Monthly Archives: October 2006

This Weekend’s Horror Flicks

Got to watch three movies this weekend as part of my October extravaganza, each very different from the others.  Shall we recap?

THE DEVIL’S REJECTS

Rob Zombie’s follow up to House of 1000 Corpses has one major difference from that movie… it doesn’t completely suck.  It still has its problems.  I don’t think Sheri Moon Zombie is a good actress, at least she doesn’t appear to be here.  Many of the other actors look to be having too good a time, forgetting that they’re supposed to be telling a story instead of over-acting.  Still, I was entertained.

28 DAYS LATER

Some friends of mine have been debating over whether or not this is a horror movie.  They decided it is, and I agree with them, but the movie only acts like a horror flick for the first half-hour or so, then it turns into something… else.  I’m not sure what, exactly.  Either way, it’s still a great movie.

PULSE

This would be the fourth Japanese horror movie I’ve ever seen, and it was the first I didn’t like.  From what tiny amount of plot I was able to pick up on, I think red tape and loneliness will destroy the world or something like that.  Some good atmosphere in the first half, but then it gets lost.  At two hours, this is waaaaay too long for a horror movie.

Stepping Up

The ideas are coming fast and furious, like a lighting storm in my brain.  I’m really going to have to kick the writing speed up a notch to fit it all in.  I already have anovel to finish, another to polish, and three short stories to write.  I also have to work on two collaborations, some comic stuff I really need to get around to cleaning up and pitching, and I just had three seperate novella ideas crack open in front of me.

Might have to up my caffeine intake, as well.

By the way, Monday will mark four weeks without alcohol.  I’ll reach a month on Thursday.  The diet starts on Monday, too.

A Halloween Buffet

As a public service during my favorite season, I offer a selection of my favorite scary stories, novels, comics, and movies for your pleasure.  This list is by no means all-inclusive, but instead is merely a sampling.

SHORT STORIES

1. “The Box” by Jack Ketchum. A boy on a train asks to look inside the box a stranger is carrying.  What he sees changes his life and the lives of his family.  A Bram Stoker Award-winning short and a powerful work by one of the masters.  Available in Peaceable Kingdom.

2. “Pin” by Robert R. McCammon.  Three pages of madness and pain that will leave you gasping.  Seriously, this one is very hard to get through. Available in Blue World.

3. “Witch Hunt” By Andrew Vachss.  Vachss crams thirteen chapters into right around four pages in this symphony of personal demons and other horrors. Available in Borderands 2 . . . I think.  It could be in 3.

4. “How Sweet it Was” by Thomas Monteleone.  An incredible twist on the Cthulhu Mythos, combining it with the world of Saturday Morning children’s science shows. I got to see Monteleone read this at Horrorfind this year, and it was a delightful experience.  Available in Masques V.

5. “Night they Missed the Horror Show” by Joe R. Lansdale.  Two high school students looking for a bit of harmless fun end up way over their heads.  Available in High Cotton.

NOVELS

1. Off Season by Jack Ketchum. A group of friends are terrorized by a family of cannibals in a book that that pulls no punches.  Brutal from start to finish.  One of two novels in the last five years to give me nightmares.

2. Desperation by Stephen King. And here’s the other one.  Don’t let the heavy-handed and rather awful TV movie fool you, this is a visceral horror novel of high quality.  Great work by that King guy.

3. City of the Dead by Brian Keene. Humanity makes its last stand against the zombie hoards in a skyscraper.  Incredibly fun romp.  Non-stop action.

4. One Rainy Night by Richard Laymon. A black rain turns the residents of a small town into blood-crazed psychopaths.  Fun with a great B-Movie feel.

5. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. Matheson’s legendary vampire novel.  Follow the tragic tale of the last human being on Earth.

COMICS

1. Uzumaki by Junji Ito. A small village is haunted by spirals in this horror masterpiece.

2. Atmospherics by Warren Ellis and Ken Meyer. A woman is questioned following what may or may not have been an aliean landing.  Great suspense by Ellis.

3. Batman: Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. Don’t let the inclusion of Batman fool you.  This one’s horror from start to finish.

4. Dead West by Rick Spears and Rob G. Zombie fun in the Old West.  Action and fun in this beautiful black and white book.

5. Scars by Warren Ellis and Jacen Burrows. I didn’t want to repeat writers in one category, but this one’s too good to pass up.  Ellis gets down to Earth on this one, so down you’re not sure you’ll ever claw your way back up/  A descent into evil that’s almost too powerful.

MOVIES

1. Halloween. C’mon, where else am I gonna start?  This one started it all, and Michael Myers remains the best of the movie slashers.

2. Night of the Living Dead (remake).  The full tilt boogie version of the original.  Made with Romero’s blessing, and even written by him.  This one’s a blast.

3. The Evil Dead. Before it got fun, it was just plain terrifying.  A classic.

4. The Exorcist. Another classic.  Still the gold standard for horror films.

5. Black Christmas. An often overlooked horror movie.  This one was Scream about 20 years before Scream was made.  Pick it up today.

Weekend Horror Movie Wrap-Up

This weekend, Shawna and I mixed a little of the old with a little of the new.  Thanks to the kind folks at Netflix, we got to watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Devil’s Backbone.

THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI

A silent film released in Germany in 1920, Dr. Caligari is a short, sweet, visual treat.  Here’s the synopsis from IMDB.com…

A man named Francis relates a story about his best friend Alan and his fiancée Jane. Alan takes him to a fair where they meet Dr. Caligari, who exhibits a somnambulist, Cesare, that can predict the future. When Alan asks how long he has to live, Cesare says he has until dawn. The prophecy comes to pass, as Alan is murdered, and Cesare is a prime suspect. Cesare creeps into Jane’s bedroom and abducts her, running from the townspeople and finally dying of exhaustion. Meanwhile, the police discover a dummy in Cesare’s cabinet, while Caligari flees. Francis tracks Caligari to a mental asylum. He is the director! Or is he?

Years before Hitchcock or Shyamalan made plot twists smething to expect, Robert Weine put a knife in your gut with the ending of Dr. Caligari.  The movie, of course, requires some serious suspsension of disbelief.  The idea of a person who sleeps a lot may have seemed terrifying in 1920, but it’s more than a little laughable now.  Still, the sets along (which seem to come from an Escher nightmare) are a feast for the eyes.  Check this one out.  There are worse ways to spend 70 minutes.

THE DEVIL’S BACKBONE

The name Guillermo del Toro might conjure up images of Hellboy, Blade II, or (heaven forbod) Mimic.  In 2001, however, del Toro helmed a truly creepy coming of age tale called The Devil’s Backbone.  I’d give you an IMDB plot rundown, but man, it was long.  I’ll hit the basics…

Near the end of the Spanish Civil War, ten-year-old Carlos is left at an orphanage in the middle of nowhere.  While making friends with other boys, he is terrorized by crueal caretaker Jacinto.  He also sees the ghost of a boy named Santi, who tells him many are going to die.  Events build up steam, and the boys soon discover what it will take to put Santi to rest.

The Devil’s Backbone isn’t really a horror movie, but it delivers the chill in spades.  The effects used on Santi are incredible, and the plot and acting roll you along to the movies finale.  Check this one out.  You’ll be happy you did.

Important FEAR notice

Tomorrow (Saturday, October 21st) is the last day for comic book shops to pre-order Fear. So if you haven’t done it already, please call them or stop in today, and repeat the following: “Hi, I’d like to order a graphic novel found on page 281 of October’s Previews. The Diamond Order Code is OCT063419. The title is Brian Keene’s FEAR.”

The new television season

Is it just me?  Is there something wrong with me?  Maybe the shows on my television are really great, and I’m just not seeing it.

I suppose I should qualify this by saying I don’t have cable.  I just can’t afford it.  I really enjoy some of the shows I get on DVD: The Shield, Rescue Me, Deadwood, Entourage.  If I want to watch something when it’s actually on, I’m stuck with network TV.

Which is sad.

For the last two years, I only watched one show: Lost.  I was a HUGE Lost fan.  Maybe that’s why I’m amazed it only took the Lost producers three episodes to make me lose all interest in the show.  I plan to watch for the next three weeks, see if they can hook me again, but right now I’m really doubting I’ll be back after the hiatus.

Heroes is being touted as the new Lost, but right now the quality is too sporadic.  I loved the pilot, was bored as hell by the second episode, skipped episode three, and then episode four was better than the pilot.  I feel like I’m on a goddamn teeter-totter.

This week’s Studio 60 almost knocked me unconscious with boredom until the final scene between Matt and Harriet.

Gave 30 Rock a try.  That may have been the most painful thirty minutes of television I’ve ever sat through.  It’s no good when I’m sitting there at minute 29 thinking, didn’t somebody say the last 30 seconds were hilarious?  I’ll wait for that.

On the plus side, I read Off Road by Sean Murphy last night.  This graphic novel, published by Oni Press, will easily land in the top five books I’ve read this year.  Great stuff.

My new toy

A little more than seven years ago, I was a drummer.  WHen I decided to move to Texas and finish college there, I had to sell my drums.  I never thought I’d own a set again, but it looks like that’s finally changed.

I’m still waiting on a replacement kick pedal (the original arrived damaged) and the drum throne (back order for some crazy reason), but I’ve been tuning the hell out of these babies.  Can’t wait to really let ’em rip!

Happy days are here again!

My adventure at The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is a club in San Antonio.  In short, I’d describe it as a combination dance club, bar, live music venue, closet, and septic tank.  Confused, you say?  I shall explain.

I went to a concert on Saturday with some friends (which is one of the only reasons to go to San Antonio, whose motto is “Remember the Alamo!  No, seriously.  We need the tourist dollars.  Where are you going?”). We were headed to see Veruca Salt, and we felt good for the band when we sawthe size of the club.  It was pretty damn big.

Then we went inside.

First thing we hears was a high-pitched scream.  This, it would turn out, was the mic check for the punk back playing in a nearby storage closet.  I’m serious.  The small room had a bunch of tables and chairs stacked in one corner.  Oh, and did I mention the band was made up of eleven-year-olds.  It was pretty entertaining, listening to a small child wearing the tightest goddamn jeans I’ve ever seen screaming “I don’t give a fuck!  No, I don’t give a fuck! No, I don’t give a fuck!” over and over again while a parent stands in the back of the room with a “I’m trying to be supportive” look on her face.  It was almost as good as the thirteen-year-old punk girls who looked like they wanted to teach the boys a thing or two about punker love.

It was about this time that I realized there wasn’t a stage anywhere in this club.  There was a large bar, there was the storage closet, and there was what appeared to be a dance club with a DJ booth, but no stage.  Luckily, the bartender (While serving sober-Nate a watery coke) told me the stage was in back.  Cool.

Not cool.

The stage area was the dingiest, dirties live music venue I’ve ever seen, with two small, crappy stage lights that bathed the crowd in white-hot light as the cast a sick green glow on the stage.  The floor was kinda sticky, and the bar was about to fall over.  Seriously, it teetered a little bit when you leaned on it.

And then there was the bathroom…

I’ve seen some nasty bathrooms in my day.  Sudsy’s up in Cincinnati springs to mind.  How people got head in that place is beyond me, but that’s another rant.  The award-winning facilities at The Sanctuary (for piss, apparently) had so much urine on the floor that I had to tip-toe and hope the soles of my shoes were tall enough to keep the wondrous yellow fluid off of my feet.

Lucky for us, Veruca Salt put on a good show, making us forget our surroundings for a few hours.  Hell, I even forgot about the dance floor, so imagine my surprise when I left the concert area only to be assaulted by techno music and writhing college students.  I know, it sounds sexy, but it was one-thirty in the morning and I had a ninety minute drive ahead of me.

So what did we learn?  Don’t ever go the The Sanctuary.  It’s just not worth it.