Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – movie review

dawn-planet-of-apes- war scenes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

 Directed by Matt Reeves

Andy Serkis
Toby Kebbell
Jason Clarke
Keri Russell
Gary Oldman 

Finally a director that gets it. Starting with the traditions of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, countless Sci-fi films from the 50s, and continuing with Star Trek (original series), 2001: A Space Odyssey, and of course, Planet of the Apes, sci-fi has always been about more than the surface story. There has always been a layer of socio-political commentary underlying any good science fiction story, one that asks tough questions about human existence and society as a whole, one that often leaves us with more questions than answers. To me that is what makes a sci-fi story good (or any story for that matter). It’s what is missing from most of today’s sci-fi and horror films; depth. The first reboot of “…Apes” (2001) had no underlying theme at all. “Rise…” treaded lightly into the theme of animal treatment and testing, but didn’t drive too dawn-of-the-planet-of-the-apes posterhard on the subject (perhaps afraid to offend future advertisers).

Matt Reeves pulled no punches here, making “Dawn…” worthy of sharing the title namesake of the Pierre Boulle novel and the original series of films. The question here is about the responsibility of a leader sending his people to war, the inherent benefits and problems of compromise, and the question; can a war be avoided once a conflict in interests has arisen? The story covers both sides evenly, diplomacy vs declaration of war, and doesn’t force an opinion to which is better or worse, but it sure does get the conversation going. It is interesting that the film is about the Apes’ story and the humans are almost a secondary plot. Apes living in a delicate harmony must decide how to deal with the encroachment and danger of mankind. Most of the action is in the last half-hour, but the story is engaging and kept my interest from the beginning.

I have to commend the writers, Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver, as much as Reeves for the kind of “Apes” film that I would actually recommend for its cerebral stimulation as much as its visual experience. If this film doesn’t get you thinking about the responsibility of war, then you’re just not the type of person that likes to bother with the bigger questions of the human condition. But that’s what makes a great science-fiction film and this film is one.

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A seriously good sci-fi film with a strong moral and socio-political message, worth watching for those looking for a film with depth.

I give it 5.0 marvelous monkey’s out of 5 on the scale of chattering chimp flicks!

 

Rodan – Aurora Monsters of the Movies – model Kit

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Rodan – Aurora Monsters of the Movies – model Kit

This is the Rodan, Monsters of the Movies, model kit originally made in the late 1970’s by Aurora. This build is the re-issue by Polar Lights.

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I remember building this as a youngster and complaining about the massive seams that show when the kit is assembled. When rebuilding this last month, I assumed I could do a better job as an adult, but found the same problems inherent in the kit design itself. I putty filled and sanded all the seams before priming and painting.

Rodan - MotM build 1 Rodan - MotM build 3
Rodan - MotM build 6 Rodan - MotM build 7

I hand painted with acrylic paints using blends of Red, Yellow, Orange, Black and Brown. I did a gradual blend on the wings from dark to light to accentuate the depth in the wing curve.

Rodan - MotM build 5 Rodan - MotM build 4

I made a custom base from my box of parts. I never really cared for the MotM squared off bases and preferred the original style Aurora kit bases. I cut pieces from a different base I had to fit the buildings and made extra debris from stone clay.

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Even though Rodan’s wings in the actual films are different than the kit, this is still one of my favorite models.

 

The Monster of Piedras Blanca (1959) – movie review

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The Monster of Piedras Blanca (1959)

If you’re into 50’s horror, this film is noted as the gorier, nastier step-brother to Creature from the Black Lagoon. Similarities are expected the monster from Piedras blanca poster 3because Jack Kevan who worked on The Creature costume also worked on this costume. Most notable in this film is pin-up model/actress Jeanne Carmen, who was also famous as a ‘trick shot’ expert golfer (beauty and talent, eh). This is your basic 50’s horror: a budding romance, a man with a secret and night time attacks by a hideous creature. Small details make this movie stand out, like the creature drooling when he sees Lucy and the severed head being picked at by crabs in a sea cave. There is one jarring scene where the police are investigating the death of a shop owner and are mulling over his headless corpse, thinking the monster is long gone. It’s not. I can say this scene must have been frightening for the 1950’s and it even gave me a jolt the first time I had watched it. The summary goes like this: Sturgis is the lighthouse keeper who goes to the butcher shop often to collect scraps. He complains that the butcher is not giving him enough and the butcher gets mad. Sturgis was secretly leaving the meat scraps for a legendary monster. Now that he is not leaving anything the monster begins to attack people. His daughter, Lucy Sturgis has a habit of skinny dipping at dusk. The Monster apparently enjoys this because when he captures Lucy, he doesn’t kill her, he kidnaps her. So Lucy’s love interest, Fred, arrives with a posse and battles with the monster on the Lighthouse exterior. If you’re a fan of 50’s horror and haven’t seen this you should. It’s one of those lesser known monster film gems that have gone under the radar for far too long.

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Trivia tid-bits:

The hands of this monster are the same hands used in The Mole People.

The feet of the monster are the same one’s used for the Metalunan creatures in This Planet Earth (1955)

Piedras Blancas is a real place in California and exterior shots of the lighthouse were filmed there. The name means White Rocks.

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Creature Features Revisited- Beach Blanket Terror – Summer edition

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Creature Features Revisited- Beach Blanket Terror – Summer edition

Usually in my Creature Feature posts, I like to pick out the top films in the subject matter – one’s worth watching today, whether for their historical impact, monster designs or nostalgic value. The following picks have laughable monsters, bad acting, and hokey plots. I’ve selected these films solely for their seaside locations and bathing beauties. Hey it’s summer, enjoy!

The horror of party beach posterThe Horror of Party Beach (1964)

A Del Tenney directed, surf rock-n-roll beach party flick, featuring dancing bikinis, sea monsters and the rockin’ sounds of the Del-Aires.  Bad acting, a hokey creature design, and some gnarly old time rock-n-roll dancing can’t deter this film’s innocent charm. In daylight the creatures look like something a child would draw with crayons, the film’s low-budget was obvious thin in the costume design department. The monster looks like it has as dozen frankfurters stuck in its mouth. My guess is they were supposed to be multiple tongues. Okay, so a disposal company dumps drums of radioactive waste in the NY waters. That causes some dead bodies in the sea to regenerate using fish and sea-life parts. Hank has a fight with his girl and after a sexy cat dance, she goes for a swim. She’s the first victim. The scene is just like Jaws (and by ‘just like’ I mean ‘nothing like‘) with people running, screaming, and the Del-Aires singing, “Zombie Stomp“. Other sunken bodies regenerate (off the coast of NJ, figure it out) and soon there’s a dozen of these fish zombie things. Hank, working with a reputable scientist discovers they can be killed with sodium…sodium? Isn’t that salt? These things came out of salt water, didn’t they? Anyway, they throw some salt bombs (sodium snow-balls) and the creatures flame up and disappear (like in Blade). Awesome dialog like, “smells like dead fish” (isn’t that a Nirvana song?) – “He’s cute. Fill me up, hon?” (talking to a gas station attendant with dreamy eyes), and “I hate drunks!” (from a drunk guy that just crashed his car.) The best scene is the pajama party, pillow fight, that turns into a fish-fry massacre. I have to mention the sound, the fish-monsters roar is awesome and the background music during monster attacks have that old school sci-fi/horror weirdness.

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Beach Girls and The Monster dvdBeach Girls and the Monster (1965) Aka: Monster from the Surf

A young dude Richard quits his science studies to become a surfer. He spends his time at the beach with dancing beauties, radical waves, and rockin’ surf tunes. However, his science knowledge is called upon to discover what is killing young girls at the Santa Monica beach. What indeed, seems to be a parade float wrapped around an actor, plastic strips flapping in the surf and wind, with plastic ping-pong ball eyes with paper-mache tooths. The film often cuts to four young ladies gyrating to the rockin’ surf music on the beach who are credited as dancers from the Whisky-a-go-go. The music was put together specifically for the film, sung by Frank Sinatra Jr. and Arnold Lessing (who plays Richard), and performed by members of the surf band, The Hustlers. Songs titled “Dance Baby Dance,” and “There’s a Monster in the Surf” fuel the dancers booty-shaking. Surfing footage is shot by Dale Davis, who is famous for shooting surf footage, and also stars in the film as one of Richard’s friends. The plot gets a little hazy with all this dancing and music, but it has something to do with Richard’s step-mom hitting on both him and his friends. Richard’s dad is not too happy, his son left his career to hang ten with the surf crowd, and his much younger wife seems to be more interested in the young people than being a wife. If you need a good guess at the film’s conclusion, there’s this picture:

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But it takes an awful long haul to get there. Unless you’re into surf music, 60’s dancing, and nostalgia for vintage no-budget films, I would steer clear. But I happen to like all three, so I was bemused with the floppy flick.

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creature from the haunted sea poster 5Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)

This early 60’s Corman flick takes a comedic parody pot-shot at both spy films and horror films. A gangster, Renzo, looking to take advantage of unrest in Cuba plans to steal the nations fortunes. He attempts to kill the Cuban loyalists and blame a legendary Sea Monster. When his plans fall apart he sinks the ship with plans to retrieve the treasure later. Secret Agent, ‘Sparks Moran’ (what a name) infiltrates the gang to discover Renzo’s plan. When Renzo’s gang attempts to retrieve the treasure, they discover a real sea monster and are picked off, one-by-one. Its hard to believe this monster can pick-off anything, except maybe turds at the bottom of your toilet. The monster was made from amongst other things, brillo pads, Tennis balls (eyes) and pipe cleaners (claws). Reportedly the crew had a hard time not laughing when they were shooting scenes with the thing. The film was shot on location in Puerto Rico in 5 days, back-to-back with, The Last Woman on Earth and Battle of Blood Island. Agent Sparks also narrates the action with great lines like, “The sun was beginning to set. I could tell because it was getting dark.” In one scene there’s a Spanish subtitle for no apparent reason. The film is painfully slow-moving and the comedy is ultra b-campy, but some people are fans of everything Corman put out. It’s a definite WTF? when you see the monster and you can get a chuckle out of that for sure. Perhaps with a six-pack and a couple of friends you could have some fun goofing on this super cheesy flick. However, it’s definitely one of the least impressive in Corman’s catalogue.

creature from the haunted sea pic 2

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Photo Galleries – beach babes, monster waves, and monster raves!

The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

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Beach Girls and the Monster (1965)

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Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)

No matter how many ways you do the poster art, it isn’t gonna make it a better film:

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Sub-Genres in speculative fiction – erotic horror

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Sub-Genres in speculative fiction – erotic horror

Erotic Horror had been well established in the 1980’s with the success of the Hot Blood series, anthologies edited by Jeff Gelb and Michael Garrett. It featured stories by name authors and were top-notch horror tales with erotic content:

hot blood hotter blood hottest blood

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Cthulhu Erotica is now an established sub-genre

whispers in darkness cthulhurotica booty call of cthulhu

http://cthulhurotica.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Whispers-Darkness-Lovecraftian-Peter-Tupper-ebook/dp/B005Z8WOHY

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Big-foot Erotica is a more recent sub-genre

virginia-wade-bigfoot-erotica taken by beasts taken by BF

Amazon has decided to pull some titles of Bigfoot erotica and the ones that they didn’t remove they made harder to find on the web-site. However, they have left Dinosaur Erotica and Alien Erotica publications intact. Some authors have said that Bigfoot Erotica may be considered too close to bestiality and that is why they were removed from distribution. So, in conclusion, one of the biggest companies in the US is saying, Bigfoot is real!

After selling over 100 thousand dollars of Bigfoot Erotica, author, Virginia Wade has seen a huge drop-off in sales due to Amazon’s tactics.

bigfoot erotica

The real Bigfoot could not be reached for comment.

monster erotica Cthulhu erotic

(art and photos are (c) (p) by the original artists, used here for informational purposes)

 

 

 

Deliver Us from Evil (2014) – movie review

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Deliver Us from Evil (2014)

Directed by Scott Derrickson

Eric Bana
Édgar Ramírez
Sean Harris
Olivia Munn
Joel McHale

You know, I don’t care that everyone jumped on this movie to give it bad reviews. I liked the movie. I’ve read all kinds of things about this film like, it’s cliché – what did they expect, a demon possession movie that didn’t have an exorcism in it? Or that the acting was bad – Did they want Eric Bana, who plays a NYC Detective to get all excited and jump around when he found a dead body? And, I said the same thing about young people not liking The Exorcist; you have to believe in something (other than your own greatness), in order for this film to be effectivdeliver us from evil 2014 postere. If you have no religious beliefs at all, then the film is a mute point. Most of all, I think the problem all the young ‘uns are having with the film is it’s not full of dazzling CGI effects and explosive action. (sorry kids, no explosions in this film).

(slight spoilers)
Eric Banner plays, Detective Ralph Sarchie, a NY special unit detective drawn into an occult investigation. A series of inexplicable murders- beginning with the murder of two babies- begins a trail of death throughout the Bronx. He is approached by a Jesuit Priest concerning the incidents, but he dismisses the holy man. Being a cop, he deals in fact, not superstition. It isn’t long before he discovers he needs the man’s help as strange events escalate. The investigation unfolds in increments as seemingly separate cases mesh into one big picture that the detective cannot deny. I was hooked on the cop story because Ralph Sarchie is a well developed character with a back-story to unravel and faults as great as his strengths. In this way it holds a kinship to films like Se7en and Silence of the Lambs.

There is a full-blown exorcism ritual in the film portrayed in a more gratifying manner than all the recent exorcism films such as, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Possession, and The Unborn. But most of all, I would compare this film to The Exorcist III, where an investigation into evil leads to more than the detective bargained for, and puts his own life and his loved ones in danger. I wouldn’t say the dialog is as good as E3 but there are many similarities. There’s some damn creepy atmosphere in the film, especially in scenes at Tdeliver us from evil 2014 pic 1he Bronx Zoo, and at the suspect’s apartment building. (end of spoilers)

The film is not wholly scary (what film is these days), but the detective angle makes for an intriguing story-line and fluid pace. There’s no (noticeable) CGI in the film and not much special effects. The dark, dank streets of a rainy Bronx neighborhood are creepy enough to carry the film. It keeps one foot firmly planted in reality because of this.

While the film offers nothing groundbreaking to its own genre (I‘ll admit); much like The Conjuring, it assembles the familiar in a way that is entertaining. When you’ve been watching horror movies for as long as I have, you have pretty much seen it all. It’s rare that you see something totally original. Eventually what you look for is the presentation–good characterization, good writing and good acting. To me, this film had all three. I would put it near the top of exorcism films, very close to, but under, The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

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A supernatural horror and cop-show mash-up worth viewing for those who like both genres.

I give it a 4.0 possessed punks on the scale of creepy cop capers!

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The ‘This film is based on a true story’ moniker is a half truth. The film is based on a true person, Ralph Sarchie, a veteran cop on the NYPD that left his job fighting evil people, to fight evil itself.

The 2001 book entitled ‘Beware the Night’ by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool, covers several (unconnected) events that Sarchie has dealt with, plus his own reconciliation with God. There’s a great excerpt from the book on the Amazon page and many reviews state that the book is terrifying.

You can check it out here:

 

My Writing Process blog tour

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My Writing Process blog tour

Part one:

I’ve been asked to contribute to the ‘My Writing Process blog tour’ by author, Jim Goforth. Jim is deft at visual imagery in his stories that combine both, creepy storytelling and visceral violence. I feel a kinship to Jim because we both spent time in the music scene during the 1990’s, writing about and promoting metal bands, myself in the classic and guitar oriented genre – Jim in the extreme metal genre. Jim’s blog can be found here: http://jimgoforthhorrorauthor.wordpress.com/ (More about Jim in a bio at the end of the post.)

My Writing Process blog tour –

Part two:

Ok, this is where I answer questions about the My Writing Process. Here goes:

1) What am I working on?
Michael Thomas-Knight: I’m working on a novel about an abandoned carnival in the Arizona desert and it’s attempts at resurrection, much to the dismay of the local townsfolk and the benefit of a young woman on the run from her abusive boyfriend. I had originally wrote it as a screenplay many years ago, but I was quite naive thinking I could get it to someone in filmmaking that would read it. I have no connections. L  I’m also working on horror short stories continuously, the latest based on a real-life incident when I lived with my Mom and family, and some local kids stole the pumpkins from our back porch. In real-life we chased them until they dropped the pumpkins – incellar door II small web the story, the character never stops chasing them.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Mike: Because of my upbringing, my stories have a voice that is different than others. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I have a cynical outlook in all my stories, but not in an emo, brooding way or in a whiny, complaining way–more like an acceptance of how life unfolds. The story, “The Gates of Lament” from the Cellar Door II Anthology is probably the only story that has a true ‘hero’ in it. However, he’s kinda’ the reason all hell broke loose in the first place so I don’t know what that says about him. Secondly, I’m not a literary kind of writer. My stories will never win awards. I’m like a guy telling you a creepy ghost story on a hot summer night at a backyard barbeque.

3) Why do I write what I do?
Mike: I write these stories to keep my sanity. I never realized what a weird and splintered upbringing I had until I started to put some of these things down on paper. I’m always smiling and always making the best of things, but there’s a dark dismal side to me that grows and festers. It needs to get out or it poisons my soul. When it overwhelms me I can be destructive. With every story I write, I leave a part of that dark poison on the paper. There is some true-life in every story I create, even things I can’t bring myself to talk about, and I think my writing helps to stabilize my personality.

asylum pic

4) How does my writing process work?
Mike: I’m not the type of writer that sits at a desk and says, today I’m going to write a thousand words toward my novel. ‘NANO Wri Mo’ may work great for some people, but mostly during that month of word counting, writers seem to write a bunch of shit, trying to reach that quota – 50 thousand words of garbage that should be tossed in the trash but instead wind up on Amazon.com because they completed something.

I love the quote by Hemmingway:
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

I’ve tossed plenty of my stories into the trash. I’m not saying the stories I send to be published are better than anyone elses, but they have a real meaning to me and have reached a standard within myself to let them be seen. Not that it will make them any more popular, I have an eclectic terror train covertaste. For example, some movies that everyone hates, I like – some movies that everyone likes, I hate. So it’s my own judgment and approval that I look for, not other’s, in my writing.

Most of my stories are a combination of a real-life event, like a news story, and a real life experience. ‘Steel Deliverance,’ my story in Terror Train, came together because of a kid in High School that committed suicide, combined with my experiences in my first apartment. The third-floor apartment was level with the raised platforms of the Long Island Railroad. Every night in the fall, a train would stop about a mile before the station and sit idol for a few minutes. I’d awaken and gaze out the bedroom window at it. The engine and first car were lit, but the rest of the passenger cars were always dark. Creepy.

As for the mechanics of writing, I like to write in a spiral notebook. I write in a non-linear fashion, sometimes adding things in the margins, on opposite pages, and squeezed in between the lines. I’ll add notes about how I want the character to feel and what I want to convey to the reader along the edges so I can select the proper words in my re-write(s). Writing doesn’t come easy, but I keep love-to-write-thumb_0hammering away at the story until it resembles what I had in mind. I might do a hundred rewrites and edits on the same story. I’m not great at grammar so I try to get someone else to look at that aspect of my stories. When I’m near completion, I’ll try to get a few people to read it and get their opinions. I’ll make some changes based on their suggestions. If I can, I like to put the story aside for a few months and totally forget about it. When I go back and read it with fresh eyes, I see things that need change much easier.

Part Three:

NOMINATIONS for the NEXT Stop on the Blog Tour:

OK, now it’s my time for me to nominate a few writers for the next stops on the My Writing Process blog tour. They will be posting answers to these very same questions on July 14th, so stop by and read about the writing process of these excellent authors.

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Tim Prasil writes speculative prose fiction, audio and stage plays, and humor. His series of interconnected “ghostly mysteries” featuring Vera Van Slyke, an occult detective from the early 1900s, will be released by Emby Press later this year. Prasil’s plans are to begin a series of Vera Van Slyke novels, too. Each Friday, he posts a tipsy quip or a rickety limerick attributed to Finbar Kelly, a project that he hopes to one day collect as a book. Prasil’s Inventor of Persons blog features free downloads of his writing, bibliographies of his research into early occult detective fiction and ghost-related non-fiction, Sherlock Holmes movie reviews, and more. You can find the blog at: http://timprasil.wordpress.com

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Rick Pipito – author, on air personality, and musician from Philadelphia, PA. His ever popular FLESH AND LEFTOVERS horror series has placed him in to the top 25 of independent authors on Authors Data Base. He also worked with his brother to form sCrypt Comics, where he strives to help other indy artists and writers by creating graphic novel spinoffs of his main books. In addition to his writing, Rick is also the CEO of Homemade Delish, a place where all foodies can go to follow his wife’s amazing talents. Follow Rick on Twitter and instagram @Rickpipito. Follow Rick’s blog at: www.scryptcomics.com

His works can be purchased in print at: www.lulu.com or for the kindle at www.amazon.com.

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Joseph Pinto is the horror author of two published books including the poignant novella Dusk and Summer as well numerous short stories; his most recent works can be found in Midnight Echo Magazine and Sirens Call Publications. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association as well the co-founder of Pen of the Damned, a collective of angst and horror driven writers. Joseph hails from New Jersey where he lives with his wife and young daughter. Indulge in his unique voice on his personal blog, JosephPinto. com and PenofTheDamned.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephAPinto. www.Josephpinto.com

Dusk and Summer - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JCHFWK0
(Joseph will be donating a portion of proceeds to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research)

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And thanks again to Jim Goforth for asking me to participate:

Jim Goforth – horror author from Holbrook, Australia. Happily married with two kids and a cat, writing tales of horror since the early nineties. After years of detouring into the worldwide extreme metal community – writing reviews for hundreds of bands with Black Belle Music, he has returned to fiction with his first book, ‘Plebs’ published by J. Ellington Ashton Press. He has since appeared in anthologies and a collaborative novel due out next month. A collection of short stories will soon follow.

http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Goforth/e/B00HXO3FRG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

https://www.facebook.com/JimGoforthHorror?ref_type=bookmark

http://jimgoforthhorrorauthor.wordpress.com/