Subhuman by Michael McBride #BookReview

Title: Subhuman | Series: Unit 51 #1 | Author: Michael McBride | Publisher: Pinnacle Books | Pub. Date: 2017-10-31 | Pages: 424 | ISBN13: 9780786041589 | Genre: Horror Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy from the author for review consideration.


Subhuman

THEY ARE NOT HUMAN.
At a research station in Antarctica, five of the world’s top scientists have been brought together to solve one of the greatest mysteries in human history. Their subject, however, is anything but human . . .

THEY ARE NOT NATURAL.
Deep beneath the ice, the submerged ruins of a lost civilization hold the key to the strange mutations that each scientist has encountered across the globe: A misshapen skull in Russia. The grotesque carvings of a lost race in Peru. The mummified remains of a humanoid monstrosity in Egypt . . .

THEY ARE NOT FRIENDLY.
When a series of sound waves trigger the ancient organisms, a new kind of evolution begins. Latching onto a human host–crossbreeding with human DNA–a long-extinct life form is reborn. Its kind has not walked the earth for thousands of years. Its instincts are fiercer, more savage, than any predator alive. And its prey are the scientists who unleashed it, the humans who spawned it, and the tender living flesh on which it feeds . . .

Subhuman Book Cover

Subhuman Review

Michael McBride knows how to write a good thriller. His horror isn’t too shabby either! Subhuman was a delight to read. McBride’s style brings to mind both James Rollins and Michael Crichton. He did a great job at mixing reality and fiction, to the point that I had to keep my phone on hand to ascertain which was which at times! (Yes, I’m one of those people who looks up stuff authors mention in books to see if it’s real or not.) He was able to easily sell his story to me. Anyone who has spent any time watching Ancient Aliens – I didn’t say believed! Just watched! – or any of those type of programs will be familiar with some of the odd stuff from our history that we can’t quite explain. I enjoyed how he took those familiar elements and made his own story from them.

Pretty much the only problem I had with Subhuman was the sheer amount of characters and the flipping of viewpoints between them. The plot unfolds through the eyes of several characters, alternating every chapter. I got a few of the characters confused pretty consistently as a result, and found myself frequently glancing back at the first six or so chapters in Subhuman to remind myself who was who. Didn’t stop me from enjoying the story, though! 

Subhuman is well paced. While it is one of those books where the first half of it is primarily spent in build-up, it doesn’t feel like it. I never got bored or anxious for the story to move along. I was intrigued with the bits and pieces the author slowly fed me. Then, when the feces did start hitting the fan, I was quite happy to shift gears and let the horror hound in me out to playSubhuman delivers a near perfect mix of thrills and gore and is almost impossible to put down. 

The author also has a way of slipping in one-liners that will leave you giggling,

“Not bad for a four-eyed girl from Scranton, whose first archaeological dig was in a sandbox that produced what other kids convinced her was a piece of chocolate.”

or sometimes just describing things so perfectly that you couldn’t help but laugh.

“There were men who took their responsibilities seriously, and then there was Dale, who seemed to spend every waking moment averting life-and-death catastrophes, if only in his mind.”

It’s not all witty wordplay, though. He knows how to make you stop and think,

“Seemingly overnight, modern man’s Simian shelf vanished and his sloping forehead gave way to an upright frontal bone about doubled in size to accommodate a brain twice the size of those of any other hominin species, and yet somehow it has miraculously remained the same size for more than 20,000 years.”

and there’s also some very snarky (and disturbingly apt feeling) observations on current society.

“I know how old-school this must seem, but the world’s been too busy uploading porn and cat pictures on the internet to waste any time digitizing old scientific texts and articles that are only of interest to the few of us left who can actually read.”

Overall, Subhuman was a fun read that will keep you fully engaged and leave your mind lingering on the possibilities after the book is over. It’s the first book in the Unit 51 series, so prepare to settle in and get comfortable with these characters. The only thing that I worry about (and you can tell I’m thinking long-term here) is that the author will fall into the Rollins’ type trap where after a while all of the books in the series start to feel exactly the same. I hope he can avoid that, because I want more. Now, please!

Check it out on Amazon.

Press Release: House by the Lake ( #Horror )

House By the Lake – Releases October 10th!

Los Angeles, CA– Random Media turns a picturesque retreat into a destination of terror in House by the Lake. Starring James Callis (“Battlestar Galactica”, the Bridget Jones series), Anne Dudek (“Covert Affairs”, “Big Love”) and Amiah Miller (War for the Planet of the Apes, Lights Out) as a family on the edge, House by the Lake will debut nationwide on Cable VOD, Digital HD and DVD on October 10th.

House by the Lake is the latest stint in the director’s chair by veteran genre scribe Adam Gierasch (Night of the Demons, Tales of Halloween, Fractured, Autopsy), with a script by newcomer Josh Burnell. Natasha Bassett (Hail Caesar!) and Michael Bowen (“Lost”, “Breaking Bad”) round out the main cast as the family’s nanny and the unsettling man down the beach, respectively.

Movie Poster for House by the LakeHouse by the Lake Synopsis:

A struggling couple, Scott and Karen, pack up their troubled young daughter and head to a picturesque lake house to reconnect and put their problems behind them. As Emma spends time with her new nanny, the little girl begins fixating on an imaginary friend she calls the Fish Man. Karen’s fear of the strange man down the beach, Emma’s fear of the water and her recurring sleepwalking continue to raise tensions in the house and drive a wedge between Scott and Karen until one night Emma disappears. When she’s found breathing underwater in the tub, Emma insists she’s been with the Fish Man. And he’s coming back for her.

House by the Lake Banner


House by the Lake has me excited. I watched the trailer (which I’ll put below) and immediately emailed Justin Cook PR begging for a screener. This looks like it has the potential to be fantastic. (But what is it with all the little blonde-haired blue eyed girls in horror?!)

What do you guys think? Does this look fun or what?!

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**

Dementia 13 Official Trailer ( #Horror Thriller)

DEMENTIA 13 is the retelling of Francis Ford Coppola’s film of the same name, which was produced by Roger Corman.

The film was written by Dan DeFilippo (The Invaders and Chilling Visions: 5 States of Fear) and Justin Smith (SiREN, THE BOY), is directed by Richard LeMay (Blood Bound, Naked As We Come) and stars Channing Pickett (Redheads Anonymous), Marianne Noscheze (Horror Time), Christian Ryan (Celebrity Ghost Stories, Casters), Julia Campanelli (116) and Ana Isabelle (The Eyes, Lost Cat Corona).

Chiller Films will be releasing DEMENTIA 13 in Theaters on October 6th and on VOD and Digital HD on October 10th.
Movie poster for Dementia 13

Dementia 13 Synopsis: A vengeful ghost, a mysterious killer, and a family where everyone has a secret converge in one night of terror in this remake of Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature film.

Dementia 13 Official Trailer


What do you guys think of the trailer for Dementia 13? It looked like it could be interesting. The scene with the doll’s head kind of creeped me out a little bit. The only thing that bugged me was the sheer amount of screaming in the trailer.

Have you seen the original Dementia 13 from 1963? What did you think of it? I guess the real question is: What movie cover do you like better? Personally, I’m digging the 1963 version!

Movie cover for original Dementia 13

FYI: The summary from the original Dementia 13 is: Whilst out on a rowboat with his wife Louise, John Haloran has a heart attack and dies. She casts his body overboard and hides his death telling the family he left on an urgent business trip. Louise’s main concern is that she can only hope to inherit part of his family fortune if he’s still alive. The Halorans are a strange family. They are still grieving over the death of the youngest daughter, Kathleen, who drowned in a pond when she was a young child. The family hold an annual ceremony of remembrance, on the anniversary of her death. But this year someone is wielding an ax…intent on murder.

Here’s hoping Dan DeFilippo makes the new one a good one!

 

Skitter by Ezekiel Boone #BookReview (The Hatching #2)

Title: Skitter | Series: The Hatching #2 | Author: Ezekiel Boone | Publisher: Atria | Pub. Date: 2017-4-25 | Pages: 352 | ISBN13: 9781501125072 | Genre: Horror Thriller | Language: English | Triggers: Spiders. Lots of Spiders. | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Date Read: 2016-11-12 | Source: Received a copy from the publisher for review consideration.


Skitter

Tens of millions of people around the world are dead. Half of China is a nuclear wasteland. Mysterious flesh-eating spiders are marching through Los Angeles, Oslo, Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, and countless other cities. According to scientist Melanie Gruyer, however, the spider situation seems to be looking up. Yet in Japan, a giant, truck-sized, glowing egg sack gives a shocking preview of what is to come, even as survivors in Los Angeles panic and break the quarantine zone. Out in the desert, survivalists Gordo and Shotgun are trying to invent a spider super weapon, but it’s not clear if it’s too late, because President Stephanie Pilgrim has been forced to enact the plan of last resort: The Spanish Protocol. America, you are on your own. – Goodreads

skitter

Skitter Review

Skitter is the continuation of the story began in The Hatching. This is not a series that arachnophobes should read, as it’s pretty much your worst nightmare come to life. A spider species that has been dormant since at least before recorded history emerges. The ‘swarm’ is a destructive force much like cicadas in that they lay waste to everything in their path. And just when humanity thought it might be over, they began to realize that they were wrong. And now it’s time to figure out what’s going on.  Before it’s too late.

The Hatching was a fantastic book.  You were able to dive right into it and lose yourself in the action. By the time it was done you were determined to become buddies with an exterminator but you’d definitely enjoyed yourself. Skitter, unfortunately, is nowhere near as interesting or fun as the first book was.  It falls flat on a few important points. Namely, it isn’t capable of standing alone. If you haven’t read the first book, you are going to be pretty lost as to what’s been going on. Even if you have read it, you aren’t going to be able to fall right into the story again. Ezekiel Boone doesn’t do a great job of giving enough of a retrospective in the beginning.

I remembered the basics – “Swarms of spiders, lots of death, hatching from inside people, then the fallback and egg sacks” – but that was it. I couldn’t remember much about the characters going into the second book, so I had to get reacquainted with them. Nor did I remember some of the smaller key events and locations. So, Skitter got off to a bit of a stuttering start. That was just the first issue, and the smaller of the two.

My main problem with Skitter is that it’s filler. Yes, some stuff happens, but the entire book basically takes place between cleanup from the first wave, and the start of the second wave.This series would work best as a duology. Even though one or two big things happen, nothing that happens in it is anything that couldn’t have been addressed at the end of the first book, or the beginning of the second one. Trying to make it into a trilogy has seriously hampered it’s impact. I loved The Hatching, and was really looking forward to reading Skitter. Ezekiel Boone got the series off to such a strong start that I’ve been anticipating this book for months. But it is, unfortunately, a rather mediocre read.

However, it had it’s positive points. I liked most of the characters (even if there are a bit too many). They’re very believable and none of them are perfect. Mike, especially, was one that you wanted to root for. I want to say Leshaun, too, but honestly he was a bit character that only had a few lines. Kind of wish he’d featured more. The doctor, Melanie, also feels very real. Even though some of the characters are obviously involved for comic relief, you can’t help but appreciate and connect with them.

Also,  the decisions that were made in Skitter make sense. That’s a big one. You can actually see things going down the way that they do. You  might not agree with what happens, but you can see it.

I do have to say that there was one passage that I loved. It’s very relevant to what is going on in America right now.

“I think a lot of people are really scared right now. Not every person makes good choices, and sometimes, when people are scared, there are people who try to take advantage of that fear.” – Ezekiel Boone, Skitter

Overall, I just can’t recommend Skitter.  Sorry to all the fans of it out there. When I was reading reviews on Goodreads after I finished, I thought “Did we read the same book? I’m not sure we read the same book.” Such was the difference in beliefs as to the contents. I honestly feel like people will probably be able to read the first book and then just skip to the third whenever it comes out. The middle is a bit of a nonentity.  Still, the first book was awesome, so go read it in preparations for the third book!

Ararat Review (Horror / Thriller)

Book cover for Ararat by Christopher Golden

When a newly engaged couple climbs Mount Ararat in Turkey, an avalanche forces them to seek shelter inside a massive cave uncovered by the snow fall. The cave is actually an ancient, buried ship that many quickly come to believe is really Noah’s Ark. But when a team of scholars, archaeologists, and filmmakers make it inside the ark for the first time, they discover an elaborate coffin in its recesses…and when they break it open, they find that the cadaver within is an ugly, misshapen thing…and it has horns. A massive blizzard blows in, trapping them in that cave thousands of meters up the side of a remote mountain…but they are not alone.- Goodreads


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Get Out Review (Horror/Thriller)

Movie cover for Get Out

Synopsis: A young African-American man visits his Caucasian girlfriend’s mysterious family estate.

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford

Release Date: Feb 24th, 2017 | MPAA Rating: R | Coolthulhus Earned: 4

Watch the Get Out trailer.


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Sawfish Review (Horror Thriller)

sawfish

Sawfish: Marine biologist Dr. Mason Rayman is experimenting with gigantism in sea creatures when he accidentally creates a monstrously large sawfish. When it grows so big he can no longer keep it in his Miami lab, he is preparing to have it destroyed when he learns he is being terminated from his position. By way of revenge, he dumps the oversized shark relative into the ocean, where it soon roams out of control, slaughtering bathers at nearby trendy South Beach.

Dr. Rayman doesn’t let on that it’s his fish responsible for the killings, but someone knows what he did, and she’s blackmailing him. He plays along for a while but then decides she needs eliminated. Breaking into a lab at his former workplace, he deliberately creates more monster sawfish and releases them into the local waters.

Rayman then attempts to get his job back by stepping forward as the expert on how to stop the scourge of gigantic predators now ravaging swimmers and water sports enthusiasts on South Florida beaches. But his blackmailer will not let up, leading to an ultimate confrontation between woman and beast, and finally, woman and man. – Goodreads


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Sunfall: Season One Review (Post-Apocalyptic Horror)

sunfallSunfall: It came without warning…

One Sunday afternoon, those who stood in the sun caught fire and turned to ash. Forced indoors, humanity must learn to live in the darkness. Unless, what waits in the darkness catches them, too… Forced inside a giant retail warehouse, a group of survivors must learn to live with the darkness and each other. A father aims to protect his children from a dangerous new world, whatever the cost. An ex-cop burdened by her shaky past puts her skills to the test when people start dying. A mysterious worshiper attempts to rally the community and seek alternative refuge. – Goodreads


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Hush Review (2016 Horror Thriller)

hush

Synopsis: A deaf writer who retreated into the woods to live a solitary life must fight for her life in silence when a masked killer appears at her window.

Tagline:  Silence can be killer.

Date Released: 2016-4-8 | MPAA Rating: R | Coolthulhus Earned: 3

Trailer: Hush


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