‘Night Things’ by Thomas F. Monteleone

Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Dead Trees. I want to thank you for taking the time to check out my new column.

Most publishers and writers want to see reviews of current or recently released books. There is nothing wrong with that, and all fans should read the new stuff coming out. But in this column I intend to showcase older works. Continue Reading

The Letter I Wrote to Stephen King, and the Response that Changed My Life

When I was 10 years old, I sent Stephen King the first thing I had ever written.

It was a short story called “Murder on Washington St.”

The reply I received changed the course of my life forever. Continue Reading

George Romero Can Never Die

Ever since I heard of the late, great George Romero’s passing, I’ve been thinking a lot about how much he influenced my life. Thanks to Dawn of the Dead, my first foray into Romero’s visionary work, I went from a normal kid who collected baseball cards to one who studied every mall, shop and house, figuring out how to fortify it against zombie hordes. Instead of daydreaming about Karen Marone letting me hold her hand after school, I fantasized about commandeering the sporting goods store, blowing zombie heads into tomato juice and eating Spam every night (because…well, it’s got its own key).Continue Reading

The Flexible Bullet of Madness

“This is a story about the genesis of insanity.” Stephen King, The Ballad of the Flexible Bullet

PROLOGUE: LOADING THE GUN

If I try really hard, I can remember it all.

If I close my eyes and really concentrate, it’s almost like I’m right there. I can nearly smell the smells, and hear the sounds of what it was like. The soft elevator music that played in the lobby, and those halls that reeked of aged bodies. I can see myself as a 12 year old boy, visiting my great-grandmother in the old folk’s home. I can recall how she thought my mother was her daughter, or that it was December in the heat of June. Continue Reading

“In Loving Memory” and “A Wiggle of Maggot, a Curl of Bacon”

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.

*and counting!

**there were also two “double issues” (#17/18 in 1993 and #74/75 in 2016), each of which squeezed twice as much content into a single magazine.

Last time I reviewed two Norman Partridge stories:

  • “Save the Last Dance for Me” from Cemetery Dance #2 (1989), and
  • “Slippin’ Into Darkness” (a novel excerpt) from Cemetery Dance #17/18 (1993).

If you missed it, you missed a particularly complex story (and a particularly “colorful” review).  

This month is the 10th installment of Exhumed and, as promised, I present to you two Steve Vernon stories.

Let’s get to it… Continue Reading

Where Have all the Freak Shows Gone?

Growing up, humid days and warm nights meant the Westchester County Fair was rolling into town. The fair took over Yonkers Raceway for a couple of weeks, a real hoedown for us city folk. Along with shaky, suspect rides, there were carnival games, artery clogging fried foods, livestock shows, performing monkeys, a demolition derby and my favorite, the freak show. Continue Reading

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