Archive for December, 2011
LONG PIG, the latest short film from Reel Splatter Productions, is now available for public consumption. Written, produced, and directed by Mike Lombardo, it’s a tender, light-hearted comedy about friendship. And cannibalism. Dig in.
This video of a cancerous tumor being removed.
Managed to read quite a lot of books in 2011, more than any other year in recent memory. Unfortunately (as far as compiling year-end best-of lists are concerned), most of these were books published prior to 2011; for additional irony, many of the titles topping my TBR mountain are from this year, and should make up much of my Best Of 2012 list. For those keeping score at home, no, I’ve never been one with any cultural zeitgeist.
Even so, the few books this year that merit recommendation still come with all sorts of qualifiers. But in the end they’re all damned fine books worth your time.
In alphabetical order they are . . .
DEMONS: ENCOUNTERS WITH THE DEVIL AND HIS MINIONS, FALLEN ANGELS, AND THE POSSESSED edited by John Skipp
A minor caveat: I’m about three-quarters of the way through this massive, 600+ page tome of demonic goings-on, but the stories I’ve thus far read are enough to put this anthology on the list. Splatterpunk lord John Skipp has compiled a nicely-balanced collection of vintage tales, contemporary classics, and a slew of brand-new stories involving demons and the demonized. Can’t really pick a favorite, but rising stars Amelia Behmer, Athena Villaverde, and Livia Llewelyn deliver the goods, and emerging new talent Laura Lee Bahr is definitely an author to watch.
Order yours here.
THE DEVIL AND PRESTON BLACK by Jason Jack Miller
Jason Jack Miller’s debut novel adds a few new wrinkles to the hoary “deal with the devil” cliche, exploring the Appalachian region and the folk music therein. Blending dark fantasy and magic realism, it’s a compelling read, but perhaps the most frightening aspect of this tale of a wayward musician is the all-too-real nightmare of struggling to survive while pursuing one’s dream. (Also, having lived in Morgantown, WV, where much of the novel is set, it was quite exhilirating to see the many real-life landmarks employed here.)
Order your copy here.
FANTASTIC ORGY by Carlton Mellick III
My review from earlier this year:
Carlton Mellick III has been hailed as one of the brightest, bizarrest talents in the field of weird lit. His latest collection, FANTASTIC ORGY, is a fine example of his strengths, five stories that blend visceral thrills, erotica, social satire, and vicious wit into a thoroughly unique vision.
In the title story, the collection’s centerpiece, mutants meet at an exclusive swingers’ club to trade fashionable, functional STDs (I’ll not spoil the fun in discovering just what that entails) until a strain of violent, unpredictable disease turns the revelry into a fight for survival. Like a fever-dream remake of Cronenberg’s THEY CAME FROM WITHIN, this longer tale is worth the price of admission alone.
The other stories are no less impressive. Featuring a body-building douchebag with a lollipop head (and a taste for fine cheese), a bio-engineered cat made of ears, a porn-film cast adrift in a very strange ocean, and shark sex–lots of shark sex–Mellick serves up oddity after oddity without sacrificing story or character.
Order your copy here.
STARVE BETTER by Nick Mamatas
A straight-shooting, no-bullshit guide to the practical side of writing professionally that’s plenty entertaining on its own. You won’t find any muse-enriching exercises here, but you will find ways to keep the electricity on. (Or, if novels are more your style, check out Mamatas’ experimental sf novel SENSATION or the Lovecraft/Hunter S. Thompson/Richard Nixon mash-up THE DAMNED HIGHWAY, co-written with Brian Keene.)
Order your copy here.
TO EACH THEIR DARKNESS by Gary A. Braunbeck
Originally published in December 2010, I’m including Gary A. Braunbeck’s memoir/genre study simply because it’s one of the best goddamned things I’ve ever dragged my eyes across. At turns heartbreaking, breathtaking, and illuminating (sometimes all at once), Braunbeck lays his soul bare in teaching how the horror genre works, or should work. Worth the cover price alone for the inclusion of his Bram Stoker Award-winning short story “Duty,” and the devastatingly brilliant “Need.” Required reading for the serious genre fan.
Order your copy here.
THE WOMAN by Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee
Written in conjunction with their controversial, audience-assaulting cinematic sequel to Ketchum’s brutal classics OFF SEASON and OFFSPRING, Ketchum and McKee’s novel THE WOMAN takes the feral female from those earlier books and places her at the hands of a well-to-do and seemingly well-meaning father figure. Melding elements of OFF SEASON with the equally-disturbing THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, the collaborative duo build their study of civility and savagery to a slow boil before erupting to a gruesome, gut-punching climax as nasty as anything Ketchum’s ever done. Recommended, if you’ve got the stomach for it.
Order your copy here.
Somewhere a horror film franchise is missing its star.
BLOOD IN THE FACE
A fascinating, often chilling 1991 film from Anne Bohlen, Kevin Rafferty, and James Ridgeway examining the neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan movement. Featuring archival footage of George Lincoln Rockwell (illustrating how such an unenlightened point of view can take root when expressed in an eloquent, reasonable manner), the majority of the film focuses on a white supremacist jamboree in Michigan, where the participants share their ideologies with uncredited interviewer Michael Moore. A sobering look at racism in late-twentieth century America. (The title refers to Caucasian people’s ability to blush, a characteristic the Aryans believe make them superior to people of color.)
DR. MONEY AND THE BOY WITH NO PENIS
The heartbreaking and disturbing story of Brian and Bruce Reimer, twin boys born in 1965. When newborn Bruce’s penis is irreparably damaged during circumcision, his parents approach sexologist Dr. John Money for help. In a strategy the makers of SLEEPAWAY CAMP must’ve read about, Money opts to raise Bruce as a girl in an assertion of his “nature vs. nurture” gender theory. Unfortunately, as this 2004 BBC doc describes, Money’s priority didn’t appear to be the boys’ best interests (brother Brian, brought up as a traditional boy as a sort of control group for Money’s experiments), but rather his own academic renown and advancement. The emotional fallout over the rest of the boys’ tragic lives makes for poignant viewing, while revealing much about the way gender (and one’s self-concept of same) affects us.
IN SEARCH OF DRACULA
A nostalgic favorite, this one. I remember watching Calvin Floyd’s 1975 study of vampirism and its most iconic symbol–on PBS, no less–as a kid with my dad. An atmospheric look at the undead starring Christopher Lee (who, in addition to narrating, appears as the Count and Vlad Tepes), it’s a little bogged down with footage of Lee menacing heaving-bosomed ladies and a detour into Mary Shelly’s creation of Frankenstein, but it offers much enjoyment for bloodsucker enthusiasts–although, I must warn you, the most frightening thing here is the wicked ’70s porn ‘stache Lee sports in several scenes.
(Review for Bizarro Brigade.)
One of those rare books that lives up to the hyperbole, SURVIVOR by J.F. Gonzalez is just as bleak, dark, and disturbing as you’ve heard it is. A lot of hard-edged horror novels and films ask how far you would go to protect the ones you love, but Gonzalez takes the notion a step further–having done what was neccessary to survive, can you live with what you’ve done?
At the hands of underground pornographers, an expectant mother makes a ghastly decision to keep her child safe. I’ll not spoil it, but it’s one of the most talked-about scenes in recent genre memory, and for good reason. It’s a devastating moment, and one that’s made even hardened horror fans weak in the knees. Gonzalez handles the details with laudable skill; he doesn’t rub the readers nose in grue, but doesn’t shy away from the unpleasantness, either.
The book’s second half is a little more palatable, playing more as a grisly thriller with a few unexpected twists and turns, but in a story like this no one gets a happy ending. Sharply written, with well-rendered characters and a brave eye for detail, SURVIVOR stands atop the ranks of extreme horror fiction.