Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PARTICULAR KIND OF GIRL; an excerpt from the upcoming novella CONSPIRACY OF BIRDS by Tim Murr

While Im still doing massive rewrites on Conspiracy Of Birds I wanted to put up a chapter, maybe get a little feedback, see what you discerning fiends and fiendettes think. Enjoy! Or don't, I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life. One note for clarity; the story takes place in a city outside of time, like a pocket universe, where time means nothing, so parts of this city are ancient, but as new as the modern parts. Or something.
Emily was sitting alone as usual in the back of the café, fretting over some scraps of paper and tea. She never looked up to see who was walking through the door, and rarely spoke to anyone. She would sit there for hours, sipping tea and wringing her hands. She bit her lip a lot and closed her eyes for long periods of time. I imagine she was praying in those moments. I never saw anyone make an attempt to talk to her and that bothered me. No one here seemed half as lonely and no one seemed half as avoided.

Lenny said he tried to talk to her once, decades ago, but she was a "cold fish."
I stopped in the café once a day to get coffee and while I waited I'd always watch her out of the corner of my eye. How did she get so far from home?
I decided when I woke up that afternoon I'd talk to her that day. I told Lenny as he helped me tie off and shoot up. He shrugged and told me good luck, then stuck the needle in. We nodded for a while, listening to a Charlie Parker record, like good junkies should.
I woke up in the recliner that came with the room. It was uncomfortable and slightly older than Christ. Lenny was gone, so was the rest of the dope. That was ok, I hadn't developed a habit yet. I took a swig of whiskey and went into the bathroom to shave and shower.
While I shaved I kept getting confused by my eyes in the mirror, because they seemed to be looking some place else and not right back at me.
The late morning was hot and sticky. The air thick with bugs. Street vendors were hawking their wares and the street kids were hawking themselves. A street prophet was dropping spiritual bombs like a B-52 from Heaven.
Outside the café representatives from every religion, earthly and alien, had a flyer or tract to give me. I collected the ones that seemed the farthest out and tucked them into the messenger bag I rescued from the trash a few days ago. I had taken to collecting religious pamphlets years ago when I was in high school and had amassed an impressive collection. I could have a PhD in religion with what I've learned from those things.
There were only a few people in the café. It was dark and cool. The low hum of Indian music filled the air like a shorting fluorescent bulb. I ordered a large coffee with two ice cubes, and carried it to the back.
Emily was stirring her tea nervously, muttering to herself. I walked over slowly, checking out the paintings on the wall. I stopped at the Beckman that hung over her table.
"Pretty amazing, huh?"
She looked up, surprised and confused.
"The painting. It's a Beckman. He's my favorite painter."
She turned to the painting. She'd never noticed it before. The blues and black lines, the distorted faces pushed her away.
"I prefer Edward Hopper," she said.
"I like Hopper too."
"Do you want to sit?" She blurted out.
"Yeah, thank you." I told her my name and she told me hers. She kept stirring her tea, looking around me, trying to make conversation about the heat, the bugs, the quality of the tea here...I tried to ask her about herself, but she couldn't muster much in the way of answers, just half sentences, nervous giggles, wringing her hands. I felt like all she needed was something to loosen her up, so I asked her if she'd have a drink with me.
"I-I really don't drink...Maybe a glass of wine at night, if I'm having trouble sleeping, but that's..."
"Have one with me anyway. I hate to drink alone."
She nodded weakly and I went up to the counter. I ordered two bourbons on ice with a splash of soda in hers. When I returned to her she wasn't wringing her hands or stirring her tea. She was perfectly still looking out the window. When I sat down she looked back to the painting and scrunched up her nose for a brief second and looked away with a brief shudder.
I set her drink down in front of her and she looked at it like I'd just handed her a glass of piss.
"There's a little coke in yours. It'll go down easier."
She absently touched the glass, rubbing her forefinger up and down in the condensation. Without looking at me she raised her eyebrows and picked up the drink.
"I'm sorry, why what?"
"Why do you insist on me having this?"
"I don't-"
"I told you I drink an occasional glass of wine. Nothing more. I turned this down, but you insisted. And here I sit with it."
"I'm sorry-"
"No, you're not. You need me to drink this. You need to sully me. You need to bring me down to the level you perceive yourself to be."
I looked down at my drink, praying for the right words to come.
She knocked the drink back in one gulp and glared at me.
"It's even cheap. Why didn't you just bring me a bottle of Thunderbird in a paper bag? You look like you have something to say. Let me guess, it's something along the lines of 'C'mon, bitch, I wanna screw!' Am I close?"
She stood with stone cold sober stability and fixed me with an ice stare.
"This is why I never wanted to go anywhere. Because you're all the same."
She left the café with angelic grace, gliding through the mob outside. The bourbon was bitter in my mouth and made my stomach turn. I looked up at the painting and cursed under my breath. She'd be going back to the hotel. I needed to avoid her for a while so I sat a little longer before I got up and stepped into the heat.
Copyright 2011 Tim Murr/St Rooster Books

Monday, December 9, 2013


Can't say I had incredibly high hopes for Amazing Spiderman 2, but now i feel safe being excited...
Nurse 3D looks...titillating 
Big Bad Wolves will not be the feel good family comedy you're looking for
Niether will Here Comes The Devil
And um, probably not Antisocial either...Oh my God!


One hundred years after their deaths, ghosts in a Californian coastal town have returned in a mysterious fog for revenge.
Simple. Simple, elegant, tight. A great straight forward ghost story from one of the true masters of the horror genre. John Carpenter's The Fog (1980) gets less attention and respect than Halloween or The Thing, but it's a real treasure for those who have seen it. The set pieces are tense and well crafted, the ghosts are truly scary and the cast (Andrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Liegh, and Tom Atkins) is strong and entertaining.
I first saw The Fog on late night TV and on a tiny set. I sat on the edge of my bed glued to the set with a notebook in my lap treating the movie like a master class (rightly so), trying to figure out how to tell frightening stories. I was in love with the movie and it scared me so bad there was no way I was sleeping until the sun came up.
While Halloween remained my favorite of Carpenter's films (and favorite slasher) The Fog's minimalism and classic ghost story feel, not to mention another great score by Carpenter himself, was a cut above the standard horror fare and stood out at the dawn of a decade that was dominated by the cookie cutter slasher genre. Carpenter would go on to greater acclaim in '81 with Escape From New York and in '82 with The Thing, but The Fog is that overlooked middle child that really deserves every bit of attention as it's older and younger siblings.
Keep watching the sky, nerds!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


DOA...America the Beautiful
DEAD KENNEDYS...Saturday Night Holoaust
THE DICKS...I Hope You Get Drafted
JFA...Kick You
BLAST...Surf And Destroy
SS DECONTROL...Police Beat
CIRCLE JERKS...Fortunate Son
NECROS...I Hate My School

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Jon Spencer Blues Explosion...Dang
Scratch Acid...Cannibal
Killdozer...Hamburger Martyr
Shellac...Steady As She Goes
7 Year Bitch...24,900 Miles Per Hour


Spike Lee's Old Boy Red Band Trailer (remake)
The Raid 2; Berandal Red Band Trailer
Skinwalker Ranch

Sunday, November 3, 2013


There was a general fear of the dark, of the unknown, but my childhood fear never had a face until that cursed day I entered our trailer after playing outside in time to catch the TV ad for the latest Friday The 13th, which I believe would have been Part 4; The Final Chapter. 1984, third grade, eight years old, unprepared. The trailer made my blood run cold. Just the sight of that hockey mask. I didn't sleep for a week.
At that point I didn't know much outside of my Remco (Mego style figures) Frankenstein and Mummy toys and Scooby Doo. I remember the ads for Fade To Black and Alligator ruining many a night's sleep, but nothing went straight to the very core of my fear as Jason Vorhees had. And it would be years before I'd even see one of the Friday films! The '80's slasher boom shattered my little small town world that had once seemed so safe.
My understanding of the origins of the Friday franchise is that producer Sean Cunningham saw John Carpenter's Halloween and wanted to do the same thing. (Cunningham had already produced Wes Craven's sick and shocking debut Last House on the Left.) Cunningham wrote the script with Victor Miller and crafted a fairly decent horror flick that could almost pass as an Italian giallo (compare it to Mario Bava's Bay of Blood).
The story goes that a young boy named Jason drowned at summer camp because the counselors were fooling around instead of watching him. After that the camp appears cursed, with murders, fires, and
water poisoning. Jump ahead a number of years and a few brave souls are once again trying to reopen Camp Blood. Then the bodies start piling up and eventually we see the killer is the long grieving mother of Jason.
The first Friday is a little more nuanced than the chapters that follow, which tend to have a tried and true pattern despite whatever gimmick the directors and writers may throw at Jason. Regardless, though, of how many horny teenagers have been lined up for Jason to hack through, the series remains the most popular of all the slasher franchises. Out earning A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween and Jason has wracked up a far higher body count than any of his masked counterparts. What the hell is the appeal?
Let's be honest; not all the sequels are equal. Chapters 4 and 6 are definite high points while 8 (ugh, Jason Takes Manhattan) is one of the worst horror films I've ever seen, despite a solid Jason
performance from Kane Hodder.  Other entries rely on some kind of gimmick, like telekinesis, body jumping, or sending the old boy into space. It doesn't matter what the 'plot' of any of the films may be, at some point they all become body count movies, where we go from one clever/inventive kill to another. Regardless of which actor is behind the mask Jason is pretty much always good, but the quality of the films generally hinges on the other actors. Which is what makes 1, 4, and 6 immediately better than most of the rest of the series.
When we finally got the long rumored Freddy vs. Jason it was a great film that brought out the best in both franchises, even if it was a bit too slick/Scream-like. And the 2009 remake crammed the three original films into a satisfying thrill ride with one of the best Jason's we've ever seen.
So what sets Friday The 13th apart from other slasher films? What makes Jason more interesting than Michael Myers, Leatherface, or Freddy Kreuger? Let's start with character. Of the four psychos I just named, none are not scary. They all have a unique spin on what makes them frightening, with motivation that is their own. Myers is frightening because he moves like a nightmare; impossibly slow, yet always right behind you and everywhere at once. Leatherface is simply helping to protect and feed
his family. I question how 'evil' the character actually is. He's a man-child doing what he's told and what he believes is right. Freddy is probably the most insidious of the bunch. Gleefully evil, embracing the role of the monster with gusto. The bastard son of a thousand maniacs was a child murdering monster even before the parents in town burned him alive. His cursed soul returned to continue murdering kids in their dreams. There's no humanity in Freddy, but he's in total control of his actions, where as Myers is such a blank you can't be sure what's driving him forward.
Jason is the most complicated of the bunch. It doesn't help that the franchise is filthy with continuity problems and lapses in logic that are hard to ignore. When we first see Jason in the first film he's a dead little boy, but a couple months later in part 2 he's a hulking man wearing a sack over his head. In 1 his mother is committing the murders because her son drowned, later Jason is killing because he saw his mother beheaded. And there is no explanation given. But that's fine! The first four films happen in a relatively short time span, 3 and 4 within about 4 days, I think. There's a few years before the events of 5 and about seven between 4 and 6, where we see Jason dead and buried, before accidentally being brought
back to life-starting the 'Zombie Jason era'. After that any sort of timeline becomes irrelevant and the series becomes, despite some interesting bits here and there, little more than a cash in. Neither 7 or 8 builds on the Jason mythos. Having Jason go up against a telekinetic girl (you know, like Carrie or Jean Grey) was cool, but the film as a whole was a lackluster affair. The aforementioned 8, Jason Takes Manhattan, is a waste of film adding a confusing bit at the end where we see Jason melting and becoming the little drowned Jason before fully dissipating. 9, Jason Goes To Hell, introduces a whole new explanation for everything that doesn't jive with ANYTHING that came before. What we thought of as Jason isn't Jason, but just meat suits he wears. The real Jason is a small legless demon that jumps from body to body. This only works if you plug this ret-con origin story in between 1 and 2 and have the hulking Jason born out of the body of his decapitated mother. (We see her head in 2, but we never see her body again.) The problem is that Jason clearly has the same body for every film up until 9. Director Todd Farmer got back to basics with Jason X, except where Jason is frozen and wakes up in the future in space. It's a cool idea in a painfully low budget and awful looking movie that's fairly maligned. It's certainly better than the Manhattan. The bad special effects are what really kills X, not the concept (and why, if you're a fan and you accept EVERYTHING ELSE in the series, is frozen in space where you draw the line? If Jason is unkillable he will wind up in the future eventually right?) The last film of the franchise is the Nightmare on Elm Street crossover that picks up after Jason Goes To Hell. It's a satisfying culmination for both series before we get the remakes. But it does little to evolve the characters of Jason or Freddy.
We the viewers are left to fill in a lot of holes. I think for many people the Friday films are like roller coasters, fun to ride with nothing to ponder. But Jason has always held a fascination for me and I've
always wanted a film that really delves into what is making Jason go. Based on his behavior throughout the series Jason sometimes appears to still be the little boy who drowned who is now trapped in an engine of revenge, see part 2 and 4 (and take into account that he kills no children in 6, even when they've been served up to him like chicken cutlets and in 4 young Tommy would have been an easier victim but he chooses to go after Trish instead). His humanity being his achilles heel in at least two films and his transition from dead child to unstoppable full grown killer make for a delicious mystery and a huge missed opportunity for every writer and director who ever took on the character. Jason's drowning is ground zero for the whole series. It provides motivation, but only thinly. Mrs Vorhees isn't the first mother to lose a child, but she is the only one to go on a decades long killing spree. The supernatural is ever present but unacknowledged for almost the entire series until it is suddenly addressed in 9 with the introduction of the Necronomicon (you know, from Evil Dead?). Was Mrs Vorhees playing with powers beyond her control that that trapped her dead son's soul inside this unstoppable killer? Makes sense, especially given the brief glimpses of humanity we see in Jason in 2 and 4. But clearly the revenge machine is in full control for the majority of the series-assuming revenge is his motivation or
that he has motivation at all. As we see in Freddy vs. Jason, he's not a mindless killer. He's still listening to his mother's voice from beyond the grave, continuing her command to punish-punish them all. So there is still a psychology and depth to the character that the lesser entries in the series betrays.
It probably sounds like what I love about the Friday series is the potential and that's true, but these are fun films, even the 'bad' ones have a certain charm that begs re-viewings (except 8). Also, I love a sympathetic monster and I see Jason as a sort of Frankenstein monster-not born evil, but forced into it by circumstances beyond his control.
Friday the 13th suffers due to too many cooks in the kitchen and no long term direction from the beginning. The remake is a chance to start fresh and tighten the narrative and time will tell if this actually happens. At this point the next film is in some stage of preproduction. Hopefully Derek Mears (F13 '09) will be back behind the mask and rather than another retread of the previous entries the series strike out in a new direction.

Keep watching the sky, nerds!

Saturday, November 2, 2013


King Vulture 2012
(Yea, I know. This is from last year, but King Vulture has been busy and didn't get a new one done!)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


The VFX are still a work in progress, but Bryan Singer has released an amazing character focused trailer for his next installment in the X-Men movie saga Days of Future Past. I'm already excited.
We know we're getting Sentinels this time and a handful of new characters not featured in the trailer, like Evan Peters as Quicksilver and possibly Alan Cummings returning as Night Crawler (PLEASE!). Based on one the great X stories from legendary X writer Chris Claremont's run, Days of the Future Past about the X-Men trying to avert a dystopian future where mutants live in internment camps.

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Italy has giving us many great things, one being the prog rock band Goblin who are best known for providing the soundtrack for some of Dario Argento's best movies. They also did the score for George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead, but was only fully used in Argento's (producer) European cut (aka Zombi). Below are four of Goblin's main themes for four movies I dearly love. 
Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)
Dawn Of The Dead
Goblin are reunited and touring currently and by all accounts they're still amazing, so check them out if they come to your town!

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I can watch horror all year, as I'm sure many of you can, but there's just something special about watching really good horror flicks around Halloween (duh, yea I know).  Let me throw out a few suggestions to go with your Jasons and Michaels and Freddys.
1) PHANTASM...If you haven't seen this film, perhaps you've seen director Don Coscarelli's other movies Bubba Ho Tep or John Dies At The End. (No? You need to fix that ASAP!) Phantasm is about two brothers, Mike and Jody, and their friend Reggie who wind up having to go up against an under taker called the Tall Man who steals the dead he's supposed to be burying and turns them into shrunken minions. He also is armed with flying silver spheres that will give you quite the...headache. Bloody, weird, creepy. One of my favorites.
2) THE BEYOND...Guess what? You've inherited an old hotel in Louisiana! But...It sets on a doorway to hell. Sorry. The Beyond is a brutal and creepy tour de force from Lucio Fulci, director of Zombie, Cat In The Brain, and City of The Living Dead to name a few. The Beyond is his masterpiece. Beautifully shot, nightmarish in it's logic. This film is fantastic. And there's zombies. Fulci does really good zombies.
3) THE BROOD...If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you already know that David Cronenberg is one of my biggest heroes. His cult hit Scanners, remake of The Fly and 'adaptation' of William Burrough's Naked Lunch are unimpeachable master classes in film making. But of all his movies the only one that really freaked me out was The Brood. Kids in horror movies are creepy, kids in The Brood will make your blood run cold. While a psychologist runs a woman through an experimental therapy, bizarre and brutal murders are occurring, committed by mutant children. Frightening and disturbing.
4) BASKET CASE...A young man and his deformed siamese brother go looking for revenge against the doctors who separated them. This one has as much heart as it does scares. Set in the sleazy New York City of the early 80's, Basket Case, from Frank Henenlotter, is an offbeat and wild flick. I caught it late night on tv when I was a kid and damn if it didn't get under my skin!
5) PRINCE OF DARKNESS...One of my favorite John Carpenter films! Creepy and hopeless and a bit more cerebral than most of his other films. Prince of Darkness is a claustrophobic supernatural horror tale set in an abandoned church which may hold the end of the world. Throw in some cryptic warnings from the future through dreams and Alice Cooper as a zombified bum and you've got a kick ass flick. Not to mention the great Donald Pleasence!

Pleasant nightmares, fiends!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


of course we begin with the Misfits Halloween
and an ex-'Fit The Undead...I Made a Monster

Alice Cooper Keepin' Halloween Alive

Grave Robber...Altered States
Let's Do The Time Warp Again..!

45 Grave...Party Time NSFW! (Linea Quigley...)
The Birthday Party...Release the Bats

Sunday, October 6, 2013


When the Punisher shows up to the police department with a body in a duffle bag and confessing to murder...Do you trust him?
Marc Guggenheim and Leinil Francis Yu turn in a solid first issue for this new Punisher mini series. If this spins off from something going on in the main Punisher title, I don't know. I quit reading Punisher again after Franken-Castle ended. 'Trial' looked too good to pass up though, and I prefer to follow Frank Castle's exploits in mini series anyway.
Even out of his skull shirt Castle is rendered as a very imposing figure by Yu. Yu's a new name to me, but I'll be looking out for him in the future.
Guggenheim writes Castle really well. You feel like The Punisher is almost manipulating all the proceedings like a puppet master. Guggenheim creates a palpable tension that's too big for this flimsy little format.
The Punisher has always been a complex and problematic character to root for. Even as a kid growing up on action films like Rambo, Silent Rage, and Commando and loving every issue of the Punisher I could lay my hands on. I still agreed with Daredevil and Batman that killing for any reason is wrong. Punisher comics filled that existential void and that outrage at the out of control crimes against humanity; where a jail sentence just seemed too light. Punisher is a power fantasy, but a sinister one. The kind of cowboy justice Frank Castle doles out would lead to a frightening redneck dystopia in the real world. Which may be one reason it was always satisfying to see Daredevil or Captain America kick the piss out of Punisher every once in a while.
For anyone who's not been following The Punisher for the last few years, the various series have been strong since Garth Ennis left. I was disappointed to see Castle restored to health after an amazing run as Franken-Castle so I dropped the book (and well, I'm also on a budget), but The Trial of the Punisher is a good reason for any old fan to come back.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Can we talk about this movie??? Not a direct sequel, just a cheap Italian rip off from 1980. I feel like I heard about Alien 2 On Earth a long time ago, but I never found a copy and thus forgot about it. I came across it again while exploring Troll 2's IMDB page and watched the trailer...You need to watch this trailer!
That looks friggin' rad right? Amazon has an awesome review written by a thirteen year old who claims "This movie is not for kids, just adults, SUPER SCARY, GORY, BLOODY, AND A SCENE OF NUDITY." 
How much endorsement do you need??? It also features Michele Soavi (The Sect, The Church, Cemetery Man)! 
And then there's ROBOWAR from Bruno Mattei. Looks like it's an almost shot for shot rip off of Predator except with a reject villain from Mighy Morphin Power Rangers. What's not sweet about THAT?
If your going to do a shit rip off of a good film, look to the Italians for how to do it right!

Sunday, September 22, 2013


John Broome and Carmine Infantino created The Phantom Stranger in 1952, giving him a six issue series, but it wasn't until 1969 when he was reintroduced in Showcase #80 that we got the Stranger that is most familiar to comics fans. Originally, the Stranger was a hoax breaker, disproving supernatural events and had no supernatural power himself. Since then there have been five different possible origins given for the Stranger, none definitive except the last one in Phantom Stranger #0 (2012) where he's revealed to be Judas and his never ending journey is his penance for betraying Christ.
Fans have seen the Stranger fade in and out of various DC titles for years and occupying his own
excellent series and mini-series. The mysterious traveler would show up out of no where, be cryptic, help the Justice League or Swamp Thing and disappear into the great unknown.
When I was a kid, there was no Phantom Stranger series (until the '87 mini series drawn by Mike Mignola, but I was unaware of it until later). It was only guest appearances in Swamp Thing that I first became aware of the character and started seeking him out. I've always said DC Comics's greatest strength outside of Batman was in the B, C, and D list characters. Especially the supernatural/horror super heroes. The great, weird and eerie 1970's adventures of the Stranger are perfect examples. Mixing  costumed adventuring with Lovecraftian horror, keeping his origin, purpose, even powers vague, and giving an ultra-cool and unique look made those comics some of the best I've ever read. Particularly, issues featuring Deadman (who I rank right up there with the Stranger) really drove home just how unique DC's universe was. Yes Marvel and other comic publishers have and do mix the supernatural into their super heroing, but DC had a look and a style that was unmatched.
Marvel's great horror titles of the 70's, like Werewolf By Night, Tomb of Dracula, and Ghost Rider were exciting and cool, featuring great artwork and writing, but they never had a Phantom Stranger. The new Stranger series in DC's new 52 and his appearance in Justice League Dark have been more than satisfying and worth following. #0, which I mentioned earlier, was a cool jumping on issue for the uninitiated, written by Dan Didio. It lacks the darker spook house feel of the 70's, but I doubt anyone can recapture that.
The Stranger has shown up in the cartoon series Justice League Unlimited and in a darker episode of Batman Brave and the Bold. I've heard rumors about a Phantom Stranger tv series coming from JJ Abrams, but I'll believe it when I see it. But if there is any character that would lend itself to a cool and creepy hour of weekly tv it would be the Stranger.
Keep watching the sky, nerds!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


You like speed metal? Of course you do! So have some
No More Mr Nice Guy
She Wolf (acoustic)
Wake Up Dead
Hook In Mouth
Hangar 18
Holy Wars...The Punishment Due
The Blackest Crow
Skin Of My Teeth

Thursday, September 5, 2013

My Heroes Have Always Been Monsters Part 37; Stephen King

There's some memories that are a little foggy, details get mixed up, but one I remember for sure is when I read my first Stephen King novel...
It was early summer, just after fifth grade and my parents were heading to the library. I don't remember what inspired the need, other than I knew I wasn't reading enough actual novels. My interest in horror was growing and I was trying to write my first scary stories, but needed to see how it was really done. Frankly, King's was the only name I knew. So I asked them to pick me up one of his books, didn't really care which one.
A couple hours later, my step dad handed me Cujo. I had seen a review of the film on tv and knew it was about a rabid dog which, frankly, didn't sound all that scary.  I read it anyway and for my first adult novel, it didn't disappoint. I don't remember Cujo being scary, but I do remember it being full of profanity, sex, and violence and not being shy about any of it. And it was the most engrossing book I'd ever read. From that point I started reading everything by King I could get my hands on and got through everything up to Insomnia which came out my freshman year of high school.
My earliest attempts at writing horror were flimsy attempts to capture King's style. This was mostly fruitless and I could never find the 'horror' in my story. I could do violence, but it lacked scares. I wasn't able to relax and realize that I was only 12 and had plenty of time to find my own voice. Instead I read Pet Semetary and It and The Stand and The Dead Zone and Night Shift and Skeleton Crew, screaming inside my head "WHY CAN'T I DO THIS???"
I was full of self loathing and self doubt anyway and my reaction to any art that turned me on was to become obsessed and secretly hate it. I plowed through King's books hardly enjoying them sometimes, just wishing I could write something like that. Some books would suck me in to the point of pure enjoyment, like The Dark Tower I; The Gunslinger.
By the time Insomnia came out I had started writing comic book scripts almost exclusively. With the few short stories I was turning out I had embraced the fact that I couldn't be scary, but I could be disgusting. Everything I wrote was chock full of graphic and grisly violence (in part inspired by David Cronenberg's films and David Quinn and Tim Vigil's Faust; Love of the Damned).
I definitely placed too many expectations on King, expecting him to teach me how to write and then not valuing how entertaining his books were. Insomnia was the first one I didn't like, in fact couldn't finish. And around that time my English teacher, in a sly way, shamed me for not reading anyone else (I did love Shakespeare though, geez!) and my Spanish teacher recommended I read Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park (which sounded completely stupid at the time). Recognizing I needed to broaden my horizons, I read Jurassic Park and fell in love with it, realizing it was another way of telling the Frankenstein story.
I took a long break from King and got into Clive Barker and went back to some of the classics I'd skipped or missed. Eventually I got into a lot of Splatter Punk and then the Beats and from there I've been all over the map. It was only recently that I re-bought a few of my favorite King books from the thrift store. Mainly I wanted to finish the Dark Tower series and re read The Mist, which still stands as my favorite short story of his.
Stephen King has been around so long and created a body of work so large and is so widely read that he's like baseball or jazz or Coke, he's intrinsically tied to the American experience. Maybe not as widely respected as an author as, say Norman Mailer, but only because he's a 'horror writer' and the great powers that be and the Lit' Nazis don't respect horror or any genre fiction. The Stand will probably never be taught in a high school English class, but it's a hell of a lot more fun than As I Lay Dying (not to disrespect Faulkner!).
I think in the end what makes King one of my heroes is he gave me something to measure against as a writer. And he entertained the crap out of me. Stylistically, as a writer, I'm probably more like Jim Thompson while trying to capture Don Bajema's magic, but I know where I came from. I went from Robert Louis Stephenson to Stephen King before I went anywhere else.
Just for the hell of it here's my 10 favorite King stories, in no particular order...
10) Dark Tower I; The Gun Slinger
9) The Dead Zone
8) The Mist
7) Pet Sematary
6) Carrie
5) Cycle of the Werewolf
4) The Dark Half
3) Quitters Inc
2) Children of the Corn
1) The Stand
Keep watching the sky, nerds!

Monday, September 2, 2013


The remake of the 1979 Australian flick Patrick looks pretty good...
I'm a fan of the original three Child's Play films, but hadn't watched the newer ones. Curse of Chucky looks like a return to the franchise's true horror roots.
Coming this October Tyler Mane takes on Derek Mears in Compound Fracture!
Supposedly Wrath of Crows has already hit DVD, but I haven't found it yet. Looks insane and the reviews have been positive.


Shout! Factory is releasing the Sean S Cunningham (Friday The 13th) produced The Horror Show, starring Lance Henriksen and Brion James. The two disc box set comes out on Blu Ray November 12,
2013. No word yet on what the extras will be, I'm hoping for an indepth behind the scenes documentary and new interviews with the cast
Directed by James Isaac after David Blythe was fired, the film was released in Europe as House 3, which is why there's a House 4, but no actual House 3.
According to Wikipedia, The Horror Show was released theatrically in April '89 (months before Wes Craven's Shocker which was virtually the same movie) but not released on home video until '99. I'm pretty sure that's inaccurate, there must have been a VHS release pre-'94 because I rented it while still living in my home town, which I moved from in '95.
Brion James plays Meat Cleaver Max Jenke, a very prolific serial killer. Lance Henriksen is the detective who finally brings him down. Jenke gets the electric chair, but he's been dabbling in some dark stuff and is soon back from the dead, looking for revenge.
I'm looking forward to this release. Horror Show was a tense and gory flick with typically great performances from Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead) and James (Blade Runner, Enemy Mine). Critically it was dead in the water and I've read tons of complaints about the film.  I preferred Horror Show to Shocker, simply because I thought Shocker fell apart in the last act, but it'll be interesting to rewatch it after all these years and see if it still holds up.

The trailer is not in English, but I couldn't find one that was.