Twilight Zone Tuesday – Passage for Trumpet

Passage for Trumpet

Joey Crown – Jack Klugman
Gabriel – John Anderson
Baron – Frank Wolff
Nan – Mary Webster
Truck Driver – James Flavin
Pawnshop Man – Ned Glass


Trigger Warnings: Thoughts of suicide, attempted (and partly successful) suicide.

A passage for self-pity might be a better title for this episode. Prepare for heavy snark incoming. I’m not in a humour to tolerate stupidity this Tuesday.

We hear the ubiquitous jazz music (what else did you expect with an episode entitled ‘Passage for Trumpet’?) It looks like we’re in a back alley with old signs and I really hope some old statues. Either that or there’s a ballerina frozen in place in the alley.

SERLING:
Joey Crown. Musician with an odd, intense face. Whose life is a quest for impossible things. Like flowers in concrete, or like trying to pluck a note of music out of the air and put it under a glass to treasure.

The music stops and Joey Crown grabs his trumpet out of it’s case and looks very nervously anxious. Some well-dressed people come out and look with uncomfortable disdain at Joey. The man who had been playing comes out soon after them to have a smoke in the alley. Joey squares his shoulders and seems to gather his courage to talk to the dapper man. The man, whose name is Baron, seems very glad to see Joey and shakes his hand vigorously. Joey says he brought along his baby (his horn and I long to make a rubbing your brass joke here but I’ll restrain myself) and wants to know if Baron needs a horn for the night. Baron looks a bit uncomfortable and tells Joey that he doesn’t need a horn that night. The last time Joey played for him the alcohol got in the way. Joey replies, “Psssh! Booze! Don’t remember what it tastes like! He’s way up on the wagon now!”

Baron doesn’t look like he believes him. Joey gets affronted and says he’s not an old coot. He acknowledges what booze does to him. But he’s not an old man and he and his trumpet have a lot of years left in them. Baron softens a bit. Joey flings an arm about Baron’s shoulders. He assures Baron that he wouldn’t throw his talent away on a bum habit. Joey rattles on, trying to convince Baron, telling him that when he plays he can make people cry. Which might sound weird but listening to certain music can affect me the same way. Except jazz. It’s one of the few musical genres I have no interest in. I don’t mean to slight those that do like it, everyone has their own taste.

Anyways, back to the story. Alas, as Baron sits down on a nearby crate Joey snatches up his case and a bottle of whiskey, Golden Delight, falls out and shatters on the ground. Baron looks disappointed and Joey looks ashamed. Baron says, “Don’t do it.” I’m not sure what he means, exactly. Don’t lie? Don’t go onstage? don’t be ashamed? Baron slips some money into Joey’s pocket, telling him it’s for when he had a magic horn. Harry James, Max Kaminski and Butterfield. Taking a quick tip-toe through the internet I find that these are actual, well-known jazz musicians. Baron tells Joey that he had a little of all their talent rolled into one. Joey traded it for some booze and got the crummy end of the stick. Baron wants to know why? What happened to him?

Joey says it’s because “he’s sad, because he’s nothing, because he lives and dies in a crummy one-roomer with dirty walls and cracked pipes.” So? Some people have it a lot worse. Clean your walls, fix your pipes. Sheesh.  He doesn’t have a girl, he’ll never be anybody. Since he’s decently good looking I’m thinking his attitude is probably what keeps the ladies away. He goes on to say that the horn is half of him. He can’t even talk to people because the horn is half his language. But when he’s drunk, oh boy, he doesn’t see the crummy apartment and doesn’t see the hours going by because then he’s Gabriel with the horn. Baron is exceedingly patient throughout this speech. Joey puts his trumpet to his lips. I think the actor screws up but I don’t play the trumpet so I’m not really sure. At first he puts the whole mouthpiece in his mouth, then takes it out. I only played the flute (for one year and very, very badly, sadly my dreams of being the next Ian Anderson were crushed). So i thought maybe it’s something players do to wet the mouthpiece.

Anyways, Joey goes on to say that when he’s drinking he’s Gabriel with his golden horn. When he puts the trumpet to his lips, it comes out jewels, a symphony, the smell of fresh flowers in the summer. Beauty. I’m starting to feel a bit sorry for his neighbors. But only when he’s drunk. Joey wanders off and Baron looks like he feels very sorry for him. He doesn’t wander very far, in fact, I can’t see that he’d really be even out of sight of Baron. Joey throws a bit of a fit and chucks his case down, settling himself down in the scaffolding. Then he calls himself a plain, nothing, nobody. He decides to let out his misery in a melancholy trumpet riff. As little as jazz thrills me (although I do like the trumpet in some songs, Johnny Cash’s ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’ has some excellent horns in it) I do get the reason behind his doing so. As the great philosopher Jem says, music is magic. And weirdly, when I’m bummed or annoyed, depressing music actually cheers me up. Either that or metal. Whichever.

As Rod talks, Joey continues to play. It does look like he’s actually playing. So maybe I was wrong earlier.

SERLING:
Joey Crown. Musician with an odd, intense face. Who, in a moment, will try to leave the Earth and discover the middle ground. The place we call…the Twilight Zone.

Joey wanders into a pawn shop and sets his trumpet down on the counter. The pawn shop guy greets him by name and Joey calls him Nate so I’m guessing that this isn’t the first time Joey’s pawned something. Joey says that this time he’s selling the trumpet. Nate offers him eight and a half for it. Joey starts to argue but says fine. Eight and a half. Nate says he’d give more but he has enough instruments there to provide two sousa bands and he needs another trumpet like he needs his taxes raised. Which, if Joey weren’t so caught up in his own misery, should make him think that he’s not the only one with unfulfilled dreams of music. Joey takes out the trumpet to touch it a bit more before he sells it. Why bother selling it? He obviously loves it, he’s not getting much money for it so he might as well keep it. He does the mouth thing on it again so now I’m guessing it is actually something trumpet players do. Any of you guys know?

Joey took his newfound wealth to a bar. He bows to a lady walking by but when she doesn’t pay him any attention he changes it to a hand gesture that’s not quite a flip-off but close. Joey walks over to the pawn shop, which looks like it’s right next door to the bar, so Joey didn’t go far. He watches as Nate puts his trumpet in the window with a price tag of $25.00. A far cry from the eight bucks he paid for it. Joey taps on the window to let Nate know that he sees him. Nate has the good grace to look embarrassed and shrugs and tells Joey that he won’t get that price for it that quickly. Nate says he’s got an overhead that he has to meet and that guys like Joey wouldn’t understand that. They don’t have anyone to be responsible for. Which is generally how pawn shops work so you’d think that Joey would know that. Joey agrees with himself that he has no responsibilities, no nothing.

As he stumbles from the window he leans against a post for a minute, chewing on his nail. Weirdly the light looks as though it’s turned from night to day. He watches a truck hauling down the road and at the last minute throws himself in front of it. Great. Traumatize the driver because you want out. Don’t worry, I’m not going off too much here but that’s a pretty crappy thing to do, since now the driver will feel guilty about hitting him.

Joey bounces off the hood and back onto the sidewalk. There’s a very nice shot of Joey’s face reflected in the pawn shop window. It’s night again and Joey wakes up and gets up. There’s only one person around and that’s a police officer, talking on an emergency telephone. When he gets off the phone Joey talks to the officer and tell him that he’s not a real drunk, just ask the officer who’s normally there, Officer Flaherty. The officer is making notes in a notebook and doesn’t appear to hear him.

Joey walks off, asking a passer-by for a light but the passer-by ignores him. Hmm, wonder what’s going on? A guy is combing his hair in the reflection of a window and Joey asks him for a light. The Comber ignores him, too. He asks the ticket cashier at a theater if the movies are any good. He sounds like he’s getting a bit frustrated now. He says he’s “not a masher” but he knows the girl that usually works there. a girl named Gracie. Can someone tell me what “masher” or “mashing” means? I also came across it in Robert W. Chambers’ ‘The Yellow Sign’, in which a young lady says that she “made a mash”. The only thing I could think of was a flirter or flirtation?

He keeps talking to the lady. It sounds like he’s trying to convince other people (and himself) that it was an ‘accident’ not attempted suicide. She continues to ignore him. He tells her that she could at least be courteous. He yells at her to look at him. It’s finally dawning on him that it might have actually been successful rather than an attempt. Although I always had an issue with the phrase “successful suicide”.

He looks at the window the Comber was looking into but does not see a reflection. So he’s either dead or he’s a vampire. He starts getting a little worried and falls back on the favored Twilight Zone fallback of “someone’s pulling a gag”. I truly believe you could make a drinking game out of how many times that phrase is used. He tries talking to the girl again and then back to the window/mirror. He sees a man reflected behind him and runs over to him. Joey again asks for a light and is relieved when the guy pulls out a matchbook. Joey thinks that he’s finally heard but the joke’s on him. The guy lights his own cigarette and walks on. I always said that would be hell. Cigarettes a-plenty but nothing to light them with.

Joey’s cigarette falls from his mouth as the truth finally sinks in that he’s dead. He yells to some people coming out of the theater that the truck worked after all. As a woman comes up to purchase a ticket he tells her that he’s haunting her – Boogee booggee (really, that’s exactly what he does). I’m not sure if he’s freaking out about being dead or enjoying it. He says that at last in his short life he was successful at something.

He walks back into the bar and asks the bartender if Charlie’s off. Then he yells if anyone hears or sees him. He’s looking a bit bored with his newfound ghosthood. He says he used to come in there a lot but he doesn’t know any of them and they surely wouldn’t have noticed him. It does strike me odd that everyone’s different. Shouldn’t they be the same people? And if they’re afterlife people shouldn’t they see him? Even though he’s a ghost and nobody sees or hears him, he’s able to pick up the bottle of Golden Delight whiskey and pour himself a drink. Without the bartender noticing a floating bottle right in front of his face. I don’t know why but I feel like there’s something to the name of the whiskey, Golden Delight, that makes me think it’s not a random name but for the life of me I can’t pin down what it could be referencing.

The bartender is so studiously looking away from Joey that it looks a bit unnatural. I’d think that he’d glance in his direction once by accident, even if he doesn’t see him. And I don’t know what the bartender is doing behind the bar but the hand motions look…odd.

Joey says Charlie was a really nice guy and would sometimes give him a drink on the house. He also went out and got an old Tommy Dorsey record from way back, when Joey was playing with him. On that same record was a long passage of Joey playing the trumpet, solo. Charlie ordered it just for him and put it on the jukebox. Charlie does seem like a very nice guy. After cuddling the jukebox a bit more, Joey wanders back to the club from earlier.

As he’s checking out a blonde who apparently went outside to take two puffs of a cigarette and go back in, he hears some soulful horn music from somewhere nearby. It draws Joey like a magnet and he soon finds the player. He watches, enraptured as the player (who’s half in shadow) plays. When he stops, Joey begs him to continue, it’s so beautiful. The player says thank you. Joey gets all excited because the Mysterious Trumpet Player heard him. Joey asks him if he’s a ghost, too, and the player laughs and says “not really”.

I know it’s not, nor is it supposed to be, but damn. The Mysterious Trumpet Player looks like Abraham Lincoln. Joey says he is, he stepped in front of a rather large truck that morning so he’s not fit for “The House”. It doesn’t seem to trouble him much. Abe Lincoln asks Joey, by name, if he’d like to blow on his trumpet for a bit. I…will say nothing here. Either way, is that normal because I know how wet mouthpieces get (this is killing me) and it seems a little icky to me to share a mouthpiece. Joey catches that the man called him by name. The Player replies that yes, he knows Joey, has known him for quite some time. Joey says they’ve never been introduced. The Player says that’s true but he does know him, Joey plays a pretty good trumpet. He says he should know, he’s a pretty good expert on trumpets. Joey says The Player is no slouch. He tells him to go ahead. Joey plays a bit (I notice he doesn’t stick it in his mouth, though). The Mysterious Player watches with pleasure.

Joey wants to know how The Mysterious Player knows him. He’s not a ghost, and not dead. The man replies no, he’s not dead. And neither is Joey. This strikes Joey and he doesn’t look particularly pleased about it. The player says nope, by no means. Joey wants to know why the other people didn’t see him. The Mysterious Player says that they are ghosts. They just don’t know it. Sometimes they have to work it that way to make it easier. They let them go on in a life that they’re familiar with.

Joey says he stepped off the curb and the player says yes, he did. Joey’s in a kind of limbo. Neither here nor there. The Mysterious Player asks which Joey prefers? Joey mulls over the question. He says he always felt that he was getting dealt from the bottom but then says that maybe he just forgot how much there was for him. And maybe he forgot about how much he loved playing the trumpet and going to Charlie’s and talking to people and movies. He says he never won a beauty contest but he had friends. Good friends. as evidenced by Baron, earlier. And, really, I do think he’s rather good looking. Maybe not dazzling eye candy but handsome. Twilight Zone must think so, too. This guy shows up on a lot of them.

Joey says somewhere along the line he forgot about all of the good things. Just forgot. I think a lot of people do, myself included. The Mysterious Player says that Joey has a choice. Joey looks excited at this. He says if he really has a choice then he wants to go back. The Mysterious Player says, ok, you go back, then. He tells him no more stepping off of curbs. Impressing upon him that this is his choice and will be the only chance. Sometimes life is sweet and sometimes it’s sour and goes down hard. Since I like sour stuff I think I’d compare it more to a rock being shoved down your throat and being kicked in the gut while you’re down. But hey, that’s just me.

Mysterious Player tells Joey that he’s got a good talent. To make music, to move people. To make them want to laugh, to cry, to tap their feet, dance. It’s an exceptional talent. I’ve got to agree with him. Any art form is a true talent and shouldn’t be slighted. Drawing, painting, music, computer graphics, all of them. He takes back his trumpet and tells Joey not to waste his talent. He says he’ll see Joey around and walks off.

Joey yells after him to “Wait! I didn’t get your name!” The man with the trumpet yells back that his name is Gabe, short for Gabriel.

Joey runs after him and ends up in front of the pawn shop. He hears tires screeching and a scream and turns to look. Suddenly he’s on the sidewalk, with the man from the truck leaning over him. The guy says he’s sorry, he didn’t see him, Joey just stepped right out in front of him. Joey’s lucky he only got grazed a bit. Joey says it’s ok, no harm done. The truck driver says he hasn’t had an accident in fourteen years and he’d be much obliged if Joey didn’t call any ambulance or insurance companies or anything. He thanks Joey for being a pal and shoves some money in his hand. Well, since Joey deliberately stepped in front of the truck it is the least he could do.

Joey looks at the money in his hand and runs into the pawn shop to reclaim his property. Later he’s playing on the rooftop of an apartment building, presumably the one with his crummy room with the dirty walls. A lady appears out of nowhere and compliments Joey’s playing. Joey tells her that he gave it up this morning but now he’s taking it back. She tells him that she just moved in. Joey tells him her name and she surprises him by asking him to play some more. He says he’ll play whatever she wants for as long as she wants him to. He tells her it’s a pretty nice city. The lady asks if maybe he can show her around. Methinks Joey’s gonna get a girlfriend. Maybe he’ll clean his walls if he’s got a lady friend. He starts telling her all about the cool things he can show her. We leave with him excitedly talking to the lady and pretty assured that things will be looking up for Joey.

SERLING:
Joey Crown, who makes music and who discovered something about life. That it can be rich and rewarding and full of beauty, just like the music he played. If a person would only pause to look and to listen…Joey Crown, who got his clue in the Twilight Zone.


Another Serling lesson about slowing down and smelling the roses. At least it’s not an escaping to the past episode. Not to sound annoying but this episode does have a pint. Life’s just a tad too short to be too ‘cool’ to not enjoy stuff.


Join us next week for yet another life lesson in being happy with what you are and/or have: Mr. Bevis

In the Mouth of Madness – Movie Review

In the Mouth of Madness Synopsis: With the disappearance of hack horror writer Sutter Cane, all Hell is breaking loose…literally! Author Cane, it seems, has a knack for description that really brings his evil creepy-crawlies to life. Insurance investigator John Trent is sent to investigate Cane’s mysterious vanishing act and ends up in the sleepy little East Coast town of Hobb’s End. The fact that this town exists as a figment of Cane’s twisted imagination is only the beginning of Trent’s problems.

Release Date: February 3rd, 1995 | Runtime: 1 hour and 35 minutes | MPAA Rating: R | Coolthulhus Earned: 5

Starring: Sam Neill, Julie CarmenJürgen Prochnow 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Mouth of Madness Review

Have you read Sutter Cane?

I can’t believe that it took me so long to watch this movie. It has practically everything I love in it: Lovecraft, Stephen King, and a ton of references to look for and spot and conjecture about. In short, I’m very disappointed in myself for not watching it sooner. In my defense, I had no idea it was even about a book, so, there ya go.

I loved the plot to it. It was creepy and took many unexpected twists and turns. Reality itself gets distorted in interesting ways that did not come across as cheatery and contrived. It also raises some interesting questions about readers and the free will of the characters in fiction.

Sorry, a small digression here. Just pretend for a moment that it’s true (c’mon, you can do it, you guys read horror and sci-fi. I know you have imaginations). That a fictional character is aware of what is happening to him or her. They realize this but can’t do anything about it. They are forced to live through whatever unimaginable horror the author can think of to inflict upon them. I can’t imagine anything more horrifying. I’m not really talking about meta-horror, exactly, because to me it’s a different kind of awareness.

Anyways, you didn’t read this to get my half-assed attempt at midnight psychology. You want to hear about the movie. It starts out with a bang and the pace keeps up until the last fifteen minutes or so. It does start to slow down a bit near the end but it’s a necessary slowness so it’s acceptable. The plot stays on point throughout without any digressions that don’t add to the movie.

The effects are top-notch and some really managed to give me the creeps. Some of the creepier ones are also the most simple. Maybe not simple to pull off but in the plot they’re somewhat minor happenings but add to the general atmosphere and general creepiness. The bridge into Hobb’s End. The changing picture. Simple, but very effective. And the creature effects? Excellent.

Sam Neill is very believable as the cocky insurance investigator, totally convinced he is the master of his own, cynical view of the world. Julie Carmen is very able in her role, if a little lat at times but since I’ve never seen her in anything else I’m not really sure if that was an acting choice or her typical acting ability.  Jürgen Prochnow is perfect as the “author” of the end of the world. Oddly enough, this is not the first time Jürgen has brought about the Apocalypse. The first time was in a movie called ‘The Seventh Sign” (which I’ll be reviewing soon). He’s perfect as the elusive Sutter Cane. Even the secondary characters are played well.

And of course, all the references. I’d love to point out as many as I noticed (and I’m pretty sure there’s more I didn’t) but since some are plot points I don’t want to spoil anything for you. I don’t like to assume that just because a movie is older then it’s ok to tell the whole story. Suffice it to say that there are many and Lovecraft and King fans alike will have many happy egg hunts.

There is only one part that I don’t get and it bugs me:

Hidden from Spam-bots!


Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #31

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

08/05/2017 – 08/11/2017

 

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.

August is getting on. Just a few more weeks before the true horror begins…school. So, shall we get in a few more stories around the fire before the shades of fall are upon us?


Odd Jobs Jason A. Tanner

Synopsis:
Chris Tanner has a job to do. He is to meet a certain woman at a certain time. She doesn’t know they will be meeting, nor what they’re meeting for. She is to be executed for crimes committed during a previous life, one hundred years ago.

Review:
Great story and an interesting idea. I think it would make a very good full-length novel and even, possibly, a series.


The Odor of SanctityWilliam Marden

Synopsis:
On the day that two people are to be awakened from cryo-sleep in the future, something has gone wrong. very wrong. A man just awakened has gone insane, welts and burns spontaneously appearing on his body. The second to be awakened, a young girl with a then-inoperable tumour, lies sleeping peacefully. In her presence the cryo-team feels serenity and a calming, lovely smell. It is then that the cryo-team realizes their grave mistake. Would you tear a soul from paradise and would they be happy about it?

Review:
I’ve always loved this story. I’m not exactly religious but it certainly gives the imagination something to work on. Was the first man in Hell? Is that why his skin was scarred and he was crazy? It doesn’t really say but the difference in the two awakenings makes me think so.


On Spending the Night Alone in a Haunted House: A User’s GuideBruce Boston

Synopsis:
A list of very strange and explicit set of instructions as to how to spend the night in a haunted house. If it drives you mad, so be it. That’s the risk you take when venturing into the unknown.

Review:
An entertaining, if bizarre list. The instructions seem to be a bit arbitrary. And odd. But I guess that’s what you get when you take instructions from a madman.


On the Panecraft TrainTom Piccirilli

Synopsis:
A man out walking, looking for his ‘dog’ Topaz. As he walks he studies the possible ruin of the Panecraft Asylum. Meeting up with his brother they study the names of the dead and ride the Panecraft Train back into madness.

Review:
An…interesting story but a little odd. I read it twice and I’m still not sure if they’re former patients, escaped patients or ghosts. All are possible and it makes you wonder. It also makes me think of the Ozzy Osbourne song, ‘Crazy Train’.


One for the Road Judith Post

Synopsis:
A man is doomed to take a ride in his ghostly Camaro each year. Cursed by the woman who’s husband he hit while drinking and driving he now wakes up once a year to prevent the same thing happening.

Review:
Great, great story. Well told and just all the way around excellent. Even though the man cursed well deserves his curse you eve feel sorry for him a bit as well.


One Romantic Evening… Greg McElhatton

Synopsis:
A blind date between a vampire and a human isn’t going so well. He’s a bit boring and things take a downturn when he lunges for her neck. Good thing she has mace.

Review:
A pretty funny spoof on the ‘vampire tells his life story’ trope. And the mix up with the perfume and mace was a nice touch.


One WayHugh B. Cave

Synopsis:
Up in the mountains there is a cave where people vanish without a trace. two local men are guiding a reporter to go see it. A reporter who doesn’t believe them. So of course he has to check for himself. Next time the guides better get their pay up front.

Review:
A funny little story. Short and to the point but a good story nonetheless.


Favorite of the Week:
Oh, this week is going to be a tough one to choose. So many good stories. I loved Odd Jobs by Jason Tanner. I think it would make an excellent series if done right. Or even just a stand-alone novel. The Odor of Sanctity by William Marden was very good, as well. I either remembered this story or another story uses the same theme. But that should show you the staying power of it as this year is the first time I’ve read this book in ages. One for the Road by Judith Post is a haunting (literally) story on the dangers of drinking and driving. But it’s told in such a way that the sympathy goes for almost everyone in the story, including the cursed driver. One Romantic Evening by Greg McElhatton was a funny spoof on blind dates and vampires.


Join us again next week for another round of scary tales told by candlelight Ok, computer light but it’s close!

This is Horror, Issue 16: Get a Grip of It or Take a Polaroid?

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

This is Horror, Issue 16 is a sampling of Horror News, including book and movie releases, 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 Weekly Quote:

“Newsflash, ladies: We can’t read your thoughts. And frankly, I’m not entirely sure I’d want to. The female mind is a scary place to be.”
― Emma ChaseTangled

Horror Movies

Opening This Week (August 11th):

Movie poster for Annabelle Creation

Annabelle: Creation Synopsis: Several years after the tragic death of their little girl, a dollmaker and his wife welcome a nun and several girls from a shuttered orphanage into their home, soon becoming the target of the dollmaker’s possessed creation, Annabelle.

Starring: Stephanie SigmanMiranda OttoLulu Wilson

Watch the Annabelle: Creation trailer on Youtube.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coming Soon

 

Polaroid

 High school loner Bird Fitcher has no idea what dark secrets are tied to the mysterious Polaroid vintage camera she stumbles upon, but it doesn’t take long to discover that those who have their picture taken meet a tragic end.

Starring: Madelaine PetschKathryn PrescottJavier Botet


Small Sci-Fi and Scary Divider

 

Horrorific Trivia

Wanna See My Shorts?

Sometimes you’re really not in the mood to watch a full-length movie. Sometimes you don’t even want to watch something the length of a television show. Shorts fill that role quite nicely. While these aren’t my shorts (I’m not that talented) I invite you to check out some of my favorite shorts on YouTube. There are some truly creepy and…creative shorts on there for the viewing. The title is linked to IMDB for more information on directors, writers and actors.

1. Givertaker: An ambitious teen conducts an ancient ritual to enact petty revenge on those who she believes have wronged her.

Set up to look like a nineties teen book (I was very disappointed to find out it wasn’t) it also has the feel of one, but with much better writing, acting and production value than a Goosebumps episode. It had great atmosphere and the effects were top-notch. The ‘Givertaker’ monster is pretty awesome and puts me in mind of Silent Hill. According to the director they plan a series and I hope they do. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Watch it here

 

2. Killer Kart: The shopping cart. Four wheels, one basket, and tonight, for the closing crew of a small-town grocery store, a blood-splattered aluminum nightmare.

This short was so much fun. The titular Killer Karts are done pretty well and actually look a bit frightening. At the very least, being eaten by one looks very painful.

Watch it here

 

3. Teddy Bears are for Lovers: Unfortunately there is no IMDB information for this. The synopsis: A short horror comedy following a 20-something Casanova who becomes haunted by the teddy bears he gave to his ex-girlfriends.

This short was hilarious. Unfortunately in a break-up the poor stuffed animals often bear the brunt of the wrath of the broken up with. It’s time they had their revenge. Please give this one a look, I promise you won’t regret it.

Watch it here

 

4. Don’t Move: Set on one fateful night, six friends gather for their monthly ‘games night’… and accidentally unleash a demonic force that might tear them – and their friendships – to pieces.

This short had just enough story to be interesting, engaging and tense. I don’t think the tension could be sustained for a full-length movie but it would be great as a little longer segment of an anthology movie. I would definitely watch it if it were. The acting is great and the effects are very well done. The atmosphere is first rate.

Watch it here 

 

5. Breathe: A young man falls in love with a ghost, who you can only see when you don’t breathe.

A bit darker than the others but with a strangely beautiful story. Again, this would make an excellent segment on an anthology movie. It would be served well by being just a shade longer to provide a more suspenseful atmosphere. Everything moves a bit too quickly so a longer piece would really give it room to make you more engaged in it.

Watch it here 

Disclaimer: We are not associated nor have any interest in the channels or creators listed here.

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Horror Books

Featured New Horror Release

BOok cover for The Grip of It

The Grip of It – Jac Jemc – August 1st, 2017

A chilling literary horror novel about a young couple who purchase and live in a haunted house. Jac Jemc’s The Grip of Ittells the eerie story of a young couple haunted by their new home. 

Julie and James settle into a house in a small town outside the city where they met. The move—prompted by James’s penchant for gambling, his inability to keep his impulses in check—is quick and seamless; both Julie and James are happy to leave behind their usual haunts and start afresh. But this house, which sits between ocean and forest, has plans for the unsuspecting couple. As Julie and James try to settle into their home and their relationship, the house and its surrounding terrain become the locus of increasingly strange happenings. The architecture—claustrophobic, riddled with hidden rooms within rooms—becomes unrecognizable, decaying before their eyes. Stains are animated on the wall—contracting, expanding—and map themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mold spores taint the water that James pours from the sink. Together the couple embark on a panicked search for the source of their mutual torment, a journey that mires them in the history of their peculiar neighbors and the mysterious residents who lived in the house before Julia and James.

Written in creepy, potent prose, The Grip of It is an enthralling, psychologically intense novel that deals in questions of home: how we make it and how it in turn makes us, mapping itself onto bodies and the relationships we cherish.

 

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Twice Upon An Apocalypse (Anthology)

Title: Twice Upon an Apocalypse – Lovecraftian Fairy Tales | Edited by Don D’Ammassa and Rachel Kenley | Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing | Pub. Date: 05/30/2017 | Pages: 284 | ISBN13: 9781640074750 | Genre: Horror/Dark Fantasy | Language: English | Triggers: Cannibalism/Child Death (one story) | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from the publisher for review consideration


Twice Upon an Apocalypse – Lovecraftian Fairy Tales

These aren’t your mother’s fairy tales.

Throughout history parents have told their children stories to help them sleep, to keep them entertained. But we’re pretty sure none of those parents had this in mind. These are the fairy tales that will give you and your children nightmares. From the darkest depths of Grimm and Anderson come the immortal mash-ups with the creations of HP Lovecraft.

Twice Upon an Apocalypse Review

I don’t generally read mash-ups. Every once in a while they can be cleverly done but, as Gary Braunbek states in the Introduction, they tend to work better as short stories rather than novels. The subtitle of ‘Lovecraftian Fairy Tales’ soon caught my eye and I eagerly ofered myself…ok, I may have begged a bit.

I can’t say that I was disappointed at all. The stories are generally good and range from deadly serious to tongue firmly in cheek. There were a few stand-outs but none that made me roll my eyes in disbelief or bored me to tears. Each story, despite having common themes, was it’s own creation and unique. I also enjoyed the fact that along with the more well-known fairy tales some were used which are rarely seen. I have to admit that I fully expected to see many stories by the Brothers Grimm. The Grimm Brothers are amply represented but so also is Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Anderson. There are also a couple well-known stories, even if the authors are not widely known. Even though I partly expected to see at least ‘The Little Mermaid’ show up in an Innsmouth story, indeed how could she not?  I was also pleased to see a few of the lesser known tales. I’m slightly biased towards Hans Christian Anderson’s tales, I’ll admit that right now.

The stories are well-written but with such a narrow framework to write a story within (Lovecraftian fairy tales leading up to an apocalypse) constrains the creativity to a degree. You know pretty much how things will end (or begin) so the only mystery is how it’s going to get there or be described. Some of the better stories made very good use of atmosphere. I’m also unsure of the submission process for the stories but with the wealth of both fairy tale and Lovecraft mythos there seems to be quite a bit of repetition in view. For instance, there are two separate stories about ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’.They each go in their own directions but there should really be no need for two of the same story in the anthology. Also, with the amount of different locations mentioned in Lovecraft and the fairy tales themselves seem to limit themselves to fairly confined areas. Innsmouth and Dunwich are particular favorites.

Since there are too many stories to go into them as deeply as I’d like I will sort them from best to least liked.

Madness-Inducing (Best):

The Pied Piper of Providence – William Meikle
The Three Billy Goats Sothoth – Peter N. Dudar
In the Shade of the Juniper Tree – J.P. Hutshell
The Most Incredible Thing – Bracken MacLeod
Let Me Come In! – Simon Yee
The Fishman and His Wife – Inanna Arthen
The Gumdrop Apocalypse – Pete Rawlik
Curiosity – Winifred Burniston
Sweet Dreams in the Witch House – Sean Logan
The Legend of Creepy Hollow – DonD’Ammassa

Mind-bending Angles (Good):

The Horror at Hatchet Point – Zach Shephard
Follow the Yellow Glyph Road – Scott T. Goudsward
The Ice Queen – Mae Empson
Once Upon a Dream – Matthew Baugh
Donkeyskin – K.H. Vaughn
The Great Old One and the Beanstalk – Armand Rosamilia

Slightly Skewed (Meh):

Little Maiden of the Sea – David Barnard
The Little Match Mi-Go – Michael Kamp
Cinderella and Her Outer Godfather – C.T. Phipps
Fee Fie Old One – Thom Brannan
The King of the Golden Mountain – Morgan Sylvia


Even the stories that didn’t thrill me were still pretty good. Oddly, I just noticed that despite my love for Hans Christian Anderson, those seem to be the ones that I rated lowest. Perhaps I couldn’t separate the originals from the mixture. Because they were mixed well, I just couldn’t get into them. Others may like them more so I would not discourage anyone from reading them. For those interested in Lovecraft or fairy tale mash-ups there is a lot to be liked here. So kick back and get ready for some familiar and comfortable cosmic horror. Although that may be an oxymoron.


4 Skulls Out of 5

      

Earthcore Review (Sci-Fi Horror)

Title: Earthcore | Author: Scott Sigler | Publisher: Empty Set Entertainment | Pub. Date (Audio): 2017-5-31 | Length: 20 hours 15 min | Narrator: Ray Porter | ISBN13: 9781939366979 | Genre: Sci-Fi Horror | Language: English | Rating: 2 out of 5


Earthcore

Deep below a desolate Utah mountain lies the largest platinum deposit ever discovered. A billion-dollar find, it waits for any company that can drill a world’s record, three-mile-deep mine shaft. EarthCore is the company with the technology, the resources and the guts to go after the mother lode. Young executive Connell Kirkland is the company’s driving force, pushing himself and those around him to uncover the massive treasure.

But at three miles below the surface, where the rocks are so hot they burn bare skin, something has been waiting for centuries. Waiting …and guarding. Kirkland and EarthCore are about to find out first-hand why this treasure has never been unearthed.

Book cover for Earthcore

Earthcore Review

Earthcore is an interesting, much more foul-mouthed take on Journey to the Center of the Earth. Except, in Sigler’s version, it’s not dinosaurs you come across, but something much more shiny and squishy. Once things get rolling (it takes a while), it’s an action-packed adventure. There’s one flight from danger after another, and several surprises await you.

And that’s about all that I can say that’s nice about it.

One of the things that annoyed me about Earthcore was the sob-story given to the human villain. I see this a lot in books, and I just don’t understand it. Am I supposed to feel sorry for the character because s/he had a bad life growing up? Because I don’t. I had a rough life growing up myself and I didn’t grow up to be a bad person. I grew up still understanding the differences between right and wrong. Making the choice to be a good person. The villain is the villain. They chose to do the wrong things, and, especially when they’re geniuses, they do it with full understanding that what they’re doing is wrong. I don’t care about their life growing up, and telling me about it in some effort to flesh them out only serves to annoy me and detract from the story.

And Scott Sigler does the sob-story for the bad guys not once but twice in this book.  I could almost understand it for the guy, because of the whole ‘redeem during the course of the story’ factor but the true ‘villain’? No. That character is pretty much an evil archetype and trying to redeem them at all was just a waste of page space. Apparently Earthcore started as a much shorter book that was expanded on recently to please the fans. I can’t help but think I probably would have preferred it in it’s shorter form.

Unfortunately, a trend within Earthcore was that few of the characters were likable. If you spend half the book being annoyed by the mere presence of certain characters on the page, it inevitably detracts from your overall enjoyment.  The only character I actually liked in the whole book was the prospector who finds the platinum to begin with. Well, I liked Sanjay as well, but he was a very minor character. Towards the end of the book, the main scientist, Angus, grated on my nerves so badly that simply listening to the book made me want to reach through my phone and smack the crap out of him. The only way I was able to force myself to go on was to tell myself that he had to die a very horrible death very soon, right?

I like most of Sigler’s work that I’ve read/listened to. Infected was a fantastic audio experience that he narrated himself. However, Earthcore just wasn’t something I dug, pardon the pun. In fact, by the end of the book, I truly disliked the book. Ray Porter is the only thing that kept me listening to the audio book at all. The plot had a few definite interesting twists to it, but not enough to save me from wanting to chuck it through the nearest window.

Can’t recommend it, but I know I seem to be in the minority with that opinion, so take my review with a grain of salt.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Chaser

The Chaser

Professor A. Daemon – John McIntire
Leila – Patricia Barrymore
Roger Shackleforth – George Grizzard
Homburg – J. Pat O’Malley


I will warn you right now, this is a fairly skeevy episode. Just about anything to do with love potions is, really. Anyways, off we go.

There’s a line forming to use something rare and hardly ever seen anymore…a payphone. A semi-young man is tying up the line listening to a busy signal. A man rushes into the diner, asking for the telephone. He sees the line but his is a really important call so he bypasses it with a hand wave.The lady at the head of the line gives him a look that sends him to the back of the line. Even though he’s only been there a moment and has no idea what’s going on he calls it ‘madness’ to wait for the phone. For all he knows the guy on the phone just got there. The man on the phone hangs up and begins dialing again. This sends the newcomer from a snit into a perfect tizzy. It’s simply outrageous that he’s making another call! The lady at the end says it’s the man’s fifth call. He doesn’t even talk. Just dials and hangs up. Then she says, “Maybe he’s got a dialect!” Uhh, ok?

SERLING:
Mr. Roger Shackleforth. Age, youthful 20’s. Occupation? Being in love. Not just in love but madly, passionately, illogically, miserably, all-consumingly in love with a young woman named Leila who has a vague recollection of his face and even less than a passing interest. In a moment you’ll see a switch because Mr. Roger Shackleforth, a young gentleman so much in love, will take a short but very meaningful journey into the Twilight Zone.

The newcomer is in a dreadful hurry and buys the young lady’s place in line for a buck. The same with the man before her. He tries to buy the lady’s top of the line but she’s not so cheap. She wants two dollars for her place in line because why should first place be the same as third? She has a point. She gets her two dollars so now the only thing between him and the precious phone is Shackleforth, still listening to the dial tone.

Finally the young woman, whom I can only assume is Leila, picks up the phone. She’s attractive and really dressed up for lounging about in bed. She was clearly hoping for someone more interesting because when Shackleforth announces himself she loses all interest. He asks if he can come over and she says no. She looks a mess and can’t see anyone. Well, we know she’s lying but Shackleforth blows that off and says he must see her. Furiously, fiercely must see her. Dude. Take a cold shower. She says it’s impossible and when he says he loves her she tells him to stop this. He’s acting like a baby. I agree. He’s one restraining order away from stalking her. Although I’m not sure if they even had those back then. I will once again ask you, dear readers, to enlighten my ignorance.

He begs again to see her and then begs her to say something, anything. She says she’ll say something: “Why doesn’t he go and take a flying jump at the moon?” and hangs up. As soon as it’s clear that Shackleforth has hung up the newcomer shoves his way into the booth and deftly squeezes Shackleforth out. Shackleforth is still clutching the phone. He insists that he’s got to call leila back. She hung up on him so he has to make sure that she isn’t sore. Take. A. Hint. The newcomer tells Shackleforth that he heard it all through the door and his problem can’t be solved on the phone. Then he hands Shackleforth a card and tells him to go and see that man. If Shackleforth goes to see the man on the card, all his problems will be solved before the day is over.

Shackleforth looks at the card. He must have taken the man’s advice because the next time we see Shackleforth he’s in front of a rather large looking house. The name on the door reads: Professor A. Daemon. I’m sure this will end well. He rings the doorbell and the door swings open on it’s own. It reveals a dark room with wooden panel doors. The slide open of their own accord as well, revealing a large, library-looking room. An older gentleman is puttering around inside.

The older gentleman seems a bit crotchety and tells Shackleforth to stop lurking. Shackleforth says he wasn’t lurking, he just didn’t know if…Professor Daemon tells him that’s a common problem. ‘Not knowing if’. Daemon tells Shackleforth to sit down on a nearby pile of books. And I’ve got to say. The books he sits on are freaking huge. Daemon asks if Shackleforth has come for glove cleaner. Shackleforth says he didn’t come for that. Daemon dismisses him and Shackleforth says (for the third time) “As a matter of fact”. Daemon snaps at him to get to the point.

Shackleforth says he’s not sure why he came. That a man gave him a card but he’s not sure why he’s there. Shackleforth starts to set the scene but Daemon breaks in and says that Shackleforth wants what he has. Shackleforth protests that he doesn’t even know what Daemon has. Daemon says he has *ahem* : “Ointments, salves, powders, sovereign remedies, nectars, lotus blossoms, toxins, tonics, anti-toxins, decoctions, concoctions and potions”. And they all come guaranteed. Daemon goes back to flipping through his book and Shackleforth gets up to leave, saying he doesn’t need any of those things. Daemon says that he must, he’s here after all. Shackleforth says he doesn’t need any medicines because he’s not sick. Daemon says Shackleforth certainly seems ill, he looks feverish.

 

Shackleforth claps a hand to his head, just to check, I guess. He says it’s nothing, really. Daemon says he hasn’t got ‘nothing’, ‘something’ is what he supplies and you can get ‘anything’ here. Daemon finally smiles, asking if Shackleforth is ambitious and wants money, fame and the world at his feet. Shackleforth says no, that’s not what he wants at all. Daemon catches Shackleforth by the shoulder and guesses power, what Shackleforth wants is power. Shackleforth says no, all he wants is Leila. If he can have Leila he can do everything else for himself. Which seems a little backward to me. Leila looks entirely like a woman who would be impressed by wealth, fame and power. Or, hey! Here’s an idea! If you have all of those things you might find another woman whom you want and who would actually (willingly) love you back.

This seems to disgust Daemon and he says he should have known. He’s offering Shackleforth everything but all he wants is Leila. Shackleforth lays it out for Daemon. It’s pretty simple. Shackleforth loves Leila but she doesn’t love him. And there’s nothing Daemon can do to make it any different. Daemon says that’s the simplest thing of all. A mere trick of his science. He looks disappointed that Shackleforth doesn’t want something more complicated. Daemon tells Shackleforth that he can make a potion that will make Leila love him and him alone.

This catches Shackleforth’s attention. He asks Daemon if he can really do this. Daemon says he can make a potion that will make Leila want to spend every minute with him. When she’s not by his side, she’ll be gazing lovingly at him. She won’t even eat until he does. She’ll do anything that Shackleforth asks her to. She’ll worship him, weep at his touch and beg for his kisses. Sounds like we’re wandering into Christian Grey territory here. Instead of a contract it’s a potion. Ick. The potion will even make her forgive him if, in time, he should be unfaithful. Daemon wraps it up by saying that Shackleforth would get the same unconditional love from a Cocker Spaniel. Unless you’re into bestiality there is one major difference. But it’s a difference that’s just as icky if a potion is used on her against her will.

 

 

Shackleforth says, yes! That’s exactly what he wants! Shocker. Daemon mocks him, saying if it’s not his Leila’s love then it’s his Dorothy’s love or Gwen’s. He asks Shackleforth again if he wouldn’t be interested in the “glove cleaner” as he calls it. He also calls it the “Eradicator”, among many other names. Shackleforth looks confused and says he doesn’t want any glove cleaner. I’m assuming that the ‘Eradicator’ or ‘glove cleaner’ is actually a love eradicator. When paired with glove, well, the phrase ‘love glove’ comes to mind and now I want to bleach my brain, a bit.

Daemon tries urging the Eradicator again but since Shackleforth is as thick as a brick he doesn’t really get what Daemon is saying so he tells Daemon that he’s not making any sense. Daemon retorts that sense is all he makes and that’s why he’s so lonely. He says the Eradicator is swift, sure and leaves no trace. Daemon says that perhaps Shackleforth can’t afford it, it is $1,000 a bottle but the love potion is only a buck. Ok, so a terrible potion that is basically a drug is only a buck, while the cure for an unwanted infatuation is $1,000. Makes sense. And Daemon wonders why people choose the love potion? Daemon says it’s over-priced at that.

Shackleforth has a bit of scruple to ask if the potion will hurt Leila. Daemon says the only one likely to get hurt is Shackleforth himself but Shackleforth probably won’t believe that. Probably not because I don’t buy it. I’d think the person being drugged out of their free will to love is the most hurt in that situation. The Professor tosses him the bottle and Shackleforth forks over his dollar. Daemon says it will give Shackleforth everything he thinks he wants. Daemon tells him to put it in anything to drink and it’s effects are instantaneous. Shackleforth says he doesn’t really believe it but he’s willing to try anything. Shackleforth says that if it works he’ll be “the happiest man in the world.” Daemon says the words with him, rolling his eyes as though he’s heard it all before. Which he probably has.

Shackleforth apparently hurried over to Leila’s because now we’re at her apartment. The doorbell is ringing. Something tells me she was waiting for a different gentleman. She hurries to the door, primping her hair and wearing some sort of diaphanous, flowy negligee that looks a bit like a curtain. She opens the door but as soon as she sees it’s Shackleforth she tries to shut the door but he sticks his head in it. I think I would have shut the door anyway, it’s rude to force yourself through the door. He gives her an insanely large bouquet of flowers which she takes grudgingly. Then she asks him to leave again. He says he couldn’t have lasted the night without seeing her. He smooshes his face against the door and tells her that she doesn’t know what it’s like to love someone so passionately. Uh, how do you know? Just because she doesn’t love you then she must never have been in love? Besides Mr. Shackleforth, you’re not in love, you’re in lust and obsession which is a far cry from love.

He tells Leila that he’s brought champagne. Just enough for two glasses. So you brought her open champagne? Gross, it’s going to be flat. Either that or it’s a tiny little bottle.He begs her to give him five minutes and have one glass of champagne with him. She tells him that he’s being a stupid, silly clod. He tells her he loves her again and kisses the door. Get a freaking life! Whether it’s the champagne that tempts her or she feels sorry for him, she eventually relents and lets him in for one drink.

He follows her in very closely. She tells him to back off, she’s got to change out of her curtain and into a proper dress. He’s so thrilled that he says it’s like millennium. Okey dokey. Maybe he’s been listening to Prince’s ‘1999’ or something. Well, it is a tiny little bottle. That’s weird. I honestly didn’t know they had those back then. He opens it up and puts the GHB, I mean love potion, into Leila’s glass. She says let’s get this over  with. He watches her drink down her glass. Not sure if the champagne is that good or if she’s just trying to get rid of him. My guess is the latter since right after he drinks it she checks her watch and tells him that his time’s up. He doesn’t drink anything but just stares at her while she does. Oh, no. You’re not a stalkery creeper, not at all.

She thanks him for the champagne and flowers and tells him goodbye. He follows her and just keeps staring at her. Finally she asks what he’s staring at. He says it might be his last look so he wants to make sure it’s a good one. She says fine, you’ve had it, now leave. Then he asks for a kiss. She refuses. One thing you can’t really blame her for is that she doesn’t lead him on for gifts and stuff. She probably could if she wanted to. She tells him pretty bluntly that she does not love him, she doesn’t want him there and she doesn’t even particularly want him there or like him at the moment.

He walks away, all dejected looking. Again she takes pity on him and gives him a slight kiss on the lips. She says that’s the best she can do and it took all of her strength. He goes to leave but she tells him to wait, perhaps she’s being cruel and that she doesn’t mean to be. I’m guessing the potion is starting to work. He says he knows and starts to leave again. She tells him to wait again, and then asks if she can make the kiss a little nicer. Then she plants a lip-lock on him. She looks confused and asks what’s happening. She drops her shoulder wrap and Shackleforth says (ugh), “What a difference, baby! Come here!” and they lip-lock again. Gag.

It’s a while later, probably about a year. Shackleforth is reading a paper. As he lowers it we see that Leila is crouched at his feet, gazing at him adoringly. He tells her that she should sit on a chair. She says of course, she’s very sorry it bothers him. She just loves to kneel at her feet. He tells her to go kneel on a chair. she says ok and hops up. She asks which chair and he says any, it doesn’t matter. She offers to take his shoes off and get his slippers. He says no, they make his feet hot. And shoes don’t?  She tells him that if his feet are hot then she could soak her hands in ice water and caress them. I think I’m going to throw up. She offers him his pipe but he says it’s not broke in yet so she offers to break it in for him by smoking it all day for him.

There’s more but I think I’d honestly be sick detailing it all. Point is, she literally won’t leave him alone and he’s getting tired of it. He tries to read again and she starts tickling his chin with her fuzzy shoe. He hops up and says he’s got to go out. By himself. She wants to know if he wants her to go with but he says no, no, no. He says he might be late and gives her his jacket to cuddle with.

In an unsurprising turn of events, he’s headed back to Professor Daemon’s house. He rings and waits impatiently for the doors to open. Daemon says he rather thought that he’d be seeing Shackleforth again. Shackleforth tries to act casual and says he thought Daemon would like to know how everything turned out. And boy does that potion work! Shackleforth wants to know how Daemon’s been and what he thinks about their situation in China. Daemon looks like he could care less either way. Daemon pulls out the ‘glove cleaner’ again and repeats his sales pitch from before: “No taste, no smell, no way to detect it’s presence and it’s sure to work”. That is what Shackleforth came for, correct?

Shackleforth says gosh no! He just stopped by to tell Daemon how hunky-dory everything is. Daemon rubs it in that he was right about her loving Shackleforth all the way. Shackleforth finally breaks down and admits that it’s too much love. Isn’t there any way to tone it down or transfer it to something else a bit? Daemon says nope, you wanted her, she’s yours. Daemon tells him that the glove cleaner is the only way. Shackleforth says he can’t use that. Shackleforth says that Daemon doesn’t know what it’s like and he says of course he does. Why does he think he created the glove cleaner in the first place? Shackleforth tries to haggle the price down a bit, saying that $1,000 is his entire savings. Shackleforth breaks down and grabs the bottle from Daemon. Then he pulls a check, already made out from his pocket.

Daemon warns him about one thing. That when Shackleforth uses it, he must use it immediately and he must use it all. Shackleforth asks if it will spoil and Daemon says no. But if Shackleforth hesitates then he won’t use it at all. Daemon watches him leave. He comments to himself that it’s always the same way. First the stimulant, then the chaser.

Shackleforth comes home and she is literally cuddling with his coat and petting it. She, of course, is overjoyed when he walks in the door. He’s brought her another ridiculously large bouquet of flowers and tells her they ought to celebrate. Ok, they’ve been married for six months. She’s delighted, (of course) and says it’s just like the first time only this time he doesn’t have to beg to stay. he goes to get glasses. What a dick. He gives her the potion, then acts like she’s smothering him. How do you think she felt the nine billion times you called and wouldn’t leave her alone? She prattles on a bit about how much she loves him and he dumps the love glove cleaner in her glass eagerly. He’s perched on the back of the couch but she pulls him down to sit next to her and calls him her “Lover Marshmallow”.

She says she has news for her bunny rabbit and holds up a baby bootie. he freaks out and drops the glasses, along with the Eradicator. She says that’s all right, they don’t need champagne. He starts muttering to himself that he never could have gone through with it, anyways. She says it’s only the beginning and they’ll be like this for the rest of their lives. He looks terrified. Then he passes out.

SERLING:
Mr. Roger Shackleforth, who has discovered at this late date that love can be as sticky as a vat of molasses, as unpalatable as a hunk of spoiled yeast, and as all-consuming as a six-alarm fire in a bamboo and canvas tent. Case history of a lover boy who should never have imagined the Twilight Zone.


Love potions and wishes always creep me out. And it’s weird to me that in some stuff they’re used so casually. I can think of examples from Harry Potter to Supernatural.


Join us again next week for another episode of the Twilight Zone: Passage for Trumpet. And I’ll warn you right now, it might be a bit snark heavy.

Mass Hysteria Review (Gory Horror)

Title: Mass Hysteria | Author: Michael Patrick Hicks | Publisher: High Fever Books | Pub. Date: 2017-8-15 | Pages: 258 | ISBN13: 9781947570009 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Triggers: Child death | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received a copy of this book from Netgalley for review consideration.


Mass Hysteria

It came from space…

Something virulent. Something evil. Something new. And it is infecting the town of Falls Breath.

Carried to Earth in a freak meteor shower, an alien virus has infected the animals. Pets and wildlife have turned rabid, attacking without warning. Dogs and cats terrorize their owners, while deer and wolves from the neighboring woods hunt in packs, stalking and killing their human prey without mercy.

As the town comes under siege, Lauren searches for her boyfriend, while her policeman father fights to restore some semblance of order against a threat unlike anything he has seen before. The Natural Order has been upended completely, and nowhere is safe.

…and it is spreading.

Soon, the city will find itself in the grips of mass hysteria.

To survive, humanity will have to fight tooth and nail.

Book cover for Mass Hysteria

Mass Hysteria Review

Michael Patrick Hicks’ Mass Hysteria is a headlong dive into a disgusting, gore-splattered future that will either delight or dismay readers. Though the book starts out with animal attacks, it transitions fairly swiftly to humans attacking other humans as well. The tone for carnage is set early on, and it ratchets up relentlessly. There’s enough ‘long pig’ feasting in this book to make the mythical rugaru feel right at home.

Mass Hysteria is heavy on language, violence, and sexual situations. It is not a book for horror fans that find their stomachs easily turned. There were scenes that made me cringe (and mentally applaud the author). If you are someone who hates to see a dog (or cat) die in a book, you’d best not go past the front cover. I’m normally one of those people, but given that the book promises animals going crazy, I was prepared for it going in. It’s a straightforward look at a world where the rules humanity have lived by since the dawn of civilization are cast aside. It’s fast paced, action-packed, and bloody. Really, almost everything a horror gore-hound could want.

While it is very competently written for the most part, Mass Hysteria does contain two instances of child death that annoyed me. These deaths are undeniably in place to add to the horror of the situation, and are entirely unnecessary. The author’s writing is strong enough to stand up on its own without relying on these tried and true but nevertheless weak writing props. (Normally I would list the animal deaths a weak prop as well, but it’s a game changer when you know it’s going to happen up front.) However, to his credit, only a few lines are spent on the first child’s death, and it is not witnessed as much as heard. For the second, it happens entirely ‘off screen’. So, they were well done for what they were. (And I have to admit that the second death really did emphasize exactly how much the world had changed.)

Undeniably talented, Michael Patrick Hicks shows evidence of a rather deliciously depraved mind in this book. This is an author that can easily hold his own against some of the biggest names in the business. There is some improvement to be had, but mainly in areas of confidence  rather than technical skill. While he isn’t on my ‘must-read’ list yet, I would have no problems recommending Mass Hysteria to fellow gore-hounds out there.

I have also reviewed Black Site by the same author.

Horrors! A Full Year of Horror #30

 

Horrors! 365 Scary Stories – A Full Year of Horror

07/29/2017 – 08/04/2017

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.

 

 

 

 


Night Train Bob Morrish

Synopsis:
Willie has been riding the rails for a very long time. Dodging yard bosses, grabbing work when he can. Tonight he might finally be a legitimate passenger. For a very long time.

Review:
The story was pretty nice, actually. You really felt sympathetic for Willie and I was a little pleased that his story ended well.


NightmaresLinda J. Dunn

Synopsis:
Jenny keeps having dreams of her ex-husband. An abusive alcoholic. Jenny also dreams of being still married to him. Today she’ll find out which is a dream. And which is the real nightmare.

Review:
An excellent story that managed to pack two twists into a two-page story. And they’re good twists.


Nikola, MoonstruckLisa Morton

Synopsis:
With the murders that keep happening, Nikola is convinced that there’s a werewolf to blame. His neighbors laugh at him, telling him that it’s the twentieth century and wolfmen don’t exist. They’re right. There isn’t a wolfman.

Review:
A fun little werewolf story, even if it is a little obvious from the start just who the werewolf really is.


No PainLyn Nichols

Synopsis:
There’s a new drug that Lonny is dying to try. The dealer promises ‘No pain’. But what happens when you feel no pain…at all.

Review:
A bit creepier than I had anticipated. Usually it’s the drug itself that is the horror, not it’s side effects. And bugs should never go into people. Ever.


No Strings AttachedDavid Niall Wilson

Synopsis:
All the children want to see Miss Lily’s marionettes. If she’s sometimes cruel to the dwarf who takes the tickets that’s his business. But things behind the stage curtain are not always what they seem. Sometimes you can’t always see the strings.

Review:
Oh my god what a creepy story. Marionettes are always a little freaky but this story actually prickled my scalp a bit.


NoviceA.M. Dellamonica

Synopsis:
Requiem Chaos is a bar where the dead and undead, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and zombies can relax and have a drink. And on Halloween there’s always the possibility of a newcomer.

Review:
Great story! I would love to see this as an actual book. But the short story works well, too. It packs a bit more of a punch and gives it more of an eerie feel to it.


The Number You Have ReachedBrian McNaughton

Synopsis:
A man keeps getting wrong numbers all morning. Finally, he rips his answering machine out of the wall and threatens the life of his phone. His phone decides to get even.

Review:
I’m honestly not sure about this story. I liked it at first, the guy’s answers to the wrong numbers were very entertaining. But the end…I’m really not sure if he died, got trapped by his phone or is going crazy.


Favorite of the Week:
Most certainly and most positively No Strings Attached by David Niall Wilson. It actually gave me the creeps. For a more fun selection though, it would have to be Novice by A.M. Dellamonica. I’m tempted to look up this writer and see if they expanded on this idea at all or faded into Writer Oblivion. I’ll keep you posted.


Thanks for joining us and come back next week for a round of spooky tales to keep you up at night!

July & August 2017 Horror Reading Challenge

Welcome to the next check-in for the 2017 Horror Reading Challenge! Lots of you are doing fantastic on your reading challenges, and some of you aren’t doing as well as you might have hoped. That’s to be expected.

Just keep going, and you’ll get to the end of it eventually 😉

If you floundering, what has kept you from succeeding?  If you’re having trouble finding books you think you’ll like in the horror genre, just hit me up @scifiandscary or Gracie @areyouscaredyet on Twitter for some suggestions. We read a lot of different horror, so we’ll surely be able to point you at something!

We’re going to try something new this month. While you’re still going to list your July reads in the linky below, it will be open all month so that you can list your August books as you read them.

Oh, and as August 1st has passed us, sign-ups for the challenge for this year have officially closed.

 

How are you doing so far this year?

Neophyte Badge for The 2017 Horror Reading ChallengeNervous Neophytes: You signed up to read up to 7 books.

 

 

 

 

Initiate Badge for The 2017 Horror Reading ChallengeIntrepid Initiates: You signed up to read 8-15 books.

 

 

 

 

Oracle Badge for The 2017 Horror Reading ChallengeOmniscient Oracles: You’ve signed up to read 20-25 books.

 

 

 

 

Linky!



Finally, an announcement; I’m cancelling the Sci-Fi Challenges. They don’t have nearly the participation, and I’m honestly just stretched too thin to try to bolster it up and give it the attention that it deserves. Anyone currently participating in it is free to continue at their own pace with the list, but the official challenge is over.

If you signed up for either of the sci-fi challenges and you’d been participating, you can enter the rafflecopter drawing for a gift card to Thrift Books below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway