Enter the Wayback Machine and go back to 1984. I was still shrugging off the science fiction habit I had all my life and becoming a full-fledged horror fan. I read authors like Grant, Straub, Wilson, Etchison, Campbell. And of course Stephen King. When I finally got around to reading him, my reading life changed forever. Pet Sematary had just been released in paperback. Ahead were wonders like The Talisman, Thinner, Skeleton Crew, and It.
Horror was in a state of flux. In the movies, the slasher era was cycling down. In ’84 we had The Mutilator, Splatter University, The Initiation, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. A Nightmare on Elm Street was ushering in a new breed of horror. Stephen King adaptations were in a bit of a lull, as disappointing productions like Children of the Corn and Firestarter hit the screens. Bigger and better things were ahead.Continue Reading
Black Beth was a one-time character published by Scream in the 1980s. She was a combination of Red Sonja and The Punisher, an armor-clad woman warrior who sought vengeance against the tyrants that slaughtered her love and her village. Aided by her mentor, the blind wild man Quido, she sought vengeance for 23 pages before disappearing into the memories of comic aficionados until 2016, when Rebellion purchased the rights from the original publisher. Alec Worley and artist DaNi have reinvented Black Beth for modern audiences in a dark fantasy tale that is sure to thrill readers. Continue Reading
In the first ten pages of V. Castro’s Stoker-nominated The Goddess of Filth, a young woman is violently possessed. The moment is so jarring and powerful that I found myself going back to make sure I hadn’t accidentally started the book on the wrong chapter! But upon confirming I had, in fact, started the book on the correct page, I decided to just go with it. “I trust Castro,” I said to myself. “Let’s dive right in.”Continue Reading
Back in 2015, I had the pleasure of reviewing Kealan Patrick Burke’s then-new novella, Sour Candy. You can see the full review here, but I’ll include the plot summary from that review below:Continue Reading
Exhumed is my humble attempt to read and review every short story and novel excerpt ever published by Cemetery Dance magazine. In their 33+ years of publication, there have been a total of 577 (and counting!) pieces spread out over 77 issues. Since each Exhumed post covers just two stories (one “old” and one “new”), I think I’m going to be doing this for a while. I sure hope you’ll join me along the way. And, by the way, I’m always looking for requests, so go forth and comment which story you’d like me to unearth.
Normally at this point I’d jump into the nuts and bolts of the stories I’m reviewing this time around, but this time around I have something very different for you. In recent months I’ve had several people ask how I can review the really old stories when those issues are so hard to find. Do I own them all? Does Cemetery Dance hook me up? It’s a great question with a rather complicated (and, dare I say it, entertaining) answer.Continue Reading
Quick show of hands, how many of you out there in the transom miss the video store? Yeah, streaming is easy, and you don’t have to be kind and rewind. Kindness in general is in short supply this day.
But, who pines for the Friday or Saturday trips to the video store (it could have been Blockbuster, Sun Coast Video, or the local mom and pop like the one I named this column after), browsing the aisle of front facing VHS boxes, carefully making your selection and maybe grabbing a little bag of freshly popped popcorn?Continue Reading
The nominees for this year’s Bram Stoker Award for Short Fiction blew me away. Serpent hair? Yes, please. Ancient cults? Thank you! Man-eating sheep? Don’t mind if I do. I had the terribly good fortune of reading all this year’s nominees in one sitting, which was the equivalent of consuming one of the most bonkers anthologies ever collected.
I am the perfect age to be a slasher fan. Halloween was released when I was seventeen years old — roughly the same age as the victims in John Carpenter’s masterpiece. I saw it in a walk-in theater and the experience was truly transformational. I was on the verge of adulthood and this movie, which was based on an oft-told urban legend, felt like the beginning of something entirely new.
Halloween was a runaway success and along with the inevitable sequel, imitator movies were quickly made and released. The biggest of them is, of course, Friday the 13th. I was eighteen years old.Continue Reading
Happy New Year to all my readers. It’s been a while since my last news update, primarily because there hasn’t been a lot going on in the Stephen King Universe. However, I now have some cool things to talk about, so pull up a chair. Continue Reading
I like to read something special for a holiday. In 2020, deep in the pandemic, I spent a long week whiling over The Cider House Rules, a novel I read and absolutely loved when it first came out. I was considering what to read this year, when it occurred to me that I had not read T.E.D. Klein’s The Ceremonies since it was originally published. That was quite a few moons ago, and my memories about it were vague. The Ceremonies is a book that requires attention and a little patience, so a week off is the perfect time to indulge in it.Continue Reading
Whether you’re a ho-ho or a humbug, it’s impossible to ignore the holiday season. I know I can’t. As I write this, the threat of having to string up lights outside is looming, which is why I just might take my sweet time getting this done.
After subjecting my wife to watching at least one horror movie a day in October (we hit 55 this year), when December first rolls around, it’s my turn to get the water torture. Yes, we have to watch at least one Christmas movie or cartoon a day until Christmas Eve, when A Christmas Story goes on repeat mode all through the next day. Mind you, I’m not complaining (not loud enough so the wife can hear). First, she never makes me watch any of those insipid Lifetime or Hallmark pieces of dreck. Second, we do throw in some horror movies like Black Christmas, Red Christmas, Better Watch Out, Anna and the Apocalypse, and this year, thanks to Shudder, Silent Night, Deadly Night parts three through five. I never saw them before, and my limbo stick is set on low. Continue Reading
Around 2012, after a life-changing night with F. Paul Wilson, Tom Monteleone and Stuart David Schiff, I began searching used bookstores far and wide for seminal works of horror I’d missed out on. I came to the horror genre late — both as a reader and a writer — so all I knew of horror was Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Peter Straub. There’s nothing wrong with these writers, of course. But after that night, my head spun with the names of the dozens of writers I’d never heard of before. I decided that to be the kind of writer I aspired to be, I needed to widen my reading palate.Continue Reading
The obvious, and most popular answer, is of course Stephen King. I almost agree, but King has done too many different types of fiction to be stigmatized as merely a horror writer. A lot of it can even be construed as science fiction. Especially when one considers how psi talents were an SF staple for years and years.
Despite my love of his work my answer is not Stephen King. I’d have to go with the inimitable Ramsey Campbell.Continue Reading
Night Time Logic is the part or parts of a story that are felt but not consciously processed. Those that operate below the conscious surface. Those that are processed somewhere, somehow, and in some way other than… overtly and consciously. The deep-down scares. The scares that find their way to our core and unsettle us in ways we rarely see coming…
In this column, which shares a name with my New York-based reading series, I explore this phenomenon, other notions of what makes horror tick, and my favorite authors and stories, new and old with you.
“The veil of the eye” is a line from a poem that inspired one of guest Inna Effress’ recent stories. In today’s conversation we speak about what Inna calls “the fog of uncertainty” and more.Continue Reading
I read all kinds of fiction. Horror new and old, classic science fiction, modern domestic suspense, mainstream, whatever suits my fancy. There’s a special place in my heart of hearts for small town horror. The good stuff from the late seventies and early eighties. Charles L. Grant and his Oxrun Station stories come most immediately to mind. There’s Rick Hautala’s Maine. Matthew J. Costello and his early paperbacks. Peter Straub and the Chowder Society. Alan Ryan, Lisa Tuttle, Chet Williamson, A.R. Morlan, Al Sarrantonio, and T.M. Wright all set stories in cozy small towns. Let’s not forget Mr. King and his Castle Rock fiction.Continue Reading