‘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 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

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

R.I.P. Fangoria and a Plea for Uncle Bob

I admit it. I’m an old softie. Yes, longtime gorehound that I am, horror reader, rough and tough machinist for the Navy, I am a sentimental fool sometimes. When I read that Fangoria as a print magazine is almost certainly gone, I got teary-eyed.Continue Reading

A Life of Reading

2016 has eased into 2017, and with it comes contemplation. At least it does for me. I think about my life. The past, the present, and the unknown ahead. I generally have a half-assed set of resolutions, and Reading More is always one of them.Continue Reading

Cautionary Splatter

I’ve been in the process of moving over the past few months. As you may imagine, there are a lot of books, magazines, and other items to be gathered and transported. I’ve been taking it slowly, and looking over a lot of the items I have. Some of which I had almost forgotten about.

I came upon the Footsteps Press chapbook edition of Douglas E. Winter’s Splatter: A Cautionary Tale. I had not read the story in many years, and it has always been a favorite of mine. So I propped up the pillows, climbed under the warm blankets, and read this chilling short story.Continue Reading

Looking Back on Scares That Care 2016

Horror Drive-InA funny thing happened at Scares That Care Weekend 3. I was in the Celebrity Room, and I noticed something. The room was laid out with media personalities all around the perimeter, against the walls. Writers were mostly in the center. It occurred to me that, at least at the moment in question, there were more people engaging in conversations and sales with authors than with the actors and such.Continue Reading

The Time the Good Guys Won

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The Time the Good Guys Won

One of the mainstays of fandom is the convention. Pros and fans gathering together, interacting, buying and selling stuff, getting shitfaced. Sometimes deals are made. Indelible relationships are born. A good time is generally had by all.

One year at a large convention held in the Mid-Atlantic area, something not so festive was going on.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In vs. ‘The Conjuring 2’

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Horror Drive-In vs. The Conjuring 2

Conjuring2Poster1I try. I really do. I want to like every horror movie I see. Every book I pick up. I know I can be a curmudgeon, but I have never gone into something with the intention of trashing it.

And yet I am disappointed all too often. Not only am I disappointed, I usually seem to be on the opposite end of the opinion spectrum than most.

Case in point: The Conjuring 2. A movie that is earning a lot of positive buzz. According to Rotten Tomatoes, this sequel is being well received by the critics. Well, I’ve always maintained that your average movie critic hasn’t a clue as to what constitutes quality horror.

I didn’t mind The Conjuring. I thought the first half had some extremely effective moments. Director James Wan has shown skill at establishing and maintaining tension and dread in his movies. The second half of The Conjuring? Well, it all became kind of silly once the cat was out of the bag and we began to see physical manifestations of the haunting.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In vs. 'The Conjuring 2'

HorrorDrive-In-web

Horror Drive-In vs. The Conjuring 2

Conjuring2Poster1I try. I really do. I want to like every horror movie I see. Every book I pick up. I know I can be a curmudgeon, but I have never gone into something with the intention of trashing it.

And yet I am disappointed all too often. Not only am I disappointed, I usually seem to be on the opposite end of the opinion spectrum than most.

Case in point: The Conjuring 2. A movie that is earning a lot of positive buzz. According to Rotten Tomatoes, this sequel is being well received by the critics. Well, I’ve always maintained that your average movie critic hasn’t a clue as to what constitutes quality horror.

I didn’t mind The Conjuring. I thought the first half had some extremely effective moments. Director James Wan has shown skill at establishing and maintaining tension and dread in his movies. The second half of The Conjuring? Well, it all became kind of silly once the cat was out of the bag and we began to see physical manifestations of the haunting.Continue Reading

'Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King' (Not Exactly A Review)

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Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King (Not Exactly A Review)

(Photo Copyright Mark Sieber 2016)
(Photo Copyright Mark Sieber 2016)

One of my favorite activities is treasure hunting at thrift shops, flea markets, estate and yard sales. I do it just about every weekend. I’m not looking for a deal on golf clubs, or vintage clothing. I don’t look at the tools or the toys. I pass the knick-knacks and the cooking supplies right by.

You probably guessed it. I look for books. And vinyl record albums. Movies, too but not as much as I used to. Books and records are mostly my things nowadays.

Sometimes I will be at a thrift shop, and I’ll see a jag of books all in the same genre, or bunches of them by an author or two. It always makes me sad. I imagine, and it’s usually true, that a reader and collector has passed away. His or her books found no new home from family or friends, and they get dumped at a thrift shop. Occasionally they will be inscribed, or have those accursed owner’s bookplates in them. The bane of any serious book collector.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: A Call to Preorder

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A Call to Preorder

I hear quite a bit of talk about supporting writers by penning reviews of their work at places like Amazon. I suppose it does help a little, even though neither I, nor anyone I know, puts any stock in that sort of thing. I know that there are legitimate reviews out there, but there are also kiss-ass pieces by friends of the subject, just as there are hatchet jobs by those who dislike the author. Sometimes an author will have the temerity to voice an unpopular political opinion, or perhaps write a bitchy Facebook post. I’ve seen jackals gather ’round to defecate upon books by these writers as a form of revenge. As insane as it sounds, it really happens.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Dear Mr. Death

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Dear Mr. Death

Mark Justice
Mark Justice

Dear Mr. Death,

I understand that you have a job to do. I don’t like it, any more than I like the job done by the taxman. I guess both are necessary evils. We all have an appointment with you, sir, though I do regret that engagement. I am trying to accept the inevitability. Yet I feel that you have been working overtime too much of late.

You’ve taken famous people we’ve known all of our lives. Friends, family members. Your given duty, I realize, but perhaps you could take a holiday. An extended one.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Retro Drive-In Snowstorm

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Retro Drive-In Snowstorm

vhsTimes change. People change. Priorities change.

I was one of the most enthusiastic and money-stupid movie/home video fanatics you ever met. This lasted from the early days of VHS on through the DVD revolution and the decline of interest in physical media. I watched at least a movie a night, and often it was more than that. The memories are great, and I loved every every minute of it.

I always loved the movies, and I am old enough to remember times even before cable TV. I loved all kinds of motion pictures, and I enjoyed them at home on TV, in walk-in movie houses, but especially at drive-in movie theaters. There wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be a greater place to enjoy a movie than under the stars, with the biggest screen in all of history up there against the night sky.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Why I Dislike 'Star Wars'

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Why I Dislike Star Wars

SWPosterI was sixteen years old when Star Wars came out. Sure I saw it. Who didn’t? But allow me to go even farther back in time than that.

Science Fiction was always important to me. I had the advantage of having older siblings. Three brothers, and they all read SF. I was introduced to the genre very early on, and in fact the very first real book I read was Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit – Will Travel. Despite its unsophisticated title, it is a smart novel that is at once a satire, a rousing adventure story, and a sober look at the mechanics of human life in low or zero gravity.

From Heinlein I went on to others, like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. These guys, and maybe a few others, were about the extent that my brothers delved into the genre. Me, I went on to read it voraciously.Continue Reading