Michael Myers Death Mask

I was ten years old when Halloween hit theaters. My friends and I trudged the three blocks to the Kent Theater on an October Saturday afternoon and had our tiny minds blown. The good thing about 1978 was no one cared who went in to see a movie, even if it was four ten-year old boys. Continue Reading

‘The Land of Laughs’ by Jonathan Carroll

I’m only just getting started, but I am already enjoying this column. Reading books from a time before cell phones. When people stopped their cars and jumped into a phone booth to make a call. When they went to libraries to do research. When damned near everything and everyone wasn’t available right at your fingertips. A time when people got up and out of the house to buy books at stores. Before we all (yes, I am guilty as charged) had our faces perpetually locked into electronic pacifiers.

A better time? I like to think so. Some will disagree, claiming that we are armed with information at our fingertips at all times. There may be some truth to that, but I think that all too often real information is drowned in misinformation, distortion, misdirection, propaganda, and outright lies.Continue Reading

My First Fright featuring Michael Wehunt

Usually, I avoid stuff that gives me nightmares; I’m funny like that. I don’t get much sleep as it is (father of two little ones) and when I do, I prefer to sleep soundly, my dreams free of terrifying imagery.

Michael Wehunt apparently doesn’t value his sleep. He watches movies that give him nightmares and keeps going back for more! But perhaps that unbridled enthusiasm for the macabre helped lead to his success as a writer?

Wehunt is an Atlanta-based author. His debut collection, Greener Pastures, was shortlisted for the Crawford Award and a Shirley Jackson Award finalist. His short fiction has appeared in publications like Shock Totem, Innsmouth Magazine and, yes, Cemetery Dance.Continue Reading

Review: ‘Hap and Leonard: Savage Season’ adapted by Jussi Piironen

Hap and Leonard: Savage Season adapted and illustrated by Jussi Piironen
Short, Scary Tales Publications/IDW (October 2017)
124 pages; £39.95 signed, numbered hardcover; $17.99 paperback; $7.99 e-book
Reviewed by Blu Gilliand

Joe R. Lansdale’s “Hap and Leonard” series isn’t the first thing that comes to my mind when considering what books would benefit from being adapted in graphic novel form. Lansdale’s series, about a couple of blue collar buddies whose keen sense of right and wrong gets them into escalating amounts of trouble with bad guys and good guys alike, is elevated by the author’s sharp dialogue and natural storytelling ability—two things which could easily be lost in translation when moving to the more visual medium of comics.Continue Reading

“The Sanctuary” and “In the Room”

In its illustrious 29*-year print run, Cemetery Dance magazine has published no less than 560 short stories and novel excerpts in 75** 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 Steve Vernon stories…

  • “In Loving Memory” from Cemetery Dance #2 (1989), and
  • “A Wiggle of Maggot, a Curl of Bacon” from Cemetery Dance #59 (2008).

Something very interesting happened with that publication. Mr. Vernon himself read and commented! Woo-hoo! Do check it out if you haven’t already, if for no other reason than to see what he thought. 😉

This month is the 11th installment of Exhumed and, as promised last month, I’ll be reviewing two Bentley Little stories.

Let’s get to it…Continue Reading

Revelations: Gary A. Braunbeck

Gary Braunbeck
Gary A. Braunbeck

I see the sentiment expressed in horror circles often: “I read and write horror, but I don’t often read anything which actually scares me.” Of course, the word to consider here is “scare.” I have this discussion with my English classes every year when we read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. They always ask, as I’m handing out Jackson’s seminal haunted house novel, “Will this be scary?” I always answer, “Let’s talk about that word and what it means.” We discuss the differences between the adrenaline-based reaction they refer to as “scary”—what they experience while watching a horror movie in the theaters—and the nature of “horror” and being “horrified.”Continue Reading

‘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


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