The Official Portal to the Madness of Dark Fiction Author Patrick C. Greene



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Here they are performing at the First (and last) Annual Snobbington Society For Youth Preservation Formal Cotillion.

This seven(ish) track EP titled Murder Party is the most recent release from Las Vegas’s four-man Chainsaw Fight, whose brand of thrash might just be the hardest-hitting in the entire horror punk movement. 

If you caught 2007’s throwback double feature film Grindhouse, you’ll remember it was peppered with a handful of fake trailers meant to recall that drive-in/passion pit feel of exploitation’s golden era. One of the most popular of these was called simply “DON’T!”

Don’t – Grindhouse trailer – 1080p HD – Bing video

I’m certain this release’s same-named kick-off song, a quick list of sketchy situational tropes to avoid, is at least partially inspired by that trailer, just as each track that follows is an ode to specifc clas-sick horror flicks. I can easily see it as said faux-film’s closing credits song, and it only makes me pine harder for the real deal.

Track 2 is “It Floats,” and if you’re reading this you surely get the reference. frontman Walid Atshe’s vocal style is more along the lines of very aggressive spoken word than singing, in the vein of Billy Milano from 80s hardcore outfits M.O.D. and S.O.D. I’d be surprised if all the band members weren’t at least mildly influenced by Milano and company. Vic Moya’s drums sound similar as well — at least to my old and uneducated ears. The boys fire this one right out of the shotgun with maximum velocity and it does not disappoint.

“I’m not crazy! I’m in control!” is a line uttered by the killer Doomhead, as brilliantly portrayed by Richard Brake in 31, Rob Zombie’s unsubtle 2016 take on the oft-recycled Richard Connell short story The Most Dangerous Game. Forty seconds of rage. Maybe I’ll figure our how to set it as my alarm. 

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Just a smile and a knife, to brighten your day.

“Klaatu” is a deep cut — but not as deep as you might think if, like me, you grew up watching sci-fi and horror flicks on weekend TV. The term originated with the 1951 flick The Day The Earth StoodStill and was revived for 1992’s Army of Darkness, as essayed by the one and only Bruce Campbell/Ash Williams (hell, they might as well be synonymous at this point) The tune tells the story and quotes the character with the band’s signature brutality. There’s a hard-pounding bridge during which Atshe further quote’s Ash, adding considerable aggression to his interpretation. Someone should make one o’ them funny vids with Atshe taped over Ash.

“The dead are rising from their graves!” declares the beginning of “Holy Shit,” then I can’t understand much of the rest. Another quick fun stab, nonetheless. 

Next, we’re treated to a riff recalling Sabbath’s “Children of The Grave” as “Thanks for the Ride Lady” kicks in properly, paying homage to the infamous Creepshow 2 segment of the same name. It’s a catchy tongue-in-cheek banger that will instantly become a welcome ear maggot.

Thanks for the Ride, Lady – YouTube

Final track “Trinity of Terror,” is not about the 1980s Karen Black vehicle but the 2007 dark comedy Murder Party…. And then it’s about the infamous Japanese faux-snuffer Flower of Flesh and Blood — I think?  As to why this was not divided into separate tracks; your guess is as good as mine unless this is meant to be the big wrap-up number that leaves audiences both stoked and drained. 

Murder Party is a fast-burning, straight-forward, end-to-end thrash party, without a lot of variety. But then, that’s what playlists are for. You like thrash and horror punk, you’ll like this. If Method of Destruction were more about horror movies and less about the, um, poorly-aged subject matter for which they’re known, they would be Chainsaw Fight, and I would like them better.

Walid Atshe – vocals 

Vince Pizarro – guitar 

Vic Moya – drums  

Brandon Sledge – bass

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Bring it all Down | CHAINSAW FIGHT (

(2) Chainsaw Fight | Facebook

Horror Punk Review #4

The Tomb Tones Pumpkin Guts EP

When I was around ten years old, I always combed through the entertainment section of every bookstore I encountered for anything I could find about monster movies. One day I ran across a glossy tome called Fifty Worst Films of All Time by Harry Medved, whom I would come to learn was a film critic of the snootiest stripe, and Randy Dreyfuss. It was loaded with pictures, so of course I coughed up my allowance, badgered my mom for the difference, and bought the damn thing.

Tops my list of Fifty Worst Books of All Time.

This was just before the dawn of the inexpensive VCR, so those nifty black and white photos from movies I figured I would never see allowed me to imagine the thrills and the feel of those old movies. One of the flicks shat upon by Medved and Dreyfuss was Horror of Party Beach from 1964; the height I guess, of the surf/bikini/musical subgenre that included such fare as Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo and Beacher of The Black Lagoon. …Okay, not that last one.

Being a nerd, I didn’t just look at the pictures. I read the text as well. This may have been my introduction to the cynicism many adults hold regarding any entertainment not grounded in reality. The authors treated this movie and the other 49 like worthless embarrassments. But to me — The Horror of Party Beach sounded like a good time. If anything, my interest and appreciation for “camp” and “cheesy” entertainment culture was amplified by that book. And what’s more punk rock than that? Only safety pins.

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Dare you to remake THIS, Hollywood hacks. 

The first track on Pumpkin Guts, the debut EP from Atlanta’s The Tomb Tones, twists the title into “Party of Horror Beach” but retains the whimsy of that beleaguered film. It starts with an almost sinister riff that reminded me of Danzig’s “Bringer of Death” but the fun promised by the title soon arrives via the whimsical vocals of Kyle Ransom King, whose style is similar to that of Fred Schneider, co-vocalist and percussionist Tomb Tones’ state mates the B-52s, whom their bio cites as an influence. Now that dude knows how to deliver a good time. King is cut from a similar, if blacker bolt of cloth. “Party of Horror Beach” is a rollicking soiree’ that I wish I could attend, but hardly the strongest track on the album.

With “Monster Movie,” a couple of movies come to mind — Purple Rose of Cairo and The Last Action Hero, which share the premise of protagonist-finding-self-trapped-in-film. “Movie” tells a similar story in which our character expresses his lament at the terrifying dilemma, for the realm in which he finds himself caught, is an unspecified classic creature feature, and damn what a lively tune. Deep down, we all wish we could stumble into such a situation, no? Not the normies, of course, but then again — they ain’t even reading this. 

“Monster Movie” Has me wondering just which monster movie I’d want to be trapped in, though, and for some reason, “Godzilla vs Gigan” seems like the most interesting -if least reasonable- choice by a longshot. Dodging around Children’s Land watching THE Kaiju Clash of the Seventies, trying to avoid being crushed just seems like a real thrill; something you’d want to tell your grandkids about back in the boring ol’ here and now.

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“Okay you guys, extra points for whoever steps on the kid with the bad haircut.”

“Dracula’s Brother” kicks off with a scratchy sounding snippet from an old horror classic that I recognize but can’t place. One of the Universal Dracula entries would be a reasonable bet. Duh. The acoustic chords here bring to mind Tiger Army and, I guess, Miguel and The Living Dead, both beloved genre mid-carders. It’s as close to a mood piece as you will find on Pumpkin Guts. Play it to break the ice when you get that sweet little gothabilly cutie to your place for a nightcap, just before you switch over to Sisters of Mercy or whatever. 

The first few words of “Sick Sense” sound for all the world like something by Weird Al Yankovic (of whom I’m a fan by the way). Just as retro and campy as the rest, it nonetheless represents the most unique and musically interesting track of the album. It plays out as a descent into madness, but a kind of joyous and whimsical one. And why not?

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“My Girlfriend’s a Zombie” is a statement I have had occasion, for better or worse, to utter many times. The Tones express well the highs and lows of rotting romance, beginning with…

“It was a dark and stormy night

The thunder louder than the rain

I asked if everything was all right

That’s when she tried to eat my brain!”

The tempo picks up from here, which might have been an opportunity to get heavy, but to be fair, they’re more retro-rock than punk. Just as fun as the previous tracks but not especially a standout, if only because of its placement in the lineup.

Its intro eliciting the feel of an old-time low-rent carnival dark ride, “Devil’s Train of Death” gives the EP a sharp spike and a rip-roaring end . Deep background vocal accompaniment, whatever you actually call that, adds a good deal more scare-sense than the rest of the album. Trains make for great imagery in horror media and King’s lyrics use it to its full advantage. 

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If I have an overall complaint, it’s that there’s a redundancy from track to track. But as a soundtrack for any Halloween party worth its candy corn, or a genre event band (here they are live at DragonCon:

The Tomb Tones at Dragon Con 2019 – YouTube

…they are a perfect fit .

I hope to catch these guys live one day, which is not something I say about even my favorite horror punkers. If you have cone or do see them, hit me up in the comments and let me know how it goes/went.

Remembering ORDER OF THE FLY – Lambs in the Abbatoir EP, 2008 (Mad Science Records)

A few days ago, I posted this pic…

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That’s Order of The Fly vocalist J’Syn Thetic (At least I think it’s him. The band has two vocalists and there’s so little information about them online there’s no way to confirm which is who) on my Facebook page, just because I thought it was great shot. A friend commented that, in his experience, this is someone trying to compensate for something. As someone who loves punk rock and considers himself, at least to a degree, a punker, I recognized this as dismissiveness– but found I was able to consider it without the bristling reaction it might once have raised.

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 It’s true, after all, isn’t it? One doesn’t become inspired to embrace punk, metal, or horror culture after viewing their trust fund statement, or because of the strong sense of belonging and fellowship they get at church. Punk speaks to and about those of us who feel rejected. The compensation for our lack of social approval is a deeper. more sincere acceptance from our fucked-up peers. My friend’s comment proved that The Order of the Fly is successful in establishing their horror punk cred right out of the gate. 
Now a lot — in fact, most — horror punk outfits bring some degree of theatricality to their presentation, often with tongue planted deeply in cheek.  With OOTF, it’s different. The B-movie trappings are there — but it’s damn clear that the hardcore attitude is dead serious. The horror-themed dressing is not there just to celebrate horror. It doubles as a reminder that punk rock is about crashing comfort zones and blasting unpleasant realizations into the heads of the complacent.

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As I said, there’s not a lot out there about this San Bernardino-based six-piece. With only a sparse Facebook page (The Order Of The Fly | Facebook) and a bare bones bio on Spotify, they stand as a mystery in a genre that mostly lives and dies by word of mouth.  This is their third release, one of several EPs from the Cali punks. Punk songs are usually brief already, so this is a breezy blast of hardcore, not intended for introspective listening. I like it as a workout or wakeup soundtrack.

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The title track…

The Order of the Fly @ The Juke Joint 5/22/09 “Lambs in the Abbatoir” – YouTube

…seems like an odd choice to kick off the album. It’s almost subdued in comparison to the album specifically and the band in general, as they definitely land on the more brutal side of the horror punk spectrum. Singer Thetic has never demonstrated great range so this more introspective approach doesn’t initially mesh well with the band’s sometimes clumsy songwriting. Pure punk passion is their strength, and it jumps out to grab us by the throat in the second track “Vampire Killers.” 

Nothing too deep here, just a fun anthem sung from the perspective of vampire hunters, instead of vampires themselves, for a change. Pounding riffs and a blood-curdling screech propel us into the mind of a guy who loves his job and hates his targets. 
Track 3 starts with some moody, retro-synth work. Of course, the guitars kick in like a gasoline explosion, but that’s what we want and expect, right? Then we get a hard-driving piece about… well see if you can guess:

“I’m so hungry and this
Feeling never goes away
Sink my teeth into your
Dearly departed loved ones”

This one, called “Eaters of the Dead,” is another new twist on horror rock themes. There are plenty of tunes about zombies and cannibals, but I know of only a handful that discuss corpse consumption.

Finally, we get a nice hard cover of Alice Cooper’s “Who Do You Think We Are?” that repeats the same general theme (again, no complaints.) Honestly, I prefer this far and above the original, which comes off as dated and even subdued by comparision. Love ya, Coop, but these guys have schooled you on this occasion.

That wraps up a quick and vicious dose of blistering, furious audio violence from a very underrated band whose entire catalog I am now determined to hear. Lambs is fast and fun horror punk that doesn’t mind treating the subject matter like it’s dead serious, versus the inherent cheekiness of most horror rock. There is what I guess is some autotune but it’s the eerie robotic kind, not the silly poppy type.

Guaranteed ear maggots. Give it a listen.

CALABRESE Flee the Light Review

“It’s the end of the world. Who gives a damn?”

Back when the world of Youtube opened to me its ever-blossoming flower of cool-ass data, I discovered, among other things,  the horror punk sub-subgenre, over which I have already frequently gushed (here and here).  One of the first such outfits I came upon was this literal band of brothers. 

Their eighth and latest release, 2019’s Flee the Light features the above cover art (do we still call it that?) featuring a bare-chested dude in black cape and full goat’s head mask (let’s hope it’s just a mask) standing before a backdrop splotched with psychedelic purples and dayglogreens. One instantly gets that feel of a 70s horror film such as The Dunwich Horror. Occult rituals involving doomed (prolly nekkid) damsels and incomprehensible demons must surely lie ahead.

Those of us already familiar with the Phoenix-based trio know to take this dark descent with tongues well-in-cheek. This is horror rock country. We’re here to have some fearsome fun, as prompted by the scratchy thunder peel that prepends the first track, “He Who Flees the Light.” 

Vocalist/guitarist JimmyCalabrese always sounds polished, and never less than passionate. This track is as powerful a showcase for his talents as anything before or since, with the possible exception of my personal favorite Calabrese track, the mesmerizing “Born with a Scorpion’s Touch.” It’s a good kick-off, evoking that weird pride we dark outsiders feel whenever we’re validated by our freak family”Let Doom Overtake Us” is next. It bears the apocalyptic feel its title suggests, with a foreboding pace and terrifyingly poetic lyrics. Potent and even soulful, the boys take us on a journey through an ever-worsening landscape of suffering. 

Blackened wings are raised
To shadow the earth
Breed human disease
Crawlin’ through filth
Funeral cities burn
With formaldehyde

Then “King Prowler” slides, snake-like, into the very familiar horror punk theme of boy-stalks/captures/torments girl. After another spooky intro, all instruments attack, behind lyrics that seem to reference some true crime case, yet are too vague to be verified as such. That it could be some nameless maniac’s POV somehow makes it that much scarier. The solos, simple and unrelenting, leave you breathless – like a long night spent fleeing a killer would.

Track no. 3 -“Demonspitter”- is very much a speed metal number, and a great one at that.  It’s one of those “I am” songs, a staple of metal and punk, in which the character proclaims his terrible destiny or power in a series of spooky metaphors. Quick and dirty, it’s a lot of fun, and I imagine a real crowd pleaser.

I am the madness terror
Spit death in your eyes
I am the heart inside the demon in the night
Acid, convulsions

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Why settle for “ride or die” when you can do both?

It’s fast and brutal, exactly what you want from your horror punk. 

Track 4 “Pleasures of Evil” makes good on the cover art’s threat, conjuring images of Satanic sacrifice and/or possession with synth and guitar working in perfect dark union. 

This occultic atmosphere is carried over for the brief fifth track, an instrumental called “Maleficis Visibilis” which serves as intro to “Hallucinitory Void” in which the synth and guitar tandem get another workout. It’s another tune from the perspective a serial killer, I guess? Lyrically, it’s poeticism to the point of sacrificing storytelling elements. Vocals are especially strong here. You can picture the brothers, underlit by campfire, eyes narrowed, taking turns filling young campers’ heads with spooky imagery and energy that has them huddling together.

“And in The End” is another metal track, characterized by fantastic and bleak lyrics, which I interpret as a devil worshiper’s POV, as she or he learns the hard way, that there is no devil, and thus no dark reward waiting — only endless emptiness.

Thirteen skulls upon the altar of my heart
Lost coven
Black crosses in the the night
We worship no one

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“All the Devils in Hell” is yet another ode to a fleeing victim, though tempered with an unusually comforting promise:

Death is a gentle ride
Into the endless void

Hearing this one, I started to get the impressionFlee the Lightwas meant as a sort of loose concept album, focusing on what it means to be both killer and victim under a pall of satanic influence that in the end, is empty. Am I right? Let’s proceed.

“End Time at the Gates of Hell” bears some contemplation. Potent lyrics suggest a deadly plague, perhaps the original Black Death, accompanied by a ritualistic raising of demons — but to what end? 

“Invisible Witches” opens with a soundbyte from the 1972 film “Season of The Witch” if I’m not mistaken, followed by doomy bell tolls. 

We end the song and the album with the eerie howl of a bleak, endless wind – the void, perhaps, that awaits the album’s three thematic archetypes: Killer, Victim, and Devil Worshiper.   

Another satisfying spook show experience that provides the exact experience you have come to seek from Calabrese. I will be digging deeply into their catalogue.

CALABRESE – Official Website (

Calabrese (band) – Wikipedia

Can a Planner Help Your Writing Career?

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Guest Blog by Emerian Rich

Writing is tough, but you know what is tougher? Keeping track of all the business of writing. The submissions you make, the places you want to submit, the work you have published, which stories are out, which stories can be reprinted, what you need to research, what you should blog about? It’s all a big mess that makes your eyes go buggy. It’s like reading an advanced math problem or reading scientific findings.

Which is why, with the help of my friend and colleague, Loren Rhoads, I’ve put together the Spooky Writer’s Planner. This book is a godsend for all of us who have been trying to keep records but either didn’t know how or couldn’t keep them organized. Now you have a way to keep them together all in one place. You can either use the print version, where everything will be bound in one book, or get the digital version where you can print and reprint the pages that are most helpful to you and keep them in a binder.

We present to you the Spooky Writer’s Planner, a writer-dedicated planner that addresses the pains and worries of the everyday writer, whether you be a bestseller or just starting out.

Are you spooky?

Do you write horror, speculative fiction, dark fantasy, paranormal romance, or fairy tales?

Are you a spooky blogger, macabre non-fiction columnist, or haunt travel vlogger?

Are you ready to stop dreaming and be a writer?

Are you an author who wants to take your career to the next level?


13 months of monthly and weekly spreads

Monthly goal and recap sheets

Weekly check-ins and note pages

Writing challenges, planners, and instructions

Submissions, published works, and contacts trackers

Marketing, newsletter, and blog planners

Check-off sheets for website maintenance, social media profiles, and expenses

Fun sheets to generate writing ideas, track your favorite TV series, or to be read and watched lists.

Authors Loren Rhoads and Emerian Rich share the tricks they’ve learned over the course of a combined 50 years in publishing, from working with traditional New York publishers, small presses, and as indie publishers themselves.

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AVAILABLE NOW PRINT or DIGITAL PRINT: The Spooky Writer’s Planner is perfect-bound with a glossy cover, printed on high-quality 8.5 x 11-inch paper. Everything you need is included in one handy book you can grab and go! Have book, will travel! DIGITAL: The quick-download version gives you a digital copy so you can print the pages you want, print multiples of those you think you’ll use the most, leave those you won’t use, and create your own Frankenstein’s Monster of a planner! These pages are designed to be printed on 8.5 x 11-inch paper. You can put them in a three-ring binder, bind them with disks, or a spiral, as you choose. You can print different sheets on different colors. Click here to find out more about this planner, see pictures, and spreads for each version.


Few films have impacted the horror movie landscape like 1974’s “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” The bleak and grungy indictment of the meat industry (among other things) has inspired easily hundreds of imitators, emulators and homages, to this day. Have any matched its ferocity? Its relentless nightmare-inducing power? Its doom-soaked terror?

In this series we examine the many lookalikes and imitations to see which are the worthy tributes and which are mere rip-off hack jobs. I’ll do my best to keep it spoiler-free.

Blood Salvage:
A decade and a half removed from the release of its inspiration, “Salvage” makes good use of many TCM-spawned tropes, such as a wheelchair-bound victim, a bickering family of hillbillies living amid the littered autos and belongings of former victims, and of course, an assured antagonistic patriarch with disarming country charm offset by a creepy leer.

As with TCM, there’s a voiceover early on, which in this case turns out to be from the aforementioned paternal antagonist himself — crazy ol’ Jake Pruitt, played by Danny Nelson.

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“We prefer the term Inclince William.”

This hillbilly clan’s M.O. is not cannibalism, but rather cleverly, organ harvesting.It’s a unique alternative that makes at least as much sense as TCM’s anthropophaginian butcher theme. The macabre vision of dimly lit captive victims kept barely alive until ready for harvest recalls “Motel Hell.” There are also passing references to Craven’s “The Hills Have Eyes.” 

Conspicuously missing is any version of the iconic Leatherface type figure. Though there is an oversized, mental-handicap, he’s hardly an imposing presence like Bubba Sawyer. In his place we get a tribute from a different Hooper film, “Eaten Alive” aka “Legend of The Bayou” in the form of an alligator that pops ( more like shuffles. actually) out from behind derelict cars at opportune times. He’s no speedster, but alligators don’t need to be fast to be scary. 

Don’t worry. They say organs keep best in dirty styrofoam.

Interesting are a couple of odd foreshadowings for the 2003 TCM remake. The exterior pf the film’s house of horrors, glanced in its fullness only a couple of times, looks more than a little like the Hewitt estate. There is also the sheriff who turns out to be in league wth ol’ Jake and the boys. 

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Shit like this is how you become My Least Favorite Martian, Ray.

The interior of the house is fittingly dated and depressing, more reminiscent of the macabre main setting of “Deranged.”  Then there’s the vast dark barn where the fellas keep their half-dead “donors” complete with a sound system over which Jake likes to spread the gospel while performing slap-dash surgery. Other “patients” are encouraged to answer back his calls of praise, on threat of a drilling. Not the good kind.

Yet “Salvage” also distinguishes itself with a few inventive tweaks. 

Final girl April is unique among her brethren, if inconsistent. She tends to vacilate between heroic and sort of annoying, but Lori Birdson is never less than convincing in the role. What happens to her character is as harrowing as anything experienced by Sally Hardesty, perhaps even moreso, given the context.  Ol’ Jake’s attraction to the girl, whom he spots at a beauty contest early on, is almost complicated. Initially, he seems to view her as a surrogate daughter but quickly adopts the idea of her as his bride-to-be. Fair warning, there a near-rape scene, which would be considered restrained compared to the rather common exploitation trend of the era. 

By contrast, TCM’s band of merry murderers never acknowledge the sexuality or even humanity of their female victims, brilliantly underscoring the idea that the girls are regarded merely as livestock.  Likewise, TCM did not have an overt religious angle, leaving us with the the existential despair that there will be no divine comeuppance for the villians, nor intervention for our hapless hippies. With “Salvage,” the fact that the bad guys are religious, while hardly a fresh angle, does give a similar sense of the futility of religion, adding to the feeling of doom. I prefer TCM’s stripped down/God is absent approach, but there’s no denying that the old trope of evil evangelicals is well used here.

In terms of supporting cast, the decision makers for “Blood Salvage” did not eff around. While TCM made do with unknowns, “Salvage” has some seasoned talent on its roster. First up – John Saxon. It’s not a large role from the man who co-starred with Bruce Lee, went after the “Black Christmas” killer, and played an unstoppable cyborg in arguably the best episode of “The Six Million Dollar Man.”

Ladies and gentlemen — John Saxon.

“My Favorite Martian” star Ray Walston is the organ broker who moves Jake’s product. His fearful distaste for “that lizard” -the aforementioned alligator- serves, along with Ms. Birdsong’s performance, to make the scaly beast scarier than it other wise could have been, given its torpid (presumably drugged) demeanor. 

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The Hitchhiker role is filled by Christian Hesler as Hiram. Like the hitchhiker and later Chop Top, Hiram bickers with his father, bullies his brother and generally serves as a vile foil for our put upon family and especially for April, as they are close in age. Something about that feels like betrayal. Hesler is good in this, his only real role.  He drives a souped-up Torino tricked out with a spiky rebel flag-shaped front end attachment useful for bashing victim’s vehicles from behind. This gives the film opportunities for some highway carnage and stunts, bringing a little variety to the mix.

Then there’s Evander Holyfield, a boyhood idol of mine. He plays himself, with the late Lou Duva alongside as a sort of carny barker coaxing carnival participants to take a crack at the champ. It’s fun and funny; a nice little easter egg for fight fans.

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Holyfield was brought in because of his real-life expereince with cannibalism.

At the risk of creating overblown expectations, I have to comment on the climax. It doesn’t copy TCM’s insane finale by any means, but very much pays its respects. If nothing else does, the end of “Blood Salvage” makes it a worthy tribute to TCM.


First things first; I’m  not a musician or a music critic. I know little about technical aspects of music. My comments are based solely on my own visceral response and information from Wikipedia.

The Haunted Hollow Chronicles cast of characters includes a band called The Chalk Outlines. It’s a three-piece outfit consisting of guitarist/vocalist Dennis “Kenny Kilmore” Barcroft, bassist Pedro “F.U.” Fuentes and percussionist “Thrill Kill” Jill Hawkins. You’ve picked up on the highly theatrical aesthetic that is their M.O. and you may have seen me mention their musical sub-genre horror punk.

Horror punk is a sort of sister species to the niche known as psychobilly or spookabilly, which is further Influenced by fifties-era acts ranging from Elvis and Johnny Cash to doo-wop and even Motown.

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I admit, when I started the first book Red Harvest,I had just more or less just discovered these two fun funereal extreme rock variations and didn’t properly distinguish between the two. But it’s perfectly reasonable to find acts that fuse these fusions, and that was the concept I had for The Outlines. By book three, Demon Harvest, they’re taking a stab at creating a gothic/coldwave type album, to reflect a more serious progression, a maturation of their sound in the wake of their horrific experiences in the events of the first two books.

All these styles fall under the umbrella term deathrock, which is a wildly different beast, I should mention, from death metal.

Horror punk and psychobilly bands are characterized by not only by their spooky variation on the punk sound but by its tongue-in-cheek approach to celebrating  horror movies and themes. A few band names – Rosemary’s Babies, Mister Monster, Dr. Chud’s X Ward, Zombina and The Skeletones – and song titles- “Life’s a Grave – and I Dig it,” “The Dead Don’t Get Older,” “Brainwankers From Planet Sex” — give a good idea.

A good many tunes from both subgroups – about mourning dead loves, wasted lives, ended lives – summon a nostalgic, wistful feel,  yet maintain the form’s fun camp elements as well as the all-important punk attitude. Thing is, sometimes when I’m listening, my tongue is nowhere near my cheek. A song like The Rosedales’ “Summer’s End” or Wednesday 13’s “Ghost Stories” can damn near bring me to tears.

And that’s my segue to giving some love to Wednesday 13, stage name of one Joseph Michael Poole. A weird-ass North Carolina boy like Yerz Trooly, 13’s gift for punnery and ridiculous double entendre are unmatched in the industry, recalling the best of The Crypt-Keeper. Cooler though, is his band’s aggressive outsider attack on arbitrarily created social values. With the very first album we get middle-finger anthems like “God Is A Lie,” “I Want You Dead” and “A Bullet Named Christ,” jarringly sharing space with funner and funnier tracks like “The Ghost of Vincent Price” and “Look What The Bats Dragged In.”

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I doubt it’s a coincidence that Poole/13 sounds a bit like Alice Cooper, with whom he has toured and collaborated. The Coop may not have originated horror rock, but he’s definitely its most visible figure and greatest pioneer.

The psychobilly end of the spectrum is well-represented by a trio of hardcore hoodlums calling themselves The Koffin Kats. Well-ensconced in the greaser/teen rebel aesthetic of early rock and roll, the Kats inject a good bit of bluesy soul into their work. Songs like “V8 Nightmare,” about a dragster’s deal with the devil, “I Saw My Friend Explode Today,” about a soldier trying -and failing- to survive a minefield, and their signature hit “Graveyard Tree,” a rousing rocker that seems to celebrate necrophilia of one kind or another, prove that deathrock doesn’t have to be steeped in depressingly gloomy gothic imagery.

Across the blood puddle, a quartet of sick Slovakians called The Karnsteins ply their B movie and Dead Kennedys/Misfits-inspired trade in what I like to imagine are dark beer halls and cavernous converted castles, where the bats and rats rock right alongside -or perhaps above and below- all the pale punks and metalheads. Of the many many horror punk anthems dedicated to Halloween, their “Halloween Night,” is my favorite . It just sounds like Halloween, like it should be blasting from shitty old speakers in an orange-lit high school gymnasium with saggy hardwood floors and faded cardboard ghosts and witches taped over eight layers of paint smothering the pores of a cinderblock wall built with the possibility of a nuclear attack in mind.

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I wish I could celebrate all them, these demented children of the night, whose niche hardly promises fame or riches; only a damned good time. If you’re looking for something a little different, high energy, and often hilarious, horror punk is your huckleberry. 


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.


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?


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)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 . 


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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.


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 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.

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