Sunday, December 27, 2015


People almost universally love John Carpenter's Halloween, They Live and The Thing, but he has a fair number of films that don't get the love and respect they deserve, like the underrated Prince of Darkness from 1987.
Having a Metascore of 50 is unjustifiable, because Prince of Darkness is a smart and original film and a strong example of high concept/low budget filmmaking. Carpenter mixes a touch of sci-fi with gothic and urban horror and religious lore, concocting a plot that's like something out of an Alan Moore Swamp Thing or Hellblazer.
Carpenter was inspired to write Prince of Darkness after researching theoretic physics and atomic theory. The story centers on a mysterious cylinder full of a sentient green liquid that has been protected and kept secret by the Brotherhood of Sleep, a group of monks who's actual function is even a secret from the Vatican. The liquid is actually Satan himself and he's been imprisoned there by his father, the Anti-God, a being bound to the realm of anti-matter (an idea reminiscent of DC Comics Anti-Monitor).
A priest played by Donald Pleasence asks a professor and his physics students to come to an abandoned church to investigate the cylinder and try to determine it's origins and content. The liquid starts to escape and infect people including the homeless community around the church, turning them into zombies who trap the team inside, while the liquid begins to work on the team itself. Meanwhile everyone is having Villains Wikia's entry on PoD for a more in depth explanation on the Anti-God).
a reoccurring dream that may be a message from the future, warning of the return of the Anti-God. (I recommend reading
Prince of Darkness is such a cool and out-of-left-field concept for a movie that on it's surface almost plays like a supernatural Assault on Precinct 13. The first time I rented it I had to rewatch it again that same afternoon, to fully understand what I just saw and I was still a little unsure of everything. My only complaint is that Carpenter didn't have double the budget to more fully realize some of those bigger ideas.
Also worth mentioning is Alice Cooper's appearance as one of the zombified homeless people. He adds to the already significant creep factor with his wordless performance.  


I've been aware of the entity Luchagore Productions for a while now, but I hadn't seen any of their
actual work until I watched the sick anthology film Mexico Barbaro. In it, Luchagore produced the final segment of the film, Dia De La Muerte, directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero. It's a visually stunning, dread filled slice of violence that sort of mashes up From Dusk Till Dawn and I Spit On Your Grave, while being more satisfying than either. (You can read my review of the film on Popshifter HERE).
So impressed, I looked up Guerrero and Luchagore and found their website, which tells the story of a team of true horror fans with a portfolio page full of shorts, videos, and trailers. Including a fucked up Christmas short, that will scare you into staying off the naughty list!
Mostly known for their amazing short films, Luchagore has also unleashed the full length El Gigante. (from IMDB; "A desperate and determined Mexican American woman heads out to the United States/Mexico border to make a documentary film about Border Patrol abusing illegal immigrants to honor her missing parents, but she quickly discovers that the border is a hunting ground for a homicidal, cannibalistic family, the largest, deadliest member a psychotic luchador who brutalizes his victims in his blood-stained ring before slaughtering them for meat.")
I'm really excited for this one! Wrestling mixed with a little Texas Chainsaw-oh my God!
(In the portfolio section you'll also find a beautiful and haunting video called Paloma, that's not to be missed.)
Keep an eye out for the name Luchagore Productions. I think this team will be shocking and thrilling us for a long time to come. We horror fans (especially those of us north of 30) have seen a lot of highs and lows. Sometimes we get amazing gore, but amateur filmmaking and sometimes we get slick thrillers, that don't deliver on the red stuff. But Luchagore is technically proficient, delivers buckets of blood, and doesn't skimp on story even in a five minute short. That deserves our respect and support! 
Stranger With Friction gives Luchagore Productions the thumbs up and I can't wait to see more!  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


List Price: $11.99
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
200 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1519588074

On the first day of summer, a mass murderer called The Terrible Head, resurfaces after two years. On the first day of summer, Maupins City will know suffering. City Long Suffering; First Movement launches a saga of Southern-fried crime and horror from the author of Conspiracy of Birds and founder of the blog Stranger With Friction.
List Price: $6.99
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
64 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1516923687
"Those damn hounds were breathing down my neck."
Hounds of Doom is a short collection of hardcore punk vignettes and doom metal poetry from Tim Murr, the author of Conspiracy of Birds and City Long Suffering. Hounds of Doom zooms and crashes across the weird America, epitomized by one of it's pieces...
"The American highway is littered
With the rotting carcasses of poets and preachers
Troubadours and punks
Saints and drunks, etc…"

List Price: $9.99
6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
186 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1516920631

'I didn't want to burn any bridges, but I doused them real good with gasoline just in case.' Conspiracy Of Birds is a hallucinatory skin dive into the nightmare world of a failed writer living on the broken edges of America. It is a punk rock Lynchian fever dream that turns over the rock of the American dream and exposes the worms squirming beneath.

Saturday, November 21, 2015


In 2013, Lawrie Brewster introduced us to the infamous Owl Man in Lord of Tears, about a school teacher plagued by nightmares, who returns to his childhood home to face the darkness of his past. Now, Brewster and writer Sarah Daly are bringing us The Unkindness of Ravens. Once again bringing us back to the Scottish Highlands, but this time our hero, a homeless vet with PTSD is facing off against an army of raven men! The filmmakers promise to take us beyond the brink of sanity and into a hell dimension. It sounds like a folk horror mash up of Hellraiser and Jacob's Ladder, and what could be more exciting than that?
The filmmakers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finish the soundtrack, manufacture DVDs and launch a marketing/distribution campaign. You can contribute HERE. Please go check out the video on the Kickstarter page, there are some cool behind the scenes footage and the perks are pretty badass too!
I'm absolutely in love with the design of the Raven Warriors. They're seriously some of the coolest horror villains since the Cenobites. And Jamie Scott Gordon looks really intense as the films protagonist, Andrew.
Go HERE to watch the extreme cut trailer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Mudhoney...Touch Me I'm Sick
7 Year Bitch...Hip Like Junk
The Gits...Sign Of The Crab
Coffin Break...I'm So Happy
Team Dresch...Fagetarian and Dyke
Bikini Kill...Suck My Left One

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Since seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre in middle school whenever someone mentions Texas my mind always flashes on the image of Leatherface played by Gunnar Hansen. Fair or not, the above image will always be Texas to me. But the big man behind the skin mask was actually born in Iceland and didn't move to Texas until he was 11. He majored in English and mathematics and worked with computers before landing the role of Leatherface in the landmark 1974 film. Afterwards he took time off from acting to focus on writing. He did return to acting and appeared in several films over the decades.
Nothing he did, though, could ever eclipse his portrayal of the mentally disabled, chainsaw wielding Leatherface. For me, the scene that I'll never forget is the moment Leatherface first appears, filling a doorway, in front of two unsuspecting victims. It sucks the air out of the room and makes me recoil-still! It just strikes at some primal fear in my psyche and I can't relax until the scene is over.
I never met the man, but anything I've ever read about him told the story of smart man with a big heart. I don't know how he died, I just hope it was peaceful and easy. Rest in peace.

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!

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Great news for writer/creator Jordan McCloskey's upcoming film Ghostpuncher; Gabriel Napora has come on as producer and Trevor Cornish has come on as director!

"Gabriel is the owner of Triton Films Inc. and Indian VFX company Tiyabella Visual Effect.Mr. Napora has recently produced the Martin Sheen film "Badge of Honor" and the Danny Trejo film "Juarez 2045". "Chappie", a Sony feature, was based on a short film Gabriel produced with Neill Blomkamp (Director of "District 9"). He currently has projects in progress with Paramount, Warner Brothers and Lions Gate Entertainment. Gabriel's work is known for visually striking, heavy visual effects films."

"Trevor Cornish has been a world class commercial/ short film director for the last 15 years. He has garnered international awards for his commercial work including awards at One Show, New York Advertising Awards, London International Advertising Awards, Art Directors Club France, ADCC Award Show, Bessies, Marketing Awards, Eurobestlive Awards, Art & Design Show, and he has been nominated six times for a Cannes Lions Award. Trevor has also directed two video games for EA Sports, and TV episodes for “Mayday” for National Geographic UK/Discovery Channel, and HBO/Cinemax TV series “Lingerie”.

Trevor’s short film “Roland” premiered at TIFF 2013 and has since been screened at a dozen other film festivals around the world." 

"Ghostpuncher is the story of a single father and his son who move into a house that is EXTREMELY haunted by three spirits known as The Collombelles (a mother and her two daughters who were serial killers in 1897.)
At first the ghosts are playful and harmless, but when the spirits become menacing, eventually possessing dad, the son turns to the ONLY place he can think of for help... THE INTERNET.

There he finds a desperate, down and out exorcist calling himself the "Ghostpuncher" who claims to have a gift that allows him to PUNCH ghosts and send them BACK to the netherworld. He is willing to perform this exorcism, for a price of course, but quickly discovers the ghosts in the house won't go down without a bloody fight."

Sunday, July 19, 2015


In case you missed it, this slab of horror rock from The Mangled Dead and Stranger faves Wolfmen of Mars is now available in glorious 12" vinyl and it roooocks!

Hit up Wolfmen's Bandcamp page HERE to purchase.

Check out a track from each band, if you don't already know them...
Mouth Like a Pirahana
Frankenstein Pays The Rent


Although there's no footage to see yet, the forthcoming Ghostpuncher (in preproduction) from writer/creator Jordan McCloskey, sounds super fun! A fusion of Evil Dead 2, Poltergeist, and The Frighteners.

"Ghostpuncher is the story of a single father and his son who move into a house that is EXTREMELY haunted by three spirits known as The Collombelles (a mother and her two daughters who were serial killers in 1897.)
At first the ghosts are playful and harmless, but when the spirits become menacing, eventually possessing dad, the son turns to the ONLY place he can think of for help... THE INTERNET.

There he finds a desperate, down and out exorcist calling himself the "Ghostpuncher" who claims to have a gift that allows him to PUNCH ghosts and send them BACK to the netherworld. He is willing to perform this exorcism, for a price of course, but quickly discovers the ghosts in the house won't go down without a bloody fight."

That flat out sounds like a good time! I'm really looking forward to seeing this movie. I mean, look at that poster above! And check out the theme music below;

Keep an eye out for this one, fiends and follow the movie's twitter account @GhostpuncherXL. And I'll post news and trailers as they come in!


My relationship with Lou Reed's music goes back to my freshmen year of high school with The Best of the Velvet Underground; The Words and Music of Lou Reed. Since then, Reed's music has been a longtime and important companion, up there with Alice Cooper and Black Flag.
I thought it would be hard to choose my favorite of Reed's solo albums, after all, New York, Magic and Loss, Set The Twilight Reeling, Street Hassle, and Coney Island Baby are all "essential" albums that everyone should have in their collections, but it's Berlin that I suppose I have the strongest emotional connection to. Not only do I believe it's probably Reed's strongest album (with or without the Velvets), but I discovered the album during a time that straddled two awful and destructive relationships and Berlin got me through some very long nights.
Reed's lyrics were always very influenced by literature, particularly by the works of his old college professor, Delmore Schwartz (who seems to have a heavy influence on Berlin especially), Hubert Selby Jr, and William Burroughs. Berlin is Reed's strongest literary statement, particularly since it's a rock opera. Although, a few of songs were Velvets songs and Caroline Says is a rewrite of their Stephanie Says, so it's more like a collection of songs that fit together thematically and suggest a story, but it works.
Berlin is about a doomed marriage full of drug addiction, domestic abuse, and eventually suicide. Reed had said he was also inspired by the city of Berlin (Cold War era, before the Wall came down), he loved the idea of a divided city. According to Victor Bockris's book Transformer; The Lou Reed Story, Reed had told former-Velvet Nico that he'd written Berlin for her and let her come live with him, only to treat her horribly. (To me that book is pretty suspect, I'm sure a lot of it is true, but Bockris comes across so catty and vindictive for most of the story, not even trying to hide his open hatred for Reed-fun read regardless, mostly for how nasty it is.) Berlin, seems to be set in an earlier era, which is sometimes suggested by the music more than the lyrics, but none of the songs really scream 1970s; like the opening/title track-full of disconnected voices that begin to sing Happy Birthday accompanied by a big band before fading into the actual song Berlin, a piano ballad, seems to suggest the 1930s or 40s. The closest to 70s glam rock (for which he'd been gaining new found stardom with a connection to David Bowie) Berlin ever approaches is the song How Do You Think It Feels, a song about the lows of shooting speed. The orchestral arrangements also make Berlin stand out from the rest of Reed's discography; it's the biggest, lushest, album he ever recorded. (But as a fan of his guitar playing, I can't help but wonder if Berlin wouldn't have been better served if Reed had approached it as more of a rock album.)  
I think it being an album out of time has helped Berlin age better than Transformer, which feels trapped by it's era. It was certainly panned on release and didn't sell well, only to be embraced three decades later by the same rock magazines that shat on it. It's been called the most depressing album ever recorded, which is pure hyperbole. It's also the closest Reed ever came to fulfilling his desire to write albums that were like Dosteovsky novels.
For me personally, when I found the album I was trying to break away from one girl while pursuing another that would just lead me down another path of heartbreak. Sad Song, the album closer, seemed to especially speak to directly to my situation with the first; "I'm going to stop wasting my time, someone else would have broken both of her arms..." It didn't help that I had fallen into deep depression at this time and started abusing alcohol and over the counter stimulants and hit the beginning of a six year period where I couldn't write, either. Through the next several years I found comfort in Reed's music and Berlin especially was very close to my heart. As a writer Reed probably influenced me as much as any novelist and his music was certainly a good drinking buddy.
How Do You Think It Feels
Caroline Says II
The Kids
Men of Good Fortune

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Some of you may be wondering if there's a point to all these essential album posts that have been popping up here recently and yes there is; This world sucks. I mean really, what a bunch of selfish, self-destructive, sociopaths we've got stomping around out there. Just a roving shit storm of ugly, right? So why not focus on the little things that bring us happiness and/or distraction from those assholes? At Stranger With Friction this is the summer of the essential album. Those gorgeous aural gems that raise our spirits when we just want to set things on fire.
Yesterday we saw the first guest post (ever?) from Chris Cavoretto, the mastermind behind Stranger favorite Werewolves In Siberia (check out his music HERE), as he tackled Misfits Collection I. It's funny, I had a very similar reaction the first time I heard the rawness of that album. After listening to The Damned, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash, Misfits sounded kinda awful, until the third song when my ears started to acclimate and from then on there was no looking back.
There are more guests coming over the summer and I'm going to keep posting a few more from own schizo collection, but I've got some new horror movie pieces coming too. Yea, I haven't been posting a ton lately, because I've been busy with a couple of books and I've been writing for Pop Shifter on the side.
I hope you fiends enjoy our summer series and you find some new music to love or at least get inspired to back to something you haven't listened to in a while!  
Werewolves In Siberia...Night Of The Flesheaters 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


The Misfits' "Collection I" album is probably the most essential album out there for me.  It embodies my love of horror, rock and roll, lo-fi recordings and being outside the mainstream all at once.  There's a story to my love of this album.  It starts when I was fifteen.

In 1993, I was learning guitar, playing in my first band and completely obsessed with Metallica.  They were the epitome of Bay Area thrash and I was quickly diving into as much of their music, home videos and info on the band as I could get my hands on.

Thanks to the popularity of the live version of Mother getting airtime on MTV, I was exposed to Danzig around this time.  These guys played a heavy, metal-edged rock and had all the imagery that grabbed my attention instantly.. skulls, long hair, black clothes, cool guitars, etc.  At this point, Danzig and Metallica were, without question, my two favorite bands.  I couldn't get more of their music into my collection fast enough.  If I had extra money, it was going to them.

I noticed the infamous Crimson Ghost in tons of Metallica pictures. They were always wearing Misfits shirts but I didn't know anything about the band.  You couldn't just find out anything you wanted to know on the internet at this point.  Through a Metallica biography, I came across the fact that Glenn Danzig was the singer for The Misfits.  I was sold.  I didn't need to know anything more, I just needed a Misfits album.

I found a few CD's at the record store the next time I was there.  "Legacy of Brutality" had cool skeleton art on it.  "Walk Among Us" had an awesome ode to B-horror movies going on with the cover art.  Then, there was "Collection I".  The cover art was a little more plain but it had twenty songs on it.  Twenty songs!  That was mine.  I got home and immediately called my friend, Adam (the drummer for my first band).

"Dude, I got a Misfits CD.  You need to come over and check this out with me."

He came over right away and I put it on for our first listen.  She is the first song on the album... and it was... weird.

"What the hell is this?"  "Did they record this in their garage?"  "This is Danzig's old band?"  These are all thoughts that immediately came to us and I'm pretty sure each one of these phrases spewed from our mouths.

By the time the second song, Hollywood Babylon, was done, we were hooked, even singing along already.  We weren't used to recordings like this and, though it was dark subject matter, it didn't sound angry, it sounded fun.  Once the shock of something new and completely unexpected wore off, the simplistic genius set in.  It sounded bad, but it sounded right sounding so bad.  This was completely unpolished, full of 50's-style rock and roll chord progressions, crooning, yelling on key, a little thrash towards the end, a healthy dose of punk rock attitude and a ton of horror movie influence all in one.

Last Caress was the song I knew because Metallica covered it live (someone I knew eventually dubbed their "Garage Days" cassette for me so I could have Last Caress/Green Hell, but I don't think that had happened yet) .  Last Caress wasn't on "Collection I".  I think that made me a true fan.  It made me listen to the whole thing instead of seeking out the one song I knew and listening to it repeatedly.

As a horror fan, the imagery is right, the subject matter is right.  That unpolished sound, even though it took about a minute and a half to get into, really just works for me.  Glenn Danzig's almost Elvis-style vocals with the dirty, lo-fi sound; it all fits together so well.

Metal and punk rock are definitely complimentary for horror fans but no one's ever done horror rock (or horror punk) like The Misfits.  Legions of horror punk bands have popped up since.  Most try to sound like The Misfits.  Hardly any could hold a candle to them, though.

This album, in particular, influenced my song writing so much as a teenager and still it does.  Almost every band I've been in where I was sort of the "guy in charge" covered at least one Misfits song.  Even in my current project, Werewolves in Siberia, I covered Halloween and London Dungeon in a completely different fashion; turning them into horror synth songs that fit in well with the rest of my WIS stuff.

There are a few Misfits songs I'm not too into but, for the most part, I really dig their entire catalog (original Misfits, anyway).  It doesn't matter what mood I'm in, you can throw on The Misfits and I won't have a problem with it.  "Collection I" was not only my introduction to them, but having twenty songs on it, it was also a great way to get a grasp on the band, as a whole.  This makes it THE necessity for me, rather than picking one of the albums they originally released.

There are so many iconic songs on this album.  She, Hollywood Babylon, Skulls, Where Eagles Dare, Die Die My Darling, Vampira, I Turned into a Martian, All Hell Breaks Loose, London Dungeon... I haven't even begun to scratch the surface here!  It's just awesome.  It's probably the most listened to album in my collection (in any format).  It just fits, no matter what, anytime.
Where Eagles Dare
Die Die My Darling
Horror Business
Green Hell

Saturday, July 4, 2015


The last album recorded by husband and wife duo, Richard and Linda Thompson, was also their best and one of the best albums of the '80s. Sadly, their marriage was also over by the time the album hit the shelves. The raw emotional state of the lyrics and vocal performances are pretty stunning, with every song, if not autobiographical, feeling at least pretty damn truthful. And the three strongest statements made are sung by Linda; Walking On A Wire, Just The Motion, and Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed. These are not songs written from a happy or secure place. She was also pregnant at the time. I don't know what the hell happened between them, but it's hard to feel too bad, since Shoot Out The Lights is one of the most solid and re-playable albums I've ever owned.
Richard came from the folk rock scene and recorded some solo albums. Linda sang on his album Henry The Human Fly and they soon married and started recording as a duo. Commercial success alluded the Thompsons, even when the critics were kind, but Shoot Out The Lights was the break through.
I wasn't even aware the guy existed until my friend played me REM's cover of Wall of Death. Holy shit, that was a good song. On Shoot, Wall of Death closes the album and comes like a sweet remembrance of a really good date, after going through all the turmoil of the previous songs.
Sad as the album is, I don't think it hurts the playability a bit. It's just that good, even a bit cathartic. I play it a lot at work, especially on stressful days when it feels like everything is going wrong.
The album opens with the galloping country rocker Don't Renege On Our Love, before shifting to low gear with sweetly fatalistic Walking On A Wire. The tempo swings back up with another mid tempo rocker, Man In Need, which is about packing your bags and hitting the road without a word ("Well I've sailed every ship in the sea, but I've traveled this world in misery) only to crash again with the even sadder Just The Motion. The up and down of the first half of the album is really compelling. Its great drama and nearly flawless. The second half has three rockers and one ballad (Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed?). It seems somewhat less personal than the first half, but still very emotional and dramatic, even has a bit of noir edge to the storytelling in Shoot Out The Lights, Back Street Slide, and Did She Jump..? The album closer, the aforementioned Wall Of Death is a sweet reprieve from the earlier downers and a song that I've added to several mix tapes.
(Bonus, check out Thompson's Rumor and Sigh from 1991. His 1952 Vincent Black Lightning might be one of my favorite folk songs ever written.)
Walking On A Wire
Man In Need
Wall Of Death


X-4th of July
Alice Cooper- Lost In America
Circle Jerks-Stars and Stripes
Good Riddance-Flies First Class
Dead Kennedys-Stars and Stripes of Corruption

Sunday, June 28, 2015


All hands on deck! This exciting new project has only 22 days left to close it's budget gap on Indiegogo!
Beyond The Living sounds like it's going to be pretty mind blowing and exciting; part horror/ creature feature part art house flick, it tells the story of Brandon, who has a hard time adjusting to society and spends a summer hiking in the south east with a couple of friends. As their journey goes on and Brandon's anxiety heightens, the veil between our world and the world of death begins to breakdown, until the three friends are fighting for their lives!
If you go the Indiegogo page (HERE) you can read more, see some test footage, a message from director William Hoppins, in-progress monster designs, and posters and t-shirts which are perks for donations. 
I met Hoppins for beers last night and after hanging out for a couple of hours and hearing about where he's coming from and who's influenced him, I feel very confident in calling all you fiends who can contribute to go do so. I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished film, because it sounds like the exact kind of movie I like to watch. 
Hoppins name checks Ken Russell, Gus Van Sants, and HP Lovecraft on the page, but he's also a fan of Cronenberg and Lynch and the test footage he's already shot looks really good. To me it sounds like a project we could expect from Glass Eye Pix and Dark Sky Films, who've released some of my favorite movies of the last decade. 
So I seriously encourage all of you dear, dear readers to at least go check out the Indiegogo page and give if you can! And you can follow the film on Twitter @BEYONDtheLIVING. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


I don't even know where to begin when it comes to Black Flag! The whole reason I started publishing my own books, making the covers myself, and dedicated myself to hustling my words on my own, was because Black Flag did it with their music. My early book-zines were all an attempt to be literary Black Flag, to some extent.
Thanks, probably almost entirely, to the iconic artwork of Raymond Pettibon's (brother of guitarist/founder Greg Ginn) artwork, Flag's albums look like they need to be owned. There are plenty of great album covers, but Pettibon's work held some magic and it perfectly represented the music found within. I still find it exciting to come across Flag albums at the record store, even though I already own them.
My first two Flag albums were My War and Slip It In. I loved War, but I think Slip should've been an EP with the title track, Rat's Eyes, and Obliteration left off. I'm far less critical of the rest of the discography and can put on almost any of those albums any time. The one album though, that I find to be Flag's most consistent, well written, with the highest replay value is In My Head.
In My Head was the last studio album until the ill received What The? from a couple years ago. As a front man, Henry Rollins had really come into his own and Ginn, bassist Kira Roessler, and drummer Bill Stevenson (Descendents/ALL) had really gelled after a few years of constant touring. The previous album, Loose Nut, made a big promise that In My Head fulfilled. So it's too bad that the '86 tour to promote that album was the end.
Flag had long outgrown the narrow confines of hardcore punk and had been experimenting with slower, more metallic music since Dez Cadena (who Rollins replaced) was the band's singer, which accounts for the majority of their recorded output. By the time they were recording In My Head, Ginn had figured out the formula for mixing the Stooges, Black Sabbath, and jazz influences while still being able to sound like the same band that recorded Nervous Breakdown, which is quite an accomplishment when you consider that from beginning to end Ginn burned through like fourteen members, including four singers!
In My Head continues to influence and inspire me. It's a damn fine album for the band to end on and we're lucky to have it.  
Out Of This World
title track
Drinking and Driving
Retired At 21

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


When I first came across The Flesh Eaters' Drag Strip Riot and Forever Came Today on vinyl on a trip to Boston, all I knew about them was they were a punk band that had been on SST Records. Which was reason enough to buy both albums. I wound up loving both, but I had no idea how much I'd love them.
I had been a huge fan of X for a long time and just gotten into The Blasters (on a related note, Los Lobos's La Bamba soundtrack was my favorite 11th birthday present) so I was totally primed for A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die which featured members of all three bands backing up singer Chris D. Unfortunately, finding that album took years (pre-internet).
I started a doom-punk band called The Hostiles, back in Boston and my singer had the album on CD. I borrowed it, put in my Sony disc man and before I even got to the subway, I was almost tripping on my jaw. Digging My Grave put chills up my spine in a way very few other songs ever had. The interplay of Steve Berlin's sax and DJ Bonebrake's marimba turned the punk blues into a swirling voodoo ritual. You won't often come across musical moments this exciting and unworldly. Chris has said his lyrics were inspired by various films, the books of Jim Thompson and James Cain, and a need to exorcise some demons (check out the great article/interview from Dangerous Minds). In eight tracks Chris D, John Doe, DJ Bonebrake, Steve Berlin, and Dave Alvin created a musical document that few have heard since it was released in 1981, but one that blows away so many other rockers.
And not taking anything away from the other line ups/albums. Flesh Eaters fans will tell you; this is a great damn band and they proved themselves over and over. A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die just has an x-factor that exists because of this magical mix of talents. And now that it has ben rereleased on CD and vinyl from Superior Viaduct and also on iTunes, it's time to get this album in your life if you've never experienced it before.
Digging My Grave
River of Fever
See You In The Boneyard