Tuesday, May 14. 2013
Crowdfunding campaigns like Kickstarter have come under fire lately, and I don't quite understand why. No one is forced to pledge support. It's not like a tax hike, or fuel oil increase. Some people have a Pavlovian reaction when they are even brought up, as individuals appear to be outraged at the notion that they have to fund a project.
Well, like it or not, the Internet is changing every aspect of our lives. The way creative projects are financed and distributed are no exception. I see it as a good thing. Some cool projects stand no chance of being funded without crowdfunding. I don't see Kickstarter, Indiegogo, PledgeMusic, and others going away anytime soon.
Some reject the very concept of crowdfunding, and that is their right, of course. Others have had a bad experience or two in the relatively short while these things have been going on.
I am very pleased to report that the people behind the movie adaptation of Edward Lee's The Bighead did it right. The production was completed in a timely fashion, funders received frequent updates, and DVDs were manufactured and sent out very quickly. I have nothing but praise for the way this campaign has gone.
Which brings me to Edward Lee. The man should need no introduction to those who visit Horror Drive-In, but suffice to say that Lee is the undisputed, the one, the only King of Hardcore Horror. Many have tried to copy his approach to writing. Few, in my opinion, have even come close to The Master at brutal, hilarious, grossout horror. None have exceeded him at it.
For one, Lee does not simply pour the guts, blood, and other body fluids upon the page. He weaves a tight plot, creates vivid characters, and tells a story at a breakneck pace. Not all of his fiction is over the top, but when he goes for broke, be prepared to be shocked, sickened, and sick from laughter. Simultaneously.
Astonishingly, The Bighead
is not the first piece by Edward Lee to be adapted to the screen. A lunatic named Archibald Flancranstin directed a movie version of Lee's notorious short story, Header
. He did a good job, too. Flancranstin captured the the vision of Edward Lee. Header is crude, and the acting is barely adequate, but it still works. It was distributed on DVD
by the good people at Synapse Films.
Now we have the short movie based on Lee's even more notorious The Bighead. Before it was published, the author made the claim that The Bighead was the grossest book ever written, and that no publisher would touch it. That changed when Necro Publications had the balls to put it out in a limited edition. The Overlook Connection reprinted it later in an expanded form.
Did The Bighead live up to its creator's bold statement? Oh yeah. It sure did.
I received my DVD yesterday, and you can make bet that I didn't wait long to watch it.
It is amazing. Director Michael Ling and his crew captured the look and the atmosphere of the story to perfection. All the actors nailed their roles. Dicky and Balls are particularly effective. In fact I found them more disturbing in the movie than in the book. Lee makes his fiendish characters sickeningly amusing. They are absolutely terrifying in the adaptation.
Best of all, the star of the show, The Bighead himself, is perfect. I cannot imagine a better representation of the character than has been done in this movie. I applaud everyone involved.
If I have a complaint, it is that it is very short. I want more and I hope that the producers can get the necessary funds to make a feature based on The Bighead. If they decide to Kickstart it, I will sign on with no hesitation.
The history of horror movies
is ripe with ballyhoo. Outrageous claims have been made for decades about how brutal, how terrifying, how disturbing, they are. Most of these claims are hollow. Trust me on this, people: The Bighead is NOT for everyone. Be advised: Horrifying depictions of murder, rape, torture, and gore are in this short. So make sure your parents are out for the night before watching it. No adults, please.
Saturday, May 4. 2013
The Wildman by Rick Hautala starts off with us being introduced to Jeff, a man whose wife left him, a life that is in somewhat disarray, and finding comfort in alcohol to find solace in sleep. Jeff receives a phone call though, from a long lost pal by the name of Tyler that he used to share summer camp adventures with in his youth. Tyler wants to meet up with Jeff, and tries to convince him that it would be a fun idea if all the camp buddies got together again for a camping trip at the old site. One of the group is buying the property, so he says it will be fine, nobody to bother them, and friendships can be rekindled. Jeff is quite hesitant though, as he hasn't seen these now men, in quite a long time, and isn't sure how each has turned out from child to adult. The other thing that frightens him about returning to the campground, is what happened one night to another bunk mate of theirs, something that would change their lives forever, something that Jeff witnesses first hand for himself to take back to the others.
From a creepy old summer camp, to reminiscing with old pals, from remembering past horrors, to searching for new adventures, this novel has a coming of age aspect, but at the same time, keeps it pretty well in the present of these mens' lives. The story starts out slow in my opinion, while good writing is shown, it doesn't immediately draw you into the story in a way that I would have liked until about halfway through the book. From that point on though, Rick keeps the reader very engaged in the story, the adventures on the campground, a good twist, and a good ending to tie everything up. This is by no means a bad book, but at the same time not anything fantastic and special either. It was just a good read.
This was my first jump into reading the stylings of Rick, and in the future I can see myself going back to find others. As a bonus, the hardcover is a nice edition, and I would easily recommend it to others. Overall I'd give this a B- rating, and only because of the first half of the book.
Review by Kyle Lybeck
Tuesday, April 30. 2013
I thought about the various ways I could begin this review. These came immediately to mind:
"If Ed Wood were making horror films in 2013, the results might look like..."
"You'd have to go back to the works of Herschell Gordon Lewis to find the sort of gleeful ineptitude that you will see in..."
The Lords of Salem is an astonishing accomplishment. I mean that seriously. No lie. Something as garish, as awkward, as ludicrous, as stupid, and hilarious as this has got to get some credit.
Rob Zombie entered the realm of Satanic Acidhead movies with The Lords of Salem. It's sort of a throwback to I drink Your Blood, or better yet, Bert I. Gordon's Necromancy. Bad acting, cheap effects, trippy camerawork and editing. Add in liberal drug use and writhing naked bodies, and you have an entertaining couple hours of movie viewing. Forget quality, 'cause you aren't likely to find it in these kind of movies.
The plot of The Lords of Salem is a bit difficult to discuss. That's because it is difficult to determine what the damn plot is, but I'll give it a go...
Apparently some goody-two-shoes executed a witch back in the olden days, and now nefarious powers are out to wreak vengeance. Rob Zombie's wife, Sherri Moon Zombie, plays the unlucky young lady whose life is about to get freaky.
Moon is easy on the eyes, and she is not a terrible actress, but even if it were a good screenplay, she does not have the chops to carry out a film like this. One where the character is on camera for the majority of the running time. And there are lots and lots of slow scenes where she wanders around an apartment with a blank look on her face. She thinks she sees some creepy things, and has some vaguely bad dreams.
Yeah, The Lords of Salem takes place in an apartment, and Zombie seems to have used Roman Polanski as an inspiration. But this ain't Rosemary's Baby. Nor is it Repulsion. It's not even The Tenant. Not by a long shot.
Sherri Moon is a disc jockey who shares a radio show with two guys. The bits of the show we see in the film are as obnoxious and irritating as the radio personalities in your town. These things are universal.
We get a lot of dreary, sloooow scenes with her moping around, and finally a little something happens. Some band that calls itself--you guessed it--The Lords of Salem drops a record off at the station with a note saying that it is for Ms. Zombie. Of COURSE she plays it and the creaky music accelerates her psychedelic stupor. Then she plays it on the air and it makes the whole town dopey.
By the time the shit hits the fan, it's hard to even care. The viewer is treated to a side-splitting barrage of wacky images in the delirious finale. Sherri Moon rides a goat like she is in Urban Cowboy. A bunch of demonic disciples jack off, religious images flash back and forth. Honestly, by that time I howling with laughter so much that I probably missed a lot of it.
Rob Zombie must be enamored with the makeup you see Sherri in on the poster and the ads. It makes no sense that she looks like that, but I guess he thought it looked pretty cool.
I swear that I laughed harder at The Lords of Salem than just about any movie I can think of. I was sick to my stomach from it. It was so inept and ridiculous. Words hardly do it justice.
We left the theater in stitches and the lady I saw the movie with exclaimed, "He couldn't have been serious. It HAD to have been intended as a comedy". No, I assured her. I am pretty sure Rob Zombie was striving for genius with The Lords of Salem.
I am recommending The Lords of Salem without reservation. Seriously. It's awesome. A revelation. Stupefying. It must be seen to be believed.
I am not much of a Rob Zombie fan. I thought that The Devil's Rejects was pretty good. House of 1000 Corpses was bearable. His Halloween movies are dreary and depressing, and not in any good way. This movie is totally different. It's easily my favorite of them all. Satan bless you, Rob Zombie, for restoring my faith in bad cinema. I have not seen something this hysterically rotten in ages.
I know I'll have to own the DVD. The Lords of Salem will be a great party movie. I just wish The Notorious Bert I. Gordon's Necromancy would get a real release so I could have a Satanic Acidhead Double Feature.
Friday, April 19. 2013
Tomorrow, April 20th, 2013, is Record Store Day. 4/20. Get it? Appropriate, huh?
For the squares out there, 420 is a term that indicates marijuana use. Both the hour of the day, 4:20, and the date, 04/20. It started from a group of stoners at San Rafael High around the year 1971. They would meet at 4:20 to get high, and they started using the number as code to refer to pot. It spread and stuck.
Like cannabis or not, it and rock and roll are inexorably tied together. All that classic rock you love, and even the sappy pop songs like Happy Together, were all conceived and created under the massive influence of marijuana.
I don't see a damn thing wrong with it. It's certainly less dangerous than hard liquor. Casual pot use may not be completely harmless, but overdoing anything--alcohol, sugar, salt, fatty foods, tobacco--can have devastating effects on a person. If marijuana calms people and helps them to cope with this stressful life, I say God bless 'em. It has the opposite effect upon me. If I were to smoke that shit today, I'd be crawling on the ceiling like that woman in Exorcist 3.
Regardless of that, Saturday is Record Store Day, and I urge you to get out and support your local store. Get into the fun and excitement of it. A bunch of exclusive releases are coming out, and you can only find them at independent stores.
You'll meet serious music fans there. The ones who really care about it. Many people have tragically grown up and no longer really care about music. I feel nothing but pity for them.
Music touches the soul. It speaks to our hearts and our bodies. Music takes us away from our everyday struggles, and helps us to forget the tragedies of life.
And if you have either forgotten the pleasures of listening to a vinyl record, or have never experienced it, you really are missing out. Records are not as convenient as MP3s or compact discs, or worse yet, streaming sites like Spotify, but the difference in sound quality is palpable.
Many people prefer to download or stream music, movies, music because they say that they like not having to drive to the store to purchase them. That is one of the reasons I hate it. I like getting out and meeting people in my community. Everything is downloaded these days. Even friendship and relationships. I think people need to get away from their computers and their tablets or whatever.
These places need your support. No one is getting rich by operating an independent music store, or book store. They are doing it out of passion.
Passion. It's something that is being lost in this digital age.
Sure, you can browse music and books at a website like Amazon, but for me it isn't the same as actually walking through a store, physically picking up items and examining them.
I talk about records, but you do not have to buy vinyl on Record Store Day. Or any day. The stores carry compact discs. The main thing is that you get out there and show some support, spend a few bucks, and have some fun. You never know, you just might make a friend. I sure have made a few since I became a regular at my local shop.
The cool kids know the deal. They have caught on about the superior sound and greater aesthetics of vinyl records. Students from the local university are keeping my local shop alive.
When a bookstore or record store closes its doors, it is a genuine tragedy. Help prevent that from happening. Please.
There is a search function at the Record Store Day website
. Use it to see the participating stores near you.
Monday, April 15. 2013
I'm easier on movies than I am on books and music. I suppose that I am not much of a critical thinker in that regard. The truth is, I like horror movies. Even bad ones. Even mediocre ones. When I was a little boy I would cower by the TV screen watching them, and there were few that I didn't enjoy. I want to keep that wide-eyed little boy alive inside me.
I later watched horror and exploitation at drive-in theaters, and me and my buddies had a great time at them all. Sure, we loved seeing a great horror movie, such as the original Evil Dead, but we were happy to see anything. I always considered it a lucky occasion when I could see a new horror movie.
I tend to subscribe to the Joe Bob Briggs school of movie classification. If a picture delivers the blood, the breasts, and/or the beasts, I will generally have a good time with it.
Not that I like everything I see. I think Rob Zombie is a dreary hack, and I hate the Saw series. I also have no patience for movies that look like they were made on a computer. You know, computer modified backgrounds, unnatural looking sky and trees, and the dreaded CGI that make a good horror movie look like something out of a computer game.
But, yeah, I like horror movies for the most part.
It certainly did not hurt that I was in a good mood when I went to see the Evil Dead remake. A movie that was reviled before it even begun to be made. This might seem like heresy, but I like remakes. Again, not all of them, of course, but I don't mind a modernization of a classic. Sure, I wish that I could go to the multiplex and see a movie made from a Bentley Little story, or maybe a Laymon novel. Sadly, that just isn't the way things work.
I had gourmet burritos with two lovely ladies before seeing Evil Dead, and I was in a great mood before, during, and after the showing. And yes, we all enjoyed the movie.
I'm a little puzzled though. Everyone was saying that this Evil Dead had eschewed the humorous approach of the earlier movies. You could have fooled me. I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. Intentionally so.
Going in to an Evil Dead movie is like walking into a funhouse. Logic and common sense are left at the door. These movies are unrelenting roller coaster rides. If you want logical motivations or realistic actions from characters, you'd be better off watching a Jason Straitham picture.
None of the character were remotely likable. The same thing is true with the old ones. Sure, Bruce Campbell as Ash is hilarious, but he is also an arrogant ass.
What would a horror movie of this kind be without a character to loathe? Like Harry from Night of the Living Dead, Franklin from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, or Ned from Friday the 13th, it is fun to watch a douchebag suffer and die. In Evil Dead we have the educated moron who summons the demons and acts like a total fish taco the entire time.
Hell, the entire case is made up of idiots. The arrogant doctor-in-training who has no clue about how to care for a junkie going through withdrawals. The brother of the addict who stands around pulling his dick when he should be torching demons. A woman who is basically fodder for the Evil Dead. Hell, the addict is the only sympathetic person in the story, as well as the only one with any common sense.
Yes, I had a blast with this remake. Which is really sort of, kind of, the second remake. The first sequel was a lopsided remake too. Things are topsy-turvy in the world of the Evil Dead.
While I thought the movie was completely silly, I still applauded the intensity of it. They really pulled the stops out. I was squirming in my seat when I was supposed to, and I was laughing when I was supposed to be laughing.
It's an Evil Dead movie. That is what these things do. I don't think the Evil Dead remake can hold a candle to parts one and two, but I like it more than Army of Darkness.
I thought it was nicely shot, crisply edited, with a jarring soundtrack (love that siren!), and the effects were top notch. It was exactly the thrill ride I was expecting and hoping for.
The theater was almost empty and me and my companions even cracked a few jokes during it. It felt like being at the drive-in again. Don't worry, I did not transgress against my morals. We were in the front row and no one was near us. We whispered our comments back and forth. It was fun. A hell of a lot of fun.
This Evil Dead movie has been a modest success, and I hope that means we'll see an Evil Dead 2. I know that not everyone agrees, but that's part of the fun of the community.
Two thumbs off.
Wednesday, April 10. 2013
Waitaminute. Why the hell is a horror website reviewing a book by the singer of The Turtles
, one of the wimpiest bands in history?
I'm glad you asked. I'll be delighted to enlighten you.
Number One: I maintain that The Turtles are not only not
one of the most uncool bands of all time, but rather one of the coolest. Allow me to elaborate.
The sixties were a tumultuous time, and many bands had political agendas. The Turtles were fun, funny, and tongue-in-cheek. They followed the trends of the decade---surf, folk, pop, psychedelia---and rode the waves of stardom. They were rarely serious, except when it came to performance. Especially singing. Lord, could Howard Kaylan
and Mark Vollman belt out tunes.
You may only know The Turtles from their mega-hit, Happy Together. Hey, sure it's sappy, but it's a feel-good song that has reached millions of people and brought them joy. They had fun on and offstage, their audiences had fun, and the people who hung out with them had fun. In fact, I'd be hard-pressed to think of another rocker of his generation who I would rather party with than Howard Kaylan. Everyone seemed to like him. Even Harlan Ellison.
And party he did. You will get a contact buzz from all the dope smoking, snorting, and other outrageous activities Kaylan and his associates indulged in.
And who the hell did he not hang out or perform with? The list is incredible: Jimi Hendrix, John and Yoko, Mark Bolin, David Bowie, Joni Mitchell, Brian Jones, Billy Bob Thornton, Dinah Shore, Howard Stern, Joey Ramone, Bruce Springsteen, Todd Rundgren, U2, Ray Davies, Martin Mull, Alice Cooper, Penn Jillette. I could literally go on and on. Including the aforementioned Harlan Ellison, who saves Kaylan's life in one memorable sequence.
Kaylan and The Turtles hobbed and nobbed with the hippest of the hip. All surrounded by an ever-present haze of hallucinogenic smoke. It's amazing he has lived to tell his story.
Oh, and Number Two: Howard Kaylan is one of us. He is a horror fiction reader and collector. He loves the genre, and even wrote a couple of good short stories that would have been published even if a not-famous name had submitted them to an editor. On top of that, The Turtles' 30+ year drummer, Joe Stefko, is the owner of the prestigious Charnel House
If all that ain't enough, Howard calls Woody Allen his idol. See, I told you he was cool.
The thing is, The Turtles were so busy whooping it up and creating great music that they apparently forgot that there was another side to the recording industry: Business. After a riding through the sixties with a strong of hit songs, they became embroiled in legal complications. So much so that at one point they could not only not record as The Turtles, but Howard and Mark couldn't even work under their own names. So what do the two singers of beloved songs like Happy Together and Eleanor do? That's simple. They join Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention.
They knew Frank from the early years in L.A., and Mr. Z was looking for a new direction with his music. Howard Kaylan and Mark Vollman, with their immaculate voices and outrageous dispositions, became the new singers in Franks's band.
These are some of the most riveting moments in the book for an old Zappa freak like me. And I will say this: Howard reveals a few things that will shock even the most ardent Zappa devotee. No, I won't disclose them here. You'll have to read the book.
The new Mothers enjoyed their touring and recording, but things came to a tragic end. Both from a well-documented fire
at a show, to a horrible scene of violence that abruptly ended it all. Mark and Howard, now known as Flo and Eddie, were out of work, but they began a new stage of recording and touring.
I bet a lot of people had no idea that "Flo and Eddie" were the hit-making singers of The Turtles. I certainly didn't. Not for a while, anyway. But I like the Flo and Eddie period of their careers the best of all. These shows and records combined the sweet, melodic elements of The Turtles, with the irreverent direction they went with Zappa.
The life of Howard Kaylan is detailed in the following years. The radio shows he and Mark did, their success in soundtracks for animated cartoons, studio work with the best of the best, and even how they became notorious for fighting for rights of singers and songwriters whose work was sampled in hip hop songs.
It's all here: The ups and the downs. The high times are delirious, and the lows tend to seem like fun too. Except for the poignant moments when Kaylan talks about people who were more than friends and were taken too soon from the world.
Howard Kaylan is still around. Still Happy, still working, still partying. Still bringing good times to audiences of all ages everywhere. His story is hilarious, insightful, outrageous, and one of the most enjoyable books I have read in years.
Tuesday, April 9. 2013
In the subway tunnels of New York, there comes a train that nobody is ready for, except those it already knows it's taking with it. The lure of the train that only opens it's back cars doors is a little too much for some that need to be on their way. When six strangers join the back car at their stop, they have no idea what they're in for. What starts as a normal ride quickly turns into a bloodbath for those aboard, in which none are safe. Nobody can move to the next car, and the train is out of control, with nowhere to get off. As the first passenger dies a horrific death out of nowhere, the next car opens it's doors for them to pass through. How many have to die and how many doors will they get through while everything comes crashing down?
What has brought all of these passengers together is revealed throughout the novel, suffice to say they are the evil version of the Breakfast club. Who will die next is always the mystery, as is the horrific manner and it's reasoning. What creatures come out of the woodwork trying to force them into a corner, and what creatures do the passengers reveal themselves to be? Who will make it to the last car in hopes of escaping the murderous train cars of death?
This is the first novel of Micahaelbrent's that I've read, and after reading this novel, I'll be back for more in the future. Darkbound travels along at a screaming pace with action the whole way through, and twists to keep you guessing throughout. When I wasn't working, I read this until I was finished in just over a day. With an ending that I didn't see coming from a mile away, and easily one of the best I've had the enjoyment of reading in a long time, I'd recommend this to a wide variety of readers out there, and I hand this one a B+.
Thursday, April 4. 2013
American World War II propaganda movies tend to have an aroma of predictability, but this makes them an effective way to nod off after the 11 o'clock news. More often than not, Americans are portrayed as open-minded, freedom-loving, racially tolerant beacons of global prosperity, while Germans are all brainwashed, empathy-deprived robots who slap women around and listen to accordion music. Of course, the reality is that immediately after the war, the American public told their returning black soldiers that they still couldn't use a public rest room, and the depravity of the Germans turned out to be much, much deeper and fucked up than anyone could have imagined for at least another forty-five years, when it became obvious that Cťline Dion wasn't going away.
Tomorrow the World doesn't exactly raise the bar for historical accuracy, but for sheer, relentless and unintentional batshit hilarity, it's definitely a horse or two ahead of the propaganda pack. Fredric March is a scientist with a high-level security clearance, living happily behind a white picket fence with his young daughter and his sister (Agnes Moorehead). He's planning to ask his Jewish girlfriend (Betty Field) to marry him so that he can short-circuit her teaching career, and set her mind to more womanly activities like ironing shirts and squeezing babies out of her vulva with a predictable frequency.
Everything's idyllic until Fredric announces that his nephew, played by a young and impressively irritating "Skippy" Homeier, is coming over from Germany to live with the family. Emil seems a little stuff-shirted at first, clicking his heels mechanically with each introduction, but everyone does their best to warm up to him, assuring each other that Germans really don't have much of a sense of humor. Unfortunately, day two proves a little more challenging when Emil comes down the stairs sporting a brown shirt and Nazi arm band, and proceeds to wield a knife while launching into fascist tirades which may well have served as philosophical templates for a young and impressionable Glenn Beck. The family is taken aback at first, but decides that with a little patience, their eleven year old Nazi kinfolk can be socialized and won over to hamburgers, apple pie, and Bob Hope movies.
Even after Emil calls Betty Field a "Jewish tramp" everyone continues to act as if there's nothing going on here that can't be turned around. Agnes Moorehead, an initial skeptic, even seems to be warming up to his creepily flirtatious overtures. So Emil, like any Nazi worth his Salz, sets to sabotaging inter-family relationships to suit his ulterior motives. It's not until he tries to steal government secrets and subsequently takes a heavy fire poker to the back of Cousin Pat's skull that Fredric March decides that maybe a line has been crossed, which he demonstrates by chain smoking and pacing around the living room in his bath robe.
Homeier, as the snotty, spoiled Nazi lad steals the limelight with his transparent underhandedness and Hitleresque temper tantrums. You might remember him from his Star Trek appearances, once reprising his Aryan goose stepper persona, and more notably as Sevrin the Space Hippie, who colluded with Charles Napier to undermine professional discipline on the Enterprise. Memorable moments to be sure, but for my money, what he brings to the barn in Tomorrow the World contributes just as much to his firm and respected standing in the Bulldada Hall of Honor. Thank you, Skip Homeier for all that you do.
Wednesday, April 3. 2013
Today I saw a funny video
of Huey Lewis and Weird Al parodying a scene from American Psycho. At the end it turned out to be an advertisement for the upcoming 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports, by Huey Lewis and the News.
It occurred to me that there are a lot of these things coming out lately, and there seems to be no end in sight. The music industry is always trying to come up with new and not very unique ways to get our money from music we've already paid for at least once before.
I can't blame the artists. They gotta make it how they can, and only a fool would say no to such an offer. Take Huey Lewis for example. I'm not a fan, but I have nothing against the guy. He seems like a cool dude, and he was excellent in the Karaoke move, Duets. Huey Lewis has continued to make music, but have you listened to his last album? I didn't either, but we all heard the shit out of Sports. Regardless of whether we wanted to or not.
The heyday is over for most of these musicians. People being what they are, they don't want the new stuff, but still eat up the classic materials they love from their glory days.
Anniversary Editions are nothing new, but they really seem to be the thing now. Here is a partial list of ones that have either come out in this decade, or will be out soon:
War, World is a Ghetto: 40th Anniversary Edition
The Postal Service, Give Up: 10th Anniversary Edition
R.E.M., Green, 25th Anniversary Edition
David Bowie, Aladdin Sane: 40th Anniversary Edition
Judas Priest, Screaming for Vengeance, 30th Anniversary Edition
Eric Clapton, Slowhand, 35th Anniversary Edition
Paul Simon, Graceland: 25th Anniversary Edition
Woodstock, Three Days of Peace and Love: 40th Anniversary Edition
Dirty Dancing: 20th Anniversary Edition
The Sound of Music: 45th Anniversary Edition
Peter Gabriel, So, 25th Anniversary Edition
Derek & the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, 40th Anniversary Edition
Judas Priest, British Steel: 30th Anniversary Edition
Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick: 40th Anniversary Edition
Michael Jackson, Bad: 25th Anniversary Edition
Simon and Garfunkle, Bridge Over Troubled Water: 40th Anniversary Edition
Kansas, Two for the Show: 30th Anniversary Edition
Rage Against the Machine (Self-titled debut): 20th Anniversary Edition
Neil Young, The Bridge School Concerts: 25th Anniversary Edition
Jethro Tull, Aqualung: 40th Anniversary Edition
Ian Hunter, You're Never Alone With a Schizophrenic: 30th Anniversary Edition
Neil Diamond, Hot August Night: 40th Anniversary Edition
Elvis Presley, '68 Comeback: 40th Anniversary Edition
R.E.M., Document: 25th Anniversary Edition
David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: 40th Anniversary Edition
Alicia Keys, Songs in A Minor: 10th Anniversary Edition
The Doors, L.A. Woman: 40th Anniversary Edition
Yes, Yessongs: 40th Anniversary Edition
Stevie Ray Vaughn, Texas Flood: 30th Anniversary Edition
Creedence Clearwater Revival: 40th Anniversary Editions Box Set
Curtis Mayfield, Superfly: 25th Anniversary Edition
Ransom (Self-titled debut): 20th Anniversary Edition
The Rolling Stones, 50th Anniversary Collector's Set
Mr. Mister, Welcome to the Real World: 25th Anniversary Edition
The Velvet Underground with Nico: 45th Anniversary Edition
Morrissey, Bona Drag: 20th Anniversary Edition
The Beach Boys: 50th Anniversary Collection
Tenacious D. (Self-titled debut), 12th Anniversary Edition
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Edition
The Go-Go's, Beauty and the Beat: 30th Anniversary Edition
Santana, Zebop: 30th Anniversary Edition
k.d. lang, a truly western experience: 25th Anniversary Edition
Lenny Kravitz, Mama Said: 21st Anniversary Edition
REO Speedwagon, High Infidelity: 30th Anniversary Edition
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: 40th Anniversary Edition
Icehouse, Man of Colors: 25th Anniversary Edition
King Crimson, Starless and Bible Black: 40th Anniversary Edition
Creedence Cleerwater Revival, Willie and the Poor Boys: 40th Anniversary Edition
Megadeath, Peace Sells, But Who's Buying?: 25th Anniversary Edition
Rick Wakeman, Journey to the Center of the Earth: 30th Anniversary Edition
Elvis' Christmas Album: 55th Anniversary Edition
America, Hits: 40th Anniversary Edition
The O-Jays, Ship Ahoy: 40th Anniversary Edition
Queensryche, Empire: 20th Anniversary Edition
Concrete Blond, Bloodletting: 20th Anniversary Edition
Poison, Look What the Cat Dragged In: 20th Anniversary Edition
NOFX, 30th Anniversary Box Set
Bobby Womack, Across 110th Street: 40th Anniversary Edition
The Moody Blues, Days of Future Past: 45th Anniversary Edition
You get the idea. I could go on and on. The Boomers are aging fast, so let's get what we can out of them, right?
I really have no problem with anniversary editions. The collector geek in me drools over extra songs, B-Sides, demos, live cuts. Not to mention DVDs that are often included. I especially like the way many revered works are coming out in the superior vinyl format.
Of course the list does not include "original recording remastered" editions, expanded editions, or perhaps the ever-popular Legacy editions.
The ones that get me are the ten year anniversary editions, or just a random number of years. A band I like, The Aquabats, amusingly did a special One Year Anniversary Edition for their Charge! album a while back. That cracked me up.
The only thing is, many of these artists are still going strong. I would like to see the studios getting behind their new efforts more, rather than just living in the past. I'm a nostalgic guy, but the present is important too. One of my favorite artists, Todd Rundgren, has a new album coming out next week, and nearly every one of the fans I knew back in the day have not heard anything by him since the 80's. It's not like we're likely to hear anything new by older artists on the radio these days.
There aren't many on that list that have tempted me. Maybe when I see Weird Al's Dare to be Stupid, or Buster Poindexter's first album, in an anniversary edition I'll get excited.
Monday, April 1. 2013
Jerry and Alison are having a nice night at home, working on putting up some new wallpaper for their upcoming little one. What is a nice night though turns into a bloody nightmare as Jerry obtains a large cut on his arm out of nowhere, and starts to bleed out, calling in frantic screams for Alison. She calls 911 and tries to get through, but something keeps interrupting the line. Then that something takes it's rage out on the pregnant Alison, slicing her deep in front of Jerry. Before it's over, Jerry is on the verge of death, and Alison is beheaded by a nightmare that only Graham Masterton can conjure for the voracious horror reader in us all.
Lieutenant Decker is placed on the case. The interrogation of Jerry begins, as he is the only suspect as to who could have killed Alison. Where is the murder weapon though? All doors were locked from the inside, all windows locked from the inside, yet a dead woman and a bleeding husband were found by the paramedics. As Jerry still looks to be the main suspect, another murder in similar fashion is committed, leading Decker to start to question who could be committing these grisly murders. Who that is though, is seen through the eyes of a little girl with a unique disability that turns out to be a very helpful ability for Decker. This young girl creates a picture to help, but how can a picture of a man who doesn't seem to exist help? As the body count starts to stack up, Decker seems to only be chasing shadows, or is he?
Who could this man be? Is he an apparition, a real man cloaked in life, or something even worse? How many more have to die, and what connects all of the victims together? Is Decker also in trouble of becoming a victim due to his own connection?
Graham Masterton does it again with The Devil in Gray. Start to finish, he keeps the reader guessing, intrigued, and on a gruesome thrill ride that keeps a great pacing throughout. A standalone novel that I think any horror reader would thoroughly enjoy, I easily give this novel an A, and would put it in my top five of my favorite Masterton novels.
Review by Kyle Lybeck
Wednesday, March 27. 2013
This is Mark stepping in for Trever temporarily. I don't normally do opening night showings. I'm much more of a matinee type of person. Lower prices, fewer attendees. However, I do make the occasional exception.
You might say that The Evil Dead
is special to me. It caused quite a stir when it played at The Anchor Drive-In, in Newport News, VA. The famous quote from Stephen King about how The Evil Dead
was the most ferociously original horror movie he had seen that year was being played on radio advertisements. You know I was stoked to see it.
I didn't make it on opening night, but me and two buddies rolled up at the gate at the drive-in on Saturday evening, a little before dusk. Needless to say that in addition to the kimchee and bool-go-gi we had leftover from the Korean restaurant we had eaten lunch at, we had plenty of both legal and illegal party materials. We were ready.
Some people seem to think The Evil Dead
plays like a comedy, but for us it was an experience of pure terror. I loved it, but the guys with me were not exactly true blue horror fans. They were sort of freaking out.
played after The Evil Dead
, but between our buzz by that point, and the way we were so blown away by The Evil Dead
, we didn't take in a lot of it.
The Evil Dead
also had a fairly healthy midnight movie run. It came in right at the tail end of that era, and I saw it at the stroke of twelve in a hardtop movie house. The drive-in was a much better experience despite the superior sound and picture at the midnight showing.
The first bootleg tape I owned was The Evil Dead
. I just had to own a copy of it. Such was my affection for the movie, on the night my daughter born, me and my best friend came home and watched it in a celebratory manner. Bring in new life with The Evil Dead
. That may seem a little strange to some, but I think most people reading this get it.
Evil Dead 2
was eventually announced, and Fangoria was making a huge fuss over it. Early word was that the sequel would be the same type of story, but with vastly improved effects and photography. It was featured in one way or another in every issue for a while, and I could not have been more excited. I honestly can't say that I have ever been more excited about a movie coming out. Before or since.
A few weeks before Evil Dead 2
was due, I spent a pleasant Friday evening with a twelve-pack and a showing of the first movie. I was living with that same woman and our baby. She had previously thought it was cool that I liked horror so much. That didn't last long.
I was playing The Evil Dead
, and she would come out of the bedroom from time to time. Now, as you should know, the sound effects in The Evil Dead
are quite jarring and effective. It sets an edgy tone to the movie. Then there are the screams and curses made by the performers. The woman happened to be out preparing milk for the baby when the demon in the cellar was chanting, "We're going to get you. We're going to get you". Pretty creepy stuff. I had no idea how badly it was affecting her.
The next day she told me that if I played that movie again, she would take the baby and leave. She honestly thought it was evil. The sad truth is, we should not have been together. In fact, I don't think I was prepared for a relationship at that point. No woman could compete with my love of horror at the time.
Soon after, it was a Friday like any other Friday. Or so it seemed. We took the same car in to work, and as we passed the theater by our house, I looked at the marquee, pointed, and screamed, "EVIL DEAD 2!!!
" While she had been talking about something. God, I was a prick.
That evening I was itching to see it, but I had resolved to do something with her. The same friend who watched The Evil Dead
with me upon the birth of my daughter burst into the front door, without knocking, and started yelling, "IT'S HERE!! IT'S HERE!!
I was granted permission to see the movie. We had a third guy in our party, but he was such a turkey that he was mad we were not seeing Michael J. Fox in The Secret of My Success
, which was playing on the other screen at the theater.
It played at the Newmarket Rocking Chair Theater, which was a hardshell movie house near where I lived then. I miss it almost as much as I do the drive-ins. The Newmarket got a lot of indie horror and other controversial things like The Last Temptation of Christ
. We saw a lot of late shows there too. Everything from Reefer Madness
to concert movies, A Boy and His Dog
, Last House on the Left
. All kinds of wonderful stuff.
What can I say about Evil Dead 2
? We laughed our heads off, jumped at the right places, thrilled, chilled, and loved every second of it. Evil Dead 2
was worthy of all the hype it got. And then some. I went back on Sunday afternoon and caught a matinee of the movie. And I've seen it many, many times since then.
Now we are poised for the Evil Dead
remake. It's funny, because Evil Dead 2
is basically a remake of The Evil Dead
. I know it's hip to hate remakes, but I don't. Not that I love all of them, but I quite enjoy a lot that I have seen. I am really excited about The Evil Dead
, which is due next week as I write this. I have this great feeling that it will deliver on all fronts. And no CGI! A fan's dream.
There is no way I can rekindle the enthusiasm and passion I had for such a release when Evil Dead 2
opened. Too much has happened, and I unfortunately am not so naive anymore. But, damn it, I feel pretty close to the way I did back when I saw Evil Dead 2 on that opening night.
Written by Mark Sieber
Tuesday, March 26. 2013
We've had bad times before. Awful, shocking news, such as when Richard Laymon died suddenly. We lost others like Charles L. Grant and Ray Bradbury in recent memory. The last two were not entirely unexpected. We saw the fall of Borders and the slow, ugly decline of Leisure Books. All of these things hurt us.
However, we recently had three losses in the field. Big names, influential individuals. Irreplaceable talents. All three of them were reasonably young.
Bam, bam, bam; like the cliche goes, bad news comes in threes. We learned that David B. Silva, of The Horror Show and Hellnotes fame, had died. I talked about him recently
, so I will move on.
The second gut-punch was the death of James Herbert.
I had never met Mr. Herbert. He seemed to me to be a private sort of man. I knew his work though. Well. In the early months that I was a horror reader, I discovered books by James Herbert. The first I read was The Rats.
I cannot imagine reading The Rats in a more suitable place. I was living on a boat at the time. I would rise early, before dawn sometimes, and I would occasionally see cat-sized wharf rats scurrying about. The Rats is an effective horror story, and as I tried to sleep those nights I would imagine rat claws scraping aboard the boat.
Herbert's fiction was pulpish, especially early on in his career. Yet it was always well crafted, and it delivered the goods that horror readers craved. Many consider Richard Laymon to be the father of hardhitting, graphic horror, but Herbert was there first.
James Herbert got the reputation of being sort of a "Literary Nasty" writer. That's not so hard to believe when one considers The Fog, The Survivor, and of course his Rats trilogy. But his work showed great growth and maturity as the years went on. He dabbled in dark fantasy with the excellent novel, The Magic Cottage. His novel, Fluke, was damned near family-friendly, and the movie adapted from it definitely was. Much of his later fiction dealt with ghosts and there was more atmosphere and suspense than grue and gore.
As the quotes always said, James Herbert sold better than Stephen King in his native England. His work influenced a generation of genre writers, and a legion of readers had a shuddery blast while reading him.
We still hadn't recovered from those two blows when death claimed another genre legend: Rick Hautala.
Whenever I thought of Rick, for some reason that hologram from the cover of Night Stone came to mind. Night Stone was Rick's third book, and it was the one that put him on the map for a lot of readers. I hate to say it, but that silly hologram had something to do with it. It certainly caught my eye when it came out. But that hologram would have meant nothing and would be quickly forgotten had the writing in the novel not been first rate.
Rick's fiction was usually set in Maine and it detailed the terrain there. His stories always had such a strong sense of place in them. To me, he was as much a folklorist as he was a novelist. In that way his style and approach reminded me of Manly Wade Wellman. If you don't know who Wellman is, or haven't read him, shame on you. Especially if you call yourself a horror fiction fan.
Rick was prolific and like any good writer, his work improved as he honed his craft. I never had a bad time with one of his books. I've heard him called "The other horror writer from Maine", but he was in no way an imitator of King. Rick Hautala had his own unique voice.
I feel deprived hearing all of the stories from people who knew and cherished Rick Hautala. I met him once, at a Horrorfind convention. It was a brief meeting, but he was kind and clearly delighted to stop and talk to a fan. Which I definitely was, and I will always remain one.
I hope Death is satisfied and takes a long vacation. I'm still numb from all.
Wednesday, March 13. 2013
I came out of work today and checked in to see the afternoon's news, and I was greeted by a kick in my stomach. I read that David B. Silva had died.
You know what the saddest thing about it is? I bet a lot of so-called horror fiction fans today do not even know who Dave Silva is. And that, my friends, is the real tragedy.
Oldsters like myself cherish the memory of Dave's 1980's magazine, The Horror Show. It was the coolest magazine of its day, and also a contender for the coolest mag of all time. The Horror Show ran fiction and nonfiction, and Dave's mantra in it was "Better Weird Than Plastic". Weird the magazine definitely was. No one in their right mind would have called it plastic.
The Horror Show often had theme issues. I remember one devoted to Dean Koontz. Another to Robert McCammon. One was for J.K. Potter. One of my favorites was the Skipp and Spector issue. God, those were fun, exciting times.
Later superstars of the horror genre like Brian Hodge, Poppy Z. Brite, and Bentley Little had some of their early work in The Horror Show. Along with, of course, some of the best established writers of the time.
I used to buy The Horror Show from the B. Dalton bookstore in the mall near where I used to live. I loved that store, but it closed down about the time The Horror Show stopped publishing.
In the 90's, David B. Silva created Hellnotes, which at the time was a revolutionary weekly horror electronic newsletter. I believe that it was the first of its kind. I wasn't online for a long while, but I subscribed to the hardcopy version. I still have a lot of the issues up in my attic, boxed up. I need to break that stuff out one of these days.
There was a weekly contest in Hellnotes, and I won it a bunch of times. So much so that Dave knew me well. Very cool books were given away to those who answered the trivia questions correctly. It got to the point where I almost felt bad about entering.
Most important of all, David B. Silva was a writer. He wrote quite a few good novels, but his greatest strength in my opinion was in the short form. I remember when his story, Dry Whiskey, ran in Cemetery Dance Magazine. I thought it was amazing, and I wrote a letter to Dave telling him so. In longhand, sent by snail mail. It seems like a lifetime ago.
You won't go wrong with anything Silva wrote, but I highly recommend a theme collection that was published by Dark Regions called The Shadows of Kingston Mills
. If you like Twilight Zone-type fiction, this is a book for you.
I'm not going to stand here and make the claim that Dave Silva and I were good friends, but we corresponded quite a bit. It started with Dry Whiskey, and went on for a long time. Dave was always friendly, helpful, and extremely informative about the genre.
David B. Silva was a private kind of person. He kept out of the limelight, and you didn't see him getting into idiotic dust-ups on the internet. He was too smart and too good for that.
The genre would not be what it is today without the massive influence that Dave Silva had upon it. It would be immeasurably poorer.
Written by Mark Sieber
Monday, March 11. 2013
Remember when vampires were cool? Back in the 80's, when I first began getting serious about horror, the vampire subgenre was awesome. Knockout books like Geoge R. R. Martin's Fevre Dream were coming out, and the New Horror (AKA: Splatterpunk) yielded great titles like Vampire Junction, The Light at the End, Live Girls, Sunglasses After Dark, and, yes, Interview with the Vampire.
But it was the enormous influence of Anne Rice that drove a stake into vampire fiction. I didn't much like the sequels to Interview with the Vampire, and in their wake came a bunch of imitators. Romantic vampires, goth vampires, gay vampires, vampire hit men, for God's sake. Despite how well-written some of these were, it reached the point of ridiculousness. Sort of like a certain walking, flesh-eating dead subgenre has gotten today.
Few would argue that is can not get a lot worse than the whole Twilight phenomenon. Emo vampires titillating teenage girls and their would-be hip mothers. At this point there is nowhere to go but up.
So, yeah, why not? It's a good time for real, ferocious, scary vampires to re-emerge on the horror scene.
Robert McCammon has dealt with bloodsuckers before. Early on he wrote a huge, gloriously over the top vampire novel called They Thirst. In 1991 McCammon served as co-editor of the Horror Writers Association vampire apocalypse anthology, Under the Fang, and he also contributed a wistfully sad story in it called Miracle Mile. And now he has given us I Travel By Night.
I Travel By Night is an upcoming novella from McCammon's publisher, Subterranean Press
. It's a historical novel that takes place not long after the Civil War. Trevor Lawson is a vampire who hates his own kind and has vowed to not only eradicate his fellow bloodsuckers, but also find the one who made him a monster and have his revenge.
There's nothing new about this premise, but I don't believe that McCammon was attempting to create something groundbreaking with I Travel By Night. This is a rip-roaring, old fashioned pulpish romp.
As always McCammon's eye for detail is unerring and he establishes his characters quickly and effectively. The story gets off to a quick start and readers will race through this short work in no time, and be thirsty for more.
With the Matthew Corbett series, Robert McCammon is writing an epic series of novels that tell the story of detection and crime in early America. With The Five he gave us a potent story about today's music scene, and it is also a love song about how music molds and shapes our lives. I Travel By Night is what I call a yarn
. It's a fun, old fashioned, lightening paced story that would not have been out of place in the early years of Weird Tales.
It's awesome that Robert McCammon is back and that Subterranean is putting his work out in beautiful, affordable editions. It's also pretty cool that he is bringing vampires back and making them fun again. I hope that he takes his readers on more adventures with Trevor Lawson.
Written by Mark Sieber
Thursday, March 7. 2013
Itís fair to say that when it comes to books, Iím an old-school guy (if, that is, a 36-year-old can even be
old school yet). I started reading at a very young age, and to this day I almost always have a book within easy reach. Some of my fondest memories are centered around the written word Ė perusing microfiche at both the public library and the bookstore I worked at in high school to see what books were forthcoming; hunting through stacks and stacks of used books at second-hand stores, hoping to find a diamond in the rough and inwardly doing cartwheels when I did; reading a book that had a profound emotional impact on me, whether it be laughter or tears, shock or disgust.
Until a few years ago, I literally had every single book Iíd ever read and/or purchased stored in boxes in my crawlspace at home. They were my most prized possessions, ranging from the $.25 pulp novel from the days of yesteryear to the $300+ signed limited edition hardcover with the fancy endpapers and breath-taking illustrations. While some books were ordered from places like Shocklines and Camelot Books, or occasionally direct from the publisher, for the most part they were all purchased in a store that I had visited. As places like Amazon and eBay came online and then made book-buying a breeze, I did my very best to stay away from them unless I really
wanted to read something that I hadnít been able to find in my familiar haunts. Why is this? Because I liked being in the stores, scanning shelves, digging in bins, holding the books in my hands, flipping through the blurbs and the synopses. It felt right, somehow. A much more personal experience where the cashiers in the smaller places knew you by name and may even go out on a limb and recommend something to you. Online shopping always struck me as cold and impersonal, sucking the fun out of the hunt. I did it when I had to, but didnít enjoy it nearly as much.
Over the years Iíve evolved as a reader. That crawlspace full of books is gone. Iím down to one lowly box of old paperbacks I havenít had time to read yet. The rest have all been sold online (howís that for hypocrisy?) or at Half-Price Books. I just got to a point where I was sick of lugging the things around from place to place, especially when I almost never reread a book anyway. Happily, Iíve also gotten rid of the nasty habit of finishing any book I started. There was a time that if I read the first page, I made myself sit down and read the whole thing, no matter how dreadful the story was. Iím not sure what flipped the switch, but thank God I donít fall into that trap anymore. Life is too short to get bogged down by something I donít enjoy.
Perhaps the biggest evolution is my foray into e-reading.
Herein begins the self-loathing.
I believe the first e-book I read was Stephen Kingís THE PLANT, and the only reason I read it that way was because it was the only format available. While I thoroughly enjoyed the story, I most definitely did not enjoy reading at the computer. Prior to early 2012, I could count the number of e-books Iíd read on one hand. I had no desire to move into the electronic medium and give up my books, nor did I ever think I would.
And yet, I found myself walking down the e-reader aisles and peeking at the devices from time-to-time. I knew the flashy Nooks, Kindles, and iPads werenít for me. I stare at a computer screen all day for work, and I did not want to read on a device that mimicked a computer monitor. But the simple e-readers, with their e-ink technology, actually look like the pages of a book. Add in the fact that e-books are generally cheaper than physical books these days, and eventually the temptation to try one of the devices got to be too much. So, I dropped $100 on the cheapest version of the Nook and took the plunge, telling myself that Iíd still buy most of my books as real copies, and save the Nook for e-only stories (I had my eye on a bunch of out-of-print pulps that were no longer in print but had become available online). And at first, thatís the way it was.
But ever so slowly, my reading habits changed. Instead of sticking to the e-only King story MILE 81 and the OOP version of Bill Pronziniís UNDERCURRENT, I started downloading more. And more. Not only that, I was spending time perusing the online store for long-desired books that Iíd never been able to track down. Before long, I had over 100 e-books on my device.
And I was ashamed.
Silly, right? Well, it didnít (and, at times, still doesnít) feel silly to me. This damned Nook screams in the face of the way I like to read! I find myself staying away from bookstores because I can find everything I want online and download it in an instant, the very thing that hurts brick-and-mortal stores and is probably a factor in why places like my beloved Dreamhaven bookstore went away. I no longer have a battered paperback I can pass along to a friend when I want to introduce them to a new author. E-books donít have that new (or, in the case of a used book, that musty) smell that I love. No sexy endpapers. No easy-to-see illustrations on the device I use. No autographs. No thrill of the hunt. Honest to God, I hate, hate, hate everything these fuckiní devices stand for!
And yetÖdeep downÖ.I love
Iím reading books Iíve been wanting for years. I have my entire library at my fingertips, and if nothing in it grabs me at that moment, then I can instantly download something else. Iím buying a lot of books that the author is now getting paid for (however negligible an e-book royalty is) whereas all the used books in my collection netted them nothing. I like being able to eat my meals or exercise without having to tie up my hands flipping pages. I like being able to increase the font size as opposed to feeling like I need a magnifying glass for some of the paperbacks I used to read. I like saving a few bucks. All these and more are why I havenít bought a physical book in many, many months and I have my Nook attached to my hip wherever I go.
I know a lot of people say e-reading isnít for them. Hell, a year ago I said it wasnít for me either. But by taking a looooooong leap of faith and finding an e-reader that worked for me (again, a backlit monitor-like screen would be a deal-breaker for me), I was able to find an enjoyable reading experience that gives me access to so many more books than I was able to find before. I would encourage the old standard-bearers such as myself to give it a shot sometime, even if it means borrowing someoneís device to see if you can find a fit. While they will never replace my love for physical books, e-readers are well worth the price of admission when it comes to tracking down hard-to-find OOP titles at reasonable prices as well as ease of use and convenience.
Now excuse me while I crank up Joan Jettís ďI Hate Myself For Loving YouĒ and read the fourth Nameless Detective novelÖ
Written by Andrew Monge