Discovering Alan Peter Ryan

Alan Peter Ryan
Alan Peter Ryan

I can’t remember where I read it—one of his blog posts, or in one of his now out-of-print blog collections—but Brian Keene once recounted the story of how he and some fellow writers, early in their career, visited a used bookstore while at a convention (maybe World Horror; I can’t remember). Excited at their own writing futures, while browsing the stacks, looking for their favorite classic authors, they discovered, with a rising sense of unease, a number of authors they had never heard of before. Writers who had at least ascended to paperback fame (of a kind) only to descend once again beneath the waters of obscurity, with barely a ripple. Continue Reading

The Endgame of an Era

Me and the Nameless Detective go way back. I’ve been reading these books since, oh wow, probably 1983? My Lord, that’s a long time.

I was never a mystery/suspense/noir reader in my youth. Science fiction, mostly, and what horror there was to be found. Which, honestly, wasn’t very much. SF won most of my reading time by default.

Yet by the early eighties I was getting very tired of the weary clichés of science fiction. Continue Reading

Witchboard of the Dead

Tawny Kitaen is completely to blame for my messing with dead people.

In lieu of today’s penchant to never take personal responsibility, I’m quite comfortable laying all of this at Tawny’s lovely feet. Mind you, I’ve never met the woman. However, I feel as if she’s an old friend with wild and wonderful scarlet hair thanks to Bachelor Party, writhing on the hood of a car in Whitesnake’s video for “Here I Go Again,” and last but not least, 1986’s Ouija horror film, Witchboard.Continue Reading

“The Hounds of Hell to Pay” and “Martyr and Pesty”

In its illustrious 29*-year print run, Cemetery Dance magazine has published no less than 560 short stories and novel excerpts in 73** individual issues. As the super fan that I am, Exhumed is my humble attempt to read and review them all in monthly double reviews. This the eighth such installment. Continue Reading

My First Fright featuring Mercedes M. Yardley

Merc3edes M. Yardley
Mercedes M. Yardley

Mercedes M. Yardley was only eight years old when she read her father’s copy of Stephen King’s It. Pretty intense material for someone so young, wouldn’t you say? But years earlier, Yardley had been introduced to what i09 referred to as “The Most Horrifying Children’s Movie Ever Made.” Perhaps she was better prepared to handle the horrors of Pennywise the Clown after repeatedly watching a scary movie starring….a pink-haired unicorn?

Yardley is a Bram Stoker Award-winning writer residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. A self-described dark fantasist, she is the author of multiple books and short stories, including 2013’s Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and 2014’s Pretty Little Dead Girls. We had a video chat about her first fright, and her choice was unexpected, to say the least.Continue Reading

The Horror Bust (That Didn’t Seem Like a Bust)

We were talking about the great horror boom of the 1980s at the Horror Drive-In message boards the other day. Most seem to think that it was the greatest era in the history of the genre. I happen to agree. I was there, and as big a fan of all things horror as you’d have been likely to find. It was an exciting time, for movies and for horror fiction. I could go on about it indefinitely, but I have something else on my mind today.Continue Reading

“The Officer’s Club” and “The Phone Call”

Hello again, fans of the Dance. This is the seventh installment of monthly double reviews studying the structure of great horror fiction published in our beloved Cemetery Dance.

Last time I reviewed two Barry Hoffman stories: “An Island Unto Herself” from Cemetery Dance #1 (1988) and “Vicious Cycle” from Cemetery Dance #26 (1997). If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do so and let me know what you think.

In keeping with the popular notion of reviewing two stories by the same author separated by time, this month I’m going to dive into a pair of Roman A. Ranieri stories. The first, once again from Cemetery Dance #1, was published in 1988. The second, from Cemetery Dance #23, was published in 1996.

Let’s see what eight years of separation did for ole’ Roman’s skill set… Continue Reading

Cutting Class for a Higher Education

Here’s a little public service announcement that you’ll never get on TV.

Nothing helped foster my career as a horror writer more than cutting entire days of class when I was in college. Not only that, it also provided the foundation of my marriage.

Now there’s a one-two punch I never would have gotten from another psych or communications class. Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #198

Stephen King News From the Dead ZoneThe Dark Tower trailer we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Let’s get that out of the way straight off:

However, before the trailer showed up at 9:19 am Keystone Earth Time today, we were treated yesterday to some Twitter banter between Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as they laid the groundwork for a couple of teaser trailers that contain some footage not found in the official trailer.Continue Reading

Al Sarrantonio: The Weird King of Halloween

I first encountered Al Sarrantonio the same way others most likely did; in his Orangefield Cycle, which regales the tale of the strange Pumpkin Capitol of Orangefield, New York, through the novels Halloweenland, Hallows Eve, Horrorween and the novellas The Pumpkin Boy and Hornets. In Orangefield, strange things happen around Halloween. People die mysteriously, create suicide pacts, conduct pagan rituals, and see strange things from other worlds. Like the mythical Pumpkin Boy, a robot with a pumpkin for a head. Or Samhain himself, trying to take advantage of Halloween’s thin dimensional walls in his repeated attempts to sneak into our world as the advance scout of an unholy army lead by something far worse. Continue Reading

‘Thinner’ and the Blame Game

What I Learned from Stephen King by Jason Sechrest

“There are no curses, only mirrors you hold up to the souls of men and women.” – Stephen King, Thinner

A disclaimer before we begin: As is the case with most of these doo-dads, there are spoilers ahead for those who have not read Thinner. More spoilers than usual in fact, as I found it necessary to employ the book’s end in my final analysis. If you, Constant Reader, should wish to check out now, we will hold no grudge, nor lay the blame. For if there is anything to be learned from Thinner (and I believe there is, or I would not have written said doo-dad), it is that blame is like a spinning wheel. Round and round and round she goes… Continue Reading

“An Island Unto Herself” and “Vicious Cycle”

Hello again, folks. This is the 6th installment of monthly double reviews studying the structure of great horror fiction published in our beloved Cemetery Dance.

Last time I reviewed two Bentley Little titles: “The Janitor” from Cemetery Dance #1 (1988) and “We” from Cemetery Dance #64 (2010). This marked the 2nd time my little column compared an older and a newer story from the same author. I know I liked it, and readers seemed to as well.

Fortunately, I get to do this again this month with a pair of Barry Hoffman stories. His two pieces were published in Cemetery Dance in 1988 and 1997. And while they may not be separated by the two full decades like we saw with Mr. Little, Mr. Hoffman’s stories nevertheless show both growth over this span of time as well as a certain, unique thematic element.

Let’s see if you can figure it out before I connect those dots…Continue Reading

Why Jason Loves the ’80s More Than You

People ask me all the time who the next Jason, Michael or Freddy will be. I tell them there’s a better chance of a Glenn Miller-hip hop genre emerging on pop radio than ever seeing the likes of our favorite killing machines from the ’80s. They were a product of a very special time in horror cinema. The best we’ve been able to come up with since then is Saw. A puppet and dying old dude really don’t shiver me timbers. Continue Reading

My First Fright featuring D.J. MacHale

I’m a big fan of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, the horror/fantasy TV series that ran on Nickelodeon back in the ’90s and early 2000s (if you’re unfamiliar, think Tales From The Crypt Jr., or The Twilight Zone for kids). The show wasn’t my first introduction to horror, but it definitely helped fuel my then-burgeoning interest in the genre. Seen by millions over the last few decades, Are You Afraid of the Dark? is likely the first fright for more than a few writers pounding out spooky fiction today. So, I couldn’t help but wonder, what would it be like to interview the brain behind the show, an architect of First Frights himself, and find out what, in turn, inspired him.Continue Reading

“The Janitor” and “We”

Hello again, folks. This is the fifth installment of monthly double reviews studying the structure of great horror fiction published in our beloved Cemetery Dance.

Last time I reviewed my favorite story from Cemetery Dance #1, Anke M. Kriske’s “The Departing of Debbie” and William Peter Blatty’s semi-controversial “Terry and the Werewolf” from Cemetery Dance #62 (2009).

If you want to know about some really great early horror fiction and/or give your respect to our recently-lost great, Mr. Blatty, do please check it out.

This month, I’m going to review 2 stories from the same author, a man who is clearly one one of Cemetery Dance’s favorite repeat contributors based on the fact that he’s been published in Cemetery Dance numbers 1, 2, 4, 7, 13, 14, 34, 36, 39, 50, 64, and 71. He has been published by CD more than only one other author (that’s a column for another day), and has been there since the beginning.

His name is Mr. Bentley Little.

Let’s get to it…Continue Reading