Weekend Recap and Buy! Buy! Buy!

Toured the hotel we’ll be using for World Horror 2011 again this weekend, this time with Boyd Harris and Joe McKinney, who will be handling the program book and dealers’ room respectively.  I’m continually struck by how incredible the hotel is.  I really think con members are gonna love it.

We might have another World Horror announcement this week.  It might be next week.  We’ll see.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Sorry this is a short update.  Busy week ahead, gotta plan for a quick vacation.  If you’re bored and want to spend money, you should maybe go to the bookstore and pick up a little something for yourself of go to my Amazon wishlist and pick up a little something for me. 

Eh, it was worth a shot. Have a good week, folks.

Examining the first wave of Fantastic Fest movies

Last week, Fantastic Fest announced their first wave of movies.  I’ve always enjoyed the way the roll out information on the year’s festival slate a little at a time.  It helps build anticipation. 

Last year, I had at least two dozen movies I wanted to see.  Unfortunately, I only saw four because of a family emergency that literally started on the first day of the festival and ended on the last day. 

This year, however, looks to be different.  So let’s take a look at the movies I already want to see.  Everything from the frightening to the jaw-droppingly insane waits below.  Welcome to a glimpse at the wonderful weirdness that is Fantastic Fest.  

(dir. Nicholas Winding Refn, 2009, UK)
The criminal career of Britain’s most violent and notorious prisoner is the subject of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson.   Originally sentenced to 7 years for a post office robbery, he reinvented himself into Charles Bronson, superstar, whose crimes behind bars have led to 34 years of incarceration (so far). 

The Children
(dir. Tom Shankland, 2008, UK)
Three families meet up at a country estate to celebrate the winter holidays together. Everything starts out idyllic but as the day wanes, the rambunctious playfulness of the kids takes on a sinister edge, and soon the freshly fallen snow is soaked in blood. 

Clive Barker’s Dread
(dir. Anthony Diblasi, 2009, UK)
Graduate students are making a thesis film called Dread, videotaping fellow students talking about their innermost fears. The experiment turns into a nightmare when one of the team decides it will be therapeutic for the subjects to truly face those fears. Participants will be asked to reveal their innermost terrors on camera. 

(dir. Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman, 2009, USA)
Cropsey is a documentary about a real-life murder case in Staten Island, New York. A disturbed transient named Andre Rand was convicted of murdering two kids, but did he actually commit the crimes? Cropsey digs deep into the case, and in the process, exposes the weird, secret underbelly of Staten Island. 

(dir. Thanakorn Pongsuwan, 2009, Thailand)
Freshly released from prison, Tai must go underground and infiltrate the shady world of  Fireball to take revenge on the gang that put his brother into a coma. And what is Fireball? No holds barred, to-the-death, full contact combat basketball. Bring your lead pipe, ’cause you know the other guy is going to. 

(dir. Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977, Japan)
A bevy of young girls are swept up in a massively unearthly spazzride by the maniacal forces of the unknown in the craziest goddamn movie Japan has ever unleashed. Filled with airborne autonomous limbs, sinister house pets and other hell-born impossibilities, this lawless exercise in insanity plays like a psychotic’s brain melting across your eyeballs. 

House of the Devil
(dir. Ti West, 2009, USA)
House of the Devil is an occult shocker that is not only set in the 1980s but invokes horror films from that era. In Ti West’s latest film, a simple babysitting job turns into a long night of terror for a college student. 

Kamogawa Horumo – Battle League in Kyoto
(Dir. Katsuhide Motoki, 2009, Japan)
A group of freshmen at Kyoto University join the Azure Dragon, a perfectly ordinary social group, nothing unusual about it.  But when the club meetings runs late into the evening, the beer starts flowing and the trousers start to come off, something distinctly out-of-the-ordinary happens. 

(dir. Aleksey Balabanov, 2008, Russia)
A vastly inexperienced rural doctor develops an unquenchable thirst for the morphine in the hospital medicine supply room.  Morphine is another dark tale from Aleksey Balabanov, director of last year’s Fantastic Fest critical sensation Cargo 200, 

Private Eye
(Dae-min Park, 2009, South Korea)
A medical student in 1910 Korea discovers a corpse in the woods and secretly takes it for dissection practice. When he discovers that the body is the son of the city’s most powerful gangster he enlists the help of a shady private detective to find the killer before the murder is pinned on him. 

(dir. Uwe Boll, 2009, Canada)
Fed up with his dead-end life, Bill constructs a full-body kevlar armor suit and rampages through the streets of his hometown killing everyone in sight, particularly the barista that failed to make him a proper macchiato. 

The Revenant
(dir. Kerry Prior, 2009, USA)
An Iraq war casualty makes the best of returning from the dead as a blood-sucking vampire by reveling in the power of infallibility and feasting on the dregs of humanity. 

(dir. Lawrence Gough, 2009, UK)
On Christmas eve in a sleepy Liverpudlian suburb, terror strikes without warning.  Paramilitary forces start gunning down the residents, but it’s unclear whether they are hunting the citizens or protecting them, and if protecting… from what? 

Trick ‘r Treat
(dir. Michael Dougherty, 2008, Canada/USA)
Four interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the one guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband. 

Vampire Girl Vs. Frankenstein Girl
(dir. Yoshihiro Nishimura, 2009, Japan)
Fantastic Fest 2008 winner Yoshi Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police) is back with the craziest, bloodiest spin on the high school love triangle ever, bursting with mad scientists, dismemberment, black-face comedy, hallucinations and lots and lots of arterial blood spray.

Lack of sleep and The Curse of the Spiral

So, I’ve decided to try a new writing schedule.  I’ve been having problems leaving work at work, and that makes it really tough to get into a writing frame of mind.  I was still getting my writing done, but some days it was a real struggle.

That’s why today I woke up at 4:45AM.  I got an hour’s worth of writing done before work, and it felt great.  The words just crackled out of my head.  I think this schedule might be here to stay.

I watched Uzumaki this weekend.  This movie is based on my favorite manga.  The three-book series is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever read.  The movie, on the other hand, is played mostly for comedy.  Not to mention that it only covers part of the first book and maybe a dash of the second.

Uzumaki is really a great idea.  A small town in Japan is haunted by… spirals.  It’s an idea that doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does.  A lot of the stuff I’ve been writing in the past few years, as I’ve tried to get a little weirder, has been influenced by Uzumaki.

You should check it out.  Go grab the first book.  I promise you’ll snatch up the other two as soon as possible.

An Accidental Crime

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was having a very strange Monday.  A few folks asked why, but I didn’t really give any details.  I was waiting for things to quiet down so I’d have time to write about it.

Well friends, that time has arrived.  Let me tell you how I accidentally aided and abetted a hit and run.

It started around five o’clock.  Shawna and I had chili dogs in the making, and I was looking forward to eating various indescribable parts of several animals.  We were minutes away from dinner, so of course the doorbell rang.  Once I managed to wrestle the dogs (Greta and Boris, not the hot dogs) into the garage, I opened the door.

It was our neighbor.  Now, I didn’t really know our neighbors at the time.  A woman and her teenage son had moved in a few weeks before.  They appeared nice enough, letting us search through their backyard when Boris the Wonder Lab somehow knocked a ball over there with his nose.

Anyway, our new neighbor needed help.  She told me her son had just been involved in a car accident about a mile away, and she wanted to know if I could drive her to the scene.

“Sure,” I said.  I like to be helpful, and sometimes even the scent of chili dogs can’t keep me from a good deed.  A moment later, I had my keys and we both climbed into my non-air conditioned hunk of junk.

My neighbor jumped on her cellphone.  What follows is a transcript:


Luckily, it didn’t take long to reach the spot where her son had wrecked.  Of course, that’s where the trouble really started.

We pulled to a stop behind a pickup truck that had been towing a lawn service trailer.  Both truck and trailer sat twisted in the intersection.  I couldn’t see my neighbor’s car.

“You want me to wait?” I asked.

“Yeah,” and she climbed out of the car.

Suddenly the air was full of screams and curses.  I decided I should check this out, so I climbed out of the car and followed the trail of “Bitches” and “Motherfuckers.”

I rounded the truck and saw my neighbor’s car sitting there with the front corner panel knocked in.  Compared to the pickup, it had made out pretty well.  The truck’s side was smashed in, the transmission lying in the street.  The trailer had also been wrecked, so when I heard my neighbor’s son say, “I was only doing thirty,” I suspected he was being less than truthful.

So I saw my neighbor’s son standing with his two friends.  I saw the two lawn workers standing next to him and trying to get his insurance information.

And then I saw my neighbor climb behind the wheel of her car and take off.

To be fair, she didn’t just take off.  She first hurled a string of insults at anybody within shouting distance and then cut off another driver before pausing to scream, “BITCH, YOU SEE ME DRIVING HERE!”  Then she took off.

Her son then turned to me.  “Can you give me a ride home?”

“We should probably wait.”

Around that time, the owner of the lawn service showed up, and I got to hear all the details of this wreck.  When he asked where the car that did the actual wrecking might be, the kid gave his mom a call.  As he told her she needed to bring the car back, I heard a string of curses exit the phone.

The kid handed the phone to the lawn service owner.  I couldn’t much tell what she was saying, as most of it came out as an angry garble, but his words were easy enough to understand.  There were sentences like, “You don’t need to raise your voice at me,” and, “I’m not a legal scholar, but at the very least I need your insurance information.”  Eventually, he handed the phone back to my neighbor’s son, who listened for a moment and then said, “Okay,” before hanging up the phone…

…and sneaking away.

At least, I think he snuck away.  I’m not sure, because he was sneaky.  Nobody really noticed the guy was gone until the cops showed.  That meant I got to spend the time I could have spent stuffing my face with chili dogs talking to the police and explaining no, I don’t know my neighbor’s name or where her son go to school.  No, I don’t know their phone number.  Really, I don’t know a thing about them except that they started renting the house next to mine two weeks ago.

Now, two or three weeks later, I still don’t know a thing about my neighbors.  Because they haven’t returned.  If they’re back in that house, they’re very sneaky about it.  Of course, I know at least one of them can be sneaky.

On the bright side, Shawna kept the chili dogs warm until I got home.

So that was my Monday.  Ain’t they grand?

The Monster Outside the Closet

Nicholas Kaufmann writes a monthly column for Fear Zone called The State of the Genre.  It’s a great read, and one everybody should look up.  Nick’s one of the smartest folks we’ve got in this genre.

This month, Nick tackles the issue of homosexuality and how it’s perceived by some within the horror community.  He gives Just Like Hell a nice little shout, but it’s the words he says about the issue at hand that really matter.  Horror should be an all-inclusive genre, and to many it is, but like everything else in the world, we’ve still got a long way to go.  I’m hoping we get there someday.

Quick Correction

Looking through my files, I see my story “The Message” is scheduled to appear in Cemetery Dance Issue 62, the special William Peter Blatty issue.

That’s some excellent company, right there!  Issue should be out in September.