Review: Master of Horror – The Official Biography of Mick Garris by Abbie Bernstein

cover of Master of Horror: The Official Biography of Mick GarrisMaster of Horror: The Official Biography of Mick Garris by Abbie Bernstein
ATB Publishing (August 13, 2021)
411 pages; paperback $24.95
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

It’s widely acknowledged that Mick Garris is one of the sweetest people to grace the film industry. This is the gospel according to genre luminaries like Joe Dante, John Landis, Guillermo del Toro, Clive Barker, Tom Holland, and others who’ve attested to the integrity and perseverance that forged the legacy of their fellow master of horror. Garris is revered by his peers, but still flies under the radar of casual horror fandom, which leads to the question: How much do we really know about him?Continue Reading

All Hail the Popcorn King….and Queen! An Interview with Joe R. Lansdale and Hansi Oppenheimer

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poster for All Hail the Popcorn KingAfter decades of cranking out high-caliber, genre-smashing literature, and with a badass martial arts pedigree to boot, it’s remarkable that no one tackled a documentary about East Texas’ reigning champion of mojo storytelling, Joe R. Lansdale. Along came intrepid New York City filmmaker Hansi Oppenheimer, a self-described fangrrrl who grabbed her camera and jetted to the source, joining Lansdale in his hometown Nacogdoches, Texas, to film All Hail the Popcorn King. It was a journey — what Lansdale’s rabid fans might call a pilgrimage — to East Texas, the site where the local color echoes through Lansdale’s masterful tales of blue-collar anti-heroes, two-bit criminals, and voracious monsters lurking in raucous honky-tonks, musty movie houses, and swampy bottom lands frequented by their fictionalized counterparts. Through her lens, Oppenheimer grants us an intimate visit with our favorite raconteur, inviting us into the oldest town in Texas, and the place Lansdale calls home.Continue Reading

Review: The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu

cover of The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie LiuThe Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie Liu
Tachyon Publications (June 15, 2021)
239 pages; Paperback $16.95; Digital $9.99
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

The boundless creative energy of prolific author Marjorie Liu flows through The Tangleroot Palace, a collection of seven genre-defying tales set in worlds both strange and familiar. This eclectic anthology contains work selected from various points in Liu’s career, displaying astounding growth and versatility along that trajectory. Evidenced is Liu’s knack for cultivating deep intimacy within grandiose dark fantasy — exemplified in her romantic urban fantasy series Hunter Kiss and Eisner award-winning comic series Monstress — where demon-hunters, shapeshifters, and superheroes grapple with issues of identity, sexuality, race, and acceptance, while engaged in spectacular battles. As expected, Liu’s flair for world-building is on full display, as well as her penchant for representing diverse voices, embodied in the powerful women and people of color who inhabit her fantastic realms.Continue Reading

Interview: Douglas Wynne Talks Technology and Terror

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Douglas Wynne

Douglas Wynne wrote his first novel as a teen, but his creative path detoured through the music industry before returning to his literary calling. He now crafts dark fantasy that indulges the author’s curiosity in shadowy cults, conspiracies, and the occult, including his SPECTRA Files series (Red Equinox, Black January, Cthulhu Blues), The Devil of Echo Lake, and Steel Breeze, which pitted resilient characters against malevolent forces inciting catastrophe. Wynne’s work flourishes from a postmodern approach to eldritch tales, where elder gods and demons infiltrate the contemporary world and wreak havoc on twenty-first century life, often through song, a devilish way for the writer to remain connected to his musical roots.  Continue Reading

Review: His Own Devices by Douglas Wynne

cover of His Own Devices by Douglas WynneHis Own Devices by Douglas Wynne
Promethean (March 4, 2021)
246 pages; $4.99 Kindle
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

Generations before cyberspace was a practical application, the pioneers of weird fiction toiled in artificial worlds beset by shadowy cabals and god-like monstrosities. Imagine the possibilities open to Clark Ashton Smith or Algernon Blackwood had the tendrils of the internet penetrated early twentieth century life, offering another vast dimension for them to explore in their eldritch tales.Continue Reading

Review: Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows adapted by Nathan Carson and Sam Ford

Algernon Blackwood’s The Willows by Nathan Carson
Floating World Comics (November 2019)
72 pages; $12.95 paperback
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

Algernon Blackwood’s name doesn’t permeate today’s pop culture landscape like his contemporary (and admirer) H.P. Lovecraft, but Britain’s great supernaturalist holds a significant place in the pantheon of weird literature. As one of horror fiction’s preeminent contributors, his chilling works have influenced many of the world’s best fantasy writers, and astounded readers with a sublime melding of paralyzing suspense, mysticism, and otherworldly terror. Despite their plentiful virtues, Blackwood’s tales have been somewhat overlooked as an avenue for adaptation, with infrequent dips into Blackwood’s formidable catalog, mostly as television and radio plays, some dating back far enough to be narrated by Blackwood himself (he died in 1951). Continue Reading

Review: Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination by David Nickle

Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination by David Nickle
ChiZine Publications (October 2017)
376 pages; $11.75 paperback; $6 e-book
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

No one, not even the author himself, could have predicted the timeliness of David Nickle’s Volk. Yet, here and now, the world is (once again) on a steady march toward unparalleled terror and fascism at the hands of arrogant rulers. Nickle’s follow-up to 2011’s acclaimed Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism is set in an early-to-mid-twentieth century Europe still reeling from World War I, but speaks of our contemporary landscape to a frightening degree.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Angler in the Darkness’ by Edward M. Erdelac

Angler in the Darkness by Edward M. Erdelac
CreateSpace (April 2017)
384 pages; $14 paperback; $3.99 e-book
Reviewed by Chris Hallock

Versatile scribe Edward M. Erdelac is a whiz at seamless genre-blending, exemplified by his popular Merkabah Rider series featuring a demon-fighting Hasidic gunfighter and his exploits in the Wild West. Erdelac occupies a special place in literature, honoring the tradition of high concept fantasy engineered by luminaries Robert E. Howard and Jules Verne, spliced with the gritty DNA of Elmore Leonard and Joe R. Lansdale.Continue Reading

Onscreen Mojo: An Interview with Joe R. Lansdale

Joe R. Lansdale

Many colorful descriptors have been affixed to describe the work of ten-time Bram Stoker Award-winning author Joe R. Lansdale, but reigning champion of mojo storytelling (as coined by Lansdale’s friend and webmaster Lou Bark) is the most fitting way to express his dynamic style. Throughout a prolific career, Lansdale has produced an astounding assortment of unique tales gracefully two-stepping between the pulp and the profound. His work is gritty, funny, and violent, characterized by biting dialogue and Lansdale’s ability to seamlessly cross genres while remaining conscious of history and storytelling tradition. Lansdale’s distinct literary voice regales his readers with tales of rough-and-tumble anti-heroes ready to throw down against dangerous criminals, serial killers, and occasional otherworldly monsters running amok in East Texas.Continue Reading