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WELCOME BACK AUTUMN!

Once I finish writing a novel I like to check around out there for similar works, to get an idea of the market cilimate. Back around the time Progeny was released I became aware of a book called Vicious, by Bryan Alaspa, about some vacationers trapped inside a cabin by killer canines. Progeny of course, has its cast boarded up inside an isolated country house while stalked by a pair of pissed-off bigfoots (the worst kind.)

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Hey, you guys ‘member these ?
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Vicious is harsh and brutal, yet thoughtful; similar in set-up but wildly divergent in execution, compared to my novel. It’s not surprising that Bryan and I became good friends in the wake of our respective novel releases. 
With the conclusion of the Haunted Hollow Chronicles trilogy.

I discovered another such parallel tome –Autumncrow– and another cool friend, in author Cameron Chaney, a hardcore horror book nerd with his own youtube channel, on which he reviewed Red Harvest. He expressed affinity for its setting so it came as no surprise at that time that he had his own Halloween heartstopper in the works. 

No shortage of Halloween imagery in this bad boy.

His book hit just a few months ago and I quickly slapped it into my Kindle queue. 

Like many readers, I’m a good several tens of books behind in my reading. But I finally cracked Autumncrow in the last few days for perhaps the same reason many of you might. It’s a good dose of Halloween spirit when it’s needed, here at roughly the halfway point when our favorite unholy day seems both a distant memory and a teasing promise; when we could use a bit of descriptive recall to summon the spirit of crisp air, falling leaves, brush fires and the various synthetic materials comprising freshly-stocked department store costumes. 


Enter Autumncrow. It’s a novel of intertwining terror tales taking place in a small town, not unlike my own Haunted Hollow Chronicles, or the film “Trick R Treat”– as well as roughly one trillion other works. This is not to say it’s a tired premise, but rather one that remains a bottomless well of creative potential. I imagine I’ll always be drawn to its tropes, as both a writer and a reader. 


Hell, the title alone summons thoughts of umber early evening skies, and once-plush trees growing more skeletal by the day. I’m not one for synopsizing someone else’s work but I can absolutely recommend Autumncrow for your Halloween fix, year-round. 

Chaney’s are troubled characters of all ages, for whom the holiday serves as a trial-by-fire. There is something sinister just out of sight in the bushes, you see. A hidden underground chamber occupied by a sassy dead dude, a family whose separate members are attached to their very own tormenting monster… 

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Moving on, I’ve been working my way through season one of “The Exorcist” television series, based on the novel which birthed the 72 movie. I’d resisited it, unconvinced that an entire series devoted to a single exorcism, or on the other hand, an exorcism-of-the-week motif, could succeed.

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In the words of the good Doctor Channard “To think — I hesitated.” “The Exorcist,” season one at least (available on Hulu) is dialed right in, with high production values. a great cast that keeps the stockish characters interesting and the appropriate pacing compared to the film.


I see that “Hannibal” has hit Netflix now, which I take as a reminder to watch the much-ballyhooed third and final season.  

Keep an eye out for my twisted thoughts on retro-80s aesthetics,  horror punk bands and the return of mini-reviews for lesser known or nearly-forgotten flicks and films.

FEARWRITER’S QUICK FLICK PICKS

As promised, I’ve resurrected the Quirky Qeue series, in which I throw out capsulre reviews of my latest viewings, only it has a new title. Rhymey, ain’t it?


CHAIN OF COMMAND

Michael Jai White is one of my favorite action stars. This film is beneath him. Not that it’s terrible – just bland. Lethargic even. It’s annoyingly talky for a shoot-and-puncher. Steve Austin appears as well, and while his acting is not on par with White’s he’s always a great presence. Here he’s a villain, or “heel” in the parlance of his former profession. Tense exchanges between the two in a scene at mid-point suggest we will get a fight scene between them but it never materializes, and without it, there’s really  no reason to watch.

Hex (2017)

HEX

In the wake of Robert Eggers’ acclaimed THE VVITCH we are getting a good many moody period pieces. This one, set during the English Civil War starts out as a sort of early European-set ​HELL IN THE PACIFIC with two soldiers separated from their respective battalions or regiments or squads or war comrades or whatever, playing a bit of the old cat-and-mouse in a forest valley (beautifully lensed) littered with ancient structures and the abandoned camps of their mates. A hooded woman stalks them from afar and she’s probably a witch but there’s only so much silent, glacial-paced creeping through trees I can stand, so I had to turn it off, dammit. filmwads if your script can’t sustain feature length, make something else.


ALONG THE RIVER

While it is just as slow (and beautiful) as HEX, ATR did hold me till the end, but it was often a chore. A wildlife researcher becomes trapped by heavy rains at any empty village . He sees and hears strange and spooky things, as one might, and pieces together a disturbing local legend. At least HEX had a whopping main cast of two.


THE CREEPING FLESH

As a little fellow, I once caught a preview of this between The Late Movie and The Late Late Movie, on CBS I believe. There were images which stamped themselves on my malleable young brain, such as a monster’s-eye view, pre-dating little Mikey Myers’ POV shot in HALLOWEEN, which had the movie’s monster peering at a terrified Peter Cushing, framed by its veiny, fleshy brow. To Little Me, the impression was that poor Peter had been somehow trapped inside the thing’s head and would have to watch helplessly as it killed its way across an old-timey countryside. That was at least as scary as the thing’s true M.O., if not more so. Having finally witnessed the full source of this horrific brain-engraving in all its Hammer-esque (it’s actually an indie production) glory, I can say it was worth the wait. Its only flaws are age-related. But I love this film as much as I hated its terrifying trailer back in the day, and that’s saying something.


TOOLBOX MASSACRE 2

Christopher Doyle in Coffin Baby (2013)

This sequel to a Tobe Hooper-lensed remake is not particularly great but as a product of its era (post-SAW/HOSTEL) it delivers the goods: gore, damsel in deadly distress and just enough surrealism to keep it from hitting that unpleasant zone that take WOLF CREEK and CAPTIVITY across the line into wish-you-hadn’t-watched-it territory.

KILLER WORKOUT

Somewhere along the way I must have become an 80s slasher completist because everytime one pops up in my recs I rush to place it at the top of my watchlist. This was the most recent, which I remember by its cover art from the VHS days. For me, expectations are always low for the storytelling elements or production values of any 80s flick I haven’t seen before. It’s the aesthetic and nostalgia I like. KW is just below average in terms of retro goodness. The murder’s lame weapon (extra large safety pin) and kills (I mean, it’s a safety pin) don’t exactly elicit the frisson of a Friday The 13th sex spear-kabob. The producer’s chose to take a lascivious angle, swooping the camera in and around leotard-clad participants who may or may not have already been… pinned, in various aerobics classes . 


BUSHIDO

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Too lazy to read the description, I queued up the first episode of this Amazon Prime obscurity, assuming it would be a series of documentary examinations on various martial arts styles. It’s actually a collection of matches from Japan’s UWFI fight promotion, a strange (to westerners) variation of pro-wrestling bent more toward realistic, MMA style exhibitions than the lurid storyline emphasis of WWE and the like. Essentially, these are nearly full contact fights with acknowledged predetermined outcomes. Cool for what it is, but probably of interest only to niche shootfighting fans, and not really followers of either MMA or pro-wrestling.


ENCOUNTER

Luke Hemsworth lends his talents to this low-budget obscurity that sits precariously on the fence between sci-fi and drama, thoughtful and unintentionally hilarious, tedious and satisfying. In the end I give it a recommendation with the caveat of keeping your expectations low. God help me for saying this – it could benefit from a higher budget, not to mention a few script re-writes. I’m saying it’s a good candidate for a re-make.


THE POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES

The IMDB page explains that this one was scheduled for wide theatrical release and then abruptly pulled without explanation, but the reason is crystal clear – this film is not suitable for the casual viewer. TPT is often labeled “found footage” but that’s not entirely apt. If you’ve seen THE LAST BROADCAST then TPT’s format will be familiar. Like that 90s low-budget classic TPT is more a hodgepodge of news reports, interviews and, faux confiscated footage, assembled as a documentary. (I dislike the term “mockumentary” as it implies satire) This style is superior to found footage in many ways, justifying its feature-length where those films seldom do.

Stacy Chbosky in The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)
Stacy Chbosky in The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007)

It’s absolutely harrowing, a contemporary HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, that will eff you up for a while. Not a party or date flick, this one is for when you want to face humanity at its worst.

Why You Don’t Get Scared Anymore

Among both fans and casual consumers of horror, it’s not uncommon to hear “Horror movies just ain’t scary no more.” On social media, one can often find posts from people asking for recommendations of THE movie that will finally and truly scare them.

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Still reacting to the price of that “small” Coke.

Let’s rewind to 1925.  THE LOST WORLD, based on Artie C Doyle’s smash adventure novel of dinosaurs running amuck in London.  The prehistoric beasts were realized via the stop-motion animation technique pioneered by Willis O’Brien, who would go on to do the same for a little film called KING KONG.

All right, back to modern day, and me sitting down in my officially licensed Freddy jammies  to watch INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY on blu-ray. I know, I know, that movie is effing five years old. I have a really long Netflix qeue, okay?

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Comfy AND killy!


Many DVDs and blu-rays place some sort of leader; advertising and whatnot, at the very beginning of the disk and format it in such a way that you cannot bypass it and go to the menu until the leader has run its course. In this case, oddly, it was the disk’s special features. This header, in its scant few seconds, was filled with behind-the-scenes stuff; snippets of incomplete FX shots, actors, in costume, touting the film. 

If you can immerse yourself into the narrative after something like that, I envy you.

I stopped the DVD, took it out and sealed it to send back, unwatched. 

If you go to a magic act and sneak backstage, you get to see how the showman performed all his tricks, and hell, you may enjoy that. But in my eyes, you’ve compromised of your privilege to be dazzled by something that most of your mind tells you is impossible; and you’ve damn sure compromised your right to complain that the showman failed to fool you. 

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With set visits, on-set interviews and making-of-featurettes, the film realm becomes a little more pedestrian, a lot more mechanical, and in the case of horror — not scary.


Now I’ve worked in the film industry and had my peak behind the curtain. But I have a powerful imagination and a “fantasy-based” thought process, they tell me. I can still immerse myself in a good story fairly well, even at my advanced age. But, good lord, I don’t try to have my corpse and eat it too. If I have worked on a movie, I will never see that movie in the same wondrous light as the casual viewer. 

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Carrie Fisher, basking in the glamor and excitement of the film biz.

To use a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-inspired analogy, I submit to you, viewer of horror films, that you might soon stop eating beef if you see it prepared from stable to table. 

FANGORIA – you shoulder a lot of the blame. To a degree, so do your forebears FAMOUS MONSTERS and MONSTER WORLD — for your loving worship of FX geniuses and your technical-jargon filled interviews with directors and makeup men.  Yes, they deserve their acclaim. But do we really need detailed breakdowns? I love Tom Savini’s work — but I can appreciate him, and his FX, without knowing how he does it.

Aaand another thing…

Network television. To maintain their share of the screen-loving public they now have to keep something interesting happening in every single frame. No more time for slow-burn, long term storytelling. Don’t believe me? I dare you to screen Robert Eggers’ near-perfect art film THE VVITCH for your nearest 22-year-old. Eleven times outta thirteen, they’ll say it sucks.

Then there are commercials. The CGI invasion, for better and worse, has spread its weightless digital tendrils across every form of visual entertainment. Even the covers of your horror novels are mostly composed digitally. Sure, that’s fine. But when a hyper-realistic dragon pops up to tout mouthwash for ten seconds, the one on any of SyFy’s four hundred Event Movies of The Week doesn’t seem so special anymore, especially considering the FX in it are probably sub-par by comparison.

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Sorry SyFy, but adding heads does not increase scare factor

If you want to get scared these days, whether by a movie, a videogame or a book, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to meet the creators halfway. My longtime friend Johnny Huskey, rest his black soul, offered the perfect scenario for the jaded scare seeker. I now share it with you. And frankly, I doubt you’ll have the nads to go through with it…


Sit by yourself in the dark, perhaps on a windy night, with your back to the door — which you’ve left open. Slip THE EXORCIST or HALLOWEEN or any of the clas-sicks into the tray. Don’t dull the edge with booze or weed or even a chum. Hell, leave the remote control in another room.
Let me know how you do.

Writing and other forms of madness in the age of COVID-19

It’s strange how quickly the COVID-19 crisis, something on which we might expect to universally agree, turned into an incredibly sensitive subject. Hyper-political types immediately hijacked the topic, making any innocent comment a target for accusation and suspicion. Conspiracy theorists and alarmists can easily spot the signs, they will ALL-CAPS at you, of a lab created virus, or one that doesn’t really exist at all, or, you know, the work of the devil.

Defying the official recommendation of wearing masks in public for the safety of yourself and others is somehow a heroic act of patriotism for these guys.

That’s as political as I intend to get. Mostly, I just want to offer whatever light I can in the pall of the plague. It won’t last forever, and it’s bound to change things – the medical industry let’s hope – for the better. Ever an occasional Pollyanna, I hold fast to a hope that this will be catalyst for a trend toward kindness. I hope we emerge resolved across national and personal boundaries to help everyone heal and move on.

In the meantime, lives are being lost. If you have lost a loved one to the virus, or just had a scare, please know I’m thinking of you and hurting for you. I’m no professional counselor, but if there’s anyone who just needs a listener, here’s my email: chozenn1@msn.com.


When the word came down that the citizenry was confined to its homes, more or less, while the COVID-19 epidemic ran its course, it occurred to me, as it did to many other writers and artists, to take advantage and make this The Most Productive Era of my writing career.  Better still, it would finally uncork the creative juices frozen inside my first ever bout with writer’s block.


Aaand, like so many of my associates, such was not the case.

Rewind four months. I had just turned in Demon Harvest to Lyrical Press. It was the third of a trilogy, all three done back to back. The best time I’ve ever had writing. Fun, and the good feeling of career momentum. I gave myself the requisite week-and-a-half break from writing; already looking forward to the start of something new. Depression kicked up, perhaps triggered by the end of the three book deal. Some physical injuries. Increasingly worse news concerning the virus.

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Still, I had always fallen right back into the groove before. Just needed to settle on the right project and then it was back to the gory, often gleeful grind of horror writing. I had already begun a new series of themed short stories, so that was easy to pick up. There was also my very first novel, shelved for various reasons in the past, which I was resolved to finish. This was the perfect time.


The fire that burns under a writer’s ass and makes her/him/that take the seat and start typing was at a low smolder. I looked for ways to trick myself into writing – rewards, punishments, lots of inner shaming. Once stuck at home, I only saw more obstacles arise.


I sought out some experienced advice. Some say to take a break, it’ll renew your battery. I tried this one for a while and did feel a desire to get back to work – just not a lot of confidence in it. The need to write didn’t translate into sudden outburst of enthusiasm and creativity. This gave me an appreciation and maybe even a bit of envy for news writers, writers-for-hire who are assigned movie novelizations, and even screenwriters (more on this in a later entry) who are handed a concept and told to run with it — within the parameters of budget, available casting, scheduling, etc.

Others say no matter what – don’t stop writing. Shitty writing is better than no writing, is the rationale, and you can always improve on it later.  I went into re-write mode on a number of different projects sitting on backburners, or even stuffed away in the metaphorical freezer. And now I’ve run out of (most) of those. I’ve gotten out of the habit of blogging regularly, mostly because I figure nobody reads blogs anymore, but, if I may be meta for a moment, this blog is my attempted jump-off point for the re-start.

Hey, if you don’t read it, you won’t hate it, right?

In a high school English class, we were expected to keep a journal, commenting on whatever we wished, to be turned in at the end of the grading period. What a drag, we all thought, except for one clever young lady, whom I’ll call Lori, since that was her name.

Smelling an easy A, she opened up her journal and laid down page upon page of stream-of-consciousness rambling, a strategy which I expected would send her straight to the fail list like the me, as would be the case with any other assignment. She was thinking quite outside the casket though, in demonstrating that she cared about the assignment and understood the most basic purpose of writing,

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My concept of the assignment was that we were to eloquently show an attempt to understand important current events. My attention span was short as a firecracker fuse. My interest in anything other than babes or lifting weights was nil. Had I known Lori’s brilliant secret, hell I would have “journaled” about those very topics.

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With Lori in mind I now resolve to post more frequent blog entries for the estimated two to three people reading So, if you liked my “quirky queue” capsule film reviews from a few years back look for that to return. I’m more into  metal now than I have ever been for some reason so I plan to celebrate that and gush over some favorite bands.


More about me and my projects past and future too; a favorite topic, though I have been hampered by self-consciousness disguised as humility.
So stay with me, that one reader, and watch me lose my mind, or become curmudgeonly as I age, or whatever awaits. I appreciate your fleeting company.

What’s So Great About the 80s?

While I hate to pigeonhole myself, I find that, with the Haunted Hollow Chronicles, I’m very much considered a splatterpunk/retro-eighties style author. At least for now.

Not such a bad lot in life, actually. I grew up on 80s horror, metal, and action cinema, and it’s still very much a part of who I am. Films and shows such as STRANGER THINGS and IT FOLLOWS bring me a deep sense of… completion, for lack of better.

I have already addressed how I wrote The Haunted Hollow Chronicles (book 3 is essentially finished, pending publisher approval) with  a very deliberate exclusion of modern internet-focused technology so that the characters feel the isolation and vulnerability I remember as an 80s kid. There were plenty of desolate backwoods parking, partying, and “rumble” (we didn’t call it that — I mean, how quaint) spots that attracted us, the southern American trash teen.

Places with no adult supervision, let alone police presence. Spots where one’s B-movie fueled imagination could easily cast one’s adolescent sense of self as a character in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th, or -if you’re really imaginative- MAD MAX, and its numerous, mostly Italian post-apocalyptic imitators. Places where one might feel a sense of peril where there wasn’t any — but could be.

All the cliche’s – parking with your girl behind an abandoned factory,  running out of gas, being chased by crazed hillbillies, meeting your rival to settle a score in a circle of hooting classmates and headlights — not so inconceivable. We did these things, or knew kids who did. 

So I’m led to wonder — what draws the younger folk to the trappings of this era? Because surely to Godzilla, my decrepit age group is not the only one consuming al this nostalgic horror media.

2015’s THE TURBO KID could have come right out of 1986, with it’s synth soundtrack, gory practical effects, and grungy post-apocalyptic setting (complete with Michael Ironside, THE go-to villain for the best and/or worst of the eighties exploitation classics) yet it’s makers let all us 80s survivors in on the joke, sometimes with the subtlest of winks, sometimes with a billboard. It makes perfect sense that BMX bikes will be the chief mode of transportation when the gas runs out — yet it is sublimely hilarious to see the film’s hulking, scarred thugs hunkered over and peddling around on a whirring two-wheeler, same as the titular kid.

It’s set in the future — which is 1997 to the film’s internal hapless post-nuke scrabblers. It feels “80s” because it’s made very deliberately like an 80s movie. Scanning through the user reviews on iMDB, it’s not hard to spot who’s been around long enough to know this is a loving homage and who are the whippersnappers inclined (rightfully from their view) to sneer at the low budget and the quirky acting. Yet even those detractors admit it has a powerful charm. This point I make to illustrate my own curiosity regarding the 80s nostalgia fad.

Take the Netflix dramedy G.L.O.W. It nails the era and its values, yet… still seems like an all-knowing look back somehow. “Those people are naive, and oh my Goddo they not know how different, silly and meaningless this will all be in a few years???” we are led to think.

Not that that’s bad. It’s a great show. It’s just — I find that I don’t want the real 80s; a time when, not only nuclear apocalypse but the other more insidious apocalypse of corporate domination stood as looming threats, influencing  our daily lives for better or worse.  The 80s we geezers are feeding to today’s iPhone-addled youth, is decidedly better than the real thing.

At least, it looks much cooler on film.

If I had a nickel for every upcoming horror film synopsis or blurb that used some variation of the term “80s throwback/homage/celebration” the total would come to $8, 677.05, adjusted for a circa 1985 economy. Enough for about three VHS movies back then.
Still, getting into the head of a genre nerd born in say 1995 and feeling how they feel when they listen to Duran Duran or watch The A Team, The Fly, or even, say, Rocktober Blood sounds like a good time.

Doubtful we’ll have the of technology for such recreational brain-vading until at least 2025 though, and by then everybody will be marking out over the early 2000s, leaving the 80s about as irrelevant as the 50s, an era with which, for the record, I was quite enamored during the 80s.
But enough ramble-niscing. Here in the deepest catacombs of North Carolina’s nights, your ol’ pal Pattie doesn’t get a chance to spend much time around younger schlock culture geeks. I’d love to hear from some post-eighties babies who dig the vibe of that decade. What’s cool about it? What’s ludicrous? Help me help you help me be the best retro-recaller I can, so I don’t have to write fifty scenes of characters whining about their smart phones not working.

Spook House Lit

downloadfileGRIM HARVEST has descended upon the land like a gloriously putrid prose plague. It represents some milestones that are worth mentioning.

It’s a follow up of course, to last year’s Red Harvest. The word “sequel” doesn’t seem right, since, though it’s set in the same place with the same people – it’s very much a stand – alone story. Nonetheless, it’s my first continuation from a previous work.

 

cover143772-medium.pngFrom the first draft of Red Harvest (then called The Death Of October), I knew Ember/Haunted Hollow would be a place I’d re-visit in my writing, and thanks to my deal with the maniacs at Lyrical Press, I have had the opportunity to settle there for a while — and make things really intense for the Lott and Barcroft families, Reverend McGlazer and his psychic assistant Stella, and of course, resident band The Chalk Outlines — not to mention you, The Reader.

Some of my favorite horror stories in page and film are The Halloween Tree, The Hellbound Heart, Pet Sematary, Trick R Treat, The Void, House Of Frankenstein, etc. If you’re sharp, you’ll not only have been used in a horrific murder or two, you’ll also have noticed that these spookers have a common trait and that is their “smorgasbord” format of multiple horrors, supernatural and otherwise, which affect one another and cause our put-upon protags no shortage of hard times.

The goal was to create a literary – and I use that word with tongue well in cheek – haunted attraction, complete with fresh scares around every corner. This being the written word, the scares are meant to be not so much sudden as creeping. Unsettling. Upsetting in the long term.

Yet I hope The Haunted Hollow Chronicles can evoke more than just the in-your-face fright of a spook house. I wanted teen pals Stuart and DeShaun to express the kind of friendship kids have at that age, when they sense things are changing for them soon, and they’re trying to resist the forces that pull them apart — knowing they will succumb in the end.

I hope you’ll feel what I felt in regards to the Lott family, and its strength in the face of incomprehensible perils. I ask you to struggle along with Reverend McGlazer as he walks the razor-wire tightrope of religious obligation and personal truth. Ember Hollow’s band The Chalk Outlines could use your support too, as they try to figure out just what the hell they’re supposed to do with their drive, talent and love, when the bodies start to hit the floor all over town.

Given all that’s going on in Grim Harvest, not to mention the trilogy as a whole, it’s difficult to distill it into a cohesive synopsis. One or two sentences will never suffice to cover all the interweaving story threads. Thus, like a spook house, much of it will emerge as surprises.

I’m pleased to see that The Haunted Hollow Chronicles’ offbeat (slightly) alternate universe setting was not a deal breaker for readers. Cell phones and internet access are unavoidable in contemporary horror. Every fright flick is obliged to address, the issue of reception or battery charge, much the same way as martial arts films produced and set in the modern U.S. must address the ubiquity of firearms.

All the best ideas for getting instant contact with the outside world have been used and re-used. 30 Days Of Night went so far as to have a lackey for the vamps round up all the town’s cellphones and burn them. I think one of the reasons people love eighties horror so much is that there was still a sense of isolation in being alone in a house, or just a few miles from the safety of civilization. Poor Laurie Strode and her young babysitting charges were daunted by the very prospect of just running across the street. And where would Sally Hardesty be if that trucker hadn’t happened by at such a fortuitous time?

These days, all involved would just take out their phones and quick-text the police while simultaneously posting the whole affair on their Instagram.

It’s not that I’m unwilling to address the electronic elephant in the room. It’s just that, for this series I didn’t want to.

As for the matter of returning to previous ground: it’s hard to say why I’ve never done so before. As a naive screenwriter, my priority was to produce original content. For a moment my omnibus script THE DAMNATION PARADE was in discussion to be reworked as CREEPSHOW 3. Given the universal disgust directed at the eventual completed CS3, I like to tell myself my script was too smart, or subtle, or something positive like that, for the producers.

The vampire universe of The Crimson Calling was, and is, intended as a series. Liv Irons and her pale pals will be back for more supernatural-powered asskickery in due time. Progeny still gets plenty of love and requests for continuation. My upcoming novel Under Wicked Sky, also slated as a film project, had some characters who stubbornly insisted on surviving the first go-round. If you guys like that one, maybe they’ll get their chance.

HornedCepiaMeantime, sink your talons into the first two entries of The Haunted Hollow Chronicles and let me know what you think.

Patrick

TRICK OR TREAT

CLICK HERE to pick up your free copy of the best-selling Halloween horror short TRICK October 28 through November 1, 2019!

TRICK

A Horror Short

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TRICK

“This is a great Halloween short, it has all the elements of a great, seasonal read… the spooky local Urban Legend, trick-or-treaters, ghosts, possible severed body parts, and TRICKS!!”  full review at Becki’s Book Blog

“Another great story by Mr. Greene. I honestly don’t think this guy could write a bad story, even if he tried. This story was a friendly and slightly warped reminder to not trick. Just give out the dang candy!” Lisa C. on Amazon

Teen punks Kell and Toby have big plans for Halloween. They’re going to out-trick the neighborhood kids with the kind of pranks that will leave their victims scarred for life. But a trio of otherworldly trick-or-treaters refuses to walk away empty-handed. Kell and Toby will soon know the true meaning of Halloween.

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Thorne and Cross: Haunted Nights LIVE

Join Patrick when he meets Tamara Thorne and Alistair Cross on Haunted Nights LIVE!

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN ON SOUNDCLOUD

Patrick C. Greene is a lifelong horror fan who lives in the mountains of western North Carolina. He launched his Ember Hollow series with Red Harvest and is currently working on the third novel in the series. He is also the author of the novels Progeny and The Crimson Calling, as well as numerous short stories featured in collections and anthologies.

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Are you ready for the GRIM HARVEST?

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Still reeling from last year’s Pumpkin Parade disaster, the people of Ember Hollow are unprepared for the horrors yet to come, as Halloween returns to their shaken farm community.

A brutal biker gang, armed with a spell that turns people into werewolves, is roaring into town with plans to resurrect a sadistic mass murderess in the body of an unsuspecting local. Teens Deshaun and Stuart, best friends and death metal fans, must protect their friend Candace from her own psychotic brother—dubbed The Trick or Treat Terror by the press and who Candace is certain will rise from the dead just in time for Halloween. And Minister Abe McGlazer is acting like a man possessed after a secret passage is discovered beneath his ancient church . . .

With the aid of a pair of punk rockers, Deputy Hudson Lott will have to work overtime to help his friends and family confront a host of horrors before this year’s pumpkin crop unleashes a wave of evil too hideous to imagine . . .

From early reviews for GRIM HARVEST on Goodreads:

Grim Harvest, like much of his oeuvre, feels like something in between a Michael Myers movie and a really good episode of Tales from the Crypt. His work has all the scares and archetypes that you crave combined with fast-pacing and characters you can get behind. It’s perfect for either the horror junkie or the seasonal Halloween reader of the genre.

An anarchic blend of the Boy’s Own buzz of Something Wicked This Way Comes and the grown-up horror of your Ramsey Campbell or Clive Barker.

I didn’t think I’d like this story. Well, just knock me upon the side of my head. I freaking loved this. I was all kinds of fu***d up from the get go. Werewolves? Dude, I hate werewolves! So, I guess not werewolves. Skinwalkers? I like skinwalkers. What the heck? Witches? Black magic witches? No dude. So sorry, but witches aren’t my thing. Wait. What? Did you hint at supernatural?. “Well, beyond wolves and witches.” this damn story actually had a lot going on.

The book is a blast. I ended up loving our characters and getting completely creeped out by some of the imagery. And when the climax of the novel comes, watch out!
The book is fast paced, gruesome, and has werewolf/skinwalker bikers!”

The storyline is fascinating, I certainly enjoyed seeing the characters all come together for a big showdown. I loved the ending even though it definitely didn’t go as I had expected. All in all its a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves horror. Or werewolves who ride motorcycles and ruthlessly slaughter those around them

Grab your copy today! Click here!

Writing:The Illusion of Originality

It’s safe to say most writers aspire to create work that’s considered “original.”

If you believe you’ve happened upon an untouched concept, just ask: what are the chances? If I had a Spanish doubloon for every “fresh idea” I had – only to discover it had already been done, I’d have a soggy treasure chest full of worthless currency.

In the horror genre it seems, originality is highly praised — and barely read. The key is to find unusual angles for the usual tropes.

Let’s take the zombie sub-genre. Clearly it has reached a saturation point in every possible medium. Like the ambling corpses that populate it, it keeps hanging on, long after there’s any point or purpose. That’s not to say zombie stories are no longer relevant. If anything their persistence is testament to their relatability. Even before Romero, we vaguely understood the implications of an afterlife far removed from our idealized concepts — for both sides of the deal. We see how similar our neighbors seem to these mindless decaying machines of consumption. So what stories are there to be told within its framework?

Survival, loss, hardship and terror.

All humans made equal by a shared crisis. Plenty of room for stories within that framework, right? Yes, actually. People will still fall in and out of love, have children, make friends and enemies, compete for attention and position, strive for better lives. These are human stories, about life. Originality is rendered irrelevant.

Ridley Scott’s ALIEN was hardly a brand-new concept, having culled most of its basic story elements from IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE and PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES. The characters, blue-collar types performing tedious, unfulfilling jobs (in space, by happenstance) are not written to be admired for their intellect, toughness or discipline. They’re you. me and our neighbor, coffeeing up to go punch a clock every day till Kingdom Come.

Whoa! That lame-ass job just got real sketchy with the addition of an insidiously predatory element which none of them (us) have any hopes of predicting or understanding.

Ripley’s story is that of a good worker doing a thankless job who may or may not have hooked up with her superior at some point, and just really wants to stay alive. Saving mankind, thwarting her employers’ evil plot, and eliminating a grave threat are just unexpected breaks she was lucky enough to catch. Nothing wrong with that.

It’s different from its forebears only in that it’s more about characters than scenario. Is that original?

In Craigslist LA’s writing gigs category, it was common a few years ago to find this basic post, with little variation:

SCRIPTS WANTED: Low budget,1 – 2 locations, minimal FX. FRESH, ORIGINAL CONCEPTS ONLY!!!!!

Putting aside the multiple layers of irony, it’s fair to say most horror film producers posting on craigslist, don’t really know what they mean by “original.”

The “original story concept” is an illusion, or at least so wispy that chasing it requires time and energy better spent writing the billionth haunted house yarn, and then imbuing it with the depth and meaning of experiences we all share.

I once spent a lot of time wracking my brains trying to think of original horror concepts. I was missing the point. Horror is ancient, primal, even predictable in its way. When you gaze upon a rollercoaster as you stand in line to ride, you have an understanding of what it’s going to do — but you’re not prepared for the depth of what it does. I now understand that it’s the depth that is most important — as long as it’s built on a damn sturdy framework.

One of the reasons I made RED HARVEST’s The Chalk Outlines a horror punk band is that I’ve never seen characters from such a niche musical genre in prominent roles. The Halloween parade, hallucinatory treats, weird, tech-less (yet modern) setting — all part of an effort to do something unusual with common tropes. Experimentation, but with known components.

Likewise, with the upcoming followup GRIM HARVEST, I chose to steer away from too closely mimicking the structure of the first. Some may find this jarring. But this is horror. If it’s not jarring, then something’s wrong.

If lack of an original concept is jamming you up, then let me suggest doing the opposite. Choose to write the cliche’s rather than not to write at all, and write them better. There’s somebody out there for whom every formula is a new experience, and just as many who relish crawling into the same warm bed night after night, under the same comfortingly disquieting darkness.
One of the reasons I made RED HARVEST’s The Chalk Outlines a horror punk band is that I’ve never seen characters from such a niche musical genre in prominent roles. The Halloween parade, hallucinatory treats, weird, tech-less (yet modern) setting — all part of an effort to do something unusual with common tropes. Experimentation, but with known components.

Likewise, with the upcoming followup GRIM HARVEST, I chose to steer away from too closely mimicking the structure of the first. Some may find this jarring. But this is horror. If it’s not jarring, then something’s wrong.

If lack of an original concept is jamming you up, then let me suggest doing the opposite. Choose to write the cliche’s rather than not to write at all, and write them better. There’s somebody out there for whom every formula is a new experience, and just as many who relish crawling into the same warm bed night after night, under the same comfortingly disquieting darkness.

One of the reasons I made RED HARVEST’s The Chalk Outlines a horror punk band is that I’ve never seen characters from such a niche musical genre in prominent roles. The Halloween parade, hallucinatory treats, weird, tech-less (yet modern) setting — all part of an effort to do something unusual with common tropes. Experimentation, but with known components.
Likewise, with the upcoming followup GRIM HARVEST, I chose to steer away from too closely mimicking the structure of the first. Some may find this jarring. But this is horror. If it’s not jarring, then something’s wrong.
If lack of an original concept is jamming you up, then let me suggest doing the opposite. Choose to write the cliche’s rather than not to write at all, and write them better. There’s somebody out there for whom every formula is a new experience, and just as many who relish crawling into the same warm bed night after night, under the same comfortingly disquieting darkness.
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