmmaker Ruggero Deodato, guaranteed to make you lose your lunch. Banned in over 50 countries!

Neil Marshall’s terrifyingly claustrophobic thriller pits tough female spelunkers against cave-dwelling albino freaks, hundreds of feet below the ground!

Werewolves run amuck in Joe Dante’s frightening, funny and downright freaky lupine horror flick! Featuring pulsating SFX from the legendary Rick Baker and Rob Bottin!

THE BROOD (1979)
The one-and-only David Cronenberg spins the charmingly disgusting tale of divorced parents and their monstrous mutant children! You’ll never look at fetus the same way again.

SQUIRM (1976)
Mother Nature gets her nasty revenge on mankind with a little help from millions of slimy, squirmy killer earthworms in this creepy-crawly shocker from Blue Sunshine director Jeff Lieberman!

The buzz is back! Tobe Hooper’s insanely over-the-top sequel to his original terror-fest features the legendary Dennis Hopper battling Leatherface and the whole happily depraved gang in a bloody dust-up of chainsaws, severed body parts and bad-ass barbecue!

--Nickolas Cook

Friday, June 25, 2010

What Am I Reading?

The Thorn Birds (1977)
By Colleen McCollough

I’ve had the book for years, since picking it up in one of my usual HUGE bundles of used books at our local used bookstore giant, Bookmans. If you live in Tucson or Phoenix, Bookmans is like an institution for book lovers.
They actually carry more then books—a whole lot more.
Games, video games, comics, CDs, LPs, cassette tapes, sheet music, art books, art, antique furniture, musical instruments…pretty much, you name it, and they carry it. It’s a great system old Bob Bookman created way back in the 80s. He takes in people’s used items and gives them cash money or store credit for it. I used to work there; it was a dirty job, but one that had some great benefits for someone who loves books and music. I never had much of a paycheck because I spent most of the extremely small check on merchandise. At the time I worked for them, Bookmans knew the kind of people who would be willing to work for such a pittance. No one complained about the tiny paychecks because it was like having a direct pipeline into coolness of the first degree. You wouldn’t believe the things I got a chance to see working there. One of the most memorable was:
Amazing Fantasy #15

I held it in my hand. For a comic fan, this was like holding the Holy Grail.

Anyway, I’m about 200 pages into this modern classic of love and danger in turn of the century Australia. A great period piece, but also a very strong character novel, filled with some rather risqué subject matter, such as incest, loss of faith and adultery. Sounds more like a bodice ripper, right? Well, maybe some would see it as such, if it weren’t for her solid storytelling style.
I have several of McCollough’s novels, including TIM (1974) and a few of her MAN OF ROME series, all of which are somewhere in my thousands of books in my insane TBR pile.
One of the things author Colleen McCollough is well known for in her books is the extensive research and historical accuracy.
So far, I’ve whizzed right through the previous 200 pages mainly because McCollough builds some sympathetic and true to life people for her story. It’s easy to fall in love with a story with strong, true to life characters. If the book continues at this pace, I’ll probably list this as one of my favorite reads of 2010.

--Nickolas Cook

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Why, she wouldn't even hurt a fly...

Psycho (1960)

Last night we made yet another trek to The Loft. This time to see a once in a lifetime showing of the 35MM print of the original Alfred Hitchcock horror classic PSYCHO (1960). This week marks the 50th anniversary of this genre-shattering release upon an unsuspecting middle-American audience. I can only imagine what monstrous effect it had on such homogenous sensibilities all those years ago. Talk about really messing up June Cleaver and “The Beav”.

There is no other movie like Psycho. Even that useless 1998 remake by numbnut, uber-pretentious Gus Van Zant didn’t get anywhere near the same response; in fact, if anything, it caused some fairly angry reactions among Hitchcock fanatics and horrorheads. Probably the closest thing we’ve had happen to horror since Psycho would be John Carpenter’s classic slasher, HALLOWEEN (1978). What struck me (although I guess this should not surprise me by now) is that the younger people in the audience seemed to find certain frightening parts funny—parts which most horror fans would agree are some of the greatest scenes ever shot by Hitchcock.

Of course sensibilities have changed.
Moviegoers have inevitably become more jaded by several decades of gratuitous violence, both in cinema and the news. Although some would say, with very little argument from me, that these mediums are sometimes one in the same.
But the scenes that still worked and got startled screams from this mixed audience?
--“Mrs. Bates’” sudden knife attack on private dick Arbogast at the top of the stairs got probably the most vocal reaction of the night.
--Another one that got a big reaction was the end scene of Norman Bates’ creepy and terrible smile into the camera.

Personally, I think there is a certain huge quality to Hitchcock’s films that make them perfect for the big screen. I was lucky enough to have seen on the big screen what I consider his greatest film, VERTIGO (1958), back in 1996 in Orlando.
Not to get off on a tangent, here, but Jimmy Stewart’s performance in Vertigo is nothing short of heart rending. Even to the point at which he wants revenge for having been played by a woman whom he loved with all his heart.
But back to last night. We once again met up with our buddy RJ Cavender and we got a chance to meet another of our mutual Facebook friends, Eric Grizzle and his wife. Unfortunately, the place was so packed we didn’t get a chance to really talk much with them. Although I believe his wife won a cool DVD set during the pre-show raffle. Congrats to her!
Maybe we'll get a chance to talk with them next time.
But we had a great time watching the film and a great time hanging with RJ for a bit. We plan more excursions to The Loft. We know for sure we'll be there for their annual Scream-O-Rama (more on that later as details become available), so maybe we'll meet some of you there in August.

Before I go, here’s a little something for the Nick Cave fans out there. This is his version of “Something’s Gotten Hold of My Heart”. i love this song and love Nick Cave. He's a unique kind of intellectual rockstar, with a voice like no one else.

--Nickolas Cook

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Am I Reading?

Travels With Charley: In Search of America (1962)
by John Steinbeck

I'm just about finished with this one. First time I read this was back in my early twenties, while working in a little local bookstore, The Book Loft

in my hometown of Fernandina Beach, Florida.

At the time, it sparked in me such a strong yearning to see America that it was almost like a sickness, a mania, a fever. But I was young, and as much as I wanted to 'escape' my childhood town-cum-prison, I was, in many ways, still a scared kid. I was in a disintegrating relationship with a young woman who was more like a woman-child than a mature person, and I was also very much financially dependent on that bookstore job. That was the year I bought my first new car, and so I was making car payments, and had had to move back in with my parents for a time after living with my best friend from grade school-to-high school, Curt Courtenay. Our childhood friendship was falling into shambles as well; we'd outgrown one another in so many ways, but the biggest problem was that Curt was moving on, going to Florida Institute of Technology, and I was...well, I was too scared to move on with my life. I had convinced myself that I belonged in Fernandina Beach for the rest of my life.
Then I picked up Travels with Charley and Steinbeck's brutally honest and sometimes confused and frightened travelogue of his cross country journey with his aged poodle, Charley, lit a fire in my belly, a burning need to see the country of my birth.
Thanks to his book, I discovered what I knew deep down, even then. It was only a matter of time before I began to push against the boundaries of my home, a demarcation reinforced in too many ways by a fear of the unknown of what was out there, in that great, wide world, waiting for me.
Well, it took me a few more years before I finally 'escaped' Fernandina Beach; I made it eventually to Orlando, Florida. It was with a different woman in my life by then, one that would become my first wife, and between the inevitable attrition of years and the equally inevitable neglect on all our parts, I had lost most of my childhood friends at that point.
Now, here I am, forty years old, and I find that that fever, that mania, has never really died.
Of course, it's been tempered with a bit more maturity (one would hope) and whole lot less fear of what that great, wide world has waiting for me. I find that I still yearn to see that world--bedamned the dangers!
Over the intervening years, I have been lucky enough to see most of the states in our union; some in passing, some I've been able to settle in for a little bit to taste the air and feel the dirt between my toes, so to speak. During that time I've found that Steinbeck's natural dichotomy of fear of, and love for, his countrymen is something that has also come natural to me.
Back in '62 Steinbeck was seeing the great sweeping changes of the Civil Rights movement in the South coming to something like fruition, and unknowingly he stood at the cusp of that 'beautiful wave' which Hunter S. Thompson reminisces upon in his classic 60s examination, FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS.
Many years have slipped away since Steinbeck went out to re-discover his America. But what he found, and speaks to in his book, is something in which we modern Americans can, and should, still find some solace and wisdom.
After reading this book, I've got that fever again. It's time to maybe gather together Kim, and our own little pug crew, time to plan for our own re-discovery of that great, wide world.

--Nickolas Cook

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Petey Wheatstraw: You better signify, sucker!

Last night, we went to The Loft to partake of their weekly Mondo Monday feature. In the past we’ve enjoyed some pretty bad movies on Mondo Mondays. This week’s exercise in terribleness was Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil’s Son-In-Law (1978), starring the greatest poet in all blaxploitation cinema, Rudy Ray Moore (star of that black Kung Fu classic, of 1975 Dolomite). Calling Moore a poet is sort of an in-joke for blaxploitation fans. After all, how many words can one find that rhyme with ‘motherfucker’. I mean, once you’ve exhausted the obvious ones, like ‘sucker’ and ‘trucker’, what’s left that doesn’t feel like a long stretch?
But we did not laugh our asses off at this Rudy Ray Moore wonder by ourselves. No, we were lucky enough to meet our good friend, fellow writer/editor, and general all around horrorhead, R.J. Cavender.
We got the big red leather sofa right up front, sat back, with our cold beers, and spent almost two hours rolling on the floor as Moore rhymed, sneered, danced and kung-fu asskicked his way through the film.

If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s about a standup comedian named Petey Wheatstraw, who just happens to be one stone cold motherfucker of a ladies man and a badass street fighter (taught ancient martial arts by an elderly bum, don’t you know), and a highly successful, if foulmouthed, comedy genius. But he’s so good, see, that he’s ruining business for a couple of ‘fat, lardass, no good motherfuckers’ called Leroy and Skillet. So naturally they have him killed by some ghetto hitmen. But the devil, Lou Cipher, makes a deal with the dead Petey. If he will only marry his ‘ugly ass’ daughter (a woman so ugly, in fact, that Petey suggests she could scare daylight away) and bear him a son, then Old Scratch will bring him back to life so he can get revenge. Petey agrees, although he dreads the eventuality of marriage to the ugly daughter. Lou Cipher also gives Petey a magic pimp cane, something to give him as much power as himself, in his plot to gain vengeance.

Well, there’s a lot of fake fighting, boom mics in the shots, really terrible acting, and just plain general blaxploitation fun, until Petey gets his revenge and the devil attempts to exact his part of the bargain. Petey tries to outsmart the devil, but the old guy isn’t as dumb as he looks. Needless to say, by movie’s end Petey pays the devil his due.
I ad a great time, and I’m sure RJ did as well. However, I’m not so sure Kim had as good a time. Her response when I asked if she liked the movie was a decidedly glum, “I didn’t get it.”
And that, as good as any phrase, sums up the fact that you either understand what makes a movie like Petey Wheatstraw hilarious or you don’t. It’s fun, filthy, most definitely not PC in the least, and they do NOT make them like that anymore!
Oh, well, perhaps we’ll have better luck Wednesday night for the 50th Anniversary presentation of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’ (1960), a film that pretty much created its own sub-genre of horror and thrillers.

--Nickolas Cook

Monday, June 21, 2010

My first post...

Well, I decided it was time to start a real author website, since I have a few new books headed out into the world within the next few months or so. These days an author with no web presence is pretty much playing only half a hand in the publishing game.

So this is where I'll post my thoughts on writing, life and horror, in general.
I promise to minimize the whining, folks. Nothing is more irritating to me as a reader/fan than to find my favorite writers are prima-donnas and self centered assholes, who will go on for pages about a stubbed toe or the intensity of their mirror gazing/naval contemplation.
I'll keep you all up to date on what's happening with THE BLACK GLOVE Magazine and my new releases.

I promise lots of pug pictures. HA! With two new babies in the house, we're going to have plenty of those, believe me.

Besides pugs, books, movies, music and my wife, I love other things. Good food is one of those things. So you can also look forward to recipes, recommendations, etc., etc. I spent the better part of my early tweens and twenties working in kitchens, managing restaurants, building menus from scratch for several of them. I know food. Love it. I'm a self taught gourmet and wine/beer connoisseur, so, yes, we'll talk alcohol. Indeed...much talking about it.

That's all for the first post, I think.

Tomorrow, time permitting, I'll catch you guys up on what's coming down the pike from me book wise in the near future.

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page and 'friend me'. I'm fairly entertaining and don't post crap every few minutes about the state of my fecal matter. I swear.

Until then, here's a little pug love! Our new babies: Bela, the black one, and Vincent, the fawn with black. They're brothers and hate to be separated (hence, why we got both of them).

--Nickolas Cook