The Spirituality of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Wait a minute. Let’s get this straight. The idea that an eighties slasher sequel is somehow spiritual? Can even I make such a claim with a straight face?

Well, yes and no.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: The Touch by F. Paul Wilson

I first read F. Paul Wilson’s The Touch way back in 1986. I was a twenty-five year old boy, rabidly in love with horror. And after The Keep, The Tomb, and some short pieces I had read, F. Paul Wilson was one of my favorite writers.

There’s a section near the beginning of The Touch. It’s describing a seafaring historical area of a small town…

The Illusion almost worked. He could almost imagine Ishmael, harpoon on shoulder, walking down the harbor toward the Pequod…passing the new Video Shack.

Well, nothing was perfect.

I loved that. I was a modern young man and I was head over heels for the home video explosion. It was a perfect time for me. A perfect time to be a horror fan.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: Others by James Herbert

When you bring up the pioneers of hardcore, extreme horror fiction, you’re most likely to hear names like Jack Ketchum and Richard Laymon. As well you should, because these guys were important—important to the fans who were raised on George Romero, Tobe Hooper, etc., and wished to read more than traditional supernatural horror. We wanted, or perhaps we needed, to see the genre tackle more explicit subject matter.

But as great as Ketchum and Laymon are, James Herbert was there first. It’s almost hard to believe now, but Herbert’s first book, a gruesome novel called The Rats, came out in the same year as Stephen King’s Carrie.Continue Reading

Dead Trees: The Eighth Square by Herbert Lieberman

I’m going to ask you to bear with me here. Indulge your willing suspension of disbelief for a bit, please.

There was once a time when I thought that a novel about flesh-eating zombies was a great idea.Continue Reading

Doc Savage Forever!

I often tell people that the first book I ever read was (Robert) Heinlein’s Have Space Suit-Will Travel. It’s sort of true, and it sort of isn’t true. In one sense Space Suit is the first novel I read, yes, but that does not count Doc Savage books.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

‘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