October Horror Movie Recap

My good friend, Jaime Burchardt, hosts  HorrorFest every October. It’s a semi-interactive (via Twitter) month-long movie marathon composed of new theatrical releases, recent video releases, and old classics. I do my best to keep up, but Burchardt is a movie machine! Nevertheless, there is no better time to consume horror flicks than the greatest month of the year, so I shoved a total of twenty-two dark films into my eyeballs over thirty-one days—almost all of them new to me. Below is a poster compilation of every movie I watched last month.

There are only a few titles I’d recommend against (Goodnight Mommy tops my list of flicks to skip), but I’d like to call your attention to THE INVITATION and THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN. I wasn’t very turned on by the description of either of these films, but because they came recommended by folks I trust, I dove in. DEBORAH LOGAN is hands down the best possession film I’ve seen since REC, and although THE INVITATION features a paint-by-numbers plot, the final moments of the movie make the whole uncomfortable, predictable viewing experience worth it.

DEAD TONGUES is a student film that premiered at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon. I really hope this film gets picked up by an indie studio, because it was fantastic. Equally great was THE CREATURE BELOW. This film also screened at HPLFF, and as soon as you can get your tentacles on a copy, I recommend you do so.

October may be over, but it’s never too early or too late to consume horror. If you missed any of these films, check them out, and feel free to tell me about your favorites in the comments.

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Real-Time Review: Nightscript vol 2

NS2 CoverDes Lewis has hosted a long time series of real-time book reviews. He is currently reading and reviewing Nightscript II which includes my story From the Fertile Dark. Pick up a copy of Nightscript II here, and be sure to check out Des’s impressions as he makes his way through this collection of twenty-one strange and darksome tales.

Movies I’ve Seen: THE CANAL

The Canal

“The master wants her…”

“You’re like me…”

David, a film archivist, and his pregnant wife, Alice, move into an old home near a canal. Five years later, David is asked to review old police footage and discovers that their home was the site of a grizzly murder, and that the man who killed his unfaithful spouse later escaped prison and drowned his two children in the nearby canal.

David is unnerved by these revelations, and begins seeing a spectre that threatens both him and his family. To make things worse, he suspects his wife is having an affair. When Alice disappears and her body is later found in the canal, David becomes the prime suspect. Desperate to prove his innocence and protect his son, he digs deeper, discovering a series of unsolved murders that have occurred in or near his home over the past century. With the help of his coworker, Claire, David must solve the mystery or risk history repeating itself.

While not necessarily new on ideas, The Canal was well acted and heavy on atmosphere with an effective twist ending that did the film justice. In my opinion, it’s definitely worth checking out on Netflix.

Books I’ve Read: The King in Yellow Tales: Vol. 1

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I just finished reading Joseph S. Pulver, Sr’s collection: The King in Yellow Tales vol 1. Now, maybe it’s because I’ve been buried in text books for the better part of the last decade and my brain was starved for anything that wasn’t concerned with mastering the art of diagnosis, but for me, this book was something special.

I must confess that up until relatively recently (within the last six months or so) I had not yet found the yellow sign, so to speak. I was unaware that Robert W. Chambers, Joe Pulver, or the King in Yellow even existed. I was introduced to the mythology when I began tuning in to The Lovecraft eZine webcast which features Joe Pulver as a recurring panelist. Inspired by curiosity about the play which induced madness in all who read it, I did what any reasonable person would do: purchased Chambers’s King in Yellow. I found it quite readable for having been written at the turn of the 20th century, but I digress.

Having familiarized myself with the source  material, I was ready to see what had been done to expand the mythology. This is where Joe Pulver comes in; it is my understanding that he’s the undisputed contemporary authority and Earthly familiar of the King in Yellow himself. It only seemed natural to start there.

I picked up King in Yellow Tales: vol 1 with zero expectations. I’d never read Joe’s work before, so I had no point of reference—good or bad.

This collection is not a breezy afternoon read. By that I mean that many of these tales do not follow a traditional narrative structure. The language, the formatting, and the unease that results when these elements combine whisper madness in your ear. Often, there are no (easy) answers, and one must read between the lines to decipher the yellow text just waiting to be revealed.

Among my favorites were:

The Carl Lee & Cassilda Trilogy (Carl Lee & Cassilda; An American Tango Ending in Madness; Hello is a Yellow Kiss)

Chasing Shadows

My Mirage

A Cold Yellow Moon (with Edward R. Morris, Jr.)

With each of these tales I was swept into a dreamworld of ashy daylight and jaundiced shadows, and despite having never traveled these roads before, there was a familiarity to it all. Like returning visit to your hometown after time and memory have rendered it unrecognizable, but still there is that pull…

You belong here.

These are stories to be experienced, not consumed. If you’re looking for something that’s easy to read, pages that can be opened and closed in an afternoon and then tossed back onto the pile without a second thought, this is not the book for you. If, on the other hand, you’re interested in something deeper—if you’re willing to burn the torch, venture into the shifting darkness, and risk glimpsing something not of this Earth—then I highly recommend this collection. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your friends. Hell, buy it for your enemies because you just never know…

I have another of Joe’s anthologies, the recently released A House of Hollow Wounds. It isn’t next on my TBR pile, but after KiY vol 1, it will probably move up a couple of spots.