Horror Fiction Book Review Blog-athon – 2016

Horror Fiction Book Review Blog-athon – 2016

poh-november-horror-fiction-blogathon

Check out the reviews for these great horror fiction books:
(click on links to see reviews)

carrie-stephen-king dracula-vs-frankenstien stephen-king-it

chad-lutzke-of-foster-homes-and-flies the-bazaar-of-bad-dreams-book lovecrafts-monsters-ellen-datlow

traps-joseph-f-parda 100-jolts the-haunted-book

df-lewis-the-best-of  ecstatic-inferno  mr-fox-helen-oyeyemi
darker-tales-from-the-den-dona-fox toys-in-the-attic world-on-fire-sheldon-woodbury

Many Thanks to the bloggers that participated and allowed me to add their links/reviews to this page 🙂

Have you reviewed any horror books this year on your blog?
Put your link in the comments and I’ll post a pic and link on this page. (sci-fi books too!)

 

Silver Bullet (1985) – movie review

silver-bullet-pic-1

Silver Bullet (1985)

Directed by Dan Attiasmy-top-10-1980s-horror

Starring:
Corey Haim
Gary Busey
Everett McGill
Megan Follows

 

More than a horror tale, Silver Bullet is a family story. It portrays the reconciliation between a brother and sister from a small town family, whose lives could have went on a path of division, considering their relationship. Marty (Corey Haim) is your average 10-year old but crippled and confined to a wheelchair. Jane, approx. 15, is resentful of Marty because their parents always expects her to look after him. Uncle Red (Gary Busey) comes by for dinner one night and secretly gives Marty some fireworks. Marty sneaks off in the late hour of the night, down the road in his motorized wheelchair to shoot off his fireworks. There, he witnesses a werewolf killing one of the townsfolk. When the werewolf attacks Marty, he shoots him in the eye with a rocket and makes hissilver-bullter narrow escape. As more townsfolk go missing it’s up to Marty and Jane to work together to find the person with the injured eye and alert the authorities to the werewolf’s true identity. However, the werewolf knows of their plan and comes for them.

Some of the highlights of the film include a scene where a vigilante posse heads out into the woods to hunt the beast and ends up being the hunted. Another fantastic scene is a dream sequence that has the town’s preacher, Reverend Lowe, witnessing his whole church congregation turning into werewolves before his eyes. Aside from these sensationalist scenes, the film does have a story with heart and leads into highly suspenseful territory.

Cory Haim is a natural actor with a likeability that reaches beyond the screen and gives the viewer instant empathy. The werewolf isn’t anything super as far as FX and make-up but the story allows for some real tense moments when he’s on the prowl. Gary Busey plays one of his best parts as Uncle Red, (pretty much just being himself) a familiar styled character in many families. The ending has a tense build-up as Marty and Jane finally convince Uncle Red they are being stalked by a werewolf and the three of them defend their home against the evil that has embodied their town for the past year. Despite the “R” rating, I’ve watched SB with my kids when they were 10-12 years of age and they were able to handle the violence, but make that decision at your own discretion.

silver-bullet-pic-7b

Trivia: Adapted from Stephen King’s “Cycle of the Werewolf”
The 1985 version included illustrations by Berni Wright
cycleofthewerewolf-1985paperback

Corey Haim: Anyone alive in the 1980’s would know the bright spirited personality of child/teen actor, Corey Haim. His smile lit up the screen in a dozen films and he was especially known for horror films (Watchers, Lost Boys). He became good friends with his Lost Boys co-star Corey Feldman, leading to a reality show as an adult called, The Two Corey’s (2007 – 08). Ironically, his childhood fame lead to a troubled adulthood and he died of a prescription drug overdose in 2010.

(Photo by NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

(Photo by NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images)

 

Creepshow II (1987) – movie review

creepshow-2-the-raft-pic-5

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.

creepshow-2-woodenhead-pic-3


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.


 

creepshow-2-woodenhead-pic-5

Of Foster Homes and Flies – Chad Lutzke – book review

Quiet horror in this coming of age story…

 Chad Lutzke - of foster homes and flies

Of Foster Homes and Flies – Chad Lutzke

We have a genuine masterpiece here and I’m so glad I’ve had the pleasure to read the work of this very talented author.

(There are slight spoilers though this whole review, but I have to convince you why you should read this book)

If you want to be blessed by an emotional moving story, you have to read the tale of a young boy whose hopes and dreams are about to be dashed by a non-loving, alcoholic mother and the intervening finger of fate. The 12-year-old boy, Denny, lost his father several years ago, left to be raised by his neglectful and perpetually boozed up mother. Denny’s dad had one time won a ‘spelling bee’ at his hometown school and Denny cherished thspelling bee postere ribbon award as a great memory from his father. Denny had never entered the spelling bee because of lack of confidence and drive. However, this year was supposed to be different. Denny had studied since the beginning of the school year, practicing, rehearsing the spellings, and preparing himself to do good in his father’s eyes and follow in his footsteps. With the Spelling Bee fast approaching there was nothing that was going to stop him from paying this ultimate homage to his dad. Then a few days before the big event, his mother dies overnight on the living room couch. In the first few minutes of this event, Denny makes a big decision. He is not going to miss the spelling bee. His mom was dead; calling the police now or at the end of the week was not going to change that. Now Denny just has to bluff his way through a few days, foiling his neighbors, ducking friends, and keeping his dog out of trouble. Throughout the tale young Denny comes to terms with the strained relationship he had with his alcoholic mother, bringing tears to my eyes several times.

It’s not straight up horror but shades of King abound with the dead body of Denny’s mom doing what dead bodies do best, being creepy.

(spoilers ahead)

To show you how the depth of a story affects the variant of horror, the scariest part of the book is the night before the spelling bee, when Denny has made it almost to his goal. His mother’s boozer, card playing girlfriends come by for their weekly card game ringing the bell and twisting the door knob ready to expose his mother’s rotting maggot infested body to the world. Only seconds before this Denny had caught sight of hundreds of squirming maggots devouring her forehead. He threw up on himself and had to answer the door that way, covered in puke. It probably doesn’t sound like much here but in context, this scene really made me tense.

(end of spoilers)

of flies

The story built such density that it made the spelling bee seem as exciting as being chased by velociraptors or being in a car chase and gun fight with a serial killer. The outcome is fantastic.

The final few pages when Denny calls the police and they arrive to the scene of the ‘crime’ are incredibly written and pulled on my heart-strings the way few stories have in a long time. It was gut-wrenching sadness and happiness at once; a strange combination. My chest was tight and I felt for Denny like a real person would feel for a neighbor or friend.

You may ask why a story such as this would make me feel so good? Because life is a struggle and not always a nice place, but we have to move through our darkest days to find better ones ahead. That is what Denny did in this story and against all odds found those brighter days on the other side of death.  I want to tell everyone that reads to get a copy of this; I want to yell from a mountain top with a bull horn, it’s just that damn good!

Get it now@ Of Foster Homes and Flies – Chad Lutzke on Amazon.com

abandoned house 2

recommended if you like:

Stephen King’ s The Body/ Stand by Me, Robert McCammons’s Boys Life, William Goldman’s Temple of Gold, James Newman’s Midnight Rain, and movies such as The Rivers Edge, Bottle Rocket, and Ghost World. Also a touch of them old classics; Tom Sawyer, Catcher in the Rye, and even Stephen King’s, Silver Bullet (movie).


Chad Lutzke

 

Stephen King – Bazaar of Bad Dreams – Book review

The-Bazaar-of-Bad-Dreams-Book

Stephen King – Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Stephen King finds cars to be very scary. It’s almost like he had been run over by a car himself…oh wait, I forgot about that. Well, he wrote stories about scary cars before he got run over, it’s almost like he had a precognitive awareness of his own future danger…now that’s scary! Anyways, in Mile 81, he finds a way to make you feel his fear of the automobile. I do think this is one of his scariest cars to date. Alone at a closed highway truck stop the car in question sits, waiting for victims.

In Batman and Robin Have an Altercation, we meet Sanders and his pop, who he picks up at ‘the home’ on Sunday to go out for lunch. His pop has Alzheimer’s and his memories are scrambled at best. It’s a wonderful tale because a chance memory of father and son surfaces of a Halloween when they had dressed as the dynamic duo for trick or treat. This surfaced memory reminds pops that he loves his son and saves a bad incident from concluding in the worst possible way.

The Dune has an elderly gentleman contemplating his own old age and mortality. He’s a retired Judge that lives on the gulf coast Florida where he’d been living since he was a boy. Within kayak distance of his home is a small sandy island that nobody knows about, or cares about, that seems to hold special powers.

From a very young age, George has seen an evil red-haired, freckled-faced boy cause violent accidents involving people he loves. Speaking to his lawyer from death row, he tells the tale that led him to killing a child in Bad Little Kid. Is he crazy or is there something more to his tall tale?

Blockade Billy is a great story about old time baseball with a wonderful character voice by a one time manager of the NJ Titans. It brought the real excitement of the sport to light while twisting it into a King style deranged knot.

Each story has an introduction about its origin which I find as entertaining as the stories themselves. Having grown up and grown older reading King, it is fitting that his stories now reflect the problems, concerns and dealings of older persons. In this book it’s about wills, sickness, the aged body, and taking care of your elderly parents…and the fear of scary young people. There’s a few stories for the younger gens here too, a particularly good one about a trash culture news site whose obit columns lead to a difficult decisions, an entertaining tale for all.

The short story is an art form like know other. You have to sink your teeth into the reader, engage them with an interesting character, turn a situation on its ear and leave them a satisfying conclusion, all within a short span of time. Sometimes you have to do these things simultaneously. King is a master at this craft and Bazaar is another testament to his prowess.


the-bazaar-of-bad-dreams-illustration


Stephen King pic Stephen King - Blockade Billy

Dinosaurs in Sci-fi and fantasy art – part III

joe jusko outnumbered

Dinosaurs in Sci-fi and fantasy art – part III

Dinosaurs, prehistoric beasts, cavemen and cavewomen are the subjects for my new series of art posts. There will also be an occasional giant monster.
This post includes work from Joe Jusko, Jamie Chase, and Bernie Wrightson
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Joe Jusko
Joe sold his first cover art piece to Heavy Metal Magazine at age 18. He went on to illustrate covers and inside work for most major comic book companies, including Marvel and DC. He’s also known for his Edgar Rice Burroughs, Conan the Barbarian, and Vampirella trading cards. you can check out his work at:  http://www.joejusko.com
 –
Jamie Chase
Jamie is an American Artist living in New Mexico known for his abstract work that has been featured in many galleries and exhibitions. He recently turned his creative talents to dinosaurs, illustrating graphic adaptations of The Land That Time Forgot and At The Earth’s Core by Dark Horse Books. The adaptations feature Jamie’s art and story adaptation by Bobby Nash. The books are unique in the aspect that the illustrations are presented in fine art style rather than comic book art style.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/161655746X/
Bernie Wrightson
Bernie (or early work seen as Berni) co-created The Swamp Thing, worked for DC, Marvel, National Lampoon and Warren. His work for Heavy Metal Magazine led to his character, Captain Sternn being animated for the Heavy Metal Movie. He illustrated the Comic Book adaptation for Stephen King’s Creepshow and illustrated King’s book, Cycle of the Werewolf. More of his work can be seen at: http://www.berniewrightson.com
 Naturally all of these artists do more than dinosaur and giant monster art. I hope you will seek out their work and check out their websites, books, publications, and prints.
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Goosebumps Movie (2015) – movie review

goosebumps 2015 - werewolf 2

Goosebumps Movie (2015)

Directed by Rob Letterman
Based on stories by R.L. Stinegoosebumps- night of the living dummy
Music by Danny Elfman


starring:
Jack Black
Dylan Minnette
Odeya Rush
Amy Ryan
Halston Sage
Ryan Lee
Jillian Bell


In the mid-1990s Goosebumps was a television show for youngsters that liked horror, but were not necessarily able to handle adult horror flicks. My daughter loved the series and soon found interest in the book series of the same name. The plots were simple and the storylines predictable, but that didn’t hinder the enjoyment of the show for my daughter or her parents, myself and my wife. We engaged in the tales becoming familiar with Carlie-Beth and the Mask, Slappy the ventriloquist dummy, the Snowman of Pasadena, and many more wonderful stories and characters of the show.goosebumps-movie-2015


We finally watched the Goosebumps Movie with equal parts excitement and trepidation. We’ve read some bad reviews of the film, but wanted to watch it for nostalgic entertainment. The film took a full 26 minutes before anything remotely Goosebumps related happened. The characters were cardboard cut outs with little depth, the kind that we’ve seen so many times in many other films. The plot was simple but decent enough. I think the problem with the film was they were trying to reach both the parents and the children at the same time. This is something Disney has perfected but many other filmmakers struggle with. The kids that grew up watching the show or reading the books weren’t engaged by the characters and the mature jokes and aspects were too watered down to create impact with adults.


That being said, the monsters were fantastic and portrayed in usual Goosebumps fashion, somewhere between comical and monstrous. The action was fast-paced and at a higher level than the TV Show. The giant praying mantis was intense and being a giant monster fan, my favorite part of the film. The abominable snow man, the werewolf, and fan favorite, Slappy, all added nostalgic value to the film. The scary garden gnomes added comedic aspects. The film moved along at a fast pace, helped by a wonderfully exciting score by Danny Elfman. Sure the film was predictable, simplistic and delivered mild horror entertainment, but the TV show fits that same description. I think the film was at the same level as the show, but perhaps some viewers were expecting more. All said, it delivered light horror entertainment and that’s all I expected so I wasn’t disappointed.


I give it 3.2 fictional frights on the maniacal monster mash-up movie scale.

goosebumps 2015 pic 20

fun facts:

Dylan Minnette and Ryan Lee had both appeared on the TV series, R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour (2010).
 –
In the film Stine complains he has sold more books than Stephen King which is true. King sold 350+ million books and R.L. Stine sold over 400 million books.
 –
The real R.L. Stine makes a cameo in the film near the end when Jack Black introduces him as a new teacher, Mr. Black. (so RL Stine played Mr. Black, and Jack Black played Mr. Stine)
 –
The high school auditorium has a set where the theater class had been rehearsing a stage production of Stephen King’s “The Shining.” How cool is that!