Holidays (2016) – Movie Review

holidays-movie-2016-pic-1

Holidays (2016)

Despite the fun concept, it sure ain’t no Creepshow

Directed by holidays-poster

Kevin Smith
Gary Shore
Matt Johnson
Scott Stewart
Nicholas McCarthy
Dennis Widmyer
Kevin Kolsch
Sarah Adina Smith
Anthony Scott Burns

 


This is a fun idea for an anthology. There’s a short tale for each of the US holidays during the year. They’re labelled horror but, some are just weird tales. Despite the fun concept, the stories were mostly mediocre. None of the shorts take the time to set up the mood and spirit of their corresponding holidays. There are a few that I found moderately entertaining. Easter is weird and disturbing and although it didn’t have a clear explanation of the events, the visuals stuck in my craw. That damn Jesus-bunny freaked me out a bit. In Mother’s Day, a woman who can’t stop getting pregnant goes on a health-related retreat and finds herself with a coven of witches. I love Christmas Horror stories and the one here, starring Seth Green, was a pretty good one. A dad steps over a man having a heart attack to get the last UVU virtual reality game set. Somehow the machine taps into your mind and gives you a specialized personal VR experience. When he and his wife start to see what’s in each other’s minds, that’s when he gets a real nasty surprise. And finally, the New Year’s segment is a fun little short about online dating. Good times.

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The stories are too short to garner any real empathy for the characters or to have any complex plots. As far as horror anthologies, I wouldn’t rate this very high, it sure ain’t no Creepshow. It’s more along the lines of ABC’s of Death. If you wish to kill some time and get moderately entertained by some horror shorts, you can give Holidays a try. You have a 50/50 chance at being entertained.


Moderately entertaining horror anthology but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it.

I give it 2.5 creepy critters out of 5 on the horrific holiday antho scale.

Grim Rhymes & Scary Tales – By Sebastian Crow – Book review

 sebastian-crow-grim-rhymes-and-scary-talesGrim Rhymes and Scary Tales

by Sebastian Crow

 

Grim Rhymes and Scary Tales contains just what the title advertises. The tales are in some instances written with a poetic cadence, and the rhymes often tell a tale more straightforward than your usual poetry.

In Coffin Sam we are introduced to an interesting character, Samuel Coffin. He is a bone man, one that collects and repurposes bones both animal and human. Despite his morbid trade, he considers himself a cut above his brethren, as he travels the countryside in his horse drawn wagon collecting the best bones from every village. He meets some interesting characters in his travels, especially on the night in question when he picks up a set of perfect skeletons from frequent trading acquaintance, Maggie. These bones have a lot to say about their death and their probable future. Yes, Sam can hear their gripes. They convince ol’ Sam to bring them up the road to the druid ruins so they can avenge for their deaths. It’s a fabulous horror tale with genuine interesting characterization and an engaging plot. One of my fave lines from the tale is “Lies pass his lips as easily as dung from a horse’s ass.”

Company Men sets up an apocalyptic future with poetic descriptions. It’s a world where an incurable outbreak leads to these massive body burning factories and we follow the short but poignant tale through the eyes of one of the plant workers.

The Legend of the Crying Woman leads into the story, Cry Baby, which is genuinely scary if you read them back to back. It drives home the local legend angle with great tension and atmosphere. Loving the Dead begins so disgusting and horrible; I had to catch the vomit at the back of my throat after the first few paragraphs. Of all the vile, repugnant, disparaging words I’ve ever read, this is by far the most disgusting… Of course, I had to keep reading.

In The Worm of Mysteries, we get a full blown Lovecraftian tale set in modern times. The Watcher in the Dark was even more Lovecraftian as Crow’s writing style adapts to Lovecraft’s, sebastian-crowpermeating the Elderitch Tale with a verbose texture as yet unforeseen, describing a hideous coming of ill-gotten fate. (See what I did there?). It gets even better for the Lovecraft fan as Procession of the Dhole tells about the aftermath of the Lovecraftian apocalypse as the Great Old Ones reclaim their dominance in this little corner of the Universe and the remnants of mankind struggle to eke out an existence.

Sebastian sure knows how to weave a creepy yarn. One aspect I like about the book is the amount of diversity in the stories. Some are tightly wound tales with deep character voice, some are set in days gone by, others are modern tales of a grand scale in nature. Added to the melee are short and entertaining rhymes that add disquiet to the collection. It’s a fun read with quality horror stories that will charm as well as thrill you.

Available on Amazon.com kindle or paperback

Grim Rhymes and Scary Tales

 crows-by-favim

Creepshow II (1987) – movie review

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Creepshow II -1987

Directed by Michael Gornickmy-top-10-1980s-horror

Based on stories by Stephen King
Screenplay by George A. Romero and Lucille Fletcher

 

Many movie critics called Creepshow II, lackluster and gave it generally negative reviews. I strongly disagree. How many of us that originally saw this film spent the rest of 1987 gurgling out the phrase, “thanks for the ride, lady!” If you remember that phrase then you remember The Hitchhiker segment from which the line was spoken. I’m sure you all had a s much fun with it as I did. We’ll get to that segment, but I want to review the stories in order so let’s start from the top.

 

The first story, Old Chief Wooden Head concerns an elderly couple, owners of a general store in a dying Midwest town, loaning goods to the local tribe. They can barely afford to loan products to the tribe chief, but trust his word to be paid back in full. When a young renegade native from the tribe decides to make his own path in life and rob the store’s proprietor, he is not prepared for the wooden statue with the soul of a native warrior to take offense by his actions. Flush with cash and valuables the renegade and his henchmen prepare to leave the dusty old town in their rear creepshow-2-dvdview mirror forever. Unfortunately for them, old Chief Wooden Head has other plans for the thieving youth.

In The Raft, two young couples find a beautiful roadside lake calling them for a swim. The warm morning leads to a swim to the diving raft secured some 30 yards out in the lake. The swimmers soon find that an oily-tar looking sludge seems to be following their every move. At first chance the oil slick swallows one of the swimmers, digesting them in its folds. The remaining three have to decide how they will survive and escape the confines of The Raft.

In the last story, The Hitchhiker, a woman having an affair overslept in the hotel room and needs to get back home before her husband gets suspicious. She pushes the limits of speed on the highway while concentrating on an alibi. With her mind distracted she doesn’t see the hitchhiker at roadside and accidentally runs him over. She leaves the scene of the incident, leaving the man to die. When she finally seems to be calming down she sees the hitchhiker ahead on the road again. He’s calling, “how bout a ride lady.” She keeps seeing him every few miles and finally runs him down again, making sure he could not possibly survive. It’s only a few miles more when she sees him once again exclaiming, “thanks for the ride lady!” This continues until the spectacular and horrifying ending, when she finally reaches home.

The cartoon/comic wrap around story is a simple but coherent story involving a boy who is bullied and purchases a Venus Fly Trap from the back page ads in his comics. When I was that age, the mail order items in the back of comics and Famous Monsters magazine kept my young mind active with possibilities. I completely related to this aspect of the film and found it wonderfully portrayed.

The only reason I have for thinking the first Creepshow was better than II is it had more stories. The truth is you could exchange any of the stories in II with those in I and not notice much of a difference. I think both films are equally good.

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Trivia:

Another segment called, The Cat from Hell, was originally planned for Creepshow II, but trimming of the budget caused it to be abandoned. It was later filmed for the Tales from the Dark Side movie in 1990.


 

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Toys in the Attic – Anthology Book Review

Toys in the Attic 

Anthology – JWK Fiction
Edited by Mary Gwenivieve Fortier

toys-in-the-attic“Into the Attic” is a short poem that suitably opens the wonderfully themed anthology, Toys in the Attic. It’s followed by an introduction for the theme, tempting the reader to journey up the steps into that dark and dusty place at the peak of the home where forgotten playthings wait in the shadows. Both are written by the talented Mary Gwenivieve Fortier and they set the mood for what lies ahead; toys that are monsters and monstrous toys, sinister fun for the horror fan. The horror comes in poetry, prose, limericks and short tales. The poems are not the poems of days gone by but modern tales, easier to read and more blatant than a Frost or Whitman. The first striking poem is “Aiding Evil” by Lemmy Rushmore, where a dollhouse removed from the attic portends the fates of the family in the real house. It was followed by a short story concerning a dollhouse titled “Light in the Attic,” by Essel Pratt where the character starts on the outside looking into the toy windows only to have at some point experienced a paradigm shift and is then looking out of the dollhouse windows and doors. “Magic Macabre” by Sheldon Woodbury was a finely written story and a pleasure to read. The disappearance of an aging magician leads a man back to his childhood home where he discovers a magic kit in a trunk that had been waiting there for him since he was a child.

“Tea Time for the Innocents,” by Nicola Nicoli was a horrifying tale concerning a child’s tea set carefully laid out in the attic of a man’s new home and a creepy ghost girl host that needs living children to attend her little tea party. “The Pig in the House” by Alex S. Johnson was unnerving, as a young girl finds a dollhouse with figures that represent everyone in her family plus one extra, of a Pig. Josh Brown had a haunting tale about a view-master toy in which he saw his wife’s death among the images. This one reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. John Palisano had an interesting story about the early video game system, the Atticus 2000 titled, “The Waiting.” This mystery story and was a good deviation from the horror tales. Right away you sense a difference in the writing style. “Gronk the Gruesome” by Thomas M Malafarina was another of my favorites for its nostalgic sense of old toys, 50s sci-fi and childhood wishes, when a man finds an old robotic monster toy in the attic of a former grade school bully.

Tim Wellman‘s, “The Last Turn” displayed shades of Jumanji but had its own feel. I was impressed with Chad Lutzke’s story, “Calm Before the Storm.” It had the restraint and class of a veteran writer of an earlier time, reminiscent of Ambrose Bierce or Robert Bloch. “Etched in Blood” was a chilling tale of an evil child trapped in an etch-a-sketch by Lori R. Lopez. “Maggie and the Zeotrope” by Krista Clark Grabowski was a well rounded story that relayed the short life of a child and her wicked step-mother. “Jacks” by Nicholas Day was a great short tale with excellent pacing. Dona Fox had a wonderful tale concerning a toy snake taken from a voodoo priestess grave in New Orleans many years ago in, “Li Gran Toy Zombi.” It’s always a chilling pleasure to read her stories. The anthology ends with an eerie tale by David Shutz II, concerning a toy phone.

There were some great poems and artwork included in the book along with the top notch stories I highlighted here. An enjoyable read over all. See if your favorite childhood toy has taken up residence in “the Attic” and what evil deeds it will unleash upon those who discover them.

kindle or paperback versions
Available at Amazon: Toys in the Attic

teddy bear and toy chest cristinasroom on etsy

 

Parlor of Horror’s Book Reviews

Parlor of Horror’s Book Reviews

From Classic to Modern, Gothic to Pulp, here’s some book reviews so you can choose your winter reading enjoyment.

Click on a book cover to read a review:

full dark no stars - stephen king 20thCenturyGhosts - Joe Hill in-the-tall-grass - king - hill Joe Hill horns book

throttle knidle book cover monstrous 20 tales thomas ligotti - teatro grottesco  ligotti - songs of a dead dreamer

the-spectral-link-thomas-ligotti thomas ligotti - my work is not yet done  The Nightmare Factory - Ligotti Hour of the beast

chthulhurotica Flesh and Leftovers - Rick Pipito keyport-cthulhu What-the-Night-Knows-Dean Koontz

The Narrows - Ronald Malfi RC Dark Companions deadfall hotel - tem the great god pan by arthur machen

ghost and horror stories of Ambrose Bierce best ghost stories of Algernon Blackwood arthur machen - the white people and other dracula-the-un-dead-by-dacre-stoker-and-ian-holt

a dark collection - mark lukens Beavers! - Joseph F Parda b Bentley Little the Haunted A Psychos Medley - Terry M West

cecil and bubba meet the thang whatpricegorycover Tales+from+the+Beaumont+House+by+D.F suspended in dusk anthology

long island noir the king in yellow book 1


parlor of horror  – book reviews

 

ABC’s of Death 2 – movie review

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ABC’s of Death 2

(Various directors)

Ok, we know the deal from the first film. 26 directors, each one takes a letter of the English alphabet and builds a short-short around it.

How do you tell a full story within a small amount of time and with limited dialogue? These shorts are not like watching a regular anthology or film. They are flash fiction pieces put to a visual medium. Some will make you chuckle others will jolt you with shock value. Still others will have little effect and little reason to be remembered. I often like the animated segments best ABCs of death 2 posterbecause of their unrestrained creativity. Many come off as art house films or student films with better production values. There is nothing remotely scary in the film as the cover art would suggest. I don’t find gore scary at all. It may make me squirm or cringe but it garners little fear in me.

B is for Badger was excellent. A real A-hole of a newscaster meets his untimely fate.
C is for Capitol punishment is super realistic gory and tragic.
D is for Deloused a gory animated short, extremely bizarre and unnerving because of it.
H is for Headgames is another unbridled animation segment.
L is for Legacy was a cool little demonic conjuring segment.
O is for Ochlocracy is exceptional, where zombies put a woman on trial for killing zombies.
In Y is for Youth, a teenage girl imagines the worst possible deaths
for her annoying family members. There are some imaginative gory
deaths in this segment that makes it comically entertaining.
T is for Torture Porn; a young woman auditioning for the latest skin
flick, gets the ultimate revenge against the pornographer.

Many of the segments are amusing but as a whole the film leaves little lasting impression. The film is like a calling card for directors and effects teams rather than an entertainment vehicle itself. Without any unifying thread it’s just too long to watch in one sitting. I liked this one a little better than the first because I was turned off by some of questionable subject matter in the 1st one, but overall, the ABC’s of death films are nothing more than a novelty. Unless they do something drastically different in the future, I probably wouldn’t bother wasting my time on another film in the series.

Added note – Some of these segments can be seen on Youtube. I myself, watched it on Netflix (in 3 sittings, a third at a time).

Michael Thomas-Knight’s short story in Ghosts Revenge

 Ghosts Revenge - JWK Fiction cover full

GHOSTS: Revenge
JWK Fiction

__________________
I’m pleased to announce that my latest short story is part of the JWK Fiction Anthology, GHOSTS: Revenge

Tales of angry ghosts, vengeful people, scary places and local haunts to chill the spine and spread fear. Over 40 stories, 330 pages of terror,  today’s upcoming horror authors come together to offer their take on what it might be like to be a ghost, an angry ghost, the kind of ghost not soon forgotten.

My story is called The Obsidian Box, a tale of NY mobsters, a vengeful spirit, a dominating wife and her undisciplined son.

If you like ghost stories, want your ghostly fix, and feel the need to get your creep on…there’s plenty of horror fiction here to last you many a night.

 

Currently available on: Amazon Kindle

 

Paperback coming soon, I’ll keep you posted.

Ghosts Revenge - JWK Fiction cover

GHOSTS: Revenge

edited by James Ward Kirk

Authors list:

underlined names provide links to authors

Mary Genevieve Fortier
William Cook
Roger Cowin
Scáth Beorh
James S. Dorr
Dona Fox
CS Nelson
John Sies
Michael Tugendhat
Guy Burtenshaw
E.F. Schraeder
Evan Dicken
Brian Rosenberger
Mike Jansen
Sheldon Woodbury
Allen Griffin
Ken L. Jones
Rik Raven-Daleford
Flo Stanton
Kenneth Whitfield
Rie Sheridan Rose
William Petersen
Brian Rosenberger
Tim Jeffreys
Stephen O’Connor
Matthew Weber
Nicholas Day
Steve Foreman
Neal F. Litherland
Alex S. Johnson
J. C. Michael
Betty Rocksteady
Justin Hunter
Angeline Trevena
David Schütz II
Lori R. Lopez
Magenta Nero
Tracy L. Carbone
T.S. Woolard
K.Z. Morano 
and Michael Thomas-Knight

Cover Artwork by Stephen Cooney
Cover design John D. Stanton
Inside art illustrations: Gidion Van de Swaluw