Thursday, June 14, 2012

Book Review Unknown Pleasures

Reviewed by SheriWhite

I love short stories, and really enjoy single-author collections. Collections are better than long-fiction to get to know the author better. It tells you what’s in his or her head, which can be a little disconcerting when you’re reading horror stories.

There are weird things going on in Charles Colyott’s head. Creepy things. And a few nasty things.
In the first story, “Severance,” a man is tortured by dreams of his missing fiancĂ©e; he is convinced she’s been killed since she just wouldn’t leave him. He sees her wounded and bloody, reaching for him, surrounded by other dead people. He admits himself to a psychiatric center to find relief. What he finds is much worse.

“Commitments” reminded me somewhat of King’s “Quitter’s Inc.,” which is a story I’ve always liked. Instead of a self-help company, a man is stalked by a cable company. We’ve all felt that rage at being bothered at home through our phone by people you don’t want to talk to. But Ben has no choice - he MUST talk to this person or never see his wife again.
Charles Colyott
I really enjoyed “TEETH grinder.” I can’t think of anybody who enjoys that long, cold needle full of Novocain sliding into their gums. The feel of a tooth being removed from its socket, with that sucking sound that runs down your spine. Charles captures that perfectly in this story. But that’s not all to the story - it gets really messed up and chilling. Think of vagina dentate, only male-oriented. Yeah, it’s creepy.

A man is ticked off that his wife hasn’t cleaned the house after giving birth to their son. Nagging doesn’t help, so he decides to clean up himself - and clean up HIMSELF. “Dead Things” will have your teeth aching and your spine spasms toward the end.
“Seed” takes the awful consequences of bullying and makes them even worse. The bullied becomes the bully, with horrific and sad results. This story is really great and one of my favorites.
The final story, “The Catastrophic Loves of Edgar J. Spurlock,” is pretty gross, but Charleswarns the reader of that from the get-go. One of the characters, “Peepers,” will make quite an impression on you.

Other stories in this collection include zombies, conjoined twins, a deal with President Death and other twisted themes. Unknown Pleasures is a collection you’ll want to have on your shelf, and a great way to be introduced to a new author. But try not to think of the things going on in his head.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Book Review Zombie Bitches from Hell

By Zoot Campbell
Grand Mal Press 2011
Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund

The world has gone to Hell and the bitches are taking over.  While trying to create an AIDS vaccine, scientists have inadvertently unleashed a new “disease” on the world—one that only affects women and turns them into zombies.  Lock up your daughters, wives and granddaughters because the first chance they get they’ll chow down on the family jewels and anything else they can get their teeth and claws on.

ZOMBIE BITCHES follows Kent, a reporter from Denver and his friend Tim who decide to make their way to Boston so that Kent can find and hopefully save his girlfriend Jen.  Along for the ride in their hot-air balloon is Kent’s trusty mutt MG and the owner of said balloon Rick.  The story is told from Kent’s point of view and relates the trouble they run into—from a convent full of zombie women, a barn with nursing home refugees and an old armory full of white supremacists.  

The disease is named the GaGa after Lady GaGa collapses on stage and turns into one of the first hungry harpies from Hell while the world watches on television.  As Kent and Tim make their way east the zombie hoards make their way west, but a change is going on.  The packs of screaming banshees are becoming organized.  The undead women are evolving and they are determined to take over.  When Kent finally makes it as Far East as land will go he not only finds a sizeable stronghold of male survivors but he also discovers just how evolved and organized these bitches are.

Between the title, the author’s name and the awesome cover art by Michael Lindsey, ZOMBIE BITCHES FROM HELL reminded me of an old pulp novel—in a good way.  While I love my zombies, the whole “apocalyptic zombie” thing can get a bit repetitive….but not with ZOMBIE BITCHES.  Zoot Campbell adds a fresh narrative to the zombie sub-genre.  The story flows nicely and character development is very good.  The end of the novel totally works for me and there are a few nice surprises thrown in, including the question of Kent’s sanity.  Zoot Campbell left me wanting more…..and from what I understand, I’ll get it.  ZOMBIE BITCHES FROM HELL is a great addition to zombie lit and I can’t wait to read more!

Book Review The Color of Bone

The Color of Bone by Carol Weekes
Reviewed by Sheri White

I hadn’t heard of Carol Weekes until I was asked to review her collection. I’m glad I was given the opportunity to read The Color of Bone, because this is a great collection. Most of the stories in this book are fantastic. The offerings are diverse, ranging in emotion from horror to sadness.

The first story, “Standing Water,” starts this collection off with a bang.  A little boy notices what he thinks are snakes in his elderly neighbor’s rain barrel, but soon realizes these are not snakes, and they are hungry.  He is bitten by one of these creatures, and what happens after that is pretty horrific.  Great story.

If clowns creep you out, you’re going to get chills reading “Clowning Around.” This is not your usual evil clown story.  It has a great twist towards the end, and you won’t look at carnival workers the same way again.

“The Punishing Room” was my least favorite story; mostly because I couldn’t suspend my disbelief.  A little girl is always punished by having to sit in a corner in the kitchen.  One night the appliances start talking to her and tell her they will kill her parents so she won’t have to sit in the corner ever again.  The story is well-written, but I found the idea of talking appliances a little silly.  This would probably be a great story in a horror collection for kids, though.

One of the few non-horror tales, “Two Hours, Two People, and a Box,” is a chick-lit kind of story about two people who can’t stand each other getting stuck in an elevator together.  They end up hitting it off after a little bit of violent fighting, and seem to fall in love.  Good story, but seemed out of place with the rest of the collection.

One of the creepier tales, “The Wishing Well,” will make you want to cover up any deep holes in your yard.  The Cobb family moves into an old farmhouse and discover a well in the backyard that stinks.  Terry thinks an animal fell in and died, but he discovers something more evil and sinister than he could’ve imagined.  At first repulsed by what he finds, he then becomes attracted to what it can offer him and regrets it the rest of his life.

A spooky story that is also sad is “Maybelline.” The tone of the story reminded me somewhat of Stephen King’s “Stand by Me.” A group of 12-year-old boys heads out for an adventure one day.  They decide to hang out in an empty boxcar at the train tracks, and meet a young girl who is anything but sweet.

The final story, “Smoke and Leaves,” is another carnival story, this time with an evil who works the beanbag toss.  He lets his son play the game although he is nervous about the carnie, who gives him a creepy vibe. He should’ve followed his instincts.

There are more stories in the collection for a total of 26.  There were only one or two I didn’t care for, but they were still very well-written; they just weren’t my type of story.  All in all, this is a great collection, and I will be seeking out more of the author’s work.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

House of Flesh Mannequins

Director: Domiziano Cristopharo
Writer: Domiziano Cristopharo
Stars: Domiziano Arcangeli, Irena A. Hoffman and GiovanniRadice
Reviewed by: Char Hardin
Category: Dark Hopeless Drama

“By far the best performance I have seen from Domiziano Arcangeli. His portrayal of Sebastian…simply flawless.”

A young boy, Sebastian was used for his father’s experiment. He grows up with a camera thrust into his daily existence and in doing so loses his identity, over the course of the experiment. As an adult photographer and filmmaker, he meets a woman who looks past his shyness and wants to learn more about him. Sebastian allows the woman into his world and shows his film with pride of what was done to him by his father.

Irena A. Hoffman is beautiful and attentive of Sebastian; she has her own scars to bear. She showed an interest in the shy neighbor and becomes wrapped up in Sebastian’s world. A strange twist of events will show Sarah in a different light.

The film shows many bizarre acts including masturbation, snuff victims, eating of glass, body piercing, graphic sex acts. I knew before hand the nature of this film and the brutal visuals that I would be viewing and I must say, I expected more than what I saw. There is a scene where Sebastian peeps through windows at men and women in various sex acts, one where a person is standing on glass then eating glass, another where a person is being hand sewn. Morbid and yet it was titillating for Sebastian, for me the viewer, it was heavily shadowed and dark and disturbing and it made me feel like a voyeur who in kind felt dirty for viewing. This movie made me feel uncomfortable and when the credits rolled I breathed a sigh of relief.

The hardest part was not in viewing this film, but writing a review that’s fair and does the filmmaker justice. I fear this type of film is just not my cup of tea. And as for my personal tastes in horror movies, I didn’t like it. House of Flesh Mannequins is not the typical horror. It is one I would say is more of Art Horror. Although it’s a new trend perhaps only to me, as this type of ART has been around long time. Not much is known to me of Art Horror or more Avant guarde films where perhaps, this could be categorized as too radical or too experimental with themes not of my tastes.

Throughout the whole film, there was one emotion that stuck with me… disgust. IF the director Domiziano Cristopharo’s was seeking to shock the viewers he succeeded plus making me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t like the nature of the film, but it doesn’t mean others will feel the same.

One of the stars of this film is Domiziano Arcangeli who portrayed Sebastian. I have been watching many of his films in the last few months and out of all of them, this role is by far the best I have seen from Domiziano. He was not just a man playing a part…what he did seemed effortless. His merging with this character was flawless. His character was a question mark. He was strange, aloof, coy, disturbed, lonely, sad, searching, intriguing, and the Domiziano had one of the coolest scenes with what happened in the story to his chest. I won’t say. I don’t want to spoil it. But it was bloody good. In the special features, the behind-the-scenes making of the film gave details on his particular scene. I would like to see more films with Domiziano and the intensity he brought Sebastian, in future roles.

Irena Hoffman is new to me, as most of my readers know, I am still learning who’s who in Indie Horror films. She portrayed Sarah, Sebastian’s beautiful neighbor. Irena was curious and she couldn’t help but be drawn to Sebastian as she invaded his private life and became immersed in his world. Sarah, at first was repulsed by Sebastian’s films, but she looked past the horror and developed a connection with him. Although Sara was beautiful she was living scars of her own. All of which come out in the film, and not in the review…t’would spoil the film. This was my first viewing of Irena Hoffman and I hope not my last.

This is the part of the review, where I say whether or not I would recommend the film whether as a purchase to add to your collection or out of curiosity to look for as a rental. I am torn, so I am going to say look for it if you like graphic sex, violence, disturbing thematic material and are fans of ArtHorror. It’s a miss for me, but may be a hit with some of you. Seek it out and leave your comments here. 6/10.

You can find a copy of the film at

Comment from Director Domiziano Cristopharo:
"This is a great review too. My English unfortunately doesn’t help the to get all the transparency in the language, but seems like that the journalist "admit" to don’t "get the movie" when writing the article she shows to get it totally and in a ...very deep way! When I read, “for me the viewer, it was heavily shadowed and dark and disturbing and it made me feel like a voyeur who in kind felt dirty for viewing. This movie made me feel uncomfortable and when the credits rolled I breathed a sigh of relief" I remembered exactly what me and Domi said always about our intent filming this. Sebastian is the voyeur of the movie but the real voyeurs should be the audience; why? Because all the people that watch this movie will watch it because they know about the contents of the movie itself... extreme contents. "I knew before hand the nature of this film and the brutal visuals that I would be viewing and I must say, I expected more than what I saw.” Exactly that. "House of Flesh Mannequins is not the typical horror. It is one I would say is more of Art Horror. “I never described it as horror too... I always thought about it as a drama... a dark hopeless drama. The label horror sometimes brought to the movie fortune but also can create confusion. The acting is great and I will add to the list Lombardo Radice and Randal Malone too. I love the way how this movie share the people's opinions in 2 radical opposites. And also in people that doesn’t like it at all, we can see they cannot avoid to be trapped by the movie and find anyway its negative desperate message hidden behind the art language of the body. :) Thank you again and sorry for my English!"

Char, "This is the kind comment left on my facebook page. I wrote this review 12 times and struggled in how to get my feelings across and the whole time I was viewing it the way it was meant to be experienced! Cool!"

Book Review Scarla

By BC Furtney
Comet Press 2011
Colleen Wanglund

Scarla Fragran was the youngest female kickboxing champion in history.  Now as a cop’s widow, Scarla is working undercover to help put a stop to a disease that seems to be spreading on the streets.  It affected her husband and she wants to know what it is and how to stop it.  Her handler Facil LeTour was Scarla’s husband’s partner.  He knows what they went through.  He’s also in love with Scarla and wants to do everything he can to help her.
Because Scarla was exposed to the disease by her dead husband, she can sense when someone infected will change….but only during sex.  All along for those running the secret assignment Scarla and her husband proved to be nothing more than guinea pigs.  Now LeTour must sit back while Scarla plays prostitute and spirals downward to her own destruction. 
Scarla is dark, somber, and extreme.  It is quite violent and sexually graphic, so it’s definitely not for kids.  Scarla is a horror story of therianthropy which makes for a nice change of pace from the standard were-tale.  The virus, which is a sexually transmitted disease, causes people to transform into something other than human, but instead of a werewolf the changes consist of an amalgam of different animals.  Scarla herself is an interesting character.  She is very sympathetic, especially once you, the reader, realize things are happening to her that she is completely unaware of.  The end has a nice unpredictable twist with hints of an impending apocalypse.  I thoroughly enjoyed Scarla and had a tough time putting it down.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Green Slime

MGM (U.S.) and Toei Studios (Japan)
Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund

THE GREEN SLIME is one of those wonderfully bad B movies that you just can’t help but love. The movie was originally—and oddly--marketed to children in both Japan and the U.S. It has a bit of a mixed background, as it was produced by Walter Manley and Ivan Reiner (who wrote the original story) but it was filmed in Japan at Toei Studios. Adding to the film’s pedigree is director Kinji Fukasaku (BATTLE ROYALE {2000}, TORA! TORA! TORA! {1970}), along with the SFX that were done by Japan Special Effects Co. (visuals) and Ekisu Productions (monster suits). Both companies were created by former employees of Toho Studios—famed for their GODZILLA movies—who learned their craft under Eiji Tsuburaya, considered the Father of Japanese SFX.

The movie stars Robert Horton as Commander Jack Rankin, an astronaut called back into service when an asteroid is discovered on a collision course with Earth. With less than 12 hours to impact, Rankin is sent first to the Gamma 3 Space Station where he will assemble a team and head to the asteroid. The plan is to detonate bombs in strategic locations to destroy the asteroid. Along for the ride is a scientist who finds a strange life form that inadvertently hitches a ride back to Gamma 3.

With the asteroid destroyed and the men safely back aboard the space station, there is some tension between the captain of Gamma 3, Commander Vince Elliot (Richard Jaeckel—whom you may remember from THE DIRTY DOZEN {1967}), Rankin, and Dr. Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi—Bond Girl Fiona in THUNDERBALL {1965}). It seems Jack and Lisa have a past together, Vince and Jack used to work together, and Vince and Lisa are now engaged. It’s very soap operaish, but whatever. The more important point of the story is the green slime that begins to wreak havoc on the space station’s electrical system and cause some major injuries to some of the crew. Upon further testing, the scientist learns that the slime and the monsters it is spawning need energy to thrive. Now it becomes a race against time to evacuate the space station without the monsters or their slime tagging along to Earth. 

The visual effects and miniatures created by Japan Special Effects Co. are pretty stunning for the time and exactly what you would expect from artists who worked on tons of Japanese monster films in the 1950s and 1960s. The colors are quite vibrant, considering THE GREEN SLIME is a sci-fi/horror flick with the survival of humanity hanging in the balance. The monster suits are also very cool, if not totally bizarre. They are large one-eyed octopus-armed creatures that look as though they stepped out of a nightmare version of Sigmund the Sea Monster by Sid and Marty Krofft (if you have to ask, Google it!). The acting is adequate and the dialogue is cheesy, at best, but what fun it is to sit and watch as though you were part of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (again, Google). I got quite a kick out of watching a film that takes place in a scientifically advanced future, but they still use the old corded telephones. There are many things to pick out and pick on but that’s part of the experience of watching a B-movie. 

The story is a pretty good one and the beginning of the film had me wondering if this is where the idea for the movie ARMAGEDDON (1998) came from. Once on board Gamma 3 the story moves along at a nice pace, with the film clocking in at around 90 minutes.

THE GREEN SLIME is a classic cheesy ‘60s B-movie that any fan of the genre will absolutely love. It is definitely one of those so-bad-it’s-good flicks and that is what makes it so much fun to watch. And it doesn’t hurt that the female eye candy is a redhead like me. Just trust me and check out THE GREEN SLIME.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review Paradigms of Suffering: Dig the Knife Deeper

By Greg Dixon
Visions Given Life Publishing 2011; 212 pgs; Tp)
Reviewed by Colleen Wanglund

In this fourth installment of the PARADIGMS OF SUFFERING series of books, Greg Dixon has managed to continue his stories of the macabre and extreme.

The first novella-length story entitled “Worked to Death.” Kevin has left his former employer and joined the internship program of the biggest and best property appraisal firm in Florida. Kevin soon discovers the program, as well as the company, is not what he bargained for. Hours are ridiculously long, the workload never ceases to end, and the company seems to be using illegal and unethical tactics to maintain their status and earnings. It is seriously stressed to the interns that they may not go to the second floor, where all of the real action takes place until they have completed their rigorous training. The general consensus is that the firm will work their employees to death. Unfortunately for Kevin, he is about to discover just how true that statement really is.

The second story is “The Family that Preys Together” and begins with a career criminal staking out a home for burglary while the owners are having a yard sale. He plans to return later with an excuse to get into the house and see the layout. Tim has decided that this will be the last job of his crew in the current town because the police are on to them. What Tim doesn’t know is that his potential victim knows who he is. When Tim returns to the house later in the evening he is invited in. What Tim doesn’t realize until it’s too late is that his life of crime is about to come to an abrupt and painful end.

The third and final story is “Tracking Carrie (Next Day Delivery)” and tells the story of Carrie, a girl who just can’t seem to catch a break in her life. She has a job delivering packages, and her father (whom she does not get along with) has recently moved in with her. Carrie is not happy. Carrie has been making regular deliveries to Jonathan, who has taken an interest in Carrie. She thinks he’s creepy but he has convinced her that he’s giving some good advice—a form of therapy. Carrie decides she’s going to leave her hometown and start over again in California, and she’s convinced that it was Jonathan’s therapy that has helped her. Jonathan did not intend for Carrie to make her own changes to her life. He expected to make those changes for her—through death and rebirth. What’s truly horrifying about this one is discovering the people from Carrie’s life who are in collusion with Jonathan’s plans.

I have read Dixon’s previous PARADIGMS OF SUFFERING and this one lives up to all of my expectations. The horror is extreme—just how I like it—and the people and circumstances are truly twisted. Dixon’s writing is poetic and descriptive, allowing for the dark beauty of the gore to shine through. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the POS series of books are all self-published. They are beautifully done and expertly edited. I highly recommend all of the PARADIGMS OF SUFFERING. I, for one, can’t wait to read more by Greg Dixon.