Horror Drive-In vs. ‘The Conjuring 2’


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

'Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King' (Not Exactly A Review)


Fear Itself: The Horror Fiction of Stephen King (Not Exactly A Review)

(Photo Copyright Mark Sieber 2016)
(Photo Copyright Mark Sieber 2016)

One of my favorite activities is treasure hunting at thrift shops, flea markets, estate and yard sales. I do it just about every weekend. I’m not looking for a deal on golf clubs, or vintage clothing. I don’t look at the tools or the toys. I pass the knick-knacks and the cooking supplies right by.

You probably guessed it. I look for books. And vinyl record albums. Movies, too but not as much as I used to. Books and records are mostly my things nowadays.

Sometimes I will be at a thrift shop, and I’ll see a jag of books all in the same genre, or bunches of them by an author or two. It always makes me sad. I imagine, and it’s usually true, that a reader and collector has passed away. His or her books found no new home from family or friends, and they get dumped at a thrift shop. Occasionally they will be inscribed, or have those accursed owner’s bookplates in them. The bane of any serious book collector.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: A Call to Preorder


A Call to Preorder

I hear quite a bit of talk about supporting writers by penning reviews of their work at places like Amazon. I suppose it does help a little, even though neither I, nor anyone I know, puts any stock in that sort of thing. I know that there are legitimate reviews out there, but there are also kiss-ass pieces by friends of the subject, just as there are hatchet jobs by those who dislike the author. Sometimes an author will have the temerity to voice an unpopular political opinion, or perhaps write a bitchy Facebook post. I’ve seen jackals gather ’round to defecate upon books by these writers as a form of revenge. As insane as it sounds, it really happens.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Dear Mr. Death


Dear Mr. Death

Mark Justice
Mark Justice

Dear Mr. Death,

I understand that you have a job to do. I don’t like it, any more than I like the job done by the taxman. I guess both are necessary evils. We all have an appointment with you, sir, though I do regret that engagement. I am trying to accept the inevitability. Yet I feel that you have been working overtime too much of late.

You’ve taken famous people we’ve known all of our lives. Friends, family members. Your given duty, I realize, but perhaps you could take a holiday. An extended one.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Retro Drive-In Snowstorm


Retro Drive-In Snowstorm

vhsTimes change. People change. Priorities change.

I was one of the most enthusiastic and money-stupid movie/home video fanatics you ever met. This lasted from the early days of VHS on through the DVD revolution and the decline of interest in physical media. I watched at least a movie a night, and often it was more than that. The memories are great, and I loved every every minute of it.

I always loved the movies, and I am old enough to remember times even before cable TV. I loved all kinds of motion pictures, and I enjoyed them at home on TV, in walk-in movie houses, but especially at drive-in movie theaters. There wasn’t, isn’t, and never will be a greater place to enjoy a movie than under the stars, with the biggest screen in all of history up there against the night sky.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Why I Dislike 'Star Wars'


Why I Dislike Star Wars

SWPosterI was sixteen years old when Star Wars came out. Sure I saw it. Who didn’t? But allow me to go even farther back in time than that.

Science Fiction was always important to me. I had the advantage of having older siblings. Three brothers, and they all read SF. I was introduced to the genre very early on, and in fact the very first real book I read was Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit – Will Travel. Despite its unsophisticated title, it is a smart novel that is at once a satire, a rousing adventure story, and a sober look at the mechanics of human life in low or zero gravity.

From Heinlein I went on to others, like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. These guys, and maybe a few others, were about the extent that my brothers delved into the genre. Me, I went on to read it voraciously.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: The Book is Usually Better


The Book is Usually Better

You hear it all the time: The book is always better than the movie adaptation. Oddly, I mostly hear it from non-readers. They wearily repeat the mantra they’ve heard from tiresome readers like us. “I know, I know, the book is always better.”

But is it? The source novel of any adaptation is certainly much, much, better in most instances. Nearly all of them, in fact.Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: The Greatest Reading Experience of My Life


The Greatest Reading Experience of My Life

Reading has always been one of my greatest pleasures, and recently I began to wonder about something: What has been the most pleasurable reading experience of my life?Continue Reading

Horror Drive-In: Learning to NOT Act My Age


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

Horror Drive-In: Pros and Horror Cons


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

Horror Drive-In: Reading in Public


Reading In Public

Like most Cemetery Dance readers, I am sure, I rarely leave the house without a book in hand. Sometimes I leave a deluxe edition home and have a travel book to take with me. I guess it is similar to how some people feel about carrying a gun. Better to have a book and not need it, than need one and not have it.Continue Reading