Sunday, October 4, 2015


Do you remember community radio? Of course you don’t, you shitheels with your digital playlists and corporations telling what is cool, and you swallow it like bucketfuls of money jizz. Well, before you get off my lawn, let me tell you something. 
If you live in the right kind of town, you have a radio station where people can claim a timeslot and play whatever the fuck they want. Those towns are golden, and need to be given medals for awesomeness. When I was a kid, the station was WAIF, rumbling out of Cincinnati. One night a week, there was a hardcore punk show that I can’t remember the name of, because I drink a lot, and fuck you if you don’t know that kind of pain. 
The main DJ called himself Clem Kadiddlehopper, and his sidekick’s name had something to do with hockey. Fuck. I don’t remember. I was maybe sixteen when all this went down. I’m pushing fifty now. I hope I can be forgiven if I forget a few details after all this time. I didn’t think I would live past the age of thirteen, so suck it. 
One night, Clem played a song by a band I had never heard of called Hüsker Dü. Now, I knew the name because I had the game. The band took their name from a memory/recognition game that I had gotten for Christmas a few years in the past. 
It struck my first because I couldn’t figure out what the chords were. Now, I’m a good guitar player, and I play be ear. But I was befuddled by the crazy shit Bob Mould was throwing down. And it was a slow song! I should have been able to parse those chords out. Nope. Total mystery. 
But more important than that, to an angst-driven white Anglo suburban punk, were the words. Damned if Mould hadn’t read my mind and made a catchy tune out of it. 
I could be sad, I could be lonely
I could still have some friends if I only
Didn't play the games I had to play
I was important when I was cool
Now it gets lonely playing the fool
It's a game that anyone can play
Fuck, it was like he had ripped those feelings right from my heart and my balls and said them more plainly than I ever could. I went out the next day and bought the album. 
So let’s talk about Hüsker Dü’s FLIP YOUR WIG. 
The band was a three piece. Bob Mould on guitar and lyrics. Grant Hart on drums and lyrics. Greg Norton on bass. He rarely contributed vocals, and not at all on this album. 
This was the last album they put out before getting signed to Warner Bros. which is pretty much the death knell for any band. Even R.E.M. finally submitted to the Warner curse. They should have stayed on IRS, just like the Hüskers should have stayed on SST. 
The opening title song, tight with Bob and Grant taking turns on vocals is a joyous little pop gem. There are a lot of those on this record, from Bob’s “Hate Paper Doll’ to Grant’s ballad, “Green Eyes.” But then, when you least expect it, the record slaps you in the reproductives with a song like “Divide and Conquer,” Bob’s treatise on revisionist history and the “Youth of Today.” It goes into your head like a drill, stirs your brain around, then leaves as brutally as it came in. One chord progression in the whole song. ONE. Fuck Led Zeppelin; this was the sledgehammer of the gods, crashing down upon everything the Establishment held dear, leaving nothing but the jagged seams of the music staff in its wake. 
And what could prepare the casual listener for the complete mental breakdown of the last half of the album? Fuck all NOTHING. From “The Baby Song,” played on a slide penny whistle, to the instrumental closing double shot of hellfire that is “The Wit and the Wisdom” and “Don’t Know Yet,” FLIP YOUR WIG shows Hüsker Dü at the height of their power, still in touch with their audience enough to be relevant, not yet appearing on the Joan Fucking Rivers Show. 
It was the final show of solidarity, before drugs, sex and the confines of the closet destroyed the band from within. It’s their greatest balance between pure anger and post-punk pop, and on one susceptible night in 1985, it changed my life forever. 
A bit about Jeffery with two Fs; he's the author of Black Friday and Stories About You and contributes over at the mighty Check out his Amazon author profile HERE. Oh and he's a mighty fine sumbitch to boot! 


What Halloween would be complete with some Werewolves In Siberia? And what a treat...a new album; The Dead House. If you've been following Stranger With Friction, you know I LUV WiS. Inspired by the awesome horror scores of the 70s and 80s, Chris Cavaretto created this solo synth juggernaught. The last album, Beyond The City Of The Living Dead, was an instant classic and I can say the same for The Original Soundtrack* to The Dead House (*not a real movie).
While not a real soundtrack, The Dead House sucks you in as if it is conveying a story and does so without a single lyric. As with past WiS releases, Chris creates amazing soundscapes on The Dead House that are creepy and compelling providing the perfect score for the horror film that is your life.
Download The Dead House HERE for just $3! 


The original Halloween was 'The Night He Came Home', but Halloween III; Season of the Witch was 'The Night No One Came Home'. This movie has been unfairly maligned for over three decades by pissy snobs who can't stop asking, "Where's Michael..?" Who cares? This movie is a classic and one of my favorite Halloween holiday films. Does it fit with the rest of the franchise, no and I don't care. If it had not been called Halloween III no one would have complained. Maybe no one would have complained if Michael never returned to the franchise? At any rate, go and bring Season up on social media and you'll have an army of Halloween fans ranting about what a piece of shit it is. Lies. All lies. If you skipped Season because of it's reputation then you need to take an evening this October to rectify this dire situation.
Season opens with a man on the run, he makes it to a hospital clutching a Halloween mask and later gets murdered, followed shortly by the murderer's apparent suicide. This leads the great Tom Atkins and the lovely Stacey Nelkin into a mystery that involves Stonehenge, ancient rituals, an insane toy maker, some freaky deaths, and a jingle you will never, never, get out of your head.
There has been a general warming to Season in the last few years, I'd assume it's younger horror fans who have less reverence for the original or fans who feel burned by the later sequels and/or remakes and now see the value in this underrated gem. Director Tommy Lee Wallace
creates a tense and unusual fright flick with more than a few surprises. Season is a heady cocktail of ancient Halloween lore, sci-fi, mystery, and even a touch of Giallo with an ending that'll take your breath away.
The first time I saw this was on TV when I was about 12. I knew nothing about the story going in, which is still the most fun way to watch a horror movie. As I've noted in previous chapters; late night TV was a haven and an education for me. Sleeping was always a problem for me as a kid and when I discovered there was programming on after the 11 O'clock News I started sneaking to tune in as often as possible and the 80's were quite a golden age for that. Probably half of my favorite movies I first saw on Fox or TBS or USA.
Halloween III Season of the Witch still holds up and deserves as much respect as the first two Halloween films. It will definitely be playing in my house this October and I hope it becomes a Halloween tradition at yours well.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


What a week this has been after losing one of cinema's great visionaries. Wes Craven has been one of the most important names in horror since the early 70's when the genre was really "growing up" behind such brave thinkers and risk takers like George Romero, Brian DePalma, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and David Cronenberg. Craven's debut film Last House on the Left (1972) was as raw and visceral and terrifying as anything his contemporaries could cook up even at their peak. It's a film I've never wanted to rewatch after being completely sickened the first time.
The films that followed varied greatly (in quality as well as content) showing a smart storyteller with a wide range of interests and abilities. I can't say I like every film Craven made, but '77's The Hills Have Eyes and '88's The Serpent and the Rainbow remain favorites that have held up well over the decades. It's '84's A Nightmare on Elm Street, though, that made me a Craven fan and has been a top ten favorite horror film since the night I hid under a table and watched it in secret while my parents watched on HBO.
I didn't like Shocker, because of the third act's silliness (watch Horror Show, basically the same story, except with Bladerunner's Brion James and Pumpkinhead's Lance Henriksen, and a better ending) and I felt slighted by Scream (although the opening scene is probably the best thing Craven ever filmed). Screw those films though. Craven made some less than great movies, but the winners are so good they make up for any the shortcomings of say Deadly Friend.
Craven's intelligence, imagination, and balls have few equals and horror would be a drearier place without him. I've never read or heard an interview with the man that didn't impress me. He seemed to have a good heart as well and it was such a downer to hear that he had passed.
Thanks for a great childhood, Wes! You helped me become the writer I am and gave me films that I'll never get tired of.
...and the best scene from Deadly Friend for good measure.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


You can argue with all you want about which Maiden album is the best, I mean, we all have our favorites and few aren't very good, but the first album is still the one I listen to more than any other. From the opener, Prowler, to the closer, Iron Maiden, the self titled debut is a near perfect heavy metal album and the epitome of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.
I snagged the cassette for four dollars I'd saved from skipping lunch in middle school. Maiden was one of the groups banned by my mother, so I had to buy it on the sly and sneak it into the house. I kept the cassette in either my stereo or walkman, with case hidden with a small stash of (ahem) illicit reading material. That's how serious a problem heavy metal was seen by my mom. She'd already banned Alice Cooper (a devout Christian) for being a sick Satanist and was convinced that I'd wind up on drugs and worshipping the Devil myself if I listened to the garbage. But like with my impending obsession with horror, I found ways around the rules and dived head long into head banging music. I mean, for all the rules I had to live by I was fairly unsupervised and I only got caught when I was careless.
My cousin had Iron Maiden posters on his wall, including the long, uncensored version of Killers, so the image of Eddie had been seared into my brain for years and after hearing a snippet of Running Free in 6th grade I knew I had to get some Maiden.
Maiden came out of Britain right at the start of punk rock and their debut has a very raw, punk feel to it, but the band disowned any notion of there being an influence. They recorded the album in thirteen days, mostly by themselves after parting ways with their producer. Debuting at Number 4 in the UK, it didn't take long for Maiden to become a world wide phenomena. (Look at some video of Maiden playing in Brazil in the last few years if you have any doubt about how huge this band is.) There's really nothing I dislike about this album, although it took me a while to really warm up to the slower, prog-like Remember Tomorrow and Strange World, but once those songs had their hooks in me, I really got into those heady sci-fi moments. Phantom of the Opera is even more proggy and the longest track on the album, but I dug the horror influence and it was a much faster song. The rest of the tracks are pure rockers; Running Free, Charlotte The Harlot, Sanctuary, Prowler, Transylvania, and Iron Maiden put to shame most rock bands' whole catalogues...and this was their debut! Never mind Piece of Mind, Number of the Beast, or Powerslave (or the rest of their stellar albums!).
There really aren't other bands out there you can compare to Maiden, even the other NWOBHM bands. Maiden are unique and irreplaceable and everything from the songs, to the album covers and t-shirts to the "face" of the band, mascot Eddie, to their longevity put them head and shoulders above their peers in nearly every respect. I saw them in Charlotte a couple of years ago with Alice Cooper and they still put on an amazing show and despite the fact that you still won't be hearing them on FM radio they played in front of a larger audience that time around than they did when they had an album in the charts. Maiden fans still care, they're still devoted, even they don't like a particular song (or singer), and it all started with a bad ass eight track (nine in the US) album with a strange zombie head banger on the cover.
Running Free
Charlotte The Harlot
The Prowler
(bonus non-album single released around Killers) Women In Uniform

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Throw up your hands and say "Hot damn!", fiends! Friday The 13th the series is now streaming on Amazon and it's free for Prime users.
The show follows Micki, Ryan, and Jack as they search for cursed objects to lock away in the vault inside their antique store. I haven't seen the show since it aired, but I stayed up to watch it premiere on October 3, 1987 and stuck with the series until its unceremonious cancellation in 1990. I was, at first, very disappointed that it had nothing to do with Jason and/or the Friday films, but I got over it pretty quick.
The show was excellent. Scary, cool, well made. Tonight I'll be sitting down to rewatch the series, which couldn't come at a better time, since I just finished binging on Twin Peaks and Fire Walk With Me.
Friday fans will recognize Ryan (played by John D LeMay) as the hero of Jason Goes To Hell. Jason X cameo actor and my favorite director, David Cronenberg, directed the episode Faith Healer (which sounds an awful lot like certain episodes of Supernatural and Constantine, hmmm). Long time Friday producer, Frank Mancuso Jr, also produced the series and made the decision to name the show after the films even though there's no connection.
Going through the episode list on Wikipedia is exciting, because I remember some of the episodes particularly well. If you're new to the show it was a lot of fun to watch and came at a particularly good time for basic cable TV; we had other series like War of the Worlds, Alienation, Freddy's Nightmares, Monsters, new Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and a little later, X-Files, Swamp Thing, and Twin Peaks. Add that to the late night movies and amazing programming on USA and it was a fabulous time to grow up.
Here's an episode called Wedding In Black that I recall with some fondness. Listening to that opening score brings me straight back to 11 years old, with a bowl of potato chips and a huge glass of soda, hunched over, glued to the screen. I hope you like(d) it too!