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.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
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!
THE DESCENT (2005)
Neil Marshall’s terrifyingly claustrophobic thriller pits tough female spelunkers against cave-dwelling albino freaks, hundreds of feet below the ground!
THE HOWLING (1981)
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.
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!
TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSCARE PART 2 (1986)
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!
Friday, June 25, 2010
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.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
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.
Monday, June 21, 2010
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).