Monday, August 24, 2015

Kill For A Copy

     Kill For A Copy - 5/5


     If you haven't heard about Dark Chapter Press odds are you will soon. I received a copy of their debut anthology Kill For A Copy in exchange for an honest review and this is a massive anthology. Three Hundred and two pages of horror, and splatterpunk. The problem though is that in a volume this size there's bound to be some filler right? Surprisingly the answer is no, and as I read it I knew that Rob McEwan not only has an eye for talent but he knows horror. This is for the true horror fan and while some the authors here may be new they won't be for long. Each story packs a punch and the volume flows extremely well.

     If you've read my reviews you know that I never judge these just on the stories. It would take to long to go into each and everyone and to pick a favorite from a volume this good is nearly impossible. This features every aspect of the horror genre so no matter what style you like Kill For A Copy has you covered. As a fan I loved this volume and look forward to seeing individual releases from these authors. As a small press Dark Chapter has announced their arrival and I doubt that they'll be small very long. This is high quality stuff kids, and you won't be skipping through hoping that the next story doesn't suck. You have stories here by Stuart Keane, Jack Rollins, and a slew of others.

      Horror it seems is never going to go away, and with volumes like this that's a good thing. Fans will drool all over this one and if you're just getting into horror do yourself a favor and pick this one up. You will not be disappointed. Dark Chapter Press is a press that you want to seek out. I have a feeling that this press will be around for a long time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tables Without Chairs #1

Tables Without Chairs  #1 Brian Alan Ellis, Bud Smith and Waylon Thornton 5/5



    I haven't been into the bizarro scene for quite some time, but occasionally I'll drop back in for a visit just to see what's going on. Brian actually posted a picture of the cover to this on Facebook and it looked like someone ate a bunch of cotton candy and then got pedigreed onto the floor and promptly threw up. It's the kind of cover that you see and instantly want to read. I have read three of Brian's books so far and I find that with each book he just strings a bunch of random ideas together and they somehow form a cohesive story. Case in point each of these stories range in topics from lost car keys. tripping balls on New Years Eve and finding that you're locked out of the apartment and the keys you have are the ones that someone lost. Brian was gracious enough to give me a copy on Facebook in exchange for an honest review and I was again drawn to that cover. You see what I'm talking about? It just grabs your attention and that's where Waylon Thornton comes into play. His artwork just works in holding this all together.

      What sucks is that I'm the first person to review this. You have no idea how much pressure that is. Both writers are good at what they do, and their sections are both entertaining. You don't skip through Brian's section to get to Bud's hoping that his stories suck a whole lot less. This is three guys having a blast and writing whatever the hell they want. These stories are random. but are well written and you can't help but wonder how these stories came together. Brian has presented us with a weird little love story and advice and tips for writers. Now as a writer I found Ha-Ha! Sad Laughter to be informative and quite hilarious. Any writer reading it will relate and if you're not a writer you'll have a sense of what we go through. Bud gives us a guy who is just trying to escape New York while chilling in an inflatable Jacuzzi that he places in his apartment. It's bizarro fiction without the gross out or having something happen just to be outrageous.

      Tables Without Chairs is all about making shit up as you go along and having fun doing it. If you're a fan of bizarro fiction you'll have a blast reading this and if you're not a fan you should still pick this up because it's the type of book that just is. It doesn't need a reason to exist and I have it under good authority that if you don't buy this Brian and Bud will show up at your house and piss all over your carpet. If you think that's bad wait until they bring out the flaming tables. In all honesty though this was a blast to read and I look forward to reading #2

The Hellbound Heart

        Clive Barker - The Hellbound Heart  5/5


      Hellraiser is one of the greatest and most iconic horror movies ever created. You disagree and I will fight you. Horror had reached a new level and at the helm was a man named Clive Barker who was changing the landscape of horror. I was a young metal/horror fan of twelve when I stumbled onto Barker's classic Books Of Blood. I think it was either the second or third volume and my mind was blown. I had been worshiping at the altar of Stephen King for quite some time but wanted to branch out and see what else was out there so I gave Barker a shot and it reaffirmed this insane belief that I wanted to write. As soon as I heard about Hellbound Heart I was intrigued enough to read it and it became one of my favorite horror novels. I wanted to read it again just to see if I felt the same way and holy shit! Many years have passed as have many viewing of the film that it was based on and if anything Hellbound is still just as ground breaking today as it was when I was twelve.

      A lot of reviewers want to compare the novel and film and I refuse to do that.because the book is just as important as the film, The book is a masterpiece of horror fiction that blends so many different genres that it elevated the horror genre. Finally we had a smart horror novel that didn't fuck around and rehash old ideas or just go for the gross out to placate horror fans. The Hellbound Heart was a novel that went beyond the usual themes, and gave us something different. Among the overall theme of the box itself is the search for pleasure. The ultimate pleasure, but underneath that is obsession. Frank is obsessed to open the box, and Julia is obsessed with bringing Frank back. It's these human elements that drive the novel.

     Barker uses human emotions to fuel Hellbound and while the Cenobites themselves aren't as visual here as they are in the film that isn't what makes this novel so good. It's the story of the box and what it leads to. The Ultimate moral here is to be careful what you wish for because once you have it, it may not be what you want. For fans of horror this is a must read. Barker was a breath of fresh air in a horror market that was saturated with Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. He wrote novels that embraced the macabre and made it appealing. The Hellbound Heart is one of those novels that you should read because it's just so damned good. Barker has a style all his own and I have yet to see anyone that has come close to copying it. When I first read this many years ago I knew that I was reading something special and as I sat on my couch at the age of forty something I was still blown away by it. Nothing had changed and that's how classic novels are. They age well and no matter where horror has gone The Hellbound Heart proves that if you try hard enough you can change an entire genre.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Woods Are Dark

The Woods Are Dark - Richard Laymon  Original Version 3/5 - Restored 5/5

     This is the book that pretty much killed Laymon's career in the US which can be explained rather easily. Warner Books not only heavily edited the original manuscript but gave us this lovely cover. Atrocious isn't it? The problem was that even with this awful cover and numerous typos this was a classic horror novel. Laymon went places that no other writer dared, but sadly no one read it.


     The thing is that Laymon had built up a rabid following and despite Warner Books almost killing his career here in the States.  The UK loved him and this Ohio born horror fan stumbled onto his work. I read the original version of The Woods Are Dark so I knew what this book was all about. I knew that people were turned off by Laymon's style and penchant for over the top violence. What I loved, and still loved about The Woods Are Dark is that this is a novel that does have a lot of violence, but it's a part of the story. This is a writer who is building a solid foundation and creating a legacy. He wasn't one to follow everyone else if it had been handled the right way The Woods Are Dark could have brought him the success he deserved. For all that was wrong with Woods what Laymon was trying to convey was still there, but Warner of course dropped the ball, and dropped it big time.

      For years the Warner Edition was all that we had. We knew that this wasn't the version that Laymon had hoped to see released and finally it was. Cemetery Dance had released the restored version in a limited edition hard back in 2008 and if you're lucky you may still find one, but it'll cost ya. I did get my hands on one, but there is a cheaper Leisure version out there if you look hard enough. The covers are different and that's all I know.


   What's so different? The text is repaired the damage a copy editor had created and after chapter nine the story differs quite a bit. Warner had cut out the Landers Dill chapters which left a huge gaping hole in the story. In the original The Woods Are Dark is just a slasher piece, but with the restored version you can see that Laymon had intended this to be something much bigger, and something that horror fans hadn't seen before. This is a story of survival and a man's descent into madness. The book gives a bit of history on the Krulls and who they are. They are a group of nasty people that prey on the offerings that the residents of Barlow leave them, and in exchange they are left alone. This is a truly horrifying novel that moves quickly, Laymon pulls no punches and drops you right into the horror. If you're looking for an easy read this certainly isn't it. Laymon at this point was staking out his turf and knew that if he were different then people would notice. This is where the men became boys and the horror landscape was altered forever. This is one of the foundations of splatterpunk and Laymon was slowly emerging as a God. If you've never read Laymon this is a good place to start. Terrifying and brutal, Woods is a horror classic that leaves the reader holding one hand over their eyes as they turn the page.

The Restored version of The Woods Are Dark give us the vision that Laymon had intended. As a writer we can see that he's still finding his footing, and it's that rawness that really make the book shine. As a Laymon fan this is a must read, and for non Laymon fans this is still worth checking out. Horror is always about taking risks and creating something that defines, or even expands the horror genre and this novel does that, While the original release was lacking it was still readable, but now thanks to Kelly and Cemetery Dance we have the novel the way it should have been in the first place. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015


       Greasepaint - David C. Hayes  5/5


      When I received an advanced copy of Greasepaint I should have known what I was in for. For just a second let's talk about this new influx of clown horror and what it does to those who are deathly afraid of clowns, and also what it does for horror in general. I myself aren't afraid of clowns. Do I find them creepy? Hell yeah I do. With their floppy ass shoes. And big red noses. As a horror writer I have written a couple of short stories that features a few clowns and I can tell you that there is a lot there to work with and it's easy to see why clown horror is the new in thing. They've always been creepy and it's easy to look beyond the bright cheerful demeanor and peer into something darker. Horror is all about exposing the dark and bringing it into the light. After seeing the cover of David Hayes' new book all I can say is fuck clowns. Fuck them in their asses. I wasn't prepared for what I saw and odds are when you see the cover of greasepaint you'll feel the exact same way.

Orzo the clown is a sick twisted clown who has a kids television show and he's a serial killer and it just happens to have a kid chained up in his basement. He ends up dying after a SWAT team breaks into arrest him. If that isn't enough there's also the fact that many years later it seems as if Orzo has come back from the dead after it's been announced that the Orzo The Clown is being released on DVD. You thought Pennywise was bad you have yet to meet Orzo. If you're just a little freaked out by clowns this isn't going to make you like them or feel less creeped out the next time you hit the local McDonald's or the circus. The thing is that horror should creep you out a little and fear the things once thought wholesome and entertaining. Orzo gives the horror genre the kick in the ass it needs and adds originality to a genre that loves to rehash ideas and monsters.

Greasepaint is a quick read that adds an element of mystery to the horror. All of the elements here work well together and while this is a horror novel it kept me guessing throughout. Hayes is a talented writer that gives us a book that is totally original and at times truly frightening. It's the surprise factor that makes this novella so readable. As the kills mount up you can't help but feel as if it's Orzo himself returned from the grave, but of course that isn't possible is it? When this is officially released this is one horror novel you need to pick up. Hayes explores the realms of B, and slasher horror and infuses it with a classic whodunit. This is one not to be missed.

     Greaspaint is available to pre-order and will be released Nov. 3   

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Blade Of The Destroyer

Blade Of The Destroyer - Andy Peloquin 4/5

     I received Blade Of The Destroyer in exchange for an honest review and I have to admit that I didn't realize that it was a fantasy novel. I'm more of a horror/bizarro guy so I was a bit worried. I can't even tell you the last time a read a fantasy novel. I do have an open mind though and have been known to genre hop from time to time. I'm the kind of reader that likes a good story regardless of what genre it's in. It's quite nice to sometimes step outside of your comfort zone and see what other books are out there. As I started this I was instantly hooked. Blade is an often violent novel about a guy called the Hunter. This is one bad ass dude but unlike a lot of other novels Andy gives this guy some depth and it's the Hunter himself that fuels this novel.

     Blade is the start of a new series and what I like is that the story moves quickly and unlike a lot of other novels you aren't mired into a lot of set up. It all runs smoothly and as the story progresses so you learn exactly who and what the Hunter is and the blood shed and violence balance out the tale nicely. As a horror fan I wasn't sure what to expect but what I enjoyed here is Andy's eye for detail. You almost feel as if you're right there with these characters and not just observing. This a book that you instantly become absorbed in and it becomes impossible to put down.

     The one thing I can't do is compare it to other fantasy novels. This is not a genre that I read, but as I finished Destroyer I knew that I would read the next book in the series just to see how the story evolves. Andy is a talented writer and you can tell that he put a lot of effort into this novel to make it flow as well as it does. This is a book that not only grabs your attention, but holds it hostage. Fantasy fans will enjoy the hell out of this and even non fantasy fans should check this one out for the simple fact that it's a great story. I couldn't help but imagine this huge power metal soundtrack playing during the battle scenes. As I write this I have Sinbreed playing and it fits this novel well. Death to false metal, and hail Blood Hunger!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Finders Keepers

     Finders Keepers - Stephen King 5/5


      I started reading Finders Keepers on a Saturday but I couldn't read a lot due to my kids visiting, but on Sunday I started reading it before I went to bed. It was one of those nights when I couldn't go to sleep no matter what I did so I went downstairs for a cigarette and a cup of decaf, and read for two hours. I can't tell you the last time I read a King novel like this. To find two back to back is quite rare. The one thing I kept seeing in reviews is that this is sort of like Misery and that is pure bullshit. Misery is utterly terrifying, and while Finders Keepers does have some terrifying moments these are some misleading comparisons. At its core Keepers is a book about obsession and as I read this I realized that while I kept waiting for King to return to horror that was never going to happen. Everyone changes and evolves. We can't stay in the same place or else we'll grow stagnant and eventually grow bored. While there have been a lot of questionable King releases King was doing what he wanted and if his fan base was willing they went along for the ride. King it seems is sending his critics a message and it's simple. Shit don't mean shit.

     The plot of Keepers seems simple enough and if you need a refresher just go to Goodreads or Amazon and pull the book up. We have two characters who have their own reasons for doing what they did. Pete is trying to keep his family apart while Morris just wants revenge for Rothstein making his favorite character sell out. These two as you can figure are on a collision course and half the fun is getting there. When he wants to, King knows how to tell a good story and the first half moves pretty slowly but King tightens the tension just enough to keep you reading. What is going to happen when Morris gets out of prison and finds that the money and notebooks are gone? King has surpassed Mr. Mercedes with the second half of the story and he has thankfully moved away from the thriller aspect and more into a detective novel, at least that's what I think it is due to the fact that I'm not a big fan of those types of novels.

     I loved how this evolved and if you haven't read Mr Mercedes fear not you don't have too because Finders Keepers is a stand alone novel but be warned there are spoilers that tell you what happened in the first book. You would think these moments would weigh the book down but surprisingly there isn't a lot of filler here. King pretty much stays on course and allows the story to evolve and allows you to connect to the characters. We see Morris as a terrible criminal with no moral compass whatsoever while Pete is just trying to keep his family together. His father was a survivor of the Center City Massacre and the trunk that Morris buries provides just the relief that his family needs. This is a tale of obsession pure and simple. That is what drives this book. We see Morris and Peter obsessed with two different aspects of the same thing and King shows us just how dangerous obsession can be and how it affects these two characters. Morris is a man on a mission and the strength of Finders Keepers is Morris. What lengths will this guy go to get his hands on the notebooks?

     The only aspect of the book that could be considered filler would be the Hodges scenes. Let's be clear here and state that while the book may say the Bill Hodges trilogy this is clearly the Pete and Morris show. Hodges and his crew don't even make an appearance until the second half of the book and it seems to slow the book down a little, but once the focus is back on Pete and Morris its most important characters the book once again picks up. The thing is that  King keeps the story going without boring the piss out of you. I loved Mr Mercedes, but Finders Keepers is a far better book. This is everything the first book could have and should have been had it been a stand alone novel, but being the first book in a trilogy there's a lot to set up and here we just have Morris, Pete, and those pesky notebooks. The fact is that now we find that when he puts his mind to it King can create a novel that creates a lot of tension but if you're not careful it'll snap back and hit you in the face. 



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mr. Mercedes

     Stephen King - Mr Mercedes 5/5

      Mr. Mercedes Review


      I know I complain a lot about Stephen King's current output, and maybe it's a little mean. King after all was a huge influence on me and made realize that I wanted to be a writer. Had it not been for Pet Sematary I would have never become a writer, and it's quite possible that I wouldn't have been such an avid reader. This was the only writer I have ever followed with rabid obsession. When you bought a Stephen King book you knew what you were getting into. To a twelve year old kid this was some serious shit. No one wrote like King. There would of course be other horror writers later on, but Stephen King was my gateway drug. Now the odds of him creating a classic horror novel are pretty slim, and I haven't been a fan for quite some time. His books just aren't as good as they used to be. They contain a bit too much filler and sadly they're a bit too boring. I really miss the God of horror and wish he would write just one new novel that didn't force me to swear and stop reading. Of course much like a battered housewife I always go back, and I tell myself each time that things are going to be better, but they never are.

      So, that brings me to Mr. Mercedes. I wasn't exactly looking forward to reading this, and even promised myself that this time I wouldn't swear, I wouldn't bitch and I wouldn't whine. I have come to terms with the fact that this wasn't going to be a pleasant read, and the God that King used to be is gone. We all now that there are people that are going to praise this novel no matter what so I knew going in that this was going to be painful, and if anything I would just end up not finishing it. Kind of like I did with Doctor Sleep and countless others. I took a deep breath and plunged in. The one thing that I noticed is that this is a different type of novel for King. He's not trying to bore us which is quite nice and a lot of the filler that comes with most Stephen King novels is gone. Mercedes at times feels like one of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels, but then King hits the accelerator and floors it. This is when you get glimpses of why King was so damned good. He has crafted the perfect villain in Brady and you get to see him start to slide deeper and deeper into insanity. This is where the strength of the novel lies. Who cares about the fat ret det when you have such an evil character like The Mercedes killer.

      If this book had been released ten, or twenty years ago it would have been a highly controversial novel, but given the state of our society today King uses this as fuel to keep his novel chugging along. The strengths lie in the story itself and there are a few moments here and there that leave you scratching your head a little, but King uses these moments to cement the plot together. What a plot it is. Is it totally plausible? Not really, but King has written a little over fifty novels and he knows what he's doing. It all serves a purpose in the end. Is it a tale of revenge? Sure, but it's also a chance for Brady to become a legend. In the end maybe you may hate him, but you won't ever forget him. The ending though felt a bit too rushed for me and all of the excitement I felt as I read the novel began to drain away. For such a strong novel I wasn't expecting it to end so weakly. If I had any problem with Mr. Mercedes it would be with the ending. How in the hell can you end a book like that?

      Despite that I would have to say that Mr. Mercedes is easily one of my favorite King novels. He has crafted the kind of story that is more addictive than crystal meth. Everything that Stephen King is, and was shines through in this book. It feels as if he was really trying to craft the kind of novel that older and newer fans can embrace. It's everything the thriller genre wants to be but has never quite been able to accomplish. It's a dark, and engrossing novel that reminds us of who King used to be. Mercedes has its flaws, but overall it's the type of fiction that you read just to be entertained. It's not your usual run of the mill thriller. It has teeth and it will bite you when you least expect it. I actually read a new Stephen King book and I wasn't swearing. I need a t-shirt for this one.