Clock’s Watch by Michael Reyes #BookReview

Title: Clock’s Watch | Author: Michael Reyes | Publisher: Pronoun | Pub. Date: 11/15/2017 | Pages: 159 | ISBN13: 9781387298341 | Genre: Dark Fantasy | Language: English | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for review consideration

Clock’s Watch

Clock the Chaos Mage. A stranger out of time, hidden in the folds of shadow. He is the guardian of Coney Island’s supernatural borderlands, and the only thing standing between our reality and the demons that thirst to destroy it. Clock’s Watch. An anthology of heroic dark fantasy and terror. Illustrations by Sean Bova, Jay Campbell and MV.

Clock’s Watch is a nice collection of dark fantasy stories. I love the title Clock’s Watch. I really liked the character of Clock, he was interesting and entertaining. He felt very well-developed as did the characters around him. Some of the periphery characters were not quite as well fleshed out but the stories weren’t long enough for that  to matter. I really liked the mini-synopses before the stories. They reminded me a lot of the fifties serials. 

I really liked the stories themselves. The various demons and monsters were interesting and creative. The stories were also wrapped up in a good manner with each one self-contained. In fact, that’s the only real problem with it. I think that the book would have worked better as a novel. I’d have liked to have known more about the mythology of Clock’s world. And Clock himself. He’s really funny and interesting. We get a bit of knowledge about him but the stories and supernatural elements don’t have a lot of explanation behind it. I think if this were reworked into a novel length work with more room for backstory it would be great.

The illustrations are good on the front and back. I really like the one on the back in particular. I actually wished there would have been more in the book, like one per story would have been great. I would recommend the book for those who want short, well-written stories of supernatural action and shenanigans with Clock as your guardian through it all.

The Rizen #MovieReview


 The Rizen Synopsis: The year is 1955. NATO and the Allied Forces have been conducting secret, occult experiments in a bid to win the Arms Race. Now, they have finally succeeded but what the Army has unleashed threatens to tear our world apart. One woman must lead the only survivors past horrors that the military has no way to control – and fight to close what should never have been opened.

Tagline: Quarantine Breached

Starring: Laura Swift, Christopher Tajah, Patrick Knowles

Writer/Director: Matt Mitchell

Release Date: 06/27/17 (U.K.) – 01/02/2018 (VOD), Runtime: 1hr 34min, Rating: 4 out of 5

Source: Received from October Coast for review consideration

The Rizen Review

I have to confess that I’m a little surprised at the low IMDB rating. It’s not a perfect movie but I really liked it. A lot. For what seems like a lower budgeted movie they definitely made good use of the budget where needed. The practical effects were excellent. The creatures reminded me a bit of the nurses from the Silent Hill series (minus the cleavage). It was not in a rip-off way but just in the general aesthetic. They saved their CGI budget for the end and it shows. It was great. Nothing looked cheesy or off at all. It felt very natural and organic with the events.

The tunnels are not exactly the most thrilling of backdrops but they were used and dressed to great effect. The cinematographer made full use of the claustrophobia of the tunnels and the use of darkness. Set against certain shots of the characters it worked very well and did not seem forced or overly staged.

The characters were mainly likable and there were some genuinely funny little moments between them that didn’t seem forced at all. Frances (Laura Swift) takes a bit to warm up to. She seems a little disaffected and a bit bland at first but it is explained over the course of the movie. Baughman the Scientist (Christopher Tajah) I immediately liked. He also had a miraculous scientific feat all of his own. He had the most invincibly spotless lab coat and shirt that I have ever seen. It survives a bloody handed manhandling, a dragging, a few fights and an injury and yet the coat remains impeccable. I have to admire that kind of dedication to coat cleanliness. Briggs (Patrick Knowles) is just an all-around great character. He’s the Soldier and he does his soldiering very well. He has the most humorous lines but they’re all so quietly delivered that they seem very natural and not obnoxious or that old enemy of jokes everywhere: “Trying Too Hard”.

I’m not going to say much about the finale but I really could not look away. It took some turns that I did not see coming and that really surprised me. Maybe I’m easily pleased but…wow. I loved the ending. Particularly the use of the subtitles. I thought it was a nice touch.

However, since very few movies are perfect, there were a few issues. I don’t think they’re deal-breakers though. The main one was all of the fight scenes. Which wouldn’t have been too bad except that they were a bit poorly done. For instance, a ‘slam’ against the wall produces a light bump. I noticed a few times that the hits did not connect (and a few were quite a ways off).They tried to cover it by angling the camera but you can still tell they’re not very…energetic. The dialogue is a tad awkward and clunky in spots but I give the awkwardness a pass because unless it’s atrocious (and this certainly wasn’t) it’s more realistic. Three people thrown together are going to be awkward.

I especially enjoyed Mysterious Creepy Guy and Mysterious Creepy Woman. They did a very subtle thing with Mysterious Creepy Guy that actually was creepy. And, again, restraint went a long way here. They gave you just enough to make it noticeable but did not draw a big neon sign above his head saying, “Hey! I’m creepy and evil!”

The revelation of the mystery is given to you in bits and pieces and at even intervals, keeping the pace flowing well. It could have flowed a bit better without a few of the repetitious scenes. Also, I don’t know if the hairstyle that Frances had was correct for the time but it seemed…odd. I don’t generally comment on an actor’s appearance but this really stood out to me, especially in light of later events. It’s really the only part of The Rizen that I can say that they were trying a wee bit too hard to throw a slight red herring at you. 

The Rizen is a good mix of action, mystery and horror that soon sucked me in. For anyone looking for non-stop action filled with one-liners then The Rizen probably isn’t going to be for you. However, if you’re looking for a bit of mystery, a bit of gore and one heck of an ending then I strongly recommend The Rizen. I see there’s a sequel in the works and I’m a little torn on that. In a way I am curious about a few things but I also think that The Rizen ended well so I don’t really know how it could support a sequel. I guess we will see…

Indie Zone: Interview with Miles Doleac, writer/director of Demons

 Interview Banner Miles Doleac Demons

Miles Doleac wrote, directed, and starred in Demons, a psychological thriller-horror from Uncork’d.

Demons synopsis: Celebrated fiction writer and former priest, Colin Hampstead, and his wife, Kayleigh, are tormented by the ghost of her late sister, as the details of her grisly death are slowly uncovered.

Read my review of Demons here.

Talking with Miles Doleac


Do you have to be a fan of horror– particularly these types of horror films – to direct one?

Miles Doleac: I think the subject matter, or some element of it, whatever the genre, needs to resonate in some way if you’re to be the most effective steward of it. You have to be able to identify with it at some level. As a genre, horror is vast. I’m not sure everyone recognizes that fact. The Exorcist, Jaws, Halloween, Alien, The Shining, Get Out, even a film like Marathon Man … they’re all horror films, really, but they’re quite different from one another in so many ways. For me, horror is all about psychology. If something is disturbing psychologically, it will elicit a visceral, physical reaction as well. Oftentimes the horror of what you don’t see or know is more profound, which why the original Jaws and Alien films work so well. Good horror gets in your head and bangs around in there. I’m a fan of any film that achieves that.

And what about exorcist movies? A fan?

Miles Doleac: I love The Exorcist and I even enjoyed the new television version to a large extent.  Ben Daniels is terrific in it. Exorcism of Emily Rose has a great creep factor and a strong cast. I’m fascinated with religion and various kinds of religious experience and I teach Latin, so, yeah, I’d say the sub-genre is right up my alley.

It’s the subgenre you just can’t kill! Why do you think that is?

Miles Doleac: It’s about that quintessential struggle between good and evil for the very soul of humankind, right? It probes our deepest, most complicated preoccupations. Who are we in the cosmic scheme? Are we on our own or are we being guided or compelled by forces outside ourselves? Are we primarily good or evil? Is there something spiritual and immortal inhabiting our corporeal flesh? If God exists, can he/she be both all good and all powerful at the same time? These are questions humanity has been asking since time immemorial and exorcism stories just cut right to the heart of them.

What movies would you say Demons is alike?

Miles Doleac: It certainly has elements of popular exorcism films, the two I mentioned above included (The Exorcist and Exorcism of Emily Rose), but I think it also, at times, feels a little like The Big Chill or The Anniversary Party, films that are, of course, from an entirely different genre. I’ve been told it has some David Lynch-type moments, maybe some Kubrickian moments. All of these are films and filmmakers that I admire, so their influence is certainly there. I’m hopeful that the film’s combination of horror and domestic drama makes it a little special, leads it to stand out from the herd a bit.

Did you go the practical route for effects or CGI?

Miles Doleac: Mostly practical. When you’re working with a budget like ours, you have to go practical whenever possible. There are some digital effects here and there though from some very talented folks.

Did you write Colin for yourself? Where does Colin end and Miles begin?

Miles Doleac: I did. The dual timelines in the film present two versions of Colin. I think the Colin in the past (let’s call it the “exorcism” timeline) is more like me. In the present-day timeline, Colin seems to have found a kind of inner calm that I don’t really possess. I think he’s accepted the fact that there are forces beyond his control. It took a profound tragedy for him to arrive at that peace, but he’s pretty steady now. I spend a lot of my time in a state of mild panic, always moving, always needing to be doing something, creating something. Colin has reached that point where he allows himself to just “be” I think. Maybe he’s who I aspire to be.

Did you look into exorcism stories while researching this one?

Miles Doleac: I have a PhD in Ancient History, so I was somewhat familiar with the history of exorcism, but I did review the Church’s policies on the rite in some detail when I was writing the script. Formal exorcism is a rather complicated matter for the Church nowadays. It’s gone a bit underground, but the Church can’t afford to abandon the practice fully. I mean the Jesus Movement has a rich exorcism tradition. There’s a really interesting tension there.

Have your favorite horror films influenced the kind of movies you like to do?

Miles Doleac: Absolutely. Every film I write, I can point to the influence of two or three films that, consciously or no, informed the creative process in some way. You write what moves you, what you love, what you know, at least most commonly. My three features (The Historian, The Hollow, Demons) appear very different on the surface, but, if you look closely, I think you’ll find themes and motifs that recur in all. I never really knew I wanted to write a horror film until I sat down with Demons, but as I wrote it, and as I re-watched, or watched for the first time, other horror films to see what they were doing, I realized just how rich the genre is. It’s a sandbox I could play in for a while for sure.

**Interview materials provided by October Coast**

Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #34

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

08/26/2017 – 09/01/2017


The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.


Labor Day is here and summer is officially over. That might be a depressing thought but cheer up! Halloween is almost here!





Plant KingdomScott M. Brents

Cirus plants cucumbers, the biggest and best anyone’s ever seen. His parents are not the nicest, however, so Cirus decides to try to grow some new ones. It makes me wonder what he planted to make them grow.

A very good, creepy story. It leaves the ending kind of open so I’m curious what will grow.

Porky Pig in the MirrorRandy Miller

A gymnast looks at herself in the mirror and sees nothing but the Porky Pig her coach calls her. What follows are her internal thoughts on how she has to stay thin and her horrifying solution if she grows breasts.

Wow. This was truly terrifying.

The PredatorDon D’Ammassa

Detective Ryan is on the hunt for a serial killer, spurning the offer of help from a pair of Russian siblings. However, this killer is not human. And neither are the siblings.

A great story. I love a ‘good’ werewolf story. Or werewolfhounds. Whichever.

Prime CrimeWilliam Marden

The executive of a failing network makes a deal for exclusives with the devil. Well, not the actual devil but a serial killer. Who has found a way to make sure that the executive has a solid alibi for himself.

A very good story with a great line “the doors to hell had been flung open and he was sliding down through them”. Maybe not super-creative but very evocative.

The Proof in the PictureLisa Morton

Derek works for a tabloid, retouching photos if needed for effect. Called to take pictures of a possessed kid he gets good pictures all right. But more than Derek had bargained for.

An awesome story. I love a good demonic story. And this one is mixed in with a serial killer. Even better.

The Pull-Out Atlas of the Unseen WorldMichael Gillis

Jack has created his own religion, claiming to have found an Atlas of the Unseen World. He’s so convincing that a mass of people have gathered outside. Now Jack has to figure out a way out of his lie. Without getting himself and his friend killed, if possible.

A great story with a really good twist at the end. It was also a very unexpected twist which makes it that much better.

PulloverRobert Devereaux

Frazell is dressing for a night out but becomes entangled in his sweater. We’ve all done it. But getting out again? Not so easy.

This one was pretty creepy because I absolutely hate getting tangled in a sweater. It’s claustrophobic and creepy feeling. Almost as bad as getting lost in a sleeping bag…which I have done. It’s a long story.

Favorite of the Week:
This was a bit of a better week. My favorite is definitely The Proof in the Picture by Lisa Morton. I love the mix of it and the retaliation of the aggrieved serial killer. I guess you don’t retouch their work. Good to know. However, Porky Pig in the Mirror by Randy Miller is truly chilling. All the more so because of it’s realism.

Thanks for joining us yet again! Keep coming back for more scary stories as Halloween draws ever closer. I know, I know, it’s only September but I can dream.

Witch City: Cardinal #BookReview

Title: Witch City: Cardinal | Author: Tim Morgan  | Pub. Date: 02/07/2016 | Pages: 152 | ISBN13: 9781523933747 | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received free paperback from the author for review consideration |

Witch City: Cardinal

At sixteen Peter Cardinal’s family was slaughtered by vampires, but his story is dismissed as the ramblings of a traumatized teen. Wracked by guilt and driven by fury, Peter sets his sights on a career in law enforcement.

His adoptive father, however, is the only one who will listen – and he has other plans for Peter.

After college Peter is recruited by The Program – a law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down and destroying monsters at all costs. At first out for vengeance, Peter understands something bigger and more sinister is in the works. He’s one of the few who can see it. And he may be the only one who can stop it.

This book follows Peter’s story from the death of his parents through his transformation to Program agent to his first case in a world going insane.


Witch City: Cardinal Review

I was pretty interested in the synopsis for Witch City. It sounded very interesting. It was, to a point. I’d be interested to read the next book in the series to see where it goes. Frankly, Witch City: Cardinal was a little on the boring side. Mr. Morgan certainly brings a lot of detail to Peter’s time in the Program. If you love details of military boot camp then this book will thrill you to no end. However, countless descriptions of physical work-outs does not a book make. For being in Peter’s head most of the time I never really got a sense of him. There were mostly repetitious thoughts about how he has to make it through the Program for his parents but there seemed to be very little emotion behind it. The scene with his parents is written well, with the emotions that I would expect. A brief chapter or two skims over what seems like a couple of years until he is suddenly in the Program. It’s also hinted that he is ‘special’ in some way but so far what is shown is he’s a good leader with a strong will. His teammates likewise have little to distinguish one from another, you can find similar characters in just about any portrayal of the military in various media.

For all of the description of their training it oddly skips over some of the more interesting tidbits that could liven up the endless physical training descriptions. For instance, they are given classes on what types of monsters the Program has classified and their behavior. I was starting to perk up but the reader is not invited into the classes with Peter and the rest. Perhaps Tim Morgan is keeping some mystery for later appearances. I hope so, but a titillating glimpse of them in this book would have been nice. It would also give us an idea of how dangerous some of the creatures are. It’s hard to get nervous for the character when we don’t know what the creature is, how powerful or dangerous it is and so on.

I’m also having a little trouble envisioning the world itself. It seems like the Program is secret. In the beginning it’s hinted that law enforcement knows about it (which makes sense) but regular people don’t. However, during training recruits are allowed to “blow the whistle” and leave the training with no repercussions. Not even a vow of secrecy or anything. In fact, when Peter has passed the training and is looking for an apartment even the real estate agent seems to know about the paranormal agency which he’s aligned with.

The final few chapters are Peter’s first case. Which is at first described very well and seems to be a big deal. Since the reader has no knowledge of the ‘creature’ it loses a lot of its tension and everything resolves rather easily.

All of this may seem like I did not like Witch City. While I can’t say Witch City enthralled me, I am curious to read the next in the series to at least give Tim Morgan the chance to capture my attention with hopefully more detailed descriptions of the world itself and the creatures of darkness that Peter will be doing battle with.

On more technical notes, there are is a typo here and there in the paperback copy of Witch City. Just a few though and does not diminish the reading experience. In my opinion the paperback cover is much better than the e-book version. It’s far more eye-catching and creepier looking. The e-book cover is a bit bland.

Purchase on Amazon

Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #11

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

03/11/2017 – 03/17/2017

The horror short-short isn’t easy to master, but more than 100 of the genre’s critically acclaimed authors & hottest up-&-comers have taken a stab at it in Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, an anthology that contains a short tale for every day of the year. Steve Rasnic Tem, Wm F. Nolan, Tom Piccirilli, Yvonne Navarro, Peter Atkins, Brian Hodge, Martin Mundt & 166 others give you short, sharp shocks.

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

Well, we’re really getting into it now, aren’t we? I can feel you holding my hand but not quite so tight, if you please. Wait. That’s not your hand?

Death CertificateScott A. Cupp

Tom receives an official Death Certificate for his birthday. He passes it off as a gag gift but his wife takes it very seriously. As well they should have.

A very good story. A little bit of Twilight Zone and a bit of Ambrose Bierce’s The Damned Thing.

Death ClownWayne Allen Sallee

Death comes along for the ride on Jimbo’s last birthday engagement. But Jimbo has been dealing in death for quite some time now.

It was well-written and I can’t fault the author just because I didn’t find the story appealing. I’ll just say that some people might like and others not so much. It also reminded me a bit of Stephen King’s ‘Morning Deliveries’ from Skeleton Crew.

Death for DeathKevin Andrew Murphy & Lillian Csernica

A sorcerer, Doctor Carlon attempts to enact an ancient power. Life for life. Death for death. And behind it all, Vengeance.

A very good dark fantasy story. It sounds as though the sorcerer is claiming to right a wrong it also seems as though there may be political motivations behind his “helpfulness”.

The Death of LoveAdam-Troy Castro

A wave sweeps the nation, taking away love and hatred in one swift blow. Some of the effects are horrific, some are actually beneficial (sort of). It also reveals to one couple how barren their lives were before the apocalypse of love and hate.

This was a great story and a perfect example of good flash fiction. The first part gives you the necessary details and some specific examples of how that would affect the world. It’s very realistic and quite horrifying. The second part is no less horrifying but on a more microscopic level.

DecemberSteve Rasnic Tem

During a particularly extreme December ‘Those Who Were in Charge’ find frozen bodies littering the streets. Unreported, disturbing bodies. As the bleakness wears off there are more murders bu no bodies.

I’m not too sure what I think about this one. I liked it all the way up to the end but then the last couple of sentences threw it off. It left a lot of questions at the last second. Sometimes I don’t mind that but this was one of those times that it just left me confused and a little irritated. If anyone else reads it and gets it, please let me know. I’d be curious to know what other people think about it.

Demon BenderTina L. Jens

A demon goes on a blood bender and takes a dog for a joyride around the house.

Pretty amusing but I really don’t think the very last line was necessary.

Demon Tears (Adapted from a Japanese Myth) Gordon Linzner

A monk meets a weeping oni on the road the monk tries to help. The oni tells of his life and why he is weeping. From the oni’s tale the monk decides it would be judicious to remove himself from the area.

Slightly horrifying but with a bit touch of humour at the end. I liked it quite a lot and now I’m curious to read the original. I want to know if it’s just been translated or if anything has been changed.

Favorite of the Week:
I think I’m going to have to go with Death Certificate by Scott A. Cupp. It was a good story with a nice twist at the end. A little ambiguous of an ending but in a good way. I also really liked Demon Tears by Gordon Linzner as well.

Join me again next week for more stories, hopefully with no clowns. That’s two weeks in a row with clowns. I smell a clownspiracy.

A Review of Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith

What’s it about?

Book Cover for Hell Holes: What lurks belowA geologist, his climatologist wife, two graduate students, a local newspaper reporter, an oil company representative, and a field biologist travel to one of dozens of huge holes that have mysteriously appeared in the tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. Their mission is to research these strange craters that threaten financial and environmental catastrophe should they open up under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline or any of the many oil wells and smaller pipe lines that feed it. Unfortunately, a far worse danger lurks below, one that threatens to destroy all of humanity when it finally emerges. Some will live and some will die on Hell Day and the day after as the team flees south towards Fairbanks.

-Goodreads Synopsis

Continue reading “A Review of Hell Holes by Donald Firesmith”

Skycastle, the Demon, and Me by Andy Mulberry #BookReview

Title: Skycastle, The Demon, and Me | Series: Skycastle (bk 1) | Author: Andy Mulberry (site) | Publisher: Paw! Print Press | Pub. Date: 2014-3-1 | Pages: 106  | Genre: Children’s Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Age Appropriate: 6-13 | Date Read: 2016-1-9 | Source: Received a copy free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Skycastle, the Demon, and Me

Middle Grade ~ If you owe Hell gold but you can’t pay, you’re about to have a bad day!

Jack gets MUCH more than he bargained for when he orders a demon straight from the Underworld. Things go hilariously awry when the demon Brinkloven Crowley the Third, Brink for short, isn’t all what Jack expected.And when Hell comes knocking, Jack’s and Brink’s destinies are tied together in a most unexpected fashion.

WARNING…this book contains a scowling demon, bad decisions, a skeleton key, not foul but hellish language, an ordinary boy and an extraordinary castle. And a whole lot of fun. You’ve been warned.

-Goodreads Synopsis


Skycastle, the Demon, and Me (Skycastle Series, #1)

Skycastle, the Demon, and Me Review

“Not foul, but hellish language” is right. If you are easily offended by the word hell or consider it a curse word for some godforsaken (heh. heh. heh.) reason, then you’ll want to avoid getting this book for your middle-grader. The word Hell is mentioned several times. As a place. Not a curse. A literal place with hell-related objects in it, like hellfire. Just sayin’. Wanted to make that very clear.

Skycastle, The Demon, and Me was a fun, quirky middle-grade read that I thoroughly enjoyed. The shenanigans that Jack gets up to are completely believable (well, other than the whole demon from Hell actually existing) of a boy his age, told with a light touch that just makes you grin. Its as if Jack and Brink are two parts of the same boy. Jack the ‘angel’ (Well, as much of an angel as a boy his age can be), and Brink the other half.

Obviously, in the course of ordering a demon, Jack learns that things like Hell’s customer service tends to suck, demons don’t do what you want them to do, and there’s this whole ‘not being able to pay for it’ thing he’s got to deal with at the same time.

The only thing I didn’t care for was it kind of sequel-baited the end because the cut off leaves you wondering why/how the thing that happened actually happened because there’s zero explanation for it. It just happens. At the same time, we got a complete mini-adventure in the 106 pages, so I’m not going to gripe too much.

This would be a perfect read to intrigue a young kid who isn’t quite into reading who may like the idea of getting to read something a bit ‘naughty’.

Click here to find Skycastle, the Demon, and Me: Book 1 in the Skycastle series now on