How to Survive a Horror Movie #BookReview

Title: How to Survive a Horror Movie | Author: Seth Grahame-Smith | Publisher: Quirk Books | Pub. Date: 05/01/2007 (physical), 05/18/2011 (Kindle) | Pages: 176 | ASIN: B004ZACEJ6 | Genre: Horror/Humour | Language: English | Triggers: Multiple (unnecessary) uses of the word ‘retarded’ | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Self-Purchased

How to Survive a Horror Movie

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.
From ghosts, vampires, and zombies to serial killers, cannibalistic hillbillies, and haunted Japanese videocassettes, How to Survive a Horror Movie shows how to defeat every obstacle found in scary films. Readers will discover:
     •  How to Perform an Exorcism
     •  What to Do If You Did Something Last Summer
     •  How to Persuade the Skeptical Local Sheriff
     •  How to Vanquish a Murderous Doll
     •  How to Survive an Alien Invasion
     •  How to Tell If You’ve Been Dead Since the Beginning of the Movie
and much, much more. Complete with useful instructions, insane illustrations, and a list of 100 important films to study, How to Survive a Horror Movie is essential reading for prom queens, jocks, teenage babysitters, and anyone employed by a summer camp.


How to Survive a Horror Movie Review

I had How to Survive a Horror Movie sitting on my wishlist for a very long time. It looked like it might be funny and I liked the concept of it. But I will rarely pay over five dollars for a book. Particularly if it’s supposed to be more for humour than anything else because a lot of humour falls flat and there’s very little re-read value. And I’m cheap. I also wasn’t a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is by the same author. So I’m doubly annoying – a cheap purist.

When How to Survive a Horror Movie went on sale though I figured, why not? I am glad that I waited for it to go on sale because it’s rather short for the price tag. I read it in an hour or so. I can’t say that I cared for the illustrations but that’s pretty subjective and it’s not like it’s bad, just not to my taste. Others may love it. I do love the cover and I’m always attracted to pretty (or blood-soaked) covers like Michael Myers after a babysitter.

 I found the humour to be so-so in How to Survive a Horror Movie. It amused me occasionally but never once made me giggle out loud (or even to myself, really). It wasn’t terrible, either. Just…middling. Except for the multiple and unnecessary uses of the word ‘retarded’ as an insult. an adult with a reasonable vocabulary should be able to come up with better. Like the chapter on Killer Hillbillies. Just exchange that word for inbred. Not so offensive and it still gets the point across.

It was also a bit repetitive in spots, particularly in the Babysitter Survival section. There’s also a lack of foreign horror. I’m assuming because of the year it first came out foreign horror was just entering the American market in a big way. But no mentions at all? Oh, there is one Ring reference and that haunted castles are charming but that’s about it.

Most of the ‘advice’ was pretty much what every horror fan has said before. And, if you’re not a longtime horror fan it’s unlikely you’ll get this book so a lot of the observations were ones that people have commented on for quite a while. In other words, there weren’t too many new observations or jokes in How to Survive a Horror Movie. This may be slightly picky but I think they’re a bit wrong on one article, also. One of the tips for surviving High School Horror is to blend into the background. Every horror fan knows that it’s the background teens that are the fodder. Also, the advice to blend into the background may be correct for males but for females to wear “a plain, knee-length skirt, unrevealing earth-top (preferably covered with a black cardigan) and ballet flats” is to plant yourself into the “Good Girl” trope. Who may or may not survive until the end of the movie. Your chances are good but not absolute.

There were also quite a few typos that, to me, are unacceptable in a book published by a larger publishing company and at that price. All in all it was an ok read but I don’t think I’ll be rereading it very often. In fact, it seems a bit like a quick cash grab after the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. How to Survive a Horror Movie would have made a nice section in a larger book once all of the repetition was taken out. If you can find it a bit cheaper it’s worth a read but as it is it’s a little over-priced, particularly with the typos. 

Buy it on Amazon 

Patient Zero by Terry Tyler #BookReview

Title: Patient Zero | Series: Project Renova 2.5 | Author: Terry Tyler | Pub. Date: 2017-11-10 | Pages: 120 | ASIN: B077BCSHMB | Genre: Science Fiction Horror | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Self-purchased

Patient Zero

The year is 2024.

A mysterious virus rages around the UK.

Within days, ‘bat fever’ is out of control.

Patient Zero is a collection of nine short stories featuring minor characters from the post apocalyptic Project Renova series. All stories are completely ‘stand alone’.

1. Jared: The Spare Vial
Jared has two vaccinations against the deadly virus: one for him, one for a friend…

2. Flora: Princess Snowflake
The girl with the perfect life, who believes in her father, the government, Christian charity and happy endings.

3. Jeff: The Prepper
What does a doomsday ‘prepper’ do when there is nothing left to prepare for?

4. Karen: Atonement
She ruined her sister’s last day on earth, and for this she must do penance.

5. Aaron: #NewWorldProblems
Aaron can’t believe his luck; he appears to be immune. But his problems are far from over.

6. Meg: The Prison Guard’s Wife
Meg waits for her husband to arrive home from work. And waits…

7. Ruby: Money To Burn
Eager to escape from her drug dealer boyfriend’s lifestyle, Ruby sets off with a bag filled with cash.

8. Evie: Patient Zero
Boyfriend Nick neglects her. This Sunday will be the last time she puts up with it. The very last time.

9. Martin: This Life
Life after life has taught the sixty year old journalist to see the bigger picture.

Tipping Point and Lindisfarne are the first two full length novels in the Project Renova series. A third will be available around late spring/early summer 2018.

Book cover for Patient Zeroi

Patient Zero Review

I have not read any books from the Project Renova series. I do have the first book, Tipping Point, but have not had a chance to read it yet. So, I went into this short story series basically completely blind. This is also the first book I’ve ever read by Terry Tyler.

There are nine shorts in Patient Zero. My favorite stories were Jared: The Spare Vial, Flora: Princess Snowflake, and Aaron: #NewWorldProblems. My least favorite was Meg: The Prison Guard’s Wife. Oddly, I have mixed feelings over the one that involved Patient Zero. While it made me want to pick up Tipping Point and find out how he got the virus, I didn’t particularly care for him or the other character.

While I didn’t care for some of the stories included in Patient Zero, it was never because of the writing itself. The author’s writing remains consistently strong in each story. She writes about the people you’d know at the end of the world. We all know someone who fulfills the various character roles in these stories. And, I think that’s where her strength lies. The virus sounds horrible, is horrible, but Patient Zero isn’t about the virus. It’s about your family, friends, and neighbors.

I definitely learned a few new words while reading Patient Zero, and had a laugh in the process. Slapper did not mean nearly what I thought it meant. Faffing just made me giggle.

Patient Zero was an interesting read, and goes on ‘the shelf’ as one of the few collections of short stories that I can truly say I liked as a whole. I don’t mind individual short stories, but I rarely even go in for collections. Experience has proven that there’s almost always stinkers paired with greats, to the point that my overall feeling is generally a resounding ‘meh’. Not the case with Patient Zero.

Overall, Patient Zero is worth picking up, and you can read it without having read any of the Project Renova series. It comes in at about 120 pages, and you could easily spread them out as lunch reads. Or, do as I did and sit down and read it all in one go.

Click here to read my interview with Terry Tyler.

Disclaimer: Though I purchased the book of my own choice, I am on Rosie’s Book Review Team with the author. I was not asked to review this book. I chose to because it looked interesting and ended up being a good read.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – Graphic Novel Adaptation – #BookReview

Title: The Forever War | Author: Joe Haldeman | Illustrator: Marvano | Pub. Date: 2017-11-7 | Pages: 144 | ISBN13: 9781785860898 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: I received a copy from the publisher free for review consideration

The Forever War

The legendary novel of extraterrestrial war in an uncaring universe comes to comics, in a stunningly realized vision of Joe Haldeman’s Vietnam War parable!

The visionary Hugo and Nebula Award-winning SF tale by Joe Haldeman is beautifully realized in full color by the legendary artist Marvano. An epic SF war story spanning relativistic space and time, The Forever War explores one soldier’s experience as he is caught up in the brutal machinery of a war against an unknown and unknowable alien foe that reaches across the stars.

Book cover for The Forever War

The Forever War Review

I went in to reading this graphic novel adaptation of The Forever War knowing surprisingly little about the story. I haven’t yet read the original novels. I have read a work inspired by it (Old Man’s War) and loved it, though. Keep that in mind when reading my review, as fans of the original novel may have an entirely different opinion of it than I do.

This adaptation covers all three books of The Forever War. The story has been distilled down to its essence, and delivered to the reader in 144 richly illustrated pages. The story is a moving one. It’s not focused on the war itself as much as the effects that the battles – and the time hopping – have on the main character. William Mandella is a character that is easy to feel for. He has no real desire to be a soldier. He just wants to do his time and then move on with his life. But he’s young, hearty, and trained, and Those in Power aren’t going to let him slip out of their grasp. I felt sorry for him. I can’t even begin to imagine how disorienting it would be to have the world shift dramatically around him every time he returned to Earth.

Joe Haldeman has an interesting vision of the future in The Forever War. Homosexuality is something that the author uses to show how drastically society has changed. It’s interesting because while I didn’t necessarily view the way he uses homosexuality as offensive, something about it still made me uncomfortable. It never felt condemning, per say, as much as it it felt like the subject was an unsavory one. Like when people say that they’re okay with homosexuality, but you can tell by the expression on their face and the little remarks they make about people’s sexuality that they’re not. It moves from “Okay, yeah, this makes sense” to shades of “the gay agenda”. For it’s time, its understandable, I suppose, but still not a comfortable piece to read.

The Forever War is well-paced, and the graphic novel does a great job of keeping the tension going. Normally I can’t do a straight read through on over a  hundred pages of a graphic novel. I get frustrated, get headaches, or just get bored. That wasn’t the case with this book. I wasn’t a huge fan of the art, if I’m honest. It got the point across, but the panels weren’t exactly things of beauty that made me want to study each one individually. However, each panel got it’s point across, and I was so absorbed in the story that my eyes practically ran from one panel to the next. (One impression that stayed with me was that I did think that the helmets the humans used looked a bit like BB-8’s head. I had a few moments of giggling before I adjusted.) One final note on the art – it wasn’t that the art was bad, objectively. It was just not my style. I prefer bright colors and clean lines. 

The alternate covers at the end of the collection were stunning. 

This version of The Forever War gave me an itch that I think will only be scratched by reading the full novel series. The story Joe Haldeman tells is intriguing. A man outside of time, going from battle to travel inside time dilation to battle. The world changes around him, and all he can do is keep fighting the forever war. I can see why this is a well-loved classic. The story is the type that stays with you in ways few ever do. 

Buy Link: Amazon

Find a few pages below from the publication, courtesy of Titan Comics.

Dawning of the Dead #MovieReview

Prepare for a zombie apocalypse this Christmas!

Uncork’d Entertainment and filmmakers Tony Jopia, Nika Braun, Yannis Zafeiriou and Alexander Zwart reanimate the silly season with Dawning of the Dead, premiering on Digital 12/5.

While a virus that causes the dead to reanimate brings the world to its knees, the scientist responsible entrusts his cataclysmic findings to Katya Nevin, a troubled ex-war correspondent turned anchor-woman at W.W News. While she and the rest of her crew witness the collapse of society via video feeds from around the globe, a deadly special agent climbs the building floor by floor, his only goal to ensure her silence. Armed only with information and an indomitable will to live, Katya must overcome her crippling anxiety and learn to lead in order to make it out of the studio and into a terrifying new world where only the dead survive.

Honey Holmes, Leo Gregory, Pixie Le Knot, and Sean Cronin star in Dawning of the Dead, on Digital 12/5 and DVD 3/6.

Dawning of the Dead Review

I was given a screener of this film prior to release for review consideration.

Although the first couple of minutes of the film had me wincing, by the end of Dawning of the Dead, I had developed a surprising amount of affection for the film. As you might be able to tell via the key art above, this was not a film that tried to take itself too seriously. And that’s good, because if it had been a serious horror film, it would have failed…horrifically. Instead, Dawning of the Dead owned its cheese factor with considerable aplomb, and balanced it out with some surprisingly serious and well-acted scenes when you least expected them.

I have seen a ton of zombie movies. I’m almost guaranteed to watch a film if you tell me zombies are involved. Most of the time, the newscast scenes announcing the outbreak are basically not worth remembering. They’re there to instill the seriousness of the situation, or show how massive the outbreak has gotten. Ruth Galliers does a solid job with this scene in Dawning of the Dead. Enough so that I stopped giggling and actually sobered up for a moment as I listened to her. In fact, her character, Katya Nevin, had become one of my favorite female leads in a zombie movie by the end of the film. She definitely a screen presence that demands your attention. I can’t wait to see her in more films.

One of the (many) things I appreciated about this film is that there is a lot of role reversal in it. On the whole, the women tend to be the strong, take-charge, ‘we can survive this’ characters, and the men take on the more emotional, freaking out roles. There were a few exceptions, but on the whole, it was a nice change up. Especially when the egotistical, sexist pig continually gets put firmly in his place, and then proceeds to lose his mind in a satisfyingly embarrassing way.

There were a lot of hilarious scenes in the movie, and I don’t want to spoil them for you so I won’t say much. But there are some nods to popular zombie films, including one to Dead Alive that just leaves you grinning. And if you roll your eyes at the whole ‘headshot every time’ thing, you’ll need to watch this film for an absolutely ridiculous scene involving donuts and dead things. The director and writers had a lot of fun poking at the more ridiculous aspects of zombie films with Dawning of the Dead

The CGI was painful, though. It was blatantly obvious whenever something in a scene was CGI. If there was one thing I would have changed about this movie, it would have been to just eliminate these scenes. And the zombies were, well, I’m sure everyone had lots of fun doing their best zombie shamble. Lets just leave it at that.

Overall, while I desperately wish they had been given a bigger budget, Dawning of the Dead was a highly amusing film that is perfect for fans of horror comedies. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a great film, but it was highly entertaining. They did a fantastic job, all things considered. It looks like a movie that was a lot of fun to film.

Note: This is supposed to publish at 8:30 AM. At 9 AM, if everything goes right, Miss L will be under sedation and her heart cath and bronchoscopy will be starting. So, uhm, positive thoughts, please, people.


Twilight Zone Tuesday – Dust


Luis Gallegos – John A. Alonzo
Gallegos – Vladimir Sokoloff
Estrelita Gallegos – Andrea Darvi
Sheriff Koch – John Larch
John Canfield – Paul Genge
Mrs. Canfield – Dorothy Adams
Peter Sykes – Thomas Gomez

Trigger Warnings: Execution by hanging

Spoiler Tidbit

There was a village built of crumbling clay and rotting wood and it squatted ugly under a broiling sun like a sick and mangy animal wanting to die. This village had a virus shared by its people. It was the germ of squalor, of hopelessness, of a loss of faith. For the faithless, the hopeless, the misery-laden there is time, ample time, to engage in one of the other pursuits of men. They begin to destroy themselves.

You can always tell what kind of episode it’s going to be from Rod Serling’s voice alone, even if you had no synopsis. You can tell from the amusement, the wryness or, in this case, the absolute disgust with humanity.

It’s a dry, dusty town. Exactly as described by Mr. Serling. The horse in the foreground is absolutely pitiful looking. I hope it was taken care of. It’s very skinny and sway-backed. As it stands there in the dust someone comes riding up, yelling that he’s there, Peter Sykes is there. A man in a ail cell looks annoyed and distressed. Sykes is apparently a peddlar but a nasty one. He’s dirty and looks like he’d be stinky. He says that he’s stocked up in St. Louis with everything one needs for the house, kitchen and a parched throat. If the only whiskey he’s got is the one he’s chugging on, thanks but no thanks. He’s leading a pack of four mules (the middle one must not like company because it has blinders and a muzzle on). Sykes takes a swig from his bottle and sidles up to the jailhouse window. He greets the man inside. His name is Mr. Gallegos.

Sykes acts forgetful and says that it’s a very special day today for Mr. Gallegos, isn’t it? Mr. Gallegos just looks at Sykes. Sykes, being the kindly gentleman that he is, suddenly remembers why it’s such a great and special day. Mr. Gallegos is set to be hanged that day. Gallegos turns his back on the window and Sykes. Sykes gleefully announces that today “Young Mr. Gallegos, killer of children, dances on the gallows!”

Who he’s shouting to is beyond me because it doesn’t seem like there’s anybody around. Sykes slides into the jailhouse and asks Sheriff Koch if he needs anything. More rope, perhaps? The Sheriff does not look amused. In fact, he looks deeply troubled at the thought of the day before him. Sykes goes on to tell Gallegos of the fancy, brand-new, five stranded rope that he sold the town for Gallegos’ necktie party. He says it could lift five more of Gallegos so it’s super-strong. He turns his attention away from Gallegos to ask what Sheriff Koch has a fancy for. Sheriff Koch says he has a fancy for taking Sykes’ carcass and his loud mouth out into the open air. He finally raises his head from his hands to glare piercingly at Sykes. Koch says it’s a small room and a hot time of the morning. Failing to get much out of the Sheriff, Sykes turns his attention back to Gallegos. Sykes asks what Gallegos would like, a nice hacksaw, maybe? Sykes says that there’s going to be a burial procession down the street soon. They’re burying the little girl that Gallegos ran over with his wagon. Gallegos looks up at Sykes. Sykes says that now that Gallegos has sobered up he remembers the little girl that he ran over with his wagon while stinking drunk. To be fair, it doesn’t look like he’s forgotten. His depression seems a bit more than just for his own pity. That’s the last straw for Gallegos and he lunges at Sykes and tries to grab him through the bars. Sykes says “uh uh uh, he’ll have plenty of time to move round later that day. Then he laughs and turns away.

Sykes takes another swig of his ‘tonic’ and tells the Sheriff that it will be just the thing to set him up for a hanging-. Eww, I wouldn’t want to drink after him (or anyone else, for that matter). Sykes says that it makes a man strong and firm and then makes a muscle for the Sheriff to feel. The Sheriff tells Sykes that he doesn’t touch dog meat. Sykes looks quite offended. Sykes accuses Koch of talking big while hiding behind a badge. Koch replies that it only sounds big because Sykes is such a midget, Sykes says he always wondered about Koch, how he’s always taken to foreigners and strays but is close-lipped when it comes to his “own kind”. Koch says he’s not any kin to Sykes so kindly stop claiming that. Sheriff Koch tells Sykes that Gallegos has had his trial and will swing for it later that day. Koch goes on to say that there’s nothing in his sentence that says Gallegos has to be tormented by a pig that sells trinkets at funerals. Koch tells Sykes to get out and Sykes huffily snatches up his ‘tonic’ and stomps out. Sykes pops his head back in to ask Koch what he’s hoping to be a zinger: “After today which one will you weep for, Koch?” Koch replies that he has tears enough for both.

Just after Sykes leaves the door a procession appears down the street. It’s a wagon with a coffin on it. It’s followed by a preacher and mourners. Sykes takes off his hat and wheedles up to the Canfields and gives them his condolences. The Canfields are the parents of the little girl. They don’t seem to be listening to Sykes. He tells them that the afternoon would be a lot more cheerful. Sykes goes on to say that the dirty dog who did it is going to be strung up and their little girl will be avenged. He acts like he caught the guy himself and got the whole thing done. Sykes prattles on to say that “they’ll string up that mangler of children” yessiree. How freaking tacky is it to say that to someone going to their child’s burial. Douche. The Canfields don’t seem to be listening to him, at least. The Sheriff stops Sykes from following and bothering the Canfields further. The Sheriff tells Sykes he can act like a brainless ijit some other time but not now.

Looking down the street Sykes sees something that offends his delicate feelings. He says that Gallegos’ old man has a lot of nerve to show his face. yeah, what a jerk, showing compassion for something his son did. He starts to say that somebody ought to horsewhip him but the Sheriff gives him a look that stops him.

As the procession goes by the man and little girl, the old man takes off his hat and kneels to the parents. Speaking for him (I think to show humility and that he doesn’t feel that he has the right to address them himself) the little girl starts to talk: “My gather wishes me to tell you that his heart is broken. That if he could, if he could give his own life in return, he would. He would do so with great willingness.” She starts to say he understands but Mr. Canfield tells her to get out of the way. Not unkindly, exactly, but blankly, I guess. Which is understandable.

Some men are approaching the jail and the father starts to say to them that his son did not mean to do it. That he’s a lover of children. They throw a rock at him. Gallegos tells his father to go, he’s no needed. Sykes breaks in to say “That’s what you say to your own father?” Uhh, yeah, when he’s trying to not get his father toned in front of his sister. I think Sykes was just hoping for more rock-throwing. Luis’ father tries to give his son a coin. A lucky coin that it’s said one can make a wish on it. Sheriff Koch tells Gallegos’ Father to go home and make his prayers and wishes. Father Gallegos asks the sheriff if he’s ever been drunk? If he’s never been so filled with misery that salvation only seemed to look at him from a bottle? Has he never felt such pain that he’s had to ride through the night and not look behind him? He says that his son was so hungry and felt such pain that he felt the need to drink to forget it.

After everyone leaves Sykes tells the little girl to go and get her papa. To tell him that his coin is no good but he, Sykes, has magic dust that turns hate into love. But it’s very, very precious. So he wants her to run home and tell her papa to bring 100 pesos to his room in an hour and he’ll sell him the dust of love and forgiveness. As the little girl runs off he chuckles to himself and takes out a bag of tobacco (I think) and dumps it. Then scoops up a handful of dust out of the street and puts it in the bag. To presumably be ‘magic dust’. What a dick. He’s very pleased with himself over his plan.

There are more people gathering in the town and Luis remarks that it should be a good gathering. Sheriff Koch remarks a bit bitterly “When was it God made people? The sixth day? He should have quit on the fifth.” Luis says they’re tired of hating the town, they need something else to hate. The Sheriff tells the man driving the wagon that just pulled up that it’s a hanging, not a carnival. Mr. Rogers tells Sheriff Koch that he brought the kids because they’ve never seen a hanging before and that it’s a good time to show them what happens to drunks who kill kids. Koch wants to know how he teaches them pain? Shoot them in the arm? Rogers just rolls his eyes and unloads the family, telling them to stay together. One of the little boys marches over to the window and asks if Luis is the man they’re going to hang. Luis says yes, he is. The boy asks if it will hurt and Luis responds “If God wills it”. Koch tells the boy to run along. He asks Luis if he’s ready, it’s about that time. Luis says he’s ready. Sheriff Koch leads him out of the jail, where more people have gathered.  Luis is on the scaffold, with the crowd looking on. Luis kneels down to pray with the priest. People are pissy about it and want to get on with the show. The Canfields are not yelling, just the crowd.

Back at the town, Father Gallegos comes running to see Sykes, who dangles the bag in front of him. Sykes tells the father that the dust is very special, magic and if it’s sprinkled over the heads of the crowd it will make them feel sympathy for his son. Then he asks if Papa brought the money with him. Father Gallegos holds out a handful of gold coins to Sykes. Sykes is astonished to see gold coins and asks where Father Gallegos got them from. Father Gallegos says that all of his friends helped. One sold a wagon, one a horse and some borrowed. They got many pesos and converted them. He asks Sykes if it will work, is he sure it will work? Then he says that Sykes sold the rope that will hang his son and now he’s selling him that which will save him? Why? Sykes says that he’s a businessman. He makes no distinctions, he repeats that the dust will work. Sykes takes the money and Father Gallegos grabs the bag and runs to his son. Sykes is very pleased with his scam.

The onlookers are getting restless. Father Gallegos runs through the crowd yelling at them to wait. He runs to the front of the crowd and says to please wait! They must pay heed to the magic, now, and starts throwing the dust around. The people laugh at him (because there’s nothing funnier than a desperate parent, dontcha know). Father Gallegos keeps throwing the dust around saying “Magic for compassion, magic for his son’s life”. He falls off the scaffold but still tries to throw it. Sykes and the rest of the crowd are highly amused. Father Gallegos is saying the magic is for love, for compassion, for them to be like they used to be.

As he’s begging for his son the gallows doors bang open and the crowd gasps and looks stunned. I’m not really sure why since that’s what they were all gathered for and were just bugging the Sheriff to get on with it. The crowd gasps and the father looks around and gasps in surprise. The rope is broken and Luis fell to the ground, still alive. Sykes is baffled. The rope he sold was awesome and strong and absolutely could not break. There was supposedly a rule that if the rope broke then it meant that the criminal could go free. I don’t know if that’s true or just an urban legend.

Someone in the crowd tells them to go ahead and try it again. Sheriff Koch tells him that there are only two people in the crowd who have the right to ask for an eye for an eye. Sheriff Koch asks the Canfields how about it? Are they ok with Luis going free? Mr. Canfield looks like maybe he does but Mrs. Canfield tells him no. No more. Mr. Canfield says that he killed their child. Mrs. Canfield says that he also killed part of himself when he did so.

Mr. Canfiled tells the sheriff for the rope to break like that there must be another hand in it. Perhaps the hand of Providence. Sheriff Koch asks Mr. Canfield if that’s the end of it then and Mr. Canfield says that this is where it ends. One victim is enough. Everyone wanders off. No hanging today. Sheriff Koch uncuffs Luis and tells him he can go home. Father Gallegos insists that it was the magic dust that brought back the love to the people. It brought back the love to the people. Luis agrees that it was magic and asks to go home now. Luis and his father look happy at the turn of events as they walk off but not overly happy. Just relieved, really.

Sykes wanders over to marvel at the rope breaking some more. Then he clinks his ill-gotten coins in his hand. Three children walk up and look at him. One of them is Estrelita, Luis’ sister. The other two kids are probably the children of the neighbors that helped to buy the dust. Sykes tosses the coins on the ground and tells the kids to go ahead, pick them up. He walks off, laughing at the thought of it being actual magic.

It was a very small, misery-laden village on the day of a hanging and of little historical consequence. And if there’s any moral to it at all let’s say that in any quest for magic, any search for sorcery, witchery, legerdemain, first check the human heart. For inside this deep place there’s a wizardry that costs far more than a few pieces of gold. Tonight’s case in point in the Twilight Zone.

Spread out by a week it’s probably not as noticeable but The Twilight Zone watched back to back can give you whiplash. First there’s a goofy camera, a cute Santa story and…a hanging. I also have to give Rod credit for not taking the easy way out and making the boy totally innocent. There’s a large grey area that leaves a lot of room to talk about. we welcome comments but please keep them polite.

Thank you for joining us and come back for next week’s episode: Back There

What We’ll Be Reading This Winter

A banner with the words The Top Ten Tuesday List on it.We’ve already done our upcoming books to look forward to for the last half of 2017. There will be an upcoming post talking about books we’re looking forward to in the beginning of 2018. This may have some crossovers, but not necessarily all.  Instead, we’re going to talk about the books that our on our winter reads list for various reasons. This does not include books that we’re already in the process of reading.



What We’ll Be Reading This Winter


Tipping Point Cover

Tipping Point by Terry Tyler

‘I didn’t know danger was floating behind us on the breeze as we walked along the beach, seeping in through the windows of our picture postcard life.’

The year is 2024. A new social networking site bursts onto the scene. Private Life promises total privacy, with freebies and financial incentives for all. Across the world, a record number of users sign up.

A deadly virus is discovered in a little known African province, and it’s spreading—fast. The UK announces a countrywide vaccination programme. Members of underground group Unicorn believe the disease to be man-made, and that the people are being fed lies driven by a vast conspiracy.

Vicky Keating’s boyfriend, Dex, is working for Unicorn over two hundred miles away when the first UK outbreak is detected in her home town of Shipden, on the Norfolk coast. The town is placed under military controlled quarantine and, despite official assurances that there is no need for panic, within days the virus is unstoppable.

In London, Travis begins to question the nature of the top secret data analysis project he is working on, while in Newcastle there are scores to be settled…

Lilyn: I’ve recently read Patient Zero, which is a short story collection by the author set in the Project Renova universe, and am now determined to read Tipping Point. I was really impressed with what I saw, and hope that it is just as good!

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Symphony by Charles L. Grant

The First Horseman of the Apocalypse is Death. Soon after a preacher discovers that he has the power to heal, he finds he will need all of this new ability to counter the effects of a strange car that arrives in town. The driver is definitely a murderer and possibly a demon. When the preacher reluctantly takes a stand to try to save a young girl, the battle against evil is joined and the countdown to the millennium begins.

GraciKat: I love Charles. L. Grant’s ‘Oxrun Station stories and books and I have long wanted to read his Millennium Quartet series. What better way to say goodbye to the old year than with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

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Book cover for The Cackle of Cthulhu

The Cackle of Cthulhu


Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
Cthul who?
Exactly! I’ve come to tickle your funnybone.
Oh, and also to eat your soul.

In 1928, Weird Tales debuted “The Call of Cthulhu” by H.P. Lovecraft, and the Cthulhu Mythos was born. In the 90 years since, dozens of writers have dared play within HPL’s mind-blowing creation—but never with such terrifyingly funny results. Now top authors lampoon, parody, and subvert Lovecraft’s Mythos. See Cthulhu cut short his nap at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean to invade North Korea! Watch the Unspeakable Eater of Souls solve crimes on the pulpy streets of Innsmouth! And speaking of largish Elder Gods, listen to a plastic Elvis doll dispense folksy advice straight from the heart of the Emperor of Dread! Again Ol’ Tentacle-Face is confronted by frail humans who dare defy the Incarnation of Ultimate Evil—but this time not by brave monster hunters and terrified villagers, but by fan fiction writers, clueless college students, and corporate lawyers (okay, we realize it’s hard to know who to root for in that confrontation).

Twenty-three mirthful manifestations within the Cthulhu Mythos from best-selling and award-winning authors Neil Gaiman, Mike Resnick, Esther Friesner, Ken Liu, Jody Lynn Nye, Laura Resnick, Nick Mamatas, and many more!

Guaranteed to leave you howling. Because if you look at it just right, there’s nothing funnier than a soul writhing in cosmic horror before a tentacled maw of malevolence. As HPL himself saith: “From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent.”

Lilyn: Look, let’s face it, we all know I’m probably going to hate this book. It takes a lot to tickle my funny bone. But, it’s called the Cackle of Cthulhu and it has a horrible knock-knock joke in the synopsis. I can’t say no!

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The 12 Terrors of Christmas by Claudette Melanson

Award-winning author Claudette Melanson offers eleven new and original stories to make your skin crawl at any time of the year. This horror anthology also includes an original short by Amazon International Best-Selling Author, Lynn Lamb, titled Bring Me Flesh and Bring Me Wine. A special bonus story is also included by Melanson, Mislead, previously published only on the Halloweenpalooza blog. Grab a cup of cocoa and make sure the windows and doors are locked tight as you settle in by the fire to enjoy these tales of terror, but be warned…locks have never been succeeded at keeping Santa from gaining entry. If you enjoy a slice of horror with your holiday cheer, this collection of Christmas horror shorts will satisfy all your dark cravings during the holidays…and beyond.

Terror One: Who is Santa really? Does something sinister lurk beneath the red suit and apple-cheeked visage? More importantly, what does Santa want for Christmas?
Terror Two: It is said that every wish bears a cost…even a wish of good intent. What do Detective Talbot and his son, Mallory, stand to lose when the pair seek to right a wrong on Christmas Eve?
Terror Three: Christmas can be a time for great joy…but also for heart-wrenching regret. Can the magic of Christmas Eve turn back the clock before time runs out for Morana and her family?
Terror Four: Snow falls white and clean, seeming to purify the small town of Moon, Pennsylvania, but the woods behind Vaughn’s home have taken on a sinister cast. The snow keeps falling in record-breaking depths, but does evil lay hidden beneath its seemingly-innocent luster?
Terror Five: As his elves scurry to fill the toy orders for the busy season, unknown terror creeps toward the workshop intent on releasing an evil meant to cancel Santa’s yearly deliveries forever.
Terror Six: A well-meaning elf casts a spell which could inadvertently reveal the dark truth about Santa’s workshop and its inhabitants. The world’s children may end up paying a terrifying price, proving that the path of good intention oftentimes does indeed lead to hell.
Terror Seven: A scary twist on a classic Christmas poem
Terror Eight: Santa’s sleigh plummets to the ground, tearing all hope of a merry Christmas to bits and pieces. Will the elves be able to employ enough magic to stitch together some sort of solution? Or will their efforts only deliver greater horror and loss?
Terror Nine: Trinette is preparing to celebrate her first Christmas in love. Her boyfriend says he found the perfect gift for her but beneath the shiny red paper and ribbon lies a secret he’s kept hidden during all the months of their courtship…
Terror Ten: The world’s population explosion means business is booming at Santa’s workshop, with the need to expand making a difficult excavation below the permafrost necessary. But the elves should use caution lest they dig up an evil best left buried.
Terror Eleven: A special holiday treat for Maura DeLuca fans! Riptide ended on a happy note, but how did Maura’s extended family celebrate Christmas? Could it be that the holiday didn’t quite play out the way the vampires planned?
Terror Twelve: It’s a dangerous time to call oneself a non-believer. Those who scoff at Santa’s existence are melting all over the world. But could the benevolent head elf turn out to be the murderer?

Vampires, ghosts, demons, elves, werewolves, serial killers and a rampaging Krampus are just a few of the monsters creeping amongst the pages of The 12 Terrors of Christmas. Are you brave enough to venture inside to experience the flip side of the typical Hallmark-themed Christmas?

GracieKat: I have had this on pre-order and can’t wait to read it to get me in the right holiday ‘spirit’.

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Book cover for Ender's Shadow

Ender’s Shadow

Welcome to Battleschool.

Growing up is never easy. But try living on the mean streets as a child begging for food and fighting like a dog with ruthless gangs of starving kids who wouldn’t hesitate to pound your skull into pulp for a scrap of apple. If Bean has learned anything on the streets, it’s how to survive. And not with fists—He is way too small for that—But with brains.

Bean is a genius with a magician’s ability to zero in on his enemy and exploit his weakness.

What better quality for a future general to lead the Earth in a final climactic battle against a hostile alien race, known as Buggers. At Battleschool Bean meets and befriends another future commander—Ender Wiggins—perhaps his only true rival.

Only one problem: for Bean and Ender, the future is now.

Lilyn: My love for Ender’s Game is something I frequently talk about. However, I had no clue that Ender’s Shadow even existed. I recently found out about it, and now that I have, I have to read it! Bean was an awesome character, and I look forward to seeing him explored in Ender’s Shadow.

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Hell Girl – Volume 1 by Miyuki Eto


When you thirst for revenge, there’s a surefire way to get it: Simply go to the strange website that appears only at midnight, and enter the name of your enemy. The Hell Girl will appear to drag your tormentor to eternal damnation. But you will have to pay a price . . . your soul!

GracieKat: I want to start reading more manga this year and what better place to start than with Ai Enma. I’m hoping it will give me more to her story than the anime does.

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Book cover for Dead Sea

Dead Sea by Brian Keene

The streets of the city are no longer safe. They are filled with zombies – the living dead, rotting predators driven only by a need to kill and eat. For Lamar Reed and a handful of others, their safe haven is an old ship out at sea. But it will soon become a deathtrap, and they’ll learn that isolation can also mean no escape.

Lilyn: I’ve already read this book, and the ending sticks with me years later. However, I want to give it a proper read through again. Actually, I just want to re-experience Keene’s works again so that I can write them up for the site. He’s a fantastic writer with a talent for disturbing imagery that haunts your mind.

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Ghosts by Gaslight edited by Jack Dann and Nick Gevers

Modern masters of the supernatural weave their magic to revitalize the chilling Victorian and Edwardian ghostly tale: here are haunted houses, arcane inventions, spirits reaching across the centuries, ghosts in the machine, fateful revelations, gaslit streets scarcely keeping the dark at bay, and other twisted variations on the immortal classics that frighten us still.

GracieKat: I can never seem to get interested in a novel length steampunk book but I thought a good way to ease into the genre would be ghostly short stories.

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Book cover for Snow Crash

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse. Snow Crash is a mind-altering romp through a future America so bizarre, so outrageous…you’ll recognize it immediately.

Lilyn: I own this, and have owned it for a while. But I’ve never read past the first couple of pages. There’s really no excuse for that. This book isn’t terribly long, and it’s a much-loved book in the genre, so I definitely intend on getting it read one of these long winter nights. 

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Black Cathedral (Department 18 #1) by L.H. Maynard and M.P.N. Sims

At an old manor house on a remote Scottish island, six managers of a large corporation arrive for a week-long stay. Within days they will all suffer horrifying deaths and their bodies will never be found. The government assigns the case to Department 18, the special unit created to investigate the supernatural and the paranormal. However this is no mere haunted house. The evil on this island goes back centuries, but its unholy plots and schemes are hardly things of the past. In fact, while the members of Department 18 race to unravel the island’s secrets, the forces of darkness are gathering and preparing to attack.

GracieKat: I read this once, quite a long time ago and really liked it. I had no idea at the time that it was part of a series. Since then I’ve gotten the sequel so nw I want to give the series a go. I’d like to try a few more series this coming year, provided they’re reasonably short of course! Hopefully it’s as good as I remember it.

What about you? What’s on your winter reading list this year?

Press Release: Year’s Best Transhuman SF 2017 Anthology


Year’s Best Transhuman SF 2017 Anthology

As technology progresses, so does its connection with mankind. Augmentations, cybernetics, artificial intelligence filling the void that the absence of flesh will leave behind. In Transhumanism, we fine our imminent future. Whether this future is to be feared or rejoiced, depends on the individual.

Will technology replace mankind? If AI becomes self-aware, is a war imminent?

Gehenna & Hinnom is proud to present the Year’s Best Transhuman SF 2017 Anthology, the most comprehensive telling of our species’ future ever to be read by non-cybernetic eyes.

Become one with Transcendance.

Embrace the Unknown.

Years Best Transhuman SF 2017 Anthology

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Year’s Best Transhuman SF 2017 Anthology Press Release

MISSISSIPPI, November 30th, 2017: C.P. Dunphey, critically acclaimed author of Plane Walker and editor of the bestselling Year’s Best Body Horror 2017 Anthology and Hinnom Magazine¸ has collected 25+ stories from the best up-and-coming authors in science fiction for Gehenna & Hinnom’s sophomore collection, The Year’s Best Transhuman SF 2017 Anthology. From veteran award-winning authors like Julie Novakova, to popular horror authors like Chad Lutzke, the anthology presents no shortage of entertaining, mind-bending science fiction.

2017 has already been a huge year for Gehenna & Hinnom, all of their titles universally praised and their debut anthology a landmark success. The expectations are high, but if past publications are a sign, this publishing house is only getting started. From tales of virtual realities gone awry to cautionary stories about humanity’s absence in the face of technology, science fiction readers of all audiences will love this collection.

See why Gehenna & Hinnom is quickly becoming the hottest new publisher in genre fiction. Order your copy today at the following link:




ABOUT THE EDITOR: C.P. Dunphey was born in Staten Island, New York. He grew up in Southern Mississippi and had an interest in writing since he was very young. In 2015, he founded his small press, Gehenna & Hinnom, with the hopes to help establish indie authors into the mainstream. His first novel, Plane Walker, was released in 2016. He hopes to further his writing as well as offer authors opportunities to be heard and read, hoping to one day transform Gehenna & Hinnom into a powerhouse publisher.

I don’t normally do press releases for books anymore outside of what you’ll find in the This is Horror or This is Sci-Fi stuff, but C.P. Dunphey impressed me with his dedication to his authors when he said that he’d be willing to type up a longer press release or do whatever was necessary to get his authors the attention they deserved. I don’t know the man, and I haven’t read any of his work, but that made a fantastic first impression. – Lilyn

Live Evil #MovieReview and Interview

Live Evil Synopsis: Supernatural forces are locked into a college town police force’s basement jail. The sheriff and his deputies are subjected to psychic attacks, preying on the fears of the loyal officers and only those with the strongest wills can survive.

Starring: Charlene Amoia, Vladimir Kulich, Tony Todd

Written and Directed By: Ari Kirschenbaum

Release Date: 10/17/2015 | Runtime: 1 hr. 35 min. | Coolthulhu’s Earned: 4 out of 5 | Source: Received from October Coast for review and interview purposes



Live Evil Review

I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Live Evil. Because it was listed as a horror/comedy I went in thinking it was going to be something along the lines of Scary Movie or Deathgasm. It’s not. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to really call it a comedy. There were some funny moments, well, a lot of funny moments, but horror has always been a genre that can fuse horror and comedy but still be a straight-up horror movie. I think that’s more where Live Evil falls.

The cast was great together. I particularly loved Hancock (Charlene Amoia) and Sheriff Pete (Vladimir Kulich). They were awesome together and had a wonderful chemistry. Not a romantic chemistry but more like very good friends/mentor relationship. In fact, I was very pleased at the lack of romance between them. It was very refreshing. Most Wanted #11 and Most Wanted #12 were great as well. I honestly don’t remember if the movie says they were brothers or not but for some reason that’s the impression that I got. Either way, it worked well.

Live Evil is split into chapters, which I’ll admit threw me at first. But it’s clear from the start that it sets out to have its own, unique style. I particularly liked the black and white aesthetic with the splashes of red. For those who aren’t keen on back and white the movie does go to full color later in the movie. The effects work well for the most part. I loved the look of the Not-Zombies (I still have to wonder if they weren’t inspired by Iron Maiden’s ‘Eddie‘ just a smidgen). I would love to say more about their eyes but since it ties into the plot I’ll let you see for yourselves.The only effects that seemed a bit off to me were the gunfire. It looked kind of weird.

I would have loved to give it a five but there were some things I was a little less than enthused about. The plot was a little looser in spots than it should have been. While some of the unexplained things fit in with the mystery of it, others could have/should have been more explained. One of the bigger disappointments was the end. It seemed very abrupt and I’m not really a fan of movies (or books, or video games) that just end. To me it seems to be a cop-out to where they don’t have to think of an ending. It doesn’t have to be a big ball of Happy Ever After but I want some kind of resolution. Unfortunately I can’t go into many of the others as they are mostly plot related. The one thing I can wonder about is the bell. It seems important but I’m not sure why or what it does or what it did. There was a semi-twist to it that I thought was set up well. There are hints to it (I started wondering mid-way through) but it’s not so telegraphed that it’s disappointing.

All in all while I wasn’t “I have got to get this!” I was not disappointed, either. And I can’t stress enough how much of a role the cast played in that. The actors give their characters their all and it shows. With a weaker cast and less chemistry between Hancock and Sheriff Pete it could have easily flopped. If you go in expecting slapstick you will most likely be disappointed. If, however, you appreciate a more quiet humour then you’ll be pleased with Live Evil. Probably Evil.

Live Evil is available on VOD at various locations, including Amazon.

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Interview with Writer/Director Ari Kirschenbaum

Sci-Fi and Scary: First, let’s talk a bit about you. What movies helped mold your sense of style and story-telling?

Ari Kirschenbaum: As a kid I loved anything by Jim Henson, Ray Harryhausen, Planet of the Apes, Star Wars, etc and that grew into the Horror and Sci-Fi in 80’s. And when I saw Carpenter’s The Thing, that was it for me. I was totally blown away.

Sci-Fi and Scary: It’s said that great writers are avid readers. Do you think the same goes for those involved with movies (albeit with film instead of books?)

Ari Kirschenbaum: Sure, I would say that is true too, but film is different because it involves so many artistic mediums; writing, picture making, sound, music. So there are many more sources of influence for film and ways film can influence. Movies can inspire musicians, musicians can inspire filmmakers. Painters can be influenced by film and vice versa. I think it all depends on how the artist is able to process influences. How well they understand what they are looking at. Good filmmakers can absorb all they watch, the good and the bad and filter through their own sensibility, and you get something new. Others just steal and copy without their own sensibility. Style is usually the first and easiest thing to copy, so you see a lot of it. I’d like to imagine there are filmmakers who have such a strong pure, vision or style that they don’t need to watch other movies once they have developed their style and maybe just rely on the other arts, like music, fine art, and literature for influence. I’d like to think that is how really unique voices are developed, but that might be bullshit. I do love when you read about some auteur’s movie tastes, especially when it leans towards the trashy side of cinema.

Sci-Fi and Scary: It seems that you’ve taken on a few different tasks making movies such as director, writer, and editor. Which of these are your favorite to do?

Ari Kirschenbaum: I actually don’t like any of those roles completely. I like the beginning of writing, the blank canvas and then about half way through I get stuck or I realize I’m only half way through and hate it. I like the ending polish, where you go back and tweak. Directing sucks a lot of the time. Lots of stress and distraction, when you need critical focus and you have to move quick and everyone is looking to you for every decision. I probably like editing the best, that’s where it all comes together and it’s easier to focus and sculpt your footage.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Your other movies seem a bit different than Live Evil. What made you want to try a horror/comedy?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Horror comedy is my comfort food.

Sci-Fi and Scary: How long did it take you to make Live Evil? From initial script-writing to post-production wrap-up.

Ari Kirschenbaum: The script was written many years before production – a script in a drawer. There was a year long period where we were securing a much bigger budget and names. But all the financing fell through and then we had to regroup. Then it was a major decision – Can we make it for absolute bare bones? We were so committed to the project at that point, that is felt like if we didn’t make it, it would be a tragedy. Pre-production was about a month. Production was twenty one days, minus about five or six days because of recasting the lead and other problems. 15 days for a film like this is really not enough, so editing took forever. And I was also doing all 340+ efx shots, so that added to it. On top of that I had a family with three kids, so I think it was like two years from pre-production to festival ready.

Sci-Fi and Scary: The visual effects are amazing. Did you have a clear idea of what you wanted visually when you started or did it grow as you worked with the effects team?

Ari Kirschenbaum: The dead were created by Kyle Thomspon and I tweaked them, adding earthy elements and then in editing I added the eyes. The only planned efx was the ash, because that is clearly in script. The rest was to address deficiencies because of missing tissue and elements, because of the rushed production.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Were there any effects that were particularly hard to accomplish? I’m really curious about the flowing blood.

Ari Kirschenbaum: The eyes and ash were the hardest to accomplish since that involved tracking sometimes fifteen different dead and individually animating their eyes. And I don’t know if you noticed, but all the eyes pulse to the same beat, in every scene. Also, once it started raining ash, then that meant every shot of every scene now needed ash if it was an exterior or a window was seen in an interior. The blood was ink drops in a water tank. Very old technique.

Sci-Fi and Scary:  It was an interesting creative choice to shoot partly in black and white. It seems like very few movies are made anymore using monochrome. The last I can think of being The Eyes of My Mother. Given that you served as writer and director, did you know that black and white was something you wanted to do early on?

Ari Kirschenbaum: No, black and white is a hard sell, so we had color for safety. I realized during editing that it HAD to be in black and white, because it added a whole new dimension and vibe. It was like the magic that happens when you add music. Everything made sense after that decision.

Sci-Fi and Scary: I personally loved the black and white e!ect but some people may have issues with it. Were you afraid of losing audience interest at any point?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Oh yes, it took some convincing. Black and white immediately limits your appeal, which is one of the reasons why the whole thing is not in black and white. But I think it looks better. I think most images look better in black and white.

Sci-Fi and Scary: Your “Not-Zombies” had a very distinctive look. Were you inspired by anything specific?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Well it’s a lot of little influences, like Creepshow, Hammer Horror, but their function in the story was absolutely inspired by Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Their eyes were also very 70’s Disney live action inspired. I loved all those painted animated efx from the Disney films like Something Wicked This Way Comes or Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

Sci-Fi and Scary: The cast seemed to work very well together. I noticed that J. Richey Nash has been in Fabled, Batshit Crazy, and now Live Evil. How did that come about?

Ari Kirschenbaum: Batshit Crazy is only the moronic distributor trying to sell Fabled as a different movie. It didn’t work. J Richey Nash was in Fabled, we became friends, and he is a very versatile actor, but he’s also got this Chevy Chase vibe that I love and I just want to see him in everything. If I do any more films, I will need Mr Nash somewhere in it.


Thanks again to Ari Kirschenbaum for doing a (fantastic!) interview with us, and as usual, our thanks to October Coast for hooking us up with a great movie and connection opportunities!

Science Fiction: Can It Exist Without Horror?

Ashley Dufault is the author of If I Let You Go. Her debut novel, If I Let You Go was published on November 24th. I had put out an open call for guest posts for a general topic of “science fiction horror” earlier this month, and Ashley was one of the respondees. I’m very pleased with her post, and wish her the best of luck! You can find more information about her novel, including where to order it, at the end of this post.

Science Fiction: Can it Exist Without Horror?

by Ashley Dufault


Is it sci-fi or is it horror? This is a question many of us ask ourselves as we’re perusing the Internet for new books to read. However, I believe the real question we ask ourselves shouldn’t be if a science fiction novel has elements of horror, but rather, if it doesn’t. Moreover, if a sci-fi work contains no element of horror, is it even science fiction at all?

Think briefly about the plot-lines of major science fiction works: Terminator. Back to the Future. I Am Legend. Frankenstein. Star Wars. Wall-E. Nine times out of ten, the science fiction we know and love plays significantly on fear. It forces us to ask difficult questions about ourselves and our limits as human beings.

Let’s look at artificial intelligence; it’s been a popular science fiction theme for decades and seems to only be growing as a subgenre as our culture continues to shift toward the adoption of higher-level technology. To me, the most prominent story utilizing this motif is the Terminator series. The original movie terrified me growing up and still leaves me feeling uneasy, despite technology having changed so much since the movie’s 1984 release.

Sure, artificial intelligence is great! Robots can handle customer service inquiries on the Web, we can teach smart home assistants when to lock our doors and turn off our heat, and soon our vehicles will be driving themselves. What’s not to love?

Robots don’t inherently care about people. This can spawn communication barriers at minimum (as in the case of Facebook’s robots creating a language that humans were unable to decipher) or blood-hungry, unstoppable beasts at worst. With A.I. that’s already capable of experiencing emotion and excluding its creators from its conversations, no one really knows what direction A.I. will take us in, positive or negative. The fears Terminator capitalized on are even more real now than they were three decades ago.

Most of the fears the science fiction genre utilizes are evergreen; over the years, creators just find different ways to package them.

The hit CW show, the 100, used artificial intelligence as a plot-point when computer program A.L.I.E. decided that humans were killing themselves and that the best response was to wipe out civilization and start fresh. In a way, A.L.I.E. was right: humans have recklessly ruined the planet, we have a terrible track record of violence, and despite our efforts, we just can’t come together to agree on anything. The questions A.L.I.E. posed about our existence don’t just reflect reality on the show, but life in the real world. The horror is in the knowledge not that we are capable of creating a terminator or a program like A.L.I.E. to flatten the world, but in the reminder that we’re fully capable of doing this ourselves.

Even Wall-E presents a bleak picture of humanity, the planet a barren wasteland covered in garbage while people live on a space station equipped with traveling pods that enable them to barely lift a muscle. The horror here isn’t as overt or heart-racing as other science fiction stories, but its subtlety beautifully points out the terrors and potential consequences of our global culture and begs us to change our ways if we’re at all capable.

A lot of introspection occurs at the hands of science fiction. It’s always interesting to ask people what they believe happens to the plant that’s sprouted at the end of Wall-E. Is there any hope left, really? If someone says no, does that automatically make them a pessimist, or is there more to be said?

My favorite subgenre of science fiction is post-apocalyptic fiction for the very reason that it doesn’t shy from the dark lens it places against the world. It embraces the darkness and forces readers and viewers out of their comfort zones to hear a message of caution.

The best sci-fi, in my opinion, has nothing to do with science at all. Technological thrillers are fantastic, and while I appreciate the immense amount of detail authors put into those genres, what really interests me is the human element of science fiction. The psychology that lies at the intersection of science fiction and horror is fascinating. People fear the unknown, death, isolation, poverty, losing our freedom, and so many other things, yet we persistently challenge these fears and seek to overcome them.

Justin Cronin’s The Passage is a great example of this. Despite the majority of civilization having been exposed to a virus that’s created worldwide vampirism, colonies of healthy people continue to fight the hordes of baddies trying to turn, farm, or kill them. They don’t have much to live for but each other, but they go on kicking, anyway.

The craziest part? The plot to this story was thought up in part by Cronin’s daughter, under age ten at the time. When I grew up, I wasn’t allowed to watch shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? because of how strongly they affected young children, but kids are totally capable of developing fears on their own just by observing the world. Some of the more visceral fears, like death and pain, reside with us from the day we’re born no matter how much we try to quell them, and even from a young age people create narratives exploring these ideas. The science fiction-horror genre helps us to understand the world we live in, but still feel like we’re escaping to another.

Book cover for If I Let You GoMy own science fiction-horror novel, If I Let You Go, makes readers ask some uncomfortable “what if?” questions. The story centers on an underground society years after biological warfare has destroyed the world. The main character, Edwin, has spent his entire life as a workaholic just for the opportunity to join his colony’s upper class, the Most Privileged, but after he’s promoted, his opinion about their culture shifts in light of a growing rebellion and chronic food shortages. How does someone save a world that doesn’t listen, that’s stripped away its individuals’ ability to even speak? If Edwin tries to have an impact and fails, it could destroy his life. If he doesn’t try, he’s not sure he’ll have a life worth living. Fortunately for him, he’s not alone in his feelings. If I Let You Go speaks about our culture and perspectives on freedom, persistence, and happiness.

How does a society of people without mouths survive, anyway? Order If I Let You Go  to find out!

For more information about Ashley’s works, visit her website at

Link to purchase If I Let You Go:


The Wild Robot by Peter Brown #BookReview

Title: The Wild Robot | Series: The Wild Robot #1 | Author: Peter Brown | Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers | Pub. Date: 2016-4-5 | Pages: 279 | ISBN13: 9780316381994 | Genre: Kids Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Animal death | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Library

The Wild Robot

When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. Why is she there? Where did she come from? And, most important, how will she survive in her harsh surroundings? Roz’s only hope is to learn from the island’s hostile animal inhabitants. When she tries to care for an orphaned gosling, the other animals finally decide to help, and the island starts to feel like home. Until one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her….

Book cover for The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot Review

I reviewed an audio version of The Wild Robot and then looked at a PDF of the illustrations afterwards. So I’m going to a bit nicer in this review then I really feel like being because I recognize that my experience of the book was a bit atypical.

First off, regarding the narration of The Wild Robot, I enjoyed Kate Atwater’s performance. As this is a kid’s book, I think she did a great job making the voices bright, lively, and a bit cartoonish. This is the first time I’ve ever heard her narrate, but I wouldn’t be averse to doing so in the future. In the beginning of the story, other sounds are worked into the story. Background sounds of beeping, splashing, so on and so forth. Eventually that fades out. They bring it back in the last 15 or so minutes of the book. I hated it when they brought it back for the last part of the book. It felt distracting and unnecessary.

The illustrations in The Wild Robot  were nice. I can see why picture book lovers would go gaga over them. To be honest, if they were available as stick-ons, I’d probably decorate my 8 year old’s room with them. They are precisely the type of thing that she would love. The pictures went perfectly with the book, and even though I looked at them after I listened to it, I could identify the sections of the stories they belonged to very easily.

So, I liked the narration, and I liked the pictures… why the “bit nicer” remark at the very beginning of this review? Simply put, it’s because I didn’t particularly like the book itself! The Wild Robot was a book just didn’t sit well with me. And it’s really hard for me to put why, exactly, into words. I think it’s because ultimately it felt like it didn’t know where it belonged. Its a book for young readers, but feels almost too long for the intended age range. The story is very sweet and fairy tale-ish in some respects, but there’s also a disturbing amount of death mentioned in it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not against death happening in kids books. Death is a part of life, and we shouldn’t be afraid to occasionally express it in stories if necessary. But there was a lot of death in this book. It’s also a fairly long book, as well! Considering how little actually happens, it felt like it could be at least a third shorter than it actually was.

 I appreciated that Roz was a ‘traditional’ simple robot instead of the ones with a more humanoid appearance. I liked the effort the author made at first to make it clear that she was a robot, and that she behaved logically as she was meant to do. But this is not really a story about a robot’s adventures on an island. It’s about an ‘other’ finding acceptance after she demonstrates that she’s not a savage and can be kind and caring and helpful. But, by the end of the story, Roz and all the animals on the island are human in everything but appearance. That took some of the fun away from it for me as I don’t particularly enjoy books where people use animals as human stand-ins. 

Overall, The Wild Robot wasn’t horrible by any means, but it just didn’t appeal to me outside of the illustrations. My kiddo listened to the first half with me, then she completely lost interest in it, so I finished it alone.

Buy Link: Amazon