The Minstrel’s Bargain (Horror)

Title: The Minstrel’s Bargain | Author: Richard Ayre | Publisher: Originally published by Bloodhound Books | Pub. Date: 10/14/2017 | Pages: 430 | ASIN: B01M6X9WNO | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Scenes of torture and violence | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Received from the author for an honest review


The Minstrel’s Bargain

‘A tale of horror, hell and heavy metal.’
Newcastle. 1988….
They say that music is the food of love. Reporter Phil Sturgess would disagree with this. He would argue that some music is the stuff of nightmares. Some music can literally tear out your soul and drag it, kicking and screaming, down to hell itself.
Sturgess loves rock music. He loves it so much he makes a living from it. But when he hears of a band called Minstrel’s Bargain, Sturgess’ life descends into horror. As the city he lives in succumbs to ever more violent and macabre episodes of grisly murders and barbarous acts of self-destruction, Sturgess begins to understand that there is something very wrong with Minstrel’s Bargain. Something very wrong indeed.
With time running out for humanity, Sturgess is threatened with an age old evil. And to stop that evil he is forced to confront the terrifying stranger who has been dogging his footsteps for months. The only question is; will Sturgess do what needs to be done? If not, the souls of millions will be destroyed.
Sturgess has to make a choice. Fight or flight? Heaven or Hell? Live or die? Whatever he chooses, it will be a Devil of a decision. – Goodreads

 

The Minstrel’s Bargain 

I really, really wanted to give The Minstrel’s Bargain four stars because I really did love it. A lot. It just has a few flaws that are hard to get past but with some tightening up it could be a phenomenal book.

The characters are great. I loved Sturgess and Shelley. They were a great couple and very believable. I got really attached to them. The dialogue was perfect, very casual but not rude and it wasn’t overly formal. Since this seems to be a series I’m very interested to see where it goes and spending some more time with Sturgess and Shelley. The surrounding characters were fleshed out very well, even the incidental characters.

One of the problems of The Minstrel’s Bargain was with pacing. Near the middle of the book it kind of slows down and stays on a plateau for a while. It’s detailing some of the things happening in the wake of the band but after a while you kind of want to say, “Ok, got it. Let’s get moving”. All of these incidents are well detailed and the author does a very good job of fleshing them out so you really get invested in what’s happening to them. Which is nice but it does slow the book down a bit.

One of the other problems the book has is it’s tendency to use phrases like “If he had known this would happen” a lot. Which a lot of writers do but it’s also nice not to have everything telegraphed beforehand. Another common mistake that shows up in the book is the mysterious “You’ll know when you’re ready” speeches that The Chosen Ones always seem to be a recipient of. But those are really the only flaws with it.

The author does know the music scene, especially in the eighties. Which kind of made me wonder why no one put two and two together about the band. I didn’t knock any points off for this because a lot of people might not notice it. Anyways, in the late eighties there was a huge deal about heavy metal, Satanism and bands influencing people with their music. Ozzy Osbourne’s song “Suicide Solution” got hit hard. Judas Priest got a lot of flack over their music, which really bothered them Their song “Holy Smoke” is directly in response to religious fanatics burning their records. They were also blamed for the suicide of a teenager. So I kind of find it hard to believe that no newspapers would have made the connection between the deaths and the band.

I’m also thankful for the lyrics at the beginning because I’ve found a new band to love and that gives me the happiness like you wouldn’t believe. I’m always on the lookout for more (hint, hint).


So, with the minor defects tightened up this could easily be a four or five star read and I’ll definitely be watching for the sequel.


Rating: 3 out of 5 Skulls

    

Cavern of the Damned Review (Creature Horror)

Title: Cavern of the Damned | Author: Russell James | Publisher; Severed Press | Pub. Date: May 22nd, 2017 | Pages: 129 | ASIN: B071LMZFHJ | Genre: Creature Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Arachnophobia, claustrophobia | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited


Cavern of the Damned Review

Broke and desperate, paleontologist Grant Coleman gets the chance of a lifetime exploring a long-sealed cave, the fabled home of a gigantic creatures.

NPS Ranger McKinley Stinson discovers a rancher’s prize bull has been butchered by an airborne killer, and tracks the blood trail back to the re-opened cavern. But as she’s about to arrest the trespassers, the unstable roof collapses, trapping all.

Their only way out is at the cave system’s far end. But an eco-system of terrifying mega fauna stands between them and freedom. Death, double-crosses, and a slew of monstrous cave creatures take their toll as the group battles to what they pray is an exit.

Will anyone survive this cavern of the damned? – Goodreads

Book cover for Cavern of the Damned

Continue reading “Cavern of the Damned Review (Creature Horror)”

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Long Live Walter Jameson

Long Live Walter Jameson

Professor Walter Jameson/Tom Bowen/Major Hugh Skelton – Kevin McCarthy
Professor Sam Kittridge – Edgar Stahli
Susanna Kittridge – Dodie Heath
Laurette Bowen – Estelle Winwood

Trigger Warnings (highlight to see) : Suicidal thoughts, almost completes tries it


Continue reading “Twilight Zone Tuesday – Long Live Walter Jameson”

Fathers in Horror

I think it’s interesting (and typical) that while Mother’s Day originally started as a day for church-goers to visit their “Mother Church”, Father’s Day has apparently been an honouring your father thing from the beginning. It originated in the Middle Ages, and is traditionally celebrated on March 19th. Of course, the US has to do things different.

I digress. Anyways, for our Top Ten Tuesday list this week, we did a Father’s Day special. The topic we did was Our Favorite Dads in Sci-Fi & Horror. And it was ridiculously difficult to come up with ten! We ended up having to go with just five. And that’s kind of mind-boggling to think about. Why is it so hard to find evidence of good dads in sci-fi and horror? Both of them would be strengthened by having a few more father figures that readers could look up to in the book. Doesn’t every bookworm have at least one book role-model that they look up to? In my case (Lilyn), it was finding good father figures in books and movies that convinced me that not all dads were horrible human beings. Yes, I knew they were just figments of someone’s imagination, but those people had to have had at least some good experiences with fathers, right?

For this post, we’ll be briefly addressing fathers in horror.

(Note: Most of the following post comes from GracieKat, folks. I’ve made no secret of the fact that Miss L is not a healthy child, and yesterday was a bad day for us. I didn’t have the time or energy to properly contribute to this. I’ve added a bit here and there, but that’s it.)

Fathers in Horror

There always seems to be a distinct lack of fathers in horror. In scary stories for kids, parents missing seems to be for plot purposes. After all, how can they get in their adventures with constant parental supervision? If they are present it’s usually a single parent that has to work often enough so the kids are left to their own devices. Sometimes the horror is the parents. And that tends to be the best case scenario. Once you get into adult horror fiction, it’s not exactly sunshine and roses.

Dads in particular in horror are quite often portrayed as, at the worst, abusive. At the least, neglectful, unobservant or skeptical of what their children are telling them. Taking a look at our Top Ten Tuesday list for our fathers you’ll probably notice that quite a few of them are a father figure, rather than the biological father. It’s good to show this because just biology doesn’t determine whether the person is actually a “father” or not. But it kind of makes me wonder why a child/teen character can have a father figure but not an actual father to help them. Parents are generally held to a higher standard of caring for their children. whether or not that’s always the case.  Father figures fill that role nicely. They’re able to be there when needed but also can be a friend when that’s needed as well.

Book cover for Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting for Fathers in Horror post

Two of the best that I can think of are Bobby from Supernatural and Harry from the Silent Hill game.

What’s interesting about Bobby is that he’s not just a father to the boys after their father’s death but even before. So, to me, it’s interesting to me as to why exactly they need a father figure to help them with their daily problems and not just being there for the really big stuff. Heck, Dean was laying in bed dying and they couldn’t get their dad on the phone. Bobby is always there for Sam and Dean. Whether it be bullying his way through a phone call pretending to be someone from the FBI to get them out of trouble, or simply showing up to help them hunt when they’re over their heads. He loves those boys.  And in return, the boys are there for him as much as possible.

Harry is also in the father figure category but I find his dynamic a bit more interesting because most father figures fill a very specific role. Harry’s is a bit more complicated in the game. Short form that’s mostly spoiler free (see longer form behind the spoilers thing if curious): Neither of the parents were biologically related to the baby they raised. They found her abandoned on the road. But he loves the kid, and when she requests to return to Silent Hill, he takes her. Revelations come one after another, and it turns out Cheryl was literally the missing piece to someone else. Bad things happen, and Harry ends up raising another baby that he’s given in the town. And that doesn’t end up going too well for him either.

Silent Hill Game Plot Summary/Spoilers!

In the movies he is still a generally good father but as he’s searching Silent Hill he seems to mainly be looking for his wife, rather than their daughter. They also, which was even more disturbing to me, is that they take the character of Dahlia and completely change her for the movie. In the game she’s a manipulative cult member who is also dealing drugs. She also manipulates her daughter to kill people with her powers in exchange for Dahlia’s love and attention. She also keeps Alessa in excruciating physical pain for seven years (through magic spells) to lure back the other half, Cheryl. There is also no father of record for Alessa. Movie Dahlia is made into a sympathetic character who herself was manipulated and regrets it. Harry’s actual character from the game is also changed into a woman. The director does comment on this by saying he wanted to show the mother/daughter relationship and that Harry showed more feminine aspects. My question to this is why not show a very close father/daughter relationship? And why take a horrible mother and lighten her to a tragic character who screwed up a bit by trusting the wrong person?

Here’s where it ties together (I knew I’d get there someday). I wanted to highlight what could have been with Alessa/Heather. Alessa in particular. Perhaps if she’d had a father to look out for her maybe the whole burning thing would not have happened. Or perhaps it wouldn’t. The only other father shown in connection with the cult is an abusive twat nozzle. It could also be why she gets so attached to Harry as each of the girls. Cheryl seems to love him, Heather loves him, enough to want to get revenge for his death. Alessa, even though she’s trying to slow him down from finding her she’s not hitting him hard, just throwing a few monsters in his way. And keep in mind that this is a girl who can kill with just a thought.

Game cover for Silent Hill for Fathers in Horror Post It’s also interesting to note that in the re-imagining that the game changes Harry’s involvement with Cheryl based on the decisions that the user makes in the psych profile. So how you answer directly affects the game and the actions of Harry. At the end it’s revealed that you are actually Cheryl answering the questions. So it makes a difference in Cheryl’s past because of the decisions you make for the character. And they are quite…personal questions from real psychological tests. So it creates a different dynamic to it.

Rupert Giles is one of the only other good fathers in horror that pop to mind. Well, father-figure, really. Though Buffy the Vampire Slayer couldn’t exactly be called horror as much as ‘supernatural’ most of the time. One of the nice things about the show was watching Giles grow into the father-figure role. At first he was the stuffy Watcher. By the end of it, Watcher be damned, he was the Scooby Gang’s dad. You could always count on Giles (even if it was just to tell you that you were being a dunderhead whilst cleaning his glasses.)

There is no doubt that fathers or father figures can have a big impact on a person’s life. A person can get by without them and grow up to be perfectly fine. However, a good ‘dad’ can provide some extra grounding. If you don’t think a father is that important to a person’s development, just look at the sheer amount of times in stories (even fiction outside of horror) where a character is traumatized by his/her father. How many authors write sexual abuse from the father as part of the plot, for instance? We need more good dads and moms in fiction. 

 

Fathers in Horror Questions:

  1. We would love to see a horror book where the main character actually had a dependable father and mother that she or he could rely on. Have you ever read such a book? If it it exists, please let us know!
  2.  Why do you think good parents are mostly absent in science fiction and horror? How many times do you think having a parent involved would have changed the outcome at least a little bit?
  3. Do you have any fathers in horror that we missed on our TTT or in this post? Talk to us. 

This is Horror, Issue 12: The Devil, Dr. Caligari, and Demons Everywhere

The banner for the bi-weekly This is Horror post on Sci-Fi & Scary

This is Horror, Issue 12 is a sampling of Horror Movies, Art, Fiction, and Gaming, and more. A little bit of everything to make the horror hound in you feel all fuzzy and warm. Or tingle with anticipation. Whatever works for you.

This is Horror’s Quote to Consider:

“Which is the true nightmare, the horrific dream that you have in your sleep or the dissatisfied reality that awaits you when you awake?”
Justin Alcala

Horror Movies:

Horror Movie Suggestion for the Week:

Movie cover for The Devil

Devil (2010): Talk about claustrophobic horror! 95 percent of this movie takes place inside of an elevator car. Its a surprisingly good watch, especially with a group of friends. (The guesses on who the devil is can get quite fun!)

Devil Synopsis: A group of people are trapped in an elevator and the Devil is mysteriously amongst them.

Starring:  Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Bokeem Woodbine

Watch the Devil trailer on Youtube.

 

 

 

 

 


Opening this Week (June 16th):

Movie cover for 47 Meters Down47 Meters Down Synopsis: Two sisters vacationing in Mexico are trapped in a shark cage at the bottom of the ocean. With less than an hour of oxygen left and great white sharks circling nearby, they must fight to survive.

(since I just posted the trailer link for this last week I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. Clicking the movie cover will take you to IMDB.)

 

 

 

 

 

 


Trailer to Watch:

Polaroid is styled in the vein of The Ring and Final Destination and centers on a high school loner, Bird Fitcher, who stumbles upon a vintage Polaroid camera. Bird soon learns that the camera houses a terrible secret: whoever has their picture taken by it meets a tragic and violent end. The girl and her friends must survive one more night as they race to solve the mystery of the haunted Polaroid before it kills them all.. You can check out the trailer here.

 

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Horror Books:

New Releases (June 2nd – June 16th)

Book cover for Nothing Left to Lose

Book cover for The Asylum of Dr. Caligari

Book cover for In the Valley of the Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nothing Left to Lose (John Cleaver #6) – Dan Wells – June 6th, 2017

New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells continues his acclaimed John Wayne Cleaver series, popular with fans of Dexter

Hi. My name is John Cleaver, and I hunt monsters. I used to do it alone, and then for a while I did it with a team of government specialists, and then the monsters found us and killed almost everyone, and now I hunt them alone again.

This is my story.

In this thrilling installment in the John Wayne Cleaver series, Dan Wells brings his beloved antihero into a final confrontation with the Withered in a conclusion that is both completely compelling and completely unexpected.

Don’t forget to catch the film adaptation of the first installment in the series, I am Not a Serial Killer, in theaters August 26th.

The Asylum of Dr. Caligari – James K. Morrow – June 13th, 2017

The infamous Dr. Caligari: psychiatrist or psychopath? In this wry and satiric tour de force, award-winning author James Morrow (Towing Jehovah, The Last Witchfinder) offers a surprising and provocative take on a silent film classic.

In the summer of 1914, the world teeters on the brink of the Great War. An American painter, Francis Wyndham, is hired to provide art therapy at a renowned European asylum, working under the auspices of its mysterious director, Alessandro Caligari. Francis is soon beguiled by his most talented student, Ilona Wessels, whose genius with a brush is matched only by the erotic intensity of her madness.

Deep in his secret studio, Dr. Caligari, rumored to be a sorcerer, struggles to create Ecstatic Wisdom, an immense painting so hypnotic it can incite entire regiments to rush headlong into battle. Once Francis and Ilona grasp Caligari’s scheme in all its supernatural audacity, they conspire to defeat him with a magical work of their own…

In the Valley of the Sun – Andy Davidson – June 6th, 2017

Deftly written and utterly addictive, this Western literary horror debut will find a home with fans of authors like Joe Hill, Cormac McCarthy, and Anne Rice.

One night in 1980, a man becomes a monster.

Haunted by his past, Travis Stillwell spends his nights searching out women in West Texas honky-tonks. What he does with them doesn’t make him proud, just quiets the demons for a little while. But after Travis crosses paths one night with a mysterious pale-skinned girl, he wakes weak and bloodied in his cabover camper the next morning—with no sign of a girl, no memory of the night before.

Annabelle Gaskin spies the camper parked behind her motel and offers the cowboy a few odd jobs to pay his board. Travis takes her up on the offer, if only to buy time, to lay low and heal. By day, he mends the old motel, insinuating himself into the lives of Annabelle and her ten-year-old son. By night, in the cave of his camper, he fights an unspeakable hunger. Before long, Annabelle and her boy come to realize that this strange cowboy is not what he seems.

Half a state away, a grizzled Texas Ranger is hunting Travis for his past misdeeds, but what he finds will lead him to a revelation far more monstrous. A man of the law, he’ll have to decide how far into the darkness he’ll go for the sake of justice.

When these lives converge on a dusty autumn night, an old evil will find new life—and new blood.

 

A Demon Lens

Book cover for DemonBook cover for Demon SeedBook cover for Demon Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Horrorific Trivia

Ten Great Songs Based on Horror Movies

Here I am, inflicting my love of music on you once again! I just can’t help myself it seems. Here are some fun songs based on horror movies (and maybe one or two not-so-bad ones). I’m sticking to songs penned out of inspiration from the movies themselves, which means I’ll be avoiding songs from the actual soundtracks of the movies themselves. There are so many more but I’m limiting myself to five so as to not make this insanely long. If you’re interested in more drop me a comment down below and I’ll be happy to share. Also, if you have some to share I’d love to hear them!

1. The Ghost of Vincent Price – Wednesday 13: Didn’t think I’d be able to work him onto this trivia did you? This one could use some improvement, in my opinion. Others might really like the rough around the edges punk style but with lyrics like these how could I resist?

“I know I’ll always get my thrill, in that House on Haunted Hill
I know that life can be a gas, locked inside that House of Wax
Some people prefer the finer things in life
I’m alright, just hanging with the ghost of Vincent Price”

2. Nosferatu – Blue Oyster Cult: From the Reaper to Godzilla and finally to Nosferatu. Based on the silent movie of the same name it truly should be an instrumental but with lyrics like these who can complain? Also, this fan made video mixing the lyrics and Nosferatu movie in silent movie style is just plain awesome.

“So chaste so calm, she gave herself
To the pleasure of her dreaded master
He sucked the precious drops of life
Throughout the long and cold dark night”

3. The Wicker Man – Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden is well-known for getting inspiration for their songs from real life events, books and movies.

“You watch the world exploding every single night
Dancing in the sun a newborn in the light
Brothers and their fathers joining hands and make a chain
The shadow of the Wicker Man is rising up again”

4. Hammer Horror – Kate Bush: An odd video but the song is quite good. A nice homage to the great Hammer Horror movies.

“Hammer Horror, Hammer Horror,
Won’t leave me alone.
The first time in my life,
I leave the lights on
To ease my soul.”

5.  The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Dave Edmunds: Goofy but kind of sweet. After all, don’t Creatures need a little love, too?

“Only surfaced for a companion,
‘Cause of that he’s never been seen.
Just a big look written in the eyes of his baby,
And a cry of terror, a honeymoon scream”

And one bonus song that I simply could not resist. My apologies to Robert Englund. I’m sure he’d rather this song just be forgotten to the depths of time. But, this being the internet, I bring you:

Do ‘The Freddy’ – from Freddy’s Greatest Hits: The cringe factor is strong with this one so I’ll just let you follow the link to enjoy it in all of it’s semi-glory. That being said, I actually kind of like the song Don’t Sleep from the same album. It’s definitely cheesy (and weirdly romantic sounding) but who doesn’t like a bit of cheese every now and then?

If you enjoyed this bit of musical oddity we also have a Lovecraftian Music post here and on This is Horror: Issue 8 which has a list of songs based on horror books. I can promise you they’re much better, musically speaking.

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Horror Around the Web

Book Tour: Grave Robbers Review (Zombie Horror )

Grave Robbers Banner

Grave Robbers by Matt Drabble

DI Lucas Grant thought that he’d seen everything that Bayport had to offer. A grim town run by a crime lord with half the police in his pocket and no one willing to take a stand.

But now something new is happening, something that makes no sense. Bank robbers who won’t stay down despite being shot multiple times, men returning from the dead to wreak havoc and death on his streets.

Bayport might be a crime ridden hellhole, but it is still his town and outsiders don’t get to burn it down, not without a fight.

Saddled with a new partner he can’t trust and forced into an uneasy alliance with the criminal who ruined his town Grant will finally have to make a stand. Forced to fight against the darkness he will get answers and find those responsible, wherever the truth lies and however incredible it might be.

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Grave Robbers Review

It has been quite a while since I’ve read a zombie story. I made the mistake of reading too many of them in a row for too long and burned myself out. However, the synopsis for Grave Robbers, along with the cover, enticed me to give it a try. For people like me, who have read a few too many zombie stories, this one might surprise you. It never goes full on zombie apocalypse. Instead, it’s more along the lines of dealing with a smallish outbreak. Also, though zombies arepresent and like their humans crunchy and with ketchup, this isn’t about them. Instead, it’s about a mystery, a debt, a couple partnerships, and examining how far on either side of the line you can wobble before you cross it entirely.

Grave Robbers is a good choice for readers who like their characters somewhere between somewhat smudged and outright dirty. Even the good guys in the book aren’t exactly sparkling clean representations of angelic innocence. Corruption, greed, selfishness, and egotistical behavior runs rampant throughout Grave Robbers. There’s a hefty bit of action, and gorehounds will find themselves quite satisfied by the end of the book.

Unfortunately, the dialogue and the characters in Grave Robbers need some work. The characters are fairly cliche (evil scientist, cop with bent morals, gangster, etc.) Some of the lines and/or scenarios in the book need some work to make them a bit less unintentionally amusing.  However, I do like the basic plot idea and action scenes. I think with some refining it would make a very good piece of horror-crime reading.

Overall, Grave Robbers was a decent read, albeit one that didn’t live up to it’s potential. Readers that like zombie books set in places other than America will probably want to check this one out. Hardcore zombie readers might like the fact that it avoids becoming your typical zombie novel in a few ways. Book Dragons, however, may find themselves disappointed.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from the author as part of the Sage’s Virtual Book Tour.

GRAVE ROBBERS on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2psEzIB

 

 

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About the Author Matt Drabble:

Grave Robbers Author

Born in Bath, England in 1974, a self-professed “funny onion”, equal parts sport loving jock and comic book geek. A lover of horror and character driven stories, I am also an A.S sufferer who took to writing full time two years ago after being forced to give up the day job.

I have a career high position of 5th on Amazon’s Horror Author Rank of which I am immensely proud. Also, I was accepted as a full member of the Horror Writers Association.

“GATED” is the 2015 Readers Favorite Gold Medal Winner. It is also a UK & US Horror Chart Top Ten Best Seller & winner of the Full Moon Awards 2014 Horror Book of the Year.

“ASYLUM – 13 TALES OF TERROR” was a US Horror Chart #5. It was also voted #5 on The Horror Novel Review’s Top 10 Books of 2013 & was the Readers Favorite 2014 Gold Medal Winner for Anthology Fiction.

“ASYLUM II” was also a UK & US Horror/Anthology #1 and is the 2016 Readers Favorite Silver Medal winner for Anthology Fiction.

“THE TRAVELLING MAN” won an Indie Book of the Day award.

“ABRA-CADAVER” was a 2015 Kindle Book Review Finalist, an Indie Book of the Day winner and the 2016 Book Excellence Award Winner for Horror Fiction.

Visit me at www.mattdrabble.com to download free short stories and the full length multi award winning novel “Abra-Cadaver” for free.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MattDrabble01
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Matt.Drabble.Author/
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Twilight Zone Tuesday – A World of Difference

A World of Difference

Arthur Curtis/Gerry Reagan – Howard Duff
Nora Reagan – Ellen Ryan
Mr. Brinkley – David White


We open on a comfy looking office. Complete with pen stand, a picture of the wife and little girl, and an empty ashtray. The desk is completely clean. There’s also a lamp, another table and a statue of a horse? Odd office decoration.

SERLING:
You’re looking at a tableau of reality. Things of substance, a physical material. A desk, a window, a light. These things exist and have dimension. Now this is Arthur Curtis, age 36, who also is real. He has flesh and blood, muscle and mind. But in just a moment we will see how thin a line separates that which we assume to be real with that manufactured inside of a mind.

As Serling narrates we see Arthur strolling about his office and whistling. A very attractive secretary enters. Arthur and she chat a bit about Arthur’s wife and their daughter, Tina. Tina’s having a birthday party on Saturday and they haven’t gotten a thing for it yet. Well, shame on you, Arthur and Mrs. Arthur! They chat about business and contracts for a bit. Blah, blah, blah. He asks her to change some plane reservations to Saturday night. Sounds like he’s going out to bid on something or other and he and the wife are making a vacation out of it. He whistles around the office a bit more and tries to make a call. Excited yet? The phone doesn’t work though. Apparently telephone service is really bad in the Twilight Zone. He gets up all huffy and goes to see what’s up with the phones.

As Arthur walks toward the door we hear a man call, “Cut!” Arthur turns to see where it came from and when he turns there’s now a camera crew behind him. Arthur stares at them and they stare back at him for a while. Arthur looks confused as he takes it all in. A guy in a wool suit jacket and checked shirt (yikes) calls him Gerry. He wants to know what’s so hard about making a pretend phone call.

Arthur still looks super confused and the checked shirt guy (who also has one side of his head bleached and the other dark) still can’t understand why Arthur/Gerry is just staring at them. He says his name is Marty, the friendly movie director. Dun, dunn!

Arthur/Gerry runs to the secretary’s office. She’s got her feet kicked up, smoking and reading the paper. She calls him Mr. Reagan, too, though. A man comes up to Arthur/Gerry and tells him that Marty won’t take it anymore and to behave himself. Marty comes over to them and the agent tells Marty that it’s no big deal, just a gag. Marty asks if Arthur/Gerry wants to try the scene again and then reminds Arthur/Gerry what the scene is. Arthur/Gerry freaks out and wants to know what the hell is going on and that he doesn’t know any of them.

Arthur/Gerry runs for the phone and tries to dial out again. Marty tells a stage hand to call an ambulance but don’t tell Arthur/Gerry because there’s no telling what he’ll do. Marty tries to get Arthur/Gerry to go take it easy in his dressing room. Arthur/Gerry yells that his name is Arthur Curtis and tromps off. The director calls lunch and Arthur zooms off through the set and backstage.

Arthur/Gerry tries to make a call from the set but can’t seem to remember what his home number is so he calls information, asking for the number of Arthur Curtis. He gives Information his name and address but Information tells Arthur/Gerry that there is no phone there. Oh goody, it’s going to be one of these. Some dude trying to convince other people he exists/is who he says he is. Anywho, he tells them it’s his home and there is a phone there. From his end of the conversation it sounds like Information is asking what his number is. If he knew that he wouldn’t be calling you now, would he? Information isn’t being very Informative. To be fair to Arthur/Gerry it took me forever to remember what my home phone was. He gets angry at the hapless Operator and he asks to talk to their supervisor.

Marty wants to talk to Arthur/Gerry because he doesn’t think Arthur/Gerry is well. Arthur/Gerry says he’s getting the hell out of there and going home. This oughta be good. He takes off out of the door with Marty close behind. As Arthur/Gerry runs out of the door he’s almost run over by what looks like a Chevrolet convertible. Pretty sure it’s a Chevy, this is the closest logo I could find to match:

The Beautiful Blonde behind the wheel jumps out and asks if he’s crazy. Fair enough question at this point. She apparently knows Arthur/Gerry because she grabs him and threatens him with an, “If you’re drunk again so…” She doesn’t get to finish her sentence but I’ll bet it ended something like this “so help me I’ll -” fill in the blank.He tells her to get his hands off of him. She goes volcanic, telling him that she doesn’t care if he gets fired and never works again but he will pay her the money the judge said he should or she’ll throw his butt in jail. I’m sure the rest of his body will be attached. Hm. I don’t see a kid. Can guys go to jail for missing alimony payments?

Marty calls her Mrs. Reagan and she’s very specific that she’s the EX Nora Reagan. Marty says he needs to talk to her but she says forget it. Arthur/Gerry is coming with her but she’ll have him back after lunch. Marty says that’s not what he means. He tells Nora that he’s called an ambulance, he’s worried Arthur/Gerry is having a breakdown. Arthur/Gerry decides this is a good time to get a little Grand theft auto in his resume and hops in the driver’s seat. Ms. Nora laughs at the thought of an ambulance. Marty insists he’s serious but she hops in the passenger side with nary a peep about Arthur/Gerry stealing the wheel. Ok, I’m a bit of a control freak so if I’m in my own car you can bet your booty I’M the one driving. Not to mention, if I recall rightly, she just accused him of being drunk So, as far as she knows he might be drunk and having a nervous breakdown. But she feels hunky-dory about letting him drive? Uh-uh. Not me. Especially as he burns rubber leaving the lot.

After speedy racing through back lot alleys Nora does something then grabs the key, saying he;s going to end up killing them both. Now she decides she’s going to tell him no, rather than, oh say when they were parked. I will say he’s got some big brass ones because he tells her he doesn’t know who she is but he’s going to drive himself home and then she can have her car back. How generous of him.She thinks he’s angling out of paying her by acting crazy. He runs through his stats again: Name, wife, daughter and address. Then they take off again.

Back at the studio a guy (maybe the agent?) is talking to some Head Honcho named Mr. Brinkley on the phone. the Agent is reassuring (sort of) Mr. Brinkley that Arthur/Gerry isn’t drunk, he just might be going crazy. No biggie. He thinks that Gerry Reagan thinks he’s actually the character from the movie – Arthur Curtis.

Arthur/Gerry and the ex-Missus are cruising around a nice suburb. He doesn’t understand. He knows the address but nothing looks familiar. Nora snarkily asks if he wants an award or something for the act. He starts to say his name is Arthur but she tells him to cut it out, she’s not interested. She tells him to go ahead and play it out, she could care less. As he’s walking up to a house to ask where Ventner Road is he spies a little girl and calls her Tina. Uh-oh. This isn’t going to end well for Arthur/Gerry. He runs over to her and grabs her by the shoulders, calling her Tina. The little girl screams and runs away from the creepy guy.

Nora pulls up in the car and yells at Arthur/Gerry to get in. Probably before the people call the cops on the creepy guy. As they drive by the kid is pointing out the scary man.

They take off and pull into a driveway. Brinkley must be there because Nora wonders what he wants. Arthur/Gerry says (again) that he wants to go home. She tells him that is home so quit whining. I may have added the quit whining. Mr Brinkley is in the house ready and waiting for Arthur/Gerry Isn’t that breaking and entering? Mr. Brinkley is also Mr. Drysdale from The Beverly Hillbilles. Nora starts to drag Arthur/Gerry off, presumably to get his checkbook and/or cash. She wants her money before Arthur/Gerry spends it on a binge Arthur tries to explain, yet again, that he’s not who they think he is. Nora wants to know where he keeps his checkbook and threatens to tear the house apart looking for it. Brinkley says they can’t cover for him anymore and that if he loses this job, he’s done. Arthur/Gerry tries to interrupt. Mr. Brinkley tells Arthur/Gerry to take it easy today, he’ll tell them Arthur/Gerry is sick.

Nora grabs him to sign a check and helpfully spells out his name for him. Rinse and repeat on the whole “I’m not Gerry” thing. In fact, so far that’s almost the only thing he’s said so far. He tries to call his workplace only for the operator to tell him the place does not exist.  He starts freaking out. Nora and Mr. Brinkley are looking at him like he’s a very sad little man. Arthur/Gerry puts his head down.

Mr. Brinkley is perched on the arm of a chair, watching Arthur/Gerry thoughtfully. He looks uncomfortable as hell. Just sit in the damn chair, dude.  Arthur/Gerry asks Mr. Brinkley if he believes him. Brinkley dances around the question by saying he thinks Arthur/Gerry is overworked and needs help. He picks up a shooting script and shows Arthur/Gerry the cast of characters listing an Arthur Curtis, aged 36 as one of the characters. Mr. Brinkley thinks that Gerry is crazy, basically. That he wanted to slip out of the life of the drunken, unhappily married Gerry and into the perfect life of Arthur Curtis. Arthur starts to say that Mr Brinkley thinks that all this is a delusion, that he’s really Gerald Reagan, a drunken, – but Mr. Brinkley cuts him off by saying a sweet, unhappy man, saddled with the vulture downstairs.

Um, if Gerry married her willingly then how did he become ‘burdened’ with her? Unless she was nice before they got married. But if he really is Gerry Reagan and drinks a lot then maybe there’s a reason she’s so bitchy to him.

Mr. Brinkley tells him to forget the movie, they’ve cancelled production on it. Because the main star flipped out? That’s a little weird. It seems like it would be cheaper to replace him than scrap the picture altogether. Mr. Brinkley says that Arthur Curtis is dead and drops the script in the trash. Arthur/Gerry isn’t listening and just says that he’s got to get back to his office. Mr. Brinkley says they’re probably tearing down the set right now.

Arthur freaks out and takes off in Mr. Brinkley’s car. Get your own damn car Gerry! A high speed drive ensues as Arthur tries to get back before it’s gone. He makes it back and sits in his office chair and quietly sobs, asking not to be left there. The lights come back up and he’s in his Arthur world with his wife, Marion. She wants to know where he’s been. He just wants to gtfo of the office before he’s sucked back to the other world. sally gives him the plane tickets they talked about earlier. Very faintly Arthur can hear the crew talking about tearing down the set. He rushes his wife out of there.  He doesn’t want to wait for their vacation and wants to leave right now for it. Are you forgetting your daughter’s birthday? Either they did or the scriptwriters did.

The camera gets a bit fuzzy and fades through the office door. On the other side are the film crew, busily tearing down the set. Mr. Brinkley shows up, looking for Gerry. The crew guy says he saw Gerry but didn’t see him leave. In fact, nobody saw him leave. They check the dressing room but he’s not there. Mr. Brinkley wonders where Gerry is. The camera pans back to show us the movie title: The Private World of Arthur Curtis.

SERLING:
The modus operandi for the departure from life is usually a pine box of such and such dimensions. And this is the ultimate reality. But there are other ways for a man to exit from life. Take the case of Arthur Curtis, age 36. His departure was along a highway, with an exit sign that reads “This way to escape”. Arthur Curtis, en route to the Twilight Zone.


There’s really not much to say about this one. Escaping from a busy, harsh or unpleasant life into an alternate world or the past is a common theme in the Twilight Zone. And, frankly, they are some of the more boring episodes. Except for “Of Late I think of Cliffordville” but that’s mostly because Julie Newmar plays an awesome (and  extremely sexy) Devil.


Join me again next Tuesday for: Long Live Walter Jameson (which is a really good episode).

Our Favorite Dads in Sci-Fi & Horror

A banner with the words The Top Ten Tuesday List on it.This isn’t going to be a TTT that just draws from books. Because, for as much as we read, it’s hard to think of dads in science fiction and horror. At least that aren’t weird or disgusting or, y’know, murderous. And it’s for that reason that we also need to clarify that this list of our favorite dads in sci-fi and horror may not include all blood-related fathers, but also step-fathers, honorary fathers, and father figures. This is also not a list in any particular order.

Psst: As usual, the prompts for Top Ten Tuesday are provided courtesy of Broke and Bookish.

 


Our Favorite Dads in Sci-Fi & Horror

  1. Rupert Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Okay, while I had a seriously skeevy crush on the old man in tweed when I was younger, even I can admit he was also a great father figure to Buffy and the crew. I wanted him for his intelligence and his books. They needed him for everything else. And they got it. Giles stepped up for the crew in a way that no one could have expected, and I loved the family unit that they became, trials and allIcre Cream Gif.
  2. Bobby Singer from Supernatural. Can anyone argue there’s a more awesome father figure out there? Bobby has no obligation to Sam and Dean, and yet he would give his life for them. He loves the kids, comes to their rescue, and has no problem letting them know when they’re being ‘idjits’. And they are. Idjits, that is. Quite regularly. There might have been sniffles involved in the real world when Bobby Singer finally bit it.
  3. Professor X from X-Men. Okay, this is solely based off the movies. And we’re talking the Patrick Stewart Professor X. Not the weird reboot with the dude from Split. But Professor Xavier was awesome. Who didn’t want him to show up at your door, take you to a school where there were others just like you, and teach you to be a super-hero? Okay, he wasn’t perfect, and he was definitely the distant father-figure type, but you knew that he cared and that he was regularly trying to save the world. So totally earns his place on this list.Idits gif
  4. Harry from Silent Hill (game, not movie): While Harry in the movies was a good guy, Harry from the game was an awesome dad in a very strange situation. He and his wife originally found Cheryl after Cheryl was split off from the main girl, Alessa. Harry and his wife adopted Cheryl. After his wife’s death, when Cheryl was 7, they went back to the town of Silent Hill. Cheryl was rejoined with her other half, Alessa. After Alessa was killed she split herself into another baby and gave it to Harry. Harry took the baby, whom he named Heather and raised her until his death, when Heather was 17. So, to sum it up, Harry raised an adopted daughter until she went missing and literally went through hell trying to get her back. At her “death” he raised the baby left with him. Caring for Heather and protecting her from the cult that was trying to reclaim her. On the dad scale he gets a ten from me.
  5. Arthur Kritikos from Thir13een Ghosts. Ok, you can argue whether the movie is good or bad forever but one thing you can’t argue with is that Arthur is a great dad. After the useless nanny runs off with the kids and then gets separated from them, Arthur spends the rest of his time trying to get his family back together. He even leaps through spinning death rings to get to his kids. (Lilyn says: Executive decision – we both think its awesome, so if you don’t, you can go state your opinion somewhere else. Hmph.)

That’s all we have in terms of our favorite dads in sci-fi and horror. Let’s face it, in these two particular genres, good dads are a bit hard to find.  However, there’s some bonus content below this adorable video, so keep reading!

Bonus content: 5 Awesome Men Who Suck as Dads in Sci-Fi & Horror

  1. John Winchester from Supernatural – Okay, the lusty part of me looks at John Winchester and just thinks grownup thoughts, but when I can shove my hormones to the side for a moment, you have to admit, he’s an awesome dude. Sucks as a dad, considering he basically left his kids to raise themselves frequently, or foisted them off on Bobby, but an awesome ass-kicking monster hunter.
  2. Mr. Church from Joe Ledger – His relationship with his (known) child, Circe, tends to consist of “we don’t acknowledge our relationship ever”. And even when people get in on the know, he never goes out of his way to be dad. However, when push comes to shove, he will unleash hell to protect his daughter.
  3. Walter Bishop from Fringe – Crazy, lovable, previously psychotic Walter. He’s a genius, funny as hell, batshit crazy….and absolutely sucks as a father. He gets an A for effort though!
  4. Jack Taggart, Sr.  from Jeepers Creepers 2 – Okay, yeah, he’s not exactly a great dad, but the man does get vengeance for the Creeper’s nabbing his boy for spare parts in fairly epic stabby fashion. I don’t think anyone can disagree how awesome the harpooning of the Creeper is and that’s not enough for him. And then there’s the wheeelchair scene.
  5. Big Boss from Metal Gear Solid – Big Boss may not win any Dad of the Year awards but you can’t deny he’s one kick-ass mercenary. Creating a non-UN nation dedicated to freelance mercenaries takes a lot of time. It also requires the ability to recognize talent. Whether it’s in the soldiering department or brainiacs to create mobilized, nuclear armed mechs. His kids/clones don’t really want to spend Thanksgiving with him (especially after the whole Zanzibar Land incident) but he comes through in a big way for small countries struggling to make it on their own.

 

If you missed our Mother’s Day post(s), you can find them here and here.

Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #22

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

06/03/2017 – 06/09/2017

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.

 

These stories are dark and pierce the skin like a well-placed dagger. Happy reading!

 

 


In the Lonely HoursWilliam Marden

Synopsis:
What if you could clone your loved one? Could you ever be sure it’s them? And in the end would it be possible to tell which was the clone and which was not? what if they both are?

Review:
I did like the theme behind this one a lot. Also the way it twists into you wondering which is the actual clone an which isn’t. Although, to me, if the woman is so uncomfortable with it, why go through the process?


In the Wilds of the SuburbsDel Stone Jr.

Synopsis:
A homeless man named Joe finds that the population has disappeared, except him. But is he really alone?

Review:
I honestly didn’t understand the end. Was the author implying the lawn ornament animals responsible and that’s who is keeping him company? Or is it rats? I’m just not sure what’s going on in this story.


Incident in the Western LandsDon Webb

Synopsis:
A foolish Egyptologist discovers an amulet of Horus and Set that has not been logged yet. It couldn’t hurt to borrow it could it? Just for a couple of days?

Review:
Anyone who has ever read a mummy’s curse story can see the ending coming a mile away. But the story is enjoyable nevertheless as it gives a different take on the ‘curse’.

 

IncognitoTerry McGarry

Synopsis:
A woman who seemingly uses and hates her flowing blond hair equally. A “follicular bulls-eye” in her Dominican neighborhood decides to cast it all to the wind, well, cast it all in front of a bus. But her private demons will know her by her hair.

Review:
I had a little trouble connecting to this story. By the accounts in the story she led a pretty good life and if the worst she got called growing up was “Look at the blond!” is that so horrible? Also, not really trying to be judgmental here but suicide by stepping into the path of a vehicle is a very selfish way to do it. It puts that burden on someone for the rest of their life that they may not deserve.


Insects and DesireJoe Murphy

Synopsis:
A man who’s very into bugs meets a woman at an insect exhibit. Taking her into a ‘special’ exhibit where he has his lunch. But which is the hunter and which is the prey?

Review:
Even though I hate bugs I did like the twist at the end. It was easily spotted but at the same time, had a slightly different twist than you might expect.


Interrupted PilgrimageBrian McNaughton

Synopsis:
A group of brigands/soldiers encounter many odd illusions on their pilgrimage through a certain town. Being told of the dreamer they set out to murder him. Encountering more challenges (including one soldier who believes he’s dead and sneaks off to bury himself and another who refuses to believe he is dead annoys the Devil by refusing to believe he’s in Hell) they finally find the dreaming Magi. But who is the dream and who is not?

Review:
This was by turns funny but a little icky in spots. I don’t quite know what to think of it.


It’s Hell Waking UpWayne Allen Sallee

Synopsis:
A man dreams, ten minute dream snatches at a time. Elvis poking out an eyeball, plane crashes, the list goes on. The only one that seems semi-real to him is a dream (or is it reality?) of choking on a piece of pizza and dying. Waking up might not be hell but sleeping sure is.

Review:
I am in total sympathy with Scolari. It always seems as though no matter how much sleep you get, your body just wants more. I’m not including that bizarre personage known as “The Morning Person” they’re another breed altogether. I have yet to meet one in real life but I’ve heard they exist.


Favorite of the Week:
For all it’s weirdness I rather liked Interrupted Pilgrimage by Brian McNaughton. It was weird, a little gross and kind of funny. so it caught my attention.


Join me again next week when hopefully I can curdle your blood a bit more, rather than just swish it around a bit.

Blood and Needles Review (Horror)

Title: Blood and Needles | Author: Billy Lyons | Publisher: Intrigue Publishing LLC | Expected Pub. Date: June 15th 2017 | Pages: 234 | ISBN13: 9781940758534 | Genre: Horror | Rating: 2 out of 5 | Triggers: Drug use, matricide | Source: Received from the author for review consideration


Blood and Needles Review

The last person 25-year-old junkie, Steven, expected to meet was Anna Marie, an alluring stranger who turns out to be a fellow junkie . . . and a vampire. Anna Marie senses an inner steel deep inside Steven, and offers him a membership in the seductive world of The Morphia Clan, a group of vampires as devoted to using narcotics as much as they are to drinking blood. Steven soon falls in love with Anna Marie, whose vampire throne is threatened from outside forces and from within. There are hidden dangers everywhere and treachery and betrayal lie just around every corner. Soon Steven finds himself not only in a fight to save his own life but also the life of the vampire he loves. – Goodreads

 

 


 

Sex, drugs and vampires pretty much sums this book up. There’s a lot of shooting up, which was pretty much expected. Some vampire training, a council meeting and a bit of action at the end. Even though I expected the typical junkie attitudes I can’t honestly say I liked the characters. Besides being cardboard cut-outs the few personality traits they did have were annoying. Anna Marie is your basic beautiful woman with the requisite tragic past. Steven is an ass. And of course he’s perfect at being a vampire after just a day. Amazing. His relationship with Anna Marie is of the insta-love variety. No need for any pesky relationship or personality building, since it’s boom insta-love you can skip straight to the boning. The Morphia Clan seems to be fairly large but only two characters are described in any kind of detail and even they’re sketched in with the barest of personality traits.

There’s not much of a plot in Blood and Needles to speak of. Steve turns into a vampire, add a dash of ‘tragic’ family circumstances, a smidgen of training (and, consequently, everyone telling him how wonderful he is) some sex and a dollop of action at the end and there’s your plot.

Much of the book is narrated in Steven’s thoughts but what dialogue there is for the most part fits modern times. Which actually was a nice change since a lot of vampire books assume since vampires were created in specific time frames they speak that way for eternity. It’s much more plausible that their speech would evolve with the times.

The only reason Blood and Needles is even getting two stars is that it wasn’t terribly written. There were no grammar or spelling issues and maybe with a little more work it could be a decent novel.

2 out of 5 Skulls