What I Learned from Stephen King: 'The Long Walk' of Life

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The Long Walk of Life

longwalkart1BEFORE THE WALK

I was having brunch with a friend of mine on a recent Sunday, a horror film actress in fact, who asked: Do you really think there’s anything spiritual about Stephen King’s books?

The question was served cold with a heaping side of skepticism, and it took me slightly off guard. It’s not the first time I have been asked the question since starting this column three short months ago, and I’m always somewhat alarmed by it.

When asked, the first thing that springs to my mind is self-doubt: What if I’m wrong? What if there really is nothing spiritual about Stephen King’s stories and I’m just grasping at straws here? What if I’ve doomed myself to write a monthly column about… nothing? The writer’s worst nightmare.  Continue Reading

Antics on the Web: Dick Cavett’s Horror Roundtable

Antics on the Web: Dick Cavett’s Horror Roundtable
by Robert Brouhard

Cavett_RoundtableAn interview with Stephen King is always a must read, an interview with George A. Romero can be a ton of fun, an Ira Levin interview is always interesting, and a Peter Straub interview is always eye-opening. Now, an interview with ALL FOUR at the same time… scratch that… a full-on hour-long discussion between the four of them, WOW. Mind-blowing. As soon as I heard that Shout Factory TV was hosting a two-part Dick Cavett discussion with these four amazing people, I started clicking my way to see it. Continue Reading

Paper Cuts: Hustling at Horror Cons 101 or: Dispelling the Myth of the Non-Reading Horror Fan

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Paper (n): material manufactured in thin sheets from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing, drawing, or printing on.
 

Cut (v): make (a movie) into a coherent whole by removing parts or placing them in a different order.

Hustling at Horror Cons 101 or: Dispelling the Myth of the Non-Reading Horror Fan

“This is a tough convention,” he says, eyeing our books, picking one up and testing the spine like he’s squeezing an avocado, going to make a little word guac. “It’s especially tough for books. Nobody here reads.”

I don’t know this guy.

Don’t even know him in the sense that I know what it is he does. He could be an indie film actor, a fellow writer, a grey-market DVD vendor. He could be anything that would allow him to be in Worcester, Massachusetts’s DCU Center a half hour before this year’s Rock and Shock convention opens.

Looking back on this interaction now, it’s hard to tell if he was trying to psych us out or if he actually believed that no one who attended the convention read books.Continue Reading

Antics on the Web: Free (Official!) Full-Length Horror Movies on YouTube? Yes Please!

Antics on the Web: Free (Official!) Full-Length
Horror Movies on YouTube? Yes Please!
by Robert Brouhard

TexasChainsawMassacrePart2(onesheet)1.jpgWhat do The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, The Loved Ones, The Sender, The Colossus of New York, Circle of Eight, Beneath, The Deadly Bees, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, In Dreams, Shanks, Ghost Team One, and Rumpelstiltskin all have in common? They are all available free on YouTube thanks to Paramount Pictures Corporation starting their own channel there called The Paramount Vault.

Many of these were on Netflix and other pay services before, but now anyone can watch them online (if it’s rated R, like Bound, you’ll have to have a YouTube account).Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #183 (Haven part 5a)

Haven is set to return on October 8th for its final season. You may not have time to catch up on the 13 episodes that make up Season 5A, so this is a synopsis of events that I hope you’ll find helpful. If you want to read my posts about the characters and previous seasons, you can start here and work your way back. I’ll be updating the Who’s Who with info from Season 5A in due course, and I’ll have a sneak peak of Season 5B for you soon: I’ve already seen the first two episodes. Stay tuned. The game is changing in many different ways.Continue Reading

Paper Cuts: You Can’t Argue with Our Definitive List of Cinema’s Best Monsters

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Paper (n): material manufactured in thin sheets from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing, drawing, or printing on.
 

Cut (v): make (a movie) into a coherent whole by removing parts or placing them in a different order.

You Can’t Argue with Our Definitive List of Cinema’s Best Monsters

Special Guest: Orrin Grey

The title story in Orrin Grey’s upcoming collection, Painted Monsters, is prefaced by maybe my favorite epigraph of all time:

“For you, the living, this mash was meant too…”
— Bobby “Boris” Pickett

And then I realize that title of the story and collection — which sounded so familiar on first hearing — is actually a reference to one of Boris Karloff’s lines in Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets, one of the best horror films of all time, in my opinion.

Continue Reading

What I Learned from Stephen King: The Hero in 'The Dead Zone'

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The Hero in The Dead Zone

deadzonepicWhen we think of the great many characters conjured by the imagination of Stephen King, we most likely think of Carrie White, Annie Wilkes, Jack Torrance or Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Few authors in history have known how to construct such a vast array of multidimensional villains and villainesses. As a result, what gets lost in King’s sea of personalities are his heroes — the most interesting of whom is arguably one Johnny Smith, the main man of The Dead Zone who awakens from a four-and-a-half year coma with a startling new mental capacity to see both people’s past and their future. It’s a power he doesn’t know quite how to control, and one that isn’t without its flaws. Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Learning to NOT Act My Age

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Learning to NOT Act My Age

I’m really not that old. Older than many readers, sure, but, hell, fifty-four is not too old these days. Anyone with at least a few years over me can roar out an accusing, “You’re just a KID!”

Fifty-four isn’t that young either. I’ve been around the block more than a few times, and I’ve been an enthusiastic genre fan for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen the trends: Indian Burial Grounds, Evil Children, Vampires, Serial Killers, Vampires, Transgressive Fiction, Zombies, Gross-out shenanigans. I’ve enjoyed all of these tropes to varying degrees. At least until they became tired cliches. And sooner or later (usually sooner) they all do.Continue Reading

Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #182

Next week will be busy for Stephen King. On September 9, he will be appearing in Cambridge, MA in conversation with Lee Child to promote the new Jack Reacher novel, Make Me. The next day, he will be among the eleven individuals receiving the National Medal of Arts from President Obama in the East Wing of the White House. The citation says, “One of the most popular and prolific writers of our time, Mr. King combines his remarkable storytelling with his sharp analysis of human nature. ” Then, on the following day, September 11, he will be a guest on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show during its inaugural week.Continue Reading

Paper Cuts: Found Footage and the Ever-Evolving Campfire Tale

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Paper (n): material manufactured in thin sheets from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing, drawing, or printing on
 

Cut (v): make (a movie) into a coherent whole by removing parts or placing them in a different order.

Found Footage and the Ever-Evolving Campfire Tale

Blair_Witch_ProjectWhy are so many horror fans so damn conservative? And no, I don’t mean politically conservative, but that would probably be an interesting piece if someone else wanted to write it.

No, I mean why are they conservative when it comes to matters of genre? You’ll frequently hear the statement “everything Hollywood gives us is remakes and found footage these days!” accompanying crotchety diatribes about the “dismal” state of the genre. And to preempt anyone saying this is a straw man argument, I heard a permutation of this from multiple people last month at Scares That Care.

I understand the feelings of resentment towards remakes, on an ideological level. But I don’t share the opinion that remakes are the refuge of the creatively bankrupt.Continue Reading

What I Learned from Stephen King: An Introduction

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“If the horror story is our rehearsal for death, then its strict moralities make it also a reaffirmation of life and good will and simple imagination – just one more pipeline to the infinite.” – Stephen King, Danse Macabre  

skpic2Wisdom can be found in the most unlikely of places, and it is often within the greatest darkness that we find the greatest light.

Alright, alright. I’ll admit they’re clichés – but like most clichés, they also happen to be true. Anyone with a modicum of introspection and a rear view mirror will tell you that it’s the tough times in life we seem to learn and grow from the most. It is the darkness that makes us reach for the light and propels us to examine the human spirit and reevaluate our place and priorities in the world.

If there is anything I learned from Stephen King’s first foray into non-fiction, Danse Macabre, it is that those of us who love a good fright flick or scary read are attracted to the darkness for a wide variety of reasons – many of which leave us with a greater awareness of our inner fears, a questioning of our own mortality, and an increased appreciation that all of our limbs are still intact – or at the very least that our ankles aren’t being hobbled today.   Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Pros and Horror Cons

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Pros and Horror Cons

When I mention that I am going to a horror convention, I am invariably asked the same question: Are you going to wear a costume?

Once upon a time, back in more literate days, fantasy conventions mostly consisted of professionals in the field–writers, editors, artists, publishers, etc.–getting together to talk shop. Fans also came to meet and hang out with with the authors whose works they loved.

It’s not so much like that anymore. Oh, most cons have readers, and you’ll see self-published writers along with pros trying to sell their wares. However, the focus has largely shifted away from the written word.Continue Reading

Paper Cuts: Option This! Vol. 1

PaperCuts-web

Paper (n): material manufactured in thin sheets from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances, used for writing, drawing, or printing on
 
Cut (v): make (a movie) into a coherent whole by removing parts or placing them in a different order.

Option This! Vol. 1

Welcome back, this is the second installment of Paper Cuts, a column about horror film from a horror reader’s (and writer’s) perspective. Huge thanks to everyone who shared the last post, read it, or sent me their thoughts, whether public or private. I was really overwhelmed by the response.Continue Reading

Antics on the Web: 'Talking About Death with Children with Dr. Earl, Part 1' Review

Antics on the Web: ‘Talking About Death with Children with Dr. Earl, Part 1’ Review
by Robert Brouhard

DeathToChildrenThe Internet is filled with everything. Search for something on Google, and you’re likely to find it. Some of it is amazing and beautiful. Some of it is odd and disturbing. Some of it is an amalgam of miasma and sensuality. You may even find ways to talk about Fluffy or your grandma’s passing with your children. The cartoon video of “Talking About Death With Children With Dr Earl Pt. 1” is probably not your best choice though.

Jamie Loftus and her friend Kelsey Lawler ran across a strange 8-track from 1976 in the attic of the Lawler & Crosby Funeral Home in Massachusetts. Why were they in a funeral home’s attic? The world may never know. Per the YouTube video’s description, a man named “Dr. Earl A. Grossman” (SP) made 8-track tapes during the 1970s discussing death with children and distributed them to New England funeral homes. Doing some research on the Web, I couldn’t find anything about “Earl A. Grossman.” Using a touch of Google-fu, I came to see that this is actually Dr. Earl A. Grollman, a Rabbi from Belmont, Massachusetts who has written many books for grieving families including the 1971 runaway hit Explaining Death to Children. His books have even been used at Harvard. Yes, I informed the maker of the video, Jamie Loftus, of the man’s actual name. It turns out that Jamie wasn’t wearing her glasses when she transposed the name in her notes. Oops. Jamie Loftus did all the work animating this video with Dr. Grollman’s audio.Continue Reading